by Demelza Hillier
I feel like I have spent my life looking for kindred witchy spirits, only to find a whole bunch of jerks instead.
I remember the first time I came across witchcraft. I was about 13.
I was flipping through the pages of a teen magazine and in between the agony aunt pages and the pull-out boyband posters was a regular monthly Wicca column with a witchy advice and a spell of the month written by a mysterious looking black-clad lady.
These were the early 2000’s. Witchcraft was in. Witchcraft was hot.
Sorry. Can’t miss any excuse for a Zoolander.
Dude. I was hooked. I quickly bought a whole bunch of teen spell books and formed a coven with my then best friend who, fickle as teenage besties are, ended up dating my brother and soon left witchcraft behind.
I didn’t though. I was a witch for the long haul.
After a few years I started to get lonely.
I was the only witch in the village, and even though I knew a lot of teenagers who got into witchcraft (because back then in the post-Craft, Buffy and Charmed-filled years it was hella trendy to be a witch), they didn’t seem to take it very seriously and gave it up a few months later.
The witchy internet forums didn’t fill the hole either. I wanted my tribe. I wanted my people.
So as soon as I got to university, being a doer rather than a dreamer, I looked into setting up a Pagan Society to meet and blend with other pagans. Huzzah! Soulmates! Bosom buddies! Sisters of the Goddess, ra ra ra!
And since then, I have met a lot of pagans. A lot of witches, a lot of wizards, tie die hippies and pentacle-dripping goth types. Geeks, freaks, and muggle-borns.
I went to meet ups in London, I hunted out the pagan and wiccan people in my friend groups.
Anyone who dared sport a pentagram necklace or wheel of the year hoodie, anyone who listed “pagan” as religion on Facebook, anyone who even smelled a whiff of hippy, I saw them and I chatted to them if I could work up the courage.
And I came to a nasty conclusion.
A lot of pagans? Douchebags. Complete tools. So, so fucked up.
I thought I would be coming home, but I couldn’t feel more out of place around most of these people.
I remember going to events where every conversation would be a tense battle of who knows more about x subject.
I saw that a lot. I experienced a whole lot of name dropping.
The old masters – Crowley, Gardiner, Fortune – and their books were casually mentioned at every turn (legitimate writers y’know, all the serious witches read them).
And those of us who got here via Fiona Horne or even (horror of horrors) Silver Ravenwolf? Well, you could curdle the milk, wilt the crops and be chased out of Salem with that glare.
I met loads of people who seemed to be chasing Alternative and seemed wanting to be as unusual and strange and cool as they could, and that felt weird.
It was really frustrating to be looking for a deeper connection and keep finding people who wanted to be “different” or “cool” or create an interesting identity for themselves. Urgh.
I met a lot of seriously fucked up people too, and I mean a lot of these.
People addicted to drama (HOOOOO mama, did I meet a bunch of those), people who had truly awful people skills, people who were stuck in victim mode, people who really needed therapy and professional help but chose paganisim instead, people so spacy they had no grasp of reality, and people who were just out-and-out jerks.
The thing with paganisim, witchcraft, wicca and all that jazz is that it is a religion of individuality, and the shadow side of that is that it can really easily turn into a religion of ego.
Yup. I went there.
I mean, paganisim is the best, do not get me wrong. In a world where so many spiritual schools preach denial of the ego, denial of the physical, just, well, denial and ascension really, paganism says
“Hey, isn’t this world just the best? Physicality rocks dude, let’s party!”.
We are so free to experience our own truth and spirituality, and Pagans are some of the most open-minded, give-it-a-go folks you ever did see.
It even makes space for all the mermaid-lovin’ goddess-huggin’ spiritual weirdos out there (cough cough). It’s brilliant.
Problem is that this emphasis on individuality also means that, given the right circumstances, the ego can be given free reign to wreak it’s terrible rule.
(By ego I mean that part of all of us that messes with our sense of self worth, makes us want to be right no matter what, prove ourselves as better than others and creates separation and competition and fear and, when fed too much, turns into an asshole.)
Paganisim and witchcraft draws egos who want to find a way to be special, unique, different, who want a way to be better and more powerful than others.
It attracts already epic egos with a Wizardly God complex, because, a religious system where God is optional and where you can use magic to make the things you want happen?
It’s like overinflated ego heaven.
I couldn’t take it. I was done with the events where one douchebag would talk over the main speaker, just to prove how much he knew.
I was done hanging out with people who wanted to be witchy because they wanted to be edgy and cool.
I was done with the shallowness of it all, with the constant ego battles, with the drama and the showing off.
I just wanted to meet some lovely, genuine people who loved the Goddess and loved the earth and were fascinated with witchcraft.
But I felt like the odd one out – the most muggle-esque pagan in a coven of eccentrics, The Quiet One who just wanted to talk about goddess and not battle literature.
The Sensitive One overwhelmed by all the power play and annoyed by the new age cliches.
It seemed, in my own little weird-ass niche, I didn’t fit in.
I didn’t get on with other pagans. Hell, I didn’t even like other pagans, the fucking jerks.
So I gave up trying to make contact with the pagan world.
I hermited it out and started actively avoiding pagans because I was afraid of meeting more assholes.
I started eyeing those little tellsigns I was looking for before with suspicion. Pagan, hey? What’s wrong with you?
Lone Pagan once again. Sigh. Image from unsplash
And then, something BIG happened.
I joined a year long spiritual training course that I had always wanted to do and I remember dreading starting to the in-person classes because I was properly terrified and convinced the class would be filled with drama mama assholes.
I made sure I had a get out plan in case I couldn’t hack the dickery.
I remember coming out of that first class elated, going THANK THE CHRIST! NORMAL SANE PEOPLE!!!!!!!!
So many lovely, polite, friendly, normal people (well, my baseline for normal is me, so take from that what you will) who were passionate about spirituality.
Wonderful people who became dearest friends and inspirations for me, models of how amazing pagans can be.
People who managed their own personal troubles and fucked-up-ness (because everyone is a bit fucked up somewhere) with compassion and awareness and like fucking adults.
And the best thing? A complete lack of Ego Wizards and Drama Witches.
(I don’t know if you can hear the angelic chorus ringing in my ears here, but it’s there.)
Since that day, I have met more and more Awesome Pagans.
I participate more in the community than I used to and, though I am still wary and do meet the odd in-person crazy, I know my people exist now and I look for them. I just have to let them know I’m there too.
The thing is, the lovely ones are just much quieter than the asshole ones because they are trying to avoid the assholes too.
The lovely pagans are a lot harder to find, but they are worth it.
What’s more is that in the last couple of years I have met a whole bunch of closet pagans who stopped trying to interact with other pagans because of the same reasons as me: they kept meeting jerks and began to think that’s all there was.
People who were so put off by the other people they met that they put their witchy beliefs on hold for a long time.
I know there is a whole massive lot of secretive solitary pagans, goddess lovers and witchy folk out there keeping themselves to themselves, wishing and dreaming that they could just meet someone else who is as nice and sane and normal and witchy as they are.
Maybe you are one of them.
If you are, I want you to know you are not alone. There is more to pagan people than power wars and the jerks you already met.
Your Tribe Awaits. Go find them. Image from unsplash
There are sweet, sensitive people, fiercely intelligent people, fantastic exciting people, and grounded earthy people out there, just like you.
They are just keeping quiet, like you are.
Wishing they could meet you and be your friend.
We just need to be brave and show up and be present so they can find us.
To show them that it’s safe and that not everyone is a wannabe douchebag any more.
You are not alone. Your tribe is there.
Maybe its time to try finding them again.
About the Author:
Demelza Hillier is a Mermaid Priestess, an Artist, a Dancer, a Professional Mermaid and a lover of peanut butter. She teaches peeps about Goddess, writes fab e-courses about connecting with your bad-ass mermaid spirit, and teaches dance internationally. Additionally she loves playing the Ukulele, expensive breakfast cereal, all the animals and…. Gary Oldman as Dracula. Sssssh. You can learn more about her work and get free mermaid goodies at her website Rockstar Priestess, pop on over and say Hi on Facebook or join our mermaid coven at the Mermaid Sisterhood.
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