Synchronicity has been afoot this week. And when these moments happen in my life, I perk up and listen, because I take it as a sign that the Universe is saying “Pay attention! This is important!”. So I’m listening. And the action I am being called to take is to write to you all.
The events that led up to this post are as follows:
On Thursday I was with a girlfriend on a walk at a nearby park. I was chatting with her about reaching out to folks and creating a community for Wise Woman Witchery. She brought up the suggestion that perhaps dropping the words “Witch” and Witchery” from my business name and offerings, might make what I'm teaching and sharing feel accessible to more people. She expressed her own difficulty in connecting with the word Witch, yet also noted that everything I was teaching and sharing deeply resonated with her.
I explained to her that this had crossed my mind, yet I strongly identify with the word “Witch” and the practices I teach and share are very much connected to this for me.
On Friday I started listening to a podcast, from my friends Anna and Sara over at the Sisters Enchanted. The whole topic of this podcast is “Witch Misconceptions” You can listen in here (I encourage this as it is a great podcast and completely on topic with what I am about to share, plus Sara and Anna are fabulous women and have created and maintained a pretty darn awesome community)
Today (Saturday), I woke up and checked my email to find I had a message from a community member asking me about my use of the word Witch and expressing her own feelings of uncertainty about the word.
The thing is, “Witch” is loaded. It has been tossed around as a slur. Women (and men) have lost their lives over accusations of being a “Witch”. The word itself can conjure images of green faced, wart covered cackling hags or women in the woods luring children into their homes in order to cook and eat them. We may think of Witches as women casting hexes or curses. Or we may think of them riding off on their broomsticks or cavorting with the Devil.
Yet, Witch has also been reclaimed by many women and men to reflect their following of Earth based spirituality. Wicca and Wiccan practitioners often use this word to describe themselves.
But not all Witches are Wiccan. And I have yet to meet a Witch who worships the Devil or eats children. Of course, there are light and shadow sides to every word, every belief system and to humankind in general. We all hold shadow and light.
I will spare you the long historical story of the Witch word. If you are interested in learning about this there are a myriad of books on the topic.
Today I want to share with you my identification with the word Witch and how this connects to my spiritual practices and most importantly to the work I am doing at Wise Woman Witchery.
First of all, I am not Wiccan. I practice some things that are found in the Wiccan belief system, but this is not how I identify my path. My spiritual practice has been formed over time through experiencing many different earth based practices and different takes on some of the same practices.
When I hear the word Witch, my associations are naked feet on the earth, herbs and herbal medicine, living in rhythm with the cycles of nature (for me part of this is following the Wheel of the Year), using the tools of divination as a way to tap more deeply into one’s intuition and the messages of Spirit/Source, and tuning into and honoring the energies of all things (including place, stones, foliage, animals, people and spirits/guides). The Witch path for me is so embedded in my day to day that making Magic in my life can be as simple as stirring love into the food I’m cooking, calling a friend or loved one when they randomly pop into my mind, lighting a candle and saying an intention or a prayer, or anointing myself with oil and an intention as I prepare to move through my day. It is also gratitude for all things.(I am well known for talking to and thanking animals, trees, rocks and plants aloud and sometimes in public). When I make tea or medicine from plants I am making magic (this is a callback to my many potions I created as a child).
When I clear space or energy, meditate for calm or for information, connect to my Helping Spirits and Wise Beings, do a tarot or oracle reading or hold a crystal or stone to share in its energy, I am practicing Magic. And when I am whispering a prayer, lighting a candle, taking an intentionally deep breath to clear my own tension or anxiety, choosing my Wonder Woman underwear or bright red lipstick for an extra energy or confidence boost, I am also creating Magic. This Magic lives in me (and you!) every single day. I choose to bring it to the surface in my daily activities and actions (to be honest, I’ve done this for so long now I can’t imagine living a non-magical life), and it is this Magic that for me I equate with being a Witch.
When I state that I am a Witch, I feel the Magic that lives in me and in every being and I feel empowered by the connection this energy creates.
All that being said, this might not be the right word for you. Even as new women have come into my women’s circle, (a place where we cast a circle and do ritual on a weekly basis) some have struggled with the word Witch. (Remember how I said it is a loaded word?). I have had family members be concerned, confused and even put off by my use of the word (You should have seen me trying to explain Witch Camp at a family gathering). I believe our spiritual paths are ours. It is important to take what resonates and leave what doesn’t. I trust that this is how we create and nurture our own Magic and empowerment.
If Witch doesn’t fit, don’t claim it. You may resonate with all the practices and information I share and yet not consider it magic or not resonate with the word Witch. In fact that word may be very uncomfortable for you. That’s ok. You get to decide what sits right for you. You get to claim the words and practices that nurture your Spiritual and Sacred Self. And I want to support you in this!
I hope that I have been clear in my explanation of my own association with the word, and that this has opened a door to allow you explore and accept my offerings in a way where you are comfortable to take what fills your cup and leave what doesn’t. After all, you are the Wise Woman in the story of your life, and in my book the most sacred and magical thing you can do is listen to your Wise Woman voice!
Emily Morrison MA, MFT