Essential lessons for beginners and reminders for us ol’ timers.
When we first begin walking our path… When we start recognizing that we are not like the others… When we learn there is a whole new world out there ready to explore, we meet this new horizon with stars in our eyes. When we realize there is a new possibility filled freedom, and wonder we precipitously run in to greet this new possibility. An undeniable well of eagerness springs up from within. This eagerness drives us forward to learn, understand, and grow. We must know more! We must seek and understand!
While this eagerness is necessary for learning and growing, it also distracts us from recognizing some of the most critical lessons in Witchcraft. When we are consumed and intoxicated with the potential of power, we have no time to stop. In this rush to know what we want t know or at least enough to get by, we miss a lot. This issue is we don’t realize we missed anything until much later. This delayed realization can prevent us from understanding some critical elements on the path.
I know many who begin walking a Witchcraft or Pagan path don’t want to dig in too deeply, at least not at first. It’s tricky business, digging deep. Digging deep can mean you uncover what you have previously hidden. Perhaps it is something dark and secret, or something painful and severe. Digging deep means, you must come face to face with your fears. It means you must deal with your demons. It’s definitely not for everyone. Which is why Witchcraft is not for everyone.
The dark moon is upon us. Her voice echoes and resonates from the deepest, darkest depths of my soul. Her rich, deepening tone can be heard by those who find comfort under her thick black cloak. If we choose to accept her invitation, we will find ourselves wrapped in her warmth. BUT, her warmth is not readily given. You can only come to know her warm after you have come to know her cold embrace. No, this is not a horror story, I will tell. This is a personal story – one only you can muster. It is one that is overflowing with the soreness you bring to the table. And Yes, many a discomfort you will uncover as the dark lady wraps you in the cold still night, but… with each layer discovered, you will grow stronger. As each dark veil is lifted and moved aside, you will know healing, clarity, and peace.
Witchcraft can be very serious and very scary at times. When I wrote my post on Advice for Beginners, I did not think you were ready for the deeper nuances of the journey. But I think I have done you a disservice in holding back. Witchcraft and learning its nuances mean you have no choice but to dig a little deeper. Each time we find ourselves stagnant or feeling stuck, it is time to lift another veil. Each time you feel lost or uninspired, it is time to dig a little deeper, until a new layer is reached.
Fear is a big issue currently. So much so we attempt to deny it, sweep it under the carpet and try to forget about it. With the new generation coming into the Craft, it is up to those who have the necessary balanced experience to step up as effective teachers and guides. We cannot do this as cookiecutter versions of another. As teachers, we must be authentic. We must be true to ourselves and the Craft. It is our duty to unlock the door, so those who genuinely desire this path can walk through and stand beside us.
Too many things within the Craft have become posed, like a mannequin in a department store. Messy things have become staged and neat. The soil and mud cleansed of its ancient roots. Rough edges have been polished and smoothed and sugar-dusted to make them more palatable to the masses. The Craft has been simplified and broken into bite-sized pieces. This, my friend, is not Witchcraft.
Witchcraft is not safe or straight forward. It is obscure and obtuse. Witchcraft is complicated, bloody, and confusing. You cannot truly understand this path when you are spoonfed glitter crusted treats and shallow representations. Witchcraft is not neatly organized on your aesthetically pleasing altar, nor is it displayed brightly on the tips of your well-manicured nails. The real magick you seek is buried deep. Way down where the worms and beetles wiggle and writhe. It is in the fur of a departed creature as its body breaks down and composts to create nutrient-rich soil. It is the seed buried deep underground, working hard, reaching and struggling to break through the surface of the earth.
Authentic Magick is in the roots, the frail, and the mighty. Each digging deeper into the ground to find and pull in nourishment. It is in the leaf and stem as it grows upward to touch the sun and sky. Magick is in the storm raging a crossed the land, as it tosses rocks and trees out of its path. Magick is found in the clap of thunder and in the cleaver of lightening. It is the burning sun and the cold silver moon. It is in each flower and fruit that grows from hard work and perseverance. It is in the smoke as it rises from a carefully crafted herb bundle. Magick is in the fresh taste of cool-clear clean water. It is in the refreshing caress of a breeze. It is in the fragrance of moss and earth, and in the musky scent of water mingling with the land.
To find the magick, you seek you must understand a couple of things.
Know the cycles
We are all Nature, and Nature has cycles. Like Nature, we have ups and downs, highs, and lows. We cycle like the seasons and the moon. We are not meant to be linear.
Knowing your cycles is essential for understanding yourself. Knowing when your cycle is up or down will help you see when you are most effective in magick. This knowledge cannot be gained when we are artificially controlled by whatever means necessary. You need to know what triggers your anger, sadness, depression, happiness, motivation, and so on. You need to learn to realize what takes you down and what brings you back up. Most of all, you need to know what balances you between the two, and you must work to maintain this daily.
Understand the Messages & Respect the Messengers
When I make teas, I know a balance needs to be made. Some of the herbs I use are bitter, pungent, and spicy. Some are fragrant and sweet, which makes them far more palatable in flavor. Naturally, to make a flavorful tea, I would want to stick to the more delightful herbs with sweet flavors and aromas. This would steer me away from the more pungent and bitter herbs. BUT if I did this, I would never create teas with purpose, and I would never blend teas with substance and character. Eventually, all my teas would end up tasting the same, and they would be ineffective.
As an herbalist, I know the reasons why many plats taste bitter. Often this bitterness is a message of nourishment. Sometimes the bitter flavor is a warning. Herbs that can harm often have a very bitter taste, and we have evolved to recognize this. These herbs are best taken in small doses. Why? Because they can harm you, or worse, they can kill you. Our ancestors obeyed this warning with deep respect. Bitterness is a saving grace, and dear messenger telling you to stop.
As a Witch, learning to recognize the warnings and signs is critical. The hints and signs we are given speak to us of the potential. The potential for prosperity, harm, happiness, and more. They also warn us of when we should protect ourselves versus when we should project ourselves. Messages come from messengers who have chosen to bond with us and help us on our journey. They work with us because they want to, not because they have too. Often these relationships are forged with mutual admiration and respect. They are not demanded or coerced. Most importantly, they are healthy and balanced. There is a clear and mutual benefit for the witch and the entity.
Push past your comfort zone
Comfort keeps up stagnant. Comfort keeps us from learning new things and discovering our authentic power. Comfort secures us in the habit of complacency and laziness.
When we are complacent, we convince ourselves that there is nothing left for us to do, or that this is no point in doing it. We no longer have a need, much less a desire to move forward and grow. When we refuse to learn and grow, we miss out on the journey. When we stop exploring and understanding, we lose our sense of wonder. When we lose our sense of wonder, we lose a potent element to our magick. There is a significant portion of magick that is childlike and wonderous. It is filled with adventure and exploration. If we lose our connection to this aspect, we can become ineffective and cynical in our work.
I have always said, and I will continue to say it… Magick is an intellectual path. We must continually seek out ways to learn, grow, and expand. This means reading, taking classes, attending workshops, and more.
As you traverse this path in all its wonder, excitement, and experience, I ask you this,
When the Dark Goddess calls to you. When she asks you to look within and genuinely know yourself, will you?
Will you allow her to chill you to the bone in preparation to receive her warm waters of rebirth and vitality. Will you push past your comfort zone?
Will you push with her through the pain of birth to bring in a new understanding and new possibility? Will you tap into your childlike curiosity and thirst for knowledge?
Will you listen to the messages brought to you by unseen messengers? Will you tuck yourself under her dark cloak, and will you close our eyes, allowing her to see you from within?