Wednesday, October 9, 2019
When I say the word witch, everyone has images that comes to mind, normally both in terms of the appearance of the witch, but also their practice. We often have conflicting images: what society tells us versus what we aspire towards.
No matter what your aesthetic, you probably have some kind of 'this is what a witch looks like'. Perhaps your witch is an edgy goth, with pointed hat and dozens of necklaces. Maybe your witch is a hippy type, with flowing layered skirts and lots of prayer beads. Or your witch might be more subtle, wearing jeans and a tee-shirt that has something astrological on it, with a few key jewelry pieces that aren't obviously witchy (but have meaning to those know know to look).
I love witchy jewelry. I collect it, and I adore finding new pieces that I love. I don't wear it nearly as much as I wish I did, mostly for practical reasons. I am at the computer all day, so most bracelets get in my way after a short period of time. I rub my face...a lot...so wearing rings on my pointers is pretty well out, and I already wear a ring on both ring fingers....adding rings to my middle/pinky means they rub against each other. I think it looks awesome to have rings all over my fingers, but I find that it annoys me really quickly. And I mostly forget to put on necklaces in the morning, especially since I stay home most days, it's something that is easily lost in my life.
For many people, their job requires them to dress a certain way, and that often means they can't wear what they might like to. Even on their days off, we have to think about what other people might say, and being judged as being evil or dangerous is a very real concern for people. Even if you don't get put into the 'bad' box, too much spiritual/mystical stuff makes some people wonder if you are sane. It seems amusing, but this is the kind of thing that has been brought up in custody cases or when a promotion at work is considered. No one wants to be thought of as a flake.
This may all seem sort of superficial, but we express our identity through our dress. When we have these longings, it makes us feel like maybe we aren't being true to ourselves. Every time we think about wearing something, but then decide not to because we are worried about what other people might think of us, we wonder if we maybe aren't as dedicated as we thought we were.
But the often more devastating expectations are associated with our practice, with the kind of witchy stuff we do. There is just SO much out there, so many things that are associated with being witchy.
Firstly you have your cyclic stuff. There are yearly seasonal rhythms, moon cycles, daily repetitions. And each of these often have whole practices centered around them. These things all take time and effort. Working through the cycles of the year may seem like you only have to do something 'once every month and a half' but really you are doing prep work and after work. Sometimes ritual days are absolute all day (or all night) affairs, which means that you need to shift the rest of your life around them.
Working with the moon cycles sounds super witchy as well. Simply tracking the moon cycle takes time every day, and adding in things like setting intentions, doing workings, blessing moon water, cleansing crystals, banishing, reflecting...it's a lot. If you work with a full 8 phase cycle, it means doing something every three to four days. Even working just the big four means planning on doing things about every week...on a specific day often at a specific time.
I sometimes wonder where these expectations originated. I can't imagine our ancestors followed all of these cycles (especially not all at once). I also can't imagine our more recent predecessors (in the new age Wicca movement), when the focus was on working within a coven structure, managing to schedule group work for each and every occasion.
There are some suggestions that these weren't practices for every day witches, but rather for 'professional' witches: people who made their entire living through being witchy. Kind of like how some religious folk live their entire life doing rituals and observations...but they don't have to work a job and often don't have a family. Most of us aren't this lucky!
There is this belief that if we were a proper witch we would find a way to weave all these things together. I think this is the old "you can have a career and be a good wife and mother!!!" myth. We are human people, and we only have so much time and energy.....and some of us may have more or less of both of these than other people. I think you can weave your witchy life into your mundane life, but both sides have to be willing to give a little.
I would love to do full seasonal observances all year long. I really enjoy ritual, and I like to pull out all the tools, all the bells and whistles and do long and involved rituals. I absolutely don't have time for it...and I have time. But functionally, I can't regularly set out whole days to do nothing but witchy stuff, because in the back of my head there is always some part of my brain that is reminding me of all the stuff I am not doing at that moment. I can't really sink into the ritual, and I would much rather do a shorter ritual and really commit myself to it, than do a longer ritual but not really be present.
This compromise also shows up when it comes to witchy space. I love the super witchy aesthetic: with big wooden furniture, rows and rows of bottles containing any herb I might need, collections of crystals, huge elaborately illustrated books, space to keep all my tools organized, seasonal decorations...the whole nine yards. I definitely don't have space (or money) for this!
Especially for people, like me, who live with others who don't share all our beliefs, it simply isn't always possible for our house to represent our witchy practice in all ways. My hubby is very cool about a lot of things. I have witchy spaces all over. He likes a lot of the witchy stuff, from a decorating standpoint, so that is a big bonus. But whereas I might organize more with a mind towards energy flow, he looks at pure living functionality. There are things I wouldn't mind doing personally that would drive him up the wall..and that isn't something I want to do.
And then there is witchy study. Witchcraft is definitely a study heavy practice. There is a LOT we can be drawn to, that can make it's way into our practice, and that really requires time and dedication to master. Things like: tarot, runes, astrology, crystals, herbs, deities, holidays, meditation, mythology...really there are any number of spiritual studies that one can engage in, and they all take focus.
I would love to be conversant or have a solid, regular practice in all of those things I listed (and more!)...I'm really bad at a few of them. I know maybe a handful of herbs (most of which are also used for cooking), and I know my sun sign. But in the hierarchy of "things I'm interested in" these are pretty low on the list. There is interest, but if I have only one hour, I will almost always choose to read more on tarot than I would astrology. If I have an extra couple of bucks at the witchy store, I will buy a crystal before I buy herbs.
And sometimes, this does make me feel like I'm less of a witch. Some things are just SO pervasive. Herbs are a big one for me. Almost every spell lists herbs. They are many witches 'go-to'...but they just aren't my thing. Same for astrology. I know tons of witches who are constantly talking about how this person is such a perfect example of this sign...and I'm hard pressed to remember my husband and son's signs.
It's a constant struggle, to decide how to spend our time and focus. There are so many expectations out there, many of which we build up in ourselves. And we convince ourselves we aren't as good if we aren't doing/having/knowing all this stuff. But really, the great thing about witchy practice is it is highly personal. YOU are the master of what you need to know and what you need to focus on. YOU decide what you should study, what you should buy, what you should set time aside for.
So keep a solid hold on your witchpectations. Don't let your brain bully you into belittling the stuff you do. Know that every time you work on something witchy, you are practicing your craft. And if, at the end of the day, you didn't get to do every witchy thing you wanted to...that's okay. There is no measure of proper witchiness. You do what you can do, and that in and of itself, makes you a witch.