It wasn’t until I was in my late twenties that I realised that I was a witch. Through a happy accident, Phyllis Curott’s Witch Crafting book landed on my door mat and out of lack of reading material, I decided I’d give it a go.
The last thing I expected was to feel as if my soul had come home. The pages spoke truth and I knew that I’d found something I didn’t even know I was looking for. The book changed my life.
As this revelation coincided with my life imploding, I didn’t feel I had to be in the broom closet. I explored ‘witch’ at leisure and contently walked a solitary path. I never hid away – in fact, I blogged for about seven years on my, now defunct, Witch Blog.
Suddenly, while writing my first book, I felt the word ‘witch’ was too heavy for my shoulders. My spiritual life didn’t change or disappear but I felt I would be judged for my beliefs rather than my merits. I slowly distanced myself publicly from witchcraft. I hid away not only from the world but from myself.
I thought I would be judged, persecuted and damaged for being myself.
The witch wound was burning me.
We meet the witch early in life through fairy tales. She’s the scary old woman, alone in the forest and ready to trick unsuspecting children into becoming her dinner. She’s the cauldron keeper and stirrer of magic. Sometimes, she’s the shapeshifter who tricks handsome, young dudes into loving her while keeping her true likeness hidden.
If you dissect the fairy stories, the witch is shamanic. Baba Yaga, the old Slav wild witch of the forest, will eat you up and spit out your bones (she told me so in meditation) just as the witch will eat children. You visit the witch because she will change you. She knows the old ways.
The fairy story witch, like the modern witch, is not fully part of her world. She’s hidden away because her freedom, her views, her beliefs and her ways make her alien to a society that prides itself on control and conformity. It’s better to teach fear of the witch rather than face the consequences of a liberated population.
During the Burning Times, thousands of people died because they were different. Maybe they happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time or upset a nasty neighbour who was out for revenge. Not just women but men too met their maker at the end of a noose. Who can say how many were true witches – the daughters and sons of Baba Yaga?
There is a notion amongst modern witches that witches of old lived on the edge of the village. They were the healers, midwifes, herbalists, diviners and magic-makers visited in times of need and kept at distance at all others. They lived by their own rules and followed traditions passed down through the generations.
I have yet to find historical proof that this is true, but the myth reaches into our souls and we don’t want to let it go.
We want to feel liberated, to be ourselves in whichever unconventional way that presents itself. We understand nature, talk to the spirits and follow cycles – we want to be free to remember the mysteries and the old ways. And, we’re happy to keep away from mainstream, toxic culture with its secrets, lies and destruction.
We want what the witch on the edge of the village had.
Those of us who identify as a witch feel a distance from the rest of society, knowing that at any moment the wind could change to reveal the witch hunters waiting for blood.
Sometimes the witch hunter is not an outside person but an inner voice that urges you to abandon who you are. A voice that tells you that you can’t be different: constrict, conform, merge into mundania, keep safe. Hide away. Be less, not more.
We carry around our own limiting beliefs, society’s programming, generational wounding in our DNA, and experiences from lifetimes once lived. It’s no wonder we become afraid.
Patriarchal society has not been kind to women. Nor has it been fair to men either who suffer from the witch wound too. In truth, patriarchy has only served, and continues to serve, a teeny-tiny percentage of the population. If we don’t heal what is tender and sore inside of us, they’ll continue to reap at our expense.
The world needs to change.
And we can do that by healing the witch wound.
We can embrace all that is within us: the beautiful quirks, innate wisdom, unconventional views, sacred passion, and reverence for life. We can find the courage to allow the world to view us in our completeness even if society will show us as broken. We can be strong enough to be ourselves no matter what.
When we heal, we heal the world. We owe it to ourselves and our future children to heal the witch wound.
REWILDING THE WITCH: HEALING THE WITCH WOUND – an online course for witches who want to reclaim their power and rediscover their magic.