Am I A Real Witch If…?
Am I a real witch if…? The precursor to so many questions! In this post I’m hoping to answer a few of these, without getting caught up in too much of a rant.
As a secular witch, I believe there is room on the ‘crooked path’ for all of us, regardless of our beliefs. Last week, a lady called one of my articles ‘a load of bollocks.’ When I responded, she posted another article about ‘cultural appropriation.’ I would encourage anyone to read it, as it certainly provided food for thought. But I didn’t come away feeling chastised, despite her intention.
In calling myself an eclectic witch, I’m not appropriating anyone’s culture but my own. I haven’t set up an altar to Santa Muerte or laid claim to a Haitian Vodou ritual. Neither do I profess to ‘lay down tricks’ or invite the spirits of my ancestors back to party with me on the day of the dead. I simply work the magick that means something to me. And the fact that it doesn’t fit neatly into any one category does not make it, or me, any less valid.
It took me back to my first year of calling myself a witch. The endless questions whirring around my head, mostly beginning with ‘am I a real witch if…’
Curse Of The Witchsplainer
As I mentioned in my post about Finding Your Path, one of the biggest stressors for new witches is the ‘Witchsplainer.’
I didn’t come up with this fantastic terminology, I saw it on Insta, and it’s a great description.
A Witchsplainer is one of those who starts their sentences with ‘A real witch does it like this,’ or ‘If you were a real witch you wouldn’t do that…’ etc. Not only is this incredibly patronising, it also instills doubt in the mind of the practitioner, as to the authenticity of their practice. Not cool.
So with this in mind, I’ve written about 6 worries common to new witches, which will hopefully put some minds at ease.
For more of my witchcraft basics, please check out THIS.
Q.1: Am I Even Allowed To Call Myself A Real Witch?
There is a certain proprietorial-ness around the term ‘witch’ – one that I can understand. When you call yourself a witch, you are entering a lineage that is steeped in historical tradition, encompassing many different cultures and concepts. You are aligning yourself with the witches of the past, many of whom were branded heretics and persecuted for their beliefs. In recognising yourself as a real witch, you are also recognising those who came before you.
Those are some big boots to fill.
So yes, witchcraft isn’t to be taken lightly. It isn’t something you try on for laughs with your pointy hat and striped tights; and a certain amount of frustration is levelled at those who do. But neither is it an exclusive club that you are refused entry to unless you happen to have been born onto the guest list. With the exception of the initiatory traditions, witchcraft is accessible to anyone willing to devote the time to it; and it is my belief that no, you don’t need permission from anyone else to call yourself a witch.
Q. 2: Am I A Real Witch If I Don’t Have A Familiar?
I love reading about the antics of my fellow witches and their familiars. For some, they are referring to the spirit guide with whom they work closely. For others, they refer to their cats, dogs and other household pets. The concept of a familiar is very subjective, and not everyone sees it the same way. Tradition dictates that a witch has a black cat to do their bidding, but the truth is, a familiar can be any animal or even plant, with which you experience the deep spiritual connection.
I have a beautiful tabby cat called, rather uninspiringly, Hecate. Do I experience a deep bond with her? Yes. I love her unconditionally and feel truly blessed to have had her for the last 10 years. Is she my familiar? Doubtful. The love is there, the bond is too, but the spiritual connection isn’t. She likes to sit on my grimoire, but she’s just as likely to knock something over, demand to be fed at a crucial time in my workings or lie right where I want to lay my tarot cards. She is more often than not a hindrance to my practice.
Having really tied myself up in knots over this back at the beginning, I’m now completely cool with it. I have a pet, but I don’t have a familiar, and that’s fine. I believe that if and when the time is right, your familiar will find you. In the meantime, yes, you very much can be a real witch without one.
Q. 3: Am I A Real Witch If I Don’t Believe In the threefold law?
I particularly like this one, because it highlights a very important point. Not all witches believe in the rule of 3. That is primarily a wiccan concept, and whether you believe in it or not has absolutely no bearing on your status as a witch. In fact, I find life easier for not concerning myself with it, with no disrespect intended to my wiccan friends.
For me, the notion that whatever you send out will be revisited upon you threefold is based in fear. It is like practicing the craft with a hand behind your back. Love and light are admirable tenets to live your life by, but what about when the heavy stuff gets thrown your way? To be unable to defend yourself for fear of reprisal is not a situation I would care to find myself in.
The idea that if you are wronged you must wait for the universe to put things right is, for me, incredibly disempowering. It flies in the face of everything I wanted to achieve by becoming a witch in the first place.
That’s not to say that I don’t believe in consequences. For every action taken, there is a re-action. Whether you believe in instant karma coming back to bite you on the arse or not, it still isn’t a good idea to start hurling hexes around the place willy nilly.
My belief is that karma for our actions in this lifetime are the lessons we deal with in the next incarnation on our soul journey, just as in this lifetime we are working through karmic issues from our past incarnation. Many people would disagree with that theory, but the point is, for me, your thoughts on karma have no bearing on your craft. Being a real witch is about owning your power and taking responsibility for it, however you choose to use it.
Q. 4: Am I A Real Witch If I Don’t Practice Every Day?
I wish I had the time to practice complicated spells to improve my circumstances, 365 days of the year. Can you imagine that? It would be wonderful, but is it realistic? Of course not! Life gets in the way. The majority of us lead ridiculously busy lives and trying to shoehorn in daily rituals just isn’t always practical.
It doesn’t mean that you aren’t a real witch. If you miss the full moon, dark moon and any of the phases in between, it really is no biggie – just save your workings for the next one. Too tired and stressed to worry about spell work? Do yourself a favour and don’t bother. The truth is, it probably won’t be very successful anyway if your heart isn’t in it.
Remember, we are not at Hogwarts, we are not being judged (by anyone who really matters at least) and we don’t have deadlines. Following the craft is so much about getting into the right head space. If you aren’t feeling it, the best thing you can do is to take some time off. Practice self care instead. Your magick will still be there when you’re ready to go back to it. You are still a real witch. I promise.
Q. 5: Am I A Real Witch If I Don’t Know About Crystals/Herbs/Essential Oils Etc
The expert in anything was born knowing nothing. Witchcraft isn’t about cramming your head with knowledge and therefore becoming a witch. For many of us it is a lifelong journey of learning and discovery. Along the way, you come across many different elements, but that doesn’t mean you have to incorporate them all into your practice. Go where you feel pulled. I’ve always had a fascination for herbs which is why so many of my spells are centred around powders and oils. That doesn’t mean that you have to follow suit just because I do. Some witches are minimalists who don’t like to carry lots of ingredients and spell components. They are still witches.
Surrounding yourself with stuff isn’t the be all and end all of witchcraft. It’s the power that comes from within you and how you direct it that is important. The items are merely tools to help you along your way.
Q.6: Am I A Real Witch If I Follow Different Paths?
There are bound to be overlaps in cultures, due to the very nature of witchcraft. My main beliefs centre around the power of herbs. Herbs come from the earth itself, and continuing study along this path has lead me to working with roots, and more recently, dirt. Now, traditionally, ‘rootworkers’ are followers of the Hoodoo tradition. These guys are known for working with dirt, to ’employ the spirit’ of wherever it was collected, to do their bidding.
I don’t work in the same way, but I do consider roots and dirt to be the very essence of a plant or place, and it feels natural to incorporate them into my practice. Is this ‘cultural appropriation?’ I don’t believe so. Am I still a real witch? What do you think…
The Path Less Travelled
Taking the path less travelled sees many plagued by self doubt. Do we really need to have that reinforced by others we encounter along the way? What is this need some have to tear down others whose beliefs don’t exactly tarry with theirs?
Witches are just like any other person you might meet going about your daily life. By recognising themselves as a witch, they don’t automatically become a pleasant, reasonable or benevolent person. Witches can still have self esteem issues, or whatever it is that drives a person to put others down needlessly. That is something you will never be able to change. But what you can change, is how you respond.
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