Witches are extraordinary creatures. The practice of Witchcraft makes you extraordinary. That is not to say other people are not extraordinary. I believe all of us have magick within us and all of us are extraordinary in this interconnected, interdependent sphere of individuals, even those I disagree with or might not like. We all can find our own way, but there is something different in the Witch’s Path. Witchcraft teacher and elder Maxine Sanders says in her biography Fire Child, “We sacrifice the ordinary in exchange for the extraordinary.” I think about that often in the role of the Witch as the outsider.
Some Witches always were Witches, now, in all their pasts and always will be. Some join Craft traditions and are “made” with that Witchy potential awakened in such an immerse setting. Still others slowly transmute themselves through the practice of Witchcraft, bit by bit, like a alchemical experiment or a sculptor chipping away at the marble until the true form is revealed. While I often say Witchcraft is like a sexual orientation you awaken to and embrace, I know I didn’t always think of myself as a Witch when I began. I was a skeptic but walking the path showed me how Witchy my life had been thus far but I took it for granted. Soon I realized it’s a practice, a worldview, and a way of life.
Remarkable things happen when you practice Witchcraft. Even when circumstances seem dire, strange serendipities, synchronicities, messages, warnings, and freaky twists of fate occur defying odds. The psychic, the magickal, and the Otherworldly become part of your every day experience. Things can become so unbelievable that when they are “normal” for a time you think “what’s wrong?” Things feel “off” without the regular dose of the unusual. The path is said to make you more sensitive, vulnerable, and aware because we focus on the interconnection of all things, but also at the same time, make you almost super-human, a creature of tenacious will, a force of nature, and a magickal presence. There is a reason why we are not just people and priesthood, but seemingly creatures from myth and fairy tale. There is power in vulnerable awareness and being able to do the seemingly impossible, and the Witch expresses the paradox of both simultaneously. It is one of our mysteries.
When you are well trained, self trained or by another, there is a phase where you think you are invincible. Every spell seems to work. Every psychic message is accurate and has meaning. Until it doesn’t and you realize your humanness along with your more-than -humanness
We of course have to be on guard against illusion, delusion, and escapism of our own making. The Cauldron of Community, our teachers, mentors, peers, friends and students become a barometer of balance when the relationships are solid. But when all is progressing right, which is not synonymous with easy, as the Witches’ life is often filled with hardship and challenge no matter what a self-help book on manifestation will teach you, it is extraordinary. It’s magick! Which is why I can’t fathom those who seek the Witch’s Way who simultaneously want to divorce it from the extraordinary.
There has been a trend to divorce the “woo woo” or the seemingly unexplainable phenomenon of magick from magickal paths. There is a desire to dismiss the possibility of the extraordinary as childish, ill conceived, or as mental illness. While one must ever be on guard against the aforementioned illusions, that is part of the process of crafting consciousness. We have to pass through veils of illusion and some get stuck for a time. Some get stuck for a long time or will then decide to leave it but the only real way out is through. This is all placed under the term “woo woo” to be minimized and disregarded so they can present such beliefs as “fringe” and be able to say Witchcraft/Wicca/Paganism/Polytheism is just like every other religion. It isn’t. They aren’t. They are all magickal.
Some would deny the magick of their path wanting all things to be equal. Magick often establishes conditions that some people can do something extraordinary, and others can’t. This doesn’t sit well with our sense of fairness or justice. If its not for everyone, it should be for no one, but the same faulty logic could be applied to any other skill, talent, or opportunity. Someone’s athletic ability and the opportunities that such skills brings should not be minimized simply because all people don’t have that same ability. While I believe in equality, I don’t think every individual’s paths will manifest under the same exact circumstances. All these unique factors are in play within our lives, just not just magick.
If you deny even the possibility of the existence magick, spirits, deities, divination, healing, the soul, subtle energy, and other realms of existence, you might want to pick a different identity rather than try to fundamentally change ones that are already being well used like Witch. Magick is here to stay because it is part and parcel of the human condition and has survived even in these seemingly disenchanted secular non-magickal times because it is vital.
It gets to the heart of a truly enchanted life where you are not just observing but participating in it. Do you think your magick can reshape reality, even simply a little corner of it, or not? Are things simply happening out there, disconnected from you? Magick reinforces our interconnectivity and interdependence, yet can separate us from those who don’t have such a living worldview.
One of the experiences that sticks with me about the differences was a dinner with one of the Witches I admire most. She has been rich. She has been poor. She deals with chronic illness and pain. She has escaped abuse and remade herself more than once. And she had trained, both under teachers and by herself to gather focus, determination, and magickal power.
At a dinner with another mutual acquaintance who was stylizing himself as at least a Pagan or magician, if not Witch, because it would be convenient for his current work, a dinner we were all starving for from our long travels, a fire alarm went off right above us as our meals arrived. The staff made an announcement that there was no fire and everything was perfectly safe and you could stay or wait outside. Most waited outside. She and I, starving, decided to keep eating and just focus past the shrill alarm. Our companion, whom we spent the time just before explaining he was not a magical practitioner because he half read some books and lit some sage, tried to stay with us. He was excruciatingly uncomfortable. He left. Came back. Left again and the alarm was shut off. In the quiet he asked us, still a bit shocked, how we could stand it and she simply said, “Darling, we are Witches. That was what we were trying to tell you.” While all Witches are different, and have their own strengths and weaknesses, that stuck with me. There was a mutual aspect of will and focus enmeshed in our Craft experience but perceived by our dining companion as something unbelievable.
On a later trip with same dabbling acquaintance, he seemed absolutely flummoxed over what I considered a minor psychic “hit” if not simply observational skill of something semi-obvious rather than psychic intrusion, and still demanded to know how I knew this information about his boyfriend. I said “You know what I do for a living, right?” When that didn’t diminish his questioning, I simply returned to, “Darling, we are Witches. That was what we were trying to tell you.” We didn’t see each other much after that.
Magick isn’t making all your problems disappear instantly or conjuring lightning bolts from your fingertips. But Magick is not all psychological, unless we are restoring psyche to its metaphysical distinction as a portion of the soul. Certainly there is an amount of “headology” as Sir Terry Pratchett wrote about in his Discworld Witches books. Positive thinking, mindfulness, and a belief in things working out will certainly help but there is quite a bit in magick beyond self-help. Magick is often in the weirdness, or dare I say wyrdness, that is strange phenomenon that are unattached to intention or gain, but still give us a thrill, a shiver up the spine indicating the connections we share with the unseen worlds.
Magick is doing a love spell and receiving a communication from the Goddess telling you what the sign will be when you find your life mate, getting shocked when you do get it on the first date and being together twenty-six years and going strong.
Magick is parting the rain storm with a knife for your sister’s wedding that you are officiating and for the rain clouds to divide long enough to set up, do the ceremony and then it starts pouring right as the circle is released. And magick is repeating that basic spell for two more weddings.
Magick is the fast cash spell to pay an unexpected bill and the winning on a scratch ticket for just enough.
Magick is in speaking to the dead and having information for their loved one you couldn’t possibly know otherwise, bring peace.
Magick is making a deal with a Faery to obtain land for the community and the day after holding up your end of the contract finding the perfect place in the right price range.
Magick is doing healing work for someone who has cancer and the next scan shows the cancer gone but not being able to repeat it when your mother is dying of cancer. There is magick in the disappointments as much as the successes. Magick is found at the deathbed as much as the birth.
Magick is the awe being under the full Moon and knowing all other Witches have gather under the same Moon, as Raven Grimassi taught.
Magick is gazing into a crow’s eyes who has come to visit you.
Magick is in the famous British sacred site and equally in the city park’s row of willow trees by the man-made pond.
Magick is someone saying exactly what you need to hear exactly when you needed to hear it and sometimes being the listener and sometimes being the speaker and never knowing.
Magick is watching a plant grow from seed and watching yourself grow older with love and appreciation.
All of these are woo-woo to the person not conscious of the magickal world all around them. All of these are woo-woo to the person not conscious of the magick within themselves. Rather than downplay our own magickal reality to be accepted in interfaith work, politics, or society in general, we must open the door to those who just might be seeing a little magick in their lives. Someone opened the door of possibility for us. If fitting in means sacrificing what make us unique, I feel I will continue to not fit in and will still show up and get things done. In fact I think it’s better that way.
All of these are found in the practice, the worldview, and the way of life of the Witch; what is the art, the science and the religion of the Craft. They are the doing, the paradigm to make sense of the experienced, and the religion in the sense that traditional religions are synonymous with a way of life.
While I used to hate the term woo-woo seeing it as insulting, but I’m growing to embrace it. When I think of woo-woo I think of the Chinese Taoist concept of Wu Wei, a confusing and paradoxical term usually translated as “effortless action” of non-doing though often misunderstood to be inaction. You still live, work, eat, sleep and play, but do so from a state of awareness of the true reality. You are “in the zone” and this your efforts are seemingly effortless. Though the emphasis is on being rather than doing, process rather than accomplishment, Taoism, like most mystical arts, are filled with complex workings to cultivate a state of effortless effort. The paradox is in an effort to exert less personal control and attachment to be a vessel for the greater reality, you seemingly have more control. Taoist wizards are not unlike Witches in the heart of their practice. The idea can be found in the karma and dharma of India, terms often borrowed by the western magician.
The magickal heart is much the same regardless of the outer title.
I now look to the calls to remove our Woo-Woo as a personal reminder of the Wu Wei of our Craft, the resolution of paradox that leads us to the heart of all things. Those who seek to resign magickal paths to the ordinary will never resolve the paradox within themselves and the gate of mystery will not open. They need to seek that key. Matter and spirit. Individual and connected. Desire and will. Heaven and Earth. Light and dark. Male and female. Death and birth. All at the same time.
The magickal seeking of our desire leads to our True Will, our soul’s desire. The magickal listening reveals the vital consciousness within the land and nature and within the invisible spirit worlds. Our spells and psychic ability go hand in a hand and are both necessary. Together we are all living a magickal life.