Friday, February 01, 2008

What does it mean to be a Witch - Part One

I got asked this question some time ago by Kahless. At first I squirmed about the label, after all, I do come from a staunch christian background where witchcraft is up there with adultery and murder as the unforgivable sins. However the biblical definition of witchcraft has nothing to do with modern Wiccan practice ... says she soothing those Parent voices in her head.

However I am a witch - I do believe that thought influences reality (magick), I can alter my conciousness at will and I do celebrate the 8 festivals in the year, plus I like all the velvet dresses, cloaks and magical tools. I am also a woman - and I believe deeply that witchcraft is the ONLY religious persuasion that truly celebrates the feminine, that sees divinity as female first, then male. I subscribe to that point of view, if that makes me a Witch then so be it.

I am directly opposed to the ethos of patriachal society which has done nothing but destroy and oppress based on its interlocking pillars of sexism, racism, class exploitation and environmental destruction.

Being a Witch is a stand against those philosphies and so the first and foremost reason for taking this path is because Witches treat the planet and humanity with respect.

Deep Ecology and ecofeminism are encapsulated in the Wiccan path. If you want to learn more about these concepts then I recomment

I watched the BBC series Planet Earth and was filled with awe as well as deep sadness. Who are we to rape and plunder this wonderful planet? Who are we to set ourselves up as Masters of the natural world?

Being a Witch means that I experience myself as part of the living earth and therefore I must play my part in protecting the planet. Witchcraft is a hybrid indiginous religion, and as with all such paths it originates from a time when mankind HAD to respect the earth. He had no choice but to work within his environment and live in harmony with the seasons. All other religions came along much later. In fact 'Christian Cultures' were responsible for the great colonial horrors of slavery, the decimation of native american society and most indiginous peoples who by and large lived in harmony with nature and only took what they needed to survive.

In formal religion God rules the world from outside. In Witchcraft Goddess is the world manifested in each one of us and the ecosystem of the planet. Worship of an external God who has given permission for mankind to bring the planet into subjection, rationalises the belief that mankind can plunder the planet. As he is encouraged to conquer sin in his own flesh, so he has been encouraged to conquer the natural world and the peaceful people that live in harmony with it. Think of the crusades and the missionaries; whole societies have been crushed or dismantled either by war or dogma until they are no longer able to sustain their original life styles. Witchcraft recognises ecological balance - it is a religion of ecology. It also recognises and values indiginous culture.

These things are very important to me. They touch my soul - therefore being a Witch is a political as well as a spiritual statement.

I observe the 8 festivals which follow the seasons; the solstices and the equinoxes. I observe the phases of the moon. It is a rhythmic path in which nature plays the most important role. I recycle, I buy ethically farmed foods, I am aware of my carbon footprint and am now making choices that reduce it. I support charities that work for the environment, I avoid supporting organisations that dont. Its not perfect, no doubt I contribute to the destruction as much as the next man but I do make sure my spiritual path has some impact on my life.

Being a Witch means being alive now! It is a joyful path. I love it.

OK, so thats probably enough from me. I have had to rush it due to time pressures so do forgive me if it is not constructed as well as I would have liked. Part 2, 3 and possibly 4 will cover the female aspect and more of the fluffy stuff.


Kahless said...

I agree that we have no right to plunder planet earth like we do. And Mother Nature will backlash against us.

I recycle loads too, though dont do enough to reduce my carbon footprint!

Anonymous said...

QV, thank you for sharing, I had no idea what being witch meant in practice.


DJ Kirkby said...

Well done, I liked this and am looking forward to the rest!

trousers said...

Very interesting to read: I suppose I too recoil at words such as "witchcraft", probably due to all the associations with horror films and novels (surprise surprise) and all that cliched kind of stuff, which is obviously not exactly what it's all about!

So it's good to read this and get an informative and straightforward description of what it does actually mean in real terms for you, and to further dispel the kind of associations mentioned above. Fascinating stuff too, the writings about formal religion, dogma and ecology. I look forward to reading more! x

Vi said...

Yep, another one looking forward to hearing more!

Queen Vixen said...

Kahless: It amazes me that even now people discount the environmental disaster that is coming (already here).

Hull: I shall be giving you at least another 2 installments. It means so much more than the buffy/sabrina perception

dj: Should be writing this week. Got a whole weekend writing my dissertation

Trousers: The common perception is so wrong, whether it is the horror film stuff, or the damned to hell stuff. Its an eco spiritual path in essence.

Vi: I cant afford for my blog - or facebook to distract me (squeel) have dissertation to write but I will make some time to do the next bit

Böbø said...

Well done QV on such a clear and passionate description of the beliefs that you have come to embrace.

I'd like to hear more too. But also hear more about the journey out of the closed in world of the sect you were brought up in, and the evolution of your beliefs into something that would that would be shamed by them.

PS: You do look great in velvet
PPS: Don't forget the sword thing- I'm thinking that entitles you to be called a witch too, or else...

Queen Vixen said...

Bobo: Thanks for the stroke. I am passionate about this path. The other one is not something I want to 'rubbish' or discount. A lot of people are also passionate about that. I think a lot of it is what was forced upon an individual as a child. Its natural to rebel or find a unique path, something opposed to the value system of your parents. I found the old system too restrictive, too difficult not to adapt to because it was part of my parent structure.

The sword is fabulous - you have never seen it I beleive. Maybe I could bring it to conference, get me arrested or something.

Rowan S. said...

While I agree that witches are for the most part more in touch with nature and the earth, the plundering of the beauties of this planet has never been God-sanctioned. This has been an example of free will and free choice in action. People will often use religion as an excuse to do things, even bad things, but it is their choice, not God's. The blame should be placed with the people.

Anonymous said...

I have only one issue with your article. And that is the statement that the feminine comes before the masculine. You have forgotten that as there is a balance in nature, so there is a balance in the divine. The lord would be nothing without his consort, the goddess. Just as the goddess would be nothing without him. To completely ignore the masculine, that is to create imbalance within yourself. The same goes for the feminine.

The Domestic Triffid said...

Thanks for this post - having a bit of a "moment" - and it really calmed me down and clarified things for me.

I actually Googled "what does it mean to be a witch " and yours' was the first answer that came up. And it is a good answer. :)

I shall follow up your other installments...

rhythmpixie said...

Anonymous, I take issue with your statement. Yes, it is true, there is a balance between feminine and masculine, but both for the purpose of this blog (which, I know, I am very late to the party but wanted to say this anyway) and for the purpose of an interpretation of being a witch (not maybe *everyone's* interpretation, but I would guess more than half, perhaps) it is important to emphasize the utter importance of the feminine. I think anyone with a rational brain understands that there are inherently yin and yang energies in the world, as the virility of Spring and the inwardness of Winter show, but it's not necessary to say that someone is creating an imbalance just because they themselves either prefer to focus on the feminine or feel more drawn to the feminine at the time. This wasn't meant as an official document on being a witch; it's one person's experience, so cut them some slack. There are also plenty of creation stories where there was no such masculine energy present: the feminine force created it all.

Don't cause issues because someone hasn't dotted all their i's, or because you're not doing your research.