The Witchcraft We Become

I was a lonely child. I am now and have always been a bit of a too-much person. I have big feelings, an abundance of natural energy, and I’m very smart. I also fall into the neurodiverse world when it comes to how my brain works. I have some sensory processing issues that can cause trouble if they get too close to the surface. I know now that some of the behaviors and lashing-out I experienced as a child were a response to hitting neurological overwhelm. It’s easy to analyze all of that now, in this Year of Our Lady Taylor Swift Two Thousand and Four and Twenty, and find healthy ways to manage all of it. But I was born in the 80’s when we didn’t have language, or support, for a lot of what makes up how I experience and interact with the world. All the knowledge, coping mechanisms, and practice I have now doesn’t change my beginning: I was a lonely child. I struggled with the friendships that my peers seemed to be effortless at, and I spent a lot of time playing outside alone. 

I sometimes joke that I’m so much of a Gemini that being able to talk to humans isn’t enough – I need to be able to talk to EVERYTHING, and that’s why I’m a witch. It’s a funny chicken or egg question, though. Did I start speaking to the world, or did it start speaking to me? Was I so desperate for connection of any kind that I was in a position to hear the silent voices of the land and spirits around me? 

I don’t really have answers; I only know and can talk about what I experienced. I grew up in Western Maryland, a green region abundant with water and forest alike. I had a bicycle and my childhood occurred in the days where turning kids loose outside was common practice. There were a few streams I visited and would spend hours playing in alone. I would gather up shiny stones from the creek bed and press them into the mud bank to create beautiful mosaics, whispering to the stream the whole time about how beautiful it was, and how the decoration would make it even more so. I built little “rooms” along the bank, positioning logs and stones to be furniture and laying out tea parties in fallen leaves and acorn caps for the invisible ones I chatted with. There were a couple small forests and wild patches nearby where previous wanderers built viewing platforms in some of the larger trees. I would climb the rickety ladders and settle against the trunk of the tree high up and talk to it. With it. There in the canopy, above the human world, I finally felt at a safe distance. My green friends were easier to connect with than the humans I had encountered. 

It’s interesting to look back and be uncertain what was of the mundane world, what was my imagination, and what was something more. 

When I was given my first book on witchcraft at age 15, I experienced the moment of homecoming so many of us do. I was astonished to learn that there was a word for my way of being in the world, for the connections I had cultivated, for the sense of being an outsider among my own species, and for the experiences that fell outside the “rules” of reality I had been taught: witch. And I wasn’t alone. For the first time, I held the possibility in my mind that I might one day find other people like me. 

There are potent and powerful reasons people find their way to Paganism. The structures of Pagan belief we settle into are informed by those reasons – the “big why” at the center of our respective spiritual paths. Some of us are drawn to agency and sovereignty and find support in spellcraft and will-weaving. Some of us are drawn to healing for ourselves and others and find resonance in herbalism and spiritwork. Some of us are rooted in history and a sense of place and find that folklore or historic reconstruction best fits those roots. Some of us are drawn to the mysteries that govern the flow of luck, fate, and the Universe as a whole, and find a path into astrology or dedication to a pantheon/deity best suited to those callings. Some of us are drawn to the human history of our line or region, to the graveyards and crumbling monuments, and find a path of ancestral veneration and supporting the dead to be most fulfilling. We become a particular kind of witchcraft in the world, and we leave more of that form of witchcraft in our wake. For my part, the witchcraft I have become and the witchcraft I am growing is that of community: with humans, yes. But with other Beings as well. 

Author and teacher Orion Foxwood has some wonderful sayings, and one of my favorites of his is “When the world needs witches, she makes witches.” I don’t think it’s an accident that there are so many of us right now. I don’t think it’s mere coincidence that as various crises in the world build to a screaming crescendo simultaneously, there’s a pulsing heartbeat of magic rising to meet that wave. 

I focus on combating the artificial isolation and sense of estrangement that the culture of the United States causes in me and others. I spend my energy building spaces and opportunities for people to connect with the deeper Mystery, the spirits around us, and also with those of like mind. I am creating the very community I needed most as a feral, neurodivergent, mystical child. My magical Work all supports this vision of an interconnected, safe, supportive community: my journeys to the spirits almost all contain messages related to how best to continue to serve the folk. When I am exhausted and beaten down, the message that comes is to simply do the next thing that connects people: create the next event, write the next newsletter, design the next ritual. The work itself is the fuel that gets me going again. My spellcraft revolves around keeping my various communities and those who serve them hale, whole, and well. The visions that come to me almost all relate to ways the community will need to be supported in the future. Even when they don’t make sense at the time, they eventually reveal that they were the next step in building the kind of community most needed. The further down the Heathenry rabbit hole I go, the more I understand my place in the tapestry of Pagan belief: Heathenry is a religion of community. In the cold north, if everyone wasn’t working together, you didn’t make it through the winter. Is it any wonder that the gods of the Norse are those who speak the most clearly to my heart? 

There’s a reason we’re all here now. There’s a reason the wild mystery is raging in our hearts and calling us to deeper connection. There are so many needs to be met, but also so many kinds of magic just waiting to do exactly that.  To paraphrase Ron Padrón of White Rose Witching, our crafts and traditions can help us understand ourselves and our obligations to the world through our magic. Our witchcraft can help us better articulate who and what we are. 

So, who are you? And what witchcraft are you becoming? We are all needed right now. What witchcraft are you building in the world? 

Hit me up in the comments. You never know when your ideas are exactly what another witch needs to read. 

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