I often wonder why the arts are so devoted to the portrayal of romantic love. Not that romantic love doesn’t play a huge part in our lives but the love between lovers is represented in poetry, film and song to the exclusion of any other definition of the concept. Which is oddly singleminded as other kinds of love are just as powerful and life changing as the romantic intrigues of novels and the silver screen.
Earlier this year I adopted an elderly German Shepherd and it is no exaggeration to say this dog is the love of my life. I’ve had fiancees, husbands, lovers and illicit affairs. I’ve been a daughter, sister, aunt and wife. I’ve been a fur Mummy to cats, tarantulas, degus, geckos and snakes. And I’ve been a friend and colleague to many. But nobody, nobody at all has ever managed to lay claim to my heart in the way this dog has.
It is a love that transcends all others. He is my support when I feel blue, he is my friend when I need a cuddle. He is my child when he needs help and comfort. It is a love with no complications, no resentments, no distractions and no conditions. It is a perfect love in an imperfect world.
I am not the only person to have bonded so completely with their pet. We bring our pets into our families, we love them, we share our lives with them and we watch them grow from babies to furry elders. They become one with us. They become a part of who we are.
I find it frustrating that this kind of bond between owner and pet isn’t given the same recognition afforded to other kinds of love. Society expects that when I bury my husband I will be given time to grieve. I will be granted time off work to attend the funeral. I will be sent condolence cards and casseroles from the neighbours. People will tell me how sorry they are. But when that fateful day comes when my dog crosses the rainbow bridge there will be nothing. I will be left alone with my grief because the world expects me to move on. Because that is the expected thing to do when a pet is lost.
Except I won’t be able to move on because I will be destroyed. I would rather lose everybody else in the world who is close to me than lose my dog. I know I will recover quicker from the death of my husband than I will from the death of my dog. But I also know I will be grieving alone in a world where many people, including those close to me, cannot grasp the enormity of what it is to lose a hairy friend who is linked by their very soul to yours.
I sought to mitigate the grief by planning to get another dog. But I will not be heartbroken when I lose a dog. I will be heartbroken when I lose that dog. I can’t replace him. I can love other dogs and no doubt I will. But I can’t use my love of others to spare myself the pain I will feel when I lose this dog. Sadly, nothing can spare me the pain I will feel when I lose this dog.
I was caught unawares by this love. Had I known having a dog would be like this I’m not sure I would have adopted him. It is easy to guard a heart from the pitfalls of Hollywood love. But love has a habit of sneaking in by the back door. Unfortunately for me, by the time I realised that, the gates of my heart were already breached.
We will enjoy the years we have left together. And most of the time I will forget that out there somewhere is a bridge that my dog will have to cross one day. I hope that in the years between his crossing and mine I find a way to live in a world without the best friend I have ever had. And I hope that when the day I dread finally arrives, somebody understands and cares enough to send me a condolence card and a casserole.
Today I was tagged in a post linked to an article about the recent furore surrounding so called baby witches on TikTok and their supposed hexing of Fae folk and the moon of all things. I was asked if I had any comment on the subject given my position within the Pagan community. My first and immediate response was to laugh out loud at the idea of hexing the moon given I’m a witch with over twenty years of experience and practice but as I thought about it further, I realised there was much more to this than first met the eye.
There’s a lot to unpack in this situation so please bear with me while I work through it.
Researching this online it would seem that while the whole fuss is about new witches who may not know better themselves, the person behind this is a more experienced witch. If this is true, then I have my concerns about this whole situation.
New witches, especially those who are young and probably quite naïve to the world and how it works, are open to influence from those older and/or more experienced than themselves, it’s the same whether we’re talking about witches or cooks with Gordon Ramsey aspirations – we all need someone to look up to when we have no knowledge ourselves.
These witches seem to think that being a witch is about outward power over beings and entities which they have no knowledge of and little experience in. Given the state of the world right now, and especially the USA, am I surprised that they are drawn to have power over something right now when they seem to have so little of their own power? How easy would it be to convince these young folk that they can have power and over things that are bigger than themselves simply by preying on their fears of having no control over their own lives and what happens to them? I believe that it is entirely possible that they know no better and have been influenced by someone more experienced and sadly, in the same position as they are – feeling as if they have no control over their lives so seek it in other places.
As we’ve seen recently with certain political figures, power seeking is a destructive behaviour when it’s used to control people and events. It’s nothing short of abusive and dangerous, and my concerns are that these new witches have been coerced into believing things that a responsible and sensible witch who understands the true reality of a craft path would never teach them in a million years.
That’s not to say their behaviour should be excused at all but anger towards them rather than their teacher seems misplaced. They should of course be helped to understand the consequences of their actions fully from the implications and responsibility of using hexes to the damage that is done to people’s perceptions of those who follow craft paths. Once that is done hopefully, they will seek more solid education from sensible and well-grounded practitioners who can teach them where the real power in a craft path lies.
As for the person behind all this while I hope they find the help they need to heal and then find their own power in their life, I also hope they face the full force of their actions and the consequences that come with it. It’s a special responsibility to be in a position to be able to pass on knowledge learned and those of us who chose that path need to be both acutely aware and respectful of that responsibility. To use it to hold power over people is to me a heinous act and that person deserves to have their platform taken away from them at least.
To those who are scared this will be having an affect on their lives – please, please don’t be. The likelihood of their dabblings actually working are slim and are far more likely to affect them than they are anyone else if they do. It’s easy in times such as these we are living in to attribute difficulties we are going through to things like this but the reality is that it just isn’t realistic or likely. What it is realistic and true is that as a global community we are facing the consequences of our own actions as a whole race and now have to face them and deal with them just like any individual does when they make mistakes.
To those who are angry at the people who brought this upon us all I say please let’s use that anger more effectively than by typing angrily on internet forums. I understand it, we are too often laughed at and mocked for our beliefs and practices when to us they are a very real and important part of who we are and the lives we lead. Actions like this make it harder for us to be taken seriously, and that anger and frustration felt is righteous. I would suggest that we might be better directing that anger in more useful ways and using the energy it gives us to fuel activities that show us in a better light.
We can all learn from this, please lets do just that!
There is a lot going on in the world right now. Much of it is tearing apart the fabric of society as we know it, and with it, a lot of people’s sanity. Everywhere I look there are arguments about how we should all best live our lives and it’s difficult to watch, yet I have this feeling that it’s all going to be worth it some way down the line.
When I started writing this today, I began by wanting to talk about respect, its meaning and why we need to do better at it as modern-day Pagans. I knew my subject and what I wanted to say yet every time I tried to write it out, I got stuck. Unable to move further, to get my thoughts down and by the time it came around to tea-time, I was feeling more than frustrated. I had gotten quite angry with myself for not being able to be coherent on this subject because its important right now and I have all the feels about it.
I wanted to scream at the world and ask why we can’t all just respect each other and our respective ways of life.
I see honour given to those who gaslight, gatekeep and have no particular thing worthy of admiration while those that are humble, are trying their best and who are quite frankly great people are maligned, mocked and pushed aside. What is it with us humans and what is it with those who lap up the respect that they don’t rightly deserve? As someone who is highly sensitive to emotional changes both out there in the world and inside my own inner world, I feel this in every cell of my being. And it hurts.
What I realised as I was sitting on my back door-step being angry at myself is that right now there is an amazing thing happening both within the Pagan community and the world as a whole, it just takes being able to see past all the horribleness to find it. An epiphany moment – woohoo!
What we’re experiencing right now is a healing crisis.
So, what’s one of those then?
A healing crisis is what happens when we know something that we’re doing is bad for us and the people around us, but we keep on doing it all the same. Our subconscious mind knows this and eventually creates conflict so that we pay attention to it. It’s uncomfortable to say the least. It’s the point where we hit a wall and have no choice but to change the thing that’s wrong or accept our own destruction. If we’re going to make those changes and survive, we have to face up to the harmful thing we’re doing and heal our relationship with it.
The difference now is that instead of seeing it with one person in my healing room, I can see it happening to the smaller community I am a part of and if I look further out from that, the whole of humanity. It is the uncovering and calling out of trauma so that as it is seen and understood, it can be learned from and healed. This lack of respect I was so angry about earlier is a symptom of the healing that is needing to be done.
Within the Pagan community I see issues with so called leaders who are really just people who have no personal power so seek to suck it out of others to make themselves feel better. I see cultural appropriation instead of appreciation. I see bullying and the mocking of people's beliefs and experiences, and I see people thinking they are better than everyone else for what reason only they know. It shouldn't be like this and the damage it does goes far deeper than any of us will ever truly know.
Within the wider world I see the same issues just on a larger scale.
Thankfully though, I see now that the healing process has begun. Thanks to the bravery of those who are speaking out about the injustices done to them, many people are questioning if what they believe is right and finding they’re lacking somewhat so are making changes to their understanding and core beliefs. There is the flip side too in those that fight for maintaining the status quo so they don’t lose their perceived power, even though that power is in itself an illusion they have created to hide from their own pain and control their world.
It may take a long time for me to see that mutual respect that I long to see so much in the world, but it is possible. Of course, just like a person who is suffering, we may also head the other way and destroy ourselves but just like any good optimist, I have an indestructible belief that we will find a way through.
So right now, lets fight to get past this crisis and bring about the healing we all so desperately need to enable us to be better and do better. Maybe then we can have that real respect that the world so desperately needs.
I've been crumbling for two weeks.
I had this idea to write about the opression of women and how witchcraft has been used for hundreds of years to control women to the point of even policing the way we laugh!
And yet, I'm crumbling. This witch is out for the count.
I want to share my thoughts with you, my journey with you and my almost two decades of experience but when I can hardly manage to string together two coherent spoken words, my ability to structure written words usually goes downhill shortly after.....
So this week the message from the Insecure Witch is; sometimes it's ok to say "I can't do this" and try again another day.
Here's to just taking one day at a time!
xXx Debi xXx
As someone who has been sheltering under the Pagan umbrella for well over a decade I can say with truth that Paganism is close to my heart. As a witch my practise is fairly solitary but as a Pagan I welcome the community, the values and the people that this path of life attracts.
Unfortunately a path that is not bound by scripture or years of convention has, in recent times, also attracted a different element. An element to my mind that has no place in a belief system which I equate with equality, fairness, kindness, a love of the Earth and a compassion for all people and beasties.
In much the same way that Britain First have tried to co-opt Christian values and ISIS have tried to usurp Islamic values I am starting to see my own faith become associated with a misrepresentative and unwelcome element and one that I worry will cause the same confusion and controversy for Pagans that the idiots in Britain First and ISIS have done for the Abrahamic faiths.
To some extent it is easier to co-opt Paganism than it is Islam, Judaism or Christianity. We have no single scripture or doctrine that spells out what it is to be a Pagan or what our beliefs entail. The holy scriptures of the three Abrahamic faiths clearly detail what being a Christian, a Jew or a Muslim involves. Pagans enjoy no such clarity, to be a Pagan can mean something very different to every individual who identifies under the umbrella term of Paganism.
The far right have a definite need to identify with a faith. This is because a good deal of their prejudice is targeted at those with differing religious beliefs. Historically they have attempted to align themselves with Christianity in order to fuel their prejudice against Muslims and Jews but as the tactics the far right deploy in their persecution of UK minority faiths move further and further from the teachings of Jesus Christ they have increasingly started to usurp the Pagan faith as an alternative.
The fluidity of Paganism is one of the elements that attracts the far right. As a non-prescriptive faith there are no hurdles to overcome to self-identify as a Pagan. There are no mandatory rites of passage, no learning or memorising of scripture. There is no formal initiation into Paganism. It is therefore perceived by some as a faith that requires minimum effort to adopt.
The far right are attracted to Paganism as they perceive it in some way as being the traditional faith of the ‘English’ people. A faith that predates Christianity, Islam and Judaism appeals to their obsession with Nationalism and their white heritage. It is interesting to note however how inconsistent they are with this as those of the far right who do try to adopt Paganism focus very much on the Nordic Gods and Nordic mythology of the Vikings who, rather ironically, would have been the “invaders” and not the indigenous settlers of the British Isles.
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