The whole concept of how much to share with other people is a subject close to my heart and one that I have been thinking about a lot recently. Witchcraft has, throughout history, been a relatively secret practise and although in the modern age more of us are willing to speak out about what it is that we do, opinions still differ as to what extent specific practises and personal details should be shared. It’s a tough decision to make when deciding just how much you want to open yourself up to others.
We witches often talk about hiding ourselves in full view, wrapping ourselves if you like in an invisibility cloak of day to day normality. You wouldn’t know I’m a witch from my day job, my everyday conversations or the way I interact with friends and family. I cloak my thoughts and the magic I work under a thin layer of convention. But interestingly enough, the more I open up about what I am, the more private I become with regard to what I do. I’m happy for people to know I’m a witch because it doesn’t threaten me at all for them to know it. Most people are fairly dismissive of such a label anyway and lack any depth of understanding as to what being a witch really means. But as for what I do - the details of the intricate way I weave magic and belief into my life - I just don’t feel comfortable sharing that with others, particularly others with dissimilar beliefs to my own. They don’t need to know and I don’t need them to know.
Essentially I suppose what I’m saying is that it doesn’t matter what others think and believe about what it is that I do. An experienced witch looks only to herself for validation. I would consider myself a poor witch if I needed to be thought well of by others to justify what I do in my own personal workings. It follows therefore that I don’t need to be transparent about what I do and the powers I work with, it is enough for me to know what I do and that I do it well. There’s an obvious arrogance here but I prefer to think of it more as a self reliance, the lack of need to share because I’m content with who I am. In truth I’m not keen on all this heart on the sleeve, inner most thoughts out and displayed to the public business. I suspect a lot of it is because people are seeking approval for the fundamental nature of their true selves and such a thought appals me. You’ll never see my innermost thoughts on the internet because I seek approval from nobody but myself.
Speaking personally, I am a bit of a dichotomy. I’m more than happy to identify as a witch and to share with most of my friends, family, work colleagues and acquaintances the concept of what it is that I do. However, I am reluctant to share the detail. Beyond the written word I find it quite difficult to communicate with other people and to express any part of me beyond the superficial. My mind is my own and for me solitary witchcraft is just that, solitary. I am perhaps more fortunate than most in that as a novelist I have a cast iron excuse to remove me from any social situation at a moment’s notice. And if occasionally “writing the novel” has become shorthand for manipulating the world around me then perhaps I am more comfortable with that than I would be sharing my workings to a more personal degree.
Despite the fact that I believe my craft to be a private undertaking between myself and the Gods, my inability to share the essence of what I think and believe with others does on occasion frustrate me. In shying away from sharing the more thoughtful side of my personality I often across as a bit silly and I can’t tell you how much this annoys me. But whether I like it or not, being a witch has separated me from other people. People find it hard to understand why I do the things I do and I don’t understand their fascination with the mundane. (You don’t change the world by watching television!) I do come in for a fair bit of criticism for perpetually having my head in the clouds but in honesty, for a witch, that’s the only place for your head to be.
However it can be hard to watch the distance expand between yourself and others, especially when you know you’ve come far enough to never be able to turn back. Once a witch has achieved a certain degree of self actualisation there is nothing in the world that will force her to turn her life back over to the mundane. I would rather lose everything and everyone in my life than turn the clock back to a time when I didn’t have the abilities I have today. And if the price I must pay for that is that other people no longer find me easy to understand and I no longer find them easy to understand then sadly that is how it must be.
The loneliness of a craft path can be difficult for all concerned. I don’t mean in respect of lack of other people, but with regard to the expanding distance from them. I speak to many witches who feel trapped in their own heads and at times I can identify with this. My mind is filled with thoughts and sensations that simply don’t translate to the world around me. I’m as erudite a witch as they come but even I don’t have the language to express my thoughts and bring other people into the world I have created for myself. And unfortunately the more I become involved with the intricacities of my craft, the more this void widens. A witch learns to rely on herself for support, to find solace not in the company of others but within her own head. It is perhaps unsurprising that eventually company comes to mean less to her than it once did. Speaking personally and with that rare touch of Degu Witch honesty, I have found that the harder it becomes to express myself, the more I choose to shut myself off from other people, both emotionally and physically. The effort of constant explanation is just too great, it is easier to present a simplistic façade and live an alternative mental reality “behind the scenes.” If you imagine trying to express complex thoughts using only your GCSE French you might get an idea of what I am talking about. Sadly, loneliness is, for many, the price you pay for the powers you command as a witch.
A word of caution from a friendly witch - too often “different” is implied to mean “better” and this isn’t the case. Being a witch does make you different to other people, there’s no two ways about it - being a witch does separate you from non witches and makes it harder for you to relate to the world but that doesn’t mean a witch is living a life of any more value than anybody else. Beware of widening that gap further with the implication that you see yourself on a higher plane to the rest of the world…
The thing with the word “witch” is that people use their own misconceptions and beliefs to interpret it as they wish. Openly identifying yourself as a witch is giving little, if nothing of yourself away. It doesn’t matter what label you choose to term yourself, a witch can wear a huge placard saying “witch” and still hide who she is and what she does from everyone who knows her. No matter what she chooses to share, the true essence of a witch is to keep most of herself locked away on the inside.
Image http://browse.deviantart.com/art/Witch-fragment-78757278 (Katjafaith). Lol - image sadly NOT of the Degu Witch :(
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