I'm going to leave the nature nurture debate to the biologists. As witches we've done the subject matter to death and we are still no closer to a universally accepted answer. My own view is that it's a pointless debate anyway. Without an exhaustive knowledge of personal genealogy I'm unable to tell you what witches lurk in my family tree. And what about those witches who choose not to practise? How would we even know about those? Some witches can trace their hereditary lineage, many cannot - that is not to say that those without definite proof do not have witchcraft in their family tree.
What I am interested in discussing today are the changes that occur when you do become a witch (or to put it in more appropriate language for the more traditional among us - when you actualise the craft that lies within you).
There are no standard changes of course, the experience is different for every person who chooses to make the crossing. And I used that wording very specifically. To my mind there is a single definite step when you choose to take the step of committing to a craft path. Many people practise the craft before taking that irrevocable step and some never choose to, content that they may practise magic on occasion but they have no wish to step through the looking glass and embrace the
changes that mark the beginning of a changed way of life. This crossing over for some is a formal stylised ritual, for others it is a moment of quiet and simple certainty. In either case when it happens you become aware that you are starting on a journey that will change almost everything about you - a journey from which you will likely never be able to go back.
Ever wondered about that old saying "Once a witch always a witch?" It means that once you have awakened dormant levels of understanding in regard to both yourself and the world around you you cannot step away from that knowledge, you cannot unlearn your own awareness. You may decide never to practise magic again but you cannot turn away from the person you have become. Not a decision to be made lightly.
When I speak of awareness I'm speaking of awareness in many different areas but one of the specific ways in which most witches experience this awareness is developing a greater empathy with nature. I distinctly remember always being irritated with litter droppers but after my own transition litter developed the ability to incite me to rage or induce me to tears. I could do some beautiful hexes at those who drop litter.... (and I probably will, lol).
Other witches have spoken to me about a sense of feeling set apart from other people. This is not about feeling inferior or superior it is simply that the core of your life is on a different playing field to the people around you. The walls of time become thinner, the mundane harder to endure and eventually reality itself becomes kind of negligible. As a witch you are not tied to time and place in the manner other people are. Eventually you lose perspective on the world that other people inhabit.
Witchcraft certainly does change the way you think, it illuminated my own philosophical thinking and turned me into a person who cares passionately (possibly a little too passionately - think those ill advised political debates on Facebook and Twitter) about the world I inhabit. It sets me apart from people who live in the detail of the moment. This is true of many witches who speak of a sense of isolation. I would always caution someone new to the path that witchcraft can be a lonely road.
The most profound change for me was an absolute confidence in my own opinions,
a reliance on self validation rather than the thoughts of others. This to an extent is isolating and perhaps explains why I always talk about witches having a touch of arrogance. This sense of total confidence spread to all areas of my life influencing my work (not so bothered), my appearance (unconventional and growing comfortably fatter by the day) and my relationships (not integral to who I am as a person). I would offer the warning that the path to the craft can change your personality substantially and not always for the better. There can be something quite unlikeable about the self satisfied know it all and it's very difficult to be humble when you've gone from seeing the world morphed from black and white into glorious technicolour. Even the least assuming of souls would find it hard not to be a little smug with the new abilities and perception. That said, those attuned to their path and accustomed to success often regain a sense of humility.
The confidence is also borne from power. Power does change people and developing a power over yourself and other people can be exhilarating. But the old saying warns that power corrupts and sadly it's very true. Just because you can do something doesn't mean that you should do it. And quite a lot of witches could do with learning that lesson...
Power on a personal level for me means far more than just casting spells though there is undeniably a satisfaction from using magic to manipulate self, others and the environment. Witchcraft unlocked a deep sense of creativity in me resulting in the frenzied writing of several novels and plays. This seems to be a common characteristic in most witches - the urge to create. I have come across very few witches who are not involved in the creative process in one way or another. There is an impetus, almost a desperation to create. I regularly work 18 hour days to capture the needs of balancing the day job with my own desire to do something worthwhile with my life. Beware of becoming a witch, you end up exhausted most of the time!
On a serious note I'd recommend anybody to dabble in the fringes of the craft if it appeals to them. Many non magical people would be surprised what they can do if they put their mind to it. But as for that final irrevocable step where you commit in your own mind to becoming a witch and accepting all that it entails, think long and hard first, it does change you, it does separate you from other people and in every sense of the word it is a change you make for ever. There really is no going back...
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