I have, in the past, had quite a few reservations about working with a partner. I was worried that taking on board the input of another witch might dilute the direction of my own magic, I disliked the idea of compromising any part of my intent to fit in with somebody else’s agenda and I had concerns that it would be hard to find somebody who would be a good fit as regards experience, knowledge and most importantly belief. The success I have enjoyed as a solitary has been supported by my own personal unwavering belief in the use of magic and it was important to me not to work with somebody who did not share this confidence in how magic can be utilised.
I was also concerned about the potential conflict in methods. There are so many individual views and interpretations of magical practise that I knew it would be difficult to find somebody whose ways of working matched my own. Very New Agey rituals leave me a touch uncomfortable but equally I wouldn’t want to immerse myself in a tradition that didn’t sit right with me. Take something like Appalachian magic or Hoodoo – some witches get excellent results within these traditions but as they have no instinctive or historical appeal for me I doubt I’d have much luck at all if I adapted my tried and tested ways of working to fit the traditional path of another witch. Equally it wouldn’t be fair to insist that a partner focus solely on what works well for me.
Similarly to the problem of diversity in method is diversity in morality. My own personal comfort zone is to walk the fine line between what might be popularly termed “white magic” and what I consider to be justifiable aggressive magic. I would have little in common with a vengeful – curse first, ask questions later kind of witch but equally I would struggle with somebody who wasn’t prepared to malice up their magic when necessary. Finding a partner for magical purposes is as much about finding a personality fit as it is about anything else and as anybody who has ever tried to meet a partner for mundane purposes knows – finding a good fit can be something of a challenge…
A difference in magical ability was also a real concern for me. Inequality in a partnership of witches can very easily lead to animosity and jealousy, both of which would do nothing to promote the mental state necessary for effective casting. As a witch who gets pretty good, consistent results on her own I have often concluded it not to be worth the pitfalls of involving somebody else. Why risk the repercussions for a result that can be obtained just as easily through solitary practise?
The change in my views came about quite unexpectedly when a close friendship of mind evolved quite naturally into me sharing a knowledge of magic and witchcraft with her. I had not sought to take on a formal apprentice but as my friend’s interest (and ability) grew I found myself becoming increasing more comfortable in sharing my own work and practise. Although my initial intention had been to show her enough of a grounding in magic to enable her to handle her own personal life more effectively, I started to find a value in inviting her to my own workings and a benefit to involving a second witch in my craft.
The concerns I had relating to either an imbalance in ability or an imperative to change established method were largely avoided by the fact that I had been the witch who introduced my partner to magic. Although I have taken pains to point out that my way is “my way” and not objectively the “only way” it is only natural that my ways of working have been established as our norm. The evolution of the teacher/pupil relationship has meant there is little resentment for my tendency to dictate the magical agenda and in deference to my status as the trainer there has been no discord relating to jealousy. The consequence of all this has been an extremely harmonious partnership.
I think the reason this particular partner has put so many of my reservations relating to group work to bed is due to the balance of energies between us. I operate on what I would call a “high energy” level – I’m all about the drive, the will and the passion. Working with somebody similar to myself would be a disaster as there would be a clash in direction and a definite danger that too much would be attempted without the “low level” energy to shore it up. My partner is the exact opposite – where I am power, she is strength, where I am drive, she is focus and where I am force, she is intensity. I direct the magic and she underpins it with a consistent strength of will. This steady strength supports my own drive and allows me to push my intent further knowing it is backed up at every stage with the focus of low energy. (Low and high energy incidentally are my own terms and not meant to imply either one is better than the other – I use them simply to delineate between force and steady focus.)
It is interesting to notice that this idea of energy can be extended to the concept of embodying the elements. Most witches (if their practise involves the elements and for Trad craft in particular this does not always apply) will have an affinity to some extent with all of the elements. But they will naturally have a bias toward one or two depending on their own nature. Although I am happy in groups to work with any of the elements my partnership has allowed me to focus on the two that are the best fit with my own nature – fire and air. My partner on the other hand brings the strength of earth and the calm of water to our work. Elementally we are perfectly balanced and I believe this has gone a long way toward explaining the success of the work we do together.
Magic, like anything else, is easy to take for granted and even the most inspired of witches may occasionally find herself getting into a rut – using the same old tried and tested spells and methods with boring regularity and not challenging herself with new innovation. I’m not sure that the concept of “If it’s broken don’t fix it” applies to magic. Magic relies on passion and inspiration to drive the will of intent forward. As soon as spell crafting becomes common place and mundane it loses part of its power. Having another person involved can bring new ideas and fresh perspective to a craft. I have encouraged my partner to bring her own thoughts to what we do and to design some of our spellwork herself - which I might add has been very successful on every count. Even an experienced witch can grow and develop from the new ideas of those around her and working in tandem with another witch is (or has been for me at least) a good opportunity to introduce fresh energy.
I’ve been very positive about my magical partnership but I’m going to add a word of caution as well. Beneficial as it can be to work with another witch (and it won’t suit everyone, remember that many many witches choose to be solitary for their own reasons) I believe it is important not to link your craft too inextricably to that of another. I am happy to complete some work with somebody else but a good part of the heart of my craft will remain my own and I would urge anybody working in a group or partnership to assert the same. Having fought to establish an individual identity as a witch it would be futile and foolish to dismiss this in favour of blending into a group consensus. A witch’s path is her own - it may cross over, link with and even for short periods merge with that of another but ultimately it is hers to walk alone.