May 2010


Crazy Week…

It’s always crazy the week before going on vacation: tying up loose ends at work, making travel arrangements, packing everything. The usual madness! It’s no different for a Witch than it is for everyone else!

It’s not easy being the mother of two young kids. Sleep deprivation aside, it’s the worrying that really does me in. Do they eat enough, poop enough, are they developing on schedule, how are they coping with the world…. In short, are they OK?

I went to sleep with all this in my head,  feeling completely helpless and washed out. As always, I turned to my Mother for guidance. What should I do? Is there something I am not doing right? How do I help my son speak more and my daughter sleep at night? Please, Mother, help me take care of them!

I woke up in the morning with a vague knowledge of having spent the night in conversation with someone. We had talked about hope.

Hope.

That was the answer. That’s how you make it through the worry.

Nothing to do. Just hope.

Expect the best.

Bottle down the fear and let it fizzle out with great blasts of hope. That’s the gift of Hope: it is the destroyer of fear. Without fear, you can dare to reach out for your greatest dreams.

And so, that day was born with a new hope. And while we were all playing outside that evening, my son did something unexpected. He reached out to the moon and pretended to gobble it up. He burst out laughing and I knew everything would be all right.

A recurrent question I get is « Are you out of the broom closet? » For those unfamiliar with this expression, it refers to whether people know that you are practicing Witchcraft. Another way to say this is “Are you public?”

Am I public?

With the writing of a book, I had to face the fact that the closet was getting awfully tight! I am putting my name, my face and my beliefs in print and on the web. This brings ‘being out’ to a whole new level!

I am private about my religious beliefs. I have always been. I don’t feel the need to let everyone know that I cast circles on the full moon. It is my special place. I don’t want to let everyone in on it and let them trample my sanctuary.

But I no longer hide.

If someone asks me about my religion, I explain that I practice Christianity in a different way. My library is proudly displayed in my living room for all to see. Anyone with a keen eye knows what I am up to.

I have a few rules of thumb when it comes to being public:

1)      I let people get to know me first. This way, they can see what kind of person I am before they associate me with all the connotations of witchcraft.

2)      I speak up if I get that deep intuitive feeling that it might help the person I am speaking to.

3)      I keep quiet if I or someone I love may suffer serious negative repercussions from my association with Witchcraft. No need to put ourselves in danger for no reason. I think it is up to each of us to determine what constitutes a valid reason.

Another question I have gotten is “Does your family know?”

Of course, my husband knows. We are an open book to each other and he knows who I am better than anyone. My immediate family knows, although the extent of this knowledge varies. They know that I have taken magic courses and they know that I still go to church. We have deep spiritual discussions where we debate God and Church, so we are pretty open on exposing our opinions on those subjects. Do they know what a ritual entails, the different celebrations of the year and the specifics of the practice? They do not. If they were to ask, I would explain. I think it is important to respect everyone’s pace. Each person may want to know more or less about it. I think this is fair.

The case of Christian Witchcraft is complex. On one side, you face the shock of people at being a Witch. If repudiating your own faith wasn’t enough, you have to explain that you turned Christianity ‘into’ Witchcraft. Talk about a double whammer! So , we have to deal with the broom closet and its Christian equivalent, which I like to call ‘the confessional’. Both are closets and in both you stay in the dark, pondering the errors in your ways, considering the sins you may (or may not) have committed, marinating in a guilt imposed by others. So for us Christian Witches, there is a double walking out that needs to take place: out of the broom closet, towards the beauty we crave, and out of the confessional, away from the guilt that has been put upon us.

My path is a path of spiritual growth. It makes me better. Whether everyone else knows about it doesn’t matter so much. What matters is that we not feel alone and that we may come out enough to find each other and celebrate the radiance we find. It’s when the closet starts to suffocate us that we need to ask the questions and decide on which side of the door we want to be.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this issue. Does it matter to you if you are public or not? How do you approach this? Do you speak up? Do you explain and reason it out to others? How do you decide who you tell and who you don’t? Or do you keep private by choice?

So many questions! Well, it’s nice to have someone to talk to for a change!

Walking back from a friend’s house on Saturday, we marveled at the beauty of the sky. My three-year old boy pointed at the sky and said ‘Look, maman, la lune’ The moon. It was ten o’clock. Living in a native community north of the 52nd parallel, the sun had just set. The horizon was still a light shade of blue and up above, was a thin arc of gold. Just a sliver of a moon.

 We are facing the winds of change as a family. We have a number of projects set out in front of us, all new and exciting and full of the usual uncertainties. This new moon growing in the sky urged me to acknowledge the new road ahead.

The next day, my husband set up our tipi and lit a fire. My son was busy feeding the fire with every twig he could find and my daughter was blowing at it to keep it from getting too hot. I took out my magical herbs from my cupboard and brought them to the fire side. I took a handful of birch and threw it in the fire. My son chose a handful of chamomile and threw it in. My daughter put her fingers in the pouch of chamomile flowers and put them straight in her mouth, of course. My husband threw in a handful of tulips. And we kept going with all the herbs that inspired us.

Birch for protection

Chamomile for tranquility

Oak for strength

Sage to dispel negativity

Lavender for peace

And a number of flowers: tulips, hyacinth, irises for joy, love and happiness

I surrounded the fire with white stones my son had picked up earlier and I placed the dandelion my daughter had given me on one of the stones, a kind of makeshift altar.

I whispered my prayer.

“Blessed are thou, Mother of the Universe for giving us the bounty of the earth,

And blessed are thou Father who guards us under your heavens.”

 

Two columns of smoke rose up from the fire.

“My Lord and my Lady, Jesus and Mary Magdalene

May the way we live our lives be pleasant in your eyes.

These are our wishes for peace, joy, protection, strength and happiness.

An’ it harm none, so mote it be.”

 

I watched the smoke rise up and out of the tipi and knew my wishes were being carried high up where prayers are heard. Right to the ears of the Most High. And all around me.

‘Make sure they know there is nothing dark in what you do.’

 When searching for Christian Witchcraft on any search engine, you invariably end up with a mix of two results: sites that actually relate to Pagan Christianity and the others who condemn it. It had never occurred to me to reinforce that what I do is for the greater good. I spend every moment of my life trying to live that way and the people who know me would not question that either. So I was puzzled by my husband’s insistence that I address this issue. But, as with most counsel he has given over the years we have grown together, he is absolutely right. The issue of ‘Witchcraft’ needs to be addressed.

 Witchcraft is a scary word. The centuries of bad press by the church have permeated it with the very essence of evil. In the church’s campaign against women, witches were the associates of the devil, dedicated to chaos and debauchery. That is the very essence of the common understanding of the word ‘witch’.

Witchcraft as a spiritual path is a new-old phenomenon. Yes, the knowledge and the practice of earth-based magic have been passed on through generations. But, Witchcraft as a Goddess-worshipping, earth-revering magical practice is a relatively new thing. The magic of Witchcraft respects the principle of  ‘An you harm none, do what you will’. It should never be done in order to cause harm to anyone or anything. That is why every magical rite should be ended it the phrase ‘An it harm none, so mote it be.’  This makes sure that the energy you put out in the world is bound to act according to the greater good of all involved.

 So let’s put an end to the terror: Witches do not work for evil.

 But, why  keep the word anyways? I could have easily replaced it with Pagan or Gnostic or any other appellation. Why keep the scary word?

 According to some sources, the word ‘witch’ stems from the word wise. So Witchcraft would be the craft of the wise. To me, that is exactly what it is. You have to be wise to read the signs of the times, to feel the waves of time talk to you through nature, through the symbols that surround you and to communicate with the spirit world. You have to be wise to take the fruits of the earth and mix them into potions and awaken them to their inherent magic. You have to be wise to trust your intuition and to look at the world with honesty, putting the greater good before your own needs and wants. That is the Witch’s responsibility and calling.

There is another reason why I kept the word ‘Witch’. Keeping the word was an act of reclaiming my power. So many women throughout history were given that title and left completely helpless to defend themselves. They were persecuted, humiliated, tortured and killed because of that name. Today, I choose that name because it is a name of power. The power is mine to determine my life and exalt the beauty of being a woman. I choose to be a Witch. I choose the beauty and strength that has survived in spite of it all.

Wishing you beauty and strength as you walk the world!

I celebrated mother’s day by the most sacred of mothers’ rituals: the afternoon nap! It got me reflecting on how there it is nothing greater than being a mother. It is great in love and affection, full of those little moments that fill your heart to bursting. It is great in devotion, forcing you to give of yourself to a point you never thought possible. It is great in worry, about everything from cavities to seat belts, through to food groups and shapes and colors. It is great in revelation, for everything you know about life and about yourself gets tested right before your eyes. Kids are the greatest and most honest of teachers, pushing you to heights you never, ever thought you could achieve. Pure Greatness.

One of the greatest lessons I learned on the Pagan path is that nothing is black or white. This I learned most by sitting in the presence of the Goddess. By sitting in this presence, I understood so much about myself as a woman. The bouts of rage and madness, sudden outbursts and tears that could take hold of me, I understood them better once I had discovered her. I respected their strength and the lesson they were teaching me. I stopped trying to suppress them so that I could become that virginal vision of calm and beatitude that I had grown up with. I became woman in all its colors, from all-giving love to absolute fury.

This I had learned before I had children. Now that I have been blessed with two angels, I live the lessons of the Goddess in its full expression. The greatness that I mention above, that life of pure emotion, swaying me through love and admiration and fear and courage, I could not have understood its fullness had I not understood the greatness of the Goddess.

Spiritually, most of us have grown up without a Mother. How did we survive so long? This is my little gift to you on this Mother’s day. If you are a mother, embrace the light and the dark and cherish it with the entirety of your being! If you know a mother, let her know of the greatness that is her life.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Goddess Bless!

I have just spent four years steeped in the writing of ‘The Path of a Christian Witch’. Writing about your spiritual path is the most exciting of journeys, but it is also the most unforgiving of mirrors.  It gives you the great privilege of exploring every nook and cranny of the spiritual world you belong to. It also demands the utmost honesty. You have to really look at yourself and answer one critical question:

‘What do I believe in?’

So, after all these years of searching and synthesizing, I came to realize that I could summarize my practice into three basic concepts: To worship, to seek and to love.

To worship:
My whole life has been moved by a need to acknowledge the divine force that inhabits everything there is. A life of worship is living with the knowledge that there is something greater than yourself. This Greatness both transcends the world and permeates the world. The reverence for such greatness defines my actions, my interactions with others and the respect I have for the world around me. Looking back at the years that I have spent defining myself spiritually, I realize that the precept of ‘worship’ encompasses all that I believe about God and the universe. It re-affirms that God is infinite and almighty. This infinity, I can understand it best through an infinite number of faces and names. The call to worship moves me to exalt the divine within me, the ever-present Goddess from which all blessings flow.  It also acknowledges the ebb and flow of the universe and the very magic that I have learned to wield. All these contradictions between Christianity and Paganism that have taken me so long to reconcile, all summarized in one word: Worship.

To seek:
Christian Witchcraft is a path sprung of experience. It takes place in the real world and deals with real life. It is not locked away in an ashram or a monastery. It takes place at every moment.
To live in the world, you need to know the world. Every skill I ever learned and every book I ever read forged the person I am today. I am the central tool of my practice. Every bit of knowledge and every skill builds my arsenal of tools that I can use in magic rites and in service to others.

Seeking knowledge is also the main way we have to build our tradition. As a Christian, it is essential to be critical about what we read and how we interpret it. We have to be educated enough to read between the lines of what ‘officials’ tell us is the truth about Christ and what empirical research shows. Alternative Christian studies have become my passion. Every tid bit of information that I collect unearths something else to look into. It is the work of a lifetime. And don’t worry, I will share with you every little scrap of knowledge I gather!

To love:
Love is our credo, our new commandment, our way of life. Jesus was the absolute example of that. He was the embodiment of compassion and service. He said that it is what identifies us as Christians to the rest of the world. ‘That is how they will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another…’ Love, always and above all. No less is acceptable. It is so simple. There is no more to say about that.

I wanted to start this blog by defining these concepts that are central to my practice. I know I leave much unanswered in terms of how I got on this path and how I deal with the contradictions between Paganism and Christianity. Much of this is addressed in ‘The Path of a Christian Witch’. I will answer all these questions in time, as this blog develops. So, please be patient. We have much to talk about!