I am seeing some things in the community that i feel the need to speak on - to whoever will listen. First off, in case you haven’t guessed, I am Pagan. I have been since I was about 10 years old and begun asking questions and studying on my own. This was not an easy road. I had friends whose parents didn’t want their children hanging out with me because of a necklace I wore, or a book they saw in my backpack. I had partners ask me “not to mention that” when meeting their families. I spent decades in the broom closet with my family because even though I knew they would love me anyway, I didn’t want to upset them. It is just within these last two years that I begun fully embracing the term Witch.
Seeing your spiritual practices become a trend is fucking weird. I get that I have a ton of privilege in this area, and that the things I’m saying could apply to a vast array of different cultures and practices. So, while I can only write from the perspective of a modern Pagan, these words could apply to many, many areas. I can only speak from the lens I see from.
Part of me rejoices at seeing the things I practiced quietly for decades begin to enter the mainstream. It isn’t as hard to find supplies, books, or people who know what I’m talking about. There are events to go to! I have a community around me that gets it, and we all lovingly embrace the many variations in our beliefs and practices which are unique and beautiful facets of the same gem. The paths that I felt slipping from the world are suddenly vibrant.
To the baby witches who are just joining us - WELCOME! Seriously, you ARE so very welcome. Whether you are just dipping your toes in, or diving head first,I am happy to see you in these mercurial waters with us. You do not need to earn your place. There is no hierarchy. There should be propriety and respect, but only for things like practices, cultures, and beliefs. The problem is, often times that respect is lacking.
More and more I am seeing customs stolen without any thought to the cultures and people they come from. Words, ideas, and even deities are thrown around like hashtags for someone’s spiritual wall and it needs to stop. Yes, I am thrilled to be able to practice more openly and feel accepted. My heart lights up when I meet a new friend on this path who is finding themselves and what feels right for them. I want to hear their stories and watch them bloom. Your path does not need to look anything like mine, and that is incredible! I want to know what it means to you, and how you got there, because your soul and the way it aligns with the world is stunning. I am also watching the pendulum swing too far in the other directions - from approval to depreciation.
Witch is a word I fought with myself for years to embrace. I cringed at the fear it brought up. Now I cringe for a completely new reason; it is being cheapened. It is trending. It builds followers, businesses, and a mystique of spiritual awakening that has turned it into a marketing scheme for the ego. There are pages and businesses cropping up daily selling ‘passions and beliefs’ that have only existed for a few months or weeks.
I will love the hell out of anyone I see who shows a clear and true connection between their soul, work, and message. I am close friends with, follow, and support an insanely eclectic and stunning array of witchy women and businesses because I desperately want to see them succeed, and for this momentum not to be lost to fickle societal whims. I will also admit that I wince at how often I see nothing but cliche messages and pretty filters being presented as depth.
I have often marveled at a bizarre contradiction with many who sell herbal or essential oil products: They will say they honor the strength of the plants and believe in their healing power, while simultaneously being flippant about safety precautions and doing due diligence to ensure proper use. You either believe they are strong, and thus could be harmful, or you do not and you are just out to make a quick buck. The same is true for spiritual beliefs and services. You either believe in what you are doing, and thus give it the proper amount of time, research, and respect or you do not, and dive in to marketing accordingly.
None of us should ever stop being a student. Even when I teach classes I go in open and expecting to learn. I know that every single person I encounter has something worthwhile to share. I am the expert on nothing, except maybe (maybe) my own experience. For every meaning, story, and association you accept thousands of alternatives exist . Know what they are to you. Think deeply on what they are for others. Somewhere in the space between the two you will always find new understanding.
Discovering a new belief system and how it factors into your life is a monumental undertaking. I want to see you flourish on this journey! There is no set time frame for what this looks like for each person. Some will delve deeply and fully in what may feel like record time. Others will take decades to slowly sift through and mull over what feels right in their soul. None of us will ever be done learning. No one can tell you where you are on your journey, or what you are ready for.
I want to be transparent and clear in stating that I do not have the answers. Paganism is a difficult mix of old and new coming together, typically from several cultures. There is no one right way to do it. Most of us will blunder (I certainly have, and will likely again). I believe, ultimately, that intent and mindfulness are the difference between a genuine heart-felt practice and buying in to a the latest thing. Talking this through with a friend, trying to pinpoint the difference, the best we could come up with is that there is a difference between a practitioner who has learned for their own growth first, and then offers from .a place of continued practice and dedication, and someone who thinks “good enough” and charges ahead. Only you can truly answer that question for yourself.
If your first though on this new path, however, is how you will market it…well, maybe you need to address what parts of yourself are truly leading you here. When it has become such an intrinsic part of you that you cannot work or create offerings without it touching them - honey, sign me up!