Other People’s Witchcraft

Do you ever think about how little we actually know about each other? Like, how telling you I’m a witch doesn’t actually give you much information at all about what I’m actually up to? And how even words like “Wiccan” and “Gardnerian” don’t actually tell you very much, because lots of people use them differently?

I think about that all the time. When someone tells me they’re a witch, I have to follow that up with, “What does that mean to you?” It’s not much easier when someone tells me they’re a “traditional Wiccan” or a “secular witch,” or whatever other label we’ve got floating around now. I can make reasonable guesses (“Okay, they probably don’t believe in gods,” or “They don’t subscribe to the Wiccan Rede”), but I’m for sure going to be wrong about a lot of things, unless I really can sit down with the person and pick their brain over time.

Though it was triggered by Katie Gerrad’s recent blog post, this video is not about the issue of same sex initiation. Rather, it started with a seeker friend who asked in response, “How do we really even know who’s initiating who? Couldn’t people just practice however they wanted and then just let people believe they were actually doing something different? Do people ever just lie so they don’t rock the boat?” And…yeah. They sure do.

This video isn’t about any single point of controversy in the Craft. Rather, it’s about the weird assumption we all seem to have that we ever know what another witch is up to.

If Everything Changes, What Good is Tradition?

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My friend and initiate, Corvus, is in the process of starting a coven, and the other night we got to chatting about what it will mean for her to go forward, both as part of a community and as an autonomous high priestess. What if she does something that pisses off her upline? What if she gets out into the community and decides she doesn’t fit in? What if she has genuine encounters with the gods that take her in directions beyond where she went with me? What if she goes on to initiate someone who everyone else hates, and then no one else wants to hang out and circle anymore? WHAT IF SHE RUINS EVERYTHING.

Clearly, a lot of this is anxiety-driven and not based in our actual relationship. The whole reason she was elevated and given the support to go off and start her own group is because we knew she’d be great at it and would be a credit to the tradition.

A lot of this, no doubt, sounds totally ridiculous to some of you who are not involved in traditional covens, with their lineages and their hierarchies and all that hoo-ha. Maybe this is exactly why you’re not involved. It’s a tricky thing, having to negotiate belonging in a lineaged tradition. It can feel like you’re being watched all the time, and like you’ve always got to answer for your choices. Every one of us has heard horror stories about what happens to people who cause too much offense, stray too far from what’s accepted, or don’t build the connections necessary to ensure that you and yours are recognized at the community table.

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