What Makes Us What We Are
For eight years now, I have been joyfully and devotedly practicing and studying the path of witchcraft and pagan spirituality. I have sipped from the cauldron of wisdom, and from that moment forward decided that I wanted more. If nothing else, I wanted to taste more of that magick, freedom, and absolute spiritual awareness. I studied path after path after path, and read from book after book. I sought mentoring from those much wiser than I, and turned to the rawest teacher, nature, for the lessons no other human could teach. I approached Gods and Goddesses of many cultures, faces, and names. Each of them with a purpose and personality of their own. Some came and went from my life quickly, never really “clicking” as the others did. Those who have stayed all this long while have become deep rooted in my life.
A day never goes by anymore when I do not think on my deities, and am not grateful and loving from their presence in my life. In each breeze that weaves its airy fingers through my hair, I feel the loving caress of my matron Goddess. In each gentle twinkle of starlight or flitter of a butterfly’s wings before my eyes, I see my father God’s adoring face. When I am weak, my sisters and brothers pick me up and strengthen me. When I am wavering, the elements give me courage. I relish in the mysteries of the divine feminine, and I am empowered by the support of the divine masculine.
Yet for all this love and devotion I feel for my spirituality, I hesitate to call it a religion. You see, religion has rules. It has, at the very least, guidelines that all practitioners are expected to follow. Paganism, however (and yes I say paganism because I do not and never will consider myself a Wiccan. I will get to that later) , has only one major guideline: the path must be nature-based.
Now, I hardly see THAT broad and vague requirement as substantial enough to call it the basis of a religion. It is, instead, the perfect start to a blossoming spiritual life and path. And you know what? That is good! Great even. Because the spirit has no fences. It has no limitations.
Take away the rules, the set beliefs, the traditions…leave yourself with the freedom to decide for yourself, each person to themselves, what they believe and wish to practice for what makes sense to them, and no two people will tell you the exact same thing twice. And isn’t that the beauty of paganism? Of spirituality? There are no true rules or words set in stone. We have the freedom to CHOOSE!
Believe in reincarnation or not. You are still a pagan. Believe in literal Gods or metaphorical Masculine and Feminine energies. Still a pagan. Wear a pentacle or a moon or a goddess or an Om or nothing! Still a pagan. You are if you believe you are.
Myself, for example. Firstly, why do I not consider myself Wiccan? Simple: I do not follow the Wiccan Rede. Nor do I believe in the Neo-Pagan take on ancient traditions. I certainly disagree with much of what Gerald Gardner put out as Wicca, and I do not fit into any of the Wiccan branches’ moulds. Am I Eclectic Witch then? Again, I’d just say no. I believe that the singing of a song, the enjoyment of the earth, and the moment taken to smile up at the moon and sun is a moment spent in adoration and worship of the God and Goddess.
I believe that you are a King or a Queen if you allow yourself to be, and that you are your own greatest limitation if you ALLOW YOURSELF TO BE! I believe that Faeries steal my belongings and that Lavender is the greatest sleeping medicine I’ve ever used. I believe that the Goddess and God love and watch out for me, and that I came into this life to serve them and their children. I believe that I will never be done learning. I believe we make our own magick, and are made up of magick. I believe what I believe, and I go with it.
Isn’t that brilliant? Say it with me now!
I believe….what I believe.
Isn’t that enough? I set up my altars, I light my candles, and I set my magick to do what I need it to. I sing and dance and talk with my Goddess, and she seems to have no problems with how I show my love. My magick is no less effective than others. My God is just as pleased with me if I walk clockwise or counterclockwise. It just doesn’t matter. And THAT, my brothers and sisters, is what makes me a Witch, I think. I can throw away all the words and creeds and books and still have my emotion. My heart. My soul. I don’t want the rules. You can keep them. I don’t want the restrictions. They have no place in a heart of freedom. I don’t want the labels. I am what I am.
Every day my students, friends, and kindred come to me and tell me of their insecurities. They feel incompetent as pagans. They feel weak as witches. They feel lost as young adults and children. They have no confidence! If I did not remember my earlier years as a Witch, I would be utterly baffled, for I am long past wavering, usuries, and meekness. This path, whatever it pleases you to call it, is supposed to teach our young freedom of spirit and ecstasy in all life. And yet here they are feeling that they are not good enough to meet the standards of the community because they do not measure up to some bar that does not even really exist!
There is no expectation or obligation to a witch, but that they be free and confident in themselves. But these children do not feel as if they follow the path correctly. “Correctly”, as if there is a yellow brick road to skip down. What have we done? That we allow our new and our young to feel shame in not fitting into a mould? What hypocrisy is it? I cannot count how many times I have had to tell my students to raise their chins and ease their minds. That the path is THEIR’S to forge.
So I ask you to ask yourselves: What makes me a Witch? What makes me a pagan/wiccan/druid/shaman/heathen/etc.? And I believe that once you find the answer to that, you will realize that your spirituality goes beyond your “religion”, and that only you, not those teachings, make you who and what you are.
Always Blessed be,