I love being a witch! I’d like to take a moment to explain why and I shall do that in the form a tale. I was booked to run a full-day workshop at a mystical shop near me and as the participants arrived I hugged everyone and welcomed them as they entered the room but two ladies slipped by me. I dragged them up from their seats, hugged them and smiled and they looked slightly bewildered but smiled back. A short while into the workshop I put on a meditation cd and asked everyone to spend a few minutes thinking of something they would like to work magic for that day and one of these women, Sarah, after a little while began to wipe tears from her face. She didn’t seem to be sobbing out loud and didn’t look upset so I gave the group a few more minutes. When I brought everyone back to the here and now, Sarah had tears streaming down her face. ‘Are you all right?’ I asked. ‘Yeah, honestly, I’m fine.’ She replied, ‘I’m not upset, I really don’t even know why I’m crying!’ I explained that sometimes when we are starting out on our journey as she was, our inner souls recognise that at last we have found what we were looking for, we just didn’t know it till now and suddenly it’s okay! We have found where we belong, we know what it was we were searching for even though we hadn’t realised we were searching at all! It feels like part of the jigsaw has fitted into its place and we can relax and be who we truly are, at home with our emotions, with our inner selves and with the natural environment all around us.
A few days after the workshop Sarah got in touch to say how much the course had helped her and that she was feeling full of vibrant, magical energy. You see, witchcraft, for those of us who follow the path, gives us freedom, beauty, love, joy, empowerment, self-confidence, kinship with others and the natural world and a deep sense of belonging. If the path is right for you, you will find it, or rather, it will find you!
I have been a practising witch for around thirty years and when I started out there very few books on the subject and they were hard to find out about, nor were there any pagan moots or open rituals for the Sabbats or the large scale pagan-oriented conferences that there are now and it was difficult to find out much information of any real value. I got used to doing things my on my own and experimenting to find out what works, what doesn’t work, how to do sacred journey and celebrate the sabbats on a solitary path. It was not always easy but it was always worthwhile and that time spent on my own meant that I developed a more unique, individual and meaningful path as I could follow my interests and instincts instead of following whatever teaching I would have had to learn if I had been under the guidance of a coven. It also meant that I was confident in what I was doing and had nobody telling me I was doing it wrong… Now I am using the experiences I’ve had to give others some guidance – that initial solitary learning was joyful and valuable but I dearly wished there had been somebody to at least throw a few ropes out from time to time. After a few years, I began to meet other pagans and witches and gradually taking part in group rituals and soon I had progressed to planning and leading them. From there I started to run workshops at camps and then to give talks at events and conferences and festivals both locally and nationally and I’ve written extensively for mind-body-spirit magazines as well as my books. Paganism was expanding into the public eye and there were (and still are) so many people finding their way to the witching path but although there are now workshops, groups, moots, open rituals and camps across the UK that are fairly accessible, people are still coming to me and asking for guidance. The open events and moots are a good starting point but I am still asked: ‘Where can I find a coven or can I join yours? Will you mentor me?’ I can’t offer that to you, I simply don’t have the time for the dozens of people who ask me every time I speak in public, but hopefully the classes I run, the talks, workshops and open rituals, are helping people to find their feet
I read tarot cards, I’m learning the Ogham, I’ve had shamanic soul retrieval with Kenneth and Beryl Meadows, croaked with Oak at Superspirit and nearly got set on fire accidentally during a Lammas rite at the Northern Green Gathering when a straw pentacle set into the ground was lit too soon! I learned basic aromatherapy massage, djembe and shamanic drumming techniques and I’m fairly sensitive to auras and subtle energy fields. I’m also a reiki healer and it works nicely alongside witchcraft – I’ve had very positive experiences with animals lately including pets I’ve never met – a dog named Roxy, a cat and once a rabbit who’d been given a date for euthanasia but after a couple of distance reiki sessions was still going strong. One of the other things that combines nicely with my particular witchcraft is my love of textile crafts, sewing and knitting. I enjoy making herb sachets, charms out of old bits of yarn or poppet dolls to be for healing; knitting is also useful because it’s so repetitive, making it perfect for mantras with a catch-word or phrase with every stitch or row.
I used to run two covens – The Linden Wood Coven in Nottingham and the Sherwood Oak Circle near Mansfield. For assorted reasons these groups are no longer going and my path has moved on from eclectic independent witchcraft. I am now part of a wonderful coven in an initiatory tradition and I am honoured to part of it. My reasons for joining the initiatory craft have no bearing on my experiences as an independent witch and I accept that all witches, with or without a coven or initiation are witches. There should be no distinction from one witch to the next and there should be elitism of one tradition over another. All witches are ‘real’ witches – I believe ‘real witches’ is a phrase that should be outlawed. Having the decades of experience as a solitary witch and running eclectic covens has been amazing and now my witchy family has grown as I embrace new traditions to add to my experience of Living Witchcraft.
I’m very lucky in that most of the people in my social circle are witches, pagans or some other spiritual path and I feel very blessed to know them all. I have had some out of this world experiences on my witchy journey – talking to trees, listening to the Goddess in the heart of the moonlight, singing chants around campfires about the old gods and having lots of warming, loving hugs with friends at the end of a ritual for the Sabbats… I love being a witch!
Coming soon is Living Witchcraft, a narrative non-fiction book based on a year in my life, 2014 if you really want to know. The book starts on a cold January morning and walks gently through the highs and lows of each season, with recipies, rituals, crafts and magic along with the way with a song or a poem for every month. Living Witchcraft will be available through Thoth Publications in January 2018 or email me for a signed copy on moiraATaquietspace.org.