Who were the witches?
Where did they come from?
Maybe your great, great grandmother was one.
Witches were wise, wise women they say.
And there’s a little witch in every woman today! ~by Bonnie Lockhart
The hardest bit about being a western witch, is the hundreds of years of heavy baggage it can bring. The word itself, w.i.t.c.h, a noun with rancid connections like rotten apples in the pantry. And we know about the purge from our communities of women who had some connection with animals, plants, life cycles. Any woman who questioned the status quo or wouldn’t comply or simply had a mind of her own and used it, was disposed of. No more.
Maybe you feel a resonance to these women; proud individuals with useful skills. But modern culture puts witch in categories that don’t resonate with who you are. You don’t want to wear purple tie-dye all the time, don’t feel like dancing naked in your back yard each full moon and the pointy black hat is ridiculous. The teachings you do find are dated, written for a different audience. You feel a yearning to sing your own song, and want to learn about yourself and connect with the world in a deep, meaningful way but don’t know where to begin. It’s time to reclaim our birthright and the name of witch.
The western witch can feel conflicted, she might not even know she’s a witch at all. It might just be a general feeling of missing something, with a call to spend more time outdoors, connecting with nature and the cycles of seasons.
What’s often missing in the western way is experiential learning. Our culture is mind-driven, it values reasoning, knowledge and logic. If you read the books and follow the steps, then the assumption that you’ll feel fulfilled / peaceful/mindful/… (fill in the gap), but sadly when a generation of witches was burnt, their experiences went with them. Our grandmother’s grandmother’s grandmother’s knowledge, that had been passed down for generations, was lost. Sure, we have internet access to every piece of information in the world, but what the western witch is missing is the transmission of deep inner knowing via direct experience. This takes time, space and permission to deepen. Permission is important, you can give it to yourself but it requires commitment, as well as letting go. This isn’t easy and life will find barriers. Sadly many potentially powerful witches don’t make it past them. And the potential is lost.
The good news is that there is a whole generation of western witches. The witch is back. She is wise now. Time has changed now. The pendulum is swinging. We are reclaiming the name of witch as a positive symbol of strong, wise women.
So, what kind of woman is a western witch?
She connects to the cycles of seasons, the moon & tides.
She communicates with subtle energies, makes allies with plants & animals
She has knowledge of the cycles of fertility, and female anatomy
She understands the process of labour & childbirth, knowing ways to ease the passageway into birth
She knows how to nourish the body, and uses food as medicine to maintain optimum health
She knows how to self-pleasure as well as having fulfilling sex
She knows who she is, her strengths & gifts as well as challenges and lessons. She knows the message she brings to the world and is proud of all she has accomplished
She understands the difference between sacred time & processional time. She knows how to hold space for herself and when to do it for others
She knows how to call forth healing powers
She knows the elements of ceremony, and has direct experience of what that means
She might follow her calling working alone, or with others like her
She walks through the doorways of consciousness at will, using breath as a vehicle as well as having her personal toolkit
She understands the interconnection of all creation and her part in it
She has skills of craft, poetry, song, storytelling, dance, herbal lore, plant identification, animal tracking, bird calls, medicine making and dream walking
A western witch is a force
She is daughter of the goddess and mother to the world
The world is calling the witch to come forth, to show herself and dance in her soul. Be proud to be who you are, you are magnificent.
You are not alone. Join me and a group of witches for a year-long initiation journey to dive deep into the way of the western witch, meeting once a month, near Exeter, Devon. Get in touch to register HERE
Helena Nelson Reed
final artist unknown, art used with gratitude