Tales of witches


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Becky

I have called myself a Witch now for three quarters of my life. I was actually bought up in the Salvation Army and at one point I was also a member of my local church choir as well. As a child you tend to go where your parents take you and blindly believe what you are told. I don’t follow one particular path preferring instead to look at as many as possible. I am a member of The Order of Bards Ovates Druids, a Wiccan path Coven and The Fellowship of Isis.

It’s a path of relative freedom where you are not judged by how many times a year you go, or how much money you put in the collection dish, a path where there are no certain rights or wrongs in the way things are done, where you are encouraged to use your own initiative and creative are rather than blindly follow someone else because of their title. There is no punishment of a “hell” if you do not follow the rules, instead the onus if on you, you decide your life, you decide your fate.

I live my life in a fairly ordinary manner, a complete stranger would not necessarily know that I was a Witch, I dress quite boring in jeans and baggy tops, I’m not generally covered in silver jewellery and crystals or smelling of incense, but most of my social interactions are with other like minded people. is has however, only been in the last 18 months since I started the Southampton Witches. I have 3 moots a month and a ritual.

I feel that in today’s society being a Witch is still largely about healing others but also a lot of focus is on healing the planet from the destruction that us humans have caused. I feel it is about knowing your self, who you truly are, this would have been something that I feel would have come a lot more naturally in the past due to lack of TV, media and the internet. So now we must work harder for it.

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Amanda

I found Paganism myself but I got into the practice through meeting people who were already in a coven. I follow the Alexandrian and Gardner Witchcraft tradition.

I am very proud of being a witch so everyone in my life knows that I am. Once I get to know someone I will always tell them. A Witch is someone who knows about themselves and can empower others. They can connect with nature and they honour the traditions of seasons and nature itself with the gifts that it bestows on us.

In my daily life it allows me to tune into my true nature as an energy being connected to nature and people. It allows me to appreciate my femaleness and my male side by honouring both the God and the Goddess. In social interactions I consider my self to be an empath so I try to bring the best out in the people I meet by being a good listener by honouring them in whatever human form they have chosen but it is not obvious that I am a Witch as I do not wear a pentagram

Witchcraft to me is about the empowerment of self and knowing how to connect with the natural forces within us and around us . For this reason I don’t think that anybody can be a Witch. I guess it depends on the type of witch, anyone can learn the traditions but being a Witch has to come from an inner knowing. I think that people are born with certain gifts. I have been born with the gift of energy healing and clairvoyance. These can but learned however but it’s not the same as those born with it. It’s difficult to explain because it is a feeling from within and a trusting in a higher energy.

I have not suffered any discrimination because of my beliefs but lack of understanding definitely. I work in a gym that is run by the YMCA which is a Christian based charity, most people are fine it's just one or two Christians who have questioned me about the devils work and the satanic side of witchcraft . I think that the most common misconceptions about Witchcraft are that it is Satanic worship, that we sacrifice in rituals and take part in orgies! I believe we face these because of misinformation in the media and stories told my other religions or organisations that feared what we are capable of.

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Rosie

I found Paganism (or perhaps it found me) when I was about 13. I read a lot about it and found that a lot of the things I was reading reflected views I already held. It has a affected the way I perceive my daily life a lot, improving my outlook and my attitude.

I have met so many amazing, fantastic people through the practise and it has opened me up to new ways of living my life. So far I have not faced discrimination because of my beliefs. Most of the time, people are just confused. I usually don’t tell those that I feel wouldn’t care to try and understand witchcraft . They do not usually want to change their perspective, which is their prerogative.

I still have a foot in the broom closet. The main reason for this being that I just don’t feel an explicit need to articulate my religious stance to everyone I meet or know. Bringing religion into the question often makes people disagreeable, upset, annoyed and can really change the way that they perceive you and act towards you. Whilst I know that shouldn’t bother me, sometimes it affects your prospects. When I do tell people, I try to explain it clearly to them, so that misunderstandings don’t arise.

To begin, Witches are definitely not women with evil magical powers, throwing hexes and spells and flying around on a broomstick and worshipping the Devil (a Christian construct). To me, a Witch is a person (male/female/other) who worships ancient deities, someone who uses a psychic talent, someone who practises the art of magic (or someone who works with energy), or a wise person who follows a spiritual path and seeks a higher understanding of life, the universe and themselves or a combination of the above.

Fear is the main problem that concerns Witchcraft. It is often feared because in the past, those practising it have guarded secrets. We all sometimes fear the unknown. Most people also think of Harry Potter these days when you say Witchcraft , which isn’t so terrible as the alternative, which is the stereotypical evil hag (which is a horrific twist on the wise woman of old) and they often think of evil spells and hexes. Although, some of the people I know have already known about Paganism, so perhaps it is only a matter of time until the misunderstandings are cleared up.

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Jonathan

I was bought up in a Christian family but have known I was a Witch since I was 12 years old. I started Craft training in my 30’s. I have been involved in co-ordinating covens for 15 years and I am an elder in an initiatory tradition. My current group follows a progressive and eclectic approach to the Craft that includes trance invocation and is underpinned by Vedic philosophy.

I got into the Craft at university through ethnographic research, where I eventually met someone who could teach me the Craft . Through this process I was able to meet and work with many different practitioners and authors who helped me on my journey.

It is difficult to separate daily life and relationships from a magical world view given the interconnectedness of all things...however I try to choose my words carefully. The majority of people in my life know and accept that I am a pagan. Those closest to me also know that I am a Witch. I haven’t ever faced any sort of discrimination for my beliefs and practices, although I have (in the past) had to avoid promoting the Craft in the media due to employment terms and conditions.

People still are surprised that I am a male Witch, so clearly the expectation is that witches are women. Some people ask if I am a white witch, so in their minds there is a difference between white and black magic. All the Witches I work with recognise that magic exists to help and not to harm people and that all actions, particularly magical ones have consequences. Every genuine Witch has to consider the implications of their actions within their environment. These misconceptions are largely due to a fear of witchcraft perpetuated by some religious groups and negative media stereotyping.

Popular culture has always influenced people and the perception of Witchcraft from the medieval paranoia of the Witch hunts, the “weird sisters” of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, to the Wizard of Oz! The latter half of the 20th century has seen an increase in this process from the deviant satanic Witches of Rosemary’s Baby and the novels of Denis Wheatley, to the mixed messages of Sabrina, Bu y, Charmed, The Craft and more recently Harry Potter. There is always something about ‘the Witch’, irrespective of its context that speaks to people and reminds us of a magical side to human nature.

Theoretically anyone can be a witch, although clearly most people are not. The Craft is not a path for everyone. It is just one of many ways to self- knowledge and the recognition of the interconnectedness of all things. Having said this modern Witchcraft is very diverse with many different facets, so if someone self identities as a Witch, then they are one! Most of the Witches I know are empaths and are sensitive to the different energies and feelings of others - it is quite a relief to realise there are other people like you! Some people are born with a natural affinity towards nature, sacred sites or magic. The Craft is a path and therefore has a process of teaching to help people develop natural abilities and expand their skill set.

Social media in particular has facilitated an eclectic approach to the craft , with ideas being exchanged at the click of a button. When I first realised I was a Witch there were about 6 books on the subject, mostly written by experienced practitioners. Now it would appear anyone can write one! If you know nothing about Witchcraft don’t judge those who are Witches.

If you are interested, make sure you know what you are getting involved with, ask questions and be prepared to wait to meet the people who are right for you.

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Jessica

Looking back I always believed myself to be a Witch, even as a small child. My first imaginary friend taught me magical uses for the plants in our garden. I always enjoyed being out in nature, mostly around the garden, but it wasn’t until I was in my early 20’s that I decided it was time to do something about it. I found a local Pagan group in the Pagan Federation magazine and met a lady who became my teacher. My Mum was also into Paganism for a short time when I was a teenager, now she is more drawn to New Age ideas so it wasn’t all completely new to me. But my feelings of having always been a witch definitely pre-date this.

I think that the shopping culture has changed Witchcraft . Everything seems to have to be bought and coordinated, like the “right” colour candles. Use what you have to hand or do without. It’s your intent that matters. I don’t believe you have to perform ceremonies or rituals, you don’t have to cast spells, have an alter, look or dress a certain way or follow a set creed. I do believe though that some people are born more sensitive or psychic than others are. But I think that this is something that can be developed somewhat, but it seems to me, not to the extent of those people born with it.

I’m quite a private person and I feel that some things are private and not for casual discussion, so I’m not always completely open about everything I do. But funnily enough even though I don’t dress in an “alternative” way and am not particularly outspoken about my beliefs, people seem to guess! I don’t formally tell people that I am a Witch, but if I mention Mother Earth religion nobody is ever surprised. I pray everyday, I talk to the Earth and the Sun when I’m out walking, thanking them for their beauty and I do ritual whenever I feel the need to or am asked.

A Witch to me is a person who believes in Mother Earth religion and who chooses the term Witch themselves. I don’t have a set path, my beliefs are probably closest to Shamanism but I wouldn’t say I was a Shaman. I just try to be open to nature, to the Earth and look for signs in nature and to listen to it. But it is very hard to be Witch in a modern day society. How can any body be close to nature, close to the Earth in our modern lives. But because we are so far removed from nature it makes sense to try to keep a connection as much as possible.

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Chelsea

I am the only known Witch in my family, although my mother and great aunt do and did have certain gifts , like psychic abilities and being able to sense spirits. The women in my family have a very influential energy, we seem to attract attention for one thing or another, there is no doubt we would have been fire wood back in the day. To be a Witch seems the only natural thing for me. I do believe that we are born this way, some have to hide it for years, even from husbands; I told mine after we got married.

Being a Witch really doesn’t get mentioned a lot, just like how being Christian, Muslim or any other religion doesn’t. We just go to work, have lunch, watch EastEnders... the usual stuff . So it is a gift to meet a fellow practitioner, it’s a meeting of spirits rather than minds. A lot of people do know that I am a Witch as I apparently give that sense of “Witchiness”, however I don’t think that people know the extent of it, that it is a lifestyle, an awakening... although five minutes in my house and you pretty much get the idea.

I would say that one would have to practice magick in order to be classed a Witch. So in my opinion not everyone can be a witch. You can try, and you can develop understanding, but not power. I was self taught initially, but have worked with several high priestesses and worked as a high priestess myself. I work along the lines of Wicca but many of my works are focused towards being a lone witch, a solitary practitioner. I gained a high priestess status because of my ability to teach people solitary practices and rituals. You gain the title through the respect of fellow Witches/ pagans, there are no colleges for such things.

I am very blessed to live in England, we are the home of Witchcraft and we have it much easier than the Witches in the states and beyond. To be a witch in a modern day society to me means bravery, strength, love, knowledge and open mindedness... and personally a fantastic wardrobe.

Sadly I don’t think that society will ever advance where Witches are concerned, we are brainwashed from birth that Witches are evil and Jesus is love.

I don’t believe we will ever live freely.

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Wayne

I follow the path of a Shamanic Witch, working more with the earth energies and animal spirits, so I follow and celebrate the wheel of life. Being a Witch fits in normally with my daily life, although not many people in the place I work know what I am. But if they asked then I would of course tell them. Not many
of my family know about it either, but those that do are mostly ne about it and those of my friends that know think it’s pretty cool - if not a little weird! I nd that most people accept what we do but I still get asked do we dance naked around the trees or is it just so we can have a mass orgy!

My definition of a Witch, is someone who works with the Earth’s energies, spirit and magic to helps heal and provide protection for others and themselves.

Anyone can become a Witch as I believe that the skills are within all of us, they just need to be found within us. Some of course find it more natural then overs and I do think it does make a difference if family members have followed the path before you. As far as I know, I am the first witch in my family.

I got into Witchcraft through my wife but I also met lots of fellow witches through the Spiritual Coffee shop we run and it was here that I found that this was the path for me. I used to go into Witches shops and get hit or pushed by things. I always took this the wrong way thinking that they wanted me to leave, but I think that they were in fact trying to get my attention.

I would say to someone who has no knowledge of witchcraft , it is a truly magical path where magic really does happen. I believe that the advancement of technology has opened up the path to more people now then ever before. I think that this is because information is so much easier to find. It is also much easier to find fellow witches now with internet sites like Facebook.

Pop culture, especially in television has had a big impact on witchcraft in the past showing that Witches were evil and out to do harm to people, but I believe that times have changed .

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James

My outlook is largely informed by various and somewhat nebulous mystic intuitions, which I attempt to rationalise. I am a Pantheist, with Occult and Jungian leanings. I use Tarot as a device of psychological enquiry and often resort to Astrology. I found it for myself, especially through various mystical experiences, studying the Stars and Planets and spending time in Nature. I am deeply indebted to Jungian approaches to astrology and tarot with their shared focus on archetype, the deep recurring patterns which not only shape human personality and consciousness but can also be used to interpret the natural order and perhaps attribute person-hood there also.

I have an immense love for cosmology, astrophysics and space science, generally which I am rediscovering, and my spiritual outlook is more poetry and mystic intuition than cold factuality and cast iron proof and yet the former is very much the inspiration for the latter. My most basic frame of reference is The Cosmos, rather than the Social. This lends to a marked remoteness on my part. I don’t get too troubled by little things, however. Or people. Most people know what I practice. Even if they don’t know that well, they do sense an odd scent that follows me around...

I believe the Doctrine that All is God, that The Entire Universe is but One Being and Entity of which Conscious Life is the Evolving Means by which is Universe shall comprehend Itself. Deity plural ( as in polytheism ) to my mind is the means by which this Macro-cosmic Intelligence may rationalise the many
and varied patterns recurring and evolving within the consciousness of The Universe, just as your person-hood is a recurring pattern with consciousness. This Missive is really The Universe in communion with Itself. The 'I am' of the Universe is the same 'I am' of you and me and The Gods Themselves.

Being a Witch seems to have become a lifestyle add-on rather than a serious discipline, to be consumed by an urge to be edgy and wear lots of black. The Spiritual Quest is to lose one's petty sense of ego, with its fear-ridden attachments, grievances and vanities amidst the awestruck splendour of the cosmos and see one's True Face there instead.

I forgot.... Death's Rule and His Power are Absolute, but He is the Gateway to The Renewal of All Things.

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Eve

I got into the practice nearly 5 years ago. I always knew that I was different from the age of about 17, but people in my life and circumstances forbade it. So I found myself through books that I came across. Although, I was introduced to spiritualism at a younger age by my aunt and uncle-in-law. I don’t believe that everyone is born with gifts, I think that you learn as you go along
and you are always learning.

I felt the charge years ago, the charge of the Goddess, but I ignored it until 2011 when I couldn’t ignore it any longer. This is when I took the step to come out of the broom closest and I did a self initiation.

I would consider myself to be more of a Wiccan Witch. I follow the cycles of the moon, practice candle Magick and absent healing. It easily fits around my life, I ground and shield every day and use candles most nights.

A Witch to me is a healer, lover of nature, animals, crystals and elements and someone who is always wanting to help people. I have sadly lost a few friends a long my way because of who I am, but the Witching community has made me feel so wanted in a lovely social circle of like minded people, I can be ME no questioned asked. My one piece of advice to others is to definitely just be yourself and always harm none.