Human nature loves to place a label on things in life. We want to know and to define things. I’ve been contemplating for a while about how to explain my craft without ending up a book instead of a blog post.
To begin with, not all the women in my family call themselves witches. In fact, most of them are a little horrified that I’ve embraced the word at all, but it feels right to me and I don’t think hateful things about it. I find the word witch to be beautiful, wise and helpful.
My dreams and a whole lot of unanswered questions brought me to where I am now. I was curious about the mind and spirit from a young age because of powerful dreams that came in the night and the visions that seemed to play while my eyes were wide open. Truth be told, I had a difficult time telling what was a dream sometimes. By fourth grade, I was researching topics related to outer-body experience, astral travel and faith healers.
Later, my mother met two witches. Spirit Moon was the name of their circle. Our gatherings were in a well-wooded area on private property belonging to Ciah Redhawk, the priestess. The home was small but well taken care of. Not too far away, was a small pond and an old out-house. The first time I visited, it was a hot day in June. I recall singing cicadas and the lighting bugs looked like a golden river of fairies dancing through the darkness. We would tread down a roughly cleared pathway, through the woods before exiting into a large clearing. A large circle had been mowed low on the ground and an altar made of an old spool table (that is what I called them) was sitting at the center. It was a still night. I followed the three women and my mother into the circle.
Old lanterns we’d carried down the path were sat around the circle. On the altar were shells, a large smudge stick, twine, candles at the points where each woman stood around the table. A white pillar was at the center. There were other things too; a stick lighter, a bottle of Sangria and a glass chalice -without fancy designs since it came right from the kitchen cabinet. Ciah lit the large white candle sitting at the center of the table and then she threw some salt to the four corners and asked the spirits to be with us. Sometimes I heard her talk about Great spirits but I mostly just kept my trap shut and watched.
We gathered during a full moon for rituals, but we would spend time having dinner, laughing, doing divination for each other and watching movies. Sometimes, we got together because someone asked for a favor that required a little magic. We left offerings to keep our relationship to the land and honored the passing seasons. I was encouraged to know my deeper self and unravel my own inner mystery. At the time, I’d no clue what that meant. I just knew it would be revealed to me in time.
I was a participant and observer through 1998 and into 1999. A little over a year later, I formally joined the group. Formal Initiation came at the Spring Equinox of 2000 and with it a name that was given to me by the women of the group. Group mind wasn’t a word in my vocabulary then, but I had a good dose of it when our energy worked together. Grounding was called Earthing, spells were called workings, specific gods were never called, but spirits of the land and nature were.
We didn’t celebrate Beltane, but we did light fires and dance. Our most important times were the equinoxes and we did celebrate Spirit’s festival -a time that most of us call Halloween and I still call it that too. I knew what it was to be close to a circle of women but my age left me feeling a little lonely. The women were all in their late forty’s and fifty’s, with years of life experience beyond me. A lot of conversations flew right over my head and if they all got together for fun and maybe to had a few drinks, I’d wonder what they were all whispering and cackling about. Mostly, I had to carry things, set things up and though I asked questions most of the time I got funny looks or riddles.
By 2000, I was looking into Celtic Wicca. I’d found books by D.J. Conway and stories about the faery folk reminded me a little of the land spirits we worked with. There wasn’t a certain name for them, but they seem to like sweet corn bread, shiny things and things that you personally make -could even be a song that you play on a flute. From there I read a book called True Magick by Amber K. In time I came across Buckland, Raven Wolf and more. I started blending what I’d learned with modern Wicca. One peculiar thing I came across while studying Wicca that raised my eyebrows was coming across the place they called Summerland.
When I was a little girl playing in a swimming pool. I used to walk in a circle over and over till the water swirled into a whirlpool. My dolls would go around and around all the way to the center. When they popped up they were in a new place and I happened to call it summer land. The faeries lived there and other spirits too. In the game, my winged dolls would pick up the floating dolls from the pool and I’d ‘fly’ them over to my mom’s garden full of tiger lilies, black-eyed susan flowers and elephant ears. The water drips from the air conditioner made little rivers among the green. The garden and the places of light were all summer land, but you couldn’t get there without help from spirits, but everything there lived forever. I suppose it could be a complete correlation fallacy, but then again I’m not a believer in coincidence.
As time went on I learned that the things I grew up with were folk magic. Mom always had an iron horseshoe hanging upwards in the kitchen. There was one outside the shed too. It was supposed to bring good luck and ward ‘nasty things’. If I dropped a knife then a man would visit. A spoon dropped meant a woman would come by. More than three cardinals meant that and old friend would show up unexpectedly and if you found a group of blue jays squawking loudly it meant that there would be a family squabble before the day was done. Death meant stopping clocks and covering mirrors and if you when to a visitation it was customary to lay your eyes upon or sometimes kiss the body of the dead, “So they won’t haunt you and you can say good-bye,” my mother said as we stood before the body of a woman I called Aunt Easter. Of course, there is always more to the story but if I put everything said and done here I couldn’t call this a blog -it would be a book.
My craft is now blended with various things I’ve learned. I am still looking for others with similar tales and heritage. In writing this, I feel I am honoring my roots however deep they may go. The family never called what we did folk magic. Mostly, it was referred to as ‘common sense.’ I’m not sure where all of it came from, but it is what it is. My Craft has no name but maybe one day I’ll give it one.