As a Feri student for the last 5 years (and a witch for the last 21), I have several personal books of shadows, where I have diligently taken notes on what was being transmitted to me by my teachers, be they human or otherwise. I not only write down lore and techniques, but quotes that reveal Truth and images from dreams, trances, and much more.
I have a similar book while studying at seminary, a book idea given to me by Dr. Rebecca Parker- what the Unitarian Universalists call a "commonplace book". It includes quotes, discussion notes, activities, references and more to help me develop liturgy, sermons, etc.
In this new series in the blog, I sift through several years of teachings and reflections and contemplate aloud about what they mean to me as a witch and as a parent. I hope you enjoy them!
I suppose it was inevitable that I become a Witch. I spent most of my childhood feeling like an outsider, even in my own family. It's not necessarily that I was deliberately excluded (although there was plenty of that at times- most kids experience that at one time or another), but there was something "not quite right" about me- that made me not fit in. It's like people could smell it on me, and it made them wary. I was more comfortable communing with animals and invisible friends (whom my mother called "imaginary", although they were anything but!) than with most humans, be they adult or child. I liked the slower and more visual, picture-based communication of non-humans much better and could relate to them more than the "strange human creatures" (as I called them then) I found myself among.
It's funny (yet predictable, in hindsight) to note that the people I did become close to during my childhood and teenage years all turned out to be either queer or some stripe of pagan or both. Not that we knew this at the time- at the time, we were just the freaks, the outsiders.
The role of the Witch is to be an edgewalker. (For those of you non-Witch readers, this is one of the reasons why many Witches identify as Hedge Witches- the hedge is the boundary between this world and the next.) Edgewalker, as a term, implies a few things to me: risk, danger, not having a home in either of the definitive camps of this or that- but rather being perpetually "between". (And isn't that where the magick happens?!)
Witches exist as a living bridge between this world and the next and can affect both places. To be a Witch is to be fully human, bridging the realms of our animal selves and our Divine natures- and at the same time- Witches are separate, odd, queer, uncanny. To be fully human makes a Witch a master in all realms- a co-creator of the worlds who is not controlled. Witches are not slaves- to culture, to others, to force. (Yet we are human, which also means we can fail, falter, and become subject to the whims of others and cultural power dynamics seeking to rule us.)
So, if I am separate, how does my role as religious leader (as my school likes to call each of us), priestess, and mother come into it all? That, dear reader, is the big enchilada of questions. The answers to which I am perpetually sorting out! My nature often makes me such a curmudgeon, a misanthrope (especially when I look and see all the harm that humans do to one another, the planet and its other inhabitants) and yet...
I am perpetually hopeful and intent on making this world a little better than how I found it. I am an organizer, a catalyst. I make stuff happen. This has lead to some amazing activism and art projects over the years, and my current projects in the greater pagan community are all being documented at my personal website. Here's the great paradox (Feri Witches love paradox!): as a Witch I am separate, but as a Witch, I know that there is no such thing. We are all connected and we all affect one another.
Being connected makes me want to teach my son the value of compassion, exercising a Witches' Will to manifest a better world, and staying connected to others, despite all of our collective failings. In short, Being a Witch and an edgewalker has helped me cultivate Power, but it took becoming a parent to make me feel more compassion for human frailty. I am still working on this- I find that it is easy with my son, but not so easy with others!
I tend to be a judgmental person who doesn't cut anyone (including myself) enough slack for mistakes and failings. That is my default tendency, and it is something that I am actively working on now- because as a parent, I want my son to thrive in a loving, compassionate environment that values his successes and failings equally. Through parenting my son, I am finding the patience to deal with the people "out there" who annoy the crap out of me. Being a mother is making me a better person, which in turn, makes me a better Witch and priestess.