Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Ask Me Anything: Gossip and Malicious Speech

In this semi-regular feature on Witch Mom, I answer select questions from readers. There is always a box to the right of my blog posts if you would also like to ask a question, or click here. It could be about The Craft, parenting, pop culture, multi-religious education, homeschooling, or whatever! I cannot promise to answer each one, but I will read them!

A reader asks: "Lily, can you share something--a perspective, prayer, survival tips--on how to deal/see gossip-mongers and malicious people? THANKS." 

For previous related posts on this subject, check out "Pagan Values Month", Kalama Sutta, and Extremism Worldwide. Both posts have related thoughts (but are not addressing this issue head on).

We have all had to deal with negative, judgmental people in our lives. Some folks are just not happy with anything that others do, while others have no empathy for people with other life experiences and the values formed from them. It makes interacting with these folks more of an endurance test than a pleasure. I find my limits get strained by these types much more than my own toddler- who is quite adept at testing limits!

Long ago, one of my teachers gave me this tip (unsure of the original source of this quote, so if you know, leave the credit in the comments): "What other people think of you is none of your business." At first, I was aghast. I mean, I am a person who values community- and to me, gossip (when it is done correctly) has an important function in a tribal society. It reinforces tribal mores and holds people accountable for their actions. In tribal cultures, gossipers are held just as accountable as those being talked about. But I was forgetting something: most of us do not live in anything like a tribal culture, at least not 24/7. And that makes gossip more like a virus- something that spreads like wildfire, it's hard to find the original source, and you cannot hold a virus accountable.

Not related to the post, just funny!
This is the best survival tip I can think of: stop caring what others think of you.  If you do your work to be a discerning, ethical person and then walk your talk- it doesn't matter if people approve of you or not. Self love will save you from feeling bad when others disapprove. I am not saying that this is easy- especially when those casting shade your way are family or people you consider friends. I have lost fair-weather friends as well as family members because they are so critical, or get angry when they cannot control my words and actions. So be it. Life is too short to not live YOUR life to its fullest. You must follow your calling(s) and those that are truly kin (whether by blood or not) will find you and support you in your path.

Chances are, if you live your path unencumbered by others expectations, you will become a shining beacon, drawing others who are your actual kin to you. This has happened to me, so I can attest that this is no mere speculation.

As a last resort: If you are dealing with people that are messy and harm lots of others with their words and deeds as a matter of habit, I am not the type of Witch that is against binding someone. It can be a useful tool in a Witch's arsenal. Some people these days seem to be against using Witchcraft to harm or restrain others, but that is not my idea of Witchcraft at all. I am not personally bound by a Wiccan rede, as I believe if you cannot hex, you cannot heal. However, you should know that binding a person makes them attached to you in a way that may be uncomfortable for the long term. Choose this strategy carefully, as it makes the person less likely to harm, but binds them TO YOU, the Witch, in a way as well. If you choose this route, you need to be okay with the fact that in their struggles to harm others as before you will need to protect yourself from them even more than before. It is a skill that takes practice and you need to be ready to release the binding when the time comes for everyone's sake.

Ask Me Anything! You can ask me a question and I will answer- if it is a long answer, I will blog it. Past blog posts inspired by readers have included divine possession, ghosts, and astral projection! Just keep the question short- the application that I use  cuts off wordy inquiries from time to time. Or you can make suggestions for a blog post. What do you want to see me write about? 


  1. Dear Lilly:
    I never thanked you for this. Well, I am now. Sorry for the delay. It is only now that I got to read all the related posts. My reactions: I got comfort, but you also unleashed a storm of thoughts/ideas in my head. *sigh* Like what you and others before you have said, "knowledge is not comfortable." It's not like having a mental patch-up with 'brick and cement.' ('Brick and cement' stops you from moving on, growing. Knowledge doesn't.)
    The one by Cholla is more thought-provoking. There's a sense of understanding it deep inside, yet partially confused on the surface. Will the books you recommended before on the Feri Tradition help me understand more? (They could only be bought outside my country.)

    Again, THANKS.

  2. The Faery Tradition cannot be larned from books and articles, although these exist. The books will tell you if the trad is right for you- if they leave you hungering for more and such. But they will not teach you. Only direct sustained in-person contact with an initiate, who is ready and willing to teach YOU will do that.

    Warrior traditions like mine are similar to others. My teacher, for example, had me read Shambhala, which is a warrior path steeped in Tibetan Buddhism. It helped me lots.

    I must tell you, being a warrior is often lonely, as you cannot be afraid to eschew the masses, even if they claim to be friends and peers. My best to you!


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