Why I'm a Witch
I spent most of my weekend at the Michigan Pagan Festival and despite pouring rain and bitter wind on Saturday, it was lovely! I got to meet a woman, (Edain McCoy), who wrote several books that I use often. I met Grandmother Elspeth, (the Crone on the Road), and had a chance to soak up some of her wisdom. I saw a lot of faces that were familiar from Convocation, (another pagan gathering that took place in February). As I've come to expect from the Pagan community, it was a very light-hearted and friendly atmosphere.
There was a time, when I first began studying, when I felt as though I was a witch alone. I connected to the system of magic and to the Pagan idea of Deity through books and articles. Then I noticed that one of my favorite stores in Ann Arbor, Crazy Wisdom, was offering a monthly gathering called Witches Night Out. So I went. It was at this gathering that, over time, I met the three beautiful women who are now my circle sisters. Month after month, more people gather and talk and share. Many people who come are very new to the craft or haven't even decided whether this is the path for them. Everyone is welcomed. We do our best to help people find books that might suit them, and offer our own stories and cautions. You hear a lot of, "If something doesn't feel right to you, don't do it!". What I see time and again is that while we're more than happy to see people coming to this path and becoming a part of our community, we also always keep in mind that this path is not for everyone and there is never any pressure to stay, only encouragement to learn more before making any decisions. There is this pervasive idea that everyone is welcome to participate to the degree that they feel comfortable. We tend to be quite sensitive people and most Pagans I have met know what it's like to be pressured or to not be accepted. Sometimes these are the things that lead people to this path in the first place so we do our best to make sure our community is one that is nurturing, safe and welcoming, as well as being open-minded, flexible, and sometimes quite eccentric.
So if you imagine a Pagan gathering as a bunch of wild people dancing and singing, wearing lots of jewelry, robes, and capes, well, you're not that far off. Pagans are imaginative people. We know that the imagination is a powerful thing, not only as a tool to visualize positive change, but also as a vehicle that can take us from where ever we are now to any place we can think of, and that's a powerful thing. Children are often mislead to believe that imagination has no value, it's a waste of time to sit there and daydream. But where would we be if our great inventors didn't sit and stare into the distance, creating in their minds the things that have become indispensable to us? So we understand the value of dressing up, of letting our hair down and dancing, singing, drumming...
There are so many wonderful ways for us to play and that's what we do when we get together. We have classes where our elders impart wisdom, ignite curiosity, provide support and guidance, and sometimes issue challenges. We talk about what we can do to make the world a better place, then we put those plans into action. We share the joy we feel at being a part of everything, and our enjoyment of the Earth and of Nature.
And yes, there are certainly more of us than you think. Pagans are nurses and school teachers and librarians and custodians and engineers and architects. They work in construction, in offices, in hospitals, in just about every field you can imagine.
I feel so proud to be a part of this community! I've never seen a group with a more solid foundation of mutual respect and trust. Most of us are so accustomed to hiding our jewelry or holding our tongues in certain situations that when we all come together, it's like a weekend-long sigh of relief at being able to just be ourselves with no sidelong glances or snide remarks. I guess that's why I'm working at this. I want people to know why I'm a witch and what that means to me because I feel that if more people knew, it would slowly become more accepted. It breaks my heart that we feel the need to hide this most important part of who we are. Especially when it's this beautiful community that has welcomed myself and so many others without judgment or expectation. And when we so rarely stand up for ourselves. We're so concerned with how people react to pentacles that many of us don't wear them in public- because we are respectful. We know how our faith is viewed by the general public so we choose to stay pretty much under the radar and move in our own circles. I love our community and I love the events we share. These weekends are like time out of time for me and I will always cherish them. I guess I just wish the world at large were more tolerant and accepting. We could help out more, make more of an impact if we weren't busy hiding who we are.