A Proper, Powerful Witch Is...

Author: Quill ofQuillsOccultSupply / Labels: , , ,

Hot on the heels of my last statement that I don't care one jot for what others call essential for being a "true witch," I will now give you my own thoughts.  Of course, I don't endeavor at all to separate genuine from imitation; rather, I care only about the well-adjusted, the progressive, the productive, and the potent.  Those are the witches I want to describe and that's the witch I endeavor to be.


Each of us will naturally have our own ideas as to what really should be included in this list.  I entreat you to bring out pen and paper right away and come up with your own.  Feel free to share it here or any other place you like.  Post it in your workspace, copy it into your BoS, discuss it with your coven mates, ask friends and family for a (gently) honest evaluation of yourself based on the guidelines you have set.  Work with my list or your own in whatever creative way feels best.  

There are many things that can make our two lists different.  The first, and possibly most important, is our experiences.  Not only are the years we each have been practicing affecting, but also the substance of those years.  What has been the focus of your magic since you began?  What about the focus of this past year?  I can't imagine how different your answer would be from my own, but that is a deciding factor of what is important to you.  Not only are we talking about the conscious choices you have made but also the surprises and problems that have arisen which you have had to work for at a moment's notice.  That has shaped who you are and what you see as necessary skill.

Also, we must take into consideration that we each have our own talents.  Armed with these as tools and weapons, we go into the world with our own distinct advantage.  Maybe you possess a mundane skill that I can only reach through spellwork; that skill might seem, for me, all the greater as a magical goal.

I have made this list as universal as possible, while still allowing for all the quirks mentioned above.  For ease of use, I've generally used the pronoun "she" and the term "witch."  Admittedly, I rarely do this except when talking about myself because that's the term I use.  Since, of course, this is my own list, I figured I'd go with what applies to me and the reader may change it as they deem necessary.  I would love to hear from you (here, on FB or Twitter, or elsewhere) with your thoughts, additions, or subtractions.   So now I present to you:



 A Proper, Powerful Witch Is...


 Prepared

Planning is one of those not-very-fun but very necessary tasks that seem to fall by the wayside with so many spellcasters.  Not only should a witch's spells be timed and plotted in advance, but the whole course of her endeavors should, as well.  What do you fear happening?  Protect yourself from it!  Work around it!  Reroute your path so that you may never come in its sight.

Preparation is also a major aspect of a practitioner's skill when you have a coven or lead your own rites.  It is too often assumed that major rites just happen, that everyone can just show up at the appointed time.  In truth, they are a tremendous amount of work.  And that's why they're so rare today.  Rituals that I've attended outside of my own coven have been clearly slapped together without forethought or care.  That is a major embarrassment for your guests and a disrespect to the forces you're attempting to summon.  Next time, plan ahead!

Balanced

Your life is complicated--everyone's is.  All of us feel like we're busy, even if we're not.  So it can be a trial to keep order with all the things clamoring for our attention and time.  A proper occultist know this and plans for it.

There are certain things that must always come first, and that's a given.  A major project at school or work or sudden pleas from a friend will stop your world until they have been settled.  But on an ordinary day, there are basics that must be done and aspects of life which must be given your energy in order to be furthered.  Be sure you touch on all of them, every day, in any way you are able--Mind, Body, and Spirit in balance.

One who Knows What She Wants

You can't possibly attain your goals if you don't know what they are, so start out making real plans for your future.  Do something--anything!--every day to come closer to those goals.  Make them specific, clear, and feasible based on your skills and how far you're willing to push them.

I am a big list-maker.  I love lists for all sorts of reasons, but the best is that they give me a chance to stand back and see a pattern.  Make a list of what your goals have been so far.  What are you currently attempting to do or become?  What has been the aspiration of your practice for the past year?  The past 5 years?  How about 10?

Now where would you like to be in as much time?  Do you think the actions you've already taken are headed that direction?  Think this through for as long as you can.  These might be the most important questions you can ask yourself.  What have you been chasing, wanting, striving for?  What are seeking now?  How can you connect them?  How can you take one more step on the path to your goals today?

Creative

Creativity is never work.  Sure, it requires a lot of work, but the creative spark itself is free-
flowing and endless.  It is your well spring and you will never run dry.  With it you can quench the thirst of yourself and all around you as you use it to solve problems and end suffering.  You can use it to drown the evil or wash the innocent.  It can bring barren earth to life and rot the over-blown.  It's all yours.

We need to think about creativity this way and not in the sense of silly craft kits and cross stitch.  Engage your whole self in the act of creation as you work a spell and you will see it come alive.  Anything you do to make something out of nothing can be a creative act, a magical act.  Make your magical life especially, but also your mundane life, beautiful and expressive.  Give it everything you have and then give it a little more.  

Honest

Now this might sound like I'm just being no fun, but it is quite important that a proper witch is a person of a certain integrity.  I say "certain" because I'm not asking you to be a staunchly moral and upright person, only that you have your limits and adhere to them.  One of those limits should be about lying.

I have come into contact with many practitioners who didn't have this rule, so I suppose that's why it figures so prominently on my list of things by which I live.  A witch who tells lies about herself or lets others believe untrue things about herself today is only investing in tomorrow's crumbled persona.  Fellow practitioners need to know the real you.  If you pretend to be more powerful than you really are, you will be uncovered one day and humbled--or cursed--for it.  If you do that to clients, they will stop believing you, speak against you to others, whither your ego (and even your magical potency), and weaken the magical community of your area.

In my experiences, I knew a witch who was certain that she was everyone's goddess.  She had it in her mind that men wanted her and women wanted to be her.  It was a fallacy, of course, and one she clearly recognised, but she held onto it fiercely because her life was so damaged that she couldn't bear to look at reality.  Not only did this make those around her think less of her, it perpetuated a cycle of false gains in her life.  That's not where a witch should be.

Always Using Magic

As you may have noticed, I don't follow the attitude that magic should be one's last line of defense.  Our predecessors would have thought that idea laughable.  If you wish to keep your skills honed, you must use them often.  A proper witch casts spells all the time.  Little ones to get an edge on everyday events, large ones to turn the tides to her favor, and--when things go quiet for her--spells to assist those around her.  By this, a practitioner becomes a part of magic, not just a spectator or even a participant.

A Respecter and Promoter of the Works of Others

The other practitioners you meet are your people.  There is no need for jealousy, judgement, or scorn.  Whether there are one-hundred other casters in your town or two, you are together in this.  Be kind, listen, share a bit of what you know, pass along their good name.  People will remember this.  If you're always trying to best someone or spread hurtful rumors, they'll remember that, too.

I'm noticing how true this is in the community of comic book artists.  As you may know, I am the illustrator for a new comic book series and I've been working my way into the brother/sisterhood of fellow creators.  Every time I talk with an artist, they're always interested in my work--as I am in theirs--and offer helpful advice, tips, and leads on books, conventions, and sources for research to help me on my way.

I've never had one put me down because my style is different from theirs, or because I'm not a classically trained artist.  No one has ever sniffed at my request for advice and said I wasn't of a high enough rank to hear it.  Instead, they totally get it--we're a unity and we can either bring each other up together or we can all scramble around in the dark, too proud to ask for or offer help.  I could only wish that the magical community would follow their lead.

A Visionary

It is well within the scope of an occultist to see the pattern of time and to predict its continuing weave into the future.  Such a person then can use this as a guide to do what needs doing, make corrections appropriately, and not hesitate to do either.  The beauty of being a visionary is that you don't have to hesitate; you know and that knowledge is your strength.

Has a Rich Non-Magical Life, Too

In the midst of all of this, it can seem as though I'm expecting a practitioner to be nothing but.  However, magic should be a part of a well-made life, not its only feature.  It's important to maintain a space between witchcraft being your whole identity and it being merely a weekend hobby.

Cultivate the other interests in your life.  Spend time with non-magical folk.  Listen to music, read books, join groups, and hold discourse on things that have nothing to do with witchcraft.  This will keep you grounded.

Spiritual

This will have a different meaning for different people.  For myself, I enjoy having a relationship with the Gods and listening to their wisdom.  For others, spirituality might be more structured, have more definite terms, require more of their time.  Or it might mean less of all of this; it's up to the individual.

Connecting your magic with spirituality can be helpful in that you will be able to gain special insights, receiving omens and assistance from a source which doesn't rely on corporeal things.  Tending to your spiritual relationships every day can be helpful to maintain a line of communication with a greater intelligence, be it Gods, territorial spirits, or beloved dead.  All of this is your soul life and can be of benefit to your work.

Skilled in Her Craft

When a spell is well cast, it becomes a dance, a work of art.  Components are retrieved, measured, blended in secret rhythms; a match is struck, flame bursts into being;  herbs come alive on the coals; smoke winds through the air full of flickering shadow; words weave like threads through the process, stitching and pulling tight your intentions.  

If this doesn't describe your work, maybe you need to take a closer look at your methods.  The greater amount of knowledge you have, the more you're able to use it with finesse.  The better you understand the performance, the smoother it becomes.

Organized

This is definitely something that is a must for me but probably not essential in the eyes of others.  To me, organization goes hand in hand with other aspects of honor and reliability such as honesty and promptness.  To keep your belongings in order is to keep your thoughts in order.  To maintain a purposeful schedule is to do as much with your ambitions.

Record-keeping is important, especially in the beginning when there is so much information coming at you.  After a while, however, the main things you'll want to record are the major life events and inspirations as well as the more important spells you cast.  For myself, if I were to record every little work of magic I perform, I'd have run through several volumes just talking about the charms I recite and the sigils I draw for the small stuff in life like protection during long periods of travel or keeping visitors from my house on my day off. 

Also helpful is that workspace is clean and easy to use.  You should be able to sit down at your desk/altar/whathaveyou and get to work right away.  You should know where all your herbs and stones can be found.  If you can't do that, I highly suggest planning a cleaning day to get your things in order.  It will have a positive impact on your outlook but also on your magic itself.  Distractions of any kind act as speed bumps, slowing you down and making you extra aware of your surroundings.  You don't want that.




So there's my list.  What's yours?  If you've decided to form your own requirements, remember take time to also think about where they come from, why they matter, what each of them would look like in real practice.  As you have seen, I know where some of my list originated but other parts just seem important because it's the way I look at witchcraft in general.  Your view might be much different, and I welcome it.


Images from:
ladylionhart.deviantart.com/art
leicestergalleries.com/19th-20th-century-paintings
minimalisti.com/halloween

The Upside of Being a Superstitious Witch pt.2

Author: Quill ofQuillsOccultSupply / Labels: , ,




In the last post we discussed just why witches and other occultists should embrace
superstition.  Of the excellent arguments I feel that I made on its behalf (*ahem*) I think there is one which speaks the most strongly in favor of it as a magical concept:

It works.

We discussed all that the last time around.  Now we must consider what this means for the occultist.  What use can superstition be to a witch?  The many answers may surprise you.

Superstition Uses Tried Methods

As a spellcaster, I'm always hoping to find spells that have been used before, that have proven themselves.  I know it's popular now to write a brand new spell every time (read my thoughts on this silly notion here) but what I really want is to know that the spell I'm working will do exactly what it's supposed to do--and the first time.  Wouldn't that be lovely?

Superstition has the benefit of being passed down over many generations.  Each one of the people holding these ideas as true has added a bit more power to the thought.  That power has created a well from which you may dip any time you like.  You may even discover superstitions that are unique to your family.  Not only did these beliefs persist through time, they were specifically cultivated by your bloodline, adding yet another reason for it to retain potency.  Any time an idea is shared, cherished, and followed by a mass of people, it gains power.  Like the ancient spellbook a fortunate fairytale heroine finds in a dusty trunk, we can feel the respect of ages emanating from such ideas and recognize it as potent.


Superstition Uses Universal Concepts

Maybe we no longer view black cats as bad luck (and, indeed, there are some good luck superstitions about them) but a great many folk beliefs call up items, colors, and symbols that we still associate with everyday concepts such as happiness, family unity, and wealth. For example, it's easy to see why bread and salt predict and represent our home life and its success.  Likewise, we have a shared idea that such quickly recognized misfortunes like burning food or breaking things bring bad luck.

Because these concepts are generally understood, they're a good way for newcomers to conceive of and begin to work simple spells.  Which leads to...


Superstition Can Aid Your Spells

Any pre-written spell can benefit from adding correlating folklore.  Think of it as another form of association.  There's no limit to the ways in which we can dress up even the simplest spells and yet not fundamentally change them--including colors for things like altar cloths and candles; scent in things like fresh flowers/herbs or incenses and oils; or words like spoken charms or affirmations.   Superstition can work the same way.

A love spell, for example, can be enhanced with it in many ways.  It is tradition that to accidentally drop a pan and have it come to rest upside down means that someone is thinking loving thoughts of you.  To add this to your spell, simply recreate this act intentionally--in slow motion, if need be to ensure the pan is indeed inverted--after the spell is complete.  Let it rest on the floor (or, for more connection, on your altar sitting directly over your spell items) untouched until the candles have burned to their sockets or some other sign has made itself known that the work is finished.

Superstition Can Be Used Instead of Spells


With focus, a well-placed superstition can be just as effective as a timed spell.  Think about a day that is very important, like going on a long trip.  Rather than add to your to-do list before you leave, just work in a few superstitions.  Plan your trip around unlucky days and try to leave on a Monday.  Start well by making your bed first thing in the morning to ensure luck all day long.  Before heading out the door, tuck a potato in your bag to ward off motion sickness and put a pinch of salt in your pocket so you won't pine for home.  Any combination of these--and many, many more--can substitute for more formal spellwork.


Also consider the other ways you can work superstitions into your magical goals, such as arranging it with a friend who needs fast money that you re-enact folklore which will bring new money to them--Have them drop a small amount of money, as though by accident, then pick up that money and put it back in their hand, thereby granting them money luck.


Superstition Can Be Used to Predict the Success of Spellwork

So we talked all about how superstitions and omens are so closely related that they could pass for twins.  Well, now it's time to cast The Parent Trap--trade your usual spell omens (like shapes in the candle wax) for superstitions that relate to the goal of your spell.

For example, money will soon be coming to you if you discover that a spider has built a web in the corner of your doorway.  So instead of watching incense ash or patterns on your burnt spell papers, keep an eye out for a web.  You may wish to cap off your spellwork by declaring to your familiar/spirits/deities that this is the sign you prefer they send to show you the success of your work.   Not only will this give you something definite to watch for, it will also help you to become more observant, as well as better connected to the beings with whom you work magic.


Superstition Keeps You in Touch with Magical Thinking

In our day to day life, we can easily slide away from our understanding of ourselves as magical, powerful beings who are capable of changing our own reality.  Even just saying that seems preposterous on some days.  Who hasn't woke up to a 24 hour disaster--the car has a flat, in trouble at work, burst water pipe at home, a fight with a friend--and feel nothing like the mental-muscle flexing occultist we were in the circle the night before?  At that point, we're just surviving, just getting through the emergency to-do list and hoping for a better day tomorrow.  The connecting road between the mundane and the magical is obscured with too many weeds and garbage to be something we think to use.

However, even very small things that we do every day can keep that passageway available
to us and at the forefront of our minds as we enter troubled times.  Think of the many common actions that can be enhanced by adding superstition.  Cooking is a natural choice; try to think positive, aspirational thoughts as you cook, stirring clockwise.  Likewise, after you're done sweeping the floor, stand the broom with the bristles up for luck.

The kinds of things that happen randomly can be good to remember as sources of magical

thought.  What springs to mind is how you can benefit from a momentary stumble: after you stub your toe, walk backward over that spot, turn around, and kiss your thumb and you will be visited by the one you most want to see.   This can be an opportunity to enjoy some assistance if you want it, but not to bother if you don't.  

There are specific times over the span of our lives that have a great deal of associations with which you can work as you like: birth, marriage, new home, great journeys, and death.  If any of these events is approaching for you, take stock of the many useful and positive superstitions from which you can choose the one or two which will be of the greatest benefit to you.  


An occultist who is superstitious has an even greater body of work from which to draw.  The adoption (or perhaps resurgence) of superstition is nothing more than cherishing, maintaining, and promoting of folk beliefs of an earlier time.  The same way we investigate and preserve their spells and recipes, we should preserve their lore.  They are our ancestors and their beliefs and practices are our heritage.  Superstition eases and enriches our magical lives the same way that magic does for our mundane lives.  We should not turn away from this but run to it, open armed and joyful, embracing what it means to uphold folklore while also being a part of it.

May great good fortune come to you!



Sourcebook:
"Superstitions: 10,000 You Really Need" by William Carroll      


Images from:
wikipedia.com
inyourpocket.com
nydailynews.com
(President Obama's lucky charms)    
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

About Me

My photo

My name is Quill and I've been practicing witchcraft for the past 17 years. 10 of those years I've been reading tarot and teaching.  I own a shop on Etsy called Quill's Occult Supply (check it out at QuillsOccultSupply.Etsy.com) full of handmade ritual and decorative items, spell components, and wild picked herbs.

I love to work with my hands.  Magic is a tool to shape our lives, and I'm using magic to shape tools to shape magic.  Cosmic! 

I use a lot of my favorite things in my shop: herbs, candles, wood, fabric, paint, clay.  And I get to carve, burn, grind, mold, think, dream ... I'm in the perfect business!

I've written 3 manuscripts for publication (2 non-fiction and 1 fiction) and am an avid NaNo-er!  I and my husband run a local coven called Orbis Prosapia, and our children are growing up surrounded by magic, mythology, fairy tales, Earth worship, art, open discussion, music, and humor. 

In addition to working on Ex Penna about my experiences as a professional witch, I also write for Scenes from the Circle about being a coven leader. 








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