A Witch Like Me: The Spiritual Journeys of Todays Pagan Practitioners

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All Wiccans are Pagans, but not all Pagans are Wiccans. Finally, some witches are Pagans, but some are not - and some Pagans practice witchcraft, while others choose not to. Often, people say that when they first discovered Wicca, they felt like they finally fit in. Statements made on this site referring to Wiccans and Pagans generally refer to MOST Wiccans and Pagans, with the acknowledgment that not all practices are identical.

There are many Witches who are not Wiccans. Some are Pagans, but some consider themselves something else entirely. As time progressed and Christianity spread, those same country folk were often the last holdouts clinging to their old religions.

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In the s, Gerald Gardner brought Wicca to the public, and many contemporary Pagans embraced the practice. Although Wicca itself was founded by Gardner, he based it upon old traditions. However, a lot of Witches and Pagans were perfectly happy to continue practicing their own spiritual path without converting to Wicca. There are a few witches who embrace the Christian god as well as a Wiccan goddess — the Christian Witch movement is alive and well!

My grandma Trudy was a librarian at the West Long Branch Library, which meant I got to spend many an afternoon lurking between the I spent countless hours in my room, learning about witches and goddesses, and I loved anything by authors like George MacDonald, Roald Dahl, and Michael Ende — writers fluent in the language of enchantment.

Books were my broomstick. They allowed me to fly to other realms where anything was possible. Though fictional witches were my first guides, I soon discovered that magic was something real people could do. I started frequenting new age shops and experimenting with mass-market paperback spell books from the mall. I was raised Jewish but found myself attracted to belief systems that felt more individualized and mystical and that fully honored the feminine. Eventually I found my way to modern Paganism, a self-directed spiritual path that sustains me to this day.

Now, I identify both as a witch and with the archetype of the witch overall, and I use the term fluidly.

Introduction to Irish Paganism

At any given time, I might use the word witch to signify my spiritual beliefs, my supernatural interests or my role as an unapologetically complex, dynamic female in a world that prefers its women to be smiling and still. I use it with equal parts sincerity and salt: with a bow to a rich and often painful history of worldwide witchcraft, and a wink to other members of our not-so-secret society of people who fight from the fringes for the liberty to be our weirdest and most wondrous selves.

Magic is made in the margins. You may feel attracted to her symbolism, her style or her stories but are not about to rush out to buy a cauldron or go sing songs to the sky. I remain more convinced than ever that the concept of the witch endures because she transcends literalism and because she has so many dark and sparkling things to teach us.

Did people actually believe in magic? They most certainly did and still do. Were the thousands of victims who were killed in the 16th- and 17th-century witch hunts actually witches themselves? Most likely not. Are witches real? All of these things are true. But whether or not there were actually women and men who practiced witchcraft in Rome or Lancashire or Salem, say, is less interesting to me than the fact that the idea of witches has remained so evocative and influential and so, well, bewitching in the first place.

In other words, the fact and the fiction of the witch are inextricably linked. Each informs the other and always has. The witch is a notorious shape-shifter, and she comes in many guises:. The witch has a green face and a fleet of flying monkeys. She wears scarves and leather and lace. She lives in Africa; on the island of Aeaea; in a tower; in a chicken-leg hut; in Peoria, Illinois.

Differences in Wicca, Witchcraft, and Paganism

She lurks in the forests of fairy tales, in the gilded frames of paintings, in the plotlines of sitcoms and YA novels, and between the bars of ghostly blues songs. Our witches say as much about us as they do about anything else — for better and for worse. For me a more meaningful distinction is between ritual and routine. I think a routine is a series of events done in a pattern, but not necessarily with any intentional sacred element. And some people do bring an awareness of the sacred into these activities! Quakers have other rituals too, such as Clearness Committees. Reclaiming rituals have a structure too, that looks quite different on the surface, but I sense that I could parse it out and find underlying similarities in the structure—much as all languages have different orderings of nouns and verbs, but there are universal aspects to language too.

I was raised in the independent unprogrammed Quaker tradition and found my meeting to be rather averse to Christocentric langauge and ministry. Language that would have once made me uncomfortable became deeply powerful. I have employed this technique a great deal since that trip! Between the singing and the vocal testimony from these Friends, and later the silence and vocal ministry from others in the room, I found myself in a deeply covered worshipful space.

I felt connected to the Light, Spirit, God, Source, and left the plenary craving more of that sweet sweet energy. I am recognizing more and more that while I love and respect the independent unprogrammed Quaker tradition in which I was raised, I am excited to explore other modes of F riendly worship! I hope to talk to you more about Reclaiming and Quakerism when next we meet!

The signs warning local people to stay off of the fields are somewhat rusty now. People can say that they believe every word of the Bible, but in many places every word in the Bible has been defined and interpreted by that man with the sword over there. And so the Bible has become a minefield.

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Do you find spiritual experience in energy healing? So did Jesus. Jesus taught 60 followers to heal and to perform miracles. Do you find sustenance in divination? Also, the New Testament leaned on astrology. Roman coins were considered graven images of a false god, Caesar Augustus. Each coin proclaimed that Caesar is god. The entire Christian church started out pacifist. To this day, every army unit has its sky pilots helping out the troops.

New York's oldest witchcraft store still casting its spell after 34 years

Please have mercy on Christianity and its minefields. Perhaps someone will stumble into it someday, and the ordnance will no longer be explosive at that time. What matters is being a good person and hearing the spark within. As such, I too, as a Pagan, have felt the draw of Quakerism. Thank you for writing this; I hope to find a Meeting near to me that is open to my spirituality.

I have been a Pagan for almost 30 years and identify as a Broomwoman instead of witch, although I do not reject the term outright. We tend to have meetings. Then again, as I said, I am from Toronto. The factor of silence in Quakerism draws me and it is something I wish to incorporate in my religious practice.

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  8. Thank you, Meagan. Your blog was the first hit.

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    What it taught me is that there is little to fear from that belief system, and a later conversion experience in the William James sense which led me eventually to Quakers, included a specific experience which convinced me of the harmlessness of the Wiccan path. Blessed be indeed. Name required. Email will not be published required. September Features Spiritual Simplicity by Andrew Huff.

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