I was recently asked if I was a witch...

I was recently asked if I was a witch...

I was recently asked if I was a witch.
It was a sincere question and one that I believe came from a genuine place of concern for my soul. My first response was ‘that depends on how you define witch’ however we weren’t in an environment to really have a true conversation so when asked if I identify as a witch, my ultimate answer is yes, but my definition is much different than what most people have been brought to believe...
I recently came across this quote from Roxane Gay,
‘unruly women are always witches. No matter what century we're in’. And this encapsulates one of the paramount ways that I feel that connection to the word ‘witch’.

Witches are the women who run with the wolves, we are the people who speak to the earth and commune regularly with the trees, we are the ones who have endured the white hot fire of the judgment of our community and others for being different and who have risen from the ashes in spite of with hearts full of love, compassion, and boundaries.

We do not wish harm on anyone, rather we seek to shine light on the darkness around us in an effort to help others find their way back to themselves.

We listen to the Great Mystery, God, Goddess, the Universe, or by whichever name you call it, and we move where we are guided, no matter how scary or great the challenge.

We do not practice dark arts and carry evil intentions, we do not hex or strong arm the Divine spirit to bend to our will.

Rather we surrender our hearts and our very lives to be a conduit for this sacred energy because our ultimate wish in our bones is for all to remember their sacred selves and return to the source of love so that we all may know peace.
I grew up Catholic and have always had a deep love for Jesus and his teachings and the saints and their devotion to the truth of love. Life brought me to my knees time and time again whether from the devastating impact of living with autoimmune disease or from the devastating heartbreak from loss, broken dreams, financial instability, major depression & anxiety and blah blah blah…we all have our stories…but for me, I found my path to the Divine in the woods.

I found my path to the source of love through the whispers of nature where I experienced God directly on a regular basis. I learned to truly listen to the still small voice inside me and to the Great Mystery who guided me both on the trails in the woods and on the trails in life.

I always knew my path would be a different one and for that my connection to spirit needed to be strong. I am not one for rules and although I may stumble through most trails in life, I know that my spiritual practice is one that is deeply rooted in devotion to this connection and therefore rooted in love. 
I still speak to all the mystics and the saints, from cultures and religions far and wide…each holding gifts for us to help us endure and elevate this human experience. I am so grateful for my Catholic upbringing and spending 8 years in a Catholic school where the motto was ‘Serviam’, meaning ‘I will serve’. It instilled in me the core tenet of my being which is to move through life in a way that serves others, lifts them up, and to be devoted to bettering this world.

So when someone asks me if I’m a witch…this is just some of what goes through my head…do I make spells, fly broomsticks, talk to the devil, and put hexes on people? No, quite the opposite. Do I want to fly on a broomstick? You bet your buns I do.
Art by Suzanne Deveuve
However, the definition of ‘witch’ in the dictionary isn’t helping any of us either as we work to reclaim part of what makes women powerful and dare I say, magical.

To this day Merriam Webster’s definition of a witch is:

‘a woman who is believed to practice usually black magic often with the aid of a devil or familiar’ and ‘a person (especially a woman) who is credited with having usually malignant supernatural powers’. 

But these definitions and these fears about the word ‘witch’ are echoes that are still reverberating from many centuries ago when real witch hunts were a thing…when a woman like myself (and many of you reading I'm sure) would quite literally be killed for following the guidance of my own spiritual practice (and also practicing herbalism).
The ‘Hammer of Witches’, also known as the ‘Malleus Maleficarum’ was written by Heinrich Kramer and Jacob Sprenger in 1486, men who were convinced that women were more easily coerced by the devil and evil forces and made a handbook of how to identify, hunt, and punish (kill) these women who didn’t abide by their rules…unruly women were hunted for hundreds of years by the Church and this was their handbook (ipl.org, 2020). 

Thankfully the Church came to their senses about this book eventually, but not after centuries of the trauma of being hunted for stepping out of line, having independent thoughts and beliefs, being knowledgeable, or sexual, or defiant was woven into their DNA and passed from generation to generation.
Art by Brittany Keller
And still, this idea that unruly women, or people for that matter, people who color outside the box, who have a deep reverence for their own spiritual path and the mystical experience that is life, the healers, the weirdos, the misfits, the loud and unapologetically themselves, are somehow associated with this dark definition of witch.

It is for the persecuted people who came before me that I say ‘yes I identify as a witch…if you must put me in some category at all’.

Mainly I identify as a human with a mystic soul trying to navigate this earthly world with love and reverence…just like the rest of us.
There’s a ton that I left out when it comes to this topic, but if you needed this today, I hope it found you. If you haven’t already, I highly recommend reading ‘Women Who Run With The Wolves’ if you are looking for another way to continue to connect with your sacred soul.

From my heart to yours <3
If you are interested in learning more about herbalism and staying healthy (during the cold & flu season and beyond), please check out my Winter Wellness Guide.

It is a comprehensive guide containing a multitude of gems to help make your body and immune system stronger and robust no matter what time of year.

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