***This is a post about anti-witchcraft propaganda, its effect on me personally, and my experience as a practitioner. Please read this with an open-mind.***
So, I found this pamphlet on the Chicago Pinkline train today on my way home. It was placed on the seat to be found my someone like me. From the pictures you can see why it was particularly upsetting for me.
Basically, the comic was an anti-witchcraft, ignorant approach to converting sinners. It was not a surprise to find this but definitely a disappointment.
Want to know why I don't talk much about my beliefs? Because after hundreds of years of purposeful misinformation by the church people have absolutely NO IDEA what we actually practice. I have told people I practice and they have treated me like an idiot. Managers have seen my cute little amethyst pentacle (a symbol for the 5 elements, not the devil) slip out from my shirt and told me it was inappropriate for work. In fact, even I was ignorant about witchcraft and felt extremely uncomfortable identifying as a Witch for a very long while. I always knew I was Pagan, but after years of growing up and observing Witchcraft being vilified in the media and our American-Christian-Culture, Witchcraft felt dirty in my mouth. It was this way for a long time until after reading, researching, and really trying to understand what I was, I couldn't deny anymore that the only thing in my way of having a happy spiritual practice was my own bias against my own beliefs.
I know a few people who have converted to Christianity after their experience with witchcraft, but it was NOT because someone was rude and bigoted towards their beliefs, it was through gentle kindness and a slow realization that it just wasn't for them.
This comic makes it seem like witches are plotting against Christ and the Church. I think it is very much possible to be a kind, responsible, loving Christian. Sure, I was raised by Pagan parents (who, by the way, NEVER forced me to believe anything. I am solely Pagan because they encouraged me to explore and decide for myself what beliefs really resonated.) but having an art-historian/former attendee of Catholic school as a mother, I was raised with a lot of stories from the bible. I've heard tons about Jesus and I think he was an awesome guy with some great teachings. I actually know a lot of you guys here on Facebook from church because I love Classical and Baroque music and it was almost exclusively written for the church. Do I hate Christianity? Nope. Does this pamphlet make witches like me out to be Jesus haters, crappy children to their mothers, and angry idiots? Yes. Does it make me want to follow the word of Christ any more than my decently Christ-positive upbringing? No.
If you and I have different spiritual beliefs, fine. Tell me what you believe and we can have a respectful conversation in order to understand each other more. In fact, I LOVE talking religion and nearly went for a degree in it. But if you want to try to tell me what I believe, I promise that you will get nowhere.
I'm usually pretty quiet about my witchcraft practice. Yes, I post my altar and my tools from time to time on my instagram, but I don't ever really talk about what I believe in. This pamphlet was the cherry on top of our political climate that has been encouraging people in their bigotry. I think it's time I talk about what we believe.
First off, everyone practices differently. Witchcraft is not a religion therefore anyone can practice. I know Christians, Jews, Muslims, and Buddhists who practice. No matter who you are, the basic idea is to work with the cycles of the universe, rather than against them, to make your life better.
Let me say that again.
Witchcraft is using the cycles of the universe to make your life better.
THAT'S IT! No demons. No sacrificing babies. No encouraging evil. Sure, some witches do these things, but some Christians shoot up schools. All I'm saying is that we dont judge an entire population based on the actions of a few.
Now, back to the cycles of the universe. This means that we use both physical and psychological rules/properties to our advantage. For example, if a witch is stressed out, they might run themselves a bath filled with lavender and myrrh (The bath, lavender, and myrrh all being proven to help reduce anxiety and improve health. This is the physical part.) while also repeating a self-love spell in their head while they wash away any dirt on their body (This is the psychological part, proven to be an effective tool for self-care and improvement.).
Yes, you read that right! Taking a bath with intention is witchcraft. Once you learn about witchcraft it becomes kind of funny to realize all of the witchy things you do on a daily basis without realizing it. Here's a small list of things that are witchcraft:
Slow breathing when you're stressed.
Cooking a meal for your family with love.
Listening to your favorite song when you're sad.
Math. Yes, math.
Taking any kind of medication to heal yourself.
Looking through old family photos to try to understand where you came from.
Giving your friend a hug to make them feel better when they're sad.
I'm not joking. Is this all really worth telling someone that they're going to hell? I'd say no.
Something that might seem strange or evil to outsiders is that a lot of us practice Shadow Magick. This is looking at the darkest parts of yourself, understanding your past, coming to terms with anything "bad" you might have done, ACCEPTING IT, then learning from it in order to be a better person. Without shadows, there would be no light.
Personally, I follow a mostly green path, which is to say that I get my meaning from nature. I try to be as close as possible to nature whenever I can because it makes me feel whole. I like to gaze at the stars because it helps me to realize that I am small and my mistakes are insignificant in the grand scheme of things but it also makes me feel important and beautiful because the odds of our universe exploding and creating the perfect conditions for life on Earth is SO small that I feel indebted to live my best, most human life I can. Witchcraft makes me want to be a kinder and smarter person. It makes me want to try every hobby, meet every kind of person, read every kind of book. My practice helps me take care of myself, my family, and the world around me. It helps me make and follow through with goals. Witchcraft is definitely not evil. Witchcraft is a neutral, empty vessel and it becomes what you put into it.
If you read this far, I really appreciate it. This was honestly hard to write. I'm very used to the judgmental tones and I had gotten so comfortable that it was normal for me to hide my beliefs. I've slowly become more and more open but I know in my heart that this judgment I have recieved is completely and totally due to purposeful misinformation and willful ignorance.
Feel free to share this post if you like; I would love to start a discussion. If any of my fellow witches want to add anything, PLEASE DO! Anyway, stay respectful and spread some kindness today! 💖💫🖤