In this article, I try to cover most of what new witches need to know or think about. Once you’ve gotten your spirituality or metaphysical worldview defined, at least for yourself, you know whether or not you’re a witch. Some people are born witches, or it develops through childhood, while others discover they are witches later in life. For religious or other reasons, some witches choose not to practice witchcraft regularly, and that’s okay. Some choose to practice, but stay in the “broom closet”, and that’s okay too. I myself chose not to reveal the full extent and style of my practice until my 40’s. Before I turned 40, I called myself a “spiritual counselor” to most of the world. Only my teachers and people who were very close to me and tolerant knew what I was into.
So I don’t judge anyone for how they practice or how they present themselves. My main concern in this is that though we are all free to choose our path, none of us is free from the consequences of our choices. So if you are a witch; someone who has the knowledge, ability, and impulse to manifest their will through the forces of Nature, you may do well to practice, even if the only way you can is in secret. There will come a time when natural talent or impulse will not be enough. You may need skill and experience. Sooner or later, you will encounter someone, perhaps another witch, whose interests conflict with your own. That person may have more unconscious “push” than you, or may be more skilled or have more knowledge and access than you. Awareness and ability don’t always make someone more humane. Sometimes it makes them considerably less humane.
Understand that despite the comforting scriptures of most religions, Nature does not operate based on human morality. If the humane or good do nothing, or are ineffective in pressing their will, the inhumane or evil will rule. A child left unattended will be eaten by predators or die of neglect. It doesn’t matter what we intend if our actions do not reflect our intentions.
So in light of what’s ahead for you if you decide to embrace being a witch, here’s the question. Are you sure you want this?
Breaking it Down
If you decide to consciously pursue witchcraft, you should be ready to do these things:
- Serve your community
- Daily observance/ritual
- Mind your health in a holistic way
- Study your craft
- Invest time and resources into your craft
- Maintain a level of discretion that suits your situation
- Dig in and actually do witchcraft
Serving Your Community
A functioning witch is not an island whose primary focus is “self improvement”. Nope. I hear those “new age” wheels a’turnin’. No. Just put that idea out of your head. A witch is not a witch to serve only themselves. Period.
Wicca is a religion. Its adherents call themselves “witches”, and their religious practices “witchcraft”, but those terms in that context are specific to Wicca. There are also those who began calling themselves witches as a feminist statement. It marks them as a rebel who may or may not be Wiccan or doing any actual witchcraft. For the rest of the known world, a conscious witch means someone who is wielding energy and knowledge to affect their environment including the people around them. Some witches are going to be more or less self serving in that, but even the most selfish and egotistical witch has some sort of understanding that they need a circle, which may or may not include humans. Some very inhumane witches may form a sort of dirty bubble around themselves, full of nothing but sycophants and nasty energy gained through traumatizing others, but they have one.
If you’re on the witchy downlow, you may not be able to serve the community with your witchcraft explicitly, but you should be using your witchcraft to better yourself in order to be more useful, and when possible, bettering the situation of the living beings around you. There are many ways to do this, from tending to and healing local animals, to making your corporation more productive by casting protection from sickness and poverty over your laborers.
There is an old Congo saying, “None of us birthed ourselves, and none of us will bury ourselves.” Just as if you had a lot of money, you should give something back to those who sustain you, it’s the same with spirituality. It’s a flow and an exchange.
Your spiritual or metaphysical fitness is as important as your physical fitness. In fact, as a witch, you understand that it is all integrated. I don’t mean that you must be athletic. You do however need to be whole or as whole as possible. As a witch, your goal in this is to function as well as you reasonably can, using a balance of all of your natural blessings. To do this, you must be living in awareness, which includes living in gratitude.
One way that those of us in ATR (African Traditional Religions) or ADSP (African Diaspora Spiritual Practices) maintain our awareness, gratitude, and spiritual/metaphysical fitness is through daily observances. You may read about this in detail at How To Do Daily Observances. This article is mainly for the independent Orisha adherent, so it should not be difficult to craft a daily ritual around your pantheon and time constraints.
I would advise that you make your daily ritual neither too complex nor too simple. You want to be sure that you don’t make it so cumbersome that you’d tend to put it off or forget, but not so simple that you don’t have that moment of appreciation for your deities. It should be something that can be a normal part of your life. I like to do mine just before exercising, which I am told is common for many children of Oya.
Daily observance is extremely important for witches. I can’t stress that enough. There needs to be some time every day that you consciously reserve for your Source. It’s like recharging your batteries, only in time your capacity increases. As I said, there will come a time when you will need that energy at hand. It’s something like practicing forms in martial arts. In fact, being very real, witchcraft is a martial art. Unlike normal religious observance, which leaves things in the hands of the deities in a general way, witchcraft is an efficient means of changing things and solving problems when physical force and social status don’t do the job. What distinguishes you from a normal adherent of a religion or worldview, is that you are efficient on purpose.
Health With the “Third Eye” Open
If you were marked since childhood, you are used to regular visitors and visions. If you are new to awareness, the appearance of non solid be-ings may be a bit shocking or frightening at first. If it is disturbing across the board, then as much as this goes against the trends, I must advise you to rethink embracing witchcraft. It is a normal part of life for the vast majority of us. Some of us even have somewhat explanatory health “problems” to go with it. You kind of know the difference between hypersensitivity to the paranormal and mental illness by your ability to control exposure and recovery through your Gatekeeper. If calling your Gatekeeper doesn’t help, then there is either a growth reason or a health reason.
That said, again being very real, many if not most of us are mentally ill in some way technically, because most humans are mentally ill technically. The world is not an ideal utopia. Witches often have a harder path than normal. We all take scars from the simple fact of being witches or inclined to such. Nobody gets through this life without taking a few hits, and as much as we wish it were otherwise, we will have issues. There are also many costs and trade-offs. Aside of the usual hits like rejection and having to live in a world that is usually hostile to what you are, some traumas are a direct result of sensitivity and awareness.
Once you reach certain levels of awareness, there is no going back. At these points, you may have more to hide than you started with. I experienced this myself when I was ready for and then given the real answer as to how people worshiping a supposedly loving god, could abuse their children. I’ve also gotten some rather shocking answers to questions I’ve asked Eshu that I had no idea I was ready for, but he thought I was ready, so I got them and regretted them until they were integrated. Some things are difficult to process.
There are many things that you will learn, but some knowledge will not make you happier. You will be glad to have the knowledge and suffer less when you put it into practice (though more if you attempt to share it with those who aren’t ready), but the knowledge itself may blow your mind. You will learn just how good and just how bad people can be, and it might mess you up a little. You may learn how some things really work, and have that feeling like watching sausage being made from the pig to the pan for a few months.
The burden of knowledge may give you certain health issues, and definitely a bit of social anxiety, but if you are built for it, the suffering is worth it because you’d suffer more if you weren’t walking this path. If you are not built for it, then you should fall back to being a religious adherent. There is no shame in doing that. Many people stop doing witchcraft because they’re not feeling it, while others stop because “weird things started happening” and it became unmanageable for them. For some, a phase of witchcraft is a healthy part of their spiritual journey, but something they need to give up in order to embrace their true path, which may be to specialize as a healer, messenger, or traveler.
Onto physical health, this is of great importance as well. We don’t body shame, but whatever your physical shape or ability, it is important that you show gratitude for your body. Keep it clean, eat as well as you can, get enough exercise, and don’t neglect yourself. Do fun things with your body, and even indulge some vices in moderation. Everything you do to better your physical life and health glorifies your Ancestors, not to mention various deities of beauty, and protective warriors.