In my early days of being a witch I lived in a small village in Essex, l kept my way of life quiet, it was no great secret, yet I didn’t feel there were many that I could talk to who would understand. I was doing my very first crystal course at the time and on occasions when I found myself in a conversation about something as simple as crystals I found people were cynical about their energies and healing benefits to us and our environment when I threw the word witch in the conversation as well, it did throw people off kilter, it was greeted with scepticism, doubt, mistrust, and narrow-mindedness, their faces changed, I had suddenly gone from this normal happy smiling woman behind the counter at the local bakers to someone who was raving mad and a person not to be trust and even feared!!
I learnt very quickly to keep such topics to the privacy of my own home. We were in the 1990’s not the 15th century, yet here I was keeping part of my life secret as the woman of an almost forgotten era had done.
I moved to Cornwall in 2004 and a new world opened to me, there was more openness and freedom of expression in parts of Cornwall. Boscastle, Tintagel and Padstow to name just a few were alive with Spirituality, Paganism, and the old ways. I would visit the Tors, ancient woods, and wells, and feel the energy within these places engulf me, I could at long last feel Mother Nature beating underneath my bare feet. It was during those magical days in Cornwall I met my dear friend, Elizabeth Bardin, I would go to Tintagel, spend many happy hours at Elizabeth’s home exploring the spiritual world with her, doing meditations, workshops, card readings, discussing what we felt was our life’s purpose and its meaning to us. We had very different backgrounds, yet we had been brought together by chance.
Our lives were connected by a force greater than we would or will ever understand, fate, destiny, written in the stars, we were just meant to meet. Even in Cornwall, I noticed on occasions, that the word “Witch” wasn’t always as readily accepted as the names Pagan, Druid, Cunning folk or even lightworker etc were. It was just one of those things that you notice fleetingly, and then just as quickly forget. It didn’t particularly bother me, so I never really gave it too much thought, my immediate family were comfortable with who I was, as was my circle of friends. I was just me,
until Elizabeth asked me to write an article “What it is to be a Witch?” it was for a magazine she was publishing, Elizabeth had moved back to her homeland of South Africa and wanted to help the local people and other areas to get back to their own ancient beliefs.
I remember thinking to myself “Well what is it Dawn, what makes you a “Witch”?
Honouring my ancestors, my respect for nature and the spirits that dwell within all living things, the earth’s energies, the turning seasons, our ancient gods and goddesses, the list went on and on. I began to realise that most of what I had listed had been with me in my thoughts and behaviour since I could remember, it was normal to me. When did the name Witch attach itself to me or was it that I had somehow been labelled by others or even myself? Did I need a label or was it enough just to be me?
I needed to explain so that people would not be afraid, narrowminded or judgemental. I needed to remove the portrayal of a person thought to have magic powers, especially evil ones, popularly depicted as a woman, with warts and gnarled bones wearing a black cloak, a black pointy hat flying on a broomstick at night. I am a person with different aspects, not the label that supposedly defines me. I have a fun side (the maiden) I can be nurturing and caring (the mother) I can even be wise like a grandmother (the crone) The Witch was the old wise Woman of long ago with a modern name gifted to her by those that didn’t understand, and so the article began.
I remember times at a pagan Camp (stories for another day) which at the time my husband and I ran with another couple, all groups of pagans joined, it didn’t matter if you were a witch, druid, Wiccan, Shaman, if you came were Celtic, Norse, or Heathen traditions we all respected each other, we came together collectively. Paganism was at this time one of the fastest growing religions.
They were fun happy carefree days where you could just be, no one judged you, and you could speak freely, if you were confused on a particular topic others would help. I recall one evening a young girl was talking to a group that was mostly Wiccan in tradition, they were explaining their practice, talking about candles in different colours and their meaning. When she turned to me and asked me my thoughts, my reply was I follow the traditional path – a wise woman as they would have been called back in the day, before Christianity. I’m solitary. I do my own thing, what feels right to me. She asked if I used different coloured candles and I said no, it’s the flame representing the element of fire that is meaningful to me, in days gone by your local wise woman wouldn’t have had a metaphysical shop to buy blue, yellow or pink candles, she would have used what was on hand. No one bellowed and said that I was wrong, for we respected each other and accepted we all work in different ways. Yet looking at social media today it seems that few can agree to disagree, it is their way or the highway, and if it’s not their way it’s wrong and you are being disrespectful!! I have seen posts stating that a witch is just a healer, oh my fellow witches she was and still is far more than that.
Our wise women - Witch whatever name you give him or her, they were the link between the realties, they could travel from the mundane to the spiritual, connecting to the gods and ancestors, and they became seers, healers, oracles, counsellors and so much more!.
Some of course will disagree but does that make one right and the other wrong in what they say or do? Tolerance and respect are keywords and they make the world a better place. This article may not be received as correct but it it keeps from a place that I respect and to me that is what matters.