I had always dabbled in the occult, much to the eye-rolling of my parents, and always said my “religion” or “faith” was closest to witch than anything else. Nothing else seemed to fit, despite wanting to have a concrete, unmovable faith and religion in my life.
As a young girl, perhaps seven, I can distinctly recall being in a church with my mom and looking up at the ceilings with a sense of dread. I would look up from my pew at those large arches in the church nave and feel like I was in a capsized boat, looking up at the ship’s hull. Everyone else around me was happy to be sinking: praising, and singing in the water. I felt like I was the only one that knew something was wrong.
Every church had the same feeling.
It was then I realized that, though we all heard the same words, we all heard different sermons. We were all individuals, with our own interpretations of the same thing. I heard, from those sermons, that this concept of individuality was not something to strive for. So perhaps, what was wrong… was me. I was the rat on the ship.
My mother was raised Protestant, my father was a reformed Catholic, whose entire family (save for him) converted to Jehovah Witness when he was a teen. Dad never went to church willingly, and mom always wanted to attend “for the music and community.” When we all went together, it was an uncomfortable experience.
My moral compass was built on a foundation of logic, history, science, and the Christian reed “Do Unto Others”… in other words, I was lost and desperate for something other than my own free will to choose.
Free will was not comforting in the dark of night when I feared for my immortal soul at the age of twelve. For what it’s worth, I tried countless times to accept Jesus of Nazareth into my life, yet He always said, “Nah, girl. You’re good.” At least, for all my tear filled attempts, that’s how I eventually took what felt like a lack of response.
All this is to say: my Christian church experience taught me that I don’t have a place in that religion. I sought out other religions but often felt the same way: out of sorts. You can be a witch within any religion, don’t mistake me. Being a witch in my mind simply means stepping into your own power. Your own individuality. Organized religions tend to disagree with this notion and prefer you stay within certain boundaries: a collective hive if you will. I even found this to be with Wicca. (To clarify, I am not currently a member of the Wiccan religion.)
Your definition of “witch” will differ from mine. That’s okay. You have to find your personal meaning, voice, and path. Your own practice.
Being a witch allows me to be in a constant state of individual practice, and I have learned to love this. I have noticed a definite shift in my perspective once I owned the word “witch” and began embracing a life “out of the broom closet”: I am more confident and more aware of the world around me and my role as a citizen in it. I am working from a place of self-care, rather than self-detriment. Nor am I working on my interpretation of anyone else’s idea of my identity, but my own. I am happier because I am active and present in my own life, my goals, and my future.
This wasn’t always the case.
When I was thirty, I gave birth to my first child. I suffered over two years of deep and life-altering postpartum depression. Either I didn’t know that’s what it was, or refused to admit it, but after contemplating suicide, I sought and began therapy and pharmaceutical treatment.
It was after I began to heal that period of my life, and what turned out to be decades of trauma, that I came to witchcraft more completely. Working through the past and beyond my own crafted demons that held me down, allowed me to reclaim what I had forgotten I’d lost in my life: me.
In the battle to be a good daughter and carry on a legacy, to be an amazing wife and support a whole other individual and then become an extraordinary and selfless mother, I had lost and forgotten who I, as an individual, was. I had to relearn who I am and what this version of me wanted in life.
This me craved magic.
Through journaling and constant self-reflection, meditation, and monitoring, witchcraft began to peek through the lifting fog more and more. I picked up my tarot cards more steadily and with enthusiastic practice. I started new moon rituals and crafting intentions as a way to learn more about, and alter, my own identity. Witchcraft taught me how, and treatment gave me the tools and permission to be, an ever-evolving person.
Embracing this new me was, and still can be, as scary as hell. The idea that I could be evolving, always, was absolutely foreign to me and incredibly uncomfortable. I didn’t have to be who I was ten years ago? Five minutes ago? I stepped into that vulnerability, and it’s taken me two years, but now the more I step into my own truths, in all areas of my life, the more empowered I feel to continue. It’s still an effort, and I’m still (gratefully) in therapy, but now I allow my path to change and evolve and it’s less scary because I am the one that has a say in how it happens.
For me, that is magic.
For me, that is witchcraft.
That is why … today, I am a witch.