The air was cool but fast, as it whipped through the woods on a clear early-December sky. The soft waves of the stream brushed up against the rocks. Some of its cold droplets fell on a collection of small cloth and paper nearby. The young boy took in the scents and sounds of the chilled woods around him. Inhaling deeply, savoring each cleansing breath, just as the book instructed him. As he found his place of center, looking upward he began the words. “I dedicate myself, in this place that is not a place, in this time that is not a time, between the worlds but in all the worlds.” Pausing to breathe again he continued, “I dedicate myself, with perfect love and trust, with honor and reverence, to the great spirit which animates all things: earth, air, fire, and water”. The boy uncapped a small vile of sweet scented oil and anointed his forehead, then wrists. “By the earth that is her body, by the air that is her breath, by the fire of her living spirit”. He let out one last exhale…”So mote it be”. The boy closed his eyes and felt the wind whip up, stronger, and with more intention blowing out the small candles of the circle. The branches of the tree’s whistled and sang. The woods were speaking. Everything was alive, vibrating with energy and life. Connected, in tune, and with purpose.
And so began my journey on the path of The Goddess, the path of the Witch. It is hard to believe that ten years has gone by since that December evening, the night of my “Dedication” to the Old Ways, as we call it. It is hard to say exactly what called me to this religion. I don’t think I chose it, I think it chose me. I didn’t know many others, save for a few who pointed me in the right direction when I wanted to learn. I just knew that there was something “more”. I was always fascinated with spiritual things. I prayed and attended Christian youth groups as it honestly did interest me in general, but there was no connection. Religion means alignment and connection, and I didn’t feel like I was aligning myself with anything. I would best describe my past practices and spiritual upbringing as “worshipping air”. There was no substance, no form for me. I craved more.
I was lucky enough to have a series of people placed into my life at that time to point me in the right direction. Sure, Wicca was pretty widely accepted ten year ago but so much has changed. Information placed on the internet was usually sketchy and it was difficult to discern what information you could trust. Add to that the fact that I had to save up my $1.25 lunch money for books, and you can imagine my frustrations. School life made things very difficult. I even had a teacher in the 7th grade who confiscated a copy of “Teen Witch” by Silver Ravenwolf (one of my very first books) calling it “inappropriate reading material”. God forbid something teaching a youngster about personal responsibility and respect for nature be read in the classroom! Then the classmate taunting. Oh how cruel children can be. The death threats quoting scripture referring to Pagans deserving death poured in. It was more like a 90’s inquisition than a school. When I defended myself with words, I was put in detention from other kids claiming I had “threatened to curse them”. Yes, that really did happen once. But I persevered. I learned about metal exercises designed to deflect negative energy, to bind harm, and to heal my emotions. Over time, their words lost power and I regained my own.
As mother read more and became more comfortable with my new “thing”, I was able to start developing a daily practice and reach out to the Pagan community. For awhile I attended “Teen Wiccan Wisdom”, a Charlotte-based youth group for Pagan teens sponsored by Shamans of the Willow Moon Coven. Through them, I learned about disciplined study, ritual work, and using my religious beliefs to help me grow into a responsible, compassionate young adult.
Into high school the hardships varied and we’re less intense than middle school. I was able to handle things much better. I was starting to realize that the opinions of others didn’t matter to me and that my connection with myself and the divine was what needed to be made a priority. The “personal responsibility” aspect of the craft really came into play here. And through it all, I emerged with many different career ideas, ready to take on the world. The magick did help too. Memory augmentation charms for exams, spells of truth and discernment in dealing with tough relationships, things like that.
My understanding of magick now-as a daily art and science-is much different. I find now that everything is magickal and has very different sides. I no longer see the world as black and white and either “cruel or kind”. The experience of working with this energy has taught me that there are so many different layers and aspects to things. I know now that when seemingly “bad” things happen to me, it isn’t because something hates me or I did something wrong. I think of it in terms of the goddess Brighid. She forges the steel of being in her cosmic “flame”, bettering her skill and tools. When I am “thrown into the fire”, something is being transformed for the better in it. It’s that process of hardship that refines, that polishes away all the extra “stuff” so I can shine. That is probably one of the deepest and most valuable things that Witchcraft has brought me to understand.
The community has been kind to me. Through the years I’ve had the pleasure of learning from and being in circle with some prominent Pagan elders in our community like Starhawk, Dorothy Morrison, Christopher Penczak, Janet Farrar, Gavin Bone, and Jamie Wood. I’ve been on radio shows, had articles published, and am pleased to announce I’m working on a book (once I nail down a publishing agent). It’s been such a joyous experience and I can hardly believe how much I’ve learned and how much I’ve changed. As I go forward and past my 20’s, I’m looking forward to another 10 years of magick, mystery, and growth. Sure, I may burn some potions along the way and there may be times when I fall off the broomstick, but I know now how to get right back on it again.
I have so much to be thankful for. My life is so much richer and filled with so much more substance than I could have ever imagined. I feel and experience the divine in everything I do now. It’s in the subway on my morning commute and it’s in my dreams when I fall asleep. There’s a known Wiccan proverb that says “She [the Goddess] changes everything She Touches. Everything She touches changes”. And she has. May I always be changed, may I always be transformed, and may the world be a better place because of it. Here’s to 10 more years and beyond.