Articles/Essays From Pagans
June 16th. 2013 ...
How To Stay Spiritual Amidst This Chaos?
Hearing The Music And Dancing The Dance
A Tale of the Wood
June 9th. 2013 ...
The Nature of Sacrifice
The Magick of Buildings
Start your own Pagan Church in Canada - A Detailed Guide
June 2nd. 2013 ...
Maiden, Mother, Who?! (A Discussion of the Triple Goddess)
Gods Who Live In My House
Why the 'Redneck Pagan'?
Among the Greenwod - An Interview with Raven Grimassi
May 26th. 2013 ...
So You Think You've Found a Teacher...
Learning To Live Your Own Life
Raising Personal Magickal Energy for Spellwork
Casting The Wiccan Circle
May 19th. 2013 ...
The Role of Identity in Magic
Talking Trash? It's a Dirty Subject but Waste Happens.
My Wiccan Journey
13 Keys: The Victory of Netzach
May 12th. 2013 ...
Pagan Studies I: How Should We Define Modern Paganism?
The Third Path
Nothing Special... Part Two
May 5th. 2013 ...
The Value of Multicultural Awareness
Put Your Back Into It (Our Lady of the Sacred Honey Badger)
Moon Musings, Planetary Preponderances and Red Lipped Bat Fish
April 28th. 2013 ...
Lessons from the Lessers: Iris
April 21st. 2013 ...
Taken By The Goddess: The Crescent Moon Tattoo
The Gods/Being Godbothered
To Be A Witch
The Archetypes are Gods: Re-godding the Archetypes
April 14th. 2013 ...
On The Inclusion of Children
'Wand Fun' With Grandson
Lessons from a Baby
Lessons of Freedom: On Divinity and Healing
April 7th. 2013 ...
Out of the Broom Closet... Sorta
A Journey Through the Witches Tarot
History and Science Behind Numerology
March 31st. 2013 ...
What is the Magickal Self?
Ethics and Numerology
March 24th. 2013 ...
Keystones of the Sacred Land
March 17th. 2013 ...
Why Some Pagans and Witches Still Hide
Witch Heritage 101: What Happens When Witch Haters Joke about anti-Witch Films
I'm Not a Broom. So What's with the Closet?
March 10th. 2013 ...
Top Ten Stupid Things I Did as a New Pagan: Part 3
Hunting for the Real Witch in Film
The Collective Shadow
Lies - The Opposite of Truth
March 3rd. 2013 ...
Grounding and Releasing Negative Energy
A Patchwork of Magick
February 24th. 2013 ...
Top Ten Stupid Mistakes I Made as a New Pagan (Part Two)
February 17th. 2013 ...
Top Ten Stupid Mistakes I made as a New Pagan... Part One
Gardening with Crystal Energies
A Call from the Ancestors
Moon Musings, Planetary Preponderances and Black Water Snakes
February 10th. 2013 ...
We Are the Weirdos, Mister: A Completely Uncool Story of Origin
February 3rd. 2013 ...
"I'll Grind Your Bones to Make my Bread": Pagans and Animal Husbandry
The Role of Contemporary Culture in Magic
A Pagan Response to Endangered Earth
The Great Mother's Gift, Heinlein, and the Nature of Squirrels
13 Keys: The Glory of Hod
January 27th. 2013 ...
Why We Do Need Wicca
The Cosmos In the Coffee Shop
On Travel Spirituality and Magick
January 20th. 2013 ...
Beloved Backs and How to Save Them
Building or Burning Bridges?
Plants, Magic and Intuition
Plagiarism - How It Harms Our Community
January 13th. 2013 ...
Ramblings of a Pagan Guy: Stupid Clichés
The Magick and Power of Words
Aging Is Not Easy
The Riddle of Who We Are?
January 6th. 2013 ...
Wicca v Witchcraft
NOTE: For a complete list of articles related to this chapter... Visit the Main Index FOR this section.
Being A 'Plain Clothes' Witch
Article ID: 11124
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 2,426
Times Read: 9,277
RSS Views: 58,001
Author: Kestryl Angell
Posted: October 29th. 2006
Times Viewed: 9,277
One of the most stringent tests of faith that a witch, or any pagan for that matter, can experience is austerity. Whether by personal circumstances, age, locale, income, life catastrophe or other cause, a witch or pagan without their tools -- and stripped to only themselves, the Gods and their faith -- never has an easy path to travel and thus it is one rarely chosen by practitioners on purpose.
Being a “plain clothes” witch is a hard path, indeed. Like most humans, we pagans like our pretties. However, sometimes it becomes necessary, especially in the beginning of learning, to step away from the shiny toys and pretty props and learn the underpinnings of our faith by practicing with our first and most basic tool, our selves. It can also be a valuable lesson to return to when experience shows us it's time for that set of lessons to be looked at again in order to help us 're-learn' a deeper appreciation for our faith’s richness.
Common among those with a strong Buddhist bent to their practice, this austere spiritual practice is one that both bestows upon the practitioner a sense of humility and also deepens one’s ability to see their faith is continually manifest in every rock, every blade of grass, every movement, every thread and in every breath of their lives…rather than something that occurs only at sabbats, esbats and community celebrations or when they sit down at their home altar of goodies.
Austerity often reminds us to place more value on the lives we touch and how others touch our own. It is a working that teaches both the beginning or the well-practiced and learned witch that he/she is never alone, never without tools, never without the vital aspects so necessary to his or her faith…and teaches it by stripping away the “trappings” that many so rely on to show the world or themselves that they are Pagan or Witches.
I hear much discussion, especially from struggling young pagans whose parents or other family and friends would not approve of their choice of faith focus, based upon the premise that without their books, their pentacle or pentagram, without their crystals and wands and lovely cloaks and magickal doo-dads they are so fond of…that they are thus stripped of their faith and/or religion.
Frankly, if they can be stripped of their faith by having their toys taken away, then they have much to learn from the very austerity I speak of. Such as these have not yet learned to use the one tool that every witch must have well in hand first before any of the other pretty magickal props can even function properly. The witch.
Too many people focus on the “kits” to being a witch (or other form of pagan) and get their start by crafting tools and finding neat rocks and gifting each other with bracelets of knotwork that they don’t even comprehend -- or even with what a binding is -- much less all the steps that must be considered in doing one properly and with good ethics attached. They care nothing for proper ethics at all, but tend to see a path of personal empowerment alone. They want the “easy way” into a religion that sets them apart from the things that they are moving to get away from in their immediate surroundings or in society at large.
I have news for you: Religion—any religion—is easy to get into. All that is required is that you have the “right stuff”…the right clothes, the right props, the right words, the right book, the right songs and the right viewpoints that fit in with those who also practice your religion. This batch of “all the right things” also does the magick of making you “instantly acceptable” (or so some think) … and just another one of the sheep that does what everyone else in that religion does and thinks is “right" regardless of whether other sources might teach something different.
Religion is about dogma, props and being common and predictable. Religion is the theatrics that most humans in the world mistake for a showing of Faith. It’s easy; everyone does it; join in and you can be one too! If Paganism is only your "religion", then gather your tools about you and rely on your props. Your magicks might even work…sometimes.
Religion is the dance people do to try to have a place for their spirit to fit into their lives when they don’t know where else to put it or how to, instead, let their spiritual path infuse their entire lives.
If, however, you truly wish to walk your talk, Faith must come first and be a repeated lesson throughout your life. Further, it must come from a deeper place than your friendly neighborhood “witch store” or online Wicca class.
Faith, unlike religion, is not so easy to live. Faith fills the one that knows it intimately to overflowing. Faith is a tool that comes from within, not from the objects so prettily kept upon the altar, one’s person or one’s shelves.
Faith is deepened by knowledge, but rarely shaken by it.
Faith is what imbues the objects most pagans fancy and is what makes those objects Sacred.
Faith is what consecrates the objects to serve the Gods and makes them extensions of our selves and our faith. We consecrate our Tools; they do NOT consecrate us.
To those struggling with being public with your faith, remember this: Faith is a deeply personal experience and you are not socially obligated to “share” it with everyone … most especially those who will show you disdain or judgment for your choice. True faith that is lived as completely as it can be will set you apart as an individual…not make you “one of the crowd.”
Faith is characterized by existing as an individual state of being.
Now, can this state of being exist with others? Of course it can! In the ideal Circle, Coven or faith family experience, your individual faith and energies will mesh in harmony with the other members with whom you practice directly and will weave them into a magickal song that the Universe itself sings back to your heart and soul.
However, any group is only as strong as its weakest link…so weak-willed persons who do not hold their individual faith in as high esteem as the rest of the group can often bring down workings that effect everyone involved. All the more reason, to my mind, to keep especially the initial stages of your learning in paganism close to your heart and deeply sacred, something totally for yourself and you alone. Finding others to fellowship with can come later when you are strong in your own foundations.
Learn your faith from within yourself and from the world around you, not just from the latest in a long line of cool books or the most well advertised coven you can find in your area. Books and groups are great for learning history, various practices and a great deal of information, but the internal processing of it must still come from you and you alone.
Find your security within yourself, not within the presence -- or lack thereof -- of the pentagram dangling around your neck. Understand that an altar is made the moment that you center yourself and place yourself in counsel with the God and Goddess; it isn’t just that cool room with the cool table in your basement covered in pretty, seasonally appropriate trappings.
Know the God and Goddess live within you. Have your personal relationship with Them established firmly so that no other person’s viewpoint can shake the balance within you on that note. Let your personal relationship with the God/dess be the foundation and reassurance that lets you smile with confidence when faced with a doubting public.
Learn from the Dark Times that a witch cannot be his or her tools. Tools can be taken away and destroyed. Faith cannot be so easily destroyed. The Witch IS the Tool… a willing, harmonious tool of the Universe whose faith, knowing and connection to his or her world is unshakable. You are this tool whether in flowing robes of velvet or jeans and a t-shirt in the woods at dawn making coffee on a campfire.
Witches and most Pagans are forever students of the Universe continually learning new topics, new ways of doing things, new tools, new knowledge of all kinds and then finding the ways to weave these new threads of understanding into the tapestry of who they are and what their practice is.
Their faith practice should always reflect positive growth in themselves and those they touch—even if they weren’t “popular” with the general public (or even their own Pagan community). They are students of LIFE, not just students of religion or faith.
If you cannot have books at home, then read at the library. What your library doesn’t have, they can generally get on inter-library loan. If you cannot keep a book of shadows, then memorize—our ancestors did, you can too. If you have to wait 1, 2, 5 or more years to be open about your practice until you’re out from under the oppression you’re influenced by, then use that time to learn yourself and YOUR relationship with Nature and the Gods. Go camping, hiking, fishing; spend time in the garden. Talk with the plants, the animals.
Speak frankly to yourself. Find your strengths and weaknesses and practice what you know of personal balance and honorable behavior. Good manners, being polite and giving service when needed by family or community, learning the value of duty and following through on one’s word, being a good, honest person—these are a goodly portion of the common ground between pagan paths and what they teach as behavioral structures for good living.
Learn… learn about everything! Find the places within Pagan practices that aren’t threatening in your immediate environment such as aromatherapy and herbalism, healing, mythology, associated handicrafts and history. Most of this sort of learning is generally non-threatening to mainstreamers who cannot comprehend your need for Paganism as a whole.
If you cannot wear your pentagram, carry a stone in your pocket. If you cannot gain a stone, find a fragrance that keeps your mind in sacred space, use it to draw your pentagram to your flesh daily and make it your “signature scent.” Learn about the more “OMG, you’re studying WHAT?” types of topics when you’re on your own and making all your own choices, in your own space.
If your faith is true, just like love, it’s going to be with you long after you turn 18 and you are out on your own, or out from under whatever other influences keep you from studying openly now. Learning appropriately can start at any time. You just choose how you learn, what you learn and when, tailoring it for your immediate environment so you can—you guessed it—keep the balance within yourself and your environment.
We are the Craft of the Wise, so be wise about your learning first. Being a witch, being a Pagan, isn’t about what you have, what or whom you know, what books you’ve read or what crystals you own, how cool your robes are or even how long you’ve been practicing. It isn’t about the Festivals you’ve attended, the number of classes you’ve taken or taught, initiations, titles and being a “big high muckity-muck.”
Though these are great examples of personal accomplishments in a human life, they are not what the Craft or in general, what Paganism is about. Being a pagan, being a witch is about how you and your Universe relate, how you stay in balance with it and how you and the Universe compliment each other. It’s about how you live.
So, that being the case, don’t show the world you’re a witch by the books on your shelf, the robes in your closet or the pentagram around your neck. Show the world what a witch or pagan is by being a good one.
Keep your faith for yourself first and those that respectfully ask for more information later. Then when the public has no reason to fear you, you can educate… informing them, if and when asked, about this path that guides you to feel, think and live as you do.
When those around you have come to understand you and to admire your work as a person on a human and community level, you have—unknown to the common mainstreamer—already quietly opened the door to an understanding for the ones you’re trying to educate (and may previously have bludgeoned with your religion) and you are doing so without the resistance created by fear and misunderstanding arising as a hurdle to be negotiated with every step.
Thus, you have accomplished the very difficult task so many before you have struggled with in the name of the freedom of our religion: the task of teaching the mainstream that we may be a bit different, but we are not to be feared.
And you have accomplished it by simply being who you are…a good witch...a good Pagan…a good person.
Location: Columbia, Missouri
Author's Profile: To learn more about Kestryl Angell - Click HERE
Other Articles: Kestryl Angell has posted 16 additional articles- View them?
Other Listings: To view ALL of my listings: Click HERE
Email Kestryl Angell... (No, I have NOT opted to receive Pagan Invites! Please do NOT send me anonymous invites to groups, sales and events.)
Web Site Content (including: text - graphics - html - look & feel)
Copyright 1997-2013 The Witches' Voice Inc. All rights reserved
Note: Authors & Artists retain the copyright for their work(s) on this website.
Unauthorized reproduction without prior permission is a violation of copyright laws.
Website structure, evolution and php coding by Fritz Jung on a Macintosh G5.
Any and all personal political opinions expressed in the public listing sections (including, but not restricted to, personals, events, groups, shops, Wrenâ€™s Nest, etc.) are solely those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinion of The Witchesâ€™ Voice, Inc. TWV is a nonprofit, nonpartisan educational organization.
Sponsorship: Visit the Witches' Voice Sponsor Page for info on how you
can help support this Community Resource. Donations ARE Tax Deductible.
The Witches' Voice carries a 501(c)(3) certificate and a Federal Tax ID.
Mail Us: The Witches' Voice Inc., P.O. Box 341018, Tampa, Florida 33694-1018 U.S.A.
of The World
NOTE: The essay on this page contains the writings and opinions of the listed author(s) and is not necessarily shared or endorsed by the Witches' Voice inc.
The Witches' Voice does not verify or attest to the historical accuracy contained in the content of this essay.
All WitchVox essays contain a valid email address, feel free to send your comments, thoughts or concerns directly to the listed author(s).