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Ye Olde First Assignment

Author: Katessa Harkey
Posted: December 9th. 2007
Times Viewed: 3,922

Note: Following is an essay that I wrote in response to a question my first formal mentor asked me to consider prior to our first class. The question was “What is a Witch?” I wracked my brains for days over it, started writing out a list of other people’s responses, and scrapped it. In desperation the day before it was due, I went out and did a long walking meditation on the question, wrote the essay to follow, and handed it in the next day.

Since I wrote it so long ago, I have found some of the insights within it, many of them only half-realized at the time of its writing, extremely helpful in making path-related decisions along the way. I present it to the reader in hopes that it will speak to you in similar fashion, and that you will be encouraged to consider the questions contained therein and write similar answers for your self.

In no way do I intend that the answers I came to are the one and only grand true gospel of witchcraft. Quite the contrary, and I only mean to encourage thought and conversation in presenting it here. Without further ado, following here is my First Assignment:

A witch is something difficult to define. The only common theme amongst all the definitions I could find, and from the people I’ve known that use the title, is an alternative approach to reality. However, as I have known quite a few non-Witches matching that criterion the similarity is not useful in defining the word “Witch.”

The next point, though similarly useless, is an interest in studies commonly labeled “occult.” Again, however, I have known many people with that interest who do not use the title of Witch, and still others that do yet do not practice magic, or engage in divination, or really do anything “occult” at all!

Neither does religion work. There are Witches of every stripe, from Atheist to Zoroastrian. Counter-intuitively, I have even met Christian Witches, which to most ears would sound like an oxymoron. In short, no definition I can come up with includes all Witches without including non-Witches, excepting the circular definition that a Witch is someone that says he or she is a Witch.

That being said, in the process of asking the question, I began to suspect a better phrasing that was more helpful. “What kind of Witch do I want to be? Or better yet, “What kind of a Witch am I now?”

One of the most useful pieces of spiritual insight I’ve ever been given up until the time of this writing came from one Pastor Dyer. It was essentially a formula composed of three questions:

“Where am I?

Where do I want to go?

How am I going to get there?”

I see no reason to leave aside such a useful to just because of the source.

I have committed myself to the path of an Alexandrian Witch. This carries with it a certain minimum of requisites. These include (but may not be limited to) the keeping of my oaths. That is my primary duty, as I see it.

Within the process of questioning, I also discovered a set of ideas that I am still sorting out, but I will make a stab at explaining anyway. To be a successful Witch, there are (at least) three modes of being I feel I must retain.

These I will call the Scholar, the Poet, and the Explorer.

The Scholar is concerned with knowledge. He researches the thoughts of past and present teachers. He keeps notes, compares symbols, studies and (hopefully) learns from the written and spoken information he finds.

His primary gift is foundation.

The Poet is concerned with connectivity. He gazes on what is found and applies the knowledge of the Scholar holistically with an eye that sees deeper than the surface. He seeks understanding on an intuitive level.

His primary gift is wonder.

The explorer is concerned with experience. He is a mover, a doer, and a be-er. He seeks wisdom from process rather than goal. He refuses stagnation, as that would put an end to adventure.

His primary gift is curiosity.

If I ever find myself devoid of one of the three, I will not be acting as I feel I should as a Witch to my own detriment. An Explorer/Scholar is an Occultist. A Poet/Explorer is a Mystic. A Scholar/Poet is a Dreamer.

Therefore, to consider myself a Witch, I must be willing to leave aside fear and journey on into new experience with the Explorer. I must carefully weigh what I take with me as I go, because as any traveler will tell you what’s in the luggage changes the trip.

I will accept the experiences as they come, and do my best not to judge them as “good” or “bad” as long as I brought wisdom out with me on the other side.

As the Scholar, the most difficult duty is that of keeping an open mind. Surely, there is false information, but even that is useful if one stops to ask why it is false. An untruth may therefore lead to more important truths. It is also important to guard against intellectual arrogance, a costly folly. Any source of good knowledge is worthy of attention.

It seems to me that the only way to insure I remain a Poet is by taking the time to do so, and frequently. How easy it is to go through a journey and rush right to picking it apart! To be true to the Poet I must never become so busy with the Explorer or unassailable with the Scholar that I can’t feel who I am being in a moment. As a Poet, I must slow down.

In conclusion, I was asked what it meant to be a Witch. I apologize that I could find no pat answer to that.

I think there are more benefits to being a Witch then I could possibly imagine or list here, but I hope amongst them are knowledge, wisdom, and understanding.


Katessa Harkey

Location: Portland, Oregon

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