I have found that witches, overall, tend to be very devoted to their paths. In witchcraft, the longer a witch travels their path, be it spiritual or merely crafty, the more they tend to practice their craft, and the stronger they become. I am finding that increasingly unusual compared to other religions or spiritual paths. All too often, you hear that people are becoming less devout, or falling completely away from their religions. It makes me wonder about the future of religions and spiritual paths as whole. What does it say that many paths are failing and only a few seem to be thriving in the world of today?
One of the things I find most interesting is the fact that once I finally found my path of eclectic witchcraft, I never looked back. That seems to be very common with those practicing witchcraft. When I ask other witches if they have doubts or regrets about the spiritual path they have chosen, or which chose them, they too, report extreme satisfaction with the way witchcraft works for them. They love the way it leads them, and they express a joy in the craft that they say they never had with other religions before finding their own path.
The first summer I learned to read, I devoured every Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys book in existence and went looking for more authors. (Yes, I AM that old!) At 12, I began to question the religion I had been raised to follow. By then, I had read several books on things considered as supernatural or mystical and they made perfect sense. I had no problems of disbelief, they only served to make me more curious about “life, the universe and everything”, to quote beloved author, Douglas Adams.
My search started with a sister-in-law who wanted me to convert to Jehovah’s Witness. It had the distinction of still being “Christian” sort of, so I thought, “Hmm, maybe.” Then she told me Jesus had already returned in the early 1900s. Strange, I had read that when He returned everyone on earth would know because He would be coming back with the “voice of an archangel”, a fanfare of trumpets and the dead would rise. Bear in mind, my whole family are history buffs, so I also read history nonstop from the time I learned to read, yet, I could not recall any mention of His return. “Ah, but it was a secret!” She assured me. Yeah. (Jehovah’s Witness – off the list.)
When I graduated from high school and moved out on my own, I experimented with other Christian based religions. I explored every denomination of Christianity I could find. Though I felt a very strong pull toward Catholicism, because of the ornate ceremonies and their sense of ritual, it was not quite what I was looking for. I frequently looked back at the religion I had left. I looked back because it was a familiar religion and I looked back because it was my well-known spiritual path in the world of unknowns. In the early years, I felt a great deal like Goldilocks, though, searching for the perfect fit.
As a young adult in the working world, I met several Atheists who wanted to talk me out of a belief in anything at all. That made no sense to all to me. I could feel that there was great power in the universe; I could sense something beyond the here and now. I just had no idea what it was or how to find it. Spirituality was still important to me; it was only the religion of my youth that had lost importance in my eyes. I knew I still “needed” something to make my life complete from a spiritual standpoint.
As a lifelong avid book collector, I ended up with all sorts of religious books over the early years. I even found a popular book on basic witchcraft and glanced through it. It had less than 80 pages, was poorly written and very simplistic. It had some simple magick spells but no reasoning behind the spells, no explanation as to how magick worked, where magick came from or even how to access it. I set it aside and thought no more of it.
In starting a job at DFW International Airport in my mid-twenties through early thirties, I met thousands of people. As an extrovert, I made many friends, very quickly and they stretched out from across the globe. It was my first real exposure to world religions. Over the almost decade at the airport, I worked with people from every lifestyle and every continent. I encouraged anyone I met to speak about his or her religion and asked questions while I searched for one that made sense to me. I spoke with Hindus, Buddhists, and Muslims often. They were numerous in every area of the airport. While they were wonderful people, there was always something I could not get behind in their belief systems. I met a few Agnostics, a Rasta, and a Mambo who was a very nice woman, but who scared the hell out of me when she became angry with someone.
I spoke with a trio of Animists, who made me think in ways I never had before. In meeting some Sikhs, I learned that I had a lot in common with their ideas of charity but there were still beliefs of theirs I struggled to accept. The Bahá’í, interesting and kind people, but I could not imagine being anti-political, the very thought horrified me. There seemed to be a thousand religions and each one had some rules that made no sense whatsoever, or the reasoning behind the practice of the religion was off in one way or another.
The most confusing to me, were the African Diasporic religions. We had limited time to talk at the workplace. As such, I had no way to obtain enough information to make a valid assessment of their religions as a whole for myself. I could not even find any decent books on their religions so I could not read about them, which horrified me. No books? Really??? However, the biggest turn off for me, were the sacrifices required in the practice of their religions? I have always been squeamish about sacrifices other than my own. I can sacrifice by my actions, by supporting charities and even by using my own blood, but I cannot stomach taking a life. I am not saying there is anything wrong with their paths, just that they are not for me. I mean, geez, I cannot even go fishing without feeling terrible, getting weepy, and apologizing for catching the fish that we bring home to eat. If it were necessary to feed my family, that might be different. However, in our current culture, it is not a necessity.
Once I found people on Pagan paths to speak to, though, things started to make sense to me. They talked to me about the magick in the universe. They explained that magick was in everything around us. They told me how magick, once harnessed, was used in spell work. They talked to me about their deities and their relationships with their chosen Gods and Goddesses. As they talked, I recalled people laughing in middle school when I insisted that the Greek and Roman Gods and Goddesses we studied were real. I kept saying that if people believed in them it made them real. Even the teacher laughed at me, though I knew I was right.
Suddenly, though, here were modern Pagan paths, which began to make perfect sense. Witchcraft, which required accountability, honor, and personal sacrifice called to me on a level no other spiritual path had before. Witchcraft relied on and ceremony, intelligence and diligence. It made more logical sense than any other religion or spiritual path I had found to date. I began studying witchcraft again, this time in earnest. I still had the original book I had purchased, but I began to add a few more books. Reading everything I could find, which was not a lot in the Bible belt of the United States.
This had been going on for a couple of years before I met my Azrael. We hung out as friends and then dated a bit. I was nervous about talking to him about the path I was beginning to walk. I need not have bothered worrying. When the subject finally came up, a few weeks later, he explained he joined a coven for a short while in his teens before his family moved to Texas. We discussed the ideas I had read, the knowledge he learned and made the decision to seek further along the paths together.
While engaged, we briefly joined a Wiccan coven. Wicca is a common jumping in point for many former Christians to join witchcraft, as it is very rules based in the beginning and “preaches” against harming anyone by word, deed, or even omission. It is very similar to the Christian faith in many ways and seen as a “safe” starting point by former Christians. That experiment lasted almost two years. We studied under a popular tradition, but it was not for us. They had some ideas, which we could not reconcile with, so we spoke to the HP/HPs and left on good terms.
We were already hosting study groups at our little pagan shop and at our home by this time. We continued to explore various pagan paths with several individuals from Wiccan, Druidic, and Eternalist paths, as they had become adopted family. We kept studying and eventually formed our own coven with these like-minded individuals. The most important thing to us was that we practice tolerance toward each other’s paths, shared information, and worked very well together when in circle.
When I suddenly lost Az a few years later, I had a crisis of faith for a time and refused to practice. This lasted for a few months. Then I gradually got back into the practice, but typically only for healing spells. As time passed, I started reading the books, again, that Azrael and I had collected, but which I had no time to study when our three sons were toddlers and I was a stay at home mom. By the time the twins had reached four years of age, and our eldest was about to start Kindergarten though, I had discovered that Wicca was not my true path. It focused only on the light sides of magick and did not account for any darker emotions or feelings that needed to be addressed. I made the jump to my final path at that point.
Now I am pleased to be an eclectic witch. It allows me the freedom to be as light as I like, but also does not have prohibitions against harming those who try to harm you and yours, as Wicca does. If someone comes at my family, it is not only allowable for me to fight back, but it is expected. It is not a “light only” path, but allows a more normal balance between the light and the dark.
I have to admit, I am still primarily drawn to spells that heal, spells that help others, and to the lighter side of witchcraft. However, when the need arises I, now, have no fear in casting as dark a spell as necessary. I have learned that the duality of nature is acceptable in my path. Just as light and dark, good and evil, and day and night are natural opposites and a part of natural law, so are the light and dark of the spells I cast. I do not have to focus on one and ignore the other. That is no more natural than living in a world comprised of daylight only. The eclectic path has brought me to a full understanding of who I am as a witch and I am now complete.