In honor of October and Halloween, I want to share my ideas on witches. This is an excerpt from my latest memoir The Buddha Made Me Do It; A Field Guide To EnLITEnment:
On my spiritual journey, I have found it interesting that many people have a preconceived idea in their minds about matters of the occult, spirituality, and other unorthodox soul-related experiences such as Ouija Boards. I’ve encountered much fear-based judgment regarding Wicca, individual witches, and covens. The universal image of a witch conjures an image of an old, ugly, hook-nosed woman, casting spells while stirring her bubbling cauldron with her black cat—her domestic—hissing at her side.
Even with all that negative imagery of female witches, however, I admit I’ve always loved them. Halloween has always been my favorite holiday. When I was about ten, two girls in my neighborhood formed a “witch club” with me. My witch name was Hildegarde. I made up potions and wrote poems about witches. I’ve always believed in magic; autumn is my favorite season; and I love black cats and everything pumpkin. I definitely felt that I was a witch/healer in several past lives, and possibly burned at the stake for it, as I described earlier in my sense of historical outrage over the treatment of women branded as witches.
I have witch/Wicca friends, but it wasn’t until I befriended Joanna DeVoe and Brenda Crozier, who live amazing, magical, beautiful lives, that I began to seriously pursue research about witches and their ideas. I discovered Joanna to be a woman who lives up to her self-description as a “kickass witch.” She believes in the transformative power of love, the alchemical process of forgiveness, and the “Magick” of setting and holding an intention in order to manifest the kickass life of your most cherished dreams. She believes it’s never too late to be the person you hoped to be. Joanna believes in rock and roll, meditation, daily exercise, green organic vegetables, nature walks, a great book, and a hot cup of tea—in other words, a great soul mate for me and many self-actualizing people. If that’s what a witch is, then I am proud to wear the hat.
Brenda Crozier is a solitary witch in New England who is very passionate about her craft. She and I made heartfelt YouTube videos about everything from “wildcrafting,” to Ouija Boards, space clearing, and spirit communication. She is a Reiki master and herbologist, and one of the nicest people I know.
Contrary to popular stereotypes, Wiccans are not devil worshippers, and, in fact, do not even believe in the devil. They do no animal sacrifices, nor any evil spells or deeds. Witches believe that the Divine is present in nature and that nature should be honored and respected. Many practicing Wiccans are passionate about the environment. I also love their celebration of holidays based on the turning of the earth and the cycle of the seasons. Today’s homeopathic healers are the same kind of folk who would have been feared as witches back in the day.
Did hideous, child-eating old crones ever exist? Before modern medicine, the ramifications of falling ill or hurting oneself were gravely serious. Crones, a term that originally meant wise woman, were healers who understood the medicinal value of herbs—the basis of today’s homeopathic treatments. Many sufferers turned to them for cures and for assistance in the delivery of babies.
As Christianity spread a powerful religious hierarchy across Europe, it also promoted patriarchal leadership and dominance, denying women any power not controlled by the church. Many healers also had psychic and spiritual gifts, so those who were most talented posed a threat to church dogma and its authority. Over time, the healers, especially women, were accused of heresy, being anti-Christian, and even of devil worship. Their craft was portrayed as evil sorcery, a part of pagan worship, and akin to black magic. Their assistance supposedly imperiled the immortal soul of a Christian, and people came to fear the very folk who could alleviate their pain and suffering.
If you are reading this, you too may have an inner gnosis, an intrinsic knowing deep in your marrow that a close connection to nature and the spiritual world are vital, so much so that achieving your highest, most authentic self evolves in this direction. Staying open to experience a wider, vaster realm than the boundaries imposed by most organized religions is the beginning of the journey to enlightenment. Light. Lite. Staying open means lightening up, expanding, laughing, feeling like Uncle Albert in Mary Poppins whose levity causes him to levitate! The laughing Buddha (Bo Dai or Budai) is thought to be an incarnation of Gautama Buddha from the future, though he is based on an actual tenth century Chinese monk. He represents contentment, generosity, wisdom, openness, abundance, and kindheartedness. He helps people realize the essence within, which connects with all beings. This path summons the opposite of condemnation, the opposite of fear.
Enjoy the interview below with a totally cool witch with an even cooler name, she is a Marla too.