Note: I use generic “you” in this post. It’s not directed at anyone specifically.
This one isn’t in any way limit to witchcraft or paganism or anything in particular. But since what got me thing about eh subject was a witchcraft meme, that’s the perspective I’m coming from.
The broom closet is one of those terms I LOATH. I hate the false dichotomy of being In or Out. There is no middle ground and absolutely no room for discretion in a given situation.
When I’ve tried to talk about discretion and its role in daily life and interactions, I’ve been accused of hiding in plain sight. I say “accused” because to me, it sound like the person is saying I’m intentionally engaging in deception.
I don’t hide. But I also don’t advertise.
Unless you see me at a relevant setting, or I tell you outright, you’ll probably have no idea I’m a witch. Or that I have a tattoo. Or that I have a horse (the cat hair on my clothes is kind of a give away about my fuzzy buggers). You won’t know about my collection of edged weapons or that I’m martial arts trained. You’ll have no idea that I’m evil slash fanficcer or that I roleplay D&D with friends on Saturday nights.
You will see the girl next door. You will hear my sometimes off colour jokes. You will see me laugh or rage about the drivers in the city. We might get into a discussion about politics or accessibility issues, since I work in a group home and it’s what I do. Hell, I have had LOUD discussions about bikini waxing and it proving that women are tougher than men while riding public transit, in cause you were under the impression that I’m reserved.
But unless you know what you are looking for, you’ll never notice me casting that parking spell as we try to make our reservation at the restaurant. You won’t notice me putting up shields or warding when in a sketchy area. You won’t notice that I’m blunting your raw feelings over the loss of your pet as we talk. And you certainly won’t know when I curse your ass because you dun fucked up and tried to hurt someone I care about.
I’m not hiding. I’m being me. That you can’t recognize what I’m doing is on you and you alone. I will carry on being me.
The title is a saying I got from my mother. I don’t remember when she first said it, but it would always come out when young me was upset at someone’s claim that they were better at something then I was.
As I got older, I realized how well this saying applies to many things and how it’s tied to critical thinking (something mom prized). It’s a means of really looking at claims and evaluating them. More importantly, it’s about looking at the claimant and see if their conduct confirms the claim or belies it.
Now that I’ve been on discussion forums and social media for a couple of decades, I’m finding that I use this saying regularly. And watching folks reactions is very telling.
Never just take someone’s word for something and don’t allow yourself to be browbeaten for questioning a claim.
If you look online, you’ll find all kinds of memes, articles and web pages telling you what witches are and if you have X, Y, Z qualities you are a witch.
I’m here to dispel these many myths.
There is only one thing that makes someone a witch, and that’s the practice of witchcraft. What’s that you say? You don’t practice witchcraft? Then you aren’t a witch.
It’s the same as someone reading about metal work but never working in a forge or handling a welding torch.
It doesn’t matter that you are psychic. Or feel close to nature. Or that you have a black cat that follows you everywhere. None of these things are witchcraft so they don’t make a you a witch.
That being the case, what IS witchcraft? Well, at the most basic, it’s the manipulation of energy–usually via folks magic methods–to bring about change. So that poppet to help your cousin heal that pulled muscle is witchcraft. As is stirring health into the soup you are making. And that spell jar to bind your asshole coworker is definitely witchcraft.
What’s not witchcraft is sitting around, thinking good thoughts as you “align yourself with the universe”. Or meditating to raise your vibrations. Or thinking yourself “enlightened”. Or asking some god or goddess to intercede in your behalf (this last one is called Begcraft).
The moral of the story: if you want to be a witch, you have to put down the books, get off the computer and DO.
Question: Do I need an altar?
Answer: You tell me. I have no idea what you’re practice is or what you are wanting to accomplish. So I can’t tell you if it’s NEEDED. Or just wanted. So sit down and look at WHY you think you “need” an altar and see if you really do. If you just WANT one, that’s fine too and you go right ahead.
Side Note: The point of an altar is generally a work space. Doesn’t matter if it’s for spells, seasonal rituals or your ancestors. It’s a dedicated space for something specific to happen. That’s what an altar is.
Question: This book shows how to set up an altar but I dont’ have space for that! What do I do?
Answer: Get creative. And really pay attention to what you need for your altar to accomplish whatever it is you have in mind. Books are very useful in giving examples, but they are ONLY examples. For now, sit down and look at the basics:
What is it going to be used for? (if you are part of a tradition, talk to the group leader about what is expected and what you have to work with)
How much space do you have?
Will you need to do anything to make your space useable and how much will that cost?
What do you really need on it to do what you have in mind?
Do you have storage space you can purpose for the keeping of altar materials not in use?
Side Note: When I was a teenager, I had a full size altar set up in my room. Not hard to do when a large bedroom only has a single bed.
But when I moved to my apartment, I had a queen sized bed and very little space. So my altar was a little 14″ x 20″ 1970s tv stand on casters with little cupboard underneath. It could be wheeled in an out of my closet when I needed to use it.
Then I moved into a shared accomodation with a friend as we both wanted to cut costs and save money, I only my bedroom. Since I was older with bad knees, I couldn’t get up and down to my little altar or move it about easily. But I had enough space for one of those tall, narrow stereo stands with a drawer at the bottom. It fit in the corner of my room and I could do my thing standing.
Now I have my own place and the second bedroom is my altar room. I have my working altar (spell work) my seasonal altar (religious celebrations) and my ancestor altar for my family.
Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box and do what works for you and your sirtuation.
Q: I’ve been reading all kinds of books and looking on websites and there are these big lists of tools I need to start out. It’s going to be expensive. Are they really all necessary?
Short Answer: No.
Long Answer: Tools a very useful, especially when it comes to getting beginners in the right headspace to work magic. That said, unless you are planning to practice high magic (which VERY specific on the What, When and How) or another tradition with requirements about what is to be used when, tools are something you accumulate as you go…and as you find them useful. What is useful to you, won’t necessarily be useful to someone else, and that’s perfect okay.
Side Note: There is a big difference between need and want. If you NEED a focus when directing energy because you don’t have faith in yourself (a very common thing, don’t sweat not using your finger) that’s fine. Your confidence in yourself, your abilities and the magic of your own body will come in time. And wands are cheap to make. Go find a stick you like, sand it (or not) and you’re good to go.
Now, if you think you NEED that shiny gem and crystal encrusted metal wand with the $300 price tag….You’ve got a big assed problem and need to be doing some serious shadow work before you go out and buy all lovely, shinies you think you NEED.
Your expectation is going to have a direct impact on your magic. So if you think that a wooden wand you made yourself won’t work, but that fancy one that will me not paying your electric bill this month WILL work, guess what! That’s exactly how it will happen because your subconscious will jump on that and block everything EXCEPT the energy used with that fancy one since you’ve told it that’s how it works and it’s trying to live up to your expectation.
Something to consider. High magic and magical fraternities where, and to an extant still are, the realm of the welltodo. AKA people with money and time on their hands. So buying those fancy and exacting tools was easily done. But your average witch was often of the peasantry. Making do with what was on hand was a fact of everyday life, not just the practice of magic.
I’m not trying to put down any type of magic. But financial ability IS a concisedartion that needs to be made. There are plenty of traditions out there, each with their own set of “required tools”. Are those requirements (and no not just in regards to tools) something you are willing to meet? Be honest with yourself about what you are looking to accomplish and what you can put into it.