Friday, 1 August 2014

Realisation & Inspiration

I haven’t really been practicing my Craft lately, and by really, I mean not at all. I couldn’t even tell you the last time I did something remotely witch related. My altar has gathered dust, my tools lay unused and forgotten, my grimoire not updated for so long. It is simply because I haven’t had the motivation to bother. I haven’t felt at all inspired, and once inspiration is lost, enthusiasm and passion soon follow suit. What do you do when inspiration, passion and motivation walk out the door? How do you find it again? I think I have found myself in this place because I’ve been uncertain of who I am and where I’m going, I’ve not had a clear picture for a while and I’ve been left feeling empty, without purpose or direction. It terrified me, the idea of a purposeless life, I’ve always wanted to believe that I have a reason for being who I am, doing what I do but that has been lost of late. And in this digital age, it is so easy to doubt everything.

I have spent some time even considering whether or not I truly am a witch because I feel like I’ve failed; failed at being a witch, failed at practicing my path, just failed. So many years ago, I had the passion, I was practicing all of the time in one form or another, I was forever using my tarot and oracle decks, I would take the time to sit outside and reach for connection. I would fret over my gardens, excited when plants would sprout or blooms would reveal their delicate faces to the sun. I was so into my Craft that it permeated everything I did. I haven’t felt this level of passion for a long time, and it isn’t just the winter blues or burnout, it’s the insecurity of inadequacy that seems to fuel this current thought process of mine. I feel like I’ve failed because I’m not doing what I feel like I should be, and this is where my reference to the digital age kicks in.

I am a hedge witch, a green witch, consequently I tend to term myself under ‘traditional witch’, it seemed the most appropriate of “labels”. However, this had led to comparisons with others. I see what they do, how they practice, what is expected under the term ‘traditional’ and I see myself failing at even the most basic of things. I found myself doing things because I felt like I should instead of them being something that spoke to me spiritually. I started collecting bones because I thought that is what I should be doing – and while I do love my little collection of skulls, I’m not a bone worker, but it’s what traditional witches do right? While I adore my skulls and am currently weathering a collection of them outside, I don’t think I will grow my collection anymore because I don’t know that I will ever feel pulled toward bone working or working with animal spirits. And this brings me to my next failing.

I’m not inclined toward spirits; I learned that when I spent a weekend in a haunted gaol; everyone else was feeling it and me? Not a whiff of anything, although through an energy worker who was there I did connect somewhat with the energy of a spirit but it’s not natural for me. But as a witch I should be able to do it right? Especially as a hedge witch, I should be able to connect with spirits and work with them right? I should be seeing them everywhere and spending most of my time in the Otherworld building relationships, or so I keep thinking because that is what hedge witches do. I haven’t crossed the hedge in quite some time, but yet I can feel that my animal guide over there is not happy with me. Weirdly, I can feel that. Black Panther energy is powerful I guess, especially when it is being ignored. And there’s the rub in essence, because since I was a child I have had what is considered to be a very powerful and ancient guide yet I find myself noting only my failures and losing heart. I hold faith with the powerful hedge crossing I had the last time I did so, I hold faith that it means something greater than my utter lack of witchcraft practice.

I compare myself and I hate it because I’ve always been one of those people who don’t really care what people think of me. I’m not some one who chases praise or superficial friendships in order to boost my ego. I’d rather be alone than around people to be honest (apparent common trait of some one who has a panther guide). Yet I find myself reading blogs online, seeing witches achieve all these amazing things and I give up because I feel like I can’t do what they’re doing. I’m not a witch if I’m not doing what they’re doing. It’s damaging to see yourself as a failure in the witch world, and it is even more damaging when you know that you don’t care what they do because it is not what you do, yet being stuck in this place of stagnation because you’re not doing what others perceive as traditional witchcraft or hedge witchcraft or whatever it is. It’s a contrary position to be in. Especially when you’ve only noticed it being recent and not something that was particularly bothering months ago.

So instead I have spent my time focusing on my herbalism, writing recipes, trying new things, building a website. Doing anything other than witchcraft really and late one night I came to a realisation that should have been obvious from the very start. I threw myself into my herbs because that is where I am most comfortable. That is where I find my peace and my passion. And that is where the passion was years ago. When I used to teach, I taught Magical Herbalism. I wrote the course myself and then wrote another on Herb Crafts. The first true witch tool I ever bought was a little herb kit off eBay. The first things I ever sold in my eBay store was herbs and herbal incenses. My passion for creating products for my store whether they were incenses, salves or infused oils stemmed from herbs. And this is what I realised so late one night.

Herbs is what I do.

Herbs is who I am.

I have always been passionate about herbs. Because I doubted my witch self, I threw all of my energy into my herbal self, yet they are not separate. I first became interested in herbs magically and this lead to my studying herbalism. I forgot that, it seems though at the same time my subconscious was trying to remind me of it. I may not be a bone worker or spirit worker but I work very well with herbs. I connect on an elemental level with herbs. I have four mandrakes up at the moment, and I’ve been reminded of the excitement that comes from seeing the little green leaves pop their heads up (whether they stay alive for a length of time is another thing, we have a complicated relationship mandrake and I), seeing them develop more than two leaves. It’s not the excitement so much of knowing a complicated and rather temperamental plant is growing in my garden; it is the excitement of seeing herbs come alive in the garden. The gardener aspect of my personality revels in the thrill of successful germination and heartbreak of losing plants when it happens. The herbalist in me appreciates the aspect of growing your own herbs to use, because they almost always are more potent from your own garden. It also involves you in the cycle of the plant’s life. And the witch rubs her hands with glee to see the natural world so represented in its varying diversity, knowing that the Spirits of the Green are dancing happily amongst the garden.

I forgot who I was because I was so busy trying to be what I thought I should be. The fundamental foundation of my practice has always been herbs; I lost that because I wanted to be the incredible spirit contacting, bone working witch who has beings knocking on her door. I lost what made me love being a witch in the first place; I lost that connection to my magical self so my soul reminded me in other ways of the thing I love the most about practicing my Craft. I work with herbs, that is my calling. Whether I make a healing balm or a flying ointment, a restful tea or an incense I always worked with herbs. Rediscovering that is almost like discovering witchcraft again. My mind is running with ideas - I'm interested in herbal CSAs for my herbal business (when I get there) and think there could be witchy applications too - like a witchy CSA or something similar, new incenses, ointments, they're all coming to mind. My path has always been the green world, and in that, I do work with spirits and bones, mine are the just the Old Ones of the land, of the wilds. I am a hedge witch, I am a green witch, I’m not so sure I would call myself a ‘traditional witch’ anymore, but I am who I’ve always been. I know that now, I accept that now. I walk my own road, my own twisting path. My journey is my own and just because it is not like another’s does not make it less, it simply makes it mine.

7 comments:

  1. What a wonderful post about your rekindled enthusiasm for herbs this is. When I started reading I saw so many "shoulds" And then it was good to read you had such a revelation about who you are and where you want to go. You wouldn't have found this insight and strong knowing if you haven't been in that rut
    I am so happy for you

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    1. I am surprised it took me to have to realise, I always go to herbs yet for some reason it wasn't obvious when it should have been.

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  2. Oh I can so relate to this post. First of all, ironically, it appears the everyone has a different idea of what "traditional witchcraft" is. I finally found a definition online that was close to what I consider to be my path, but there are many out there, all different.

    Since my path involves spirits and not gods, I thought that traditional witchcraft was the"correct" label but as it turns out, certain branches of tradition witchcraft most certainly do work with gods and in a very ceremonial way...and that is not me, .so, I just gave up looking for a title, a name for my own path.

    I have done much of what you described and felt at times much like you felt. But I think it was necessary to come full circle, in order to allow myself to "take back" my craft. Sometimes we get so enthusiastic and so eager to try new ways that we wander too far off the path. But luckily we can always retrace our steps, and so you have.

    There's nothing wrong with experimenting, such as your bone work, but if it doesn't work for you, then it's just not for you. Besides, I'm sure you are not making all these decisions on your own and have spirits guiding you all the time. I believe they influence our work more than we know. (I often think about this in regards to my interest in folk magic, and know there's a old swamp witch nudging me along a bit! :)

    I suspect that the herb work will lead you to other things, but in a different more satisfying direction than before. They don't say plants have intelligence for nothing!! :)

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    1. It's going to be interesting to see where it leads. I've not got a set path in mind, it is sort of a new journey of discovery.

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  3. I've been doing a lot of witchy research as of late, and what I've found is that traditional witchcraft does not need truly specify the need to worship or work with spirits or gods. It does not require that you spend your time collecting bones if that is not your thing, I know that it isn't mine. Essentially what traditional witchcraft is, is the practice of witchcraft (as opposed to the religion of Wicca) whether you choose to worship deities is totally up to you. From what I understand from research and my own path is that traditional witchcraft is merely a label for saying hey, I practice things the old way I work with my hands in the dirt, otherworld etc. my moral code is not the wiccan rede it is my own morals in practice. Traditional witchcraft is the practice of connecting with magic however it is that you connect with it, whether thats through bones or herbs is totally up to you, you aren't required to both or either. I hope this helps a little bit. All the best on your witchy herbal path!
    Sarah

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    1. Thanks! It is going to be interesting I think.

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  4. Stacey,

    Thanks for your openness and honesty about the existential/faith crisis you've been experiencing. I enjoyed reading your post, and it was an encouragement to me, because I've felt the same way recently (you can read a bit about it here: wp.me/p2lGy6-v ). In fact, I know several practitioners who have been dealing with these same thoughts and feelings. Who knows? Maybe the Divine is trying to point some of us in new directions.

    Thanks again for the read. May each day you walk your path bring you Joy and Wonder.

    Jason

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