The word witch has held such power over me. No other word makes me feel quite the way this one does. Never have I been so fascinated, terrified and delighted by a word all at once. There are other female archetypal roles/identities/names that I love and identify with such as: priestess, oracle, wild woman, etc etc.
But W I T C H…
This one holds weight. I’ve been in a state of remembering. A state of calling back a way of being within. When I was 13 a close friend and I along with a few other friends would have sleepovers and read books and “cast spells” until we started hitting too close to home. It got uncomfortable for some of the others and I felt myself at a crossroads – choose her or go with the pack. Sad to admit I went with the pack and while it wasn’t outwardly said she was a bit ‘cast’ out and we stopped hanging out with her as much.
But it didn’t start or end there. When we were younger, my cousin and I used to talk about how we believed our Nana was a witch. If my grandmother was indeed a witch she wasn’t aware of it but I do think the women before her were and she had sadly lost access to it. It was our intuition picking up on our ancestors.
Weren’t so many of our ancestors?
When we had a deeper connection with the Earth and the cycles of the seasons. Before worship was contained in a building. Before land became lawns.
I came to create my current healing practice because of my work with social justice methodologies in youth organizing and community development. This work was truly the beginning of waking up the witch within me. I taught the performing arts and writing as a way to reclaim sovereignty through youth leadership programs focused on community building. I did this work utilizing forms like Theatre of the Oppressed and other popular education models and trauma informed practices.
The deeper my youth participants and I went into the research of the history of violence in our country the closer I got to my own wounds. I was brought face to face with grappling with my own family’s history of domestic violence and the loss of power and life of the women in my patrilineal line. And I came to a reckoning with both my own experienced trauma and the intergenerational trauma hiding out in my DNA.
This all lead me to be drawn back again to Witch books and research. All while contracted in fear over the reclaiming of the word and what people would think. And interestingly enough a feeling of: Who am I to be allowed to reclaim this word? (that feels like a story for another blog post)
As I deepened in my own healing journey and begun to dig into my ancestral roots and my Celtic lineages the story of the ‘oppressed witch’ came up over and over again. Women who were not convenient to the status quo and those in power. Their connection to herbs, the land and healing people at the level of root cause was not good for ‘business’, for the kingdoms looking to steal land.
Through this research I’ve found just how misunderstood the word Witch is.
Finding my way back has provided a beacon of hope and a sense of belonging. It’s allowed me to reclaim an archetypal essence within me by connecting to ritual, energy healing and a more cyclical way of being. I do this now through celebrating the Sabbats from Celtic traditions, paying attention to the moon and her movements and working with the elements.
The 70% of my DNA from the British Isles was craving this sense of remembering and belonging. And most importantly doing this is helping me to reclaim my voice as a woman in ways I hadn’t even realized I had lost.
During an energy healing session a few years ago I was in a lucid state and I remember seeing very clearly a woman’s body hanging in the air by a noose. I’d never seen an image like that before in session. Whether or not it was a collective remembering of an archetypal energy that I resonate with, ancestral roots or a past life memory wasn’t the point. The point was that I was shown that I had lost my power and my connection to my magic and that image was me telling myself that I wanted it back.
The grief that came up around how badly I wanted my power back shocked me.
Because I had lost a sense of lineage, culture and belonging. This quote from writer, teacher, activist Starhawk continues to resonate with me: ‘White people can’t heal until they come to terms with the witch persecutions. The brutal murder of women (and some men) in European history has separated those of us with that heritage from our indigenous roots.’ This quote has given me the validation that healing is needed and hope that it is possible on all levels of society. And that it is an important history for us to understand in order to dig up parts of the roots of systems of oppression in the US. These roots come from unresolved trauma in so many ancestral lineages.
The word Witch has become a symbol for the ability to speak up about that which seems invisible and impossible. It stands for liberation and the ability to create new realities. And the abilities we all have within to connect with the Earth and the Moon and draw upon them for support.