Out of the (Broom) Closet
Someone recently told me that she was "Out of the Shaman closet but not the Witch closet". Me being the curious type and having an almost non-existent filter asks, "So why is it that you feel like you can come out as a Shaman but not as a Witch?" Her answer, sadly, was not surprising. For some reason, it is more acceptable to be a Shaman than it is to say you're a Witch.
Shamanism is associated with the Native American culture even though the path of the Shaman is followed by many more people and cultures than just the Native Americans. It is an ancient way and not associated with a particular religion. "Shamanism is a practice that involves a practitioner reaching altered states of consciousness in order to perceive and interact with what they believe to be a spirit world and channel these transcendental energies into this world".
noun- a person regarded as having access to, and influence in, the world of good and evil spirits, especially among some peoples of northern Asia and North America. Typically such people enter a trance state during a ritual and practice divination and healing. synonyms: medicine man/woman, healer, kahuna "several American doctors have consulted our shaman"
- copied and pasted straight outta Wikipedia! Shamans were highly respected. They were/ are healers. They were sought out for their wisdom and knowledge and were often considered to be "seers". And here you thought you weren't going to learn anything new today! ;-)
The Witch, however, is a completely different thing. For some reason, "Witch" has long been associated with satanic worship. You do understand that as a Pagan or Witch, we do not believe in Satan, right? This is what you get when you look up "Witch" in Wikipedia...
noun 1.a woman thought to have magic powers, especially evil ones, popularly depicted as wearing a black cloak and pointed hat and flying on a broomstick.
synonyms: sorceress, enchantress, necromancer
2. informal: an ugly or unpleasant woman. "he can marry the old witch for all I care" synonyms: hag, crone, harpy, harridan, she-devil; informal: battle-ax "she's a nasty old witch" verb 1. cast an evil spell on.
Are you fucking kidding me? No wonder "Witch" is so taboo. Its definition associates it with evil, ugly, and raising the dead. Wow. Just wow. I hope that those reading this post understand the extent of the persecution that people but women, in particular, have faced for hundreds of years because of the word "Witch".
Apparently, it is still a big issue. Not a "burning at the stake" type of issue but it is definitely not an accepted word in some circles. In this day and age, I seriously do NOT understand this. Of course, we still live in a world where human rights are an issue so I guess I shouldn't be surprised. However, this post is not about those issues. I'll save that rant for another time.
I am proud to use the title of both Shaman AND Witch. This has been a long time coming for me. It has always been my path and I have known that for quite a while. I tried to suppress the person that I was in order to not make waves with my ex-husband (a post for another time) and to TRY to conform to society. Well, anyone that knows me could tell you that was never going to happen. I didn't use the word "Witch" before but I was far from what society would call "normal".
As a child, I was the girl with bare feet caked in mud holding a toad (or snake or a crawfish or some other creature I found out there) in one hand while climbing over the fence that separated my backyard from the creek behind us. I was definitely classified as a tomboy but more importantly, a wild child. I use that term to define my connection with nature at an early age and not my behavior. I wasn't happy if I couldn't be outside. I have never been afraid of any animal, although mosquitos can burn in hell. I have a connection with animals that is undeniable. My friend got to witness this firsthand this past weekend when we met a beautiful praying mantis with a message for me. I remember sitting still in the field behind my grandparents' house and just listening to all of the natural sounds I could hear. How many children do you know that would do this at a young age without someone telling them to? Exactly. Not many. This came naturally to me; I needed it.
I realize now that what I was doing as a child was feeling the energy of the Earth. That's why it was so important for me to sit and listen. Even back then I needed that natural energy to be able to get through the day. It is this natural energy that we as Witches call upon. It is nothing evil, distorted, or perverted. It is the air we breathe, the water we drink, the Earth we walk upon, and the fire that warms our homes on a cold winter day. It's the trees and plants, the animals and insects, the dirt and stone. Everything has its own energy and it is beautiful and amazing. This is NOT evil. The Wiccan Rede states "An Ye Harm None, Do What Ye Will". Here is the link for the full version: https://wicca.com/celtic/wicca/rede.htm As Witches, we are typically very careful of the energy or spells we put out into the universe. Part of the Rede reminds us that everything will come back to you three-fold. That would be some scary shit if you intended to do evil or harm. The Witches that I have met are some of the nicest people on Earth. We recycle, do rituals to help heal Mother Earth, send healing energy to friends, loved ones, and pets, and volunteer our time. We are on the opposite end of the spectrum from evil. In the future, I hope to create a safe space for witches and other spirituals to talk freely. It would be a place of love and acceptance. It would also be a support system for those that are still in the broom closet or are trying to come out but have no idea how to do so. It can be scary, depressing, and anxiety-inducing to think about the possible rejection by loved ones, friends, or co-workers. We could share ideas here on how to educate our loved ones about our ways so that it doesn't seem so taboo or frightening for them.
I have always been a Witch at heart and in my soul. My call to be a healer as well. I was so excited to learn that I could mesh the Shaman with the Witch and didn't have to choose between the two. Both are such a huge part of who I am, who I am meant to become. It's my journey and my path is becoming more and more clear to me. Stay tuned...
Peace, love, and light. Blessed be.