It’s a warm, blustery day and I can feel that calling…
The wildness that’s stirring up inside me as the lazier summer days recede and a freshness returns. The appearance of autumn on the horizon always does this to me, for some reason. It makes me feel restless inside.
Like the legend of the Selkie who returned to the sea, having finally found the sealskin her husband had hidden from her, I long to shed the trappings of civilized life and return naked to the nature from which my body has come. Living in the world of the masculine too long—the world of ideas, information, analysis and mind—does nothing for the deeper feminine that exists in all of us, men and women.
Nor does living a tame, over-regulated and sterile life.
We live half-alive, out of touch with our instincts and overly reliant on external schedules and expertise.
But the energy I’m feeling is more than just the feminine. It is a particular aspect of the feminine that I’ve come to recognize as The Witch—that wise, wild, fearless woman that so often conjures up fear, rather than love and respect. She’s been with me since childhood, when I used to eat an apple in front of a mirror on Halloween, lit only by a candle, curious about what I might see.
When she shows up inside of me there is still a part of me that wants to push her away, part of me that doesn’t love her anymore than others do.
She is uncivilized and uncaring about the niceties that make us outwardly attractive to others—the groomed hair, the carefully-selected clothes, the clever ideas and pieces of paper proving our credentials.
I have to acknowledge her presence, though, as I take off to the hills once more, feet walking bare on the scratchy heather, wind whipping my hair into tangles the brush will never get through (especially with the added texture of small twigs from lying on the ground).
Right now, I really don’t care what I look like or whether I’ll be reappearing into society at a later stage with stained clothes, scratched legs and mud under my toenails. All I care about is feeling wild and free, unfettered by all the normal constraints of modern life.
So, in my renewed determination not to neglect my inner witch and to accept that, yes, she is part of me – along with all those other parts I more willingly embrace—here are five promises I’m making myself for the future.
1. I promise to listen to her.
Ah—this old chestnut! I thought I was pretty good at listening to myself. It’s not just listening that’s the issue here, though. It’s listening properly. There’s a world of a difference between hearing my inner witch say ‘it’s all getting too tame around here for me’ before carrying on with business as usual and, on the other hand, hearing what she’s saying and acting on it.
I forget that it is her wildness that keeps me sane, that stops me from losing myself and becoming a shell of who I really am. I forget that it is her who keeps the twinkle in my eyes and the lightness in my step when life might otherwise drag me down. And I know if I go too long without listening to her, she will eventually show her less-attractive face by raging at some unsuspecting person who didn’t really deserve it. It’s no-one else’s fault except my own that I feel trapped or overly-tamed at times.
She nourishes me deeply and I need to remember to honor her by listening to what she needs.
2. I promise to respect her power.
We have a funny relationship with power, us women. Well, it goes for men too. On the one hand we’re fascinated by power—by the way it’s used and misused, by public figures that hold power and by individuals who have been remembered through history as a result of tremendous strength of character. We do personal empowerment courses, talk about not handing away our personal power and ensure that children are aware of how to handle abuse of power from an earlier age.
And yet, on the other hand, we have such a mixed attitude to three of the most potent sources of power in our world—authority, money and sex.
My inner witch has no qualms with being her own authority. She knows what’s right or wrong for her and is not reluctant to act on it when necessary—if only I’m willing to heed her. She also understands the potent energetic force which is money and has a straight-forward and unapologetic relationship with it. She values herself and if money is the value-system which is most prevalent within the modern world, then she will integrate it into her web of magic as she needs to.
But it is not the source of her power. No.
Her power is sourced from a deeply feminine place—sexual energy. We’re not talking here of sex simply as an act between a man and a woman, although that gets the energy flowing quite nicely, thank you. We’re talking of the energy that is behind that act, the energy of creation.
My inner witch knows that when her power is flowing it is because she is turned on to life—turned on and tuned in, and a power house capable of achieving anything that she feels necessary. She has the highest regard for her sexual energy and is wary of anything or anyone that dampens or suppresses it.
3. I promise to create more space for her spells.
No, I’m not Wiccan—not formally anyway. But I do believe strongly in the power of intent. It’s so easy to let life get busy and not to create time to reflect and consciously direct energy where we’d like it to go.
We get caught up in action and forget about the step before that, where creation takes place, either consciously or unconsciously. I know if I deliberately create a space and time, using tools that help me focus my attention—like a little altar of meaningful symbols, a corner of the woods where nature has conspired to create a particularly magic, or the configuration of the planets—that it will empower my ability to deliberately create the life that I want. Then all I need to do is to become aware of what ‘spells’ I want to cast—what it is that I want to create or let go of in my life – and to direct my focused energy towards that outcome in whatever way works for me (visioning/chanting/writing).
Every witch has the ability to create her own spells if she can summon up her internal energy and remain focused on what she wants. Allowing time and creating the right space helps her to do this more effectively. And it also allows space for her to prompt any action that might be necessary for me to take.
4. I promise to come off the Pill.
Well, for a while at least. Just to see. Like many women, barring periods of conception, pregnancy and breastfeeding, I’ve been on one form or other of the contraceptive pill most of my adult life.
It has been a long time since I’ve had a normal menstrual cycle, determined purely by the natural rhythms of my body and its connection to that larger body, the Moon. I’ve been aware that, at some level, my determination to keep taking it has been fueled by my head over-riding my body’s natural instincts—something no self-respecting witch would tolerate. The time has come to remember what it feels like to more fully flow with the body’s natural rhythms.
To be active when I feel active, to rest when I feel tired, to allow the witch her period of cleansing every month and her natural connection to the waxing and waning of the Moon. She is deeply tuned into the natural energies and needs me to honor my own physical processes more, as well as those of the universe, so that her gifts are readily accessible.
With a deep awareness of natural timing, my inner witch instinctively knows how to navigate life’s flow and can share that knowing with me so long as I allow her the connection through my body to the universe.
5. I promise to give her time out.
This is really what my inner witch most needs. Time to be herself, by herself. Witches are solitary creatures, needing to be away from the energy of other people and in natural environments in order to be themselves.
She resides deep inside, at a place beyond language. It’s a place that is deeply intuitive, sensitive to shifts in energy and mood. Like a spider on a web, she can detect changes in vibration through her body and respond directly without the need for analysis or logical thought.
When the outside world is too busy, full of people and things, she either gets overwhelmed and retreats, or angry and stubborn. She can’t function properly without solitude. She has no need for external approval or even understanding, but she demands that I respect her wisdom—knowing, as I do by now, that she is part of what helps me to live an authentic life.
And I honor her most by giving her solitary time in nature whenever she calls for it, regardless of the weather. The rhythms and energies of nature help her to connect with herself and give her space to extend her essence. I’m doing us both a favor by giving her time out.
As I write this, my two youngest daughters are playing outside in the lashing rain, getting drenched in t-shirts and shorts, and loving it. I have to assume they got at least some of that love of nature from their mother and from that witch inside that she hasn’t always fully acknowledged.
Their wildness is still intact and brings a healthy glow to their cheeks and laughter to their voices.
My hope is that it may stay with them for life, even as they develop their mental faculties.
And my hope is also that those not fortunate enough to have kept an open connection with that wildness from childhood find some inspiration in my words to re-connect with their own inner witchiness.
(Originally published on Elephant Journal)