the craft

The Bad Witch’s Guide

April, 2018

The Bad Witch’s Guide to Pagan Moot Etiquette


(Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash)


I am a bad witch. There are a long list of reasons why I am a bad witch. Having been out of the broom closet for some considerable number of years I would on occasion get asked “but you’re a good witch though?” My response to that depending on the person asking but I found I started to say “yes, a very, very good witch” rather darkly as it usually got the point across.

I can only say in this piece my hexperience in British meetings and moots. I go through phases of being able to “people” and then just not. Some of which is my fragile health and some of which is my witches extreme low tolerance for bullsh*t.

I don’t go much to pagan gigs, camps and massive festivals. Not only can I not get to most of them (thank you British public transport), but my health would greatly suffer. That said I’ve gone to local (and non-local) moots or pagan meet ups around Britain since around 2001.

First off and I know this might sound truly bizarre to many pagans, especially as most are in pubs:

Don’t get drunk.

I’m serious. Mixing with a bunch of people whom you sort of know, most of which practice some craft is reckless and idiotic. You might disclose more than you meant to, might sleep with someone you then have to avoid on a semi-regular basis and look well, like a bit of an ass.

This doubly goes if there is a ritual or talk. You don’t want to be trying to do magick drunk (or for that matter high). Being open and let’s say, expanded, can be great magickal experience, however a public moot is not the place to do so. If you “must” drink, keep it slow and steady and alternate between soft drinks and alcohol.

Do pay attention to those who are hitting it hard and look out for them. You don’t have to go over the top, but make sure they are okay.

Be respectful.

You might be the greatest magick worker whom ever lived, had 50 years practice and studied with so-and-so, don’t you know, but if that means that you think you can’t learn something from the person/people speaking you don’t know anything. Be it a phrase, an idea, a practical something, everyone has something to teach you. Set down your ego for a minute and you might surprise yourself!

Don’t feed the drama.

If someone is being aggressive, or pushy or bitchy, don’t respond in kind. If they are looking for an enemy or fight, don’t give it to them. While women get a bad rap in my experience the men in pagan circles are the worst for this! This is about them, not you. Taking sides, in turns means factions and so on and so on. Many a moot has been destroyed this way! Apparently there is something about me that makes some people want to challenge me, regardless of how quiet or respectful I am. In my youth I fought like a tiger and as I have aged I just walked away. In coming back to moots, I just decided to see it for what it is. Pointless power play. “Yes dear, you are terribly powerful and important, arrange the seats how you like.” Again this means you might try things different ways than you are accustomed and you might even learn something!

This sort of power hoarding is not just pettiness. It speaks to the condition of the person trying to control. Observe them not just as a moot going but as a witch. People needing to play power politics to feel important are usually miserable, afraid and have some serious issues going on.

If you see someone becoming a regular target or see bullying becoming an issue try and defend that person. You can use magick or otherwise, but don’t hit the bully with a chair, however tempting it is.

Don’t sleep around at a moot.

A moot isn’t your local hook-up spot. There is a certain kind of guy who likes to hit on, leer and such to every young (and not so young) female in the room. It’s uncomfortable, it’s disrespectful and it’s gross. Like-wise shagging about in politics power plays (some women do this too) isn’t “magickal” and therefore allowed. It’s manipulation for petty gain and it’s awful. Sure, hook-ups happen, but, not being drunk helps make better judgement calls. This is your community. For want of a better phrase, don’t sh*t where you eat!

If you see, or know a person is a problem watch out for their targets and if it gets really bad speak to the person running the event. If it is the person running the event, go to their higher ups. This Might be Children of Artemis, the Pagan Federation or such like. If an assault happens to you or someone else, report it to the police. Too often these things go unspoken with the victims disappearing and the predator never being brought to justice. The consequences of not speaking out and not speaking up can be awful.

If there is a jar put in some pennies.

Most moots are run by donation, and speakers are often paid for this way too. It might not be a lot, but funding your local moot can really help. It is not usually a lot of money that is required and paying a little here will mean it keeps it alive and you don’t have to travel miles to the next moot.

Moot when you travel.

If you are going to another city, or town for a visit, check to see if there is a moot while you are there. I was visiting London and went to a moot and had a fabulous time! I even became friends with a nice bloke called Mike, who then became the President of the Pagan Federation U.K. It is always good to see how other folks do stuff and it’s a cheap night out!

Moots are about people. They are wonderful, complicated and terrible creatures. Pagans the same as anyone else. Don’t let a bad experience make you a shut in. Try a camp, or a gig, or festival if that is your jam. Try a moot, then try a different one. You are not going to get along with everyone all the time and some moots won’t be your fit either and that’s fine.

Tink About It

February, 2016

Spoon-fed Witchcraft

I have always been interested in witchcraft, spirituality and related stuff. Since my teens I read lots of books, magazines and later on websites. When I wanted to actively start experiencing it, it was quite a struggle. It was hard to find good info and even, how could I know which info was good? There weren’t many books available in my local library about these kinds of subjects. One of the first books I read was ‘Book of Shadows’ by Phyllis Curott. It was a personal account of how the author discovered her path, but could also be used to try out things for yourself. Both sides of the book appealed to me very much. I started to experiment with exercises and experiments she described. And I started to look for people that did the same. That wasn’t easy at all! I knew they had to be there, but I couldn’t really find anyone… Around that time I got internet access and the first word I put into a search engine was ‘heks’ (Dutch for ‘witch’). The second was ‘witch’. Wow… a whole new perspective opened for me! Step by step I got a bit further with my search for information and kindred spirits. It took quite some time and energy, but it was very much worth it. The way towards my goals was equally important as the goal itself. I learned to find my way all by myself by experimenting, making mistakes, improvising, even by bluffing. Trial and error. When I was really stuck I met people that could help me to take the next step. The universe provides! I travelled quite a lot to pub moots, workshops and meetings to find the right people. Yes, I found info and people, but the search keeps on going. The search and the goal are both rewarding. I wouldn’t want to have done it any other way!

Nowadays I come across a lot of seekers on the pagan path that want all the answers straight away and they want it NOW. I try to tell them the above story and give them some pointers to take the next step, as others did for me. But that’s not always appreciated… Unfortunately a lot of people don’t want to invest time and energy to find their own way. So many people already walked the path, so why invent the wheel again? Just tell them the outcome, clearly define the shortest way. I call it ‘spoon-fed witchcraft’ as they want to be handed instant information a.s.a.p.! It is such a pity, they don’t know what they are missing out on. Of course there are teachers that jump in this demand and offer fitting courses. You get all the answers and how-to-do’s ready-made, no need to think for yourself. Follow this course online, pay this amount and become an instant witch! Yes, I’m exaggerating a bit, but not as much as you’d think unfortunately. But hey, everyone does this in their own way, so maybe I’m just old-fashioned or a nagger.

The explanation could be that everything has to be quick and instant nowadays. Everyone is always in a hurry and doesn’t have time for things that take… time. Perhaps the internet is to blame, or the social media? I don’t know and you know what, I don’t really mind. I’m not that interested in blaming anyone but ourselves. Yes, myself too, I’m not holier-than-thou. It’s so much easier to get something ready-made, it can be a bit addictive even! Still, it’s no surprise that a completely different movement is gaining ground: mindfulness, taking things slowly, taking time to think and decide what is good for you…
I’m not against internet and social media, on the contrary. It has brought me a lot too! I’m quite addicted to it to a certain point to be honest. I just use the internet in different ways. Sometimes I want an immediate answer. ‘Damn, where do I know this actor from?’ -> take laptop, phone or tablet, check IMDB and ‘ha, that’s it!’. Sometimes I even need an immediate question in an urgent situation. Man, am I glad to have the internet at hand in those cases! Nevertheless, there’s a risk in using the internet, especially when we are not talking about facts. Because you read something on Facebook, it’s not automatically true! That might be obvious, but also not everything you read on any other website is always true. It’s very healthy and smart to always question things you read and the sources.
Back to witchcraft. All of the above is true there too. Know your sources and don’t believe everything you read. Think for yourself. Absolutely nothing wrong with using the internet, as I said it makes life a lot easier sometimes. When I need something for a ritual or for my altar, the possibilities are endless. This applies to materials, but also to information. When I have an idea for a ritual, I always search for information on how others do it, tips and tricks so to speak. I also ask others personally, look in books, my own notes and diaries, etc. I use all of those as a tool for research and inspiration, but I still write my own rituals. I look into the right time (moon phase for example) and place to do the ritual and shop or search specifically for things I need. Again, I put quite some time and energy into this because it’s worth it to me. Sure, sometimes I do an instant ritual and that’s not necessarily bad or worse, it doesn’t have to be. My point is that some witches want an instant spell, take one from the internet and blindly do exactly what is says. That can be a nice experiment, I did that too in the beginning. Still I always wanted to know the source the thoughts behind the ritual, why some materials or actions are chosen. I never blindly followed or believed something or someone. Okay, that made me a pain in the ass for some teachers, haha! I still needed to find the balance between listening to my elders and teachers of the craft on one side, and questioning things and thinking for myself on the other. That too went by trial and error… and I don’t regret much of it.
Is there a lesson in all of this? That depends on you. Read it as my personal rant (‘cause oh yes, it is!), that’s okay too. Still I invite you to think about it and see if you agree or not. Ponder a bit about it. Do not take my word for it, challenge me the way I challenged others… All I want to say is: take your time, do some research, ask questions, find answers instead of demanding them from others. It’s okay to make mistakes, or better yet: it’s necessary! Witchcraft is a path of experiencing: doing , making mistakes and learning from it. Don’t say: ‘but I don’t know how, I’m just a beginner, you tell me!’. Make an effort and think for yourself. Believe in yourself and your intuition. Go for it and don’t settle for anything less than you deserve. And yes, you can!