I have been reading a lot lately about what it means to be a Witch. This is a topic very close to home and one that I now feel compelled to comment on.
I grew up on a small farm in rural Tennessee. When I was about seven or eight years old my grandmother explained to me that she was a Witch and by heredity so was I. To me, this didn’t seem like a great revelation but it was confusing because the only real concept I had of what a Witch was, was the either scary hags in fairy tales or the over the top witch called “Witch Hazel” from the Bugs Bunny cartoons. But as time went by, my grandmother tutored me in the ways of The Goddess and pretty soon I had a completely new concept of what being a Witch meant. It was someone who nurtured the earth and worshiped the divinely submerged power in nature and life. It was someone who looked to The Goddess with complete, unquestioning love. It was someone who healed wounds and tended broken hearts. It was someone who helped the needy and stood up to the bullies. It was someone who understood the divine gift of magic. It was someone who was filled with kindness, charity and warmth, even at times when others weren’t. Above all else, it was someone who devoted their lives to being a reflection of the Goddess. Someone who made every second of life sacred.
To this day, I live my life in accordance to the above. I will until the day I die. There is no question of why or how. My life is in devotion to my Goddess and I do it freely with all of my heart and soul. I can’t change who I am any more than a tiger can change its stripes. It defines who I am.
Being a Witch is a lifestyle not only and life choice. There are responsibilities, duties and obligations. It is not a life for everyone nor should it be.
When I first started calling myself a Witch, it was something only done it private. Back in the 1970s rural Tennessee had no tolerance for Witches, especially in Baptist country. I remember feeling so weird at school on holidays. I remember how I had to pretend to be someone I wasn’t. I remember being forced to pray and worship something I did not hold sacred. It was a very scary and frustrating time in my life. But the thing I hated most was when people openly called me a Christian. It was brutal and it made me nauseous. I remember crying on the way home, jealous that I couldn’t be who I wanted to be. I prayed to The Goddess that someday I could be open and free with who and what I was. Little did I know, that day was not too far off.
Flash forward to the 1990’s. I was amazed how the Pagan/Wiccan community sort if just came alive. All of a sudden there were thousands of people calling themselves Witches. There were dozens of books at the bookstores on the topic. It appeared as if there was a rebirth of the old ways. I was a happy as I could be. It was nice to be able to say in public that I was a Witch.
But alas, I found that things were not as they seemed. It became obvious after a few years, that all these people who all of a sudden were calling themselves Witches, were not exactly what I had expected. It was a hard time for me. I wanted to help people understand. But it seemed as if there were dozens of theories on what it meant to be a Witch. There were stringent rules and rituals and processes and so on. This was all very different than what I had been taught. There were times when I wondered to myself, how can we all be Witches? There were groups diametrically opposed to each other. Rules, regulations and red tape seemed to more important than the root passion of our spirituality.
Then people started calling me Wiccan or Wicca. I was stunned. I had never in all my life been called that. So I studied up on this whole Wicca thing. It was in no way a reflection of who I was and how I worshiped. And frankly I didn’t like being associated with it at all. For many years I would glare at anyone calling me Wiccan. As the 90’s ended I became aware of the general debate of Witch versus Wiccan.
Now I am not going to debate the merits or academic ramifications of what the words Wicca or Witch means. I have an extensive scholastic background but I don’t feel this issue is something that should be debated that way. But let me say simply this. I am a Witch. I have been my whole life. That is the only label that I will accept. I have no problems with anyone else calling themselves Wiccans or Witches. But I do take issue when people try to label me something I am not. I respect everyone’s right to call themselves what ever they like. I also respect other’s limits and opinions. At the same times I expect others to respect my limits.
The Wiccan/Pagan community does need unity, but in the rush to create an all inclusive sense of unity, some of us have been trampled below. I love Pagans and Wiccans. They are my brothers and sisters. I support our cause but no matter how it’s all wrapped or presented, I am a Witch, above all else. I do not want to be labeled anything other than what I am. It is an insult to me, my family and everything being a Witch stands for. Please respect our choice to be who we are and who we are not.