Making My Path

As it was for many other modern Pagans and witches, I didn’t entirely grow up with the religion and spiritual practices that I now follow. What I did have was the Appalachian folk beliefs of my family. Or, rather perhaps, what remained of them. The superstitions and folk cures passed down to me weren’t much, but I’ve realized that they’re the foundation my spirituality was built upon. They’re the seeds from which it all sprouted for me.

It never occurred to me that other families didn’t always believe in prophetic dreams, spirits, and signs until I was older. As a child, I didn’t think twice about my dad blowing smoke in my ear to cure an earache I had. These things were simply a part of life.

I don’t recall when it was that I realized these things weren’t a part of everyone’s truth, though I obviously did learn so at some point. Was it when somebody had a mocking tone when they talked about spirits and superstitions? Or maybe it was just that I didn’t hear many people talk about such things as openly as my family did amongst each other.

If it weren’t for the family stories of ghosts, dreaming about the future, and out of body experiences; would I have become so interested in the spirit world and spirituality? Sure, I greatly enjoyed popular fantasy on tv and in books. A friend and I once made up ridiculous pretend spells because we were fans of these things. But, that was all fiction. Playing pretend was one thing – belief is entirely another. My belief at the time was part of my heritage.

Despite these firmly rooted beliefs, a large part of my family’s Appalachian religious heritage didn’t stick for me. I left Christianity in search of religion that made me feel more whole, more like I had found home. In a span of a few years, as a teenager, I became a Pagan. I knew it was the right path for me because it was one I was experiencing. Instead of simply hearing some preacher on a pulpit yelling about his (very ignorant) interpretation of the NKJ version of the Bible, I was able to feel a personal connection to the divine. One of my first spiritual experiences was walking home and becoming suddenly aware of the sacred spirits that were around me. The trees, the sky, the earth itself; I realized that they had spirits as much as humans do. I realized that they are divine. I learned that the Earth, herself, is living being.

As time went on and I learned more, experienced more, my interpretation of deity changed. Instead of just one god or goddess, I realized that there are many. Some of Them spoke to me. They visited me in the Dreaming and in meditation, whispered into my waking subconscious, sent me signs. These are deities who feel real to me. They’re not some far off being watching from above, who I could never hope to know.

(All of this is not to say that those who don’t experience religion in the ways that I have are wrong. I would imagine that anyone who feels a connection to a religion will find meaning in it one way or another.)

It is likely that many of my recent ancestors may not be happy with my choice to worship the old gods. There are many things about me that they likely aren’t thrilled about, to be fair. That is, of course, assuming that the ancestors don’t learn and grow in whatever afterlife they are in. It’s entirely possible that those who would have been disapproving in life are more supportive in death.

Many Pagan traditions have a strong focus on ancestral veneration. Norse Heathenry, one of my strongest influences, is very much one of them. So, too, is the importance of family history for many Appalachians. It was never outright said, but rather implied throughout my life, that knowing where we come from and who came before us is important. That’s why pieces of family history have been passed down for so long. Though my ancestors and I are very different people, many whom I would not want to associate with in life, many whose lived experiences would be very different from mine even if we had lived in the same time period; they are important to me. Whatever they were like during their lives, there is something I can learn from them (even if it’s only a recognition of where toxic family traits and traumas came from).

I digress. Whatever my ancestors think of my religion is on them. My experiences with the gods Whom I have connected with has been wonderful. Yes, even in times when They needed to teach me difficult lessons. Even, too, in times when They feel distant, when I long to feel close to Them again.

My relationships with Them have also changed over the years. Since I came to a polytheist worldview, the gods I worship have been teachers, parental figures, friends, lovers, and more. My view of divinity has shifted from being the Unknowable, to one shaped by the personal connections which I have made with a very few of the innumerable number of gods in existence.

Sharing spiritual connections with humans is important, too. I realized this at some point after a number of years spent as a mostly solitary Pagan. Some of that connection was found online, in groups where people shared many of my beliefs. It took some time, but I found an online Rökkatru group where the members feel like a long distance family. Knowing that there are people out there who share a common belief in these gods, who find inspiration in the mythologies, and who care for one another, is comforting.

It wasn’t until shortly after moved to the city that I sought out local religious community. I found that first in the Unitarian Universalist Congregation, where I began meeting with the Pagan group for a while before also joining the rest of the congregation for Sunday services when I was able. My connection with this group of humans is more centered around community and secular humanism. Though it is not deity-centered, it is still spiritual.

This all leads me to where I am now. My path is a blend of Appalachian folk belief, Norse and Irish polytheist Paganism, and Unitarian Universalism. My path is also deeply influenced by animism, pantheism, herbalism, intuition, and an appreciation of science. Each person will have a different story, different experiences and influences that define their spiritual and religious beliefs and practices. We all have to find our own paths, in our own ways.

When I was just starting out, I never imagined the course that my spiritual path would take. I think that it will continue to grow throughout my life. Perhaps I will come to believe things, as I have in the past, that I never considered a possibility. Or maybe, I will be drawn to revisit a practice that I have long since neglected. Whatever route it takes me, I know that it will continue to enrich my life.



When I was a teenager, I had a friend who introduced me to the idea of vampires and werewolves as a real thing. I can’t say now whether they were involved in some RPG or LARP (role playing game, live action role play), if they were pulling my leg, or if they were actually serious in some sense. It never occured to me to ask. Whatever the intentions were, it fueled my imagination and gave me incentive to look these seemingly impossible things up.

Because of my family’s background, I knew already about what my relatives called “feelings” and “that stuff” in hushed tones. Premonitions, prophetic dreams, spirits, superstitions… these were already a part of my normal, to a point. My mawmaw was rumored to be a witch, which I didn’t get a chance to confirm directly with her until much later. It wasn’t much of a stretch for me to wonder what other possibilites were out there.
Wicca, Paganism, and other alternative forms of spirituality didn’t truly hit my radar until that same friend also introduced me to Wicca. Around that time, she had let me borrow another friend’s Book of Shadows. I copied down the information, which is now easily found on various websites and blogs online. I didn’t have access to the internet from home at first, but I used the school’s computers in the library to do my own research until my family got our hand me down desktop connected to the internet.
It was as if I had fallen down a rabbit hole. I learned of an entire world that I didn’t know existed. And, sure, it wasn’t anything like the fantasy books I’d read or tv shows I enjoyed watching. But, it was real! And that was what mattered.

Even for most Wiccans and Pagans, who tend to be more open to many things, werewolves and vampires are pretend. The laws of physics do not allow for human beings to rise from the dead and sustain themselves on blood, or to shapeshift into other creatures. Yet, despite these versions of the creatures being pure fantasy, I had learned in my teenage years that there are humans who identify as such. Instead of supernatural creatures, these are just regular people who have less common beliefs or practices. They are most often part of the therian and otherkin community – those who believe that their spirits and/or mental states are that of a nonhuman animal or being. (The vampire community also has members who don’t identify as otherkin, but simply as humans who have an obsession with blood.)

Today, we have many people still finding their spirituality and identities in similar ways. The Lokean community is one example that comes to the forefront of my mind. There has been much discussion about those who find the Norse gods via Marvel. It can cause confusion. Either they find a connection to the gods, or they remain stuck on their fandom’s watered down version. Some find that it’s not truly the gods they’re looking for, but an outlet for their imaginations. Truly, spirituality of any kind is an outlet to our collective imaginations. That I believe in real, individual gods does not mean that they don’t fuel my imagination as much as fantasy does. It does mean that I feel that they’re owed more respect and reverence, however. That I believe in the spirit worlds doesn’t mean that it doesn’t take imagination to accept what I view as truth.

The Unitarian Universalist church also incorporates imagination. From story time for all ages to sermons on how we can better the world, imagination is an integral part of their services. It is true that many UU’s aren’t quite as open to the possibilities that many Pagans and witches tend to be, but they certainly often have the imagination to find acceptance in that we each have our own spiritual paths to follow. That is enough. As humans, whatever our faith, we need imagination to flourish. Imagination empowers us to not only dream of the impossible, but to have hope for a better world and to create new possibilities.

Right now, in these difficult times, we humans are needing imagination more than ever. We need hope that we’ll come out of this pandemic okay. We need hope that we can create a better world once this has passed. We need art of all kinds to hold us through, and people from all walks of life to imagine “what if?” that we may be ready to accept the possibilities our futures may bring.

Mentally Mystic

Across the web, it is possible to read accounts from those who practice the more mystical arts: what most would dismiss as pure fantasy or mental illness. It is easy to think of the world as being purely physical with only the laws of science to govern it. What can be difficult, is believing in a separate plane of existence that we may refer to as the spiritual realm.
From what I’ve gathered, both from personal experience and conversations with others, is that the mystical practices are often deeply personal. Due to that, and combined with the taboo of admitting to these experiences, there are an uncounted number of people who choose not to discuss what they feel are their truths. And who can blame them? After all, it is not within scientific reason to believe that our spirits may travel elsewhere or that we can communicate with spiritual beings. It also does not always affect our physical lives to any substantial degree. Why mention something like that?

There has been the idea widely shared within the pagan communities that there is a thin line between spirituality and mental illness. It is suggested that what we think of as mental illness are only symptoms of spiritual skills. What those struggling need is the correct cultural context to properly manage their symptoms. This idea seems on the surface to conflict greatly with a previous post I wrote concerning the importance of modern medicine, so allow me to clarify my stance: The question of mental illness vs spirituality is a personal one that should be addressed by the individual and their chosen professionals. I include both scientific professionals such as general doctors and psychologists, as well as spiritual professionals such as trained clergy and spirit workers.

I will admit to being one of those believers in the mystical experience. I have visited Faery, travelled to the land of the dead, astral projected myself into the middle of an ocean, and spoken with my gods. Some things have happened that are too personal to share with most. None of these things happened within the physical world. Whether it be via crossing over through Dream, meditation, or having an awareness both here and there at the same time; I recognize that it is not reasonable or otherwise possible to prove via scientific means. I verify my information via divination and third parties (people who are not told the situation, but who hold similar spiritual beliefs). The scientific mind may say my verification is coincidence, and that is fine. It is not on any one of us to prove that what we experience is real, or to believe what others have experienced.

I have also been open about struggling with my mental health. I have to discern whether what I’m experiencing may actually be a symptom of my depression or anxiety. Possibly bipolar disorder, if one therapist’s suggestion is correct. I have even wondered if, like my late father, it could be an undiagnosed case of schizo-affective disorder. This is part of the reason why I often struggle to accept the spiritual world as it is. Everything in me can tell me that I already know, but things aren’t always as they seem. I do have to recognize the possibility that my experiences are a psychological manifestation of some sort. If that is the case, does it truly matter? They still feel real. They still enrich my life in ways that nothing else has, without taking away from the good in my physical life. My experiences have taught me lessons that transferred into my physical life and gave me the skills that I need to be better.
They have even helped me to stop the self-harm that I used to do! Thank Loki, literally.

Perhaps it is true that everything “mystical” is mental illness, but that there is a grey area. Mystical is spiritual. It is up to the individual on how they handle it and, yes, it depends on the level of struggle they may have and whether it may lead to harm. I will always advocate for those with possible mental health issues to seek professional medical help first and foremost. I will also always support spirituality, even as weird as it can get, even if I personally think someone is full of shit. If it helps you in any way and does not cause harm, you do you.

See also: When Your Woo Gets Weird

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Stereotype and Truth

There is a line between stereotypes and truth. Whether that line is miles wide or thin depends on any given individual and partially on why the stereotype exists in the first place.(Was it based on someone’s interaction with someone in the group, or maliciously created as a way to discredit the group?) Regardless of the why, I like to think that most of us realize that stereotypes can be harmful. However, judgments based on stereotypes can go multiple ways. Where someone may not be judged for being X or liking Y, they might be judged if they happen to be X AND like Y. How does that make sense?

To avoid speaking for others, I will use my own (less harmful) examples. I am a Pagan and witch who loves gothic fashion. However, despite my wearing mostly all-black clothing, people might not notice it at first. Not that I’m necessarily complaining. There’s an idea that “goths who are Pagan or witches aren’t serious about the practice. They’re just doing it for the aesthetic!” While undoubtedly true about some, it can cause harm within a community. Someone who isn’t taken seriously because of the way they like to dress might end up abandoning the very community they sought out. Why should one person have to feel the need to prove their worth more based purely on chosen appearance? Not all of our interests, opinions, likes, so on and so forth, are related to each other. The more people acknowledge that, the easier they might see that 2 + 3 does not always equal fish.

As Pagans, we deal with enough stereotypes that we should know better than to throw each other under the bus. We also know that image can make or break a community. I get it. The rest of the world is going to make the same judgements. They’re going to think we’re “dirty hippies” or “Satanic goths” if they see a pagan or witch who looks like they fit that label. The urge to appear “safe” and “normal” is strong. Nevermind the fact that neither gothic fashion nor Paganism or witchcraft equates “devil worshipper”. It’s always on us to prove that we’re not “that person”. It’s on us to divert the negativity toward someone else, right? We show the world one weird and that one is the allowed limit. Lest we fit the stereotypes.

It goes beyond appearance, as well. A well-spoken blogger here on WordPress recently wrote about the stereotypes concerning Lokeans. We’re all seen as Marvel fans, godspouses, and mischief makers. I mean, some fall into any one or more of those categories. That doesn’t mean that it’s always related to their being Lokean. We’re real humans, not cartoons for gods’ sakes. There is nothing inherently wrong with being Lokean, being a fan of Marvel, or being a godspouse. But, because people as a whole are too stupid to see that 2+3 does not always equal fish, the entire community gets the stamp to discredit us and division within the community happens.

Yes, some people fit stereotypes to an extent. That doesn’t make them less serious about X interest or wrong. A person can be a Pagan witch and Lokean who is a godspouse, likes Marvel, dresses goth, practices witchcraft, survives with depression, has tattoos and scars, is bisexual, slightly into BDSM, fits a number of stereotypes based on what others choose to focus on… and still be as normal as anyone else. Yes, it’s all weird. Everybody is weird, okay? Many stereotypes have some truth somewhere and there is nothing wrong with being human. We need to remember not to make shallow judgments based on these stereotypes. Get to know someone before claiming to know who they are.

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It Runs in the Family

In the witchcraft community, it’s not surprising to run across those who claim “witch blood”. Sometimes, it’s spoken of with an air of authority, as if a lineage of witchcraft makes them better than those “newbies”. I know that talents or abilities can run in families. We also see this quite a lot in the mundane world. However, when someone uses their family history as a way to make themselves seem to be better at or more worthy of something, that becomes a problem. It is ridiculous to assume that a family lineage means someone is destined to be a greater witch than anyone else.
At the same time, it is also irritating when the idea that abilities can run in families is treated as false or that a person must be lying when they say their grandma practices witchcraft. Yes, people lie. This happens with many things. That doesn’t mean that everyone is.

As mentioned in the past, I am one of those who have a family history involving magic and spiritual ability. Most of my family don’t consider themselves witches. Although, a few have shown interest in witchcraft, and I know least a couple woman relatives who have identified as witches while practicing a magical tradition.
The more common things I’ve heard from aunts and my mom, is that women in my family get “Feelings”. Knowing things that we have no reason to know just runs in the family. Both sides. Sometimes it comes through a in a dream, sometimes it’s a sense that we have while awake. People in my family, women and men, have talked about paranormal experiences involving ghosts, out of body experiences, and having visits from other spiritual beings. I believe most of it, at least partially because I’ve also had my own experiences with these things.

Despite this history, there are witches who have far greater skills and knowledge than I do without having a family history that they know of. How does that happen? Well, all things take practice and research. Someone whose family has taught them to enhance their skills may have an easier go at it, but they still have to keep working. Likewise, someone may have a natural skill (whether or not it runs in their family) and still not have been taught how to utilize or strengthen it. This latter example is seen in my own family – we know about it, but it was mostly a “hush-hush” thing.
So-called “witch blood” is no guarantee of greater skill. All witches start somewhere. Some people are just better at putting in the practice and doing the necessary research, regardless of their history.


I believe in godphone. In my experience, it is far from perfect. Some people have better use of it, better discernment, a stronger sense of “hearing”. Some people need quite a lot more practice. It can be difficult to learn to utilize. Hel, it can even be difficult to accept as a legitimate thing.

Let’s define “godphone” real quick. Definitions may vary from person to person. You may refer to those with this skill as an oracle, medium, one who “channels” the gods, or another title. When I say that the gods sometimes talk to me, I am not referring to hearing a physical voice. It’s more akin to an invasive thought, or a feeling with purpose. Sometimes it can be accompanied by images in my mind’s eye or signs that I noticed in the physical world. My godphone isn’t “turned on” all the time. When I do receive messages in this way, I often struggle with discernment. Is it my imagination/ inner thoughts, or is it really this deity? Sometimes, I come to the conclusion that it doesn’t REALLY matter. Sometimes I find use in the message regardless of where it came from. There are other times when I find it more pertinent to verify whether it really was my deity. In these cases, I will turn to my trusty pendulum or the tarot. In cases of more importance or difficulty discerning, I have also turned to a third party who has no context to divine for me. Obviously, if somebody doesn’t believe in all of this, none of those methods would be effective for their peace of mind.

I am hesitant in some circles to discuss this topic. There is a fear that I may be labelled as “crazy”. Close-minded people have done so before, for lesser things, after all. What I find imperative to point out is that the use of discernment is an important tool.

If the “deity” is backing up negative thoughts that I may be feeling or suggesting harm, that’s not a deity. In my belief, it could be a harmful spirit or it could be a symptom of my depression or anxiety rearing it’s head. In either case, I don’t think it matters as long as I recognize that it is not healthy and I take steps that allow me to seek a healthy frame of mind. Such steps could be spiritual in nature, medical, or (preferably) a blend of both. If one struggles with mental health issues, it is imperative to recognize the signs of them and use that in discerning.

Deities also tend not to agree with us just for the sake of making us feel good. Oh, they can be sarcastic. They can also be assholes. They will teach us lessons and remind us to do things that we may not want, but need, to do. The gods are not all so soft and cuddly that you will always like what they have to say. This is the other side of the coin with using godphone. What one “hears” should not be harmful, but it should not act simply as an echo chamber for what one already thinks, fears, or wishes.

When I think of godphone and what it means, I also remember that not all have this skill or are fully comfortable with it. While one may use this skill to assist others in their relationships with the gods, I feel that consent is heavily important. Giving a simple suggestion that someone needs to communicate with deity would be more polite than “hey, Loki/Artemis/Anubis wants you to do this on this day”. This follows along the same line as my feelings involving the clair-skills. You can read that post here.
On the other hand, we should not assume that somebody with the skill will always be able or willing to use it to assist others. If they say they’re open to assist, great! Otherwise, ask politely for the love of the gods, and be sure to accept it when someone says “no”.
In addition, we should also be wary of those who may use this skill (or pretend to do so) as a way to manipulate others. Taking things with a grain of salt and using discernment is an important skill to have even if you’re not the one with a godphone.

Why Can’t We Be Friends?

Many of us went through a phase wherein we were angry toward Christians and we believed certain historical inaccuracies were fact. The latter can include taking things out of context. The former can result in having a hateful attitude toward people just because they identify as Christian. Being part of a minority religion or spirituality is tough. History is filled with atrocities. These are facts. These are also affected by one another. However, I urge Pagans and witches to take a moment to breathe and take a closer look before going down the path of righteous anger. Being disrespectful toward others who may mean well and who may even be willing to learn does no good.

I don’t write this to convince anyone to “turn the other cheek”. I am one who believes in standing up for oneself and speaking truth. “Harm none, unless they fuck with me and those I care for” is my preferred rule. I am also one who, admittedly, still struggles with a mistrust of Christians I don’t know well. So, why would I want my fellow Pagans and witches to be kind to Christians? After all, there are still cases of people who lose jobs and lose custody of their children for being Pagan or practicing witchcraft. We are ridiculed, harassed and have even been killed for not being Christian. In the United States, such discrimination is illegal and the worst of it appears to be less common. But it does happen. On top of that, Pagan traditions were stolen and co-opted for Christian holidays. Actually, that last “fact” isn’t quite so black and white. While many were forced into Christianity, there is such a thing as syncretism and that did play a huge role in many modern traditions.
Yes, we do have a right to be angry sometimes. When injustices happen, we have every right to scream and curse and demand justice. When the truth is hidden, we have every right to reveal it. That does not mean being disrespectful to someone based only on their religion.

This can also extend to other groups within the Pagan community. Some of us are looked down upon for honoring certain deities. Lokeans are getting shit on by other Heathens and Pagans because of misconceptions about, not only us, but our god! As if we don’t get enough misunderstanding and ridicule from people outside the Pagan community.

My point is, as the title says: Why can’t we be friends? No. Not even that, to be honest. Why can’t we at least be respectful? Stand up for yourself and others when needed, speak the truth. That’s what the Lokean community is doing right now in light of a recent article that painted us and Loki in a bad light. But, treat others how you’d like to be treated and be willing to give individuals a chance if they haven’t already fucked up.

To take this a step further, I want to include the importance of community. Most of those I notice who hold such resentment are either newer Pagans or they aren’t part of a community. Even being a lurker within the online communities (locally-based and otherwise) can help one feel less alone and help to educate them.
At some point, we eventually learn that many (if not all) of the “witches” killed during the “Burning Times” were actually Christians, our traditions were blended by the very ancestors to whom they originally belonged, and there is only pain if we allow ourselves to stagnate with hatred. Following discussions from within the Pagan community can help to clear up many of the misconceptions that new Pagans may have, as well as point all of us in the directions of what we need to fight for.

People Don’t Always Want To Know

I recently saw a quote accredited to Terry Pratchet: “Ordinary fortune-tellers tell you what you want to happen; witches tell you what’s going to happen whether you like it or not. Strangely, witches tend to be more accurate but less popular.”
It is said that the women in my family have “Feelings”; we just happen to know things sometimes without any good explanation and we sometimes dream of things to come. I believe this is fact, based on my own experiences with clairvoyance and prophetic dreams. Most of the women in my family would never call herself a witch. It’s a mostly Christian family, with a smattering of us who are either non-religious or (in my case, at least) pagan. In any case, I feel the quote applies well regardless of the label used.
There are people who say they believe in psychics, but they’re only interested when they seek them out and often only if it’s something they want to hear. If you’re somebody who has a Gift for Knowing, you may feel it your duty at times to speak up when something might go wrong. At the same time, it’s looked down upon and can come across as rude. People usually, understandably, don’t appreciate unwanted advice. And, nobody wants bad news or even to unexpectedly get their hopes up for something that may not have cemented into reality just yet. We have to be careful with how or when we tell someone something that’s not based on hard evidence.

Here I will share a few personal examples:

1. A young woman very close to me was getting ready to move out of state with her boyfriend. The only thing she had told me at that point is that she was pregnant. Meanwhile, I had a dream with strong symbolism telling me that she would suffer a difficult betrayal after making a life-changing decision. Sort of a “bitten by someone you trust” sort of deal. This was one of those dreams that you immediately know isn’t just a run of the mill dream. Because she was so important to me and she knew about our family’s Gifts, I made the decision to tell her about the dream. That same day, she told me of her plans and I figured out more specifically what the warning was about. I gave her my thoughts on her decision, but informed her that I will support whatever decision she made. She followed through and the future I predicted came to be. She was returned home with her baby and was out in a less than easy living situation. Thankfully, the trouble passed as they do and things got better for her.

2. My family had 3 cats, one of which was newly adopted, but all were healthy and kept indoors. One day, I had a sudden realization that one of the cats was going to die within a few months. The feeling was so strong that it terrified me. I know the intrusive thoughts that anxiety can bring don’t have the same feeling of certainty, yet I convinced myself that’s all it was. Surely enough, within a short time, one of our cats began to get sick. She was the one my husband was most attached to. I didn’t have the heart to tell him what I already knew and I stayed in a state of denial. Within a few short months, she was too sick to go on and passed away. If I had told my husband, would it have caused him more pain or would it have allowed him a chance to prepare? I don’t know. When death is involved, I’m personally not comfortable with being the one to give a heads up.

3. There have been multiple times that I knew something was “off” about somebody, that their intentions weren’t in the best interest of others. The people surrounding them are often taken up in a spell, convinced that this person is a good friend or partner. Most of the time, I decide it’s none of my business. Without proof or a strong sense of urgency, I avoid meddling. Usually, these people find out the hard way. In one instance, I did warn somebody near and dear to me to be careful about some friendships they were building. Everything seemed innocent on the surface, but there was a nagging feeling that the new friends’ intentions weren’t so. It finally came out that the person I cared for had to cut ties after finding out their “friends” were trying to manipulate them into causing irreparable damage to their other relationships. This person was hurt deeply by the betrayal of trust. The warning was not taken seriously, but sometimes people do have to learn things on their own.

What I have learned from these experiences is this: Knowing things ahead of time doesn’t always spare the pain. People have to learn things on their own and experience troubles themselves. If you tell somebody something they don’t want to hear, you risk causing damage to your relationship with them and causing them unnecessary pain. It has left me wondering what the point in knowing is. Still, we do what we can with what we have.
As always, use common sense and respect for others in your interactions. My advice is to only discuss your predictions with people who you know are okay with it. Not sure? Ask them! It can be as simple as, “Hi. I had a dream/ feeling that something is going to happen in your life. Can I discuss that with you?” If they say no, that’s their decision and it should be respected. Knowing the future does not make you responsible for it.

6 Things I Want You To Know

As a Heathen pagan and witch, I know that the majority of people around me are only marginally familiar with paganism or witchcraft. Many of these people don’t even know what “Pagan” is and they think of pop-culture witches or the devil when somebody mentions witchcraft. Let’s think of this as part “About Me”, part “Things About X”. Obviously, I am only one person. I know that I can not speak for other pagans or witches. If you know how many various traditions/ religions/ spiritual paths there are within the wider Pagan and witchcraft umbrellas, you will surely understand.

1. Why I Am Pagan
Like many others, I grew up in a Christian family. We were mainly non-denominational, but it included Bible studies in my earlier childhood and going to church. Many Christians have spoken of finding their G-d, Jesus, or a church as being like finding home or like filling a hole in their life. I never found that in the church or in prayer. Praying for salvation, whether at home or at the altar, left me with a sense of something missing. It’s a bit of a shock when you see most everyone else crying tears of joy while you feel absolutely nothing. I even went through a phase as a young teenager where-in I read the Bible, prayed every night, and tried as hard as I could to be a “good Christian”. It didn’t work.
That contrasted greatly with the experiences I have had since I started learning about Paganism. It started with a friend telling me about Wicca, which led to nature-based religion, which led to finding my sense of home. Yes, my path has changed as I’ve grown older. While I once identified as Christo-Pagan, I transitioned to eclectic-Paganism, explored Celtic polytheism, and am now Heathen (Norse paganism). This sense of belonging, of feeling that I can question things and grow within my path, are really just the beginning of why I am pagan.

2. Don’t Call Me A Wiccan
You’ve heard that old saying “All Wiccans are witches, but not all witches are Wiccan”, yes? There are still people who assume that Witchcraft = Wicca. It doesn’t. Wicca is traditionally an initiatory religion that believes in a God and Goddess. Granted, many Wiccans are now eclectic and/or practice non-initiatory traditions of Wicca. Religions/ spiritual paths adapt with people, things change. Witchcraft, on the other hand, includes many both Wiccan and non-Wiccan traditions. Appalachian Granny Magic, Hoodoo/ Voodoo, and Seidr are only a few traditions that people who identify as witches may practice.
I am a witch, but I am not Wiccan. It’s not so much offensive to me that people confuse the two, as it is just confusing. It can open up doors to people making incorrect assumptions. Take the Wiccan Rede as an example: “An it harm none, do what you will”. I believe strongly in the right to self-defense and justice in magic, even if that means cursing. Sometimes people, even within the witchcraft and paganism communities, can forget that not everybody follows the same traditions (and therefore the same “rules”) that they do.

3. It Has Nothing To Do With Satan
You’ve read this far, you already saw the mention that I am not Christian. Satan/ Lucifer/ the Devil is a part of Christian mythology. (No disrespect meant – I call the lore that I believe in “mythology”, as well.) I do not believe in this being. Are there pagans and witches who do? You bet! Some are Christian or Christo-Pagan, others believe that ALL mythology is true, there are even Satanist/ Luciferians who believe in Satan/ Lucifer*. This is not true of most pagans or witches. As much as I loved The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, it’s not representative of our various beliefs. As witches, we believe in many things. Some of us believe in gods from a specific pantheon, nature spirits, and the ancestors. Some believe in nature and the inherent power within themselves. Some believe that their power derives from the Abrahamic G-d.
*It is important to add that Satanists as a general rule tend to be atheists of a sort and don’t have anything to do with literally worshipping the devil. In addition, those who do generally have moral standards that line up well with our society’s general views of right and wrong.

4. Heathenry Is Not For White Supremacists
You hear that, Neo-Nazi scum? Our gods do not belong to you! Actually, I really am saying this for everyone who may have that misconception. By “Heathenry”, I do include Asatru as an example, which has gotten a bit of a bad rep within the pagan community. Our gods are disabled, mixed-race, queer, among many other things. I already wrote a post about this topic, so I’m not going to get too deep into it now. Just felt it important to reiterate: Heathenry belongs to everyone, regardless of ancestry, sexuality, gender, political views, or physical ability. You can find some amazingly diverse Heathens if you look in the right places. If you’re interested in Heathenry, but are afraid that you won’t belong because you don’t fit the “right demographic”, please know that you do belong and many of us will welcome you with open arms.

5. Loki Is Not The Heathen Satan
Really, for gods’ sakes. Loki is not some Scandinavian Devil-figure. He is a Trickster-figure, yes. He is complicated, absolutely! But, he is not some embodiment of evil! Even among the Heathen community, there are those who have this huge misconception of him. People think that having “monstrous” children and bringing about Ragnarok is so horrible. Okay, put that way… I know how it sounds. However, I believe that many Heathens are still looking through a Christianized lense that requires a point blank bad guy. Even the Eddas were written down by Christians after years of oral storytelling – it happens. It is worthwhile to remember that the other gods have done some problematic things, as well. Not only that, but one can find a connection to humanity and purpose in what we know of the gods. This includes Loki.
Loki cut Sif’s hair, but he took responsibility and tried to make it right. This resulted in his bringing back gifts that included, not only magical-growing hair made out of gold for her, but Mjolnir! He aided in ensuring that the wall around Asgard would be quickly built. Yes, even through trickery. This is how he gets shit done. Loki may not always have the best interests of others in mind as far as we can tell, but he plays a critical part in the mythology. In addition to this, need I remind anyone of Lokka Tattur? This is the Faorese ballad in which a peasant lost a bet with a giant, and asks the gods for assistance to save his son. It is Loki that succeeds in saving the peasant’s son and defeating the giant. Loki isn’t all that bad.

6. Give Me A Break With The Positivity Nonsense
All over the web, they lurk: the “love and light” New Agers. This is often prevalent within the witchcraft and paganism communities. They’ll tell you that if you think positive thoughts, good things will happen. Bad things happen because you’re not positive enough. Blah, blah, blah. I’m not saying that the idea of positivity itself is trash, but there is a point where it becomes toxic. Without going too far into detail on the negative impacts of positivity culture, I do want to clear something up: You don’t have to believe in it to be a pagan or witch! If you do take this to extremes, many people will call you a “fluffy bunny” and not take you seriously. The opposite end of the spectrum is true, as well. You don’t have to be all dark and broody to be a pagan or witch. Just be yourself! Some people are naturally more positive, others lean more toward the dark, but most of us are somewhere within the grey. That’s perfectly okay!

Socializing as a Pagan/ Witch

Living in a very Christianized society, it can be exciting to find out that somebody else in one’s area is some flavor of witch and/or Pagan. Even when they don’t identify as such, finding out that this person is even interested in some of the same things is pretty exciting. Depending on how introverted/ extroverted you are, your personal belief system, et cetera; it can also be a bit difficult.

Some of us love talking about witchcraft and our pagan beliefs or experiences all day long if we find somebody who would let us. Others prefer to keep such things private. Maybe they’re still in the broom closet and you risk outing them to friends and family if you approach them in public. Or, they simply feel that it’s a private matter not to be discussed. Maybe they don’t even identify as a witch or pagan at all – they just happen to have similar beliefs or practices, or they like the symbols. We have to be careful with how we approach others – if we do at all.

I’m not good at socializing. Like many others, I am closer to the introvert/ awkward side of things. It doesn’t mean that I don’t want to talk to people, or even that I won’t talk a person’s ear off. Gods help you if you get me started on a topic that I’m interested in. It’s just that I still haven’t quite figured out how to comfortably approach people. When the complexity of religious/ spiritual matters come into play, it’s even scarier. What if this person is just a Supernatural fan? What if this person is a Christian witch or Wiccan who won’t relate to my polytheist worldview? What if they don’t believe in “woo” the way that I do? The list of “what ifs” go on and on and on. See what I mean? It’s difficult.

Okay, so it may just be that I overcomplicate things. As long as we don’t make assumptions, everything should be fine. Or at least as fine as any interactions with people we don’t yet know can be. We can start out with simple questions or compliments. “Hey, I like your necklace”, “I noticed you were at the event last Saturday”, or even “I noticed that post you shared on Facebook” (might still want to be careful with those last two, though). Any time we meet somebody and want to establish communication, we have to feel it out and allow the conversation to go at a pace that you both are comfortable with.

If you meet someone who wants to discuss their spiritual path with you, awesome. Remember, it can take a varying amount of time for either party. It’s still good to remember that you’re both people with other interests and lives outside of paganism/ witchcraft, and that the other person may or may not want to share that with you.
So what if you both have wildly different practices or belief systems? Remember, paganism is a huge umbrella of various paths. Witchcraft is the same way. You can still have respectful discussions and learn from each other. It all goes back to the tip about not making assumptions, with the added rule most of us prefer our Christian loved ones to follow: “Don’t shove your beliefs down my throat”.