I wasn't always a witch, I haven't even been a witch for all that long, like millions of others I belonged to one of today's most prominent monotheistic religions, Christianity. I went to a Catholic School for fourteen years (if you count kindergarden), so for pretty much my entire life I have been Catholic, at least in name. But labels are dangerous, they lead to often lead to false assumptions.
|Photo Credit: CeltArts|
For years I questioned Christianity, and the strict teachings of Christian Churches, both Catholic and Protestant. The more I questioned, the angrier I got and the angrier I got the more I questioned. It was an unending cycle and personally, I think thats a good thing. For me the basic principles of love and universal acceptance which the Church taught, never aligned with their practices, which excluded homosexuality, failed to deal with massive sex scandals (like the sex scandals written in a Bishop's Man), which was against contraception and was also, to throw out a feminist word, patriarchal.
(Despite all the things I just said I must assert that I don't oppose Christianity so long as it is used to inspire people to strive to better themselves and the world. It just doesn't align with my beliefs.)
So there I was at a cross-roads, one foot in the contradictory acceptance teachings of Christianity and the other in the great unknown. I stood at this cross-roads for several years not sure where I could even go if I stepped into the great unknown. Then in the early summer of 2013 caught in a bit of a crisis in my life I embarked upon a rather serious soul search.
I have always felt a deep Celtic connection, so naturally my first step into the unknown was directed towards the ancient Celtic belief systems. The first of these that I came across was Druidry. I spent quite a while researching Druidry and found to my amazement, that it did not revolve around human sacrifices, as I had been lead to believe. I mean, I knew that human sacrifice was likely not used by today's Druid's but I nonetheless half expected them to have some satanic basis. However, I discovered that rather than satanic worship, Druidry focussed on reconnecting with nature, personal creativity and the search for knowledge. Needless to say, as someone who felt like they had quite literal roots extending into the Celtic earth I was shocked and more than a little excited.
|Photo credit: Down The Forest Path|
So I read, and read, and read. Everything seemed to click, yet something told me I wasn't finished my spiritual quest just yet. I also wasn't ready to commit to the years of studying it would take to become established as a Bard, Ovate or Druid. Though I decided to continue my spiritual journey and didn't settle upon Druidry my research taught me a few very important things: I believed in nature, and I belonged in a religion rooted in the Celtic tradition. Druidry also introduced me to Wicca.
I think its important to distinguish the difference between Wicca and Witchcraft before I continue. Though at the time I believed Wicca and Witchcraft were interchangeable terms as so many in the Wiccan community consider them to be, they are most certainly not the same thing. I'll write in more depth about the differences between them in the future but for the purpose of this post here is a quick contrast between Wicca and Witchcraft:
|Photo credit: Religion Facts|
-Founded by Gerald Gardner in the 1950's
-Is a religion
-Based on two deities, the Lord and the Lady
-Incorporates specific ritual tools i.e. wand
-Honours the God and Goddess with an Altar
-Operates on a Crede
-Is a practise not a religion
-Does not explicitly worship deities, though a witch may choose to worship a deity(ies)
-Does not use specific tools
-An altar is optional
-No specific Crede, a witch operates based on personal morals
Initially, unaware of the difference between Witchcraft and Wicca I believed myself to be a Wiccan witch, feeling a deep connection to the witchcraft aspect of the religion. But I never really got around to setting up an altar and though I felt that there was a greater energy that was both male and female which looked over the earth, I felt no connection to the Wiccan Lord or Lady.
Despite these internal discrepancies in what I felt about Wicca, I nonetheless continued to practice some of the celebrations and followed the suggestions of many Wiccan books on how to get in tune with nature. But the glove simply didn't fit, so I kept my new knowledge of energies, herbs, and the Wheel of the Year close and let the rest slide into the background for a few months.
Then, I had a path altering conversation with my aunt about two months ago. She told me she had been feeling the exact same way, the disconnect from the altars, the deities, and the Wiccan rituals. She then told me that she had realized her path was traditional witchcraft. After our conversation I did some further research of my own and discovered that non-Wiccan, secular, or traditional witchcraft was where my beliefs lay (basically the second column in my contrast chart above).
So that's me, I'm a traditional witch who doesn't follow Wicca. I connect with the earth and its energies through witchcraft without a religious focus. I'll be going into greater depth about some of the religions and paths I've mentioned above in future posts, so stay tuned!
Feel free to share your own spiritual journey in the comments, I always reply! :)