How to Make a Witch II
Finding my Own Path- Find Part I here.
Before we get back to my baby potato witchery, let’s talk about a couple of things folks have asked me.
1.) Why not Voodoo or other diaspora spirituality?
Frankly, I had no resources. I didn’t have any Baba’s or Mambo’s or even Aunties to guide me in that way. I also inherently did not trust any of the materials I did have access to were written by White folks “observing” and I found most of it racist as fuck. I was also worried about appropriating because I wasn’t sure about my right to diasporic religion. More about that another time.
2.) OMG Y DIDN’T UR FAM TAKE U TO CHURCH?
Actually they did. Folks in my extended family mainly. Their chuches didn’t feel sacred to me. From tent revivals, folks speaking in tongues, a few megachurches etc. I didn’t feel God. Not those versions of God. Also, yes I’ve read the bible several times in my life and that too, left me wanting.
3.) LOL U BELIEVE STUFF…
Yeah I do. If you don’t awesome. Do you. I do me. We be good.
Now let’s get started.
As I mentioned in the last edition, I met a LaVeyan Satanist who exposed me to a larger world of magicky things. He gave me a copy of The Satanic Bible and a few other books relating to Satanism, the Tarot and a few other goodies. What I remember most was a question he asked me about my practice.
The question came about after I’d gone to a little Samhain event and walked away feeling not good. The Coven I celebrated with had appropriated the shiny bits of the Day of the Dead, images of Baron Samedi alongside the Harvest type imagery. The ceremony left me adrift. The appropriation was supposed to be an appreciation of other cultures but, like most “appreciations” felt gross and out of place. I remember being at the bon fire and sitting by myself off to one side, nothing about the gathering felt sacred or welcoming.
The question of why was I exposing myself to these things kept coming up.
I decided to retire from the coven and from wicca and figure out my own path. My interests were mainly, divination for myself (via Tarot), herbology, kitchen witchery aka being a hedge witch, the dead, my ancestors both blood and spiritual and some deity type folks to talk to. My goals were to have ways of touching what I feel to be divine and sacred.
What I started to do was split my research into areas. Herbology, plant medicine, ethnobotany took up a good chunk of my time. A lot of what I read was very problematic but insightful. I read about the history and practice of using hallucinogens in religion, also deeply problematic. And yet, I did learn a whole bunch and did some experimenting of my own. I spent a lot of time making myself teas, tinctures and bath products during this time as well. I even took some time to learn to forage for some stuff. It was not bad.
I also spent a good amount of time reading more about Satanism, I was drawn by the central tenants of LaVeyan Satanism, they appealed to my personal sense of ethics however, it wasn’t quite what I needed. I also spent a lot of time picking up a hobby from childhood and studying various rituals, beliefs and other information about the dead. From forensic sciences, to burial techniques, mortuary arts, wakes, funerals and other ways of saying goodbye to the physical form.
Alongside my study, I spent a lot of time journaling. This is where I began to learn to trust my gut and listen to what my spirit and my other spirits had to say. I documented random little things that felt spiritual, dreams, tarot readings I gave myself. One of the things missing in my years of Wicca was, the actual feeling of connection. I did not connect to most of the gods my peers were.
My base of practice started to firm itself up. Dreamwork for me became something I’ve practiced even when I wasn’t actively practicing magic. In my methodology, dreamwork is where I spend the most time talking with my personal deities. Or as an atheist pointed out to me in rather snide fashion, my subconscious. Look, it’s fine. Do you, I do me.
Odin figured heavily in these dreams as did who I would realize later was the Baron Samedi. This led to something that I call serendipitous in my life. I didn’t know the Baron. Had no idea why he was in my dreams but I generally got his messages. Later on, I was looking through a book on Haitian Vodou at random and BOO there he was.
I’ve noticed that when I really need information, or am wanting to figure out what something means the information finds me in some way. With the Baron, I was browsing a book while waiting for my girlfriend to get off work at the bookstore. I was led to the Poetic Eddas by someone random I used to email correspond with who was just like, hey I think you’d be into this. I’ve found myself drawn to random books, searches and people who have often fulfilled informational needs I most of the time didn’t know I had.
At that point in my witchery I was learning to rely on and trust my needs and intuition. This was all going fairly well, the decision to divest from beliefs that neither called to nor satisfied me was a good one. At that point, I started losing other magical folk friend types. There were often chastisements about my dabbling in darkness.
I didn’t have the language to connect it to Anti Blackness, I did have the language to tell them to mind their own shit. Most of the admonitions about my budding practice involved my love of and feelings for the dead, including not my own dead. The playing with illicit substances as part of my rituals. My want for sacred body modification that did not fit with the trend of urban primitives and quasi-Eastern “religious” practices.
My path as I was making it got hard. I was lonely. Outside of my Satanist friend, I had few other people to talk about these things and started the habit of keeping them secret. One hand, I was told that my secrecy indicated shame which it did not. On the other, was my deep need to protect my little bit of sacred, magical universe.
We’ll stop there for now.
Next time, I will talk about how my magic got broken, what I did to restore it and how I started to meet The Ancestors and started to feel the pull towards the disapora.