Deprogramming for Witches
Our Moon enters its Waning phase in this first week of the month. Our lunar eclipse was one week ago. Feelings might be parading around your mind, no end in sight. Breakthroughs disguised as breakdowns may have challenged your will and your focus. During this Last Quarter Moon time, take some moments to regroup. Remember who you are and what you want. In seven days, we will have a New Moon Eclipse, our third and final of eclipse season. How are you taking care of yourself? What must you take care of more in order to move forward? What are you ready to compost? Name it. Forgive it. Love it. Light it on fire. Let it go.
As release and internal work is favored at this Moon phase, this week’s topic is around deprogramming. Do flowers speak to you? Can you feel other people’s feelings? Do you just somehow know certain things you can’t explain? Do people frequently describe you as “sensitive”? Are you completely strange? Really weird? Extravagantly queer? Does The HighPriestess card come up for you in Tarot readings, like, almost every time? Are you reading this workbook? Surprise! You are probably a witch. You are definitely an empath, an intuitive, a creative, a magic maker. (Spoiler alert: many, many more people are these things than not. I stand behind the idea that every person is creative, every person is intuitive, every person is magical—or at the very least, has these abilities inside of them.)
So here you are, this holographic rainbow of stardust experiencing a holographic array of existence, outside the bounds of normalcy—whatever that is. You dream and you doodle and you draw down the Moon. You help and you hear things and you heal and you send out lovingkindness whenever you can. However, greater society may not see these traits and actions as worthwhile. This is precisely because people who are their own thinkers, people who are not easily controllable and who are empowered, are panic-inducing to the overculture. We’ve seen this happen time and time again with the demonization of social justice movements and leaders. We’ve seen this for thousands of years with witch-hunts. Magical people are powerful, and this is why they are feared. This fear leads to control, and in many cases, violence.
Witch hunts were political, enacted for control over women’s bodies and labor, as well as Indigenous folks’ autonomy and knowledge (Silvia Federici, Caliban and the Witch). In Europe, the power in place was the church and the state; in America, it was the colonizers. (And, yes, is also now the church and the state.) These powers wanted even more power, attempting to control physical bodies and labor power. Witches were healers, community counselors, oracles, folk medicine women, sex workers, herbalists, doulas, and knowledge holders. They knew all about healing illness with plants, birth control, abortion, and saving lives. They passed this knowledge around to the community and to one another. So much of their magic was forged in this connection. This magic was created in collaboration with the elements, with spirits, with source, and with one another, outside of money or capitalist systems. This was terrifying to the state.
And so the war against witches, which was also the war against women, weirdos, gender non-conforming folks, and other non-compliant folks, began. Witches were sluts were power holders were deviants, in extreme rebellion against capitalism, and the notions of hierarchy and control that came along with it. And so this is how witches became inherently political. This is how witches, and all the other attributes of a witch—creative, sexy, knowledgeable, wild, intuitive, mysterious, psychic, intimidating, to name only a few—became demonized. To this day, we see the remnants everywhere. The ashes of the hundreds of witches burned in this country, the millions of Indigenous people killed and displaced from their own land, the millions of African captives stolen, tortured, and murdered still smolder. We still live with the violence of extreme capitalism and its discontents. We are still attempting to heal from it, still resisting it.
In many cases, mass murders were carried out not just for control, but to eradicate these priceless forms of knowledge off of the face of the Earth. Know part of what we deal with as witches, as empaths, as conscious beings, part of our path is to reconnect with these practices and rituals. Being connected to the seasons, the Earth, and one another is to remember. Researching and enacting our ancestors’ knowledge and memories. Know that this remembering and reclaiming is where much of our magic lies. Know that part of the remembering may be in re-remembering the witch hunts, the burnings. Know that this might be a painful thing for your psyche to experience. Give yourself permission to begin healing this experience. Know that you are allowed to define your practices for yourself. Know that there is no wrong way to be a witch, so long as you remain connected and compassionate, so long as you remain committed to dismantling capitalist and patriarchal philosophies.
Narratives around witches and magic not being real or being evil are an attempt to erase our birthright. Stereotypes around sensitivity being bad are designed to destroy us. We must resist these paradigms. It is no easy feat, even if we pick apart the shadow stereotypes of the witch: lonely, ugly, cruel, shunned, evil. We may be afraid to say the word because of these connotations. These stereotypes are toxic masculinity at its worst. They lead to dehumanization and violence. Kathleen Hanna famously proclaimed: “Resist Psychic Death.” As witches, that is what we have done and that is what we must continue to do. We see treasure where many see trash. We seek out pathways of survival when there are none easily available. Resist psychic death. Resist spiritual death. We start our healing with ourselves. We start with our breath. We follow through with our thoughts, our language, our actions.
At this time, I encourage you to continue, or to begin, deprogramming yourself from the stories that tried to break you down by using your superpowers as a shaming device. Being empathetic, soft, kind, caring, psychic, or intuitive is wonderful. Feeling things deeply, having relationships with animals, plants, the elements, guides, fairies, spirit, the spirit realm, or certain ancestors is a gift. If you are clairsentient, clairvoyant, or clairaudient, it is for a reason. If you are a channel, medium, however it looks, there is nothing wrong with you. You are just as Source intended you to be. Connect with it, be it. If it is time for you to come out of the broom closet, fly your witch flag high.
If we are to consciously deprogram ourselves from the negative, patriarchal, transphobic, capitalist, racist connotations associated with the witch and feminine identity, we must also take care to deprogram our magical practices in a similar way. Decommodify our witchcraft. Decolonize our witchcraft. Question our magical practices from top to bottom. Question our need to buy things, to consume things, and why. Question whom we are stealing from, and why. Question what sort of language and framing we are using in our communities and how that might need updates. For example: “white” being good and “black” being bad. Using “love and light” as an excuse not to look at racism, classism, ableism, transphobia, and misogyny, among others, that burden so many in our collective.
Think of the witch adage: Harm none. Obviously, in the system we are in, this task is an impossible one. But creating less harm is sometimes as easy as a pause. As simple as an inquiry. The real truth is that language is important. How we treat one another is important. What we do with our privilege is important.
Capitalism has this way of brainwashing us into thinking that if we like something or someone, we have to own it/them. Capitalism has this way of confusing the accessories of the thing with the thing itself. In this case, the thing is magic. Magic is priceless and it cannot be bought and sold, only shared and experienced.
Let’s not confuse the commodification of spirituality with spirituality itself. Capitalism can sully the sacred quite quickly. The lessons of the witch, and the ways of the witch, get confused with what a corporation can sell easily. Let’s be wary of who is getting the microphone now, and what this current trend of spirituality is reflecting. A great portion of it seems to be echoing the patriarchy. I’m suggesting we question who is getting attention and why, especially if they are white, straight, and cisgender. Let’s deprogram our spirituality from the dominant patriarchal narrative as much as we can. Let’s make sure we know where we are getting our information from and be sure we ourselves are experienced practitioners before teaching others.
Your spiritual practice does not need any external tools in order to be valid; it does not need to follow along capitalism’s trajectory of rampant consumption and endless productivity.
You do not need certifications or the approval of a mainstream in order to be a magical creature. We can examine multiple ways a spiritual practice and a magical life can look. This is deeply personal. This can be private and slow. It is intimacy, vulnerability, consistency, and engagement that defines a relationship with the sacred.
We can use gentle inquiry and pause to think about what we are learning. Think about all you consume. Do you know if the books or articles you are reading are written by people who are anti-racist, feminist, and against oppression? If you are a writer, are you properly citing and referencing the origins of your ideas and concepts? Do you give credit where credit is due? Are you buying services or products from people who cannot speak to where they are receiving their information, or who present information that is not their own as if it is?
Consider what you are buying and why. I am not advocating to totally stop buying and selling products completely. I am advocating for a consciousness and awareness around the items we consume and why. (Magically and otherwise!) If time and time again you are getting messages to purchase a certain crystal, or a certain tool for your magical practices, then of course, go for it! If you feel called to make your own wand, steep your own infusions, do it! Knowing why you feel pulled to ownership is important. This can also lead to wanting to protect things from being pillaged and extracted to extinction. Knowing where the items are coming from is important. This can lead to even more information for your magical practices. Questioning certain impulses around ownership—whether it be physical objects, or intellectual or conceptual works—is important as well. You can ask yourself: do I NEED this thing, or do I WANT it? Do I NEED to call myself a certain type of practitioner for my ego, or is the language I use appropriative, and ultimately disrespectful to the culture and the practice it comes from?
It is important to be mindful and conscious in the world of witching as much as it is anywhere else. Because if you are a witch, then you are very aware of intention and of consciousness around your thoughts. You are aware that as a witch you are in a relationship WITH nature, water, air, fire, animals, plants, yourself, your intuition, your guides, other humans, angels, ancestors, archetypes, and deities. You are aware that if this intention or relationship is imbalanced or misused, problems will arise. A witch must know the difference between cultural exchange and cultural appropriation. A witch must be able to define what they do and why they do it.
This could also be a great opportunity to identify certain practices you’d like to experiment with, take classes in, read books about, and deepen your knowledge around. A deeply enriching practice is to connect to your ancestry, and dive into what the specific practices were from your country of origin. If you are unsure of this, and still wish to be respectful, it is simple. Every single group of people across the globe have used candles, and some form of cleansing with sage, dried herbs, or dried grass for magical purposes. Most practices include burning, burying, ritual baths. Most practices include prayer, meditation, trance. Most practices include saying thank you, leaving offerings, and having a connection to animals, spirits, and other astral helpers. Find what works for you, and what feels good. Find a way to have a balanced practice full of connection and exchange.
We are reclaiming what is ours. We are taking back what has been stolen from us. We can remember and we can tell new stories. We can create new practices that reflect our realities. Remember that there are always opportunities to listen and to learn. Remember that we are witches! Remember that we are strong, resilient, brilliant, and are most beautiful when we come together with love.
— Excerpt is from Many Moons 2018 Vol 2. Buy here.
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