I read a post on social media about how being a witch means to be someone who lives on the edges, distanced from the community of the places we live and I was galvanised to write. Does being a witch mean intrinsically to be separated or can we make a different choice?
The witch is often seen as the one living on the fringes. The outsider, the hedge-rider. Almost a part of the community but mostly apart from the community. They live on the edge, not the centre, never the centre. One toe in the village, nine toes in the forest. Feet barely touching ground, head most definitely in the clouds, among the stars. They are the loner, the lone wolf, howling at the full moon, but pack-less. And lately I've been wondering - is this aloneness, this apartness, the choice of the witch or the choice of the village?
If you had asked me this question (pick a number any number) eighteen months ago, I would have said the former. It is the witch's choice. They choose the solitude, the quiet, the pack-less howling. The witch chooses the fringe and the forest, because that is where they flourish. With plants over people and soil over stones. But now I'm not so sure.
I have oftentimes thought that it would be easier to be alone. To retreat to the hut at the edge of the forest, to become the hedge-rider. Every relationship that ended in heartbreak and betrayal and broken pieces on the floor made me think that perhaps I would be better off alone and that I could have my head in the clouds and my feet barely touching the ground and that would be safe. But, over the past year and a half, with burn out and global pandemic colliding, I have experienced deep loneliness for perhaps the first time in my life. Simultaneously, because the past eighteen months are nothing if not deeply contradictory, I have also depended more on people close to me than ever before. I started seeing and talking to friends I used to see a few times a year almost weekly. I leaned on people for financial support as I was no longer able to work. I turned to people with a desperate need to hear youaresafeyouarelovedyouareneededwearenotleaving as fear of abandonment and rejection flared up, and received support in so many more ways. I have found that alone is not easier, but that I need my village. And, on good days, I can see my village needs me.
Maybe the witch still choses the cottage by the forest (because oh my doesn't that sound dreamy and I do love the silence) but I don't think they choose the pack-less howling, the aloneness. I think the village chose. I think the story that we need to either conform or separate is so deeply ingrained that it seemed there was no other choice for the witch than to retreat to the margins. But we don't have to continue this story. We can find or found our own villages.
My village is in my phone lighting up and seeing my friend's name appear at the top of a message, it is in the little red dot on my Instagram DM's when people reply to my stories with their version of IseeyouIseeyouIseeyouandyouseeme, it is in all the tears I spill in company where nobody tells me to stop crying because this is how I am now and I don't need to conform. My village is in the spaces I found online where queerness and weirdness is celebrated and I get to discover other sides to myself. My village is this little family of a husband and dogs and friends that we eat fries with for dinner because we refuse to grow up.
I don't know if this is a fully formed thought. I don't have a conclusion or an action point for you to take away. I have tried to find one, but I couldn't, and then I remembered that just one blog ago I promised myself that I would embrace the questions and release the need for answers
, so here we are. Over the past few months I have been rediscovering what it means to me to be a witch and to practice witchcraft and this is part of it, I think. And so maybe this story ends the same way the previous one did. I will be the person with the questions. And you will be the person with the questions. And we'll ask them together while we gaze at the moon, and we'll feel a little better knowing we are not asking these questions alone.