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"Being a witch is very hard sometimes..."


TobaccoFlower

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I was conversing with a friend about recent hardships, and said the following quoted text. She suggested I post in it a thread, as many would relate to it.

 

"Being a witch is very hard sometimes... it's so personal, and hard to even find words for sometimes, even with people as support, you're on a mission alone. It's hard to see, feel, and trust real life...even moreso when, as a witch, the world is different from most others. It's heavy, often."

 

 

 

I have recently been through a particular rough patch involving my craft and Path, but the hardships have brought many important lessons and have served to let me grow as a person. However, I am finding that as time goes by, and especially in the last year, I have found it harder to relate to those around me who aren't witches - if a mundane friend or family member can tell I am struggling with something, I cannot tell them what it is because they'd probably have me put away. Also, the more I delve into my craft, the more my physical world shows its mystical side...the more I see with things with my physical eyes, the harder it is to define the line between this world and the next. 

 

It is easy to feel crazy, and even easier to feel totally alone. Many great lessons come from being alone, and I am a firm believer that most lessons can ONLY be learned alone. Communities, such as TW and like-minded friends, certainly helped as far as support goes, but it doesn't smooth over that fact that sometimes being a witch is HARD. 

 

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I think a lot of people develop this thinking where admitting things like this is similar to complaining. As if being openly honest means we've less strength to fight the battle. In many ways I think it just makes it more difficult in the long run.

 

Kudos for your brave post.

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It can be a very hard and lonely road.  We are different.  I understand why the witch lives at the edge of the village or even away from it in the folk lore.  I have a low tolerance for most people and their ridiculous bullshit.  The world is full of wonder for me and there are very few that I can share this with that can understand it.

 

I think it gets harder the longer we walk these Paths.  We learn, we grow, we practice, we change even more.

 

Verification is important to me.  It lets me know that I'm not nuts (or crazy - pick your word here).

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Ravenshaw, your post has inspired a question- partly rhetorical, and probably unanswerable.

 

Does it ever get any easier?

 

Collectively and generally speaking, will we still have moments of "Am I going crazy?!" after ten years on our respective Paths?  Are we destined to be completely isolated from society, unable to connect with mundane people after twenty years of active Crafting?  When we reach the thirty-year mark of being a witch, will the lessons still be as challenging and life-altering and intense and they were the first year?

 

Personally, I feel that it will get easier.  I felt reborn when I started my Path, so it's been like learning the game of Life all over again.  The mundane challenges I faced when I was 10, 20, 30 are (and some already have been) destined to be repeated in a magical context.  The average person never has to face the dramatic changes and re-defining of self-identity that we witches do when we embrace our Path.  Most people have no concept of what it's like to suddenly discover latent, powerful Talents that, as you pointed out, will forever change how they perceive everything around them.  If a mundane individual wants to slow down and take it easy when it comes to personal development, they usually can- but us?  We can Ground, but the Path will always be there, beckoning and pressuring and haunting us unless we respect and follow Its purpose.

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 When we reach the thirty-year mark of being a witch, will the lessons still be as challenging and life-altering and intense and they were the first year?

 

 

In my experience, the challenges don't come quite as often (like a never-ending train) but they are certainly still there, just as intense and sometimes, but not always, quite life-altering.

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And this falls right into something I thought of last night that is sooooooooo on topic.

 

AW, you said somewhere (either chat or on the front page, I think) that people are coming to you as a healer.  That means that people are talking about certain abilities that you have.  The cruise showed you just how in tune with humans you can be (so much fun bleh).  What are you going to do.  Are you going to come out and damn the consequences or turn inward and away from the small town people who don't get you at all?

 

I had to make that choice when I was in the scary farmland section of the bible belt with a kid in elementary school.  I jumped in the damn closet and stayed there.  I taught my kid to keep her mouth shut.  The last lynching is still in living memory where I lived.

 

There's nothing quite like having life changing decisions jammed right in your face.  Sometimes, these Paths - well, you guys know,  That's why we're talking about it.

 

This is one of the most difficult Seasons I've ever gone through.  It's been coming at me from all directions.  Sometimes, are harder than others.  I try to remember that in the end - it's always been worth it before.  Some days that's the only thing that keeps me going.  You're not alone, hun.

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When we reach the thirty-year mark of being a witch, will the lessons still be as challenging and life-altering and intense and they were the first year?

 

 

After 25 years of active practice - yeah.  They still are for me.  They're more challenging and way deeper and some feel harder.  They don't seem to come as often but what it lacks in quantity - it makes up for in 'challenge'.

 

This has been an extremely life altering time for me.  I don't know who or what I'll finish up as but so much inside of me is in the middle of these life altering events.  I know the values that I hold dear and that's what I cling to as I make decisions based on that instead of raw emotion.  It's really fucking hard sometimes.

 

My daughter is going through her own shamanic death right now.  I can't save her from it.  I just want her to come home and let me protect her but she is going through her own crucible of becoming a woman instead of a girl.  In can only pray that I taught her well enough to survive it so that she can come home.

 

This is what happens you find and marry a guy worse than your own Dad.  Young and stupid and in love.  You can't fix everyone in the world.  Not everyone can be fixed.  She has to learn that the hard way to fully understand the depth of that.  This is the burden of my bloodline and I can't save her from that.  My heart is broken over this. 

 

I am so thankful that she is alive.  She was in the ER with almost a 105 2 weeks ago.  She told me that she can't come home until she's finished.  She doesn't know what it is that she needs or needs to find (find out maybe).  Then she'll be home to rest.  I don't know what else to do.

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Do I feel alone on my path? Most definitely, brutal truth and raw existence can't imo be anything but personal, the bigger outlines of which can maybe be shared with a few, but the direct inner reality of dealing with Life as I experience it can never be fully exchanged in detail, let alone put into words that cover fully how it feels like. Crazy? Yeah, that too, at least compared to accepted "normal" standards of what it is to be human, and refusing to play the "usual games" sure doesn't make things easier. Lessons and confrontations will always keep presenting themselves I guess, changing according to what I need to learn at any given moment, but I don't expect any lesson to be less intense or important than the other, they're all part of the same game to me.

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I kinda know what you mean....  I dont feel alone really, as I have my wife, and many friends on similar paths, and even a lot of my family is very welcoming.  The reason I still feel I can relate a bit, is when I am around certain people, I do keep certain details to myself because I know they wouldnt understand.  A lot of what I do could technically be considered illegal which adds a bit of anxiety for me....  

 

I have been surprised though, how accepting most people have been when I open up to them about my practice.  Not just working with spirits and doing magic, but also working with psychoactive plants.  I have a lot of Mormon family in Utah, and they even ask tons of questions and are interested, and totally accept me.  Took some of the family to Peru this last year as well for my wedding, and they were hanging out with my shaman, doing some offerings and such with us - they understand me so much better now, it's been a huge blessing.  I don't think it would have been possible if I hadnt taken a chance and worked a bit not to make others see my way, but to make them see I am happy and healthy on my path.  

 

Havent opened up as much to all of the wifes family yet, though we are very open with a number of them.  Helps to slowly let people in I think - gives them time to process and understand one bit at a time.  Really pays off though to have family understand and accept you.  

 

The path isnt always easy though....  I think the hardest part for me lately has been watching some clients run from their own joy and health, and actively work to keep themselves depressed.  This problem isnt very common for me, but one particular client recently has been so hard to watch, because he is so self-destructive....  He canceled a retreat after having fully payed by saying "I'm just too scared to live differently, and I just want to be depressed.  I don't want any friends right now."  ....  Kills me a little bit, as he is so amazing when he forgets to hate himself for a while....  Luckily most clients arent like that!  

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Guest monsnoleedra

To be a shamanic worker is to be alone even when in a room full of people.  To be as alone at the first minute of your walk and to be equally alone after decades upon your walk.  Even within the families we have and the loved ones about us many times we are detached and removed from them.  Yes we love them, care about them and enjoy their successes but there is always a sense of difference.  The biggest issue is that while we have people who will join us in our walk for various amounts of time, no one can walk the exact walk we do.  They can not feel as we feel, they can not be given the exact testing and lessons we do, they can not suffer the exact death and dismemberment we do.  Yes there are things that are close enough that we can relate to one another.  Yes there are things that take us upon a similar scenario which many times brings us together providing support, mutual understanding and many times a sense of normality of our own reality.  In many regards the witch in lore is as alone and removed from society as is the shaman or similar practitioner.  Frequently upon the fringes of said social and cultural systems even when their very lively hood places them deep in the middle of it.

 

It is interesting to me when people talk of refusing to play the games of society yet play a greater game in their own pathwalkings.  At times I long for the dullness of the games society plays and the simplicity of those games.  Planted fully and firmly in the reality of the human animal.  To be in a room and know the only thing I shall see are the living and human, that would be ideal vice constantly on guard as to what I am seeing, hearing, touching, smelling, etc are actually there.

 

I do think those who seek such a pathway out for themselves often tend to have no idea of its cost.  They think it all neat and counter culture and have such great yet shallow idea's of what its really like to walk it.  In many ways the left over trappings of the 60's free love movement and influences from the mystical orient.  Even the feminist influences of the late 60's and 70's painting a surreal picture of what it is and what you will gain from it.  Many times creating a mental concept / construct of that ideal world view that does not function or operate within the limitations of reality.  A construct that causes as many issues for the practitioner as it supposedly removes for them.

 

In many ways I find the occult pathways to be one of creation, destruction and recreation applied over and over and over.  Most frequently due to the walkers own corrupted sense of what it is to walk that pathway to begin with.  Many starts, stops and changes because the construct simply will not hold up against the requirements placed upon it.  Much like the assumption that one can craft their way out of or into any situation.  Yet that only serves to further corrupt their reality.  Eventually causing that reality to collapse and leaving them left adrift and seeking ways to understand and cope.

 

In that regard I think many are like an alcoholic in that they have a situation and assume they are cured.  Yet eventually they discover there is no cure and they will always be alcoholics all their lives, but see themselves then as recovering alcoholics and know they will constantly have to be both ready and willing to change their world view as the world is dynamic not static.  Even when on the fringes they are also in the center and pull of their social, cultural and ethical influences.  Often discovering I think that they are far closer to them than they give credit to simply because they never realize you have to walk with one foot in each world and be a participant of both at all times.

 

In many Native American pathways one discovers the medicine person, Keeper of a relic, pipe holder, etc are things they do but not who they are.  They are the person who plows the fields, raises the herds and when needed acts as the Hollow Bone, Talking Stick, reader of signs, etc.  Perform their calling them step away for they are chosen to perform a task but the task is not what they identify their place and purpose against within their society.  That I personally think where many if not most witches and pagans fail, they try to define their purpose against a task not realize the task is only a facet of their greater purpose and calling.  As such the task does not fulfill their lives for the life is wasted on clunky steps that do not promote balance and harmony just jerky starts and stops.

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To be a shamanic worker is to be alone even when in a room full of people.  To be as alone at the first minute of your walk and to be equally alone after decades upon your walk.  Even within the families we have and the loved ones about us many times we are detached and removed from them.  Yes we love them, care about them and enjoy their successes but there is always a sense of difference.  The biggest issue is that while we have people who will join us in our walk for various amounts of time, no one can walk the exact walk we do.  They can not feel as we feel, they can not be given the exact testing and lessons we do, they can not suffer the exact death and dismemberment we do.

 

As much as I respect the shamanic path, I'm still eternally grateful that I'm not one.

 

Ravenshaw, big hugs to you and your friend.

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I see shamanic workers exactly the opposite - connected.  Connected to community, the human condition, their family, and of course to the spirit world.  I dont think I would trust a shaman who wasnt connected to their family and community personally....  

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But not all shamanic workers have a physical tribe in a central location. 

 

I don't consider myself a shaman but I am a shamanic (or shamanic style) practitioner.  You're a shamanic practitioner even though you don't have a tribe to tend to.

 

You're still young and exploring.  Enjoy this part.  Learn to cherish the easier times.  Or, who knows, you may have one of those charmed lives where once you embrace your path it just sorta flows for you.  It's rare but it happens.

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I wouldnt say I have a central tribe or location...  I am pretty spread out right now...  But I have been working with a lot of settled down shamans living in the wilderness, or in tribal villages, or in big cities, and the ones I met were very connected to their community and families.  I think that is one reason I was impressed with them so much.  I think it may be harder for a shaman to be connected, but maybe that is part of the test...  The people I stayed with to learn medicine from all live closely with their families though, and are respected members of the community - I love playing with the kids after ceremony as a great way to ground =)

 

Of course - there is a lot of variety in what people call shamanism.  Even in tribal cultures that I visit, two shamans living in the same village might have very unique looking practices.  Everyone has to find their own way.

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Life is very hard sometimes, Witch or not. I think most Witches use the craft to make it easier. Making it easier does not equate to a lack development, ime.

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Guest monsnoleedra

I wouldnt say I have a central tribe or location...  I am pretty spread out right now...  But I have been working with a lot of settled down shamans living in the wilderness, or in tribal villages, or in big cities, and the ones I met were very connected to their community and families.  I think that is one reason I was impressed with them so much.  I think it may be harder for a shaman to be connected, but maybe that is part of the test...  The people I stayed with to learn medicine from all live closely with their families though, and are respected members of the community - I love playing with the kids after ceremony as a great way to ground =)

 

Of course - there is a lot of variety in what people call shamanism.  Even in tribal cultures that I visit, two shamans living in the same village might have very unique looking practices.  Everyone has to find their own way.

 

 

Not being argumentative or belittling but how I was taught and raised they'd say your a woman.  It is the woman's place as a healer to run the moon lodge, bring in the new born's and over see medical and such.  Yet even then it might be a dedicated clan within the larger group where its broken down into one who gathers herbs' for instance, one who masters them and administers them, one who oversee's blood rites and such, etc.  But would also say because your a woman you can't kill when needed, watch death when it walks and allow it to take the course it needs, to be detached and unmoved by emotion and clouded judgement.  You can't walk the warrior's path where to kill without remorse is required.  To walk the path where survival of your people even at the expense of others is your main charge.  To use your allies to ensure the hunt, fertility and fecundity of the land support your people even as you harm and destroy those abilities for others if needed.

 

It's like earlier you mentioned you are cured of your depression.  Those who taught me would say you are fooling yourself for the sickness is always there and can return at any point.  Stating your cured would be to challenge that and place false confidence in yourself for you quite prone to having it re-emerge yet through some condition you keep it in check.  Yet can easily pass that deception onto those you'd aid in that they believe they are cured and then it must be something at fault within them that causes it to come back.  Much like the tree that has a rotten spot within, you can cut it out or burn it out but the spot remains as does its influence. A spot that is easily corrupted by the same infection or a second infection that takes root in the void.

They'd then ask who is the failure?  He / she who was not cured or he / she who claimed they were cured but refused to see the full depths of the illness.

 

I do agree though that the term shaman and shamanism has gotten to be as much a catch phrase as pagan as to what is placed beneath it.

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The term 'shaman' was a Chinese term originially thought to describe Buddhist Monks. Just like with 'witchcraft', 'shamanism' is definitely a blanket term. A lot of people can get lost and confused trying to make comparisions between what they do and what others practice, when I believe in another time they'd have had their own name and knowledge of exactly what they were expected to do/achieve. Universal similarities but important differences. Whilst I agree there is a level of isolation and loneliness on this path, I also think one of the main contributing factors is this long journey of self identification. A few years ago the term 'witch' made me happy. For me, it described everything I felt I was and wanted to be. Recently it feels alien. I'm something. Maybe there used to be a name for it, maybe not, but by accepting I am misplaced I've weirdly found my place. Even if I go through periods of isolation I will still have that security which is something I never had before.

 

The huge, crack you open changes took me when I was young. The friends I'd grown up with couldn't recognise me afterwards, it was if I'd died. There are times I wish it had never happened just so I could have my friends. I'd have grown up ignorant, people pleasing and shallow but I'd be happy, right? OR maybe I'd be miserable, always feeling something was 'missing'. I know truly it's the latter, but when I'm having an 'off' day it's bittersweet. I know I'll face dramatic, demanding and probably painful changes in the future but I know from experience I will survive. The first challenges held no such promise. I guess in many ways it only gets better.

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In a way, we work like a subculture, on our own as a different type of beings. Lonely because not everyone is like us and we feel the need to network with others that are like minded.

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I don't have an easy time being any of the things that I am. Being is hard.

 

Okay now read that over: I am not a thing, nor a collection of things. So the statement while true is untrue, thanks a lot English.

 

On the other hand, I agree that witchery is harder than it has to be, for societal reasons. My culture gets pretty wacky over witchcraft. Come to think about it, my culture gets pretty wacky over most of the things-that-I-am.

 

Because I started on this path at a youngish age, treading it has actually become significantly easier over the decades. I look back and think, hey at least I don't have to worry about someone doing that specifically bad thing to me these days.

 

I just have to worry about the specifically bad things that might be done to my children.

 

The path itself is difficult, and I don't think I want that ever to alter. That's the work of it, the bending of my days and ways to this job that is added to my other jobs, the sweating over and achieving. I want that. I need that like I need air.

 

But the other, the hardness of it, the shunning, the abnegation, the legalized theft, the belittlement-- that I could really, really do without. It seems so unnecessary.

 

It seems like something that could change, and ought to.

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Life is very hard sometimes, Witch or not. I think most Witches use the craft to make it easier. Making it easier does not equate to a lack development, ime.

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^^^ This!  Witches are not the only ones who encounter situations that violate their soul and require Herculean efforts to keep making progress in Life.  As exhausting and challenging as my Path has been at times, I've witnessed plenty of mundane people throughout the years have experiences that were far, far more spiritually burdensome.  Life is a bitch- we all know that- and although I do recognize that our troubles are a different "flavor", I personally don't support the idea that uniqueness means special (in an elitist context).

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MonSno - We've spent a lot of time talking about what it was like growing up in your family.  Men and woman were split into very definite groups with different gifts and responsibilities.  Was there a time (or a person) that didn't fit the 'mold'?  I wouldn't have fit into the women's training very well.  What did they do when a family member showed gifts in other areas that were generally taught to the opposite sex?

 

I'd rather patrol a perimeter than aid in childbirth.  Seriously. 

 

What do you think your family would've done with me if we grew up together?

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Ravenshaw,I'm truely sorry you are having a tough time. When I read your post it was like reading my own feelings. I myself have had a very hard year and as a witch we are very lonely people bc we most of the time have to be secret about who we really are. I find it hard to have to deal with seing things and feeling things that other people can't and so at times I feel like it is so overwelming that you start to feel like you could lose it at times. Don'y get me wrong I'm proud of my Craft but it is a life that no nonwitch could never understand. I try to help people as much as I can that to the point I start to forget my own needs. The hardest part for me is the loneliness, before I found TW I was in a very dark place but getting to knowpeople on here has helped me so much I would say that TW in a sense save my life. No matter what you are going through know that you are not alone and there are many people who care about you here that are always willing to listen incuding myself.  :smile:

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Not being argumentative or belittling but how I was taught and raised they'd say your a woman.  It is the woman's place as a healer to run the moon lodge, bring in the new born's and over see medical and such.  Yet even then it might be a dedicated clan within the larger group where its broken down into one who gathers herbs' for instance, one who masters them and administers them, one who oversee's blood rites and such, etc.  But would also say because your a woman you can't kill when needed, watch death when it walks and allow it to take the course it needs, to be detached and unmoved by emotion and clouded judgement.  You can't walk the warrior's path where to kill without remorse is required.  To walk the path where survival of your people even at the expense of others is your main charge.  To use your allies to ensure the hunt, fertility and fecundity of the land support your people even as you harm and destroy those abilities for others if needed.

 

It's like earlier you mentioned you are cured of your depression.  Those who taught me would say you are fooling yourself for the sickness is always there and can return at any point.  Stating your cured would be to challenge that and place false confidence in yourself for you quite prone to having it re-emerge yet through some condition you keep it in check.  Yet can easily pass that deception onto those you'd aid in that they believe they are cured and then it must be something at fault within them that causes it to come back.  Much like the tree that has a rotten spot within, you can cut it out or burn it out but the spot remains as does its influence. A spot that is easily corrupted by the same infection or a second infection that takes root in the void.

They'd then ask who is the failure?  He / she who was not cured or he / she who claimed they were cured but refused to see the full depths of the illness.

 

I do agree though that the term shaman and shamanism has gotten to be as much a catch phrase as pagan as to what is placed beneath it.

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I dont see womens and mens roles as being exclusive, and that isnt how things work in the traditions I have studied at all.  Sounds very sexist to me to say that women cant be warriors and men cant be healers and lovers, but whatever floats your boat I guess....

 

As for killing:  I have no problem butchering an animal, and have done it a few times.  I dont think death is something to fear at all.  It might surprise you that I grew up boxing, wrestling, and practicing martial arts, and I used to fight people all the time.  Dont really have many reasons to fight people anymore though - just seems childish now that I am older....  Maybe you should make less assumptions about people you dont know well?

 

As for curing depression, sounds like we are arguing about semantics, and when I say cure, I mean I went from being depressed almost all the time, and having it negatively impact all areas of my life to instead being really positive most of the time.  Everyone gets sad sometime, but it isnt a debilitating mental illness that controls every aspect of my life any longer.  

 

I am sure your perspective is much healthier though - no one can be healed, everyone is eternally sick...  Sounds awesome!  

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The term 'shaman' was a Chinese term originially thought to describe Buddhist Monks. Just like with 'witchcraft', 'shamanism' is definitely a blanket term. A lot of people can get lost and confused trying to make comparisions between what they do and what others practice, when I believe in another time they'd have had their own name and knowledge of exactly what they were expected to do/achieve. Universal similarities but important differences. Whilst I agree there is a level of isolation and loneliness on this path, I also think one of the main contributing factors is this long journey of self identification. A few years ago the term 'witch' made me happy. For me, it described everything I felt I was and wanted to be. Recently it feels alien. I'm something. Maybe there used to be a name for it, maybe not, but by accepting I am misplaced I've weirdly found my place. Even if I go through periods of isolation I will still have that security which is something I never had before.

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Shaman actually comes from a similar Siberian word (I think it is something like sawan, but I forget).  I think of it as a general term like "doctor".  You can have completely different doctors: naturopath, oncologist, osteopath, proctologist, psychologist ect, but they all fit under the umbrella of "doctor".  To me, the word shaman is kinda like that....  (different meaning then doctor, but used in a similar way if that makes sense...)

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