Perspectives on The Craft

Perspectives on The Craft

 I was going to write this from the perspective of a ‘Male Witch’ but the more I thought about it the less sense it made. We have enough division in the world today as it is. So… how about my perspective as an active practitioner from around the early 1990’s?

A fair warning - most of this is musing and all of it is personal opinion based on personal experience.  Yours may and will likely vary.

When I took my first steps onto the crooked path the Keep Silent part of the classic maxim was paramount. Yes, it is true not that long ago, and depending on where you were in the world it was dangerous to be out of the broom closet as they say. (still is in a lot of places) Careers could be easily lost, ‘friends’ could swiftly change alignments, families would vehemently turn on you, and basically, your entire life would be upended as you no longer fit their idea of normal. Something was wrong with you they would say. Many would surmise you were being influenced by someone of ill repute or perhaps you have suffered a degradation of your mental faculties.

All because you didn’t believe in their particular inherited mythology. If you make them explain that inherited mythology to you plainly - almost all of them don’t understand or believe in it either. It’s just something that is done, despite the sheer ridiculousness of it all. A Faith of Habit if you will.

So practice was a bit more ‘occult’ or ‘hidden’ back then compared to the modern-day social media groups and genres that have exploded in number in recent years.

It’s never been more popular or mainstream adjacent to being a ‘Witch’ and also never so full of nonsense. In that light - I thought perhaps someone might gain something from sharing my journey - at least a highly abridged version so as not to completely bore you dear readers.

My path began at three in the morning in a Detroit, MI prison with a conversation with a co-worker. I wasn’t even particularly seeking, I was merely existing. My life had suffered a completely Tower-upended style of upheaval in that everything I knew was wrong, everyone I had trusted proved in the end to be a liar, and everyone I loved turned out to be full of hate. It was quite literally the upside down. I say ‘started’ loosely as I supposed it could be argued that it began much earlier than that being raised in rural MI where hiking, hunting, and fishing were a way of life and I was always in the woods as a child. The wild was and will always be. My church.

I should have been used to that tower card environment with a childhood filled with death and horror (that’s another story) but I wasn’t. I still kept putting on those rose-colored glasses of naivete despite repeatedly having had them punched off my face by people and by life.

At the point of this co-worker conversation, I was moving past the denial stage of grief and was fast approaching acceptance when I caught the occultism bug. The more we talked, the more time we spent in the woods; the more hooked on it I was.

I craved the hidden knowledge, what was behind the curtain - who or what was making all of this work anyway? My co-worker and soon-to-be Coven-mate didn’t have all the answers either and some proved to be not exactly academic but none of that mattered. He did have what his familial tradition had been passed to him, he did have the patience to at least help me with the hundreds of questions and he did bring me to the path. For that, I will always be grateful.

However, you get here - just get here.

It was an insatiable curiosity and craving for more that put me most firmly on the journey. I had never been satisfied with the ‘explanations’ for my parents and grandparent’s religion. I didn’t want to believe in something just because I was supposed to follow along with the tradition of blind faith. Habit was not good enough. Sorry.

The conversations my co-worker and I had led me to pursue even more. To Know, To Dare. It wasn’t exactly an easy path as the books in those days were for the most part atrocious. Overly romantic and full of opinions presented as facts and nothing but pure fluff designed to sell books to seekers who don’t know any better. I fell prey a few times to a flashy cover or title only to be completely disappointed in the author a mere two or three chapters in.

Many of these books of ‘knowledge’ exist today by authors with ‘mystical’ pen names so that they appear to be even more ‘magical’. I get the point of the effort to not use their real names; I wouldn’t want to be publicly associated with that trash either.

Most of the stores in that day also followed suit with the fluff appearance. Love, Light & toxic positivity abounded. None of that accurately reflected the natural world which is more times than not centered on tooth & claw and less like an inspiring sunset with winged Fae bouncing around with innocent happiness.

It was truly nauseating. I felt even more alone with absolutely nowhere to go to be with a tribe or learn more. At best, I might find an incense or a candle to use; always steered clear of the book selections which were the same in every place.

It is no shock that Paganism is difficult to understand or accept for many of us living in the modern day. I know folks walk into many stores with their significant others and the others are bombarded by the onslaught of live, laugh, love insanity and their first instinct is to run out the door or at the very least begin to scoff and announce their skepticism loudly or even worse puff out their chest and strut around as if it and everyone around them are beneath them - for they are immune to this ‘stuff’.

For many men - the only example they have been presented with is that of the Yoga bro. As if to be involved in the metaphysical, one needs to have the requisite man bun or hippy hair, waify build, and be all love and light wimpiness.
The only thing that appeals to many of them might be the perceived ‘manliness’ they believe to be exuded by the Norse pantheons and mythology and here lies the huge risk of becoming a Norse or Viking Bro which is equally as bad as being fruity. Both of these approaches are rooted in absolute bullshit.

It takes very little actual research to determine that a lot of the popular ideas of what the Norse were are not accurately reflected in the metal-esque music so popular today. I know the desire to wish it were an episode straight out of the popular Vikings mini-series with badass armor to the soundtrack of pounding drums and metal riffs! When in reality the music was much more likely to be from a skilled Lyre player and the outfits more akin to one’s idea of what a farmer or peasant might wear. So yeah - a little less ‘metal’ and a little more hoe the garden.

Which is not to say the modern take on it is not entertaining.. it certainly is.  

Everything becomes an aesthetic and in that lies yet another trap to get lost in.

Norse and quite frankly every mythology is fascinating enough without the modern-day flavors of expectation sprinkled on. The stories, sagas, and tales are some of the best introductions to the Gods there are.

The same can be said for Irish culture with the layers of bullshit spread over it based on a Robert Graves poem. The Battle of the Trees sounds amazing, right? What a great title; yet what a load of absolute dogshit that has been incorporated as fact in so many circles and in so many books, tarot, or oracle cards ad nauseam.

Then there’s the option to be a ‘Black Magician’ insert Slytherin visual here… also equally ridiculous and too pointless to be a genuine endeavor. Again with the aesthetic - though all black clothing is very slimming so there’s that. Go Edgelord! Army of Darkness!

I get the appeal of being counter-culture. I was too when I was nineteen. Is it fun to shock up-tight boomers - sure! But… then what? Where does one go from there? Moving the needle too far one way or the other leads to nothing but imbalance and this is a game of balance.  Not really white nor truly black - more of a gray approach to the world. 

There is no endgame for any of the above. People will eventually tire of the pastime and either remain at a stopping point of frustration or succumb to societal pressure and comply with whatever the established norm is. It is much easier that’s for sure.

In my mind, the true Witch is able to accept & work with both the light and dark for one cannot exist without the other. Absolutely enjoy the magic time of twilight but also accept the life/death/rebirth cycle that the natural world demonstrates for us every time we take the time to take notice. Predator/Prey relationships and times of darkness are equally as important and play just as much a part in the world as are hugs, kisses, dance & joy.

Walk through the woods, quiet your mind, quell your modern-day emotions, and rely on your senses. Smell the moss on the wet ground, feel the life existing in and around the trees. Watch the predator take the prey to feed themselves and/or their young & understand. Hear the wind moving the tree boughs and see the mist rising on the bog. It exists whether you are there or not. Understand your place in the cycles of nature and your inherent smallness when you back up the magnifying glass of your perspective to take in the whole picture.

For the boyfriend/husband or significant other of a seeker who scoffs at anything occult or esoteric; we all know this is your defense mechanism to reject completely anything that challenges your upbringing in the religion of your parents. You aren’t portraying the superior mindset as much as you might think you are. More like a display of fear and weakness… As my Dad would say… “the only person you’re fooling is yourself”.

I might ask them to recall the last time they were out hunting or fishing and when they had their most success was when they calmed their mind and became one with the woods or the body of water they were floating on. That moment of zen where things around them align internally coupled with the excitement of success.

That is exactly the feeling the Witch or Occultist feels when they calm their mind and enter the oneness of existence.

It is no different.

Wipe away the sheen of over romantic nonsense and you have an agrarian practice similar to what our ancestors generations ago practiced. The point of all of this is to attain that oneness and capture the rhythm of the cycles of the season as much within ourselves as is external to us; to live and exist with the Earth and not just on it.

That is exactly what I began to do so many years ago. I abandoned the neo-pagan trappings and the people who co-opted or muddied the waters and went to the woods. In there, I found the solace of the natural world and felt the breeze of ancestral roots pulling me in.  Couple that with some quality reading materials and you have a winning combination for personal growth. 

We (our coven) had asked and then were presented with a space to make sacred to our work. We tended it, cared for it, and focused our intent and will in this specific space. This space would become a doorway between worlds deep within the woods and away from passersby.

We celebrated the seasons of life here, we cried out and left offerings to the Gods and Ancestors here and they answered. This space was just after all; just a space we found in the deep woods and would be there after we were gone from this Earth but for us, right now; it was a place to gather and celebrate the cycles of life - and a space to work magic.

When we were not in the woods we began to study the books that mattered. Most of these at that time were from the library as they weren’t the flashy cover type. The Classics of Mythology, books on philosophy, books on language & indigenous culture, books on geology, books on animal life… books on ceremonial magic & grimoires (which were also slim pickin’ then).

We began to do ritual experiments such as conjurations of spirit where we followed the preparation instructions including a black fast where nothing but bread and water were taken in as sustenance for days. Constant meditation and discipline were practiced. Not all of the experiments were successful but enough were that we felt we were on to something.

With time, the innate talents of our membership began to make themselves known. We all know everyone has the general ability to work within the esoteric but to date, I remain firmly convinced that some folks just have a little more in one category or the other. Things just come naturally to them as if they have done it before (insert no shit past lives comment here). Akin to those natural musicians, natural writers, or natural mathematicians - the occult world is no different.

We began to focus on each other's innate talents and developed them within the coven by members playing ‘victim’ with each other. For example - I’ve been Tay’s guinea pig for her knowledge growth in herbal medicine for years… I’m still above ground and feeling better than ever so there is that!

The years have gone by and life has caused our original coven to be separated by hundreds of miles but the lessons learned in that time have stayed with me. The development never stopped but has changed course multiple times as I’ve aged and changed with the cycles of life and my environment.

This is the way.

Always the student.

One of the driving forces in the founding of the Pickeyweedz metaphysical store was to be that store that didn’t exist for us so many years ago. A store of magic and a store of acceptance but also a store for everyone regardless if they are new to the path or practitioners that have been around for years. A store dedicated and rededicated to the Gods and Ancestors without fail every single day since our opening. A store that welcomes everyone but with boundaries firmly in place to protect the susceptible.

This is why it is so important to us to truly be a safe place.

For the seekers.


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