I know, it’s been ages, right? I’m still here but keeping up with the blog has been tricky these past few months. Winter was tough (seems a long time ago now) and I was faced with many challenges, just life stuff which all gets in the way and distracts us from things which don’t put food on the table / pay bills. I’ve been keeping my eye on things, and lately, I don’t know whether this is actually the case or not, it feels like there is a lot more news and talk on suicide, depression and anxiety, it feels like an epidemic. Recently a friend of mine witnessed someone just walk out in front of a train…how bad must someone’s life have gotten to be able to override that overwhelming survival instinct inherent within every living thing? Personal circumstances over the last few months have got me thinking more about this. Most 21st century lifestyles promote and make us susceptible to depression or severe stress and anxiety at some point to lesser or greater extents. Despite a world full of technology, modern convenience and supposed better living standards we actually have less time to give to the things we love, less time for family and friends, less time to relax and be with ourselves. This way of living, this immense pressure and the high standards required just to survive is actually taking us away from any real sense of freedom, and inevitably the cracks appear, and people reach breaking point.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t think I would go as far as saying I’ve been ‘depressed’ but I have been plagued by levels of anxiety over the past few months which I haven’t experienced for many years and have struggled to get a grip on. Life stuff…that’s all…mundane boring day to day stuff that demands time and attention. It all comes at once and there are only so many hours in the day and ultimately, we have to prioritise and sadly its always the things which make us who we are, that make life more than just existing that get put on the back burner for another day. The emotional cascade and the negative feedback effect can be rapid and dramatic and day by day we find we feel worse. As a Witch I made promises, promises which I was struggling to keep… we simply can’t do it all and the more responsibilities we have, the more pressure we inevitably feel and, if you’re anything like me, the pressure is always tarnished with guilt, the demons start whispering in your ear, and soon they are shouting, telling you how crap you are, what a let-down you are, you’re not good enough, you’ll never be good enough and you are, in short, failing at life. You believe them, why? Because you know you aren’t giving anything time and attention so how can you realistically be doing anything well?
Getting myself out of this rut is not proving easy but it occurred to me recently that maybe I’m simply a victim of my own poor perspective. Its so easy to forget that Witchcraft, like being a parent, is not something you ever stop doing or being. But with centuries of lies and brainwashing from organised religion, its very easy to slip back into bad habits, to think oneself as a ‘bad witch’ because you didn’t have time to do that one ritual. This is bullshit, utter bullshit!! Witchcraft lives in the heart, it burns in the spirit of its people and finds expression in the every day. There is no separation…and neither should there be…this being one of the prime reasons I do not ‘cast a circle’…I do not want to separate myself.
So, here’s the challenge…when the pressures and responsibilities of the world can be overwhelming, how do we, as 21st century Witches keep the faith at the forefront of everything we do so that our Craft doesn’t become just another responsibility or something else to add to the ‘To do’ list?
It has to be big, it has to be crucial… it has to matter. Most of us would say “why would we do something that doesn’t matter?”
…let me explain…
I made a pledge to myself this year to never buy another fruit, vegetable or herb from a shop again. This only came about because I got the allotment, which, in addition to the garden should provide plenty, if not surplus produce. However, its reached a point in the year now where certain crops are doing well, but others are not. Most people wouldn’t be bothered…just nip to the supermarket and buy what you need, but because I’m a headstrong SOB, as far as I’m concerned, I have a mission, I’m determined, and I feel genuine panic that we may not have apples or carrots this year (for example!). If it’s not a success we don’t eat (much anyway) so for that reason it demands my time, and it gets my time, every single day.
But there has been a secondary effect which I was unaware of until recently. Growing and relying on our own crops, money saving and self-sufficiency aside, has drastically changed my relationship with the Old Ones from being something akin to “Hi Spirit X how are you…could I please have a favour in exchange for this snack” to “Whoever the fuck is listening please help me… don’t blight my crops…I’ll do whatever you want!” Maybe not (always) that extreme but ultimately, the trappings of 21st century life cease to be a problem and can almost seem trivial, I am just a human animal who needs to eat, and in order for that to happen I need the spirits of the land to provide…if you’re looking for an uncorrupted, unadulterated belief system…there it is…!
We no longer need (and when I say need here I mean NEED!!!!) rites to increase the fertility of the land, we have supermarkets, we no longer need love spells, we have dating apps on our phones and can hook up with anyone anytime, we no longer need herbs and healing charms, we have doctors and pharmaceutical companies, we no longer need anti-theft spells, we have the police and CCTV cameras. Once upon a time these were critical to the survival and proliferation of community. It’s no wonder we have become so disconnected, all of us… even those of us who consider ourselves Pagan (or whatever) haven’t much understanding of what it feels like to work with spirits in such life dependant matters. Even with the increase in animistic beliefs, we still place more faith in TV, banks, cars and mobile phones than the actual plants and animals which are providing our food.
So, the spirits become ‘low priority’ and the corporate world of money, 9-5 and bill paying goes to the top of the list, we become less connected still and the rest is, as they say, history…and endless spiral into dependency on entirely the wrong agencies.
Not everyone is into gardening and horticulture, I get that and I’m not here to preach what we should be doing, but for the sake of our sanity, our happiness and, most importantly, our freedom, we all need to find that one thing that brings our Craft back into the realm of necessity, even if its only personal necessity.
I’ve now learned and am convinced that trying to fight the obligations of the 21st century ‘to do list’ is nigh on impossible, and although things need to change faster the world is as it is and will be for a while still. Beating ourselves up over our perceived shortcomings and failures is detrimental to our mental, emotional and therefore our physical wellbeing. With a shift in perspective I realise I’ve inadvertently addressed this by making the allotment project an ‘eat or don’t eat’ situation. In a strange way I have had to go backwards to go forwards, return to a lifestyle, at least in part, which western civilisation cast aside centuries ago in exchange for convenience. This in turn has made the Craft and my relationship with the land and spirits more essential to my wellbeing than ever. I always sought out Witchcraft because my soul yearned and called out for it, now I practise Witchcraft because I feel my survival depends on it and its as embedded in daily life as weeding or watering the plants…