I’ve been feeling somewhat reflective of late; my mind seems to ponder over what some might consider pointless or trivial questions…such as why am I a Witch? What makes me a Witch? What are my core beliefs? What is my central mythos? Questions undoubtedly spurred on by discussions on online forums around definitions, what is magic? What is sorcery? What is witchcraft? These may seem tiresome, repetitive questions but their importance is often overlooked and occasionally a good audit of what we have learned (if anything) can be a powerful driving force for change…have I learned what I hoped to, achieved what I set out to, accomplished what I needed to? And, if the answer to any of these questions is “no” then what do I need to do to rectify? If the answer to any of these is “yes” then what’s next?
The more I ponder on these questions, the more evasive the answers seem to become and as a keen gardener it’s at times like this I look to my tiny plot of land out back to help me understand the big wide world as a whole, the microcosm as a reflection of the macrocosm. It is at this time of year Gardeners across the length and breadth of England start planning, asking themselves the same questions. Winter is nigh on over, the snow has melted, the rains have washed away the detritus, the mists have almost faded and the waxing sun pours light into all the nooks and crannies so that we might see more clearly. Often what we are faced with is little more than a cold patch of bare earth, an understated and symbolic prompt to start from ground up, from grass roots and get back to basics. A perfect example of life reflecting arte!
The soil, which is the basis upon which any garden is built, often dictates what one can grow well and less well and so it is with The Craft. It is our specific tradition(s) that we build our practise upon. Good fertile soil, well drained and full of rich nutrients provided by all that has gone before is what provides us with a strong, fulfilling and rewarding practise as Witches… it is what the roots push deep into, providing stability, security and of course, a foundation. Yet we would be foolish to think we must simply accept the lot (or even the plot) we have been handed, any gardener knows that the poorest soil can always be improved, for we as Witches are not reconstructionist, the past provides valuable resources for a continuing, growing and thriving craft but this is the 21st century and it is up to us to cultivate it to suit our needs, to sow our seed and this time of year is as good a time to start as any! Sure, the land holds memories just as the Craft currents themselves do, but it must be applicable today otherwise it is nothing more than barren wasteland.
As ‘walkers between the worlds’ Witches are much like the plants we grow, part of us delving deep into the dark depths of the Earth drawing upon chthonic wisdom, another half climbing daily towards the warmth of the Sun and the starry expanse beyond. A plant cannot exist without both, for root and stem are essential…put all your energy into one and the other will surely suffer. Without good roots a plant cannot draw moisture and nutrients, cannot hold on when the winds lash at its fragile frame, without a strong stem and good leaves the plant cannot manufacture food and has no structure to support flower nor fruit. And so it is with the Witch…balance is key. To straddle both the mundane and magical, there must be a symbiosis between the two. The magical can support us when the winds of the mundane threaten to uproot us just as the humdrum helps keep us grounded. Yet even with all the essentials in abundance, our gardens, our Craft still need care and attention. Weeds and pests are always on the offensive, trying to invade our patch and blight our crops…distractions, obstacles and challenges are sent, on what seems like a daily basis at times, to test our endurance and our determination.
In essence, we have the same requirements as our green kin; we are all living creatures after all. Without heaven’s waters, without the warming brilliance of inspiration and the nourishment of continual learning and past experiences we too would wither under the weight of inertia and stagnation. But it is up to us to harness all the wisdom that is out there…just as every leaf is a powerhouse trapping sunlight to make food, the desire to learn is keen in every member of The Faith…Wisdom and experience inspired by the Powers and given time to germinate and grow shall create blossoms big and small and furthermore an adaptability which enables us to withstand the changing seasons and turning tides…nothing can grow when we continually tug at the stem and similarly nothing will grow if we do…well…nothing!
Still, all those mental meanderings aside I still find myself wondering about the nature of ‘Her darling crew’. Indeed, we are individually raised by The Old Ones, our roots within our ancestors’ soil reaching towards the starry expanse above and we too nurture and raise our own seeds, borne from the fruits of our growth, and our labours too. So when presented with this analogy, I can’t help but ask myself…In the great garden of The Craft, are we as Witches the Gardeners, or are we the growing plants within?