I could react any number of ways, but the bottom line would be - I could take everything I knew and throw it out or I could accept that it damned well works and not really give a f*** about anything else. I chose for no f***s to be given. I chose to not engage with "coven" anymore, until such time as the Powers see fit to stamp my ass and hand me a passel of neophytes. I will tell them the full history of what they are about to learn, blemishes and all. They, too, can choose.
I'm not telling you to do what I do. I've mentored people and specifically told them to not do what I do. Who would want to do what I do? I have now been an Occultist for longer than I have not by a good measure. I saw the online pagan infantcy, its bumbling toddler years, its slow progression to childhood, its tweens... and now its awkward coming-of-age (its just about ready to go off to college, I think, scrambling for the future). The last two years have shown something really unflattering slowly burbling to the surface of online-pagandom's personality... insecurity.
A is for "Authenticity" - the stuff that really, really, doesn't matter.
There are billions of unique individuals who can be slotted roughly into various categorizations. None of them look at a five-year-old and say "You can't be a person, because I was a person first. You're just copying me.", none of them say "Hey, kid... I was blond WAY before you. Stop stealing from me." none of them say "Oh, look how special you think you are with your bent pinkies. JFC, get a life, poser!" So, it shouldn't come as any shock or surprise that I don't enjoy seeing people do pretty much this exact thing when it comes to every, single, facet of Occultism and "woo woo" topics.
There is a need amongst humans in general, but more specifically witches, to be able to distinguish "I'm in this for the long haul" from "I'm in this to make my parents uncomfortable." It is the fundamental statement "I am not shallow about this. This is important to me. I do not want to even be thought of as having come to this place in a shallow way." Because, well, we've all me that one really shallow person - in fact, that statement probably brings one or more people to mind. I could go through a list of flaky characteristics, but you already know that person.
It's not about trying to claim you're something you're not - unless you are. It's about making sure that there is a distinction - a distinction that is important to you. But is the distinction all that important?
I picked up my first book in Witchcraft because I wanted to see if it did the job. It could've been a worse book, but goddamn, it could've been a lot better (Watch as the witch raises her fist to the sky and shouts "Damn you, Cunningham!!!") I called myself "Wiccan" for a while. I was wrong. It did not change the value of my heart, my soul, or my craft. I pursued the thread through Chaoism, through half-hearted Heathenry, through Egypto-Paganism, Tradcraftiness, Ceremonialism...etc. And I'm here, where I am, doing what I enjoy doing. I have little bits of all of those things hanging around and I have absolutely no issue with how new or old any of it is.
The results are authentic, therefore whether or not anyone approves of the methods is no nevermind to me.
So, here's a handy checklist for authenticity:
- Does it work for you?
I'm not telling you that my path is the path - in fact, I'd prefer most other folks keep off my particular fork of the crooked road. I'd prefer it not to go the way of "wicca" where the climate gets crowded with gawkers, freaks, geeks, and predators waiting to hop off of a particularly sturdy tree and "attune your chakras".
So, why am I blogging? Because I want people to understand that there's more. There's always more. Every plant, animal, and mineral on the face of this earth can teach you it's own kind of Witchery. Some of it is fantastically, glitteringly, astonishingly, innocent... and others are red in tooth and claw.
THE Mysterium - THE Secret - THE Point is that your road was with you from the beginning, and is the road you will stumble out on to the moment you stop trying to walk down someone else's.
And yet, at the uttering of this, the response is often "But... HOW?" - Go, be a witch. "But how?"
Years and years of hard work and dedication. Find a plant you love and learn it, better it by having it better you. Find an animal and learn it's Craft. Or a spirit-familiar. There are thousands of ways of doing just that, and I'm sure one that'll suit you just fine.