The issue of gate keeping often arises in witchcraft circles – people telling other people what makes a true witch or rather what doesn’t . Sometimes the advice is well meaning though unsolicited and often patronising, whilst other times it is pure snobbishness. Sometimes it arises as a defence mechanism from those who have experienced some sort of trauma or negative treatment, either because of their own practice or at the hands of those who would appropriate and exploit it (and just for the record, I’m not opening that particular can of worms here, you know what I mean. I have written about cultural appropriation before and if you want to, I’m sure you could find those writings).
You will find no gate keeping here either. In my own opinion, people can attach whatever label they like to themselves. However, if we are to be serious about witchcraft, if we truly want to be more than just a label, then we have to put in the graft, there’s no two ways about it. If we are witches, then surely we must practice witchcraft? You can be interested in it but if you are not doing the work or laying the foundations for doing the work, then the title of witch just becomes a meaningless label. Let me explain using my own kickboxing experience as an example.
I used to compete in the kickboxing and boxing rings. I have had numerous fights spanning a ten year period, perhaps slightly longer. I say used to because my last fight was around two years ago and I’ve been absent from my gym for around a year, maybe even longer (I always say I’m going back but sometimes life just gets in the way as we prioritise what becomes more important to us like work, family life, writing…). Now I still think of myself as a fighter. Being a fighter is different than just going down to the gym to train in these disciplines, being a fighter is a mindset. I might be a little ring rusty and a little slower and perhaps quicker to tire, but a fighter none the less. I’ve still got a mean left hook and could still deliver a roundhouse to the head or a steep to the face and I still have that work ethic, though admittedly it is now applied to other endeavours. But am I a fighter in the same sense as those competing now, as those athletes who are currently in the gym, six days a week? I’m not putting in the work as they are, or not at all if I’m being completely honest with myself. I’m not spending hours in gruelling sparring (as any fighter from a good gym will know, sparring is the worst and the best – iron sharpens iron after all), or putting in the road work, or the discipline with eating and diet, so in this sense, am I a fighter? I couldn’t step into a ring right now and hope to win against a good opponent who has been putting in the work. And though I’m an avid fan, if I’m completely honest I’m not a fighter in the true sense of the word, in the practical sense.
To my mind, witchcraft is no different. If we aren’t putting in the work, if we aren’t getting down and dirty magically speaking, then what’s the point in calling ourselves witches? It becomes a hollow and meaningless label and nothing more. In not doing the work, we’re only doing a disservice to ourselves. We are only fooling ourselves.
Like I said at the beginning, there’s no gate keeping here and folks are free to call themselves whatever they so choose. Instead you will find a gentle nudge of encouragement to start or continue the work of becoming all that you are and more. Let us make 2020 the year of the witch and in doing so, the year of action.