Toxic Spirituality – When Witch debate becomes attack (again and again and again.)
art - Natalia Dreprina
There is a toxic fume once more in the atmosphere that seems, once again, to permeate social circles… it spreads leaving a distinctly vile taste in the mouth and infests the stage on which modern spirituality is discussed.
And it keeps re-emerging like a very bad smell.
If you have spent any time engaging in spiritual dialogue, (which for my part is personal interest in Paganism and Witchcraft), be it online or in person, then you become aware of the seemingly ceaseless cycles of negative talking points that lead to finger pointing, name calling, hate filled word vomit… the dregs of human behaviour. Worse still, the people engaging often consider themselves part of “Pagan” or “Witch” groups, seeking to engage in Witch on Witch crime. As though we don’t receive enough judgement from different spiritual groups…
The problem with alot of these issues is that people seem determined to reliterate them every so often to fill a need that must come from a shadow. These unpleasant topics are used to slur, degrade, humiliate and discourage other people far too regularly and leave people concluding that perhaps solitary and silence is the only way to engage in witchcraft.
The more I consider these “topics” the more I am convinced that they are thematic of personal and cultural shadows emerging very much like Hexxus and his toxic love;
If we consider the topics that keep emerging and being used as tools of attack, we can actually find some value in them. Not for the surface debate which is largely just criticism of other people in order to shame, but instead to find out why we might engage in these topics whatsoever.
The “Real Witch” Paradox
This is one of those shadow topics that has endless repercussions; it is invasive, derogatory and defamatory… engaging in slandering other peoples worth, their viability as a spiritual practitioner has only one desired outcome; to destroy another person. Whether it be their reputation in the eyes of others, the devaluation of their deeds, or a personal attack on their psyche, it is truly a heinous topic that invades paganism and other spiritual circles.
This is a subject I have addressed more than once; Are you for Real, Witch?
The problem with this shadow is the many roots it can have; sometimes it is dealing with our own fears of inadequacy by attacking others, sometimes it emerges from a place of xenophobic or racist ideologies, or sometimes from sexism, sometimes homophobia…
Dealing with the shadow element of the “Real Witch paradox” is tricky, because the shadow slips into other areas as we seek to address one element, self inadequacy that does not wish to be ‘dealt’ with often hides behind seeking to highlight supposed inadequacy in others, and the specifics can shift quickly if the root of the shadow is under threat of being examined.
Ultimately there seems to be only one answer: No one gets to define what is ‘real’ and what is ‘not’ in our spirituality; not even us. Our perception of our spiritual paths, what works for us, our ‘truth’ shifts as we do, grows as we do, and ultimately changes.
At any given point we could be making what might seem, in hindsight, a mistake… but sometimes the mistake is the very point; the stumbling block that allows us to challenge ourselves to be better in the future.
The shadow that surrounds accusing others of not being a “real witch” grasps at a need to control; to control how we are seen, how valid our practice is, how we are represented… and though authenticity and truth to our own path is important (at least to ourselves) it does not substantiate the idea that our truth is more valid – different practices to our own do not therefore morph into wrong practices.
Ultimately I consider this concept to be a paradox because there is no single or correct definition of what a Witch is (or indeed one spirituality, or one notion of paganism…) in that Witchcraft and associated spiritual pathwalking is a largely personal practice based on thousands of intimate and private experiences. Thousands upon thousands of tiny sparks that build up to a burning ember of connection to self, soul, and divinity, which no one should seek to undermine; not in ourselves and certainly not in others.
2. The “How very dare you” phenomena
This is one of those off shoots of the “Real Witch paradox” that quickly turns ugly. Usually presented as a self righteous attack it similarly seeks to make others feel or appear small, misinformed, misguided; frequently “holier than thou” diatribe is disseminated as an attack on the intellectual rationale of another human being.
Unfortunately this sort of Shadow often comes from individuals within the community who initially we think of as being role-models; experts, teachers, but when we express an opinion differing from their own, or debate a topic from a differing viewpoint, we are met with the “How very dare you” phenomena (usually coupled with some insults from the ‘real witch’ paradox) in order to assert their authority and knowledge. Your efforts in spiritual investigation are seemingly threatening to their position as teacher and this shadow rears its head.
One would think investigative spirituality was the cornerstone of modern paganism but in alot of places the need to hold on to apparent tradition (as is the case in many other dogmatic religions) rears its head with the ‘older is better’ adage; refusing to consider the concept of evolutionary spirituality that grows as we do.
This shadow again has multiple possibilities of causation; that those “teachers” want to be the leaders of their particular field and resent competition, are resistant to change or are enamoured with one way of seeing the world and refuse outright to consider others. Debate and discussion are useful tools, and sadly the art of debate in modern society seems to be under attack, on a social level “I am King” is the current trend for a response to those not in agreement; a shadow that is desperate to prove self worth and therefore hints at the lack of it.
Witchcraft in my view,
“Witchcraft is a highly individualised path which is constantly flowing and evolving throughout time; it should not, and arguably cannot become stagnant, lest it die a death within the heart of the practitioner.” – Joey Morris
Resistance to change is definitely part of the human psyche and is something I have often wrestled with and continue to do so as part of my ongoing investigation into the Shadow Ogham – Silver Birch.
All I can advise in the area of being disappointed with mentors is simply this;
Don’t put anyone on a pedestal.
I learnt this the hard way though and I suspect that is true for most people. Do not give up on your spiritual research, your truth, because your voice is needed. This is a lesson I had to reiterate for myself recently with my connection to the Goddess Morrigan against those who claim “how dare I follow the Goddess Morrigan” because I am not (insert insult of choice here; Irish enough, Intelligent enough, Traditional enough) and after meditation with the Goddess herself came to this conclusion;
“The lesson from Goddess Morrigan appears to be; what is your voice worth? Can you stand behind your truth even whilst others fling hatred at you for it? Can you cleave through the disease that clings to a jealous system? Can you believe in the goodness of women even as some of them fulfil your mothers predictions of the petty self serving nature of “all” women? Can you rise and rise and rise again whilst they strike you?
I will always rise.”
– Joanne Morris
Remember this if nothing else: The Universe, the Gods, Deity, and Magick… do not need anyone elses permission to speak to who they choose.
Not even self-appointed spiritual ‘experts.’
3. Selling your Witchcraft as a trade makes you a Whore
Yes, this is an actual line I have had thrown at me, and this is a personal one, for obvious reasons, as the creatrix behind Starry Eyed Supplies and for those of us that pour a little of our heart and soul into everything we do and create the harm this attack of others shadow can do can feel debilitating.
Witchcraft by itself is often considered an art that does not necessarily require spirituality as in and of itself it is a “craft” – a process of creation. Whilst that is a whole other area of discussion (a fascinating one, at that) this somehow leads certain individuals to say that every witch should be crafting all the physical items they ever use, and the sale of purchase of witchcraft and related items (divination, spells and so forth) is sacrilege.
Usually however the shadow of jealousy comes into play with this, as it is when a person is successful at their trade – be that Tarot readings, Witchcraft books, the Selling of Spell items that such namecalling comes into play.
Every single person I have ever met that has a successful business that involves spiritual elements has engaged in this because they felt it was a calling from soul to do so; and they work damn hard at what they do, even if others cannot see that. They will invest in perfecting their craft through courses, trial and error, extensive reading; and all their efforts are largely ignored by the catcalls of people who decide that all they provide should be for free (because it is of a spiritual nature.)
The math here doesn’t add up; other religious paths pay their priests, give homes to their vicars and show value to the spiritual work of those that live in spiritual service; and we, as human beings living in a modern era simply have to pay the bills.
Just because someone creates art – the art of their vision and soul no less – does not entitle anyone to the free access to that service, and sadly, the people that often come under fire in this manner tend to be some of the most giving souls in the world. Many I have seen come under fire have a plethora of free content that they ‘give’ to the world and are still subjected to emotional blackmail in order to coerce them to either stop sharing their light with the world or to become a beggar in the streets; as though salesmanship was completely corrupt on every level.
The Shadow of jealousy pops up here at those who resent the truth and light of those who succeed, discounting any and all effort or hardships of those who do.
I understand completely the frustration and envy that arises when others have incredible overnight success when we have worked hard and do not see as much fruit to our labour; that element I struggle with myself. But engaging in the attack of other individuals is not the route to being a better or even more successful version of ourselves; mudslinging doesn’t dull anyone elses shine but our own. It’s toxic. It only poisons within.
Furthermore, we can choose instead to celebrate our uniqueness as individuals – we all have strengths and weaknesses, and we will be talented at certain areas and not others; and that should be a cause for celebration, not jealousy.
There is a tendency in modern society to draw attention to our failures; where we feel we are not enough and what we lack – instead of celebrating our own unique and special brand of weirdness which can result in us lashing out at others who we perceive as living their truth, succeeding in spiritual business and service.
The only thing I have ever found that works with combating this shadow is this:
Never, ever, give up.
Whatever your dream may be – and let it be your dream not a pale imitation of someone elses journey – if it is truly what your heart desires, and what you soul requires, then don’t give up, and moreover, don’t compare.
Spirituality is a personal journey, however that takes shape.. and you can rock that in YOUR way, without bashing someone elses.
Many Blessings Starlets,
– Joanne Morris 2017
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