Am I a Witch?
It’s almost a prerequisite when you meet someone
new in the Pagan Community. Almost always, the first question asked by
the other person is, how did you become a Witch. Almost always, the
answer to that question includes the phrase, I’ve always felt this way,
I just didn’t know what to call it.
Witchcraft is something that calls to you. If you
are a Witch, you know exactly what I mean. You don’t have to try to be
a Witch. You don’t have to change what you believe to be a Witch. You
start to read, or you talk to other Witches, and you find that the
information you get seems to describe almost exactly what you’ve always
felt. You find that there is a name for what you already believe. It’s
In my own case, the journey to becoming a Witch
took many years. Around the age of ten, my mother stopped taking us to
church. We had been going to the church she and her family had been
going to for years. It was an old church. We purchased and laid a new
corner stone for the church on its one hundredth anniversary when I was
about eight. I don’t know the exact reason we stopped going to church.
My mother once told me that she felt that some of the people in the
church didn’t want or need the help of people from the suburbs.
I’m not sure exactly what happened, but I know my
mother felt very hurt by the experience. She looked for a church closer
to home, but never found anything that suited her. Since there really
were no kids at the church we had been at, except my brother and two
cousins, I certainly wasn’t upset about no longer needing to get up
early to spend several very boring hours in a very old building, with
what seemed to me at the time as equally old people.
My formal religious education stopped then. I
could, and most definitely did ask religious questions of my parents. I
remember when a neighbor got divorced, and then a few months later had
his new girlfriend move in. My mom liked the girlfriend but was
somewhat scandalized, and I asked her why it was against the law to
live with someone before being married. She told me that God’s Law said
that a man and a woman should be married before living as a man and a
wife, but that it was not illegal. I thought that was a good thing,
since the neighbor was a Denver cop.
My dad had been raised Catholic, but because of
personal tragedy, had fallen away from the church some ten years before
I was born. My aunt, who I never knew, married a man, had two boys with
him, and he killed her, then himself in a jealous rage. The funeral
Mass was for both of them. Both were given Last Rights, and laid
together at the cemetery. Everything was done equally for the two of
them, the only sign that he had done anything wrong in the eyes of the
church, was that his casket was at the back of the church, hers was at
My dad was very close to his sister. They were the
best of friends. When he asked the Priest why after committing not one,
but two Mortal Sins, his brother-in-law was being given the same
treatment as his victim, the Priest said that God forgives all Sin.
Having grown up in an Italian family, and the Roman Catholic Church, my
dad had been taught that Mortal Sin was unforgivable. The answer had
caused my dad to question a God whom he believed was being
hypocritical, or at the very least, question the hypocrisy of the
Church where its stance on Mortal Sin lay.
Because of that, when asked questions of a
religious nature, my dad tended to put answers in the third person. He
would say that some people believe this or that, he never came out and
said what he believed. I think a lot of it was that he really wasn’t
sure what he believed. His fundamental beliefs were formed within the
Catholic church, but he could not reconcile them with what had happened
all those years ago at his sister’s funeral.
As a teenager, I started to question what I had
been taught as a child in church. My parents taught my brother and I to
be independent thinkers, to make our own choices, and not follow the
crowd. It was that basic parental question, “If everyone else jumped
off a bridge, would you jump too?” Silly as the question is, it really
does have deep meaning. I see people following others off the
metaphorical bridge every day.
People base political stances not on what they’ve
found out themselves, but on what others tell them. They say they
believe something, but when someone questions them why, they are stuck.
They can’t tell you because they don’t know. They let others decide for
them. I was always taught that I should get the facts myself, and know
who I wanted to vote for, not to fall in line because everyone else
seemed to. My dad always made sure I knew that same philosophy works
for everything else in life too.
So why am I a Witch? A lot of people, especially
the younger ones, come to Witchcraft as a form of rebellion, or because
it would be cool to be able to cast spells. I admit that the Magickal
aspects were what first attracted me, but the more I read, the more I
learned from others, the Spiritual side just fit what I already had
decided was right for me.
Let me give you an example. After puberty, but
before I became sexually active, I started to question the moral issues
I had been taught about sex. My mom had always told me that sex was the
ultimate expression of love between two people. She also said that
while sex wasn’t the most important part of a marriage, it was a large
part of it. I never understood exactly what that meant until I fell in
love the first time.
So here I am a teenager, pondering the morality of
sex. The church had always put rules and regulations on sex. Society
had said that sex was dirty, and somehow wrong, yet I was noticing that
everyone was obsessed with it. I was smart enough to realize that
society got its values from the dominant religious framework, and that
caused my first Spiritual crisis.
Here was my dilemma…
I have always been a very logical thinker. Mom
taught me that sex is the ultimate expression of love. Society and the
church seemed to say that sex is dirty, and absolutely wrong outside of
marriage. If sex is dirty no matter what, how does getting married
change something wrong, into something right? If something dirty is the
ultimate expression of love, doesn’t that also make love dirty and
I struggled with this question for quite some
time, until I finally decided that I needed my own code of ethics. I
realized that only I can decide what is right or wrong for me. I wasn’t
going to jump off the bridge just because everyone else was. I realized
that as long as the people involved wanted it, that sex was perfectly
fine. It didn’t matter if they were married or not, gay or straight,
two people or twenty two, if they wanted to have sex, why shouldn’t
That was the start. It dawned on me soon after,
that if I could decide what was right or wrong for me for sex, I could
do the same for any other issue. I never wrote down, or made a formal
code of ethics for myself. I figured that if it felt right, it probably
was right. I decided to trust myself, to know right from wrong. Society
can do whatever it wants. I am the only one who determines what is
right for me.
Years later I found Witchcraft. I had always been
interested in the idea. As a teen, I used to get a mail order catalog
for books. I was a ravenous reader, and my parents encouraged me to
read as much as possible. My dad never understood why I read Sci-Fi and
Fantasy. He thought reading should be to gain knowledge. My mom on the
other hand enjoyed reading the books after I had finished them, and we
would talk about them. I will say that my choice of reading material
gave me one of the best vocabularies of any high school student.
I can remember looking through the book catalogs
and seeing Raymond Buckland’s Complete Book Of Witchcraft
there. It always seemed that when the book was in the catalog, I never
had the money to buy it, and when I had the money, it wasn’t there. I
realized later that had I gotten it at that age, I wouldn’t have been
interested in what it was really about.
Everything happens for a reason.
When I did finally get my hands on that book, it
opened a whole new world to me. I had reached an age where I knew how
to be an independent thinker, but had been struggling with my thoughts
on religion. At the time, all I knew was the Judeo-Christian form of
religion. I had heard about Eastern forms, but they didn’t really
interest me. I had been calling myself an agnostic for years, because I
really didn’t know what I believed, and I knew it.
Enter the first books I read on Witchcraft,
borrowed from a housemate, and first teacher. Suddenly I found that
just about everything I had come up with on my own, was reflected in
these books. I found a name to put to what I had been for years. I was
a Witch. It seemed only natural that there should be a God and a
Goddess. The views I read on social issues including sex all paralleled
what I had already decided, and on top of it all, this Spiritual Path
didn’t just encourage independent thinking, it pretty well demanded it.
I had found my Path, but in doing so, I discovered
my second Spiritual crisis. What if everything I had been taught as a
child, really was the Truth? What if after committing myself to this
Path, I died and found myself in front of the all-powerful God of my
childhood, trying to explain why I had strayed from the True Path?
Would this be damning myself to Hell?
I had never been really religious in my life, but
this idea scared the crap out of me. I had found something that called
to me. It resonated within every part of who I was, but I was afraid
that following this Path could cause me to forever be barred from
Heaven. The Bible is full of stories of a vengeful god. He smote entire
cities that displeased Him. He caused a flood that killed all but one
family. He threw man out of Paradise because man did the one thing he
was told not to.
This was serious. I could be putting my Immortal
Soul at risk here. I had never been religious, but all of a sudden I
was scared that this one choice could cause irreparable harm. I
think…no, I know that this had come about because my mom had died of
cancer only a couple of years earlier, when I was 21. I hadn’t thought
much about death and the afterlife until that happened.
My mom’s sickness and death had shown me in a way
nothing else could, that I was mortal. I would die. The loss of a
parent has a way of doing that. The two people that have always been
there for you, and now one of them is gone. I will never see her again
in this life, and this choice I was making could keep me from ever
seeing her again. It’s been over 20 years now since she died, and I
still miss my mom. I think of her almost daily. The hurt and pain faded
years ago, but the memory is still there.
My dad fell in love and married a wonderful woman
after mom died. Terry is now my mom, but she can never replace my
mother, and the wonderful thing is, she never tried. It took me a while
to come to terms with the idea that by following my heart and embracing
Witchcraft, I might be barring myself from Heaven. In the end I decided
that as long as I was a good person, and God could find no fault with
how I lived my life, that is all that matters.
The point of exposing my life to you, the reader,
is that on this Path, you are going to face many decisions. My choices
are my own, you will probably not face the same things I did, but then
I will probably not face the choices you will. There will be times when
you question if this is the right Path for you. There may be times when
you question every choice you’ve ever made.
Questioning is a good thing. You only find answers
when you question. Unlike other Spiritual Paths, Witchcraft encourages
the questioner, and the questions. I cannot tell you if you belong on
this Path or not, only you can answer that question. Even if you decide
to return to the religion you were born into, at least you questioned
enough to look around. Having looked around, you can return to your
original Path should you choose to, secure in what you’ve found.
Everyone should be secure enough in their beliefs to know why they hold
them. That is the first step to true Enlightenment.
I became a Witch and it has made my life rich with
knowledge, experience, and friends. I never looked back at my choice
until the idea of writing this hit me. I do not, and never will regret
my choice to become a Witch. It is what I am, and have always been.
Years later I read something on a church marquee and smiled at the
confirmation I no longer needed. It said simply; all Gods are One.
from why I'm a witch
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