by Christopher Penczak, edited by Tina Whittle
The apocryphal ancient curse has come true! We are living in interesting times. Our current experience is chaotic, filled with upheaval and change with no plateau in sight, no way to stabilize a “new normal.” Technological advancements in electronic connection have changed our society, and the changes keep coming ever more rapidly. What does this mean for the Witch, the one ostensibly harkening back to more simple times, attuned to the pace of seasons and the rhythm of natural cycles?
I think many reach towards the world of Witchcraft to seek the solidness of a more ancient archetype, to access the personal power necessary to maintain a level of control over the chaos. I can’t disagree. Witches are called to chaos, not necessarily to stop it in any way, but to show us how to embrace and how to flow with whatever is on the path. While we are a middle way, we are not anchored to the center. We swing from side to side on the serpent’s trail of our crooked path, from light to dark and summer to winter. The balance is found in the flow, not the fixedness.
And in these days of social media, where all is shared, photographed and broadcast live as you are doing it, where is our ethos “to keep silent” found? I see a lot of knowledge being shared (or at least a lot of information being reshared). I see a lot of willfulness, both good and bad. I see much daring, sometimes into brilliance and sometimes into foolishness, but that is a risk in any age and time. Those are three of the four points to our pyramid of the Witch. But how can one keep silent?
In organizing and promoting community, we have not only the usual social behavior of posting and tweeting and streaming our activities, but the desire—in fact, the need—to be open and transparent in our community, making things as available as possible to our growing groups. Where there are many areas where we want to be as open, clear, and transparent as possible, there are quite a few where we don’t. We are an occult tradition. We do work in darkness. Not everything requires the light to grow. So how do we differentiate between openness and honesty, the attitude that “sunlight is the best disinfectant” to prevent abuses of power, while still honoring the magickal axiom of silence and the blessings of darkness?
As I was talking to some folks in the Temple of Witchcraft community at various points in their training, one said to me, “When you join a Witchcraft tradition, you have to assume there are all sorts of magickal things going on that you are not involved in.” I agree. There are various classes and students at different points of the training. There is magick involving the leadership for goals of the organization—community centers, land development, and other resource wish-list items. There is magick and visionary work done by the festival coordinating staff to make sure we receive inner world guidance and support for our yearly gathering. There are offerings to the allies of the land when we harvest from the garden. And yes, there are secret groups learning and exploring new concepts and teachings that might be restricted by level of experience, location, or knowledge that participants have already demonstrated in the community. Other things are open to all members, or even to the public.
Sometimes in trying to be both the Old World embodiment of “witchery” and the New World embodiment of “wokeness,” you get stuck trying to be all things to all people and don’t get to just “be.” That leads to being burnt-out and resentful of both our magick and our service to the community, the spirits, and the greater good. All things have their place. All things have their season. You don’t have to be the master of all things, let alone the jack of all trades, in magick. As I see it, as a Witch, you simply have to be what is Necessary, and that is with a capital N, referring to the force of Necessity as embodied by the Greek Goddess Ananke. We can relate it to True Will or Dharma on an individual level if you’d like. At any moment, ask yourself: is it most appropriate for the greater good to be open and transparent or to be silent, to be working with others or keeping to myself? In this moment should I take a more active role? Should I support? Should I go home as this one doesn’t require me at all? Should I give myself permission to rest, relax, or have frivolous fun? Often frivolity is quite Necessary.
In these chaotic times, we must discover ways of just being, even while we are doing whatever we feel we should be doing, and find the balance between the public and the private, the active and the quiet. We have to realize that balance is dynamic and not static. In walking that ebb and flow between the two, we find the center still point that is in the soul of the Witch, and that is the timeless quality we reach back to when we seek empowerment in these ways of the Craft. We are called to bring this work into the new, while honoring the old. Only we can do it.