I’ve Been Living A Lie

2016 has been a bitch of a year. I don’t think I know anyone that hasn’t at some point in the year thrown their fists up in the air in an act of defiance to whatever entity rained shit down on them. It was just that kind of year.

In a way it made sense. In numerology 2016 was a Year 9 cycle, a time for endings, cleansing, and releasing. This is often a time when it doesn’t matter how hard you try to swim against the current of chaos, it will take you down eventually. I liken the Year 9 cycle to the Tower card in the tarot. It’s a time when everything that you’ve been working on and creating in your life, from relationships to career progress, are shaken. Some of those things come tumbling down in a fiery wreck of a mess while others stay standing, just a bit worse for wear. In the end, when the cycle ends and the last aftershock is felt, the foundation it all rested upon remains because that was solid as ever.

Year 9’s test you. You have no choice but to come face to face with what works and what doesn’t and to admit that some people, projects, and beliefs just don’t fit anymore and need to go.

For me 2016 was a huge year of waking up. Not so much in the spiritual sense, although there was a bit of that, but more in the area of personal awareness. I realized that for the last three years, from 2013 to now, I’ve been in a very strange transition period. This isn’t news and I’ve talked about it a lot in the past. To spare you the long and repetitive details heres the quick summary:

In 2012 while living between Salem and Boston I had a bit of a spiritual breakdown after completing my Cabot 2nd Degree. I was torn about doing 3rd Degree while also facing the nightmare of my husband needing to be back in San Diego for work again. After deciding not to stay in Massachusetts alone to do 3rd Degree I hit a crisis point with my path. I never fit in in Salem and never really made any friends there. It was around this time that I decided to leave the Pagan community completely to do some soul searching.

I quit all the public Pagan and witchy work I’d been doing from the Modern Witch Podcast to even blogging. Right after getting back to San Diego I had a “break up” with my best friend that came a bit out of left field. I changed my name from my public Pagan name back to my actual name, declared my full intent of parking my broom for good for the time being and watched, with total lack of surprise but a twinge of disgust, as a large portion of my “friends” made a mass exodus from me.

Only recently have I forgiven those people. The hurtful comments I got then, and even still get now, no longer dig at my soul. Just because I choose to explore other things outside the witch circle doesn’t make me any less a witch. Just because I spent three years focused on spiritual magick like gratitude, mindfulness, forgiveness, intention, and manifesting doesn’t make me any less a witch. My decision to spiritually point my ship toward Buddhism for three years and not some version of Wiccan-ish Neo-Paganism doesn’t make me any less a witch.

My soul was calling out for something beyond the circle, for something that didn’t require wands and swords and cauldrons. But since I decided to explore outside that space I wasn’t “witchy enough” anymore. Because I didn’t feel the need to parade myself around in a cape and pointy hat saying “I’m a witch!” to every person I met, I wasn’t “witchy enough.” At least, not in the eyes of other people who call themselves witches.

But there was something that made me less a witch over those three years. And it’s all clear now as this Year 9 cycle ends.

I was allowing other people and community bullshit to take away my power and my joy and to, in a way, sour me on other witches and the witchcraft community. That in turn led to me packing up my cauldron and going home and refusing to share it with anyone else. Ever.

You may not have seen me talking a lot about witchcraft and you may not have seen a lot of signs of magick happening in my world for the last three years, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t happening. My Craft is now, and always has been, for me. It’s not a fashion statement, it’s not a fuck you to society, it’s not something to make me “edgy.” It never has been. I’ve been at this for three decades; 3/4 of my life! It’s just who I am and I don’t need to do it in front of anyone to validate who I am.

 

Just because I wasn’t advertising it all over the Internet doesn’t mean some serious magickal shit wasn’t happening. This binding, the first I’d done in a long time, saw complete effects in less than 24 hours. That’s what happens when you focus on your energy and your ability to work with the mind and THEN come back to the altar.

 

But this is where the lie comes in. I spent those three years trying so hard to run away from myself, mainly because I was unhappy with other people and the Pagan community as a whole, that I tried to be someone I wasn’t. Without actually realizing it I was trying desperately to fit into a different community, one that I found to be far more open and accepting (at the time), and I did it with all the trappings and appearances that come with it.

I look back on it now and liken it to the idea of “dress for the job you want.” I wanted to be at peace, reflective, still, more connected with my higher self and Divine spiritual wisdom…and all of those things tend to get laughed off in the witch and Pagan community as “new age fluff” (at least in my experience, your milage may vary). I traded pentagrams for OM symbols, Goddesses for Buddha, and ritual magick for meditation.

I only worked magick and did rituals when I really needed to, which became less and less as my energy work and higher spiritual work deepened. My ability to manifest based on focused energy and intention alone, without the help of gods and spirits and rituals, exploded.

I was still a witch because it’s just what I am! I believe fully I didn’t choose it, it chose me…or followed me from a past life, who knows. But what I do know is that over those three years and with all the things I learned and experienced in other communities and traditions I became a FAR BETTER witch than I would have been had I NOT done this.

As I tried to graft on this image of the peaceful spiritual warrior onto myself I started to realize it never felt right. Granted there were more than a few times in the last three years when I would put on my witch finery and feel like that didn’t work either.

When I moved in October and I was packing my stuff, I started to look at the actual “things” that I’d gathered over the last three years. The stuff that doesn’t really matter but for some reason we think it does. The a-typical yoga and spiritual inspired boho wardrobe, the collection of crystal jewelry, the obscene number of mala beads that I’d collected (which, don’t get me wrong, I love)…and I felt like I didn’t know who’s stuff this was.

I also realized while packing that I hadn’t once in nine months opened my storage bin of herbs, my chest of sabbat ritual gear, and I’d hardly changed my altar more than once or twice. I hadn’t actually done a full ritual working in months and I couldn’t remember the last time I’d cast a circle (actually, I did remember just recently and it was over a year ago).

Since I was on this kick to get rid of anything I hadn’t used since our previous move, I needed to go through these totes and boxes of witchy and Pagan stuff that had been stored in a closet without seeing the light of day since that move. As I did that I stopped to hold things like my Excalibur dagger I use for circle casting and my poppets that I’d collected from my travels. Smelling all the different oils, tinctures, and potions that I still had but hadn’t used in ages, I felt something click. Or maybe it was more of a snap.

This new version of “me” that I was trying so hard to create because I thought she’d be the happy, successful, loved, and celebrated woman was a BIG FUCKING LIE. This wasn’t me! And when I stopped to ask myself why I was really doing all those things I’d been doing I realized it was either because I was trying to put as much distance between me and the shit in the past that hurt or because I had some ridiculous notion that if I could become this person I would become more successful career wise.

It’s all a lie. Every last bit of it. I’m not that person and I’ll never be those things.

This was the moment that I realized I officially had no more fucks to give about what anyone else wants from me, what anyone else thinks of me, and most importantly, what other people in the magickal and spiritual community are doing, thinking, or kvetching about this week.

It seemed like there was always some big new argument or debate each week in the Pagan community (especially online) and I just don’t care. One of the reasons that I wanted out of the community in the first place was the constant academic pissing contests that went on where if you didn’t know the origins of anything and everything then you were uneducated and not dedicated enough to be “good at your Craft.” Gods forbid you admit to reading a Llewellyn book and you were labeled either lazy or “fluffy bunny.”

I don’t want to debate history and origins and who said what first and what book taught what ritual first. Who the fuck cares! It doesn’t change who we are today. I’d rather LIVE the axioms of the Craft than debate where they came from.

That brings us to today, to a place where I’ve realized what actually does and doesn’t matter for me. I’m at a place now where a lot of things I cared about even just a year ago don’t matter to me anymore. I thought it might help you to understand where I am and what you can expect of me in the new year by making a few declarative statements.

 


 

 I am a Witch…capital W. My magick, my practice, my Craft is not something I feel I need to make a big deal out of. It’s just who I am. And sometimes I may not share things about it, and that’s OK.

 

 Since I’m publicly reclaiming my witch hat, you will see this space transform into more of a witchcraft and magick focused space. However there are topics of a more new age or self-help variety that I will be keeping around because they are important to me. This said, I will not entertain witch wars, Pagan debates, or academic pissing contents. Some might see that as a shallow approach, I see it as staying focused on the practical applications of magick and what matters most…living well in the now with magick as a tool.

 

  I fully, 100%, embrace the dark side of magick and spirituality. Again, it’s not to be “edgy” or to oppose those that are riding on the love and light train. I embrace the dark as well as the light. They go hand in hand. When you are fully steeped in one and never connect with the other, you’re out of balance. I’m not an “an it harm none” Witch. I’m a “do no harm but take no shit” Witch. If darkness, gothy things, necromancy, magick of ethical ambiguity and the like frighten you or make you comfortable, you and I may not be seeing much of each other after today.

 

 I see Witchcraft as a practice and an art, not a religion. You can be a Witch and practice magick and be a Catholic if that’s where you fall spiritually. My spiritual beliefs are truly a combination of the things that feel true for me. They originate from traditions like Buddhism to Celtic Paganism to Shamanism and even some Neo-Wicca, because those are the roots my 11 year old self followed to get here. If you don’t agree with my way of practicing and believing that’s OK since the only person that has to really like it is me.

 

 Also in line with my “no more fucks to give” approach to 2017, I just want to issue a blanket trigger warning to some people. I will say what I want to say here on out without worrying about upsetting or offending any of the social justice warriors who may stop by any of my online spaces. It’s my space after all.

 

 

 When it comes to the work I do I plan to focus simply on sharing the things I love and the practices that have worked for me over all these years. Again, they could come from a lot of different places. For some that will be exciting but for others it will be infuriating. And I’m OK with that.

 

 I will no longer offer any kind of coaching programs or personal healing work. I have decided to focus my time and energy on doing intuitive readings through my Etsy shop and writing. My writing will include everything from stuff here on the blog to new ebooks, print books, and courses. That said, it will be a rare thing for me to lead any live classes. My plan is to focus on creating self-study programs.

 

 I recently reopened by Facebook page and I’m still on the fence about it. I also started to get back on Periscope but got so busy with Samhain readings, and now the holidays, that I haven’t been back. We’ll see where that ends up. In the meantime though you can always find me on Instagram and Twitter.

 


 

I want to really encourage your connection and engagement here on my blog and especially on Instagram. I don’t bite! Please reach out, share comments and thoughts, let me know what you need, what you’d like to learn, what you’d like to read about. I’m going to start doing more videos as well, but they will be right here on my site, not on YouTube or anything (because the whole comment section of almost any video on there is just utter cancer and I refuse to spend my time wading through shitty comments from idiots).

2016 was just the worst. 2017 looks to be a truly new opportunity for change and growth. I’m embracing it completely. In a lot of ways it’s not about changing so much as coming back to myself and letting you come along with me. Hopefully you’ll join me.

You Might Also Like

  • Renee
    December 8, 2016 at 9:38 am

    This is awesome! This year sucked for me too, and I’m optimistic about next year being better. I’m glad you shared the bit about embracing the darkness, I’ve been doing that and feeling weird about it, so now I feel much better about not being afraid of it (I’m probably still a weirdo, but who cares?). Thanks for writing this, now I know I’m not alone!

  • Jenn
    December 8, 2016 at 10:06 am

    Whoo hoo! Welcome back to your center, dahhhling… So much of this is why I’m a solitary eclectic witch. I don’t want people to tell me what to do (or not do) or debate whether or not *my* practice measures up to *their* standards. I want to consult a bunch of different resources and then figure out what works for ME so I can work my magic. I could care less if I’m doing it the way some 17th century Celtic holy high such-and-such did when s/he established XYZ ritual/spell/whatever. I do what I’m called to do. And you know what? A significant portion of the time, it works. That’s all the validation I need.

    Can’t wait to see what you get into in 2017.

  • Linda Ursin
    December 8, 2016 at 11:39 am

    I love seeing you find this place. Let’s hope for an amazing 2017

  • Andrea Christine
    December 8, 2016 at 11:56 am

    Beautiful. I don’t post much but I’ve read your blog for years and have witnessed your evolution. 2016 was definitely a year of evolution and I am personally excited to see where it goes. Many thanks for your honesty and clarity!

  • Elaine
    December 8, 2016 at 2:43 pm

    I have always loved watching you change and shift. It’s a reminder to me that what may resonate one day, may not the next. I am so happy to see you doing what makes you happy and feels right for you. You have always been someone that I see as a mentor and when I see you do stuff like this, it reminds me to listen to my inner self and go with what is right for me, not what others feel I should or shouldn’t be doing. Keep on moving forward girl…the train hasn’t stopped yet.

  • Kristy
    December 8, 2016 at 2:55 pm

    Jess I found you approximately 2- 2 1/2 years ago and I just loved you for you! I never look for anyone that has to put on a show to be accepted. The people that do that are invisible to me.
    2016 was a SUCKY year period! I would have traded it for just about anything just as long as it ended…..
    I am so happy that you are back where YOU want to be and not worrying about what anyone one else has to say!
    Oh and I remember the “BINDING” spell you did and it was AWESOME!!! Can’t wait till 2017 sister!!!!!

  • Shawna Weidenbach
    December 8, 2016 at 3:19 pm

    YES!!! I know you sure as hell don’t need my validation, but I am SO proud of you and this journey you’ve been on. Life is all about balance, it’s difficult to achieve and is a constant battle, but all we can do is to learn and explore and hopefully come close. I’ve always appreciated your candor and no bullshit approach to things, and I’m happy to see that you’ve come to realize that the only person you need to worry about pleasing is yourself. Just be you, because you are amazing (anyone who thinks otherwise can piss off).
    So let’s all give 2016 the bird and get ready to have a much more satisfying 2017, shall we?
    xoxo

  • Sarah
    December 8, 2016 at 3:32 pm

    Simply, fuck yeah!

    • joderz
      December 9, 2016 at 12:36 pm

      My thoughts exactly! Way to go Jess!!

  • Patricia Langley
    December 8, 2016 at 3:34 pm

    Welcome back Jess! A lot of what you said makes a lot of sense to me. I look forward to seeing your posts in the future. Blessings to you.

  • Linda
    December 8, 2016 at 4:14 pm

    Thank you for sharing your journey. I remember the quote; “If you’re not moving it means your dead” – It’s great to see you stirr up things, evolve and thrive!
    I can recognize some of my own life paths – they all lead to Myself. I know very real magick enjoyed with unicorn-glitter-fluff aswell as enjoyed with soil, blood and mother nature. In the end, it’s all just different sides of the same source. 🌌 Love from your Swedish witch friend.

    • Bay
      December 9, 2016 at 10:38 am

      Hear hear!

  • Nina Cuellar-Barry
    December 8, 2016 at 4:24 pm

    I’m looking forward to what you’ll be bringing forth in 2017! This has been a difficult cycle for me, too. So glad you’re feeling more at peace, and following your own path.

  • Dawn M
    December 8, 2016 at 6:49 pm

    I had to chuckle when I read the Buddhism part. I love Pema Chodron, and had evidently brought up – a few too many times – various insights I’d gathered while working through a couple of her books. Someone half jokingly asked if I was becoming a Buddhist. 😛 Of course not, but I’m not going to *not read* or *incorporate* something terrific just because it doesn’t fit another person’s perception of what’s legitimately on a “Witch’s book list” or in a “Witch’s Toolbox”. It’s *my* list, and *my* toolbox.

  • Stephanie
    December 9, 2016 at 4:53 am

    Awesome!! I have followed you for many years and have loved everything you’ve put out. I don’t know you personally and you don’t need my validation, but this feels right to me. This feels like the real you, the sassy woman I always loved on Modern Witch podcast, your blog, and beyond. One of the last episodes you did of the MW show, I could tell you were totally fed up with the bullshit the pagan “community” loves to serve up. I knew you’d be done with the show soon after. I found it really interesting to watch you evolve over the years after that, but (again, I don’t know you personally, so I could be wrong), it seemed like there was a part of you missing. When Rowan went away, a lot of the things I admired about you seemed to go into hiding, too. We need people like you who are genuine, outspoken, and unabashed.

    I have been in a similar (though less public) situation myself. Your post makes me realize that I too have been associating my own witchy practice with uncomfortable experiences I’ve had within that “community.” I haven’t honestly practiced in years because I have such a bad taste in my mouth. My opinions don’t align with any community, both the social justice warriors and the nationalists would see me burn at the stake if they knew what I thought. You are inspiring me to break my own witchiness away from that association. And though I don’t have the guts to publicly voice my opinions like you, I very much appreciate that you’re coming back to your true, authentic self. Maybe we’ll even get a podcast one day! ;p

  • Collette
    December 9, 2016 at 5:33 am

    Well said Jess! I’ve never marched to the Witchy Righteousness that is so prevalent in our community. An old friend of mine told me that a good Witch can make shit happen in a windstorm. Meaning no tools, no astrological correspondence to assist, no candkes, herbs or crystals. Just you and your focused intent. I love my witchy tools, i love my altar and the sabbat attire. But i also know they aren’t necessary if i want to make magick. Life is contrast, I try to find the balance. I’m glad you ate finding yours.

  • Penny McOmber
    December 9, 2016 at 9:39 am

    AMAZING!!! Oh my gosh…. The “This was the moment that I realized I officially had no more fucks to give about what anyone else wants from me” hit me harder than a crap ton of bricks! This resonates with me soooooo much! 2016 has been a bitch of a ride and all week long I have just simply felt…DEFEATED! Just tired and ragged! So many things that were always my stable datums just don’t seem like they fit anymore and I can’t shake the feeling that there is just something different out there waiting for me.

    Thanks so much for sharing Jess, it truly gave me a glimmer of….something to hold on to just to get through the rest of this fucktastic year. I have always admired the way you can just put it out there and I can’t wait to watch as you journey through 2017!

  • Evie Totty
    December 9, 2016 at 11:37 am

    Congratulations! And yes – 2016 was the worst. Man. And it’s staying super shitty right up til the end. It is refusing to go out quietly.

    Blessings!

  • Michelle Wolff
    December 9, 2016 at 12:14 pm

    Absolutely beautiful!

  • Judy Kerr
    December 9, 2016 at 1:23 pm

    I’m in! I too am a capital W Witch. It’s who I am, it’s what I do, it’s not my religion. And it doesn’t bother me if that bothers anyone. Card reading and spirit work are the only aspects of my practice that I tend to share anyway. Here’s to fantastic 2017!

  • River
    December 9, 2016 at 1:48 pm

    From one solitary eclectic Witch to another–you go, girl! I went through a similar break with the pagan and polytheist community this year, where I just got tired of the bullshit. The past month or so, I’ve been realizing I need to not throw the baby out with the bathwater; I make the rules of my own Craft, and anyone who doesn’t like that doesn’t need to read, watch, or support me. Like you said, no fucks to give.

  • Deborah Huff
    December 9, 2016 at 2:34 pm

    Thank you for your open and candid blog, and for the glimpse into what you’ve been working through. You’ve given me more food for thought, and I appreciate that!

  • Nadine
    December 9, 2016 at 7:25 pm

    I’ve been checking out your blog on and off for some years now but tonight I feel compelled to write. You Go Girl!!! I think most of us will agree that this year was a big shit sandwich, but it was also a year of confronting the garbage and the gems. I hope that in your new incarnation, you will offer self study courses or tips for beginner witches. I have had a recurring dream my whole life of being a witch in a different time and practicing in secret…this year, my dream changed, set in present time, where someone said to me” you’re a witch!” And I said yes! I am looking for practical guidance that’s not airy fairy. I am not Wiccan. I take from all beliefs what rings true to me.

  • Sharyn
    December 14, 2016 at 7:23 pm

    I’ve always loved your honesty and the wisdom you share Jess. I started following you when you were still using your pagan name. I’ve loved watching you evolve and reading your post today reminded me of my own evolution. Yes this year sucked arse in so many ways, but also presented many new doors to be unlocked within and externally and others to slam shut for good. I have my own solitary practice and as much as I want to know what others are doing, it really doesn’t matter. As long as we are happy with our practice and what we create and we conduct ourselves in a civil manner, what more could we ask for? Thanks for the many reminders I identified with in your post xoxo