I initially wanted to write an article called the reluctant wizard — I thought “wizard” was more socially acceptable, more palatable than witch. And whether I wanted to admit this or not, a part of me associated “wizard” with wisdom and “witch” with “evil” or “bad”.
Google “witch” and the first thing that comes up is this:
A witch is a person who practices witchcraft. The stereotypical witches are commonly portrayed as wicked old women who have wrinkled skin, pimples, and pointy hats. They wear clothes that are black or purple. They also have warts on their noses and sometimes long claw-like fingernails.
Wikipedia gives you an incomplete definition that talks about stereotypes rather than providing an actual definition. A witch is someone that practices witchcraft. No shit. That’s like defining a dentist as someone who practices dentistry.
Luckily, I happened to meet a real-life witch, Carolyn Elliot and even interviewed her. Which when I looked away from the warts and long claw-like fingernails for long enough was actually an absolute pleasure.
This cleared up a lot of misconceptions for me. She defined witch as someone (man or woman) who was their own authority which
a) gave me the courage to admit that I too identified with witches and witchiness
b) made me realize why religion and pop-culture vilified witches so much. Too much free-thinking — and not in fact “witch-craft” — is dangerous.
I also learnt about shadow work, which as you may have guessed, has nothing to do with demonic spirits. It’s actually about acknowledging those parts of yourself that you repress or shame — and going beyond acknowledgement to even enjoyment thereof — yes enjoyment. If that statement made you cringe or do a double-take then this is for you.
If you are stuck in repetitive patterns and feel like a victim of certain circumstances that just seem “to keep happening” to you then acknowledging your shadow or subconscious is they key to changing this. Give your shadow the respect it deserves and revel in it — after all, it has been a way more powerful creator than your conscious mind up until this point.
I say up until this point because up until you acknowledge him or her it will remain this ominous force that “keeps letting” shit happen to you. Yes — your shadow or subconscious probably has a “gender”— not based on sexual orientation, but rather on how you perceive gender – and based on this perception, it can either become your greatest ally or cause of suffering.
Let me explain via the principle of Yin and Yang. Yin and Yang is often misinterpreted as the balance or interplay between “good” and “evil” — but it is rather the imbalance between these two principles that is the cause of “evil” in the world. Think about it — if there was always an equal amount of “good” and “evil” in the world, then there would be no hope of ever achieving world peace or harmony right?
Yang is associated with the masculine, light or sun, is active and logical. Yang is associated with the feminine, darkness or moon, receptivity and intuition. To say that one is “better” or “worse” than the other is like calling the sun “good” and the moon “bad”. Yet this is what has been happening throughout history. Female principle has been demonized, persecuted, suppressed and downplayed — either overtly through violence and oppression or in more subtle forms like total exclusion from religion or history.
Even the very association of “darkness” (yin or female) with “evil” is incorrect — and less than helpful. Darkness is merely your subconscious — and the more scared you are to look at it, the harder is tries to get your attention. So in other words, the unification of yin and yang is the unification of your conscious and subconscious, your mind and heart or masculine and feminine aspects.
Look again closely. Apart from the two aspects creating a complete circle, there exists a circle of the opposite color on each side as well. This means that yin comprises a yang part and vice versa. Carl Jung described this principle through the anima, the feminine aspect in the male psyche and animus, the male aspect in the female psyche.
I believe that many new age works are incomplete by focusing only on the light. Yes we are all beings of light but we are also beings of darkness. To not acknowledge this — to run away from, repress or be in denial of this gives us an incomplete view of ourselves and the world around us. And allows the “bad stuff” in the world to persist.
How we relate to each other, ourselves and the planet are the fundamental building blocks of society — and regardless of sexual orientation, those building blocks are gendered. So what happens when this is out of sync? Well, we end up with the world as we experience it today and I think its safe to say that our relationship to ourselves, to each other and the planet is at the worst its ever been. The yin is so out of whack with the yang because we are denying a fundamental part of who we are inside. There is a male aspect inside every women and female aspect inside every man, yearning to be loved, acknowledged and RESPECTED.
So in a society that is currently built predominantly on Yang — logic, reason and control, men for example are constantly being asked to “prove their manhood” — and this produces a distorted view of what “manhood” is. Hyper-yang is a kind of madness — and a primary driving force for the battle of the sexes — and any other kind of battle we see in the world — how else do you explain the the subjugation and the various attempts at control of one half of the population against the other half that actually gives birth to the whole species. On a macro-level, this equates to how we treat the Earth — again a madness that is destroying the very thing that sustains all life. You see, its all connected.
So, what can we do as individuals to change this mess (?)
Firstly, as Carolyn mentioned, its shedding the shame and resentment that has kept all this crap in place for far too long — for both men and women. Collectively, for men its acknowledging that there are aspects of life that you can’t control — and shouldn’t have to. For women its shedding victim-hood and acknowledging your own power. Most importantly it is to recognize that we all need each other. We have all been hurt by this vast misperception of ourselves and so on a larger scale, there are no victims and perpetrators.
Men, acknowledge that you need women and stop resenting them for it. Feminine is not weaker, and acknowledging that you need this and contain this within yourself does not make you weaker — in fact it makes you more powerful, more whole. Acknowledge also that feminine aspects are not easy to control. Trying to do so is like trying to control the wind — or any of the other Earthly elements – you can try to exploit Her, control Her and use Her resources for your own gain without acknowledgement all you want, but ultimately Earth will have the final say — and She will remain with or without the human species on it.
Women, acknowledge the masculine aspects of yourself and how much men are needed in the world. Importantly, bear in mind that the impact of rightful re-alignment of Yin energy as a whole is greater because it is so greatly needed right now. Its also about acknowledging and reveling in (see that slinky shadow again) your own sense of power — feminine is indeed equal to masculine — and as important. I know this is difficult to believe when media, social conditioning, religion and culture have told you differently for so long, but you take back the power that was yours all along by refusing to give in to resentment and victim-hood.
Thank you for making it this far — this is just the beginning of our journey together Dear Earth People.