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Magickal Misconceptions

Welcome to the podcast! Today is Thursday, September 30. The moon is waning crescent and we will see the New Moon on October 6, so there’s plenty of time to get those new moon manifestations in order. I am beyond excited for October. It is Libra season, which is my season, we have Halloween coming up, followed immediately by Samhain on November 1. We will be putting all the Halloween decorations up this weekend, and we will also be putting together our ancestor altar. That’s something we like to keep up for the whole month leading up to Samhain and for the few days afterward.

I have a couple episodes planned for October that will hopefully put us all in the mood for spooky times, so I’m really looking forward to tackling those, but today I wanted to talk about some misconceptions that I commonly see and hear in witch circles. The impetus for this episode came from a Facebook group that I’m in. There was a new witch, well, she was reluctant to call herself a witch because as she said, she hadn’t actually done any spells yet.

She said the reason she was hesitant to practice magic is because someone had warned her that, quote, ‘magic comes with a price’ and so she was afraid to cast spells because she feared the price might be too high. This kind of rustled my jimmies because I see this kind of thing all the time in Facebook groups, on Tumblr, in chat groups. And it never fails to set my teeth on edge. So I wanted  to do sort of a round-up of my favorite Magical Misconceptions and try to set the record straight, at least as I see it.

Let’s start with the inspiration for this episode. Magic comes with a price. What does this mean? To be honest, it’s kind of like saying the sky is blue. Of course magic comes with a price. Everything comes with a price. Exercise comes with a price, not exercising comes with a price, flossing comes with a price, not flossing comes with a price. But the price is just the consequence. So, yeah. Magic carries consequences. But so does NOT doing magic. To not do magic because you’re afraid of the consequences of that magic is the same as not applying for a better job because you’re afraid of making more money.

Imagine that for a moment. If you had an opportunity to improve your situation, would you approach it with fear or with gratitude? There are a lot of people in this world who will look very suspiciously at opportunities. These people are so comfortable in their miserable situations that they’re afraid to take a chance on a better life or a better circumstance because they’ll have to be uncomfortable for a little while while they acclimate to their new, improved situation.

My brother in law is the total opposite of that. He basically bounces from good situation to better situation because for whatever reason, he is completely fearless when it comes to opportunity. We always joke that he must have a horseshoe up his ass because he always just seems to land on his feet. And with very few exceptions, he always comes out on top. But it isn’t really luck; that’s the power of manifestation. He embraces everything that comes his way with the complete confidence that it’ll benefit him and his family. He doesn’t think of it as magic at all, he just sees the potential in a situation and he goes for it. Now there have been a couple times when it didn’t pan out for the best, but that’s what it really means when people say that magic comes with a price.

Doing magic is just another way to exercise control over your life, and the price of that is that you’re going to have to live with the consequences. So when I hear that people are afraid to practice witchcraft because of these ominous warnings of PRICE I just want to reassure them that the price doesn’t mean like, you’ll grow warts and shit. It just means that you are altering the course of your life, and now things are going to be different for you. But if you practice magic confidently and responsibly, your life can be better. So don’t be afraid of like, losing your soul or whatever. That is not the price of magic.

The next question I see a LOT from newer witches is whether or not it’s ok to buy your own tarot deck. Somehow, some way, somewhere along the line, there became ingrained in the witch community this idea that you’re not supposed to buy your own tarot deck. I guess you’re supposed to wait for someone around you to just realize that you want one and buy it for you. But this could not be further from the truth. And in fact, if most of us waited for someone to buy us a tarot deck, we might never get one, because I am 42 years old and I have never been gifted a tarot deck. Not once. If you want a tarot deck, go buy yourself a tarot deck. 

I don’t know why or from where this misconception arose, but I would bet that a lot of tarot deck designers would wish it would go away and that witches would start snatching up all the decks that speak to them. And that brings me to another point about this whole issue; if someone gifts you a tarot deck, it may not be the one you want. It may not speak to you, you may not jive with the artwork. The cards might be thicker than you’d like, or thinner, or too big, or too small. Choosing a tarot deck is a really individual process, and that’s why there are so many decks to choose from. Everyone is looking for something a little different in a deck.

Don’t wait for someone to bestow a deck upon you; go to your local occult shop or get online and find one that wants to come home with you. 

Another misconception I see frequently is the idea of the rule of three, or the three-fold law. And what I typically see is someone on a message board or Facebook or whatever will ask for advice on how to deal with a horrible mother in law, or a cheating partner, a backstabbing coworker, or what have you. And without fail, there will be a chain of witches cautioning the poster about karma or the rule of three. And basically the idea is that whatever you send out into the world will come back upon you threefold.

And that’s not necessarily a misconception, because a lot of witches ascribe to this. But it is sort of a projection of what essentially started as a Wiccan construct and kind of got blown out of proportion. Not every witch believes in the rule of three, not every witch believes in karma. The Wiccan Rede, ‘And ye harm none, do what ye will,’ is excellent advice. But that’s different than this expansion and interpretation of the threefold law, and a lot of witches don’t put stock in the idea that if I hex someone who has grievously wronged me, I’m gonna get it in the end. Including me. I’ve said before that I don’t hex often and I don’t hex lightly, but I do hex.

Whether a witch does or does not practice baneful magick is an entirely personal choice. Just as it’s shitty for a Christian to tell a witch she’s going to hell, it’s also kinda shitty for witches to look down their noses at witches whose practices are different. You will find a lot of baneful magic in African, Italian, Latin, and backwoods American traditions. These traditions are no more or less valid than others who do not practice baneful magic. 

Dovetailing with this misconception is the conflation of a lot of Wiccan practices with non-Wiccan witchcraft. Wicca is a big movement, and hell for all I know maybe most witches identify as Wiccans, I don’t really know, but I do know that a lot of new witches or people who are investigating witchcraft will ask questions like, “I’m not really religious, do I have to worship a god and goddess to be a witch,” or “I don’t know how to set up an altar” or “I don’t know what I’m supposed to do with this magic wand” and it goes on and on. 

At issue here is that because Wicca is so visible as a practice, a lot of new witches come into witchcraft thinking that they have to do a lot of the things that Wiccans do, because that’s their only exposure to witchcraft. It’s like Catholicism being such a large branch of Christianity, a lot of non-Christians might believe that all Christians go to confession, or pray the rosary, or pray to the virgin Mary. But of course that isn’t the case.

So. If you are a new witch, and there is an aspect of witchcraft that does not resonate with you, rest assured that you are still a witch if you choose not to practice that aspect. Witchcraft is not one-size-fits-all. There are as many valid versions of witchcraft as there are witches. There are Christian witches, pagan witches, atheist witches, you name it. And you are still a witch if you don’t call the quarters, or cast a circle, or invoke the god and goddess. 

On the other hand, Wicca is a great fit for a lot of witches, especially witches who prefer to work in a community with other witches. If you would like to investigate Wicca, all you have to do is a google search basically, to find the covens near you. 

Another thing that happens a lot is the overlapping of New Age mysticism and witchcraft. By that I mean things like chakra healing, reiki, singing bowls, meditation, visualization, spirit guides, the law of attraction, things like that. Those practices can fall under the very large umbrella of witchcraft, but they’re not a part of every witch’s practice, so don’t feel out of place if someone tells you your like, sacral chakra is blocked and you don’t know what they mean. Witchcraft is such a broad term for so many practices and traditions. And some of these practices overlap a great deal, and some of them look nothing alike.

Another thing that’s a lot more minor than some of these other things, but still kind of gets to me, is all the ‘what does this MEAN’ posts. And by that I mean, a witch will find a spider in her house and post a pic asking if it’s a message, or someone will post about how they’ve had a sore throat and congestion for two straight days and wonder if it could be a hex, or they see angel numbers every time they look at their phone. And here’s the thing, sometimes a spider in your house is just there to eat the flies. Sometimes, a cold is just a cold, and sometimes you see numbers on your phone because we’re just constantly looking at our goddamn phones. 

So as witches, we have to walk a fine line of being open to seeing and interpreting signs when they appear, and also to differentiate between signs and just everyday life. And the only person who can do that is ourselves. Not everything means something. But, sometimes it does. 

That brings me to the last misconception I see frequently. Spend an hour on a witchcraft message board and you are going to see a lot of memes and posts that say things like don’t call yourself a witch if you XYZ. And sometimes it’ll be something like you’re not a witch if you eat meat, or identify as a man, or vote Republican, or whatever. And of course, there is a lot of politicization of witchcraft and within witchcraft. And it makes sense. In many parts of the country and around the world, being open about your craft may get you disowned by your family, or kicked out of your house, or fired from your job. A couple hundred years ago, simply being accused of witchcraft, even if it wasn’t true, was enough to get you hanged.

So witches feel very territorial about their craft. They’ve lost friends or financial opportunities or personal relationships because of it. And it can drive witches absolutely insane to see people that they disagree with on every fundamental issue calling themselves witches. But here’s the thing: they’re still witches, even if we don’t like it. 

So if you’re going to participate in a larger witch community online or in a coven, please be prepared to come across people who are doing their witchcraft MUCH differently than you. A vegan witch may be incredibly offended by a witch who uses cow tongues or chicken hearts, but both of these practices are valid. We all do things differently, and we do things for different reasons. And we don’t have to approve of one another’s craft, but we do have to accept it.

I’d love to hear your favorite misconceptions. You can DM me on Instagram or Facebook at @middleagedwitch, and of course you can actually message me through Anchor, which has been a cool feature I didn’t even know about until recently. Enjoy the rest of your day, and I’ll talk to you next week. My name is Eli Ro, and this has been the Middle Aged Witch podcast.

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