Gird your loins as we enter the world of total subjectivity. The next few weeks are focusing on questions where my personal opinion is going to make the bulk of the post and whilst I won’t be setting out with the intention of offending anyone I am sure that at some point I will. So if you find yourself nodding along; great. If you don’t agree with my comments I look forward to hearing from you at some point, I always welcome discussion.
So – is there a life-style particular to Witches?
That’s like asking ‘is there a life-style particular to the LGBT’ or ‘is there a life-style particular to black people’. It’s a messy questions which is kind of, if not outright, discriminatory. The idea that that identifying, or being, one thing can post you into a neat little box which says, for example,
Will Engage In 123
Correct 100% of the time
Setting up a one size fits all patterns is fundamentally flawed given how wonderfully diverse and deliciously messy life actually is.
There is no doubt that, as a Craft, Witchcraft is something that you live and breath and in that sense it is a lifestyle but we all have very different ways of express ourselves, just as we all practice in different ways.
Let’s just reinforce the point and ask the question ‘what are Witches? What is their lifestyle?
We’re alcoholic druggies who are nymphomaniacs; we sacrifice cute furry animals and small children and make a point to desecrate everything we touch. We like black cloths, Satanic rituals and want to bring about an anarchist regime. Blood sacrifice, cursing thine enemies and spells of self gratification are our common fare.
Sound about right? No? Well how about …
We’re nature loving with 100% care of the natural world in our hearts. We hug trees, sing songs around the campfire and meditate daily on world peace. Getting off the grid and working for the greater good of humankind are the order of the day.
These two rather clumsy extremes probably don’t represent anyone in real life but I imagine that there are people who hold the opinion that they are in fact accurate. When writing them I was trying to capture the mindset of an evangelical Christian and perhaps a hipster or new age guru.
What people perceive as being the ‘lifestyle of the Witch’ can be entirely polar opposit depending on who you are speaking to. Personal prejudice and beliefs will inform that view, just as the same elements will impact on individual expression of the label. How many online arguments echo the refrain ‘a real Witch would/n’t…’?
In reality the assumed lifestyle of the Witch will depend entirely on who you speak to. Never mind what those who wish to blacken the Craft for whatever purpose you’ll be hard pressed to get a unified answer amongst those who identify themselves as a Witch. Some have strong beliefs and opinions about the environment, for example, whilst others range from concerned to less so depending on many factors.
Lets take one particilar issue which shows up the diversity amongst we Witches – crystals and stones. Their use in modern Witchcraft is considered almost ubiquitous by many modern Witches and they often appear as spell components. The ecological, sociological and economic impact of their mining is rarely discussed though, even by those who identify as ‘nature worshiping’.
Most of the stones you see in the shops are not mined for as a stand alone mineral but are found as a by product of other mining operations, for example quartz crystals found when mining for gold, and the impact that such operations have differs based on industry, country and the size and scale of the operation. Whilst smaller scale and better regulated mines have a smaller environmental impact and improve the local economy larger, poorly regulated operations can be highly damaging to the environment, including strip mining, deforestation and water contamination, and can perpetuate child and slave labour.
Many people don’t consider these issues when purchasing stones, mostly through lack of awareness of the issues, whilst others will damn their use and all who use them. In one sense the use of these mined minerals appears profoundly at odds with any lifestyle that is assumed to be ‘Green’ yet at the same time their use is often central to the practice of the same people.
Me Myself and I
This isn’t me screaming “woe the earth and Her children” and beating my breast as I demand everyone give up crystals for life. I have quite a stash of crystals, built up over the years before this subject entered my awareness and at the end of the day the shinies pretty. As a result of learning more about the environmental and sociological impact of mining I do buy considerably less than I used to and when I do they are sourced as ethically as possible. I like to think as this being the position of informed moderation, a position I take on many subjects.
Moderation in all things is a saying I am very attached to and will be applying to most of the subjects that will be covered over the next few weeks. The important thing to take from this week is that there is no one lifestyle which can be assigned to all Witches. Witchcraft is a path of the individual and will take influence from many different sources and ultimately the Witch defines his or her lifestyle and path.
For more information on the subject of crystals and mining I suggest this article as a starting point as well as Google Search; on mining practices in individual countries such as Brazil and Mexico.