I would say “it’s amazing when coincidences happen” but given this post is about how there are very few coincidences when you are a Witch I will restrain myself.
I was discussing the nature of being a witch with a colleague at work and whilst I was talking I thought back to my post I’ll Second That – Witchcraft is Not Safe. In it I talk about how, as a Witch, one becomes visible to the worlds of God’s and Spirits in a way that most people are not and how we can protect ourselves against negative experience. Not long after Sarah Anne Lawless was working through some of her more divisive posts, amongst which she included a post entitled They’re Watching You. A lot of what Sarah said in the post rang instantly true for me and I decided to jot some of my own thoughts down on my own blog.
Sarah opens her post with a quote from Paul Huson’s Mastering Witchcraft which reads
“Don’t delude yourself. The minute you set foot upon the path of witchcraft, a call rings out in the unseen world announcing the fact of your arrival.”
She’s right, that sounds as creepy as any horror movie plot, but it reflects the true experience of many who practice witchcraft. It doesn’t really matter is your practice involves belief in deities and spirits, of if you are an atheist, the universe has a way of lining itself up around Witches so that when one domino falls, all its companion pieces fall into place as well.
This is in no small part because of the way we “shine” when stood within the crowd of humanity.
Okay, that does sound a little spechul (sic) if we’re not careful, but I always liken the awakening process that a witch undergoes upon setting themselves within the Circle as being like turning on the high beam in a lighthouse. Until the light is on we are indistinguishable from the rest of and the Gods and Spirits, far out in the distant and dark sea, are unable to identify us just as we are likely unaware of them. The moment we make that conscious step towards the Craft the light goes on. We might only gain a limited view of what is out there as it falls under our light but we are far more visible to them, and those that are intrigued and interested will gravitate towards us.
The moment we become visible we find attention follows and that is when things start to get interesting, and not just within a ritual setting. If something takes and interest then they are likely to remain interested and start to influence your more mundane life, seeking to find out more about you, test you, cause you to grow in ways you may not have expected, or indeed intended. Meetings, conversation, coincidences; suddenly become much more prevalent, and evident, to the Witch.
That’s not to say it’s all easy and the Universe / God’s are creating a smooth path for you. Sometimes those domino’s look like insurmountable barriers, and the gods are not adverse to testing people. It’s only when we push through the pattern that results from other things falling into place to reveal the wider pattern.
Kindness to a Stranger
Greek and Norse mythology both contain examples of the Gods walking amongst mortals in the guise of a stranger in order to test the hospitality and kindness of mortals. The rules and expectations around hospitality were sacred in both cultures and woe betide anyone who broke these codes, forth they may indeed be drawing the wrath of the Gods themselves upon their heads.
A clear example from the Norse tradition can be found in Havamal, in which Odin lays out the expectations of host and guest. Although written about the home and hearth many of the expectations translate into a general expectation of the kindness that is due a stranger.
Fire is needful for someone who’s come in
and who’s chilled up to the knees;
food and clothing are needed for the man
who’s journeyed over the mountains.
The Greeks also held fast to such traditions, with the Homeric Hymn to Demeter and The Odyssey being two clear examples of such.
The purpose of such things may be varied but often these tales can be interpreted as a morality play, reminding the reader of their societal responsibilities and the consequences (both physical and spiritual) should they fail in them. From a modern perspective the that meaning is just as relevant but from the perspective of the Witch there is another takeaway – beware the stranger and be on your best behaviour, you might not know which God you are talking to!
Evaluating our Experience
But how do we fit this into our own experience. Whilst I am hesitant to say that to God’s no longer walk amongst us I do feel that their influence is not that direct. Rather than physically walking amongst us I tend to view as their influence being more of an indirect effect, such as inspiring certain people to cross our paths and perhaps say certain things. A comment made at the right time, in the right place, has just as much influence as angels descending from heaven if truth be told.
This means that as Witches we need an awareness of our world that perhaps the majority lacks, an insight into meetings which may at first glance appear to be blind chance but we need to be careful. This has the potential to set us into a do-loop of questioning our experiences over and over again, which if done to an impossible degree could lead us down some uncomfortable rabbit holes. Critical thinking, requesting confirmation after the fact and a healthy level of scepticism are definitely required to avoid any descents.
I’m sure we’ve all had that experience of running across a stranger as part of our day to day life who did, or said, something that gave us pause. For me it is usually little old ladies in the street who need a helping hand, which I have gladly provided, who have reassured me that I am doing the right thing or warned me that I need to watch for the behaviour of others. Their words may be general, and not explicitly about the magical aspects of my life, but they have resonated on thoughts and feelings very relevant to that moment.
Such things are not limited to person to person contact and it is useful to keep in mind that the Gods do not test us through people alone. I’ve blogged before about my experiences with Red Kites as messengers of Hekate and the God’s also use wider scenarios as a method of testing our resolve or communicating some meaning or lesson. Conversations, art, images and one research topic leading to another are all catalysts which Hekate has sent my way, and it is a phase that I am going through at the moment. Add to that my personal demon requests and things are getting a little interesting at the moment.
That doesn’t even begin to cover the dreams I’ve had, the guided meditations I’ve been yanked out and taken somewhere else to do/learn my own thing, inadvertently invoking the presence of deity because I’ve been writing a little chant in my head and then suddenly *boom* they are there.
These experiences are always surprising, but not at the same time. Yes I suppose I have come to accept that these things can and do happen, and that sometimes I am even going to be aware of them, but I am always in awe of the fact that something greater than I has bothered to take the time to have interest in me.