Category Archives: Sisterhood

The Good Witch of the South Eastern Suburbs

So today is Halloween, and it has prompted me to write about a topic that is currently holding my interest: witches.

I’ve never been a big fan of Halloween, nor have I really gotten into the spirit of it, apart from the one year when, as kids, my brothers and I naïvely decided to carve a jack-o-lantern out of a rock hard pumpkin, and spent hours trying to scoop out the raw flesh and carve a face without stabbing ourselves in the process (pumpkins suited to carving weren’t readily available from the local supermarket here in the early nineties). We were never allowed to go trick-or-treating (I’ve held on to that tradition with my kids – mean mum alert!), and the only time I can think that I would have dressed up would have been if a friend happened to have a themed birthday party at this time of year. I actually don’t remember or know a great deal about the origins of Halloween, other than the fact that here in Australia, it’s really only gained in popularity in recent times thanks to commercial reasons.  Retailers saw a gaping hole in the market that represented millions of dollars in potential revenue. Get Aussies on board with Halloween, and you can sell a truck load of Halloween stuff to them.

When I do think of Halloween, the standard images come to mind: pumpkins, ghosts, skeletons, vampires, and witches. Scary witches.

I used to joke years ago that if I’d been born a few hundred years earlier, I would have been burnt at the stake for supposedly being a witch; I’ve got red hair, green eyes, I’m left handed, and I have knobbly knees and a boney nose. I look the part. It was a throw-away joke, and it was funny to me – it certainly didn’t upset me that I looked that way. I didn’t really think a lot about what I was referring to – the fact that in times past, innocent human beings actually were killed for being believed to be witches.

I’ve learnt recently that the history of witch trials, which hunts and witch burnings is taught in school curriculums in other parts of the world as a part of history education. It’s a significant piece of human history that I’ve been largely ignorant of.

This topic has landed more frequently on my radar since I began studying energy medicine. Many of my classmates bring up the topic of witches, given the subject matter of what we’re studying. Initially, I had quite an aversion to the topic. I certainly didn’t want to identify as a witch – witches were scary and freaky and horrible in my naïve experience. And yet, here were my friends and teachers and soul-tribe, speaking so passionately about this topic, and many speaking as if that’s what they are: a witch.

My aversion to something that was so openly and commonly discussed amongst my tribe perplexed me. This home that I’d found amongst friends felt so right, and yet this subject matter worried me, because it didn’t bring me the joy that I found in every other aspect of this environment. After some time, I came up with a solution that suited me just fine, even if it turned out to be temporary: I could identify to some degree with being a GOOD witch. Yes! If being a witch was a part of this new world, then perhaps I could be just like Glinda the Good Witch of the North, from The Wizard of Oz. She was all pink and sparkles and love. What made this idea feel all the more pre-destined was that in high school, my graduating class produced a special year book, which included a fictional story in which many students featured as special characters. I had been depicted in this story as none other than Glinda.

As time has passed, and I’ve progressed on my journey, I’ve found this subject matter cropping up more and more frequently, and things have begun to shift. Whilst I certainly wouldn’t describe myself in a bio as being a witch, or when introducing myself to a new acquaintance, I can’t deny that there is an aspect of who I am at a soul level, and what I love, that certainly would have had me burnt at the stake in another time and place. I am devoted to my daily energy medicine practice, and it informs every aspect of my life. I use the White Light to heal. I have a fascination with all things metaphysical. I have a tendency towards using alternative and complementary medicine. I have an open-mindedness towards shamanic practices. I have a penchant for crystals which I cleanse under the light of the full moon, and I wear a treasured necklace with a citrine crystal that has been infused with prayers and White Light.  I have a fascination with psychic abilities, and I’ve undertaken education and training to better understand and to strengthen and further develop my abilities. I have undertaken spiritual journeys on different planes of existence. I’ve developed a surprisingly thrilling fascination with hunting for “fairy toadstools”! I’m a student and active community member of the “School of the Modern Mystic” for goodness sake!

Just call me "The Toadstool Hunter"! 😂🍄

Just call me “The Toadstool Hunter”! 😂🍄

Interestingly, I received an energy reading last week, which included a reading of the energy that  I am currently emitting which originated in past lives – energy that came about as a result of events that took place during past lifetimes, which has stayed with me and is affecting me in this present lifetime.  In one of these past lives, I was a healer. My healing work was my passion and purpose – it lit me up and made me feel brilliantly alive.  The circumstances I was living in at that time meant that I had to practice healing in secret – the stereotypical, almost corny image of the woman meeting with her patient under the cover of night in the safety of a darkened forest.  This need to hide my true nature angered me, but didn’t stop me – I was brave in my actions, and my passion fuelled my courage. This lifetime did not end well – I was eventually betrayed, and killed for being a witch.

So I’ve begun to research, and learn more about what this word “witch” actually means. I’m very early in my research journey, but I’ve already discovered some things that put my mind at ease, that reassure me that I’m not a freak, I’m not crazy, and that it’s perfectly acceptable for me to embrace this part of who I am.

A preliminary web-surf of Wikipedia has shed a surprising amount of light on the subject. The following except from the entry on “witchcraft” sums things up rather succinctly:

Witchcraft (also called witchery or spellcraft) broadly means the practice of, and belief in, magical skills and abilities that are able to be exercised by individuals and certain social groups. Witchcraft is a complex concept that varies culturally and societally; therefore, it is difficult to define with precision and cross-cultural assumptions about the meaning or significance of the term should be applied with caution. Witchcraft often occupies a religious, divinatory or medicinal role, and is often present within societies and groups whose cultural framework includes a magical world view. Although witchcraft can often share common ground with related concepts such as sorcery, the paranormal, magic, superstition, necromancy, possession, shamanism, healing, spiritualism, nature worship and the occult, it is usually seen as distinct from these when examined by sociologists and anthropologists.

This says a lot for me: witchcraft means different things to different people, particularly across different cultures and societies though out human history. There is no one singular definition that encompasses all the practices, beliefs and nuances that fall under the umbrella of witchery.

What I have discovered is that there have been numerous periods throughout history in which a terrorising fear of witchcraft has led to mass hysteria, resulting in witch hunts, witch trials, and witch killings. Ignorance and religious influence have played key roles. Men, women and children believed to be witches have been subjected to assault, abuse, torture, and killing. Wikipedia states:

The period of witch trials in Early Modern Europe were a widespread moral panic suggesting that malevolent Satanic witches were operating as an organized threat to Christendom during the 15th to 18th centuries. Those accused of witchcraft were portrayed as being worshippers of the Devil, who engaged in such acts as malevolent sorcery at meetings known as Witches’ Sabbaths. Many people were subsequently accused of being witches, and were put on trial for the crime, with varying punishments being applicable in different regions and at different times.

A painting in the Rila Monastery in Bulgaria, condemning witchcraft and traditional folk magic. The inscription is translated as: “Magicians and healers are servants of the devil. That’s why the devil rejoices greatly, jumps around, and dances in front of people who come to them. And what they [the healers] give them to drink and eat is devils’ filth. Those who abandon God, the laws, and the church, and go to the healers, are servants not of God, but of the devil.” Source: original photo by Nenko Lazarov 06/12/2005; adjusted by Martha Forsyth 4 April 2008, via https://commons.m.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Rila_Monastery_wall_painting.jpg#mw-jump-to-license

Punishments for those found guilty of witchcraft have included imprisonment, exile, fines, and capital punishment by hanging, beheading, or burning at the stake. Methods for determining guilt throughout these periods included such bizarre practices as tying the suspect up and throwing them into a body of water. If they floated, they were deemed guilty and sentenced to death. If they sunk, they were deemed innocent, but many drowned in the process. The estimates of how many people died as a result of these witch trials varies greatly, but the “scholarly consensus” according to Wikipedia seems to be in the region of 40,000-60,000.

1533 account of the execution of a witch charged with burning the German town of Schiltach in 1531.

image

Execution of alleged witches in Central Europe, 1587

Burning of three witches in Baden, Switzerland (1585), by Johann Jakob Wick.

Burning of three witches in Baden, Switzerland (1585), by Johann Jakob Wick.

I’ve begun reading a book* about the “Salem Witch Trials”, in which two dozen innocent men and women were hung from the town gallows in 1692 in newly colonised America (New England). This horrific injustice came about for many complex and startling reasons, but was largely influenced by ignorance, religious and spiritual beliefs, a profoundly deep-seated fear of God’s wrath, and a religiously motivated desperation to build a colony that upheld the morals of Puritan Christianity, in addition to a shockingly inept justice system.

Disturbingly, this isn’t a topic confined to the past. In various parts of the world today, men, women and children are still accused of witchcraft and subjected to assault, abuse, torture and killing. According to Wikipedia, approximately 750 people were killed for witchery in India between 2003 and 2008, 1000 children over the past decade have been murdered in the name of witchcraft in Nigeria, Saudi Arabia continues to issue the death penalty for sorcery and witchcraft, and in Britain there is an ongoing problem with (particularly immigrant) children being accused of witchcraft and subsequently being abused and tortured, including money making scams in which a pastor accuses a child of witchcraft and the family subsequently pays for an exorcism.

I’ve also read a little about Paganism and Wicca, sub-categories which are certainly worthy of further exploration, but that I don’t feel are especially relevant to my particular interests.  Presumably, further research would also expose evidence of people who did (or are) indeed practice malevolent forms of witchcraft, justifying accusations and promoting the fear-inducing archetype we’re used to associating with witchcraft in popular culture.  This convoluted narrative of history isn’t only about innocent victims.

As already outlined, it’s evident that the concept of witchcraft and witches is complex and variable. The witches that we associate with Halloween in modern Western culture are largely a product of folklore, story-telling and Hollywood’s characterisation of this multifaceted and mercurial archetype. I have a long way to go in my research (Wikipedia doesn’t really cut it for a thorough and in-depth education!), before coming anywhere close to fully grasping the intricacies of this topic, and this brief overview barely skims the surface of this broad subject.  Nevertheless, my preliminary reading has brought me to a place where I can drop the fear associated with witches.  What does being a witch mean for me in my personal experience? Well to be honest, the word itself still doesn’t quite sit comfortably with me, but it represents the wise woman, the healer, the seer, the psychic, the magician, the shadow-hunter, the light-worker, and the holy, the regal woman who knows her power as the individualised expression of God.

For me tonight, Halloween presents an opportunity to do something different and somewhat unexpected: to light a candle and say a prayer for the souls of the men, women and children accused of witchcraft, who have suffered assault, abuse, torture and murder across the ages.


* Francis, Richard (2006) Judge Sewell’s Apology, The Salem Witch Trials and the Forming of a Conscience, Harper Pernial, London.

Main image credit: by gliss.gliss, used under license.

Life Lessons from the Lobster

Today, the 10th of January, I finally feel as though the year has officially kicked off, with incredibly spectacular style and energy. I attribute this feeling to the events I attended over the past couple of days, and the first new moon of the year. That’s not to suggest that my new years eve or new years day weren’t great – they were actually quite wonderful. But today truly feels like a new beginning, like the shedding of an old skin has taken place, and a fresh and tender new phase awaits.


As Friday 8th January approached, my excitement was mounting. I had a ticket to attend the annual School of the Modern Mystic (SoMM) meet-up, which this year was being held in Melbourne – woo hoo! This gathering is an opportunity to meet with the school staff and many of our classmates, most of whom we only know through our online connection via the school’s Facebook page. It’s also a chance to meet our teacher Belinda Davidson, hear her speak, and receive an in-person White Light transmission. My education via the school has created a monumental transformation for me, so an opportunity to meet with my SoMM sisters absolutely thrilled me to the core.

When I woke on Friday morning, I was positively giddy with excitement! I literally danced through the morning, cranked up the music, and sung at the top of my lungs, much to the amusement of my children. When I arrived at the venue, I was still bursting with excitement, and the palpable vibe blasting from the room was intoxicating. As we met our friends there were lots of heartfelt hugs, and a sea of smiles on the faces of a beautiful group of women who were thrilled to be communing. I was so high on the wonderful energy that the smile on my face felt permanent, and all of my laughter burst out of me in loud eruptions. I felt pretty goofy, but I was so happy that I didn’t care a bit.

The event, as expected, was wonderful. Belinda shared herself so generously with us, answered our questions, and re-inspired our commitment to our daily spiritual practices. There was a strong focus on chakras 3 and 6, including a White Light transmission specifically directed at healing and strengthening these key energy centres for us as Modern Mystics.

I was overflowing with love, gratitude, and freaking awesome mojo on Friday evening. It truly felt like one of the best days of my life.

Saturday arrived, and there was more excitement in-store. I also had a ticket for an event being hosted by Belinda and her “fellow sister of the light”, Rebecca Campbell, author of Light is the New Black. The event, “Rise Sister Rise, Step Up & Shine Bright”, was designed to give attendees “the opportunity to step into a high-vibe, transformational space and create the shift towards your soul purpose you’ve been longing for”. Once again, the vibe was epic. It was a room filled with 200+ Lightworkers, heeding the callings of their soul, coming together in a spirit of sisterhood to create magic and light up the world. Absolute pure joy. Belinda and Rebecca each spoke separately, and the day included music, singing, chanting, and crazy-lady dancing! Belinda embodied the energy of presence, calm, and insight. Rebecca was positively regal, powerful, and all heart. Both women were funny, beaming with light, and the ultimate examples of women living their soul purpose.

Belinda’s lecture focused on the critical importance of self esteem, self worth, and putting yourself first to enable you to step up and shine bright – in other words, we must have a healthy chakra 3. In her experience, as Lightworkers and women, chakra 3 issues are our biggest hurdle to overcome. Lack of self esteem, self worth, and inability to prioritise yourself, creates a downward spiral that prevents us from committing to the spiritual practices that will allow us to overcome these very issues. We must find a way to overcome this self sabotage, and if we can commit to working on our chakras every day, these issues will become less and less of a problem as we grow in self worth. To illustrate the critical nature of this concept, Belinda told us, (and I’m paraphrasing):

“I wish I could tell you that my family is the most important thing in my life, but it’s not. The most important thing in my life is the White Light.”

This woman knows and lives the truth that in order to be of service to others, in order to love others, we must first take care of ourselves.

Rebecca’s lecture focussed on rising up and listening to the callings of our soul, following the intuitive whisperings and niggles, the nudges from the Universe, and trusting that they will bring your life into alignment with your soul. She spoke of allowing the feminine energy to attract into your life that which lights you up, as opposed to using the masculine energies of striving, controlling and forcing, to create what you “think” you want. She also spoke of true sisterhood, and how by working our light, we inspire others to do the same, and we light up the world. She also used a brilliant analogy of the lobster. Let me explain.

A lobster, as we know, possesses a hard, protective shell which covers its body. As the lobster grows, it becomes too large for the shell – it no longer fits. At this time, the lobster retreats under a rock, and sheds it’s shell, to reveal a fresh, new, larger shell to fit its larger body. Initially, this new shell is soft and tender, but with time it harders and strengthens, until such time as the lobster again outgrows it and the cycle repeats.

It’s the same for us. Life is a constant cycle of growth, outgrowing our old, safe ways, and needing to shed our protective layer and become vulnerable, allowing us to grow to the next level. This initial vulnerability transforms into our strength, if we allow it. If we resist the shedding of our shell, resist the vulnerability that comes with allowing new growth, we become cramped, stuck, and unable to grow. Our strength becomes our hindrance.


So my biggest take-aways from these two light-filled days are:

  • Coming together in the true spirit of sisterhood with fellow Lightworkers LIGHTS ME UP TO FULL WATTAGE!!! These two days were absolute bliss for me, I felt electrified, I felt alive, I felt at home. I WANT MORE.
  • Devotion to my spiritual practice is essential. My daily non-negotiable spiritual practice is the foundation of a wonderful, light-filled life.
  • The two most important chakras for me to work on at this point in time are chakras 3 (prioritising me) and chakra 6 (improving my intuition and psychic ability to guide me towards discovering my soul purpose).
  • I must be willing to let go of outgrown ways of being, and get vulnerable, in order to grow.
  • I’m doing a damn fine job of mothering my children.

So, that last point may seem a little random. Here’s what that’s about.

Towards the end of the second event, Belinda and Rebecca held a Q&A session. Initially I had no questions, but I did have a slight inkling that an important question was brewing inside me. As the session progressed, so did my inkling, and the question continued to very palpably bubble up within me until it sat in my throat and waited determinedly for me to raise my hand. Finally, I nervously took my opportunity. I’m generally pretty willing to speak in front of a crowd, but it doesn’t necessarily happen without nerves or fear – I usually do it anyway. My question felt difficult to ask, as it brought up feelings of guilt and shame, but I knew that I needed to ask it if I was to move forward. Time to get vulnerable.

My recollection of exactly what happened next is somewhat hazy thanks to my emotional state at the time, but I’ll do my best to retell the story.

I wanted advice on how I could move forward on my journey, given my ongoing struggles with motherhood. I did my best to explain that I am a devoted student of Belinda’s teachings, I am committed in my daily non-negotiable spiritual practice, and that the work I’ve done on my chakras is reaping rewards. My struggle is with the responsibilities of motherhood, the ways in which it feels as though motherhood is my biggest hindrance in following what lights me up. That despite my gratitude for the immense joy that my children bring to my life, I concurrently feel pain and resentment for the time and energy they demand of me. That despite my efforts to practice mindfulness in the day to day throes of motherhood, I find myself feeling guilty that I can only wish that motherhood lit me up, but the truth is that it doesn’t, and pretending won’t make it so. That I want to follow what lights me up, but so often it seems that it’s my mothering that gets in my way. I was shaking, and my eyes were filled with tears.

Belinda’s response was heartfelt, kind, supportive and uplifting. She reflected back to me the pain this situation creates in my heart. She reminded me that a crucial piece of this puzzle is continuing to strengthen my chakra 3. But most significantly, she demonstrated the true meaning of sisterhood, and prompted all the women surrounding me in that room to applaud my efforts and acknowledge the damn good job I’m doing as a mother. My tears flowed, and I felt so acknowledged, so heard, so loved. Belinda went on to say that in standing up and being acknowledged, a healing had taken place. Throughout what remained of the afternoon, so many women offered me hugs, words of support and encouragement, and gratitude for speaking the words that they too held in their hearts.

I’m not sure that I grasped the complete message in Belinda’s words, as my intuition tells me that this isn’t the end of my struggle (the ego is stubborn), but a shift has definitely occurred. Sharing my struggle was a relief, and forged a deeper connection with the women, especially the mothers, in that room.

As I gave Belinda a farewell hug before departing, she asked me if I felt better after what had transpired. I hesitated and admitted that I was still feeling a little emotional and shaky, but that yes, it had helped, and thank you. She told me that standing up and speaking my truth was an act of bravery, and that in doing so, I’d helped all the other mothers in the room who felt the same way.


So now, with the energy of the past 2 days still coursing through me, I feel that my 2016 has begun. Renewed focus, inspiration, and intention. As the first new moon of the year rises, I set my intention to shed my protective shell, and follow what lights me up. Hence, I’m here, writing for me, writing for you. In shedding my shell, I release that which no longer serves me – the feelings of pain, guilt, shame, and loneliness that I’ve felt around my struggles with motherhood. They don’t serve my children. They don’t serve me.

May your 2016 be light filled, and in the words of Belinda and Rebecca, may you rise sister rise, step up and shine bright.

xx


Image by Vic DeLeon, used under licence.