How to be a Wiccan 101

Hint: there is no hard and fast way to be a Wiccan.

There are many, many different ways to be a Wiccan, even more to be a pagan and even more to be a witch. And I am getting a little bit sick and tired of reading books that tell you that you must do a b c, or believe in x y z to be a ‘good’ Wiccan.

I’m also getting sick and tired of writers conflating Wicca, witchcraft and paganism. THEY ARE NOT EXCHANGEABLE TERMS. I can forgive someone who is new to these concepts, but people who write Wiccan/pagan/witchcraft based books? Not so much. I’m not claiming to know everything, but I am going to try and set the record straight especially to newer Wiccans, pagans and witches who are worried they’re ‘doing it wrong’. I was there for quite a while myself, trust me.

happy lil witch
Look at this happy lil witch. You think she’s being told what to do?

First of all, the terms Wicca, witchcraft and paganism are often used interchangeably by writers, but they don’t mean the same thing. Paganism is a blanket term for any belief system that doesn’t subscribe to the major world religions, often with a higher focus on nature worship. Wicca is just one branch of paganism, and even that has many sub-sections. Think about it like this; within Christianity, you have loads of denominations. Protestant, Catholic, Quaker, etc. And within those, you have even more; within Protestantism you have evangelical Protestants, Methodists, Calvinists, the list goes on. Assuming every Wiccan believes exactly the same thing is like lumping all Protestants together, and assuming all pagans are Wiccan is like assuming every Christian is Catholic. Just because it is the biggest denomination doesn’t mean it is the only one. Witchcraft, although it is mostly pagans who practice it, is actually a secular practice. You can be any religion, or even an atheist, and still practice witchcraft. I know some Catholic witches who incorporate the angels and saints into their craft. I know some Wiccans who don’t practice at all. So while you can be all three (like I am), you don’t have to be, and you shouldn’t assume that people are.

Now that the definitions are out of the way, another problem I’ve often seen in Wiccan writings is the the tendency to tell people that their way of practicing is the right way. That is the problem I have with organised religion, and why I was so drawn to Wicca in the first place, so it’s frustrating to see it is still present. By all means, tell readers about the Wiccan Rede, describe the Wheel of the Year and give suggestions of how to celebrate them, explain the Rule of Three. But make it clear that these are Wiccan beliefs and not all pagans follow them. Some pagans don’t believe in karma and therefore think cursing is appropriate in some circumstances. I certainly don’t and as far as I’m aware, the laws of karma are central to Wiccan systems so it is unlikely that you’ll meet a Wiccan who is okay with cursing, but that is just Wicca, not paganism in general. I really can’t stress that enough.

I’ve read books in which Wiccan writers have stated it as an absolute necessity that you are ‘initiated’ into Wicca, whether by a self-dedication ritual or in a coven ceremony, and I absolutely disagree. I think it is a beautiful thing to do if you can do it properly, but when I was a young witchling I was convinced that none of my spells would work and I couldn’t do any rituals at all unless I had done this ceremony. So I bought myself some jasmine oil (which by the way is pretty damn expensive, and I was a highschool student without a job at this point) and sat myself down to perform this ritual, trying to get my head in the right place and feel this rush of power and transform into a Wiccan. It was honestly the worst ritual I have ever performed. I was stressed out because I  I wanted to do a ritual for Samhain but thought I had to do this first, my parents came home halfway through and were hurrying me to come down because they had brought food home, and I had to rush through it. I thought I had somehow failed and couldn’t be a real Wiccan. But I went ahead with my Samhain ritual anyway. And it was incredible. I always count that as my first ritual, and it was such a moving experience I ended up crying while I prayed. That was when I realised I had been a Wiccan right from the start. I believe that when you say to yourself, ‘This is the right path for me, I am a Wiccan.’ and you know in your heart that it your true faith, then that is all the initiation you need. If you want to mark the occasion with a dedication rite, that is up to you. I just don’t think it is necessary; Wicca isn’t an elite club. It is a religion. The God and Goddess aren’t going to ignore you if you haven’t performed an extravagant ritual to join the ‘real’ Wiccans. Do what feels right.

I hope you have found this useful, especially if you are new to or are considering becoming a Wiccan, pagan or witch and are unsure where to start. You don’t have to buy a lot of expensive tools just because it says so in a book, you don’t have to perform spells exactly how they are set down and you certainly don’t have to do anything that doesn’t feel right to you. I’m not saying that these books are useless; they were a great starting point for me in terms of realising my faith and in terms of the magical properties of herbs, stones and symbols they are insanely useful, but I wish someone had told me all this before I understood it myself. I’ve come to realise that to only hard and fast rule in Wicca is to harm no one, so as long as you stick to that as far as possible then you’re all set.

Blessed be )O(

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Dursley’s Drag Adventures

Sometimes my life feels like a big gay sitcom. One of those times was last week in which I had decided to drag up from the day to meet my friends.

space boi drag
Space boi trash. Fox Mulder would be proud.

When I got home I found out my grandad had popped in and the problems started; the only reason I had planned to drag that particular day is that I knew – or thought – I would be home alone. The logical thing to do would be to not drag… but as I have mentioned before, I am very stubborn. Today was a drag day. So I say hello, make him a brew and go upstairs to get ready. At the ready in all my space-nerd draggage glory, I of course had to take a quick selfie and planned to leave… when I hear another voice from downstairs. Turns out my auntie and her baby have turned up too. To make matters worse, I’d left my mp3 in the kitchen and there is no question of me getting on a bus without music. So I hover on the stairs for a while and then tiptoe down, sneak around the pram, grab my mp3 and then fly out the door yelling “Sorry, can’t stop, late for the bus!” and leg it down the road. Let me tell you, running is not comfortable when your tits are strapped down with ballet tights.

By the way, I don’t recommend binding with tights unless it’s for a very short period. It’s awkward as hell to get out of, which isn’t great if you do what I did and nearly collapsed in a queue outside comicon. Although it does feel like I’m sticking my middle finger up at the hell-hole of a dance school I bought them from!

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Who doesn’t love some Halloween drag fun?

All this got me thinking about how odd my family is in the lines they draw at what is and what isn’t appropriate. My parents literally let me practice witchcraft and perform Pagan rituals in my room, but I have been told – and I quote – that cross-dressing is where they draw the line, after I made a joke about it when I was practicing my outfit for comicon. Even if I am not in drag, if I wear baggy jeans or what is known as my ‘lesbian jumper’ I’ll get some sort of irritated comment from them. A personal favourite was ‘If we’re going out for tea can you a least dress like a girl?’, which was followed by me digging my suit out of my wardrobe. I really don’t understand who I’m hurting if I present myself in a more masculine way every once in a while. There’s some days when that is far more comfortable to me. I’m starting to question whether I might be more genderfluid than anything because although the majority of the time I identify as a woman, I do have days when I just feel like a guy and I’m far happier if I can dress to reflect that.

Snapshot_20150618_12
First time I dragged up… and a King was born.

 

Really, gender is an odd thing when you think about it. And it’s great that non-binary people and androgynous styles are becoming more and more mainstream, but while these attitudes about clothing having a gender in the first place are so common it will always be difficult. For example, all the coverage of Jaden Smith has applauded him for his bravery in wearing ‘women’s clothes’, and while I agree with the message that he’s doing a brilliant job of breaking down barriers in what men can and cannot wear, there’s a problem in calling them ‘women’s clothes’. They’re pieces of cloth. They have no damn gender. The gendering of inanimate objects is what causes these barriers to exist in the first place, so surely avoiding that language when you praise someone for ignoring those barriers would be a better course of action

All the complex politics of gender aside, I like to wear drag sometimes. Especially after being told that if Derek Hales and Stiles Stilinski from Teen Wolf had a child, I would be it. So Elliot Stilinksi might have to be a secret from a lot of my family, but he’s definitely sticking around.

 

Re-coming out?!

lgbt

I came out as bisexual about two years ago – actually, I dived out of the proverbial closet in a cloud of rainbow glitter and was about as open about it as you can possibly be. Seriously, I was out to everyone from my hairdresser to my French teacher. I didn’t really give anyone an announcement – I just started to casually talk about female celebrities I found hot and then told people when I had a girlfriend. No one was surprised. In fact, it turns out most people knew before I did. I know for a lot of people coming out is a difficult – sometimes painful – experience. But I loved it. Sure, it was harder with my family and there was a large element of fear involved, but the more people I came out to, to more connected to myself I felt. People were finally seeing me for who I was. I was finally figuring out what these horrible, confusing feelings that had messed me up all through high school meant – and I realised there was nothing wrong with me…

So what happens when you start questioning all over again?

Identifying as a lesbian has been a recent thing – literally as of about two weeks ago. I’ve known since the start I was mostly attracted to girls, often explaining my bisexuality as ‘97% into girls, 3% into guys’. You wouldn’t think going up another 3% would be a big deal, but for me it really was for a number of reasons.

Firstly, it was such a struggle for my family to accept that bisexuality even existed that I almost felt like they would feel vindicated in that belief if I re-came out as a lesbian. The idea that my experience perpetuates the idea that bisexuality is a ‘phase’, or bisexual people are ‘confused’ was something I hated, and still do hate. I have never experienced any particular difficulty identifying as queer, but identifying as bisexual caused me some problems. Biphobia is such a real issue. In fact, most of my family were under the impression that I was a lesbian from the start, purely because it would cause so much drama trying to explain bisexuality to a lot of them. It was frustrating, but one advantage is that I don’t have to now re-come out to them!

Another reason it took such a lot of struggling to re-come out was the fact that a lot of my friends would make a lot of comments like ‘Are you sure you aren’t a lesbian? You might as well say you are, you like girls way more than guys’. And it pissed me off. People shouldn’t assume that they know more about someone’s sexuality than they do. It’s no one’s business but mine how I choose to identify. Having so many people say these sorts of things meant that I spent a lot of time wondering whether considering identifying as a lesbian was the result of being told I should so often. Something else I hated the idea of. I pride myself in being independent-minded. I didn’t want to be subconsciously pressured into something. It took a long time to decide if it was truly me who was making the decision behind re-coming out. I am very, very stubborn. I don’t let myself get pushed into these things, and again – it was the idea of the people who had made those comments thinking they were right to do so. It isn’t right. Maybe once would have been okay, but when I say ‘No. I’m happy identifying as bi.’ just leave it alone! Heteronormativity and the constant brainwashing of a thousand other societal values makes it difficult enough to make an informed decision on what you choose to identify as. I don’t need the people I care about to make it any harder.

I realise there will be people reading this thinking what’s the big deal? It’s just a word! I don’t need to restrict myself to a label! But here’s the thing; some people can go through their lives not using labels, or using something more all-encompassing such as ‘queer’. And that’s great! But there are people who like the clarity of having a word to claim. People like me. I am concise with my words. Hell, I’m a writer! Words are important to me! So I need the right one for something as intrinsic to who I am as my sexuality. And I need to make sure it is my choice. So it feels like a huge relief to be able to say proudly that I am a lesbian, that identifying as bisexual was no more or less valid, and that people need to let people to come to that decision on their own.

… Although all that being said, maybe ‘homoflexible’ is better. I might be a lesbian, but if an offer came up from David Tennant I wouldn’t say no!

Blessed be )O(

Trying to figure out how to blog.

poser af 2

Um,

Yeah, I’m not entirely sure about how I go about this, but I need to do some more writing so I’m starting this blog!

I thought I’d start with a bit about myself; I’m a 19 year old Wiccan lesbian and recent university drop-out, barista by day, barmaid by night. I’m aiming towards a journalism apprenticeship and thought blogging might help keep up my writing skills in the meantime. And if anyone has any interest in what I have to say, even better!

This blog will mainly consist of updates on my creative writing, the Pagan/skincare products I’m making, any rituals or witchy things I do and maybe the odd book/film review. Also, be prepared for lots of opinions on just about anything that crosses my mind.

Thanks to anyone who got through this awkwardly worded intro, I promise the rest of my stuff will be better.

Blessed be )O(