Updated: Sep 22, 2018
Witches often don't stand on soapboxes and preach (off-color use of the word, but you get what I'm saying) how to live and practice one's spiritual path. Indeed, our practice centers around being and knowing and doing in a personal manner rather being evangelical. So we'll stumble and learn and grow, but as I found after 12 years of active and dormant practice of witchcraft, there are certain hard truths that I needed to face in order to truly be, know and practice my craft.
You will never have it all down.
Those who practice for 30 years, 15 years, 2 years, any amount of time, are always learning. There is always more to the history, the nuances of witchcraft and entities one can call upon, and the ancient ways of doing things. There will always be more herbs to remember. There will always be a book you didn't read that everyone has. Someone will always have more knowledge than you do, and you will have times when you're the apprentice and when you're the mentor. And all of those perspectives will shift as you get older. I once loved the idea of Wicca until I read more about it, and then I started to drift away from its tenets and seek more information on archaic practices. But it is a tenet of witchcraft practice that we always seek knowledge of all of these aspects because they all center around growing spiritually. And it is my personal goal to be just as comfortable being an apprentice as I am a mentor. As a teacher, that's hard for me.
You have to get out of the ideal witch life.
I love the idea of stumbling upon a rickety, moss-coated cottage in a foggy wood, opening up a wooden door by its iron latch and stepping into a witch's home, its walls donned with herb bottles and books. I could meditate for hours on sitting by that hearth and smelling the pungent herbs. That's the aesthetic, right? Where's my munton windows? My pentagram herb hanger? My marble mortar and pestle, garden hutch and fireplace? It isn't in my city apartment, that's for sure. I had to stack my window planters on a ladder because the new apartment's sills are too big. Would Pinterest's witch aesthetic make me feel more like I'm truly living that life? Hell yes. But I can't do it because some witches in this century got college loan debt. And I have to make peace with that.
You are not a reincarnated famous witch from the Salem Trials.
I mean, maybe you are, and that would be awesome. But the chances that we all were reincarnated witches from that trial, or any other particularly genocidal witch-hunt in Europe is pretty slim to none. It makes sense why we want to believe that; it gives us a universal purpose to practice-to fulfill a spiritual duty that spans across lifetimes, it validates the practice, it makes us feel closer to our craft, etc. Pick a psychological component and it might apply. I love the idea of being Sarah Good reincarnated to fulfill the spiritual duty I couldn't fulfill before I was burned, but it's highly, highly likely that's not my life. And that's OK. Performing this craft for me for this lifetime because it's my spirituality is worthy enough.
We get a bad rap sometimes...and for a (somewhat) good reason.
I know that we're an accepting bunch. But in every group there are some kookers, and ours is included. They feed the stereotype that permeates. If I had a nickel for every time a ghost show's plot involved a pentagram on the basement floor, Black Magic and devilry, I'd be able to purchase that Pinterest witch aesthetic. We're not all like that, but you have to admit; some people take it too far. It's those extremes people remember. We remember what's more vivid and sensational, and those extremes are vivid and sensational. It sucks, but that's how the human brain works. Laugh, remind them we're not all the same, and be done with it. And then maybe hiss just to freak them out.
Your ritual and spell work still might not work.
We kind of accept this, but we kind of don't, you know? It impacts how we feel about how good we are at our craft when things don't work out. Whether you've been practicing for 3 years or 30, there are times when it doesn't work out. Think about what might not have worked: no ritual prep to get your mind right, sidetracked or stressed, etc. Then try it again, and with more energy, mindfulness and personal effort toward manifesting what you want. And remember that spell work is only a part of the practice. It's not proof of how good a witch you are.
You don't always need that one item.
We come from a group who had to hide their ritual items among everyday items; it's why athames are basically knives and witches brooms are...well, brooms. So in that spirit, don't feel like you have to have that marble mortar and pestle from the Magnolia Collection at Target (Seriously, who's projecting? I'm not projecting. You're projecting). Your humble ceramic one will do.
You have to live your ethos.
I have repeated this idea to myself so many times. Living your ethos means living by your rules unabashedly, but also actively living by what you value. If you value recycling, make small means to do that, even if it means saving up your water bottles and taking them to Walmart for recycling. Put as many groceries in one plastic bag as possible (it's a fun challenge to see which fruit bruises first, amirite?). But when I live my ethos--and part of that ethos is witchcraft practice--I find that I am better able to be at peace.
What are some of your hard truths that you've had to learn in your practice?