To Keep Silent
What does that mean for a practicing witch? These are the four governing principals of the practice of all witchcraft. Each is simple at first glance, and means just what you would think, to have knowledge, to be willing to apply that knowledge, to dare to test your limits, and to keep it all under your pointy little hat.
However, they issue a deeper command even in simple witchery.
To Know: As I touched on in Simple Witchery parts 1 and 2, the highest order of business for a witch is know self above all else. Does this mean I have to embark on a quest, submit to extensive therapy, unpack all my bags and rattle the skeletons out of my closet before I can be a practicing witch?
No. But it does mean that a large part of your on going practice is devoted to knowing what makes you tick, why you do what you do, why you want what you want—the unvarnished truth. This is mostly because witch crafting works with intent, and if you don’t know your motivations, your intent can backfire. In fact, it will backfire . . . every witch has at least one story of learning that lesson.
I spent years as a personal development coach. I helped clients discover their motivational style, to more easily understand their desires and choices. When taken down to the lowest common denominator we are all motivated by fear and reward, with each at the opposite ends of the spectrum. In a very simplistic example, if a bartender took the job because the tips are good and s/he needed to pay the rent, that leans toward a motivation of fear—afraid of being homeless. If s/he took the job because of s/he likes meeting people, loves to talk and listen, and finds the atmosphere energizing, in other words s/he loves the job, that is much closer to reward motivation.
The example above just touches the tip of the iceberg, but you can see how it works. As a witch, do I want to cast a banishing spell because someone is truly causing me harm, or because I’m a little jealous of them, or annoyed by their needs or . . . (take your pick). In such cases, it might be far better for me to work on myself, and if I cast any spell, to make it one for tolerance. At the very least, if I go ahead and work a banishing, knowing why I’m doing it will allow me to make it more effective.
A final note here; magic is not always the right or best solution and you have to know that too. Exhaust all mundane (non-magical) solutions first. Instead of casting a binding spell on a coworker who is bothering you—confront them in a calm and logical way. If that doesn’t work, take it up with human services.
So the first thing to know is yourself, the real you, the true you—warts and all as they say. Then, there is knowing the craft, the history of it, the thought leaders past and present, and the mechanics of it. There is only one way to achieve this and that’s research, research, research. If you’re a joiner, there are some great schools to be found online, and mentoring groups in social media. If you’re just starting out, I recommend finding somebody who is advanced and reputable, for some one on one mentoring.
There are many knowledgable writers at patheos.com. Circle Sanctuary is also another great source. Llewellyn is the largest publisher and book seller of pagan and witchcraft authors (among other genres).
As you can see, this To Know thing, is an on-going pursuit throughout the lifetime of a practicing witch. The wisest witch knows she doesn’t know it all and never will.
To Will: This is your intent. The magic of witchcraft is to actually will something to happen with focused intent through manipulating the laws of nature, human nature and physics. Let’s look at that word, manipulate, because it can have a negative connotation. 1.
handle or control (a tool, mechanism, etc.), typically in a skillful manner.
“he manipulated the dials of the set”
So witchcraft can be described as skillfully managing, controlling or creating (manifesting) a desired outcome through knowledge of natural and physical laws.
The caveat with this one is to remember what Cyndi Brannen of Keeping Her Keys says (I’m paraphrasing a bit as she names a deity, rather than using the word magic) “[Magic] can not do for you, what it can not do through you.” In other words, you can’t work magic to help you find the perfect job, and then not do everything in your (will) power to look for that job. You can’t cast a spell for needed money, and not be willing to work for that money.
Then, what do you need the magic for? Isn’t it all just willpower? Yes and no—mostly no, and you’ll understand this as you get better at making magic happen. It just works.
To Dare: For me, to dare means to take the risk, because being a witch is risky. We might not have witch hunts, persecution and death by drowning, hanging or burning at the stake . . . in most countries, but it’s still not all that safe to be a witch. Society doesn’t look fondly on witches, we live in the margins, we have truck with the undesirables—often we are their champions, sometimes we are them.
To dare also means to believe and to try. “Do I dare believe I can attain this, or create that with witchery?” And, “Do I dare believe I am deserving enough to have this power?” In this vein, to dare is to lay claim to your sovereignty, your divine-given right to strive for that which you desire. Your right to autonomy, your right to justice, your right to equality. Whether you are practicing in the broom closet (keeping your witchery secret) or you are a loud and proud witch – to dare means to take control of your own power and use it.
To Keep Silent: Again, pretty self explanatory on the surface. Historically, keeping silent meant to keep your practice secret, only share it with coven mates if you had them, It was self preservation. But there were, and are, family and legacy considerations for keeping silent too—just like secret recipes, a family might keep their particular ways only in the family, passing it down through the generations. This was often the root of the book of shadows and the grimoires.
In my opinion, it also means to be circumspect about your practice, being careful not to share with those who would misuse or cheapen it, who are interested because it’s a fad. Also, not to proselytize. The general rule of thumb is that somebody who seems interested in learning more, must ask of their own accord.
Finally, I see keeping silent as part of my personal spell work, in not broadcasting the spells I cast. Cast your spell, release the energy to do its work in the universe, and let it go, put it out of your mind. Keep your journal, or book of shadows, to write the spell and later note its success or failure. That is the way your practice grows and you become better at crafting spells and manifesting results.
I want to add one final note to this series on simple witchery—simple does not mean lazy. There is no room for lazy in effective witchcraft. Study, make time for devotion/meditation, practice the craft (work spells, keep notes, and track your practice). Prepare your spells carefully, researching correspondences, moon phases, and other influencing factors. In this way, a simple practice every day is better than an elaborate ritual once a month on full moon, or whenever you have time.
My vision for Simple Witchery is to help you create an effective practice that fits your lifestyle, your schedule, your resources and, yes, your finances . . . because the only thing you need to be a witch, is within you—your belief and your intent. The rest is window dressing.
Start where you are, go slow, and grow.
Blessed Be and Journey Well
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