Sunday, November 25, 2018

A Thank You: Personal Triumphs, Decisions and Moving Forward

Thank you so much to everyone for your kind words in regards to my article about toxicity in neopaganism. I’m grateful that I was able to write a cathartic piece on my experiences within the community as well as my concerns regarding my own practice, a piece shared in my own space, with far more positive responses than backlash. I’ve been overwhelmed with that same support through e-mail, messages, and private comments.  I can't tell you how much I appreciate all of them.

As many of you know, I began my journey through therapy earlier this year in an attempt to manage my anxiety and depression. This is me, and has been me, taking responsibility for myself and my life.  What I have learned through therapy is that I have a tendency to subconsciously gravitate towards abusive situations and people thanks to my upbringing.  I have been working on finding my inner power. Being able to stand up and vocalize my concerns and experiences without the fear of backlash, without apologizing or feeling at fault, is an important step in my healing process.  I'm thrilled that I was successful in doing just that last week.  The reality is that the kind of people who exhibit emotionally abusive behaviors - and yes, that's exactly what that victim-blaming behavior is - are not the kind of people I want to surround myself with.

Re: My therapist [paraphrased]:
If someone's response to your concerns of abuse and toxicity are "deal with it or get out," get out.  It is no longer safe there.
If someone's response to your concerns of abuse and toxicity are "not ALL of us are like that," get out.  They're unwilling to hear the fact that many are.
If someone's response to your concerns of abuse and toxicity is "you're not strong enough to handle it," get out.  You shouldn't have to endure abuse and toxicity.
Make changes where you can but, if you find that people are resistant to change, don't lose yourself.  That place will never be safe for you or the people you're concerned about.  They're unwilling to move forward.  That's on them.

Inherently, neopaganism does have a slew of abusive history, misleading information, and coercive behavior.  I can't deny that.  I can understand why many who feel burned by these issues turn away from the religion or practice entirely.  When I wrote and edited my previous piece, I was on the verge of leaving witchcraft, my blog, my practice behind. I was fed up, exhausted, and utterly done. I had actually been in this place for many months but felt I couldn't be honest with my readers; that, somehow, questioning my practices, its practitioners and its history somehow invalidated my experiences and knowledge.  Anyone who says they haven't questioned their own faith at one point is not telling you the truth.

I remembered myself much happier during my break from witchcraft.  During my atheism, I felt less burdened by the weight of the history and community that often comes with modern paganism and witchcraft.

I also remember, however, that I am a better person because of my craft as well.  Being a witch has made me more aware, more sensitive to others' burdens and plights, and more caring for those at the fringes of society.  I was a problematic being before being a witch and, while I still come with my share of learned traits that I'm trying to work on, I can satisfactorily say that I care more, achieve more, help more, and learn more through my craft than through anything else.

Witchcraft™ may have its fair share of troublesome authority figures and the innate structure may set up the perfect conditions for abuse, but that's Witchcraft™.  Think Chumbley.  Think Crowley.  Think Gardner.  Folk magic, spirit work, the craft of the land - those come with less of all of that.  I've never been much for the "traditional" practices you see practiced throughout the local communities - that merging of neopagan Wicca with New Ageism with an emphasis on spells, trinkets, circles, Ye Old Holidays and "positive vibes."  I've practiced it.  I've been problematic with it.  I've learned.  I've tried, often in vain, to teach others.  But the reality is that all of that superficial supermarket spirituality bullshit, for lack of a better word, isn't the root of my own practice.

Since writing my piece on toxicity in paganism last week, I have felt freer than I have in almost two years. I am finally disconnected from everything that has wished me and others ill, and ready to find my own footing in forging my own path. This is MY space, MY voice, MY will.

I deserve personal connections with people that give a shit - about me and about themselves enough to actually take care of their own lives.
I deserve a community that does not gaslight, victim blame or victim shame.
I deserve a life void of abuse - emotional, physical or sexual.
I deserve a spirituality that serves me, not the other way around.

Witchy Words and my practice will continue, and I welcome anyone who wishes to join me in this strange and beautiful journey.

3 comments:

  1. Wishing you so much luck in your journey forward!

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  2. Thanks for sharing, and I'm glad that you have been finding your inner power. I also have anxiety and depression, and feel that finding my inner power is something I need to work on too. I'm pleased that you will be continuing with this blog, since I enjoy reading it and learning new things I might not have come across in other places. :) Sending love to you. <3

    Zania

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  3. I will always remain solitary in my practices as there is too much drama on the outside as you have shared with your readers of your own very experiences. By exposing all, ripping the bandaid clear off....you have set yourself free. Baby steps back to your own personal "roots" of the craft that speaks to you. Setting yourself free and purging the past is your first step to moving forward....and moving forward it must be to heal. One of my favorite sayings...don't look back, you're not going that way. Glad you are going to continue with the blog, even though I don't always comment, I thoroughly enjoy your alters and learn alot of tidbits that resonate with my practices. Thank you! With strength and light - di

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