I had this epiphany a few months ago, after I had been re-reading Terry Pratchett. I’ve been pulling the idea apart, trying to figure out what being a witch means outside of books and dreams. In the Discworld witches act as midwives at the start, doctors in the middle, and undertakers at the end of life. They do the visiting, so they know the town gossip and can be certain no one is left alone for too long. They know herbology and headology and do book learning as much as they need, which varies by witch. But mostly they look and pay attention to what’s actually there, not whatever you may be trying to hide. They pass judgment when asked, and sometimes even when not. Witches are always invited but only show up when it suits them. They are teaching all the time if you’re smart enough to learn. Witches choose.
Of course witches are also magic. The good ones make a conscious effort to turn to the light and not the dark, because things can go gingerbread house bad if the cackling starts to take over. They fly on broomsticks and have coven meetings that are really just an excuse to get together for tea. But the trick, the real center of witching, is that mostly they don’t use magic. Sometimes they have to, but most things can be solved with suggestion, and getting their hands dirty, and maybe a poultice.
This may partially be a wish for a simpler time. Witches are less vital in a world when you can google the answer to any question, hire someone to do almost any job. In the modern world one person doing all of these things is ridiculous, we began to specialize in part so we could go deeper into a given field and really learn all of its secrets. A witch is the ultimate generalist, a person who knows and does a little bit of everything, and is the repository of knowledge in a world where life is hard and short. That world doesn’t exist anymore. Witches aren’t necessary.
So I’ve been trying to untangle what my epiphany means to me now, today. What elements of witchiness can I achieve? I want to do hard, important, simple work well. I want to be a little apart from the hustle of the world, but have a small community in it that is mine (and I am theirs). I want to offer good advice to those who ask, and even those who don’t. I want to spend time without cement or the internet, learning to look at the things in front of me. I want to be connected. I want to be the person that only I can be, and I want to be that person reflected in every mirror, in every pond, in every other person’s eyes.
I don’t know how to do this. I’m not certain where committing to this idea is going to take me. But something fierce catches in my chest when I think about it and my brain lights up and I know, somehow, that this is true. Right now, this is what I’m supposed to be, or become.
When I grow up I want to be a witch.
As soon as I figure out how, I’ll let you know.
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