Of all the powers of Witchcraft, which do you think would be the one to come to mind as most characteristic, vital, most quietly essential? I shall tell you what it is for me.
Back in the early Spring of 2006 I had moved into a flat I had rented so that I could bring my husband out from the USA to live with me. We were handfasted the previous Summer in Nevada, and had then found how much was stacked against us as a same sex, bi-national couple. When a six month visa application for me was rejected by the US embassy in London, any plans we might have had to make a life together as a family in the States had come crashing down. We turned around and started working the other way, for Phil to come out to the UK. We never lost heart, but I felt like I was facing the demons of hell at times. We got legal advice, we collected our evidence and we made our arrangements for the pilgrimage to the UK consulate in Los Angeles for the application for Phil’s entry visa. The great blessing we received the previous December was the introduction of Civil Partnership legislation in the UK which made it possible for us to apply as what we were, for what we were actually seeking: a couple seeking to legally marry and make a life together.
We were brave and determined I think, despite being 5,000 miles apart, separated by a national border (the US one) that refused to recognize us, except potentially negatively. We were certainly determined. In April I sat in that flat looking through all our documents and photos, at the story they told, drawing strength from that story. No day went by without me asking our gods for help in this thing. The time was getting near for the trip to the States upon which everything depended. I had to keep the faith, and keep the fear and anxiety at bay. I looked out the window, a blue sky above the roofs opposite, and the crescent moon in the sky like the shining horns of a young bull. At some point, whether that day or another soon after or before, I went into the bathroom and I looked in the mirror, and something in me said:
“you’re a Witch, it is not your job to despair”
and I knew that was right, and strength, calmness and confidence came to me with a great peace. I have never forgotten that. Of course the power to not despair is not the be all of witchcraft, and there are many things that underlie it, that make it so, and appropriate. It follows from our practice of positive magic, and our relationships to our gods and the world at large. But it has come back to me repeatedly, and such is the nature of the experience that it registers deeply. It answers something basic about life, that we all face the possibility of despair, yet if the work we do regularly enables it, then we realize we have the choice to not despair. Because you have a job, and despair isn’t part of it. That somehow comes from the lightness, subtlety and inwardness of the work, and it’s that which dispels the despair, rather than turning it into a stoicism.
You don’t need to be a Witch to get this, not at all. It’s something human. But you realize what a privilege it is, if you’ve ever been dogged by despair, fear and a sense of powerlessness.
You just make the decision for that good thing, and you peacefully do the work.
[edited 24th January 2011]