I view Witchcraft as poetic language, informed by a romance, and a yearning for a world nurtured in tale and imagination, the flotsam and jetsam of past culture gone “folk”. It is the stuff of religion gone fallow and wild, cross pollinated; wheat with grass, dandelion and henbane with exotic blooms. It draws on what is nowadays often considered the marginal and dubious world of the occult, a world which has accompanied us perennially and which we have not outgrown, because outside of our elites and our arbitration of the credible, we intuit treasure and wonders there.
Though neopaganism has drawn together a mixed tapestry of justifying definitions and histories, linked to causes and trends from ecology and feminism to ethnicity, I think this may actually miss the point. What sings to us cannot be so packaged and regulated, without forgetting the elusive song itself.
Many times “ordinary folks” are derided and looked down upon, the housewife, the teenager, the sales clerk, the dad, different permutations of “nobody” to somebody. In Witchcraft there is no “nobody”, but a discrete and profuse carnival of polymorphous understandings. I feel Witchcraft and the occult occupy a place of great potency for us because they are both popular and intimate, a private revelation, in the same way as the awakening of sexuality is. In the seaside of our minds, the card reader and the palmist, the healer and the juggler, mysteries no less mysterious for their necessarily tacky attire, inhabit tents and booths just down the pier from where the sailors mingle with altered mores, and children reach for anemones in rock pools. Whatever it is flows from the occult and Witchcraft, it flows to all indiscriminately. Like the sea ebbs and flows, so the mystery sings to each and every, whether as a high art or as pulp. The song asks not for critique, but for hearing from the one who loves it.
This is the beginning; a pirate song, painted stars, a black bearded devil, a book of secrets, an angel pouring celestial waters. A picture book of cards, a flight by night over hills and forests.
In the ruins of a church, overgrown in Summer, the magic of the smith’s sweating work, the sulphur of the match lingering as the candle flame flares in the darkened room.
Unlikely as it might seem, in such an apparatus purity and wonder may be distilled.
It is a long story, closer to art and science than religion, closer to story telling than history. The literal is not enough.
May your poetry be true and right for you.