I am a practitioner of imperfect witchcraft. I don’t have a tradition. I don’t pay daily homage to a deity. Correspondences and moon phases kind of bore me. But sometimes magic happens in spite of that.
My childhood was spent in the perfectionistic world of music. When other little kids were out playing tag and screaming, I was at my grandma’s house trying to figure out how to play a Bach fugue on her Steinway grand piano. My formative years were all about perfect timing and perfect pitch, and just having to be a perfect human being in general. Then I abandoned music and studied art and writing in college where I thought I would find freedom but found even more perfectionism instead. I’ve spent the last forty years trying to undo the damage that kind of pressure did to my psyche.
As an adult I went into therapy, which didn’t really do anything for my depression, but it did help me be less of a sarcastic bitch to other people. I had been imprisoned in an ivory tower of creative perfection and didn’t know (and still don’t, sometimes) how to live anywhere else, even though I desperately wanted to escape.
Enter witchcraft. I was 30 and I met people who had Tarot cards and were into alternative medicine and energy work. All of these people told me I had intuitive gifts, so I started to develop them by getting training in Healing Touch and teaching myself how to read the cards. With the help of Michael Harner’s The Way of the Shaman and his drumming CD I learned how to do shamanic journeying. This was in the 1990s, what I consider to be the golden age of the New Age. There weren’t centers like the one I work at now where you can find a class in just about anything you want to learn. I had to do it all on my own with a book.
There was only one metaphysical shop in my area and they frowned upon witchcraft. I’ve never been able to accept that everything is all love and light. I grew up with wonderful parents who loved nature and I connected deeply with plants, animals, stars, thunderstorms, and so on before I was even born. I didn’t want to “ascend”. Even so, witchcraft scared me. I had one book about it. It scared me every time I opened it, even though it was more New Age-like. I bought one of Scott Cunningham’s books which I couldn’t really relate to and Laurie Cabot’s Wheel of the Year and slowly got less intimidated. It wasn’t until Silver Ravenwolf’s books, though, that I finally felt like here was a friendly person who could bring me into the fold even with her focus on correspondences, ceremonial magic sigils, herbs, and so on.
Was I practicing magick with a “k” during this time? No. But I was accepting that I am witch and had been all along. I just know stuff. Things happen and even my non-witchy friends believe I have magickal control over things. I have always been a bit Otherworldly and gifted in ways most people aren’t. Aren’t willing to accept, anyway. I’ve never let go of my child-brain that sees what others have forgotten how to see.
After devoting the last thirty years to developing my various intuitive and healing abilities that is now my profession. I love to go to events like Paganicon in Minneapolis and read the latest pagan books and posts. But I have noticed something creeping in from my past. One of the things that most attracted me to witchcraft was that it didn’t have the perfectionist pressure of Big Religion. Or so I thought.
Lately, though, the more I read, the more pressure I feel to do things perfectly. The underlying message is that if I follow my intuition and not a prescribed way of practicing magick it will lead to at worst, blowing up the space-time continuum or, at least, getting some nasty spirit attachment. But I believe it’s less about following rules and more about how much time you’ve spent on cultivating your personal power and less about the things you use. And it doesn’t have to be perfect! I will make stupid mistakes. I will probably even suffer for it at times. But that is how I gain authority and sovereignty, in the end.
We are all individuals. Our psyches are vast and complex and although we have certain patterns that live within us, the way things fit together is as unique as our fingerprint. What works for somebody might work for us, but it’s even better if we can customize our magical work to address how all off the pieces of who we are fit together for us. And the only way we’re going to figure out how to do that is by listening to ourselves, experimenting and screwing up a lot.