As a child, I was bullied both at home and school. At school, 3 boys would laugh at me, tease me, and intimidate me. At home, I was reminded daily that I was dumb and stupid.
When I was 13, I began reading about witchcraft, which got me into feminism, but the abuse began before that. I don’t know how I got my mental self in a place where the daily onslaughts didn’t hurt me as much, but somehow I knew that all the bullying and hate was unfair.
I knew, even as a child, that I was different. Different equals bad in the minds of children. To parents, different means that your kid is going to be weird and you possibly have to take care of her until she’s 30. Better remind her how weird or dumb she is.
At elementary school, just because I wear corduroy skirts, walk while I read, and generally, kept to myself, I was a target for incessant intimidation.
Growing up, my dad had a short temper. During dinner, I spilled milk all over the kitchen table and he blew up. Later, my mom explained to me that work made him upset.
The abuse at home and in school made me have anxiety. When I was 12, I found my sister’s books on meditation and meditated every morning and evening.
Meditation helped, but I wanted more. I wanted some kind of spirituality. I searched through encyclopedias and even, the bible for something. Eventually, I decided that religions with a male-centered theme did not work for me.
At 13, I meandered into my sister’s room looking for new books (again) and I came across this one Wicca: a Guide for the Solitary Practitioner by Scott Cunningham. That book changed my world.
After I read the book, I decided I wanted to be a witch.
As I grew up, since they were the only books around, I read mostly those new age Llewellyn books. Because of the books I read, I thought that Wicca and witchcraft (or WitchCraft has Mama Silver* put it) were the same things.
When I was in high school, my mom would yell to presumably to no one about every mess and dirty dish until I felt compelled to help her. She complained about my sister and I so much that I decided that children were not for me.
In high school, somehow I got into the Reclaiming tradition. I don’t know how Twelve Wild Swans by Starhawk and Hilary Valentine came into my life, but it was one of my favorite books on feminist witchcraft. I liked how the goddess was emphasized, but the god wasn’t forgotten or dumped. While, I’m no longer religious or subscribe to a male god and female god dichotomy, if that’s one’s thing, I do believe there should be a balance between a divine gendered couple.
I owned and read Z. Budapest’s Holy Book of Women’s Mysteries, but since I lost all my books in a fire and this one was about $25 bucks, I never got another copy. However, I do recall that I was turned off by Dianic Wicca because the god was not worshiped or talked about and the rituals were long.
At 21, I moved out and discovered the internet. When I found out that Wicca and witchcraft were not the same things and that one had to undergo an initiation to become Wiccan, my world toppled down.
I decided that I was an imposer by calling myself a Wiccan. My identity as a Wiccan flew out the window, but around the same time, I began reading about the Feri tradition of witchcraft – I realized that the change from Wiccan to witch was good.
I began to question every belief of Wicca and decided that Wiccan karma, the view of the god and goddess as parents, and the Threefold Law** were bullocks.
In my early 20’s to 30’s, I read Manifesta by Jennifer Baumgardner and Amy Richards, Yes Means Yes edited by Jaclyn Friedman and Jessica Valenti, Full-Frontal Feminism by Jessica Valenti, The Rise of Enlightened Sexism by Susan J. Douglas, and many others.
Feminism brought to light some injustices that I’d not realized were staring me in the face, but it gave answers to the injustices done to me as a child like that one time I was slapped in the face by my parents*** or when a boy hit me in the head with a ball.
I decided that I wanted to bring feminism into my craft (although, to this day, I’m not sure how exactly). Turning to Starhawk’s and Coyle’s work for inspiration, I’ve used many techniques, rituals, meditations, and spells including my own thrown in there, but I’ve yet to create my “tradition.”
*I no longer read her books.
**I do believe in cause and effect. I actually never understood the Threefold Law – and I don’t know why it’s threefold.
***This is super-personal. Maybe when I’m ready, I can write about this for a different time.