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Thursday, November 14, 2019

To Keep Silent...Or Not

To Keep Silent...Or Not

I've sat on this post for quite some time, wondering if I should send it out into the world or not. However, in light of some recent posts and discussions I have seen floating around social media and the oh so lovely Tumblr, I felt the need to publish it now. One of the most famous sayings in witchcraft, also known as the Witch's Pyramid, is "To Know, To Dare, To Will, To Keep Silent." While largely used in Wiccan practices, there is a lot of truth in this saying and it's great advice for all witches. It's our duty to learn, study, and practice, to take chances, and to bring about the change we desire in the world. However, I have a slight problem with the last part, or more precisely, I have a problem with how it has been interpreted in modern times.

"To Keep Silent" holds great weight in the magical community, and rightly so. Originally it was advised that all witches keep silent about their work and those in their coven. This was to avoid persecution and even death. History has not always been kind to witches or those perceived as such so partaking in true magical workings was a dangerous task indeed. Ousting yourself or others could have resulted in death by hanging, burning, drowning, or beheading, depending on the time and place of the "crime." It made sense that witches would tell each other to keep their traps shut! I would too if I feared death; I am particularly afraid of being burned alive. Unfortunately, some of these witch-hunting practices still exist today and still result in the death of men, women, and children around the world. In fact, Nigeria is known for accusing young children of witchcraft and leaving them to die, forcing them to endure exorcisms for days on end, and sometimes outright murdering them. While most modern societies have moved away from such actions, we aren't completely safe from retribution either. Telling others you or a friend is practicing witchcraft could land you or your friend in some pretty hot water with family, friends, and employers. I've mentioned it a dozen times that I live in Georgia. Georgia isn't known for being very accepting, voting to ban abortion, gay marriage, and to get rid of work protections for LGBTQ+ workers. We also recently revoked the right of transgender students to use the bathroom of their associated gender. Needless to say, it isn't always the most accepting of other faiths and practices either, which is really sad. When I started practicing witchcraft 16 years ago, I was shunned by my friends, told I would be burned at the stake, and that I didn't have a place "here." I'm one of the lucky ones though. I had a really awesome close-knit group of weirdo friends and the most loving and supportive parents anyone could ever have. But not everyone has these luxuries, so keeping silent is important in that it keeps people safe.

To Keep Silent...Or Not

Furthermore, "To Keep Silent" is about inner silence. Think meditation; calming that raging storm within and wielding that energy to manifest something else entirely. This isn't always an easy task. It's also not easy to remain silent when you feel compelled to speak, but sometimes not saying anything is more powerful and meaningful. To me, this is the most important aspect of this saying, to master your voice and inner thoughts so you can quiet the mind and choose your words carefully. This doesn't just help us in our day-to-day relationships but helps to focus our spellwork as well. I can't tell you how many times I perform a spell or ritual with no words at all. I let my energy do the talking. Furthermore, keeping silent gives us an opportunity to listen, to receive the messages we are meant to receive to grow our practice and our spiritual selves.

Many modern witches, however, interpret this phrase to mean keeping your magical workings and spells a secret and cite telling others as a reason your spells may not work. As a practicing witch of over 16 years and a witchcraft blogger for over 5 years, I can see very little merit in this claim. Now I didn't always feel this way. In fact, when I first started practicing in high school, I kept everything hush hush. I never told anyone about my spells and rituals and I refused to share my magical spaces with anyone else. I still don't practice magic with others for a variety of reasons, but I'm obviously much more open about my practice now, and share a large amount of my spell work with you guys! I was afraid that if I spoke about my magic it wouldn't work because someone else doubted it. I handed over my power to others out of fear. As I got older, I started to realize I didn't care what other people thought anymore. And after my divorce two years ago, I really stopped caring and realized that my entire life I had been handing my power over to others. If I have learned anything on this hell of a journey, it's that I am the master of my own story. I do not believe that any person, witch or not, has the power to fuck up my spells, and I'm not going to give anyone that power anymore either. You see, something only has power and influence if we give it that power. I'm sure there are tons of people out there that hate me; I know I'm abrasive and sometimes rude and that doesn't earn you very many brownie points in society. But here's the thing, not a single spell I've cast in the past 5 years of blogging hasn't "worked." In fact, they all have worked better than I expected! So come at me, bro! When we stop giving our power over to others, they stop having influence over our lives.

To Keep Silent...Or Not

I understand this saying and belief is at the foundation of many a witch's craft. That's fine. I am not asking you to change. In fact, if it is working for you, keep it up! To each their own! However, I would ask that you ask yourself why you believe your spells won't work if you show or tell others about them. When we are able to turn inward and truly reflect on our practice and habits, we sometimes find they are rooted in fear, trauma, and self-doubt.


8 comments :

  1. This is awesome! Thank you for sharing your perspective on this topic - I fully agree.

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    1. You're very welcome. Thank you for reading!

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  2. Good morning from a very grey UK! As someone who is just starting out on their witchcraft journey this is just the thing I needed to hear:

    "When we stop giving our power over to others, they stop having influence over our lives."

    "When we are able to turn inward and truly reflect on our practice and habits,
    we sometimes find they are rooted in fear, trauma, and self-doubt."

    Those are the most powerful, affirming things I have heard in so many months and I'm so glad I came across your blog at this time! Also, your 'Mastering your Grimoire' series has been indispensable to me, so thank you again :)

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    1. Thank you for reading! I'm glad you found those statements affirming and at just the right time. I'm also glad you are enjoying the "Mastering Your Grimoire" Series. I'm seriously considering expanding it and turning it into an eCourse. I just gotta carve out some time! Haha! I wish you the absolute best on your journey, and hopefully the UK isn't too grey much longer. :)

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  3. I really enjoy reading your blog (it is so nice to have some good written blogs left and not have to watch everyone on youtube!) and have given much thought recently about the idea of handing our power over to others, not to mention our happiness, well-being, choices, etc. Furthermore, I hedge-traveled for the first time a couple weeks ago and the idea that "something only has power and influence if we give it that power" became terrifyingly clear during a frightening experience, before my spirit guides made clear that this frightening being would lose all its power without my fear. This might have been impossible to do, but for my guides, who poured love over me. Immediately, the scary being grew smaller and eventually rolled away into nothing. Hopefully this knowledge will prove helpful the next time hedge-traveling. Thank you for this wonderful blog!

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    1. What an amazing experience to have during a journey and thank you for sharing it! I understand at the time it was terrifying, but your guides offered you amazing advice and support and that is truly amazing and beautiful. I will never get over how wonderful our spirit guides tend to be and how much they have yet to teach us. I hope your future hedge riding experiences are not nearly as frightening, but I hope that you continue to learn and grow as a practitioner. Thank you for reading and I'll be sure to continue publishing written content. If I'm honest, I don't watch YouTube witches. I tried the unboxing videos and just felt meh about them. I enjoy writing so much more.

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  4. I’m sorry, but I don’t see how the aspect of Keeping Silent in the Witches Pyramid relates in any way to keeping silent in the face of oppression or not being active in causes we care about. It's not even about keeping one's Craft a secret.

    I’m surprised so many witches make this link. The Witches Pyramid is about receive the knowledge a witch needs to reach higher manifestations of self. If one isn't silent, one cannot hear the messages sent to us by our ancestors, Earth Mother, and/or the forces from whom we seek help. Silence allows for information to absorb, register and grow. Nowhere in any of my reading did I ever come across explicit directives to keep my Craft, my passions and my support of movements to myself. I’m saddened that the historical secrecy of witchcraft compels people to mistake spiritual disciplines for modern-day mandates to perpetuate it.

    What Blackheart writes in “A Witches Silence” is the importance of silence in witchcraft as a distiller. In nature, winter is a time of silence; of re-grouping, rest, absorption of knowledge, and attainment of the higher state of self. It’s a special space in your mind you can enter that separates your mind from the everyday modern noises that keep us from developing our will. Silence develops confidence. It dismisses those voices that can keep a witch back. This section—and really her entire book—illustrates this concept pretty well.

    I’m saddened people interpreted this very important pillar of magickal study as some kind of medieval directive to keep our Craft a secret—or worse—keep quiet in the face of modern-day oppression. It’s definitely not written that way. If we are talking about the Witches Pyramid, then the “Keep Silent” aspect of this discipline is about what Silence means in OUR Craft. How we, as Witches, use the important natural aspect of Silence to grow OUR spiritual power.

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    1. I completely agree with you! Time and time again I read posts and beginner witchcraft books that talk about Keeping Silent as a way to make sure your spells work, and I just want to throw them away or set them on fire. They make me scream every time I see them and lately it seems like every where I turn witches are telling others to "keep silent." Many modern witches and pagans have completely reshaped the saying to mean something its not, and unfortunately more and more new witches are learning that they can't talk about their spell work or their practice or else everything will fall apart. Its a bastardization of what it truly means in regards to spell work. This is an ongoing issue that drives me up the wall.

      I am not in anyway condoning oppression by supporting a witch's right to Keep Silent about their practice, however. I would like to point out, though, that being able to speak out against injustice and oppression is a privilege that not everyone has the luxury of possessing. Those in Nigeria that speak out against the modern witch trails are also tried as witches. In some areas of the US, one could lose their job, family, and home. There are reported cases of "practicing witchcraft" being cited as a reason a parent is unfit to have custody of their child. A mother or father in such a court battle isn't thinking about fighting injustice; they are concerned with keeping their child, and rightfully so. I support witches doing what is best for them, their families, and their magical practice. If keeping the practice silent for safety reasons is what they need to do, then by all means, I encourage them to do so. I am lucky enough to be in a situation where I can speak out and up for those marginalized groups and I do so every chance I get. I am glad you are also in a position to speak out and for others.

      Thank you for reading and thank you for your excellent, thought-provoking comment. I'm going to have to check out Blackheart and "A Witches Silence." Seems right up my alley!

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