If you’ve ever strolled through a wooded glen alone and felt energies with you, speaking to you, guiding or protecting you, then honey, you might be a witch. At least, that’s how it happened with me. I learned very early on that my connection to nature and my ability to listen to her, heed her warnings, and pay attention to her signs meant that the universe was giving me purpose – to be a witch. What does it mean to be a witch? I’ll tell you what it means to me.
When I was young, like first grade young, I was drawn to trees and plants. As most children are, right? But my interests were of a stranger sort. I could feel the vibration of plants; I could talk to animals and the wind, sometimes the water, most definitely the trees. The secrets of nature were so strong with me that I even wrote a book. It was about enchanted flowers that protected a girl who had been bullied at school; and these flowers casted spells, y’all. What did a girl of seven know about these things? Apparently, enough to write a book about it and bind it with thread and glue on a gold floral wallpaper cover. My school was legit in the art department and for that, too, I attribute my witchiness. When children have space and time to express self, they embrace the world in genuine terms, doing what our ancestors did. We are meant to tell stories, make music, build, craft, paint, sew, and knit our primal desires and fears.
Art as it connected to nature was home. I lived in the wooded glens nearby my house, I stayed out past dusk, I wandered parks and unruly, untamed backyards of old people who could no longer tend to their lawns. Wildness was ignited under the action of creating; it was amplified if I created on-site, aka organic locations.
Everything I saw, felt, heard, smelled, and tasted got documented in a journal or any piece of paper I could find. Eventually, I self-published a mini-grimoire at seven. My mini-baby spell book, my first book of witchcraft, was poetry and recipes, lyrics and dreams. Between those pages I made love to myself and the universe; I invited Satan and Jesus Christ to join my mission and, without much coercion, both accepted as if it were part of some higher plan, something behind the curtain, something there, just over there, lurking, waiting for me just as much as I had been waiting for it. Then I started conjuring spirits. It wasn’t intentional, it just sort of happened, as if it were my calling. And it was. The conjuring started with games. We called the game “ghosts in the graveyard” or “Ouija” or “light as a feather.”
Back then, we only knew spirits as ghosts, not as some other dimensional entity or ancestral guide. Most of us were afraid of ghosts because children equate ghosts with evil. Children are taught that ghosts want to haunt and hurt, that they are of the Devil, that they are suffering souls and, if nothing else, purely demonic in nature. While some of that is true, I felt something totally different when I felt spirits. Sure, some scared me, but mostly they led me to trees that had blooming, aromatic flowers, ponds full of tadpoles, vines full of seeded pods, fields of buttercups, and branches in the shape of wishbones. My ghosts showed me snapshots of nature’s glory. And while I did encounter dark entities, I didn’t mess with them – I knew better.
However, that doesn’t mean I could stop them from appearing. Once a demonic force made itself known to me – hungry for children. Only a child myself, I tried to express what the universe had revealed to me, I tried to warn other children. Spirit guides had warned me about the dark presence behind the school, the energy vampire. They whispered to me, “Steer clear, don’t be tempted to enter the woods alone.” How could a young girl explain stranger whisperings in her ear? And how could I not heed such a warning? When I struggled to describe what I felt, what I knew, I ended up starting a panic in the entire school.
Later, my parents and the principal would lead me into the woods behind the school as if to say, “Look there’s no one here, see?” As we scurried through the glen, my skin crawled goosebumps. Soon thereafter, a neighborhood child disappeared. That’s when experts came to the school to teach us about not talking to strangers and good-touch/bad-touch. Sometimes grown-ups don’t believe, that’s the problem with getting far away from our spirit guides, from nature, from our true selves.
Since my caution had fallen on deaf ears and closed hearts, I chose to remain silent from that day forward. I feared being seen as mad or crazy, wild even. The mad woman is the socially unacceptable woman; she’s a rebel, she’s an artist, she’s unmarried, a hag, dejected, rejected –a witch. Only until I was older did I see the connection between what nature showed me and who I am. The mad woman lives in the attic and among plants. Now you know, dear reader. And that’s why I stay quiet no more. That’s why these lips and this heart belt out the song of my witchiness.
Rarely, if ever, do I meet house ghosts. Most of my ghosts, if not all, stem from growing, living creatures – big and small. Ghosts meet up with me in nature as if we had had an appointment; it feels that way, anyway. In maintaining tradition, each time I get near an area with more than a few trees and vines, I become still. I wait for them. Ghosts have introduced me to other spirits, some might call them faeries or angels; they have introduced me to subtle proofs that someone or something was listening. It was in the bend of a tree, the arrival of an unforeseen gust of wind, a solitary flower, the sound of a tree, a bird, a bumblebee, a beckon of light falling just ahead. They introduced me to myself.
By being still, Mother Nature revealed signs to me. She taught me that lessons were in the minor details of life, she taught me that in nature there are no events and that simply being is the event, she taught me that I could understand myself by looking at the world around me with a discerning eye. But it’s not always the eye, either, it’s in the heart, but it’s also somewhere between the ears and behind the eyes. Some might call it meditation. Others astral travel. It’s about being quiet, turning off, unplugging, touching a self that has exited long before we realize or want to accept. Our energies have always been here, she’s shown me that in leaf and stem time and time again.
As I grew older and found myself facing mortality, dark spirits visited me. They revealed tragic stories about those who had entered the forest, highlighted death sites and lost souls. I swear they visited me during deep and lucid sleep; it almost felt as though they took me on midnight adventures in the forest just behind my house. But those shadowing ones are few and far between. The majority have been majestic lights. With each encounter, with each wooded glen, I burgeon into the witch I’m supposed to be. For when I am in the elements and use the four elements, I am one with the universe and thus one with myself. How much more witch can one get? That is the basic, bare bones, definition of witch – one who is in touch with nature, one who respects her mother.
The forest taught me how to tell stories through stones and bones. The forest taught me to study feathers and not always look at the path ahead, but the one just above my head. The forest taught me to be quiet and talk to the insect because they carry heavy secrets, deep with history. And the forest continues to teach me, every single time I enter a wild space –from all around the globe, I’ve been chatting with crows and forest nymphs.
This might sound familiar to many of you reading right now. If it does, welcome, it’ so nice to meet you, dear sister. You may or may not be a witch, but signs are pointing in the direction that you are, at the very least, connected to source and that’s the perfect place to start.