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Women have innate talents and exceptional abilities that go unnoticed by our society, and that women themselves often do not fully appreciate. If every woman were to listen closely enough to her own secret songnot simply with ears, but with eyes (all three!), loins, breasts, heart, spirit, and soulshe would discover a power that she has carried within since before the beginning of time. I call this power Witch.
To be a Witch is not to be green, have a cackle, and wear a tall pointed hat in public. It is centuries of men's fear of women that has defined Witch in this false and pejorative sense. The word has mysterious origins, but is generally believed to be derived from its Anglo-Saxon root wicce (fem.) or wicca (masc.), which simply meant "wise one" or "seer" and referred to a person who could access information using magic. The Saxon root wych meant "to bend, turn, or shape," as did the Indo-European root wic and weik. The Germanic wit and witan means "to know" or "to see." There are no other known origins for the word Witch.
The Oxford English Dictionary tells us that Witch is a Celtic word exclusive to the Celtic tribes. It does not describe "seers" or "wise ones" in any culture other than the Celtic culture. When scholars, anthropologists, religionists, and sociologists refer to other magical systems, such as voodoo or satanism, as forms of Witchcraft, they misuse and abuse the term. The early Celts considered the word Witch an honorific or desirable form of address that would automatically precede a person's name, as in "Witch Morgan" or "Witch Bridget." Using Witch in this way conveyed social superiority and prestige and was understood to mean "the good people" or "the people who followed the customs of the land."
As explained in the Introduction, I am speaking of the Witch in archetypal terms for the purposes of this book. I define Witch as the magical side of every woman's nature. She is your core spirit possessed by all women regardless of personality type. The Witch is a strength within each of us that must be awakened and reclaimed, not denied and feared, or burned, or stoned. A woman recognizes the Witch when she hears, and heeds, a strong inner voice that tells her to act in a manner contrary to what everyone else advises. The Witch is a woman's subtle, inward knowing, her dream in the middle of the night that magically comes true the next day. When a woman is aware and respectful of the Witch's voice, she can successfully rely on her magical nature to solve problems, face up to challenges, or sense and avoid danger. The Witch within gives a woman infinite possibilities for fulfilling her life's choices. She is a powerful flow of energy carrying the water, soil, and sun needed to make precious dreams come true.
It is at great expense to women that today the word Witch triggers our fear of the occult or evil magic, but rarely evokes its original meaning. Women who do not understand their Witch heritage are cut off from their inherent magical natures. Without the Witch we feel out of sorts, off balance, and uncomfortable with change. We feel foolish and childish for having intuitive thoughts and feelings. We lack confidence, direction, and drive in situations that require exactly those qualities. We frequently feel sick or not fully well. Instead of guarding our strengths and passions, we settle for passive roles in our relationships at home, work, and play. We surrender when we should fight, and keep silent when we should speak out. Without the Witch we deny ourselves fulfillment at our deepest, most primeval level.
To feel whole again, to build a sense of purpose and identity, an authentic female self, we must restore the sacred trust and spiritual promise of the Witch. We must insist on the spiritual dimension and value of our feminine nature. Not until we claim the true meaning of the word Witch, with all of its sovereign strength and magic, will we be able to reempower ourselves as women.
Like archaeologists digging for bones and bits of treasures, women must become their own emotional detectives. From childhood we are encouraged to turn away from our magic. As we grow, taught only the analytical and rational approaches to solving our problems, we become limited. Rediscovering the Witch is remembering our magical past and learning how to trust our instinctual nature. The Witch archetype provides you with a truly extraordinary set of instincts that should not be overlooked or demeaned, but used as they once were to better your own life and the lives of those around you.
Finding your inner Witch is not a religion, but a journey of the spirit. You are Nature Herself. The spirit of the Universe resides within you. The magic light of the Moon, whose cycles guide you, the nurturing Earth, are the same Goddess Moon and Earth that cradled the women before you, the ones who in succession came to bear you. The Witch is yours, handed down from a long line, from the Great Mother Herself. Women need to recognize the antiquity of their own power.
The Gameboard of Life
One of the central tenets of the Witch is that there is organization in all things. There should also be organization in one's own life. Each of us should have a game plan in life. Think about what you would like to do with your lifenot what your husband or your lover or your children would like to do. I am not speaking about sharing experiences with loved ones, which we all enjoy doing, but simply making a plan that speaks to your needs alone. Once your own strategy is in place, you will be better able to devise a larger plan, which includes others if you wish. The point of this exercise is to be ready with a response, when life speaks up and says, "It's your move."
The Celts revered the game of chess. The sidhe (pronounced "shee"), or Faerie folk, were skilled chess players. To take part in the exercise you will need a game board. You can use a child's checker- or chessboard or you can make your own by painting black and white squares on a card table or large poster-board. If you are not adept at drawing squares you can stamp them onto the surface using paint and a square sponge. It may also help to know a bit about the game of chess. The object is to capture the King. The Queen, however, is Sovereign and wields more power than any other player in the game.
Envision yourself on the Game Board of Life. See the squares as different phases in your own life. The white squares stand for things you would like to send away. These can be wishes you hope to come true or obstacles you would like to move out of your way. The black squares represent things you would like to draw in, characteristics in your personality or nature you want to encourage, or things you hope to bring inside you or near you. You can use chess pieces to represent different aspects of your life (for example, the castle can represent home or stability; the knight or horseman, strength and agility; the pawn, protection) or you can choose from the suggested list provided below. You may wish to add to this list or choose entirely different items:
A photo of yourself as a child: past
A photo of yourself as an adult: present
A picture of a healthy person: health (this can be a picture of you as well)
A picture of the Sun: energy; health; creativity
A picture of each phase of the Moon: balance; transformation; health
Stock market clipping: portfolio (every Witch needs a good portfolio)
A ring: continuity, the circle of life
A picture of a heart: love
A picture of a sword: protection, courage
A stone: stability, grounding
A picture of an apple (or a tiny wooden apple or ornament): knowledge, the sacred pentacle (five-pointed star)
A coin: money
A picture of a boat/car/plane, et cetera: travel
A gold chain: for binding things (this can bind something good or bad)
The center four squares in the middle of the board are where your spirit resides. Around this four-square area, using the white and black squares as your guide to either draw in energy or send it away, place the objects on the chessboard anywhere you like. On one edge of the board you may want to line up objects representing where you are. On another side, line up objects representing where you would like to be. Each square might represent a month or a year. Obviously, you are not following the precise rules of the game of chess, but are using the gaming board as an organizational and spiritual tool. You may want to remove items that have served their purpose, once wishes or dreams have come true. Or you may want to add new items as new experiences or relationships occur. You can have one game board or several game boards around the house. Sometimes, I make Xerox copies of game boards, tack them onto the walls in different rooms of the house, and simply write my intentions onto the squares. You can keep the board set up for as long as you like or you may want to pack it up each night. The entire exercise is in your hands. The direction you want to take in your life is determined by you. Your future means what you want it to mean. Be imaginative with your moves. Be flexible, but, above all, be ready to play.