Know Your Craft
By: Shirley Lenhard
The second journey for my seed work begins with the second “Goal of a Witch” which is “Know Your Craft.” For me, this is a moment to stop and reflect on what it is precisely that my craft consists of and then delve as deep as possible into identifying those things that further my spiritual evolution as well as identifying those things which are comfortable and not meant to lead to anything other than comfort. This past week has been one of challenging myself to get out of my comfort zone.
I have had a lot of books and tools – some I have purchased, some I have swapped with others, and some were gifted. Yet, somehow, I have always found myself with moments of purging and letting go of those things that seem to remain unused or not really necessary for my craft. I think in the first Goal, Know Your Self, there has been a lot of self-exploration and, with studying my craft and reading about things that have piqued my interests, I have come to recognize what Robert Collier meant when he said “All power comes from within and is therefore under our control.” Magic is energy, organic and flowing through me. It is not something that happens to me without cause and effect. Instead, it is something that comes from within me and is birthed from my intentions and nurtured with my experience. It is incumbent upon me, as a Witch, to follow my craft from book learning to experience and through that experiential practice, I will know my craft.
This last full moon that occurred in November came with clouds and storms all around us and I was unable to perform an outdoor ritual. Instead, as I have been paying close attention to my craft this last week, I came to understand that the ritual and ceremony of performing a ritual is only necessary for me when I make it necessary. I can have the same results without the large need fire and without the formal altar. I can simply perform my rite with the same adoration and respect that I would otherwise, without all of the pomp and circumstance of ritual. What can I say? The admission is there that I grew up in the Roman Catholic Church and I believe that is why I so love ceremony and ritual. The smell of incense, the sound of bells, the special robes and all of the ceremony surrounding ritual preparation is important to me; however, it is not so important that if the weather is inclement that I would simply forego the ritual. I am still able to obtain and sustain the same level of energy raising with a simple dressed candle, an incense burner, and a cast circle. Intention is everything. Diving deep within and remembering Doreen Valiente’s words in “The Charge of the Goddess” when she wrote:
And thou who thinkest to seek for me, know thy seeking and
yearning shall avail thee not, unless thou know this mystery: that if
that which thou seekest thou findest not within thee, thou wilt
never find it without thee.
Know Your Craft. It seems so intrinsically intertwined with the first goal, Know Your Self. I feel as though this last week has been spent testing myself, internally seeking to know what I have inside of me and find the way to speak my truth with kindness and compassion because that is who I “want” to be rather than seeking to embrace who I have already become. I rather like who I am and that revelation has made this week a winning week in the satisfaction department! The world external of me presents questions and the answers can be found deep within my own soul, if I seek to find them. And this was the beginning of me setting out to seek answers to fears in my life.
This week, “Know Your Craft” has been my guide through seeking to achieve my seed to plant at Imbolc so I decided to name a fear and then make an effort to meet that fear head on. I live in New England. I love to walk. I love to take hikes into the woods here, but I do not like to do that alone. I have an almost “red riding hood” fear of the forests in New England. They feel old and foreboding, the canopies often begin high up in the trees and this makes for a darker forest than the pine forests of my childhood where I built forts and felt like nature was my home. As an adult, some switch flipped and I became terrified, over the last 20 years, about being alone in the forest. This week, I ventured out for hikes twice with my puppy in tow.
As we rounded a bend, we heard a stirring in the leaves ahead of us. And then we saw him. We stopped and we watched a beautiful, huge buck whose enormous rack seemed so precariously balanced on his head, lift himself from the grass he was lying in and stand. He looked down at the ground, turned toward us, lifted that majestic head, and leapt over the brambles and into the meadow with his white tail up as if he were a ballerina pirouetting across the stage! It was amazingly beautiful. The strength and poise of that large animal was breathtaking. In that moment I recognized that I was pretty far from my car, I had only my 16-week-old puppy, and we were together seeing this amazingly strong and regal animal moving away from us while remaining poised and dignified. It was then that I realized that I was not terrified. I was awestruck. I was peaceful. I was happy. I was blissfully standing in my solitude. This, I felt, was pure magic. This is the part of my craft that I strive to achieve each time I cast a circle. Be dignified. Be strong. Be regal. Hold your head high. Dance away from fears. Know Your Craft.
Again, like the first Goal of a Witch, I believe that knowing my craft, just like knowing my Self, will be a lifelong practice that may change and evolve not only for the greater good, but most assuredly for my Self and the world on which I have a direct impact. I hope that anyone reading this will have a moment of magic in their week that they recognize and acknowledge. There is nothing more satisfying than self-exploration and coming to terms with who you are in this amazing world. I look forward to the upcoming week when the third goal “Learn What You Can” will be my focus and all of this forward momentum brings about new experiences. Wishing you all well during the descent and hope that the darkness reveals some truth for you and some light for your path.