The Darkness in Witchcraft

imagesIn my first post on this blog I detailed my shift toward a more gothic lifestyle and mindset. I mentioned the fact that embracing the shadow side of life helps temper my own fight against depression. While I feel strongly about this shift, there still is a hippie aspect to my life. I have carved out a simpler lifestyle, I’m a barefoot kind of gothic witch, and I still am committed as ever to leading a green lifestyle.

I don’t think I’m alone in balancing the light/darkness aspects when it comes to being a witch. When I came to the path, I was highly influenced by Scott Cunningham’s view of witchcraft. It harkened back to my youth as a hippie kid, growing up in the 1970’s.

As I became more experienced as a witch and as time went on, I found myself in the presence of lots of people in the goth subculture. There is a mysterious darkness to witchcraft that is undeniable. It is inherent in the mythology and secretive nature of the Craft. While Cunningham’s style is a rather sunny view, a whole lot of witchcraft is performed at night. We are drawn to the night sky. Our workings are often dictated by the phases of the moon. The new moon and the full moon are each powerful in their own way.

Around year 3 of my witchcraft journey, I realized I had quite a bit in common with those in the goth community. I found myself drawn in, embracing even more aspects of that subculture. My taste in art, music, decor, lifestyle choices, and literature all swung heavily toward a gothic tone, and I found myself letting go of societal norms, while not concerning myself as to what other thought about it. It was emotionally freeing.

A few years ago, I became interested in living an even simpler lifestyle than I already had carved out. I began creating my own cleaning and personal care products, and I embraced minimalism even more than I had before. This brought out a very hippie vibe, and I felt like I needed to move in that hippie direction. What I didn’t realize was that in trying to live that lighter, more airy mindset, I was working harder at keeping my depression at bay. Finally, it culminated in destroying a blog that I had worked so hard on, for almost a year.

Upon reflection, I decided that while a goth mindset focuses on the darker aspects of life, that embracement of the darkness works better at controlling my depression. By not constantly (what I call) slaying the depression dragon, trying to keep it at bay, but by accepting its’ darkness, and reveling in it, the emotional toll is not so devastating.

I do think that many witches have depression or anxiety issues. Many have communicated that fact with me, and I’m pretty good at spotting others in the same boat as I. While certainly not all witches are goth, I think there is something comforting, something that draws these fellow magickal travelers to the dark imagery, the secretive nature, and the non-conformist path of witchcraft. One need only to Google “witchcraft images,” and you will see the popularity of the more gothic appeal of the Craft.

I think of this as part 2 of my initial post. A further explanation for the shift (back) in my path, and to hopefully demonstrate that A) I’m not alone, and B) this is about embracing darkness as something positive, not something bad or evil. Sometimes our art may come across as a bit evil (see above), but it often just there for the same reason there are horror movies. And we each have a different reason for loving those.

 

A Gothic Shift

IMG_1069About a year ago, I began the task of cleaning up my internet presence. Over the years, for various reasons that largely escape me, I had created a bunch of internet personas, along with email addresses with ties to each address. Each address was tied to various logins, and each received an array of newsletters, blog posts, and other stuff. Sorting through all this was time consuming drudgery. In the end (well, almost the end) I’m now left with far fewer addresses, all with enough purpose that I need to keep them.

I mention all that because as a Pagan and witch, I’ve had various incarnations of myself, witchcraft-wise. During the course of all this internet clean-up, I came to the conclusion that these personas were variations of two basic aspects of my personality, hippie and goth. Around the middle of 2015, I decided to go with hippie. A couple of days ago, it occurred to me that perhaps that was an error in judgment.

The other day I was determined to change my altar. I thought I would make it light and airy, you know, like the breath of spring. So I had that in my mind, but as I approached the altar, I had a complete change of heart. My altar is really goth right now, and I think, awesome. Picture up above is its’ current state.

If you ever watched the show “Chuck,” you might remember how something would trigger his mind to have a lot of things flash before his eyes as he thought about them. That was me when I looked at that altar. It occurred to me that I’ve written a lot about depression in the past months. Depression is nothing new to me, but it seems that it has become more persistent since last fall. What changed last fall? Then it hit me. The hippie persona.

In giving this more thought, and when I say more, I mean that I live in my head a WHOLE LOT, I realized that just maybe in trying to embody the upbeat hippie personality, I was trying way to hard to suppress the melancholy. You know how sometimes the more you try to not think of something, the more you think about it.

I remember writing before about the fact that when I embrace a goth mentality, I embrace the melancholia. In doing so, I’m not expending vasts amount of energy trying to beat it down, which wears me the hell out. It’s not that I succumb to the depression, rather I manage it differently.

With this in mind, and with the fact that goth surrounds me in this house, I’m shifting my psyche and way of life towards that frame of mind. And mindset is largely what we are talking about here. I’m well into midlife, so I’m not going to be wearing black eyeliner or Victorian clothing. But I grew up with goth, watching stuff like “The Addams Family” and “The Munsters.” I grew up watching Hammer films with Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing, Mario Bava films, and lots of horror movies. The 60’s and 70’s were just as big for vampires and creatures as the Twilight era.

I’ve embraced the Craft name Patchouli Autumn. This shift in my path has crossed my mind many times recently. If I could stay with one blog, you’d know that I brought up the goth aspects of my life increasingly in the past few months. It’s been lurking, waiting patiently in the shadows.

I’m giving it it’s night in the moonlight. Let’s see what happens from here.