Magic, Identity, and Practicing Limitlessness
I am a witch... though it was only recently I decided to truly embrace that title. In reality, I have been accessing my witch identity for much longer than I have known myself to be a witch, and a lot of that actually materialized in the process of recognizing my own gender identity. I am brought back to the very first episode of The Queer Witch podcast, and how it felt to hear, stated as fact, that queer identity was magic. It was arguably a turning point in my relationship with "witch" as a title, and also as a facet of my own identity on a deeper level. But my relationship with witchcraft goes back much farther than that.
One of my main roadblocks with stepping into my truest magical identity, were constructs and stereotypes of what a witch could and could not be. When I first began dabbling in tarot, I wrestled a lot with "witch" and its purported contradictions with the masculinity I used to mitigate my dysphoria. I saw a lot of discourse around women "owning" the title of witch (TERF alert), and although it was ridiculous logically, it impacted me nonetheless. The word witch was gendered in my mind. I felt hesitant to embrace magic as a result. Not because I felt it invalidated my identity, but because I felt it wouldn't have me. The community and the concept felt out of reach.
Fast forward to recently, even after claiming my own personal sense of magic, I had not truly embraced it in my practice. I had performed rituals or divination that foreshadowed a sort of initiation into the practice of witchcraft, but never had I dedicated a moment just to that. I found the concepts of autonomy, destruction of boundaries, and intuition following me in my work. My cards for this year were the High Priestess (a devotee to the great mysteries of life) and Judgement (the call of great change and higher meaning, also a symbolic death). This accompanied my pull for this year of Strength (will, intuition, and purpose) and this year's cards: The Empress (creative, passionate, emotional) and The Hanged Man (changed perspective, meditative and experimental).
In my life "outside" of spiritual practice recently, my relationships with my appearance had begun to waver. I was experiencing extreme discomfort with my presentation, not from dysphoria, but from what I can only think to describe as dysmorphia. I didn't want to be looked at or touched. Existing in my body was distracting and distressing me. This isn't new, unfortunately, but it was getting out of hand.
I often cut my own hair because of how fast it grows, and also because of anxiety around the masc/fem duality of traditional hair styles. I also often hating how it turns out. I have probably spent more time disliking my hair than liking it over the last couple years. I am always battling my dysphoria as a nonbinary person, traditionally feminine beauty standards hammered into me growing up, and my incredibly poor perceptions of my appearance. I have, in the past, tossed around the idea of shaving my head, but never felt truly able to take that drastic step.
On the night of the new moon, all these feelings really came to the surface. As I wrote out my intentions, I felt overwhelmed with a need not just to start over, but to reclaim my direction and purpose. I felt so bound by all of the limits imposed on me. How to look, who to be, what was right and what was wrong. The Eight of Swords had come to me that day, and I could feel it in all of my being.
In all that I had learned throughout the last two years of exploration and practice, witchcraft and magic is about confronting limits. There is this common thread I see throughout the witchy community that anything is possible, that our power is limitless, and that we need only access our magic to manifest what we want.
This is a complex idea, with lots of interpretations and intersections. For instance, those living under oppression cannot just manifest their way out of it. Magic isn't a crueall, and being a witch doesn't mean you suddenly have complete autonomy over every aspect of life. But that doesn't mean magic isn't limitless. The universe brings us what we need in ways we may never expect. Sometimes clearing our heads allows us to realize what will truly help us. To me, magic is limitless because we ourselves are limitless. We may not be able to bend the laws of physics to create money we don't have or free ourselves from oppressive systems, but our work with intention and spirit does impact the world and create change.
My personal understanding of magic and witchcraft is ever evolving, and these are only my thoughts as I take my first formal steps down this path. But this idea of the limitlessness of spirit and magic reminds me of something I read more than a year ago. It is a passage from The Practical Psychic by John Friedlander and Cynthia Pearson, a book I picked up for less than $4 in a metaphysical store on a whim.
"Understanding our limits empowers us by preventing us from wasting our energy on silly or dangerous approaches. Understanding our limitlessness empowers us by keeping us from quitting prematurely."
To me, being a witch means understanding how one can be both limited and limitless at once. It means knowing how to balance that state, and use it to assist in being an autonomous part of one's own life, community, and universe. It is only now clear why I have been subconsciously and consciously seeking magic for years. My personal path has involved an extreme unbalance with limits. I am bound, like the Eight of Swords, ready to be set free.
It became very important to me that in the face of this great revelation and call for change, that I underwent a ritual of rebirth. And who better to usher me into this new path than Hekate.
Stepping back a bit, I have been working pretty exclusively with ancient Greek deities since I started down my magical path. I honor many, and work closely with a few, but one goddess in particular remained in a liminal space in my practice: Hekate. Hekate is a goddess of witchcraft, mystery, death, magic, and much more. She brought a force that, while alluring in topic, felt quite inaccessible to me. In my limited understanding of her, I often saw her through the lens of the traditional "god/goddess" binary presented in traditional witchcraft, and not as her own entity.
My relationship with Hekate has changed quite a bit since the beginning, along with my relationship with pretty much everything else in my spiritual practice. I attribute much of my changed perspective to my own growth with identity. Seeing the many facets of my own soul helped me see complexity and intersection in my work. Once I could see how different aspects of myself were not contradictory, I could release shame about what my magic "should" look like. And, perhaps, the defining moment of this revelation came last night.
I spent some time painting my Mary statue black for Hekate (there seems to be a pretty founded connection between these two entities, both in my personal practice and in the practice of others). I burned a candle for her and sat with her. Spoke to her. Truly felt myself open up to the possibilities before me.
Then I shaved my head. I cut it all off, and started over. And if I am being honest, it was less about the action itself, but knowing that I could. My hair was a limit. It was something I was not comfortable with, but never felt able to change. So I changed it. It went beyond the physical action and became quite spiritual for me. It coincided with this "rebirth", making it all the more important to my journey.
As I washed away all the hair in the shower, I heard clear as day: "When I care for myself, I care for her. My body is her body. My blood is her blood."
We are limitless. Magic is real. The Gods smile upon us.