We have officially accomplished Witch Club for an entire year! I don't even know where to begin with explaining how I feel; a mixture of relief, giant spoonfuls of self reflection, and excitement for ideas of bigger and better things to accomplish and a bit of fear...
Witch Club was inspired by a need to fill a void we recognized in our community. Friends would come to the store to either make self deprecating jokes about themselves getting into crystals or wanting to smudge their home, but didn't know where to start or felt like they couldn't do it. Some were unsure where to even begin in their weird new practice, while others felt like they needed to already be a practicing witch or have apprenticed under so-and-so yogi from the sacred mountains of Woo Woo.
This mysticism of 'witchery' is what we were trying to dismantle, especially through starting Witch Club. Although, it was a struggle trying to start it though from Oracle being a natural science focused store. It was a project that ended up bringing different paths to Oracle but an internal struggle for myself as a scientifically-minded person. This is where Witch Club turned into a slightly large shadow work project for myself.
I have been a practicing secret witchy lady since middle school. Always hiding my spell books and myself at every turn. Camouflaging into the wallpaper to make sure I wasn't offending anyone. my practices oddly enough were based on things my grandmother taught me or through observation... Most of the time hiding in Barnes & Noble's New Age section. So versed mainly in medicines, salts, spirits, candles, and crystals.
The first time I ever heard about Shadow work was actually from Jane Almirall (clairsentient hot dog eating champion, charming person, one-woman-think-tank and all around brunette) who had come to me, a few months into starting WC, for a potential workshop at Oracle. It was eye opening. The whole project was to immerse yourself in moments of self reflection and sigil work. Focusing on what you feel are your weaknesses, fears, strengths, what you need, what you want, and delving into the whys and the hows. The class was enlightening and a good homework for any individual in trying to grow and empower themselves.
That is exactly what WC turned out to be for me - every month focusing with the seasons and the month, but ultimately focusing the instruction and intention on what I felt I needed and the people around me. Not realizing what I was doing, I was forcing myself to pay attention to my subconscious. My 'spiritual' practice comes at a weird self doubt just the same as those who came to the shop questioning themselves in why they wanted to carry around crystals, beyond the collectors point of view. Being a skeptic who is scientifically focused, believing in an object or a practice to help me beyond the mumbo jumbo was exactly what helped me believe; just superstitions and nothing more couldn't be the answer...
Being raised Catholic, wasn't everything based out of superstitions? Wasn't everything based from rituals and knowledge passed on from someone else? Why would me burning a candle to help me focus my thoughts on my intentions any different from lighting a candle to help me talk to and pray to my grandfather? Was a stuck in yet another structured religion?
I will admit I still occasionally go to church with my grandmother (even though I sometimes feel like I stick out as a sore thumb), but it was then while I was burning a candle for prayer that I realized I didn't stray too far from my origins (I just don't agree with their practices but fundamentally their rituals guided me to what I believe in now). But what I took out of it were the tools we were given should be used to make us bigger and better people. Self reflection is the easiest part of that (even though our society deems it weak or selfish), then plants and herbs of old wives tales (being dubbed the title so it was diminished to a less knowledge), or even being called a witch (which was a way to take power away from a medicine woman or healer of the community). There were too many centuries of tradition to back them up... with eventually my own experiences that made me no longer able to avoid direct contact. No there isn't a proper way to do anything nor is there one belief that triumphs them all... every person is an individual, a different strain of matter in this universe of clumped particles...
Knowledge of plant magic, stones, and animal spirits are all questioned and doubted because of wanting to squash out the 'old-ways' or disconnect us from nature or a social consciousness? There totally is old knowledge that isn't sound anymore, but we totally should question EVERYTHING. Just because you smudge your house doesn't mean you are now no longer (insert whatever religion you connect to here). But sometimes it is ok to give in to the things that may help us focus or give us faith in this complicated world... why not investigate these other ways of thoughts, especially if they are guiding you to love and light?
I have gone years flip flopping back and forth between my ideologies. Today, I still can't tell you what I believe in, although I am surrounded by like minded people who have guided me to be ok with that and just to do me, which I realize how privileged I am to have that and so grateful. I can just tell you my experiences and the things my grandmother taught me or the things I learned hiding my nose in those books... Ultimately I think that is the reason we all got into it. It accepted our dark gloomy faces with open arms and the darkness that stared back too. We were accepted into the shadow and it accepted our visions and our imagination. It accepted our intuitions and deep feelings - it allowed us to venture into the 'what if' with vengeance.
You didn't have to believe in the dogma, you didn't have to believe at all. There are no rules in Witch Club. Maybe the one rule is to never stop questioning and learning and to delve deeper. Only then will you learn what type of witch you really are... Maybe crystals speak to you, maybe they don't and that's fine because the plants do. And maybe they don't speak back but the animals do... and maybe they don't but the ghosts and the spirits sure do. Or the stars, or the moon, or the earth and elements. It called to you and you came here (maybe just like me) unwillingly... but willingly hopeful that that is the key to help us gain our sanity.
I do believe the energy is there for all of us to read and tap into. Especially with practice, patience, and repetition, just like drawing, you get better. To some it comes easier, but maybe they did the work already in a past life. Everything is connected in some form shape or matter. 'Matter' literally in a scientific point of view so why can't there be a transfer of energy? Why knows, maybe it is all superstition. But it helps me be a better person (I think) so what is there to harm in giving you what helped me? And obviously Witch Club is more than just that, as it is building a community. A community of weirdo people who want to delve deeper into the shadows. Helping one another understand this thing we call life.
From Witch Club grew Open Circle, a meet up of all kinds to talk about just that and help each other in any fashion. So far, we have done two meet ups coinciding with similar topics of the month that was shipped out with WC. That is where the fear falls into my lap. What if I look like a fraud, what if I don't know what I am talking about, what if my practices are just old Italian farmers supersticion? What if I run out of ideas? What if they don't like me?? All I want to do is help, what if that is misread?
And that's when I realized... that's when shadows spoke back...
With more questions, which hopefully means I am on the right path.