When I first came upon Wicca, I was fourteen years old and living in a world where the internet was just starting to gain traction. Yes, we had a computer. Yes, we had access to the internet, but it was rather limited back then. We had dial-up and it would take forever for the browser to load one single page, so I didn’t have time to search the web for information on paganism or Wicca nor did I even think it was an option back then.
The way Wicca found me was through a random book in my local thrift store – Laurie Cabot’s Power of the Witch. It’s faded purple cover caught my eye, and I picked it up, then quickly looked around to make sure no one was watching me. I mean, come on, I had a book with the word witch on the cover in my hands! The scandal! When I knew no one was watching, I flipped through the book cautiously, and not-so-surprisingly I was drawn to the words and vibes of Cabot’s writing. Witchcraft is a religion? I thought. There is a female form of God? I could hardly contain my excitement.
So, I bought the book for one dollar, the whole time worrying what the thrift store clerk thought of me buying such a blasphemous book. You see, I grew up in a somewhat small town in Southern Maryland with a population of about 30,000 at the time. And most of the residents were strict fundamental Christian – either Pentecostal or Southern Baptist. So if the words witch or magic are even whispered in this town, most people fall to their knees and start praying for your soul right in the middle of the grocery store. Or…they run away from you for fear the Devil is trying to steal their soul through you.
I took the book home and plopped on my bed with it, devouring every last word. Sure, some of it was confusing for a fourteen year old. Laurie Cabot has a way of delving very deep into esotericism in some of her books on the craft. One concept that I remember was confusing was the idea of getting into an “alpha state” of mind. I had no idea what meditation felt like much less being able to use it to my advantage at any time of the day. Nevertheless, I had gotten a taste of magic and freedom and I wanted more. This one book was not enough to whet my newbie Wiccan appetite. So I scoured the thrift stores and book stores for as much information as I possibly could find. I ended up buying books written by Scott Cunningham (whom most of us know as one of the foremost authorities on Wicca) and also books by Silver Ravenwolf (yes, I know she’s a bit controversial but more on that in a later blog). I read and read and read some more, and I began to see that there were others out there who saw the world like I saw it. As a magical, beautiful place full of enchantment and opportunity.
The first ritual I ever performed was an invocation of the Goddess, and admittedly, I had no clue what I was doing or even the actual meaning to why I was doing it. But, there I was, standing on the back porch of my parents’ house in a black robe with a kitchen knife as my athame, looking up at the full moon and chanting words that would somehow “invoke the goddess”. Embarrassingly, the reason I wanted to try it was probably because I saw it in The Craft. Don’t judge me. You all know you’ve done some witchy things just because of the movie. Nothing really happened that out of the ordinary, except for the feeling that I was learning something new and mysterious. That I was doing something rebellious that the town wouldn’t like nor would most of my family. You could call me the black sheep, but I prefer not to be called a sheep at all. Maybe a black fox or black wolf.
So, onto the first spell I ever attempted. Can someone say botched teen love spell? Yep. I crouched in front of my makeshift, particle board corner table covered in a black sheet with a bottle of cinnamon in hand, my trusty kitchen knife-athame, a set of matches, and a red candle from the dollar store. Then I proceeded to perform a love spell to draw love into my life. I was fifteen. I should’ve been studying biology or some shit…instead of trying to change it. I carved a symbol into the candle, dressed it, then said a prayer while lighting it. Then…I was left to figure out what happened next. I said it was botched for a reason. But I’m not getting into all of that here. We’ll save that for another blog, too.
While I barreled headfirst into this new world of the craft, I also began realizing there was only one other person like me – and she would become my best friend. We would sit in her parents’ barn, drawing and painting magical symbols on the walls for hours together. We would walk through the woods and sit outside chatting about Wicca and all sorts of spiritual and paranormal topics. On the weekends, we would take small road trips to local cemeteries and haunted historical sites. On really special weekends we would get up the courage and save up the gas money to travel a few hours out of town just to get to the one and only metaphysical store within hundreds of miles of our hometown. We once even entertained the idea of doing a full moon initiation in the woods, which unfortunately would never come to fruition. High School finals get in the way every time. Not to mention we both had part time jobs at the local thrift store (yes, the one where I originally found Cabot’s book), and we both acquired boyfriends. No, not because of my love spell from two years earlier.
Fast forward to me at nineteen years old. I move out of my parents’ house and move to Florida to go to design school. I still considered myself Wiccan, though my spirituality had been somewhat suppressed at this time because of my high maintenance boyfriend and then even higher maintenance break-up from said boyfriend. Started taking college classes and what do you know? There’s a woman who is open about her religion – Wicca. Then this nineteen-year-old girl joins a Wiccan coven and is initiated into the coven at twenty years old. I still wasn’t using the internet to fuel my religious path or spiritual connection, and in some ways I miss that.
Today, social media rules our lives. We engage so much in social media and looking at everyone else’s lives that we forget to live our own. Was my initial path into paganism all wrapped up in a pretty satin bow? No, it was the opposite of that. It was rough. It was raw. I learned so much from my mistakes and from being completely on my own. I learned so much from just trying new things and being outside, gazing up at the moon and worshiping the sun. Kids in high school made fun of me because of my interest in alternative religions, but I didn’t care. It made me happy and it didn’t matter what those people thought. Now we have to watch every word we type on the screen. Now we join groups on FaceBook to learn about what everyone else is doing on their path to enlightenment instead of focusing on our own. I am guilty of this. Don’t get me wrong. But I am making the conscious effort to remember how Wicca was before social media and before the internet boom. I no longer consider myself Wiccan, but I cherish those messy, sometimes cringe-worthy teen memories of a time before FaceBook governed our spiritual paths.