Becoming a Witch

Ren's old-fashioned journey from weird to witchery

  Ren's old-fashioned journey  
  from weird to witchery  

I first learned about witchcraft as a child the old-fashioned way—by being accused of it by schoolmates and neighbors on account of being raised by loving, freethinking atheists deep in the Bible-thumping heart of Texas.

They were wrong to mistake a lack of church for a lack of compassion, ethic, or interest in the mysteries.

But they were right about my magic—the curiously-timed lightning strikes, the moon-fed and frenzied poetry, the voices whispering about a kind of love that could crack your heart open.

They were a bit right.

I’m 40-something now, so, as you can imagine, the bookshops in my neck of the woods as a kid weren’t overfull with occult options. Phones had cords. The internet didn’t have pictures.

So, I developed my witchcraft the old-fashioned way, too—by talking back to those strange yet familiar voices. “Tell me about the love,” I’d ask them. “Tell me about the lightning. Tell me about the bio-luminescent veins of blue light that sometimes appear in the shadows between trees at night…the light I see in my eyes when the bathroom is dark and the mirror starts to move.”

I followed those voices and those veins of light through forests and through years. I followed them to Los Angeles and to North Carolina. I followed them through trainings in Druidry and Death midwifery, Energywork and Exorcism, Faery and Folk magic, in Somatics and Spellwork.

In 2012 I followed them through the initiatory doors of the folk and family of the Ced Tradition—witches, heretical and holy, ethical and irreverent, carriers and creators of what my witchfather Griffin once penned as a “vast, living legacy.” Keyword: Living. Ever-evolving.

(Ced is pronounced with a hard C like Craft, Chaos, or Coven.)

And it was there that I found my home, a place where I could live in paradoxical wonder: putting down loving roots without being tied to one place or perspective. A place where the common ground isn’t shared rules, beliefs, or curriculum—it’s shared evolution and shared experience. A shared desire to see, to awaken, to grow, to participate and contribute to the vast, living art of witchery.

And, importantly for folks that choose to study spiritwork and witchery with me, I grew within Ced Tradition the old-fashioned way, as well—through years of experience doing the work. Yes, Griffin and all of our people give great classes and share amazing information and insight. But, and I know they’d agree, you don’t learn witchcraft by listening to someone else talk about doing it. Learning witchcraft is more like learning how to paint or how to sing or act.

You learn, primarily, by doing a lot of it.

And if someone primarily wants to build their art without outside influence—there’s power in that! But, for myself, I benefitted enormously from the opportunity to participate in and witness the work first-hand. So, I choose to share that same gift with folks exploring witchcraft with me.

And I realize now what an incredibly vulnerable thing it is to be willing to give the demonstration or invite folk into the experience, because, unlike painting or singing or theatre, most of what’s happening in witchcraft can’t be seen—even from the first row. 

To get it, you have to be in it. 

So when you share it with folks who may not be willing or able to dive in, you know they may walk away saying: “I don’t get it!” 

But then, being misunderstood is how this all started, isn’t it? Witchcraft is inherently transgressive.

Related Reads: