Hey all! Sorry for going dark on you for so long. I was deep into my Hekate manuscript and it’s hard to think about blogging when trying to finish a book. It’s done and with my editors now, so I can turn my attention back to you all!
I had a wonderful conversation with a friend yesterday, about the idea of wonder in Witchcraft. Stuart Farrar is often quoted as saying, “What makes a Witch? A sense of wonder!” Of all the things we can say about Witchcraft, that is likely one we can all agree upon. Being a Witch means knowing, loving and embracing the mysteries of this world. This doesn’t mean that you believe in everything. Many people believe that extra-terrestrial beings walk among us here on earth, and that the worlds’ governments are covering it up. I personally do not think that, but I leave space for the potential that beings unlike ourselves are present. In this, I am leaving space for wonder.
Making space for wonder means making space for the potential of wondrous things, even if you do not fully agree that these things exist.
A few months ago, I found myself among Bigfoot hunters (Bigfoot aka Sasquatch), many of whom fervently swore to the truth of their own experiences. I carefully focused on not rolling my eyes so as to not offend my dinner companions. Having grown up in the Pacific Northwest, Bigfoot was a joke. To believe in Bigfoot meant you were one of “those people”: superstitious and ridiculous, probably filming your brother in a gorilla costume to sell the footage to the local news. My sister and I used to prank call the Bigfoot Research Hotline, claiming sightings in our suburban backyard. For many years, Bigfoot was a stereotype I denied whenever I traveled: “Yes, I’m from Oregon. No, I don’t believe in Bigfoot.”
But at that dinner, I caught myself.
It occurred to me that if I were in a country pub in Ireland, listening to stories of Faery encounters told by old farmers, I definitely wouldn’t roll my eyes. I wouldn’t question their experiences or sanity, nor would I ask them to provide proof. Their word would be sufficient enough for me. Many of the Faery stories I’ve heard in Ireland conclude with the caveat, “I don’t believe in them, but I wouldn’t want to cross them”, which has always tickled my fascination even more.
Why was I so quick to dismiss the experiences of those closer to me, when I am quick to embrace the experiences of those far away?
As if the Universe were listening (and it probably was), later that week on , I listened to an interview on The Toasted Sister Podcast with Donell Barlow of the Ottawa Nation, whose book Bigfoot and Lightening Bug is inspired by indigenous folk tales of the Sasquatch. I was fascinated and saddened. My own knowledge of Sasquatch had been so thoroughly eclipsed by sensational, colonial tales of a physical, hairy mammal (the evidence of its existence only proved its elusive dead body), I’d never considered that this creature might be an ancient character in the folklore of the region in which I lived. Through its original lens, I found I had room to hold space for the wonder of Sasquatch as much as I do for Faeries.
Do I believe there is a giant, humanoid, ape-like mammal living and breathing in the Pacific Northwest? Not really. But do I believe there a spirit form indigenous to this region that appears as such? As a Witch, I leave room for that possibility.
I can make space for experiences are different than mine, embracing that the truth is probably beyond our understanding.
I don’t see myself setting up a Bigfoot camera anytime soon. I’m still far more likely to avoid a Faery ring than I am to join a Sasquatch society. But I can leave room for the wonder of both. And in writing this piece, I found myself naming a personal belief, mirrored in what I’d heard in Ireland: I don’t believe in Bigfoot, but I think we should leave him alone.