word witchery

When I was a child, I was obsessed with the question “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I was desperate for an identity. I went through a lot of the common answers. A doctor. A grocery store clerk. An artist (with an r, because spelling eluded me at the time).

Finally, once I was in school, and I was pulled out of class for a chance to work on writing more (it was clear I was advanced with language and had quite the imagination; mind you this was kindergarten…or maybe first grade) it became quite clear that my path was to be a writer.

And to be honest, I loved the process of writing. It was world building after all. I was young, so I didn’t fully comprehend the mechanics of story telling, but I knew writing was my destiny.

It was a little while later where I was introduced to poetry. Since I was obsessed with Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, I had experience with the poems of Lewis Carroll and was already writing fanfic-esque poetry. I couldn’t get enough. Poetry was prolific, it was art, I could be an artist with an r if I wanted to, in my own way.

Imagine my surprise later in life when I learned that not only did I have to pursue schooling to be a writer (a sort of made-up rule, in my opinion, because formal training isn’t necessary), but also that there was a prospect of not being able to make a living. We all know this to be true — especially for poetry.

This began my love-hate relationship with writing. I felt selfish spending time writing if there wasn’t a good chance I could have it as a career. I started to make different plans. I still wrote poetry non-stop. But, it was beginning to lose its magic. Or perhaps I was beginning to lose my magic. I seemed to be writing the same depressing themes over and over again, and was unable to use my writing to relate to the world. I used it to process certain trauma, and yet the words just didn’t come as easily as they once had. Soon my pen and notebook were tucked away to make room for the real world.

I have dabbled in creative writing since, but never with the same fierceness. I had given up, and found other creative outlets as you all knew. These activities are satisfying, fun and definitely expand my capacity for creativity. But something was missing.

Recently, I began listening to the Magick and Alchemy podcast and the hosts were discussing word witchery. They discussed how words are magick and how they can be used for divination, and spellwork. These were all things I knew, but I have been going through a spiritual awakening the past month or two, and I swear it was like hearing all of this for the first time.

My mind was reeling. I could write poetry. But everyone wants to be a poet, that’s not special. But it lights me up, so isn’t that enough? What if no one likes it? Who says I have to share it in the first place? My words are special because they come from me, and no one else is me.

As you can see, I was needing permission from someone or something. I was also already starting to associate writing with career and public acceptability. I did some meditating and quite honestly said “fuck it.” I started with incorporating morning pages into my daily practice, a highly recommended exercise from The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. I worked prompts from other writers. And slowly but surely, I am coming back to poetry.

So what is word witchery? I received the free Word Witch Workbook from Kate Belew (go to their website to sign up for the newsletter, cannot recommend enough), and this is one of the first questions. What does word witchery mean to you?

I’ve been pondering this question for days. Here is what I have come up with.

Word witchery means that our altars, our spells and our devotion is built with language. We dance among pages, painting scenes and calling forth incantations. Energy lies behind everything: thoughts, words, actions. Much like the energy behind a written charm or a prayer, words pack a punch in witchcraft. Words allow us to weave together possibilities in liminal space. Words help us figure out who we are in relation to the universe.

So, all of this to say that I think you should do whatever the hell you’re called to do. I am called to writing, and I have spent the past 15 years avoiding my words. No more. Your soul won’t be satisfied until you pour yourself into the things you love, so don’t hold back. I won’t be holding back anymore.

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