Welcoming the Season of the Witch !
Updated: Oct 14, 2022
*Original letter published in October 2019
" "Witches" still exist. They are even the expression of the vitality of a community.
They bridge the gap between the patriarchal society in which we all suffer, including men, and a more instinctual, more naturally spiritual (way), of life and its laws, which humanity, if it wants to keep a chance of crossing the threshold of all the announced perils, must once again serve. To serve is to adore. Installed on the margins of the empire, rather discreet,
they embody this feminine whose power has provoked in the past the violent reactions that we know. "
- Jean-Philippe de Tonnac (The Circle of Healers)
It seemed most appropriate and pertinent to focus this letter on the notion of the Witch - la Sorciére, la Bruja - and make my personal tribute to the medicine women, midwives, herbalists and caregivers using their hands, their voices, their benevolent intent and dedicated presence to benefit one and the whole. A way to deeply bow to those who live now, and before, in autonomy and in harmony with mother nature, who practice right relationship with the plant and animal kingdoms and who commune with the phases of the moon and the cycles of the seasons. In this way, I believe I can offer a sign of respect to the women who help us to heal and mend ourselves, our roots and piece together more clearly our complex and intertwined stories by seeing through the veil into the mystery and magic of the invisible world and the subtle realms - those who serve as a bridge between the unmanifest and the material and who affirm our own inner knowing and forgotten power.
So, I’d like to invite you to pause, close your eyes and contemplate what the word “witch” evokes for you today, or what it did in the past. Reflect on which images, symbols, qualities or examples come to mind from culture, media, history and other external influences, and be curious about those which stem from your own personal experiences and memories...
Land Art by Spencer Byles
The end of October and beginning of November marks an important time traditionally for many ancient cultures, corresponding with the phase of aging and death which is necessary in order to regenerate and renew. It’s considered an auspicious time to recognize, honor and celebrate that which was and who has been - especially those part of our own family tree.
We can choose to remember the generations before us through ritual (even if we haven’t grown up with a set tradition, we can set out a photo of someone who has passed and light a candle in their memory and trust our intuition to further develop the ritual or look to other classic ceremonies appropriate for this purpose). We can also call on the support and assistance of witches, healers and shamans, among other practitioners to restore light, love and wholeness by retrieving parts of ourselves which have been lost, fragmented or wounded in this human experience as well as guide us on how we can act on behalf of those who have already passed. We can claim our own inner healing power within by making amends as possible or to transcribe a blessing that was never received. Certainly, this requires a level of trust and confidence that we are capable - just as we are - of transforming energies that seem rigid and solidified by transmitting new information, by infusing a gesture of integrity and authenticity, with an intention of a justice that was due or of a deep peace that was never found.
Ilustración de Patricia Corrales Somos todas UNA
In Autumn there’s a returning and a turning inward, gazing into the darkness and the depths of our own beginnings and roots, to know where we come from, observing that which has been set in motion resulting in what we know today and the mysterious powers we contain. The potential for creativity as well as destruction is represented by this personage or archetype of the witch. Archetype referring to the patterns, behaviors and qualities associated with different facets expressed and held within the collective unconscious to which we are all exposed. And it’s no surprise, really that the witch along with her associated qualities, traits and abilities emerge on a monthly basis for women, namely during the bleeding time of the menstrual cycle. As it is, there’s a common theme of for a menstruating woman and her inner witch: both are widely undervalued, underestimated and misunderstood since past times and still today.
The witch, along with the bleeding woman, emerges with wild instinct and natural intuition. She’s autonomous and even seeks solitude as is commonly illustrated by classic fairy tales with the old and warted, malevolent witch living alone in the heart of the forest. As a woman, we can surely all attest to feeling critical, frustrated, annoyed and impatient during this phase (and/or as we prepare to enter it), and even if it’s difficult to admit, we’ve most likely witnessed at some point the full-on, fiery and ferocious, potentially destructive power erupt when we were to face the ongoing and regular needs and expectations of daily life and others. First hand, we can attest to an unpleasant and frank insensitivity, nastiness and real savage woman emerge ! Only, to be followed by feelings of unworthiness, guilt and shame. And then of course, the days past, the cycle begins anew and we’re feeling “ourselves” yet again, light-hearted, happy, active, confident and ready to meet others and discover the world (phase of the virgin archetype) and to be of service to others (phase of the mother archetype) before retreating inward or meeting others intimately during the sensitive and sensual phase (enchantress archetype), before the witch returns at her turn.
Maybe we are content to observe the moon and her changing phases, but we're still lacking attention toward our own monthly phases. We generally ignore our real, honest and honorable need to put the needs of others on hold during certain days each month in order to truly take care of ourselves, to rest in order to restore. It’s about simply respecting this phase of being within and not focused outwardly and still being worthy and whole without actively performing or achieving.
So now, I invite you to ask yourself, to even take out a paper and a pen to write freely - something pertinent for all of us to consider during this time of year as we prepare for the darkest phase :
When I allow silence and stillness to replace the distractions, habits and busy-ness that fill my moment-to-moment living, what is left that is waiting to be heard, to be expressed, to be witnessed ?
What do I sense is at the root of my needs, perhaps quite different as they appear at the surface ?
What is my deepest longing right now and what can I do today to honor that ?
Can you simply welcome and accept all that has been waiting to be met in the stillness of a meditation, in the obscurity of a new moon, within the quiet solitude of a forest ? What is it that’s been oppressed and suppressed.. personally and collectively ? What can we, with all of our personal power and potential, shine a loving light on, give a faire voice to or make space for today ? The modern witch may certainly feel that today she can more safely, and even proudly, claim her magical and mysterious powers of healing and of transformation... And there’s an invitation for each of us to do the same !
Deep gratitude for all the women and all the men who have paved the way for me and for you, who have traveled the unbeaten path of healing the individual and the collective, and who continue to contribute to the well-being of the whole, wonderfully intricate web we weave together !
“ La guérisseuse, c’est celle que ne cesse pas de se guérir elle-même. On peut prendre souci d’un monde pollué à partir du moment où l’on s’est dépollué soi-même. L’acte écologique, le seul qui mérite cette appellation, c’est celui qui concerne le travail de guérison que l’on accomplit sur soi, sur son propre environnement. C’est parce que l’on se soigne soi-même que le monde change. Je fais partie des thérapeutes et des personnes qui se soignent comme on refait la vaisselle chaque jour.
- Anne-Gaëlle Piret
(extrait du livre Le Cercle des Guérisseuses)
Witchy moment captured by Anastasia Gemelli at the Inner Beauty Retreat organized by Kasey Barbey Sallurday & Ela Ravier (2016)