Friends, thank you for gathering here to read this post from my dear friend Sophia Rose.
These past few weeks have really got me thinking about this Witch series and what it means for me, and why it feels so important to share the words and thoughts of this community on the topic of Witches.
There is something about the history and weight of the word WITCH, and it’s context in our culture, that implies a woman of great power. To be a Witch, we know inside that we have powers that transcend the shallow perception of POWER that is valued in our mainstream culture. To be a Witch, we claim these powers and we make the conscious choice to wield them.
Still with me? I’m really doing my best to grasp a concept that feels quite ungraspable, and perhaps that is the secret behind this power. It is a Beautiful mystery.
Recently, more and more, the word Witch keeps leading me back to the word Woman. Not because I think that all women are witches or want to claim the title of Witch, but because there is something universal about the dynamic and ungraspable strength of women, and the capability of females to heal, create and weave new realities. These are the pillars of Women and Witches.
Strength to be who we are.
Capability to take on anything.
Creativity to create everything from LIFE to ART to COMMUNITY to NEW REALITIES………
Healing the self, healing the family, healing the collective.
Weaving the fibers that patch the holes and bring strength to the places where the fabric of life has worn thin. Reintegrating the world back to balance.
Living in each of our DNA is the fear of being burned for wielding our powers. Quite literally for many of us, this fear is a deep seed which was planted at some point in our ancestral history. Though this series, Witches I Love, we are collectively summoning the strength to rise above these deep fears and own our power.
Today, these powers are needed in a big way. We, as women, are being called on to lead. This series is a safe place to germinate our deep seeds of fear with the safety and support of each other so that they may grow into the flowers of unflappable strength and grace….. and belief in ourselves to be the change and lead the way.
When we combine our heads, hands and hearts together we move mountains.
Today, we talk with Sophia Rose.
I have so many feelings and words that I could share about this woman. When I think about her, I feel it deeply in my heart. I imagine her, sitting on rose petals, inside my actual heart. Instead of love lettering her right here and now, I will just share a quick memory, and then she will speak.
Photo Jess Kollar / the Heartbeat Retreat
15 women sit around a fire, late one night on a small island in the Salish Sea. We have just begun the journey of getting to know one another, each of us slowly sharing our voices at our own pace. Some share songs with confidence, loud and clear and unabashed. Some sit back to listen. Some women have drums. The female children take an opportunity to share songs in the safety of this circle. We witness them for the first time, finding their voices.
I sit with my song stuck in my throat. It was a song that I have held dearly in my heart since I was 5, and my radical Kindergarten teacher shared it with me. It is a song that has always felt like my secret weapon, my elixir, and my affirmation. I have shared the words to it, written from my fingertips on a keyboard and flung it into the abyss of the interwebs. But I have never spoken it’s truth with my own voice to anyone but my own children. I do not yet have the strength to share it.
Photo Jess Kollar/ the Heartbeat Retreat
And then, from beside me came a voice that sounded as if it was coming from a child, a woman, a grandmother, someone beyond the grave….all at once. A song that sung the story of what has been stuck in my throat all these years. A song that opened our eyes and opened the gates of something new. The fire roared. The air thinned. The stars sparkled in the children’s eyes. We listened and we knew.
I will never forget this, and I will always feel deep gratitude for this moment that brought me a step closer to the song of my own heart. There is nothing more powerful than women empowering other women. And it can happen in so many ways. Thank you Sophia Rose for sharing with us today and always.
Please click over and play this song as you read on.
Witches I Love: Interview with Sophia Rose
// Throughout this interview I often use the word “she” to refer to Witches, but it feels important to acknowledge that each and every Witch has their own unique expression of gender, sexuality, as well as varying chosen pronouns. However you choose to identify, it is my hope and intention for you to feel seen as you read the words that follow and feel included and welcomed within the conversation taking place.
The photos in this series were taken by Jonah Welch in Lone Grove, TX on January 1. 2017
What does the term Witch mean to you?
A Witch is someone who understands power and has cultivated the humility to weild that power wisely and for the greater good. A Witch remembers the subtle ancient language that the whole world is always speaking but that most humans have forgotten. A Witch cultivates and tends to a reciprocal relationship with the Land and Spirits where she lives. A Witch trusts her intuition about all else, yet remains curious, knowing that there is always more to know.
How would one know that one was a witch? 🙂
Like all things in life, I believe we must be self-defining. Just as it is the domain of each person to define their gender, their sexuality, their politics, so too is it with magic. Some may also choose not to self identify in any of the ways I mentioned, prefering instead to honor their lived experience without labeling it. I think that’s great too, and perhaps more honest. But there is a power in naming yourself, in claiming what and who you are.
It is a cumbersome word at first, this Witch. But when you begin to embrace your true nature, the essence of who you have always been, you begin to grow into yourself in new ways and to feel more at home in the world. The meaning of words is always changing. Language is living and it is shaped by our use of it. The word Witch does not necessarily have to be refer to any one static thing. You don’t have to be a Woman to be a Witch. You don’t have to memorize Spells or purchase esoteric ingredients at Santeria shops. You can do those things, and many more — but they are not what will define you. The strongest Magic is often also the most simple. But it takes many years, or even lifetimes to reach this simplicity. Sincerity, humility, and deep listening are at the core of my Magic and characterize the practices of other witches I admire as well. The form and outward expression that that Magic takes is of far less importance than the Intention and the Spirit which animate it from worlds that cannot be seen, but only felt.
Talk about intention and manifestation. How do they work together? Can you recall the first time you experienced their power in action?
Intention is similar to Prayer, but more focused on action in the world of the living. Intention is paramount in healing. When I work with people in my practice as an Herbalist, helping them to clarify their Sacred Intention for our work together is the most important first step and the North Star to which we return again and again. If you are uncertain of what it is you desire, then that thing is far less likely to occur in your waking life. Most of us don’t really know we want though, at least in any kind of specific way — and that is where Prayer comes in. Prayer guides us toward Intention. Prayer means many things to many people. It can simply mean getting still and quiet. It can mean asking for Guidance from the Trees and the Rivers, or from your Higher Self, or from the Creator. I pray all the time, but most of all when I feel lost and unsure and I need to be guided back to my Will, and to the place within myself from which my Intentions arise with crystalline clarity. When I was in my early twenties, I started a journal of sorts, called Book Of Visions, To Call Into Being. In it I wrote, often in great details, what it was I wanted to see unfold in my life. Some of the things came true, others did not. I am grateful for both. Those Visions which did not come to pass, in hindsight, would not likely have brought me much real and lasting fulfillment, ultimately. And those which did, I am enjoying the fruits and lessons of still. There is a wisdom greater than yours or mine which decides our Fate. We can merely steer the ship, not change the winds which guide its sail.
Right now, I really want to make my first vision board. For many years I have judged them as being cheesy and overly-simplistic, dismissing them as something that privileged white women in college dorm rooms made in hopes of landing their dream job or perfecting their Spring Break beach vacation. But I’m embarrassed to reveal that I once judged so harshly — for, as both my teacher, Sean Donahue, and his teacher, Karina Blackheart so wisely state “Witches work with all things.” And I am coming to judge less and less, thank goodness. For no matter what one is working to manifest, or what form their Magic takes for conjuring it, on a personal level we are mostly all striving for the same basic things in the end — Love, Community, Family, Home, Health.
Update // vision board complete and on fleek
How do you think that a collection of witches is magnified in power to an individual witch?
We are like bees in a hive. Each essential to its functioning and interdependent with one another for our continued survival. Witches are like crystal points, all shattered from the same original cluster and scattered across the Earth in a constellation of glimmering wisdom. We touch in with one another here and there, and often find ourselves possessed of the same ideas, the muse having come to visit each of us with a similar tale to tell. We are just people who remember to remember, who know how to listen, and who make space to speak what is true. We often work in solitude, but remain connected through the mycelial web which weaves us together, mushrooms fruiting in unique shapes and colors and sizes throughout the forest, all springing from the same ancient and subterranean source.
Where would you direct a woman who is interested in exploring her inner witch for the first time? (books? Plants? etc)
Dont’ be afraid of messing up. Or saying the wrong thing. Just listen to the magic that is your own, then do that. If you feel called to sing to the waters of the Ocean, that is your magic. Heal the Ocean with your prayers. If it is stones which speak to you most clearly, ask them how you can serve them best. Above all else, listen to the guidance that comes from the Natural World, from whatever allies you walk with — plant, animal, mineral or ancestral. Answers for what your own magic looks like, will almost never come from watching another perform theirs.
Do what feels right. There are magical teachers, and they important. I have always just listened and followed the path that was spoken to me by Spirit. I think the best place to start is just by honoring yourself and listening to your own intuition. The path will reveal itself little by little. Do not rush. Flower Essence of Impatiens is a good ally.
I also encourage you to make Relationship with the wild places where you live. These places can teach you much about Magic, about yourself, and about, how to walk in a good way as a Human.
How do the facets of our souls (shadow side, sun-lit side, good, evil) effect the process of owning our power?
This is such an important question. In a time where many people see “sending love and light” as a totally valid response to the problems of the world, just owning your shadow and showing up with something that is not pseudo-spiritual fluff is fucking revolutionary. Because if we, as individuals, continue to live our lives under the false pretense, that we can simply “send love and light” to people who are dying and being oppressed as the result of very real systems of oppression, then we are in fact complicit with the violence that is being perpetuated through our silence. And I believe that this begins with witnessing and sitting in our own darkness, our own fear, our own shame. I’ve got it. I’ve got a lot of it. I have not spoken much about my early life [publicly, that is] but one day hope to come to a place of resolution and understanding that will allow me to contextualize what I’ve experienced and be able to share it in a way that is healing not only for me, but for folks who have gone through similar things and must carry on as though everything is just fucking peachy (read anyone who has experienced severe trauma and must continue to live under systems of capitalism and patriarchy). I also believe that it is because of the difficulties that I faced early on in my life that I have grown into the woman that I am today. Everyone says that right? Well it’s because it’s true. When we can sift through and sit with the shadow material in our personal lives, we are able to claim and express our brilliance and creativity and power in equal measure.
Why do you think it is so hard for some of us to own our power, speak to the woman who knows she has it but is afraid to use it.
I really admire my friend Hannah Freeman, who has always said, with no bravado whatsoever, that she enjoys being uncomfortable, because of the opportunity that it presents to learn and grow. I am not so brave as she, most of the time. I really got a kick out of this meme I read on the internet recently — “You have no idea, how far out of my comfort zone my entire life is.” And I think that’s a good thing. I am someone, who if I succumbed to my introverted urges, would probably almost never leave my house, and yet there is a wiser and wider part of me which led me to drive around the country in a freakin’ huge deisel truck all by my self for half of the last year. Our fear will always be there, and we can’t let it get in the way of the life we are each here to live.
Tell us a little bit about your personal witch journey.
My journey is intimately interwoven with my Medicine Path as an herbalist. I tell the early part of this tale here and relay more recent developments here. But of course, I am living it still. The work of a witch is in waking every day, and both finding and making meaning in the World in which she walks.
What is our role now, as witches of this world, and waht is a potent way that you would like us to be using our collective powers to heal?
1. Every magical act is also a political action. Right now, we must use all the tools at our disposal, including our voices (both online and in person) to fight hate, to fight racism, fascism, classism, mysogyny, homophobia, and so forth. I believe that the Internet is Big Magic. Use the Internet skillfully. Use your phone as a magical tool. Respect them both. Understand their power and use them for good. Organize your community and educate yourself. Remember that knowledge is power.
2. Many of our Magics are private and quiet and internal and unseen. These are no less potent or important than the visible ways in which we wield our power in the outer world. If anything, they are made more precious by virtue of their remaining personal. Do kind things for other people, all the time, and don’t bother much about whether or not they notice from where the kindness came. Create small rituals of daily self care that are for you and no one else. This is foundational. One of the greatest perils of magical work is the very real consequence of exhaustion. This is something I have struggled with and tend to espouse ad infitum. Self care is a radical act within a system that does not value the health of the individuals that make up that system.
3. Nice is a four letter word. I do my best to stay away from nice people. Nice people are often being dishonest, not only with you but with themselves. To be nice, you must compromise yourself and your own needs and boundaries. To be nice, you must put yourself last. To be nice, you must not let the world know, what it is you truly think, feel, or want. Stop being nice, please. Just stop. For you see, niceness comes at an extremely high price, in the form of repressed emotions, internalized violence, and feelings of powerlessness which lead, ultimately to resentment toward others and sometimes even illness expressed in the body.
Kindness, in contrast, is honest; it is wildly brave and compassionate — but not always pleasant, and certainly not always nice, in the moment. Kindness is fierce and impersonal at times. It has taken me my entire life, thus far, to settle into this knowing, and to say with conviction that I am not a nice person, but that I am kind, through and through. And I struggle with it still, often feeling misunderstood by the wider culture in which I am expected to play a certain role, in which I am expected to be unquestioningly nice. Recently a very good friend of mine, and a fellow witch, wrote this wonderful piece about the difference between being a nice girl and being a strong woman. Everything in my body responded with a loud and clear yes as I read Asia’s words. And I imagine that yours will too. So please, stop being so damned nice and begin to explore what it looks like to be truly kind. Oh, and while you’re at it, stop apologizing.
4. Do what works. Working together, doesn’t always look like working together. For better or worse, I have never been much of a joiner. This really rubs a lot of folks the wrong way. When I receive invitations to collaborate or participate in a project, unless I sense a very clear and unmistakable YES, I know my energy is better focused elsewhere [see, point three]. When I feel genuinely moved to support someone or something — I will do so fiercely, naturally, and with my whole heart — and still, that does not always look like direct involvement in the outer world. As my totally luscious friend Vanessa so eloquently states — “My work is not to please you, it is to give birth to Something.” Sometimes that work is done in solitude and sometimes it is done in partnership, in collaboration, in a group, or as a community. Always, it is done in cooperation and in respect. Your work looks how it looks. Do that. I promise your allies will find you.
5. And finally, remember that this is not a competition. Whether or not we are directly working together, it is vital to acknowledge that the success of each individual and is integral to the success of the wider community and cause of which we are all a part (read: smashing the patriarchy, honoring ancestral wisdom, creating safe spaces, and communing with Nature). As a primarily femme and female-identified demographic, we been socialized to compete with one another and we have to actively work against that impulse in ourselves, remaining honest, humble, and curious when it arises. It is so crucial that we compassionately deconstruct this internalized social programming and recognize that the work that we each do individually is a uniquely meaningful and irreplacable contribution to the more beautiful world we are all working so hard to midwife into being. Because we got this, but we need all hands on deck to do the sacred work that we are being called to at this time. This includes you, your mother, your daughter, your sister, and all the bad bitches, wise witches, and fierce femmes in your life.
P.S. Happy Birthday dear Sophia Rose.
And thank you to Jonah Welch for the photos.
Thank you all for being here. xo