The word "witch" is loaded with connotations, misunderstandings, and anxieties for many people, and since I started using it in public about a decade ago, I have gotten a lot of questions about it. Here are some of the most common.
Why do you call yourself the poetry witch?
I am a spiritual poet whose spirituality is grounded in the earth and in female power. My primary magickal tools are skill in the craft of shaping words into talismans, charms, and spells, and a calling to perform my words in ritual and for healing.
Are you a witch in real life too?
Yes. I was born on Halloween and have always felt connected spiritually to the earth and to other realities. Since I met my first witch in 1990, I have consciously studied and practiced earth-centered witchcraft alone and with others, using herbs, crystals, symbols, colors, and divination tools in addition to my poetry witch tools of words, chanting, movement, and ritual.
The word "witch" will turn people off. Why not use another word?
I am aware of this, which is why I waited 20 years and considered numerous alternative words before coming out of the broom closet in my 2010 blog American Witch. I made my decision because no other word embodies the combination of reclaimed feminine energy, magic, and power that I needed to express. Since then, I've noticed that a new generation of feminist witches has been making the same choice, and for similar reasons.
Are you a Wiccan?
No, not really. I did start out as a Wiccan, but I find that tradition is too limited, too prescriptive, and too sexist in its roots. I now consider myself a practitioner of folk witchcraft, a broader category that links my beliefs and practices with those of witches across many centuries and continents.
What are those beliefs and practices?
As a witch, I find sacred meaning in the cycles of life and death and the seasons. I believe everything in nature has a spiritual aspect, including our bodies. I like to use spells and ceremonies, some formal and some spontaneous, to shape my own growth and support those I love. I do my best to follow the Witches' Creed: “If it harms no-one, do what you will.”
Do you make curses?
No. All my spells and magick have the intention for the highest good of all. Sometimes this may involve "binding" someone from doing harm, but only after I have cleared out personal anger. Magic for me is like prayer, and I would never use it out of anger or violence.
Can men be witches too?
Yes. My personal acronym for W.I.T.C.H. is “Women in Touch Coming Home," because I feel witchcraft is connected intimately with feminism and matriculture and has crucial gifts to offer those of us who identify as women. But I also know several male witches, and today’s witchcraft can help bring us home, no matter what our gender, to honor the Divine Feminine inside and around us.
Are you part of a coven?
I have been part of many wonderful women's circles and covens (the difference is that the circles provide spiritual support, while the covens actively make magic together). Right now, my primary spiritual community is my online home Poetry Witch Community, open to all who identify as women, at poetrywitch.com. I also consider the people who participate in my Magic of Rhythmically Writing retreats and workshops, and who attend my readings and poetry witch ritual performances, to be part of my spiritual community.
How can I learn more?
I am currently finishing two books that if all goes well will be published soon and will fully share the fruits of my lifelong witchly journey. Meanwhile, you can read my other witchy books, follow my blog, take my workshops, subscribe to my Spellsletter, attend my ritual shows, and connect with my community on social media (or in Poetry Witch Community, for all who identify as women). And you can check out other witches: I'd recommend Starhawk and any of the younger generation of witches interviewed on Pam Grossman's podcast, The Witch Wave.
Merry meet, and merry part, and merry meet again!