Building an Identity and Practice

Writing this post was more difficult than I wanted it to be. The title doesn’t entirely mesh with the contents here, but as you’ll see, that’s kind of the point.

A year and a half ago, I was heading back to my university with a few friends. We had just gone to see The Avengers since two of our number had not yet seen it. Somehow, and I don’t quite remember how, we got onto the topic of my being Pagan. It’s a topic I’m comfortable with discussing with friends, if they bring it up, and we had a fairly diverse group: one Pagan (myself), an atheist, a Christian, and a Buddhist, so I didn’t really feel uncomfortable discussing it with any of them since they were all pretty accepting about different religions so long as no one was trying to push their beliefs on anyone else. As we drove on, one of them asked what I identify as. I gave her my usual answer, “nondenominational Pagan,” and she replied with “Well, what does that mean.”

I’ll admit, I was a little stumped. The best answer I could come up with, “It means I walk a ‘crooked’ path,” didn’t satisfy her and luckily the topic was changed to something else as I didn’t know how to proceed from there. I spent most of the rest of the drive thinking about my religious Path and what I was. I didn’t come up with an answer that night and it’s still something I cannot figure out today.

My practice, both Pagan and witchy, is fairly diverse. I work with a variety of deities of different pantheons and I practice bits and bobs from different groups. Mostly, though, I go on instinct and things I read in folklore and mythology. It’s a bit of a mess, to be entirely honest, but it works and it’s mine.Identity is something that I struggle with, though, and lately the question “What am I?” has been on my mind a lot.

I’m not a hearth witch as my practice doesn’t revolve around the home and hearth. I do some things about it, as I think most Pagans and witches do, but it’s not the center of my practice. I’m not a green witch nor a hedgewitch as neither of those Paths fit mine enough for me to adopt the label. I practice some folk magic and traditions, but not enough to feel comfortable labeling myself as a traditional witch. None of the other labels and names I’ve come across fit me, either.My practice is a variety of things, but I don’t feel comfortable with the word “eclectic” to use it as a specific label. I’ll go into why in a future post, but when that word rolls off my tongue, it feels…oily, at least in regards to me. I avoid it, when I can, but sometimes it’s the best way to describe it to others so they don’t pester me about it. It’s a way of ending the subject. So what kind of witch am I? Honestly, I don’t know.I don’t know what kind of Pagan I am, either. I’m not a Kemetic, though Anubis is my patron. I’m neither Heathen nor Asatru, either, though I work with Norse gods.

Reconstructionism seems too stiff upper lip for me, though it definitely fits many others quite well. Druidry has some appeal to me, but I cannot reconcile working with Anubis in such a set-up, so I set it aside to perhaps look at later. For now, though, it isn’t for me.

Normally, when I describe myself to others, I go with “nondenominational” over “eclectic” as it seems to be more accurate, but the word has Christian overtones to it that don’t entirely fit. So I try to find a different word, but for now, that is what I use.I don’t know what I am.When I look at my practice, there are common threads between the various things I do. I work with road-deities, travelers and messengers, and guides of many kinds.

In the end, everything comes to a crossroad of some kind with it comes to my Work. I played with the idea calling myself a “crossroads witch,” but that, too, has overtones that don’t sit right. It feels as if I am trying to trying to pull on a shirt that’s too small and keeps shrinking with every passing moment.So who am I? What am I? I am a Pagan and I am a witch. That’s enough for now, but it will always require more thought. Some find labels important; it’s a way of distinguishing themselves from others. I tend to find it more personal than others. A name for me and my Path is not for others, but for me. I’m still seeking in the darkness, still walking this knotted, crooked Path as I try to figure out where it all leads. How I get there may change from day to day, but for now it’s working.

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2 Responses to Building an Identity and Practice

  1. Moments of Magick says:

    Thank you for this post – this is exactly what I have been wrestling with – I am hoping that this blog project will help to clarify some of who I am a bit better. For now….I am me….and I am happy and at peace for the first time in my life….and being Pagan and a witch is a huge part of that change. Blessed be.

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