Just had another inquiry from a young lady looking for a coven to join. Since moving back to Minnesota, I've been a solitary practitioner. I briefly tried looking to start a Circle last fall but the only queries were from two mentally ill women. Witchcraft draws out the crazies...its true. This recent querent seemed "normal" enough upon her first message but after a few back and forths on Facebook, it came out that she doesn't have a driver's license, would have to get her mom to drive her to her interview, and that she is suffering from sort of anxiety and depression. This was after I had mentioned the gals I interviewed last year were turned down due to mental health issues. I told this woman I myself have anxiety and I understand mental health issues very well. She then opens up and tells me she actually has some sort "psychosis-I'm not sure what it is". Uh,okay....I had to chuckle. This is exactly why I bring up very early on in these conversations the issue of mental health. Obviously, I told her that her state of mind must be stable and confident before starting any sort of magickal practice and that when she feels she has it under control and has a driver's license (how on earth was she planning on attending Circles? just that simple fact she didn't consider is evidence enough of an unorganized mind) she should get back to me. In the meantime, she can be Facebook friends with me and I will be happy to answer any questions she has. That makes 3 for 3 for mentally ill women contacting me and wanting to join a coven.
I feel disheartened and a little sad.
Witchcraft is my spiritual practice. I hold it Sacred and dear. I am saddened that it draws out so many "crazies"- mentally unstable people seeking empowerment. Please don't go off with the politically incorrect stuff. I have spent years devoting my life to the service of the mentally ill, its my bread and butter money. I have sympathy and empathy for those who feel lost, dis-enchanted. When we think of the word "witchcraft" most people think POWER. The ability to work spells and change their circumstances. Its what drew me as a teenager to it. Though most won't admit it, its why most people come to it in the beginning. Its one thing to be a teenager searching for their way in the world, or someone who needs a map to feel a spiritual connection and forge a better life. Its another to be a soul lost in a tangled spiderweb brain believing in hocus pocus, a sprinkle of faery dust to gain a movie star lover. Those truly suffering psychosis are walking between worlds, walking on tightropes without nets. They need medication, therapy and spiritual support, all three together. If one is not stable mentally, one cannot feel the deity connection or understand the elements of magick. It would be easy to become even more trapped in a dark and scary place. There is no shame in mental illness. But there is a responsibility to seek treatment or for those in contact with the person, to help them find resources for treatment.
When I go to Paganicon (a midwest Pagan festival) or see witches/pagans portrayed in the media, its always striking how many are seemingly "weird". A preponderance of those with green streaks dyed in their hair, faces full of piercings, theatrical personalities. The gay and lesbian people always seem so strikingly obvious. I know there are gay and lesbian Lutherans, why aren't they so obvious in church? Am I doing something wrong in my own witchcraft/paganism? Do I have to color my hair magenta? Carry a staff? Wear a crescent shaped tiara? Part of me longs to go to a public Pagan gathering/festival/demonstration and just wear an old flannel shirt and bring a casserole. I am sad I feel out of place by just being me. I have no desire to call attention to my private spiritual practice. I am not ashamed, just uninterested in having anyone know by my dress what religion I am. Where are the vanilla people? Just plain ol' "normal" witches and pagans? I don't always want to know immediately upon seeing you for the first time that you are a witch, that you are lesbian. Why do we always need to make statements? Or am I just feeling sorry for myself because I have no statement to make? I don't know. With age comes wisdom? 25 years ago maybe I would be one of those people with a pentagram Tshirt in glowing fuchsia. Now I almost feel ostracized because I don't have one.
Its understandable that those without power, feeling the need to be different, to be NOTICED flock to witchcraft. But can we ever be accepted by the rest of society if we always present, as a whole, in a semi bizarre manner? Or do we even need to be accepted?