Thea's Inbox: Questions from Beginners
Wiccan essentials for beginning your path or getting back to basics.
Born This Way
Recently a thirteen-year-old girl wrote me. She told me she’d just been to Salem, MA, and a card reader there told her she was a Witch. The girl wanted me to tell her if she really was a Witch.
This pissed me off. Not at the girl, who was understandably confused, but at the irresponsible, thoughtless card reader who would tell a thirteen-year-old girl such a thing and send her on her merry way, apparently without concerns about the possible consequences for her young client, which could (and apparently did) range from confusion to fear to freaking out.
(And let’s not forget, folks, that one of the few things most Witches appear to agree on is that we don’t proselytize. This was dangerously close to that.)
Anyway, the boneheaded card reader did inadvertently bring up a question that I get regularly in one form or another, mostly from teens, but also from older folks:
How do I know if I’m a Witch?
This is often followed up by:
Do you have to be born a Witch?
I blame Bewitched, Charmed, and Harry Potter in part for this question. In all of those universes, Witches are born, not made. “Person has a mystical experience and discovers s/he’s got magical powers and is the only one who can save the world” is a tried-and-true theme of films, children’s books, and urban fantasy fiction. But it is exactly that—fiction. As in, “fun to read or watch but not true.”
We become Witches by choosing to become Witches. We either study on our own or with like-minded others or find a teacher who helps us. We declare ourselves to the god(s), or we are initiated into a circle or tradition by someone else who we asked to initiate us. The important thing here is that becoming Witches is our choice, not something we are destined to by birth or provenance. To me, Wicca and Witchcraft are pathways to self-empowerment, and the first step a Witch takes toward that empowerment is to choose to walk the path.
Now it’s possible that the girl who wrote me—and others who have asked this question—are born with certain talents or tendencies that lend themselves to Wicca or Witchcraft, such as the ability to sense energy, an affinity for nature and animals, or intuitive ability. But although it’s easy to interpret those things as harbingers of one’s impending Witchdom, they aren’t signs that a person is destined to be a Witch. They’re signs that he or she is sensitive to energy, likes nature and animals, and/or is intuitive. No more, no less.
Another possible source for this question is the idea of reincarnation. Many—maybe even most—Witches believe that they have lived or will live multiple lives, although opinions vary on how that will actually happen and what it entails. One of the reasons Gerald Gardner, whose books popularized Wicca in the middle of the twentieth century, wrote about Wicca was that he wanted to be reborn into a Witch family in his next life. He believed that increasing interest in Wicca would make it more likely that there were future Witches for him to be born to.
Personally, I don’t believe in reincarnation. But even if it’s true that a person lives multiple lives and was a Witch in at least one of them, it doesn’t mean he or she has to be a Witch in this one. Again, becoming a Witch is a choice we make, hopefully after having done our research, searching our souls, and maybe doing divination or asking the gods.
So if you want to be a Witch, go for it. But if some idiot card reader tells you you’re a Witch and you don’t want to be one, don’t be one. The choice is and always will be your own, and you should follow your gut and your heart in making it.
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