Southern Witch: Exploring Pagan Beliefs and Practices in the Rural South

I’m a lifelong southerner. I’m also a witch. I assure you that it’s possible to be both. Paganism is alive and growing here in the land itself and in our folk traditions that have been passed down for generations. This blog explores the unique joys and challenges of being a witch and priestess of the Goddess in the Deep South, a place where the crossroads meet.

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Jen

Jen

Jen is an inspirational writer, musician, eclectic witch, tarot reader, and priestess. Her passion is exploring and celebrating the Divine Feminine through creative arts, shamanic ritual, and intuitive readings from her home in southern Alabama.    

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Weathering the Storms of Life

 

Lightning illuminates a graphite sky, as the wind whips through my hair and my aura. Thunder rattles the earth and my bones, and the rain comes down however it will—straight, hard and insistent, or a little sideways and chaotic. Look at the weather forecast for lower Alabama this time of year, and you will see a thundercloud icon on every day of the week. Storms are always a late afternoon possibility. They can be utterly terrifying in a place that has experienced deadly tornados, but they can also be cleansing and renewing. 

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  • Jen
    Jen says #
    Thank you so much!

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Tarot, Tea, and Thee

I’ve often thought the world might get along better if we all stopped for afternoon tea. Sadly, Americans just aren’t into that, since a traditional tea would be served around 3 or 4 p.m. That tends to be a rather hectic time for many, as kids are getting home from school, or the workday is coming to a close and deadlines have to be met. Instead of relaxing with a warm cuppa, we often see how far we can push ourselves before dinner.

Maybe that is why I’ve always romanticized the idea of an English tea, even before Downton Abbey was born. It’s not the dainty cups or the finger sandwiches or the scones—it’s the pause and the connection with others, assuming they put down their smart phones.  

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  • Dragon Dancer
    Dragon Dancer says #
    I'm disabled so getting out and about, or sometimes even wanting others around, can be iffy at best and difficult sometimes. That
  • Dragon Dancer
    Dragon Dancer says #
    OMG what an awesome idea! Thank you for doing this for those around you, and for sharing with the rest of us.
  • Jen
    Jen says #
    It's truly my pleasure. If you ever have any questions about hosting a Tarot & Tea of your own, feel free to ask. I've found that

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Peas, Collards, and Prosperity Magic

All across the South on New Year’s Day, people from all walks of life and all faiths will dine on collard greens and black-eyed peas to bring them luck in the coming year. How can such simple fare be equated with fortune? I was always told that the greens represent currency, and the peas represent coins. Serve it up with some cornbread, and you’ve got some gold represented on your plate, too. 

This traditional New Year’s meal goes back far enough that it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly when and why it started. All we really know for sure is that eating black-eyed peas with rice is African in origin and spread throughout the South from the Carolinas. How peas and collards became equated with abundance may forever be a mystery. 

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Being True to Myself at Yule

I confess that I’m not much of a kitchen witch. I can cook, but it doesn’t thrill me to labor over a hot stove. I eat to live; I don’t live to eat, and that attitude is almost an abomination in the South. People vacation here mostly for the culinary delights, especially the barbecue, and it is no wonder. Every issue of Southern Living is loaded with food porn. Thus, when you hail from a place that practically worships food as a god, it is generally expected that you, too, shall fall in line and pay homage to the almighty cookbook. I don’t, which makes the holiday season of gathering and feasting a bit awkward. So much of it centers around gastronomy, and that’s just not my focus.

What I really want in the weeks leading up to Yule is peace and quiet. I want reflection. I want a stack of books, a cup of tea, and solitude. I want that pregnant pause before another year begins. I want to review what worked, what didn’t, what changed, and what I’m doing with my one wild and precious life, as Mary Oliver wrote. In order to cultivate this for myself, I’ve had to say NO to all the voices yelling at me to buy this, go there, do that, cook this, and please him/her/them. I don’t have the time or energy for anything unless it feels like an authentic YES.

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  • Solitarieone
    Solitarieone says #
    Ahhh. Your post made me feel so good, Jennifer. Someone who feels exactly how I feel. I live in the South, too, and I know the imp
  • Agnes Toews-Andrews
    Agnes Toews-Andrews says #
    Beautifully said and my sentiments, exactly, Jennifer. Thank you. Bright blessings! Agnes. www.isismoonpublishing.com
  • Dianne McGehee
    Dianne McGehee says #
    This is exactly how I feel. Thank you for expressing it so well. Oh, BTW, I live in Gulf Shores, AL, so your writing is really mea
  • Jen
    Jen says #
    Howdy neighbor! I'm glad to know another southern witch.
Samhain in the South: Honoring our Beloved Dead

As the Wheel of the Year turns and I begin to feel the veil thinning once again, I’m reminded of one way the beloved dead are honored throughout the South. Drive through the countryside, and you’ll likely see church signs announcing “Homecoming and Decoration.” It’s an invitation to those with relatives buried in the church cemetery to spruce up the graves, put flowers on them, and enjoy a potluck meal, sometimes referred to as “dinner on the ground.” Though meals are usually served in a fellowship hall now, that term originated from spreading out picnic blankets and dining on the cemetery grounds.

I’m sure you can see some parallels with our Samhain traditions and Dia de los Muertos. A major difference is that southern churches tend to hold decorations in May rather than October. I find that interesting, since May is also a time when the other side is more accessible. Beltane and Samhain are opposite each other on the Wheel of the Year, and both carry that liminal, otherworldly energy in different ways.

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
All My Roads Lead South

I’ve had so many people encourage me to leave the South over the years, because they think I don’t belong here. They’re sure I’d be happier somewhere above the Mason-Dixon, despite my aversion to cold weather. I’m not convinced that my journey would be any easier, just different.

I was born and raised in the mountains of North Georgia near the southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail. I spent 17 years in Atlanta, six years in Savannah, and I’m currently residing in lower Alabama. If anything, life keeps pushing me deeper into the South instead of carrying me away from her. I have to believe there’s a reason for that, so I’ve decided to embrace the two aspects of my identity that don’t seem to go together at all: witchiness and southernness.

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  • The Cunning Wife
    The Cunning Wife says #
    I (mostly) grew up in the South, too, and still live here -- 13 years in Georgia, 8 in South Carolina, and soon we'll be moving to
  • Ariel Aron
    Ariel Aron says #
    I'm so glad I'm not alone in this. I live in southeast Georgia I look forward to the Savanna pagan pride days every year to social
  • Jen
    Jen says #
    You are definitely not alone. Savannah Pagan Pride is a blast. I really enjoyed it when lived there, especially with all the color
  • Suzanne Tidewater
    Suzanne Tidewater says #
    Thanks for sharing your perspective!

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