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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Stillness and Strength: A Runic Reflection at Imbolc

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs

Images and memes traditionally associated with Imbolc are showing up on social media now, as they do every year. I enjoy seeing the hearty crocus push through the snow, the candle illuminating a frozen landscape, and the dormant seed waiting underground to burst forth into life. All of these symbols and motifs encourage the weary heart that the cold, dark days are ending.   

It’s not exactly how I experience Imbolc, though. 

Snow is an extreme rarity in lower Alabama, though we do occasionally have frost on the ground. Farmers are already plowing up their fields for peanuts and cotton. Trees are already budding, and some, like the Eastern Redbud and Magnolia Janes, are already blooming. The land hardly rests in this region. She has the temperament of a workhorse—reliable, steadfast, supportive, and fairly predictable. Winter is more like a swiftly passing phase than a full season. 

While I respect the teachings I received many years ago about the Wheel of the Year and its British origins, I believe in connecting with the land on which I’m living. I listen to what it’s saying to me through its own unique seasons, what is growing when, and how it affects my internal rhythms. Right now, there is a little tug-of-war happening between my need to stay more internal, to process, and to heal, while nature is spooling up for rapid growth again all around me. 

Part of me is delighted with the return of the sun and the long growing season, as I think about which herbs and flowers I’d like to cultivate; part of me knows that I’m not quite there yet emotionally. Losing my father to lung cancer in December plummeted me into grief, but it was also a catalyst for deep inner work and greater self-acceptance. It was as though his spirit, which felt like a hawk soaring above me when he died, helped me to see myself and my world with new eyes. I am waking up to me, yawning and stretching into the life I always wanted but was too afraid to live. I’m far less concerned with approval from others and wholly invested in loving myself as I am.    

The divinatory readings I’ve done speak of stillness, pausing, internal work, and a marshalling of resources and strength. Though it has been years since I’ve worked with runes, I felt them calling to me again. Reaching into my runebag, I drew Laguz and Ingwaz, two runes that stand right beside each other in the third aett of the Elder Futhark. Laguz is water, the cosmic sea, the feminine principle, the unconscious. It is the inner work I’ve been doing for months now. Ingwaz is the seed, the potential, the masculine principle, and the inner child. It is the sacrifice of one form to create a new one. It is an initiation, one that I cannot bypass. The waters of the unconscious have watered the seed, and so it will grow.  

What could be more reflective of Imbolc and of my own life right now, even if my subtropical surroundings hurry toward spring? We do not merely observe these seasons; we live them, and they live through us. They teach us with every turn of the wheel.   

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Jen is a pagan blogger, poet, Reiki practitioner, and aspiring massage therapist. Her passion is exploring and celebrating the Divine Feminine through art, shamanic ritual, and intuitive readings.


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