Over the past five years, grief has been a pressing matter within society - not just any grief, but collective grief. We have grieved celebrities, public figures and musicians who have suddenly passed away; we have grieved political changes that have brutally taken us unawares; we have grieved - are grieving - a change to our Mother Earth so intense that we have lost 60% of the world's wildlife since 1970. This will have a damning effect on us all, and some say we are in the midst of the sixth mass extinction, and this time, we humans are the cause. For anyone who is new to this concept, I will leave this article by Catherine Ingram here for you to read, but be warned: it is long, and it is bleak (though there is a slight perking up towards the end, if one can call it that). Whether you choose to take it on board or not is entirely up to you - it's a theory, after all.
Even if just a theory and not an actuality, I have been feeling this kind of sorrow for about eighteen years now - on and off at first, but consistently over the past five years. I feel a pressing need to address this grief because it is an indescribable, heavy sorrow that is not the same as that of losing a loved one (and I have lost loved ones). This sorrow runs much deeper because it spans lifetimes and cultures; it spans species, and civilisations. I know that I'm not the only one feeling this grief; I also know that many do not know how to face it; how to manage it and get on with life, when life is ... ending.
As I embark on my new projects, how to grieve Earth Extinction is going to be on the forefront of my mind. I would like to find a way to enable us to grieve as a collective and find comfort in that - this may involve workshops and events where we can meet up and talk it out, cry it out, and put in place positive ways in which we can move forward. It is a cause that's needed - it really is. I feel quite strongly about it. It could be months before I have something in place for this, but if you are feeling what I'm feeling, and are interested in the concept of collective grief for Earth Extinction - or collective grief for anything, like prominent societal changes - then drop me a line and let me know. We are a global world now, and I think there's a place for learning how to deal with, and manage, global grief.
by Dianna Hardy
First written 10th March, 2019 for Between Fire & Ice
You may also want to read: Shamanic Witchcraft
Witch is a loaded word - the oppressive (and patriarchal) history of different cultures all have their part to play in that. Witch means different things in different countries, and in some, it still means torture and death for the one who holds that namesake (or the scapegoat who's labelled with it against their will). Therefore, "witch" still means to put yourself in the path of persecution by those who would benefit from your downfall.
It is not legal to be a witch in all countries. In the UK it is legal, but only since the repeal of The Witchcraft Act in 1951, before which time you could still be fined and imprisoned for displaying any type of connection with Spirit, whether healing, or divination.
So, first of all, this is what "witch" means to me:
Let's not forget how far we've come and how many (mainly women) have suffered at the hands of patriarchy, and let's not forget that in our forward-thinking, 21st Century world, the tide can turn in an instant. Anyone who thinks that's not possible only needs to look at what's going on in western society right now. Laws can be changed in the blink of eye on the tide of (often instigated) public opinion, leaving far too many people thinking it's all right for children - babies and toddlers - to be taken from their families (as just one example).
In 2019. Not 1951.
So, I use the word witch when I refer to myself, in part because we need to be mindful of the changes in society that seep in when we're not looking, trying to oppress us in the guise of "protection". It's a reminder to myself. And it's a reminder to anyone who finds my use of the word jarring. Good. Work on that. The witch has been in that place of oppression before. Let's do everything we can to make sure we don't go there again.
In terms of origins, there doesn't seem to be a set one for the word "witch". Look at the Online Etymology Dictionary for a reference; check out Power in the Name: The Origin and Meaning of the Word "Witch", by Michael Dilts for another.
To me, a witch is a: