by Dianna Hardy
First written in March, 2019 for Between Fire & Ice
What is shamanic witchcraft? What is a shamanic witch? Well, I think I can only tell you what it is to me...
In some ways, it's a label I've fallen into through my initiations. In my heart, I would have to say I am more shaman than witch in that I believe life and Spirit both run through nature, animals and the universe; that we can talk to trees; that crystals are very much alive (I've seen the ones I've kept for decades physically change over time) - stone is not a dead thing. There is a certain consciousness to everything, although human consciousness certainly is different, because we humans did not originally come from here (Earth - although we have evolved here) - of that I'm very certain.
The consciousness of nature (including its animals) thrives on balance. Without that balance, nature will suffer, and do its best to right itself before that consciousness fades forever, which is exactly what its doing now in 2019 because of all the toxicity we're pouring into the intricate, energetic web nature functions with.
Many witches - especially of the more Pagan or Celtic-based traditions - also share the same, or similar beliefs. But most witches also believe in a God and/or Goddess figure, who they worship, or pay homage to, in practice and ritual.
I do not have that same belief. I certainly believe that gods and goddesses exist as important symbols of personal power, and benchmarks of historical Atlantean and Lemurian events long forgotten, and even as actual spirit entities in some cases. The Loas that dominate Santería, Vodou, and the other religions of African shamanic roots for example, demand worship, or very clear homage, before they will work with you (in the same way cats demand it - it's really no wonder cats were seen as Egyptian gods!).
But I have never believed in the worship of gods, myself, and certainly some gods need to be brought down a peg or two! (Zeus, anyone?)
If I was going to worship anything, it would be nature and the harmony I derive from it, and the harmony I can give back to it. That, right there, is the shaman in me.
Where I become witch, I think, is in my integration with the modern western world. In the urban living of cities and bustling market towns, I have found it easier to be a witch than a shaman. The witch's spells and metaphoric (or sometimes actual) dark cloak form a natural shield of protection and power, and the witch's flair for dramatics and deep mystery allows me to see the urban world with a more playful eye. I'm able to cope with it better. Witches are sassy. They know how to get by in the concrete jungle.
Witchcraft also embraces the power of the self - very much so. 'An' it harm none, do what ye will', while only being a tiny part of the Wiccan Rede, embodies the importance of personal power. Self-centredness is honoured (and it's not the same as selfishness) and necessary for mastering your life and being accountable for your actions.
The shaman, traditionally, is much more enmeshed in the needs of his tribe and the sacrificing of some of his time, energy and will for the good of the whole community. This is not to say he is not a master of himself in his own right, but the overall energy of the two paths are very different.
I say "he" because most shamans were men. Indeed, most witches were historically wise women. Of course a man can be a witch, and a woman can be a shaman, but I'm talking, for this particular post, about the underlying energies of the traditions that stem from their universal and ancestral histories.
For the most part, I have always felt much more attuned to the rites, spells, and magickal mixes found in witchcraft than I have felt towards shamanic rituals and ceremonies. Despite all my dream journeys and my understanding of the soul (which is very shamanic in outlook, I think), I feel like a witch when I say a prayer, or cast a spell.
So, in truth, I am both. I have my own way of working with crystals and healing energy that is not witch or shaman, but a blend of both. I have my own way of reading Tarot and connecting with the universe that is Dianna - just Dianna. Dianna, the result of all her past lives and experiences, of which she only remembers a fraction.
I know I have had more than one Native American past life - I remember some of those moments and I do so with great, great fondness. I think that once, in around 2007, I found myself recalling a past life as a witch - it was based in around the 1300s (12th century), and I'm not sure it ended well, because the energy felt very dark. (I can't say I've gone back into that memory - it can stay right there in the recesses of my mind!)
I also remember pieces of a life in Atlantis, so there's much more inside here than just shaman and witch in the way we relate to them today.
But shaman and witch - or shamanic witch - will do for 2019. It will do for today.
And I wonder ... I wonder ... if in centuries to come, in whichever body I inhabit, I'll remember pieces of this life.
I wonder what on earth I'll think.
Read also: What Does the Word "Witch" Mean to Me?
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