Flashback to 1985.
I’m a newly, born-again tweenager. I attend the Christian Union at school. There are girls there from other churches, churches I’ve never encountered before. Evangelical, charismatic house churches, the United Reformed. They wear Jesus Loves You pin badges and prophesy.
I begin to learn that we aren’t all cut from the same cloth. There are those who are part of this blessed, redeemed collective, and those who aren’t. Those who aren’t aren’t necessarily who you’d expect. It’s not the unbelievers only who are excluded. Some church folk are to.
“But is she a proper Christian?”
A proper Christian goes to a church they recognise. They have been baptised by the Holy Spirit, they speak in tongues, pray aloud and spontaneously during services, raise their hands during the worship songs. It turns out Roman Catholics and most Anglicans are not “proper” Christians.
I am, at twelve years of age, desperately keen to fit in, and scared that someone will tell me I’m not “proper”. It will take years before I’m able to see the arrogance of this position and call bullshit on this kind of separatism.
Many moons later my spiritual path has led me outside of the church. I no longer practice mainstream Christianity but I continue to follow the teachings of Jesus, combining these with earth-based spiritual practices.
I am happy to be following this path, it makes more sense to me than my churchianity had for many years, I feel a deeper sense of connection to all-that-is and within my own life and practice.
There is one fly in the ointment. That word again.
Social media is a cacophony of opinions. You are not a “proper” witch/ pagan/ druid/ Buddhist unless…
I can feel my hackles rising.
There is no such thing as a “proper” witch…No-one else gets to say. You claim your place, your space. You decide what these things mean for you. There is no authority here other than that you take for yourself. No last word. The spiritual path is about relationship between the universe and you, between the inner self and grace.
Talk of “proper” holds people down in fear, encourages unhealthy power balances, and gives people the opportunity to put others down. It is power over. Dominance. Separation. Judgement.
“Proper” is an arrogant, mean-spirited word which breeds superiority and small-mindedness.
I want to crush it, grind it into powder and scatter it to the four corners of the earth.
I want to claim a different word, a different way.
Be improper. Be wild, crazy, creative, “defy expectations.” Dance your own rhythm, move along your own path with wild joy, practice magic the way only you know how, love with the passion of your soul’s fire.
I don’t want to be a “proper” witch. I want to be the most “improper” witch there is. Because this space, at the edge of imagination and dreaming, is where magic lives.