Over the last few years, I’ve met some interesting witches on the ‘Net. (Some day, I’ll actually get to meet them in person!) I thought you might find them interesting, too, so over the next five Thursdays (I’m skipping next Thursday as it’s the US Thanksgiving Day and I plan on being in a food coma) I’m going to share my email conversations with four of them. First up, Amythyst Raine:
When did you start writing and what prompted you to do so?
I was always writing. I started journaling when I was 12-years-old and continued for years, way into my 30s. I regret that at various stages of life, I decided to discard some of those early diaries, thinking them filled with nonsensical adolescent drivel. I’m thankful for the ones I saved, detailing much of our family life and my children’s births.
When I was 18, I got a wild hair and typed out a short magazine article that I sent off to a major woman’s magazine, to their office in New York. I was lucky, the rejection was handled by an incredibly kind and sensitive editor who wanted to encourage creativity and writing in a hopeful, but very naive, adolescent. I don’t know who this person was, but they are probably the main reason I didn’t stop writing, and I continued to believe that one day I would be a published author.
Do you have a favorite book on witchcraft – perhaps one that influenced you?
I do– Green Witchcraft by Ann Moura. It was delicious. It was filled with the magick of the herbal world, encased in green leaves, and small cauldrons, and candles, and infinite possibilities. It was such a gentle book, a gentle magick, and I was enchanted with the spiritual connections. Coming out of a Catholic Parochial school background, the Virgin Mary took on a new dimension for me, as Ms. Moura led the way into magickal rituals using familiar spiritual icons. I recommend this book as a first book to any newcomer dipping their toe gingerly into the world of witchcraft. It is the most beautiful introduction.
How long have you been practicing & how did you come to your path?
Technically, I started practicing when I was 17 and cast a notorious spell in the basement of my grandmother’s house. The journey to my present-day spiritual path would be life-long, filled with explorations covering everything from Catholicism, to Judaism, Spiritism, to Atheism, as well as other explorations through books by far-thinking people on an introspective subject. But I would always return, full circle each time, to the realm of witchcraft. This seemed the most “normal” practice, the most fitting form of spirituality. And when I finally reconciled myself to this path, the learning process was an incredible journey, one I believe is so large and so infinite, it will take the course of several life-times.
After years of reading other people’s books (on witchcraft), years of thinking that I had to follow “their rules”, because this is how I was conditioned through my traditional childhood path, I was brought to the sudden realization that my spiritual path was an incredibly personal path, and only I could forge this path, building it brick by brick, to conform to my own beliefs, my own way of practicing, building it to fit my own unique spiritual connections.
I call my path, “Gray Magerium”…it’s a unique combination of Wicca (mostly Dianic Wicca); Hoodoo; and Green Witchcraft. This path is explored somewhat in my book, The Gray Witch’s Grimoire, and it will be expanded and embraced even more in my next book, The Spiritual Feminist. It’s been an evolution.
What was the hardest lesson you had to learn – one that you credit your path for teaching you?
I actually think there are several hard lessons learned. The most significant to me is that some people are drawn to me, with unabashed curiosity and off-the-wall enthusiasm, just because I practice witchcraft. They seem to have very unrealistic ideas of what I really am, or what my life is like, and they have some fantasy of it all playing in their heads. To the few I’ve actually met and gotten to know personally, in the real world, their enthusiasm (and their friendship) was short-lived when they realized that I was just as ordinary as they were. The novelty wore off, you might say. I think they liked friends’ and relatives’ reactions when they would introduce their new friend as a “Witch”.
What this has taught me is invaluable: my spiritual path is not “a phase”; my spiritual path helps me direct my life and maintain some semblance of control; my connection with Spirit is priceless in my journey to find and understand myself. There is something larger than us out there, a greater power, a spiritual entity, whatever name you want to give it. Destiny is a very real thing, and when you listen and watch carefully, you’ll realize that many of the decisions you make are drawn from that small voice in your head. Our decisions are being directed by a greater force than ourselves. There is a reason for everything, nothing happens by chance.
How does being a witch help you in everyday life?
Life is very scary sometimes, full of responsibilities, pitfalls, ups and downs, joy and sadness, success and a few failures. But I know, without a doubt, that I don’t walk this path alone. The Goddess is beside me– not in front of me, nor behind me, nor is she carrying me. We walk shoulder to shoulder. I’m not alone.
In the preface to your book, The Gray Witch’s Grimoire (which I loved, by the way), you ask & answer the question, “Are you a good witch or a bad witch?” For those who haven’t read that book, would you kindly answer it again?
I am basically a Good Witch with a few Bad Witch tendencies. But what defines a “Bad Witch”? To the general populous, she practices Black Magick in negative ways to control people and do other evil and perverted things. This isn’t my definition of the Bad Witch. I view the Bad Witch as a strong woman, a feminist perhaps, a woman who isn’t afraid to stand up for herself, isn’t afraid to take control, isn’t afraid to protect herself or her family when necessary. The Bad Witch will grit her teeth and stand her ground to fight for The Principle of the Thing. Principles and ethics are very important to the Bad Witch. Nothing in life is all black, or all white, there is a shady gray area that must be traversed. You may also be very surprised at what you find within this “gray area”…some people call it Common Sense.
What is one question you wish someone would ask you?
Will you be my friend?…but it would come with conditions: it would have to be sincere; it would have to transcend the mundane world of our work; it would have to come from the heart– sister to sister, or kindred spirit to kindred spirit. It would have to come without preconceived notions, or conditions, or judgment.
What is one thing you’d like to accomplish before you die?
As a writer, I’d like to achieve the ultimate peak of accomplishment– I’d like to make the New York Times Best Seller List.
What is one piece of advice you’d give someone new to the witchcraft path?
Take your time. Don’t expect to absorb all there is to learn at once. Don’t be overwhelmed by all the information, the broadness of the topic.
But most important: Be still…and listen to the whisper in your ear, it will guide you to your path.
And finally, coffee or tea?
Coffee!! Actually, as I’m typing the answer to this last question, it’s Sunday morning, and I’m having special Sunday morning coffee: French Vanilla Almond.
Amythyst Raine-Hatayama is an author and spiritual feminist; a wife and mother; a witch and taroist. Learn more about her at http://www.wytchmystique.com or http://ladyamythyst.com. You can also contact her via email firstname.lastname@example.org.