You’re Not A Real Witch/Druid/Heathen/Whatever

At some point in your pagan spiritual path, you may come across some person or a group of people who tell you that you’re not a real [insert path here] and may even give you “helpful” reasons as to why they have come to this conclusion. And I’m here to tell you that it’s all bollocks.

First off, anyone who has the gall to tell someone else that they’re spiritual path is wrong because it differs from theirs, most likely has some superiority/inferiority/ego issues. It usually takes someone with pretty low self-esteem to try and knock down other people, and with the anonymity that the internet provides, this can be done in large quantities. What we all must remember is that when someone says something like “you’re not a real [insert path here] because you don’t do [insert whatever here]” it is saying a lot more about them, and not a lot about you. It displays their hang-ups, their biases, their issues, not yours.

Some people will confuse their dislike for something and state it as something that is “wrong”. However, simply because someone doesn’t like it doesn’t mean that it is wrong. I *heart* unicorns. Always have, always will. Does this make me less of a witch/druid/heathen/whatever? I don’t wear black, I don’t have a witchy aesthetic per se, I’m not particularly drawn to “dark” magic and I don’t even “look” witchy. I honour different gods from different traditions and follow many different paths. I am a Witch, a Druid, a Heathen, a Zen Buddhist. I don’t limit myself to one “pure” tradition of anything, because I don’t believe that exists. Does this make me any less in the eyes of the pagan public? To some, yes. And that is their problem, not mine.

My path is extremely rich and rewarding. For me. If it inspires others to follow/develop theirs, then I’m so very pleased and filled with gratitude. We need to support each other more, not tear each other down. There’s enough of that nonsense already in the world. Let’s not add to it.

Nature teaches us that diversity is key to a healthy, functioning ecosystem. What fills my cup is constant learning and taking that learning into real experience, which will lead me down many interesting paths. I can be more than one thing at one time, or at all times. I am a sister, a daughter, an aunt, a wife, Mother of Cats, author, singer, dancer, YouTuber, blogger, podcaster, Northern Expsoure fan and more. I am not one thing, nor could I ever be. Plurality is a good thing. It keeps things interesting.

If someone’s path diverges from yours, take time to understand more. Even if you don’t agree with it, it’s not your place to decide what is valid or authentic, and what is not. When we do so, we are seeking to belittle someone, and that is just not cool. Again, it says more about us than it ever will about them.

No one can please everyone, and nor should anyone even try. For when we do so, that’s when we are being inauthentic. That’s when we lose sight of who we are, and who we aspire to be. Our dreams are our own, and we shouldn’t let others tell us whether or not we should seek them out. True sovereignty lies in knowing who you are, what you love, what brings you joy, what makes you the person you are. It is knowing your strengths and weaknesses, your light and your shadow. While others may provide you with inspiration on your path, never, ever let anyone dictate who you should be or what you should do.

Don’t let people “should” all over your life.

You are a real whatever-it-is-that-you-want-to-be. That’s your life, your living it, your path. No one else can walk it for you. Let your own story shine.

Edit: I’ve since recorded a follow-up piece to this blog post, and this has now been posted on my Bandcamp page here: joannavanderhoeven.bandcamp.com/track/dismissive-paganism

New Online Course now available!

I have a new online course available through my Patreon page! This course is called “An Introduction to Freya: Goddess of Life, Sovereignty and Magic” In it we will look at the literature that surrounds this goddess, interpretation of such and perform simple rituals that you can do to connect with this wonderful goddess. We will also have discussion on the monthly lessons, as well as plentiful further resources that you can investigate should you so wish, including online articles and videos! This course runs for four months, starting now, at only $15 (around £11) per month. You can leave at any time, taking with you what you have already learned. Please enroll before 31 August to ensure your place, as no new members for this course will be taken after this date.

All you have to do is join the Introduction to Freya online course tier and then you will have access to this month’s material. I hope to see you there!

http://www.patreon.com/joannavanderhoeven

Joanna van der Hoeven is creating Pagan-related content in writing, videos, music and more | Patreon

New Community Working on Patreon!

I am now making the 13 Lunar Rituals available to ALL patrons on my Patreon page 🙂 Together we can work and discuss as a community our thoughts, feelings, desires, wishes and workings for this coming moon’s cycle. We work from full moon to full moon. I hope to see you there! You can join us for as little as £1 a month. xoxo

Click HERE for more info!

(From last year’s harvest…)

Re-Living, Re-Visioning your Craft

Whether you’ve been practising your spiritual path for 30 years or 3 years, you will need to shake things up every now and again. Nature doesn’t stay the same. Nature changes, each and every day. As I look out my window, things have changed, sometimes minutely, sometimes drastically, but I can see and feel the change. When I’m out and walking the landscape, I see the wider changes happening, beyond my own little hearth and home. By spending time noticing these changes, I become used change, and so I am also able to transform what I need to in my own life.

My spiritual path does not remain an unvarying constant. It is ever shifting, changing, flowing in and out with the seasons and the cycles. With my many, many, many (oh so many, where did the years go?) years of experience that I have in following my own tradition, I can honestly say that no two years have ever been alike. My interests, my environment, my circumstances lead me down different routes that inform and re-energise my current modus operandi. I am not the same person I was twenty years ago, and nor would I want to be.

Anything that is alive, changes. We often forget that in our day to day existence. We often relive past experiences, but these are done and gone; what we need to do is re-live, to truly live once again in the present moment. Accepting change and circumstances and experience that should, hopefully, lead to wisdom.

Some days are harder than others, for sure. Some days our Craft might seem to take a backseat in our lives, as we try to deal with the hardships and grievances, the pain and the struggles that come from being on this planet at this moment in time. But it is always there, waiting for us to tap back into it, to bring it back to life.

What if your rituals no longer bring you joy? Do something different! Instead of casting a circle, invoking the gods, etc. why not simply go out and walk the land? Whether you are in the countryside or in a city, find a place where there are green and growing things, and be out there in it. Sense the energies, the time of year, the season and the cycle. Feel that deep within your soul, feel your soul reflecting this back out into the world. Let this invigorate you, and take you out of your rut. Let the change flow into you.

Now re-charged, take some time for re-visioning. See how you would like your Craft to be, not how it has always been. Make the changes that you desire, try new things. If they don’t work, put them aside and try new ones. Take some time to visualise the person you want to be, and then go out and be that person. It won’t happen without a little time and effort expended into the process.

Be the change.

In a happy and inspiring place 🙂

Roadtrip 2022

Well, it’s been a great pleasure going through the photos and the videos from the roadtrip to the maritimes that I took with my sister when I went back home to Quebec this month. I’m so glad that I documented this journey, as I know I’ll cherish these memories forever.

The Cup of Sovereignty

A few day ago I dreamt that I was handed the Cup of Sovereignty. It was a beautiful silver chalice, my own personal Grail, given to me by someone I couldn’t see, but which had the feel of deity about it, or someone in service to deity. In that cup was my own blood, that which runs through my veins and also my menstrual blood (even though that time is now gone). I took the cup in my hands and felt the power surging through it, the power of my own life and of my own sovereignty.

But what exactly is sovereignty? The word evokes kings and queens, feudal systems and medieval times. Yes indeed, it does relate to that, everything that comes from a state which has a leader with absolute authority. The Cambridge dictionary simply states sovereignty as “the power or authority to rule”. In relation to one’s own personal sovereignty, this definition makes more sense.

We all have the power to be sovereign in ourselves. That power may lie deeply hidden beneath experiences of trauma and loss, grief and sorrow, abuse and family/social dynamics. But is it there, waiting to be accessed and recognised.

Sadly, not all of us have the authority for personal sovereignty, for there are still too many places in the world where your gender, your race or your social background prevents you from using that authority.  And yet, deep down, we might still feel a glimmer of that authority that lies beneath the suffocating shrouds of patriarchy, oppressive religions and more. Deep down, most of us are certain that we have a right to rule our own selves, to be sovereign in our self. Whether or not this is recognised by society around us is another matter.

I know that I come from a place of privilege. But that still doesn’t negate my own experience of personal sovereignty. The deep knowing that I am responsible for my actions, for my life, and that I have the power to change it, helps me to integrate my sovereignty into everything that I do. A sovereign life is a life filled with intention, instead of reaction. A sovereign life is one where you know your own self, the light and the shadow, the good and the bad, and you work with that intentionally in order to be your best self at that moment. A sovereign life is one where you see where you fit in: in your community, your ecosystem, your family, all your relationships. It is where you can contribute for the benefit of all. Because in our own sovereignty, we realise that we must give back.

For me, sovereignty goes hand in hand with service. It may not be that way for everyone, but for me it is an integral part of personal sovereignty. As an author I like to share my ideas with others through the medium of the written word, and in doing so, hopefully inspire people towards their own sovereignty. I don’t have all the answers, despite my dreams. I was given the cup of sovereignty, but what I do with it is my own life’s work. It’s a process, not a destination or an achievement.

Sovereignty might be taking back the power that you have given to someone or something else. It might be understanding how your mind works, and how you can work with that to live the life that you want, to achieve your dreams. It might be simply the power of saying “no” or “yes” to certain things. It might involve independence or community, a spiritual practice or a philosophy/way of life. It might just be acceptance of who you are, where you are and what it is that you are doing, and taking responsibility for all that you are, wherever you are. It might be a combination of these things, and then some.

We must encourage each other on our own personal journeys of sovereignty. Help someone to find their own power. Sovereignty means we must truly understand the notion of power, and the levels of power that we see in the world. The renowned author Starhawk describes three different kinds of power: personal power, power over and power with. We must release all notions of “power over” and work towards strengthening our own personal power, while at the same time working with “power with”. This means that in our own journeys, we will not bring each other down, but instead support each other and encourage each other’s experiences in finding their own power. When we work towards the benefit of the whole, the whole is benefited. When we work for the benefit of the self, the self is indeed benefited, but we must also think about extending that power to the community in whatever way we can.

We may begin with our own journeys into our own power, and eventually once we have established that deeply within our core, we can look outwards in the spirit of encouragement, inspiration and support of others in their own quests for the Grail, the Cup of Sovereignty. Sovereignty is all about the ability to choose. It is the power of choice.

And know that this quest is one that has no beginning and no end, but is simply a process of discernment, refinement, mindfulness and co-operation. We may receive the Cup of Sovereignty, but now we must share it with the rest of the world in whatever form we are able. We must fill it and we must drink from the Cup but, like a meal, it is best shared with others.

New Video: The Tapestry of Life

After my hard drive crashed (and is not repairable) I finally got out again and did some filming this week. I hope you like it!