Why I Became a Witch (the Answer Might Surprise You!)

Following a blissful, spontaneous moment of cosmic union last August, it became clear to me that I don’t really need ritual or spellcraft to have transcendent spiritual experiences.

This makes sense–I’m a Mind Witch. My magick, though it incorporates many of the trappings of witchcraft, places far more emphasis on shifting consciousness than it does on the properties of physical objects. Some of the most powerful magick I’ve done hasn’t taken place at my altar; rather, an off-the-cuff declaration of a genuine desire has been enough to deliver some pretty amazing things to my doorstep.

Given this, I could essentially drop the language and materials of craft and begin referring to myself as “spiritual.” I could practice the way I always have, but without the stigma or risk.

It was tempting for a moment, Beauties. Constantly concealing the truth with euphemisms is tiring at best, and soul-crushing at worst. When a fellow parent asks you what you do for a living, it’s kind of hard to say “magick and witchcraft” and leave it at that. Each casual conversation suddenly becomes awkward and strained, because even the most well-meaning can’t hide an expression that wordlessly says “that’s literally the last thing I expected you to say.”

But there’s a major reason why I’m not turning away from witchcraft anytime soon, and it’s this: being a witch is way too much fun.

I don’t need tarot cards to access my deep inner knowing, but I really enjoy reading them. I don’t need candle spells to align with a particular desire, but I love casting them! And maybe I don’t need relationships with personified deities, but they add so much richness and clarity to my life that I’d be a fool to give them up. The grimoires, the altars, the incantations–they’re all an expression of my Genius and of a creative practice that brings me such joy and delight!

During the past year, the teachings of Alan Watts have had a profound effect on me. Watts was a self-professed spiritual entertainer who gave lectures on Zen, Taoist, and Buddhist thought to Western audiences. Towards the end of his “Give Away Control and You Will Have It” lecture, he shares this:

“Go into one of these Buddhist temples along with all the faithful followers and have a ball. Buy a candle, buy some incense, go in and dig this great thing going on, but don’t take it seriously. When the priests laugh at the altars because they’re having such fun because this whole scene is so beautiful, it’s the difference between some stuffy old priest humming a sutra and Alan Ginsberg chanting a sutra–it’s like a jam session where everyone is absolutely delighted. That’s the way to do it, and if you can’t do it that way, forget it.”

I’ve been drawn to many spiritual paths in my 37 years of life, but I chose to practice witchcraft because I knew I could have the most fun by doing it. My magick heals me, reveals me, inspires me, and empowers me, but so could a variety of traditions and religions. Witchcraft, however, fills my world with wonderment and possibility and invites my creative spirit to come out and play in a way that nothing else has.

When I’m taking my life far too seriously, I carve a sigil in a candle, rub some cinnamon into it, and light it up. I’m instantly excited, delighted, intuitive, and turned on. Call it magick, call it the placebo effect, call it whatever you like–it’s a blast to explore and experiment with, and I’m not going to stop any time soon.

xoxo Jessi, the Mind Witch Mama

Mind Witch’s Guide: Question Everything

I’ve been brewing up a lot of thoughts in the Mind Witch Mama lab this summer, and one that simply can’t wait for a grander form of expression is this:

Don’t blindly believe anything that myself or anyone else says. Take the time to consider and question what you read and hear so you can come to your own conclusions.

Your deep inner knowing lets you know when something’s spot on or amiss, and your logic helps filter out what simply doesn’t add up. So when you hear an idea that inspires a powerful response in you, take the time to ask, “Is this true? Do I believe this? Does this reflect my personal experience? What do I think and feel about this?”

Mind Witches think critically, dear. We don’t allow ourselves to be spoon-fed information, nor do we allow ourselves to declare that something is true with a capital “T” without a great deal of experience, research, and consideration. We understand that we’re often doing the best we can with the information that we have available, and that what we don’t know is a limitless mountain that towers over the humble anthill of our own understanding.

Even then, we recognize that what’s True for us often isn’t True for others. We also hold space for our True to change as we learn and grow and evolve, because we realize that we don’t have all the answers. Regardless of how you feel about him, Aleister Crowley sums this up well in Magical and Philosophical Commentaries on the Book of the Law:

“It is the mark of the mind untrained to take its own processes as valid for all men, and its own judgments for absolute truth.”

There’s been a lot of talk about the relevance of a liberal arts education for as long as I’ve been alive, and there’s more recent talk about the relevance of a university education full stop. Do I believe that universities have become bloated institutions that overcharge students and underpay faculty? Absolutely. However, many share one chief characteristic that I believe to be essential to a healthy society, and that’s this:

They teach you how to question. They teach you how to think critically. They teach you to value your own noodle and, if they’re doing it right, they hold space for you to apply it as a tool for reasoning and exploration.

When I first landed on the scene, my Instagram profile read: “consciousness liberation advocate.” I doubt I’ve ever lived up to that title, but I included it as a magickal intention that I hoped to fulfill. As of last week, I stepped back from that very platform because, like most social media, it seeks to monopolize your consciousness so it can keep you scrolling and feed you what it wants you to eat.

What are you eating, Beauty? Is it filling you? Is it nourishing you? Is it giving you what you need to grow and create and thrive? If not, it might be time to consider some alternatives.

Before I go, I want to reiterate the message of this missive: question everything. Know that you do not know. Value yourself enough to consult your mind and see what it thinks.

Much Love,

Mind Witch Mama

If you’d like to add your thoughts to this discussion, feel free to comment!

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What is Magick? Aleister Crowley, Dion Fortune, Christopher Penzcak, and Mind Witch Mama Weigh In

Either directly or indirectly, I’m pretty much talking about magick all the time.

What can I say — it’s the paradigm through which I view the world. The big bang? Magick. Falling in love? Magick. The dissolution of all foundations paving the way for change? Magick in action, baby.

There’s something comforting about seeing the world through a magickal lens. If nothing else, it helps me champion the notion that I’m not a helpless pawn in the ever-unfolding chess game of intelligent design. Rather, I am my own player in a sea of players, and as such, I am an active agent in the creative dance of the universe.

In trying times, we often find comfort in narratives, be they the myths of cultures past or the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves and the world we inhabit as the present plays itself out. I started playing with magick during a very challenging time, and in many ways, it helped me rekindle the fire of my genius. My magickal story is one of personal triumph, and as long as it is, I’ll keep telling it to myself to guide my soul through the darker tunnels of its experience.

But what is magick really? How can you define something that you cannot see, smell, taste, or touch? Throughout history (well, since the late 1800’s, at least), a slew of magickal practitioners have offered their own definitions. The first comes from Aleister Crowley, leader of the famous (or infamous depending on who you’re speaking with) Golden Dawn:

MAGICK IS The Science and Art of causing Change to occur in conformity with Will.

In other words, magick is what you do to make things how you want them to be. Not bad, and it certainly works for a heck of a lot of people who cast spells.

The second definition comes from Dion Fortune, a rather badass occultist who was largely active in the 1940’s. I like that her definition focuses on shifts in consciousness and places the “art” of magick at the forefront — I myself am a much more intuitive rather than formulaic practitioner, so it jibes:

Magick is the art of causing changes in consciousness in conformity with will.

Christoper Penczak is a witch that’s currently active and has written quite a few books on the subject of magick. He reclaims Crowley’s centering of science and combines it with Fortune’s focus on consciousness to arrive at the following definition:

Magick is a system or technology that allows us to change our consciousness, and through that consciousness, effect tangible change in our own lives.

Now, I recognize the hubris of placing myself beside such elevated company, but as a practicing witch who’s been working with magic for eight years, why wouldn’t I offer my own fledging definition? After all, I’m the voice behind these words, and I’ve learned a thing or two along the way:

Magick is an awareness of unified consciousness, and the power and harmony that organically arises through the continued practice of unifying with that consciousness.

The more I practice magick, the less I feel that my ego’s “will” has anything to do with it. I often receive what I casually ask for speedily and miraculously only if my desire is pure and I’m not overly attached to receiving it (you can read about a few of these miraculous events here). Once I try to impose my will on the universe, things become heavy and hard and ever outside of my reach. Once I just say, “Screw it — all I really want is happiness, love, creativity, and ease,” it all starts falling into place.

I’m aware that this sounds a lot like the law of attraction, and who knows — maybe it is. I’m still over here casting spells, spending time at my altar, chatting with deities, and pulling tarot cards for guidance. Maybe all of that “witch” stuff is what happens after I’ve surrendered to the flow of life, connected to the cosmos in deep and meaningful ways, and let my genius rise up and take the helm. All I know is that the more I trust in my creativity, listen to my heart, and challenge myself to believe, the closer I get to having a really awesome life.

xoxo Mind Witch Mama

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What Type of Witch Are You? You Might be a “Mind Witch”–Here’s Why

In the five years I’ve been an active part of the witchcraft community, I haven’t come across a single “What Type of Witch Are You?” listicle that included my particular brand of craft.

I create sigils, but I’m not a chaos witch. I honor Venus as she rises in the sky each morning, but I’m not a cosmic witch. I travel the astral and communicate with my guides on the daily, but I’m definitely not a hedge witch. Although I practice elements of craft that can be found in many different traditions and approaches, none of these labels seems to fit me.

After weeks of careful consideration, I’ve settled upon a title that reflects what I do magickally, and the time has finally come to announce it to the world:

I am a Mind Witch.

A term first bandied about by badass biz-witch extraordinaire Joanna Devoe, a Mind Witch is a witch whose craft begins and ends with a spirited exploration of consciousness. She often travels the astral and has full-blown conversations with archetypal deity and imaginal beings. She has “far out” thoughts about who we are and what we mean to the universe, and these far out thoughts tell her that magick is real and that Mind is its vehicle. She knows that mind makes all things possible, and that when we work with it, we can bring amazing things into this world.

Are You a Mind Witch? You Might Be If…

You willingly embrace paradox and are comfortable holding two conflicting viewpoints at once.

You understand that magick is something that science simply hasn’t managed to explain yet.

You don’t care if your goddess is real or a projection of your subconscious as long as you can chat with her on the astral.

After reading Matilda, you secretly made a practice of trying to move objects with your mind. Even though you didn’t actually believe it would work, you absolutely believed it would work and still try from time to time just to make sure.

You behold the cosmic bodies with awe and reverence. The quantum world and its essential randomness fill you with joy. You can’t really understand why woo folk and scientists are at odds, because it’s obvious to you that they’re both turned on by the same elusive mysteries.

You’re baffled by people who say that it’s “just” the placebo effect—as far as you’re concerned, people who are thinking themselves better are witches of the highest order.

Your mind is constantly blown by things that others regard as commonplace.

You speak about imaginal space as if it really exists (because it does, because thoughts are real).

You jive with the concepts of universal consciousness and the collective unconscious. You think that we’re all sharing the same mind and can access it through magickal and spiritual practices.

You’re keenly fascinated by myth and storytelling, and you scry into books like other witches scry into crystal balls.

There’s rarely one answer to the sorts of questions you ask. Honestly, the more potential answers there are, the better the question.

You might have some difficulties when it comes to “keeping your shit together” on the physical plane (and you know that learning to work with, rather than against, the mundane is part of your spiritual journey).

You journal and/or reflect. A LOT. You often ask yourself questions like “Who am I really?” and “What does this all mean?” without being attached to finding a definitive answer (because there is no definitive answer, and that’s the best part!)

Your spellcrafting intentions often reflect your desire to grow and evolve as a spiritual being.

You’re obsessed with your mystical studies, and you believe that the act of studying is itself is a magickal act.

You pay attention to signs and synchronicities because you know that they are Mind attempting to guide you towards your most resonant expression of self.

You’re creative in a variety of ways, and when you apply that creativity, you’re doing magick.

You know that Mind is magick, and that life itself is a magickal act.

Finally, you don’t take yourself or your craft too seriously. You’re a Mind Witch because you enjoy it, and that’s enough.

Rock On, Mind Witch–may your magick be as boundless as the web of consciousness itself!

xoxo Jessi, the Mind witch mama