If you look up the term “witch” on Google, you’ll get a lot of images of green, old ladies. Ugly, dirty, with long yucky nails, all dressed in black. Witches get really bad press, but when you realize how powerful a woman in her own feminine strength can be, you’ll understand why.
A few years ago I had a huge fight with a male friend who told me I was a “bad, evil witch!” He was screaming at me in the middle of the street, right outside an event we’d both attended. Much as I tried to argue that I wasn’t that dark and evil, my low-cut red dress and shiny red lips didn’t support my claim to innocence. Well, guess what? He was right!
What’s worse, I’ve become convinced witches will reign again. And if you’ve followed my previous stories here, you may have figured out there was a witch inside of me long before I did. About a year ago I wrote about the witch-hunts conducted against pagan women leaders of rebellious tribal societies in Northern Spain. While visiting the valley of Baztan in Navarra I had been blown away by the energy of mystery, ancient battles and obvious persecution of those who did not submit to mainstream thinking. I felt entirely at home, as if I was in my mother’s own country: Ireland.
When I was a child I spent many summers in Ireland. Legends of leprehauns and fairies seduced my imagination all the time. I distinctly remember riding in the car up North, looking out the window at rainbows and cows. A pot of gold was supposed to await at the end of a rainbow, and if you found a leprehaun in a forest, he could lead you to the treasure if he didn’t find a way to trick you first. I spent hours anticipating strategies against those wise old magic men. Then I grew up and became an engineer. I forgot everything magical or mystical. Until now.
Ancient tribal societies were often lead by women. Not only were the first deities female, but many a shaman and druidess were to be found in pagan tribal societies, all the way up to the emergence of patriarchal societies around 3.000 years BC. Women were biologically designed to connect with the cycles of life and death seen in nature. Women had a different way of looking at survival challenges than men. They had an intangible kind of strength that made up for their lack of physical muscle. Women were deeply emotional, instinctive, cyclical, passionate creatures.
More importantly, women were mysterious. The hidden beauty in womens’ eyes was just as feral and full of its own will as a sudden storm in the jungle. Life was a mystery to be admired, enjoyed and surrendered to. Women were too.
But for ages, women have been domesticated, controlled and suppressed. Humans slowly became smarter and more ambitious. We conquered Nature. We conquered animals. And we also conquered women. The more men antagonised and centralized patriarchal civilizations, the harder we chased these unfortunate tribal leaders. The term ‘witch’ became tainted with all sorts of moral judgments which guaranteed hell, evil cruelty and demonic curses. Female healers, tribal leaders, property owners and spiritual guides were mortified, humiliated, raped morally and physically until they surrendered or died.
All kinds of non-linear logic were forbidden. Visions, gut feelings, strange dreams and superstitions – anything that couldn’t be explained with strict intellectual logic – was denied. Simple herbal remedies and fortune-telling methods became the language of the devil. Unruly passions were whipped to purify the soul. Disturbing torture machines were invented and exported to the most remote corners of emerging civilizations. Humanity discovered the psychopathic pleasure of observing another’s most desperate pain.
So monstrous was our persecution of the wild, that many generations later we still don’t dare to even look at the unconscious in our own bodies. Our current relationship with wild Nature, sadly trashed to near extinction, betrays how we relate to the wild within ourselves: our feelings, our unpredictable passions, our chaotic dreams and the sudden certainties we feel about the future. We don’t dare tell anybody what we’ve heard our dead father tell us this morning, or how we felt undisputable certainty in the dream we had last night that was way more than just a dream.
Everybody I talk to describes experiences and recollections that can’t be explained by science. They tell me like it’s an ugly dark secret not to be confessed to anybody else. Just as embarrassing and ugly as I found divination methods a few years back. Little fascinating rituals we all play into when nobody’s looking. Astrology, tarot, I Ching, tea-leaves in a cup, lucky socks or winner ties, and the many folkloric customs still alive today in every single corner of our planet. Myth, emotion and mystery abound beyond the limits of our hyper-rational internet clouds.
It comes as no surprise, then, to witness how modern women have issues with themselves. We can’t scream, we can’t cry, we can’t follow an intuition we had this morning while feeding the baby. We can’t look old, we can’t fall in love with penniless artists, we can’t make a scene at the office when we’ve been insulted beyond belief by ignorant idiots who only think of money. We can’t even bear our babies without drugs and total medical intervention, for God’s sake! We can’t do anything that may be construed as remotely similar to pagan witchcraft. Unless we want to be publicly humiliated and burnt on a stake by sorely manipulated crowds.
Men can’t either, by the way. This isn’t about women. It’s about the feminine, the self-willed, the indomitable, the rebellious… the mysterious, the seductive, the exciting, the life-motivating. This is what we’ve lost as a species. This is what we’ve been told is bad, cruel, demonic and surely leading our souls to Hell.
Today, as we fight over who sells weapons to whom, which terrorists are funded where, who spreads the most trash and who’ll be the first to stop burning fossils, wild nature sits silently watching this global confusion and fear. Because the day we burned our witches we became orphans to the unknown.
Our future is uncertain. Tomorrow seems obscure. Chaotic changes await us as global warming creeps up on our cities, tourism-exploited beaches and over-monetized crops. All our masculine big data, scientific knowledge and over-inflated egos are useless in the face of curvy, feminine, unruly and unrelenting rhythms of angry nature.
Yes, my friends, it’s time to find the witch within. They were never cruel or ill-intended. They were our best translators to the planet’s symbolic language of life. Spiritual, magical, unpredictable and completely at ease in complete obscurity, witches will help us figure out which fact to follow, just as they helped our earliest ancestors choose their hunting strategies in hidden caves, tens of thousands of years ago.
Follow your dreams. Surrender to your passions. Trust your hearts. The witch of wild wisdom within you will slowly emerge to guide you when everything else fails.