A Note to Readers
This year for Pride Month, we're exploring connections between the 2SLGBTQIA+ community, neopaganism and witchcraft. We acknowledge that these explorations are not a complete picture of all of these connections, but we hope they can be a starting point for people to dive deeper and learn more about 2SLGBTQIA+ folks, queer magick, and spirituality.
We're also holding a contest to give away a $50 gift card to someone who read the blog and answers a few quiz questions about the content. Enter the contest by June 14, 2023 for your chance to win.
Neopaganism and secular spirituality encourage us to discover our own boldness. They allow us to be introspective and creative while taking our relationships with the world, the cosmos and ourselves into account. As modern society evolves to foster accessibility, inclusion, diversity and equity, our magickal lives transform through brilliant glow-ups to better possibilities!
Kelly-Ann Maddox, a talented tarot reader, witchy practitioner, author and YouTuber, highlights these changes brilliantly in her book, Rebel Witch.
"Witches are so varied in their experiences, lifestyles, preferences and capabilities ... I've avoided giving advice like, 'Physical movement is the best way to raise energy for magick,' which is kind of like telling those who can't move around much due to pain, injury or other circumstances that they're missing out on the top-shelf energy-raising stuff. It simply isn't fair or true to state that you need movement to get to the height of energetic potency." - Kelly-Ann Maddox, Rebel Witch (p. 2)
Take what resonates and leave the rest behind
When we are willing to consider the possibility of new perspectives and information, even though we don't commit to adopting everything we encounter, we can collect building blocks and use them to shape our paths. The beauty of "take what resonates and leave the rest behind" is that this mindset inevitably leads to collecting new and innovative ideas, as opposed to getting lost in our own echo chambers. In doing so, we cultivate richer, more exiting journeys than we ever could have dreamed.
Consider each word of the mantra. See it from many angles. Imagine the colours, the sounds, and the tastes it brings to your mind's eye. Take what resonates and leave the rest behind. It challenges you not to take too much - making your load too heavy and becoming tarot's 10 of wands. It requires introspection and self-understanding; knowing your values, goals, intentions and desires. This sentiment is the paradigm, the land and the foundation of an autonomous pagan practice. Somewhere to sink you roots in, and then grow.
My Best Friend's Exorcism
An example that's always resonated with me is the epic horror novel, My Best Friend's Exorcism by Grady Hendrix. In the story, the exorcism only works when you use the tools that resonate with you. For Abby, the book's hero and accidental amateur exorcist, that meant 80s pop music and soda rather than holy and bible verses.
If someone else's creed doesn't move your bailiwick, how can you expect the power to be as potent for you? Kelly-Ann Maddox highlights this beautifully when she writes, "Pack your workings with your personal symbolism and the results will speak for themselves." (Rebel Witch, p. 16).
Transformation of the self during an evolution to becoming a powerful practitioner does come with some necessary warning: self doubt. "When you decide to heavily personalize each aspect of your craft, you sacrifice the simplicity and clarity that comes from having a path already laid out and waiting for you." (Rebel Witch, p. 19). This can lead to insecurity or self doubt, a trying experience that can make you susceptible to the dogmas or gatekeeping of others.
Combat this with patience, critical thinking, and tapping into self-confidence to accept the learning curve.
"You'll need to keep pushing yourself to put your theories into practice and follow your curiosity instead of convincing yourself simply to imitate what someone else is doing. Don't forget that you can actually cast spells to help you develop more confidence and perform rituals to strengthen self-belief." (Rebel Witch, p. 21)
Get your hands dirty with practical spiritual work from spellcasting, ritual, divination, celebration, astral travel - you name it. When it comes to your magickal life, experimenting to find the things that add mystical punch to your personal exploration helps with self-transformation, and cultivating new perspectives to leap into new worlds in ways second-hand information could never provide.
A brilliant exercise in this realm comes from Misha Magdalene's book, Outside the Charmed Circle. An exercise titled "Interrogating Your Symbols" plays with your personal definitions of various concepts. To fully experience the alchemy at play in this exercise, check out Magdalene's book - they describe the reasoning behind the exercise like this: "The point of this exercise is to show that the ways in which we talk about things have values built into them, and when we change how we talk about these things, we change the values we associate with them." (Outside the Charmed Circle, p. 115).
Artistic Expressions for Activism
Art is a potent tool for expressing that which is divine and scared. Art functions as a tool for activism, creative expression, or even spellcasting. In the context of witchy folks belonging to the 2SLGBTQIA+ community, this is very prominent in the world of indie tarot, where creators, readers and artists create diverse and inclusive depictions in artwork and interpretations.
Many artists are now casting a vast sense of belonging from a discipline that was previously lacking in diversity. Modern decks speak to modern and nuanced scenarios. One of the most impassioned and eloquent writings I've come across on the topic of art, witches and the queer community is Queer Heresies: Witchcraft and Magic as Sites of Queer Radicality by Kevin Talmer Whiteneir Jr., a performer, interdisciplinary artist and historian. I encourage a deeper reading of the piece in full because it's so useful in alchemizing and charging both the mindset and the spirit.
"Witchcraft and queerness both represent forbidden knowledge and power in practice. This knowledge and power can mobilize marginalized peoples to disestablish restrictive cultural systems and, in their place, manifest realitites that extend the borders of prevailing hegemonic ideas." (Whiteneir, 2019).
Shifting The Lens of History
Aside from artistic expressions, empowerment through magic is an opportunity to shift the lens of history. What is a hero? What is a hero to you? What is a villain? What is a villain to you? Whiteneir says it beautifully:
"We must continue to provoke, refine and queer the ways we look at ourselves, our communities, and our position within these spaces, these histories, and these narratives. Not as victims, but as heretics, who are vilified by dominant discourses, but reframe their vilification to disassemble structures of power that would continue to subjugate us." (Whiteneir, 2019).
Sigils are one of the most important elements of personalized magick in modern day 2SLGBTQIA+ witchcraft. Whiteneir breaks down a sigil for Queer Heretics, we saw a beautiful one from Sidney Eileen in Queer Magick and Secular Spirituality, and many other neopagans, witches, secular spiritualists who identify as members of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community (both those with platforms, and those without a large following) use this powerful form of symbol craftingto provide a specialized glyph charged with their will. If you're brand new to magick and paganism, and you're looking for a way to start that feels authentic to you, you may consider starting with creating your own sigil.
Empowerment through magic means attuning to the queer lens of hermetic concepts. A great example is in Queer Qabala by Enfys J. Book, where they explore the concepts of the Tree of Life symbol of the Qabala as it relates to non-binary and genderfluid practitioners.
"Magick is inherently, intersectionally, gloriously queer: it's an anticapitalist approach to claiming power that is open to people of all genders, sexualities, races, physical abilities, ages and classes. In magickal practice, we realize that true power lies not within hierarchical power structures but within ourselves, the planet and the whole of the cosmos." (Queer Qabala, p. 43)
They later offer an exercise of creating your own Tree of Life. This exercise encompasses one of the most beautiful, empowering elements of a magickal and spiritual life: gifting your personal imprint. Leaving your own unique signature somewhere (however subtle) on the panorama of neopaganism and modern witch life is the gift you give yourself and the whole! Crafting an imprint that represents intersectionality, as we see with 2SLGBTQIA+ inclusion throughout paganism, is the added gift of posterity for all queer witches to come!