Author’s note: This article covers topics of mental health, and emotional and physical abuse.
If it wasn’t for the secret societies of womxn, I wouldn’t have gotten out of an abusive relationship; I wouldn’t have found my power; I wouldn’t have befriended my femininity; I wouldn’t have found myself.
Sometimes you have to be put in a box in order to discover the core of your truth, the meaning of connection, and to find your own fucking sanity.
In 2013, I had “fallen in love” with a fellow student. He was charming, witty, magnetic, with an attractive accent, but what began as a passionate and romantic partnership, twisted into something ominous and possessive. I put “fallen in love” in parentheses because I had never been shown what that really looks and feels like.
He charmed his way into my life by showing up as a “safe” person. I had a stalker at the time, and he took action making sure I was protected. He made me feel seen in a room full of people, when I had always been the wall flower. He would walk me to and from class, even after he’d graduated (a full year before me). However, within 3 months his monster began to show.
On a weekly basis, my ex would accuse me of cheating on him – even with his closest friends, although he never questioned them or their loyalty. When this happened, his voice would change into threatening tones. His body language turned to action; action that kept me in place for his comfort. What had once been acts of chivalry, quickly became tactics of control.
I quickly became confused and resorted to fawning in states of crisis and conflict – thanks C-PTSD. As a result of compounding childhood trauma, I only ever knew how to appease an abuser. So, that’s what I did: I appeased him. I burned every detail of his needs, wants and demands, into my mind and obliged so I didn’t have to endure his abuse. I’d swallow the pain, try to fight back in minor moments of courage…but in the end he always prevailed.
I want to take a moment to address the all impending question most people ask victims of abuse:
“Why did you stay?”
I can’t speak for other survivors, but this question is immensely triggering to me. I didn’t stay. I fled him, in my mind, EVERY. FUCKING. DAY. Growing up I didn’t have the tools modeled to me on how to run, avoid, or defend myself against a violent person. It was actually the opposite. My lack of leaving was only due to not knowing how to. And in my unknowing, he held power.
What I mean by that is, he would tell me I was nothing without him that I was never going to find someone who would “put up” with me, and especially my “sensitivity” or my “emotions”. Additionally, no man would tolerate my “lack of sexual libido/desire” (even though I catered to his needs at least once a day, regardless of my own…)
When you’re missing the voice in your head that tells you, “HE’S SO FUCKING WRONG! RUN,” you’re at risk of believing your abuser. If it wasn’t demonstrated to you in your environment growing up, you’re at risk of believing your abuser.
And that’s exactly what happened to me.
During my time with this man, rules were implemented, leading to my prohibition of consuming anything by male artists: listening to music or reading books by men , taking classes or working with/alongside men.
I think it’s obvious to assume that, no, I was ‘unable’ to have male friends as well.
Hear me out, the positives are coming…
So, being cut off from the largest percentile of the world, as it caters to those I could not engage with (aka men), that left me with what?
The modern world as we know it was created by men, for men. I grappled with that for years. Then, in a hysteria, I opened my laptop and began googling books by womxn, music by womxn, and womxn-led anything *great resources to come* Suddenly, as if a magickal goddess was sent forth to guide me, I stumbled upon a very small Facebook group called the Wild Women Sisterhood.
Timid, broken, and desperate, I contemplated clicking that little blue “join” button. All my worries, insecurities, and shame that I’d collected since the innocence of childhood flooded my entire being. But, a force beyond myself – maybe my higher self – gently encouraged my index finger to click down. And just like that, I was one of the wolves in the pack of wild, unapologetic, sexually empowered, earthly womxn.
I learned about herbology, botany, moon phases, astrology, rewilding, free bleeding (and other menstruating-related empowerment), the many types of divination, sexual femxle power, spiritual vs religious theologies, intention and manifestation as an energy. But the greatest lesson was discovering that the collective suffering of these womxn, and their will to break through their pain, brought the power of community, and the raising-up of each fellow whoa-men.
Now how does this pertain to witchcraft?
This. Is. Witchcraft.
I began dabbling in certain teachings from within this incredible group – those teachings I now know to be magick. One being candle magick.
During this particular spell, I also incorporated Moonology (another word for moon magick).
So, on a full moon I sat at my desk looking out a large window that faced East, which gave the most beautiful view of the glowing, full moon. Behind me sat my keeper. He was fully entranced by a video game, wearing large, sound-canceling headphones.
Now was my chance to try something. Anything. If I was going to believe in this, I needed proof! Like many of us, we rarely jump into the unknown with both feet – especially when it’s backfired in the past.
So this was my attempt at proof – that the universe, the all knowing, God(s), Goddess(es), whatever you call it/them, had my back.
I had a tealight candle sitting in front of me with the lightest, unwavering flame. So still. I had a few tumbled crystals that I’d hoped would amplify the energy of my spell. I began to write my wish, my manifestation, my ask for guidance on a small strip of paper:
Please provide me with the means to be happy
To have everything I desire and need
Regardless of what needs to be set free
At the time I wasn’t a self-declared witch, so I didn’t end it with “So mote it be” or any of the other famous phrases, but my intention was true. I took one more glance up at the moon, and hoped for some response. I don’t know what…maybe an eye would appear and she’d wink at me?
The final step in this spell was to place the note into the flame. I was never told what could happen, what might happen, or what the transfer was supposed to look like. All I expected was the flame to consume the paper, as flames do…
Anywho, I dropped the note into the tiny, unwavering flame of that tealight candle and in a split second the flame shot up two feet high!
I was terrified thinking my curtains would catch fire and this whole thing would end with me having burned the house to the ground…
But as quickly as it shot up, it simmered back to an unwavering, still flame. So still. All that was left of my note were the smallest, fewest pieces of ash.
I hadn’t realized till seconds later that my keeper had thrown his headphones off and was yelling in fear, asking what I’d just done. Easing his mind, like gently rocking a baby back to sleep, I withheld what felt like a shift in me.
The weeks and months following, I began picking up momentum creatively, and he was acting as stones tied to the bottoms of my feet. His usual antics continued, but at an amplified level. I couldn’t go to set (film set) without him knowing exactly who would be there, what scenes I was doing. I couldn’t work at my side job at a ski resort, because I worked alongside a man- and in his mind we were fucking from 9-5. It was exhaauussttiinngg. I couldn’t keep up with soothing his fragility.
I couldn’t keep fighting for my respect, dignity, and for the truth every moment of every day! I needed to be free of him, physically- always looking over my shoulder- as well as mentally and emotionally.
I checked into the Wild Women Facebook page daily. Reading similar stories, finding examples of courageous womxn who found the strength to leave, and even continued absorbing content on how to continue empowering myself through magick and connection to nature … So a few weeks later, I told him he needed to leave – this wasn’t the end of our relationship, but I knew it was the beginning of the end…
Within two years of its existence, the Wild Women Sisterhood, a group that started off with a handful of members, grew to a community of thousands. Unfortunately, by that time its moderators and leader, Ali Schueler, decided it had shifted away from what it was meant to be. Conflicting opinions, and societal based shaming of womxn on how we try to manage through this patriarchal bullshit became more of an occurrence than that of an uplifting, empowering movement.
Sadly, nothing good can last forever. From time to time, I still look in on some of the members, those that have remained available on social platforms. I will never forget those womxn, and the incredible courage they unsheathed for me. I am a solitary practitioner, but interestingly enough, my journey began in a coven…
That was my gateway to Witchcraft and Radical Self-Acceptance.
What I learned, in summary, on witchcraft that led to my freedom:
- Having support (especially the support of womxn) allowed me to express myself freely, and to also hear my voice for the first time. I connected with womxn who were going through similar experiences, and I heard my voice within them too. It’s a powerful tool in recovery, and also when you’re in the deepest parts of the mud, their voices will be the ones that tell you “Don’t stop, you’ll drown. Keep going!”
- Connecting with nature. I used the elements of nature to become in tune with my own needs, desires, wishes…and learned how important it is to set intentions with everything you do. The Universe, Goddesses, Gods, etc. are listening. If you show them/it what you desire most, it will remove the rest. This formed my spirituality. Which also connects me to my…
- Femininity/womanhood. This isn’t exclusive to those who are Female by Sex, everyone has access, and should have access, to the energy of womanhood. It affects us every fucking day. My abuser was using my womanhood as a weapon against me, and as a result, I learned how to use it against him. I didn’t realize until much later how terrified he was of my womanness. Of womanness, PERIOD. The thing is, we aren’t weapons. Our bodies aren’t weapons. Through understanding, connecting, and (still working on) befriending my womanhood, I have had to unlearn these old, bad habits.
- The Patriarchy needs to fall. Like, yesterday.
- Witchcraft is about healing, creating, exploring… and it’s FEMINIST AS FUCK.
To be continued…
Till then, stay spooky, friends.
Bronté, The Essential Witch
The Whisper Coven
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