K is for Know Thyself

I don’t know why I feel like tackling this topic today more than any other topic. I was going to write about Kom Ombo, but I feel that’s better placed as a subpage about Sobek’s history and His Cult centres (that requires more research than I can currently do right now).

I feel like writing about ‘know thyself’ is the most pointless thing in the world. Other people have talked about it and written about it probably better than I will. I also feel some of what knowing yourself means involves what’s known as shadow work, delving inside yourself to meet that shadow and embrace your whole self. For me, it’s internal work, and has nothing to do (much) with external presentation or ‘just being myself’. I find that … too shallow, at least for me. It’s not as simple as that, otherwise it wouldn’t be so important. I don’t know if this was ever the intended Greek meaning of the maxim (I’ve read a few different interpretations but I’m not well-read enough to know which is the most accurate), but it’s how I approach it, and how I think many modern Pagans approach it too.

I don’t think there is an end point either, when it comes to this process. I don’t think it’s that kind of work. It’s a continual process in which you are constantly seeking to ensure you know yourself, to know what you are and what you’re capable of, which I think is a lot deeper than it appears by just writing it here.

To know yourself, as a Pagan, Witch, or Magician, is knowing your power, but also about knowing when you’re in over your head. Knowing your power, having confidence in your magic, and that it sits right with you. That’s also part of it. It’s like how Granny Weatherwax operates, that knowing when to cast magic, and when headology is the much better option. Knowing how to cast is just as important as knowing when you should cast, and when mundane options are going to be more effective.

I’ve got this far, at least. I cast magic without even a second thought that it might not work. I am incapable of my believing magic will not work. Which is why I think I am more gifted at magic than more vague and abstract blessings and rituals. Magic is concrete and works. Ritual… is less clear. Recognising magic as a strength, and ritual as perhaps not as much of a strength, is part of knowing myself. Knowing that perhaps magic is a better tool for dealing with this problem than some sort of rite. This is why I am a witch. Magic is my gift. It is time to foster that, and accept this part of my path.

It’s taken me a long time to get to this point, though. I was Wiccan, then I wandered off into pure(ish) Kemetic Paganism, before I was called back to witchcraft again. I always had trouble with ritual. I’m not very good with very ritualised things; I find them too complicated for my very practical nature. I like my rituals to get to the point, and don’t muck about with airy-fairy nonsense. Magic is much more ‘to the point’ than ritual is, at least if I’m aiming to cast magic.

Ritualised magic is, for me, not very useful. Too much unnecessary stuff. I don’t cast circle, I don’t invoke Gods (unless it’s called for), and most of the time, I can be done in under five minutes. That’s how I like casting magic, and I have no time for complicated spells or rites that require fussing about with circles or Certain Ways Of Doing Things. I don’t do much energy work either, or visualisation. I kind of just… do it, and somehow it still works. The act of doing the spell, of casting magic, is enough. Perhaps I am one of those witches who believes in the inherent magic in herbs, stones, ribbons, colours, etc, and doesn’t need to be added by me.

I think part of my hesitation in claiming the title of ‘witch’ was because for so many people, witches are women. They are female. And being genderqueer, I found it hard to accept witch as what I am. So I searched for other more gender-neutral terms, like wizard or magician. But they never worked, not as well as witch does. They carried implications that I didn’t necessarily agree with, or wanted to have associated with me and my path.

But I feel better now that I’ve made peace with myself. I made peace with being a genderqueer witch. I got there by accepting that witchcraft is something you do, and mine is not religious or belongs to a tradition. It is a magical practice, and that makes me a witch. Whatever else my path entails, I am still a witch. It is another step along the path of knowing myself, even if there is no end to this path. I don’t think the end point is important anyway. The journey is what makes it important. The more you practice the Craft, and the more you come to know who you are and what you can and can’t do, the more you come to know the mysteries of this maxim.

0 thoughts on “K is for Know Thyself

  1. I really enjoyed reading this! I also love the fact that someone else doesn’t particularly care for rituals- I just don’t feel comfortable doing them- I’m a lot like you that if I want to do something I just do it- I don’t cast a circle (I’ve done it a couple times but feel silly- usually I just imagine I’m sitting in a bubble). I loved reading this post!

    1. Hey, thanks. 🙂 I can do rituals in a devotional religious context, but not in a magical one. I don’t have space to cast circle anyway even if I wanted to do so, so I’ve never bothered after the first couple of attempts back when I first started out over a decade ago. I’m sure it works for some, but it just doesn’t work for me. I’m too much of a folk magician to care for the trappings of ritual just to cast magic. Cast it and get on with life, that’s my preferred way of working. 🙂

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