The week has been spent – wastefully – in arguments with the reality of my situation followed by defeat (rather than surrender). Reality always wins, no doubt about it. Things are the way they are, and to want them to be any other way right now is the path to insanity.
But I promised I’d write more about the witch archetype and here I am, on a Sunday afternoon, to make good on that (as an aside, today has been a good day – on a quest to change one little thing at a time I went to a different cafe to write my morning pages and had a chance encounter with a man who was my lover a few years back – Jim if you are reading this, seeing you today made me smile, so thanks. Yes, one small change does the trick.)
So – I’m picking up the broom again.
First of all, I want to make the distinction between my use of the word ‘witch’ and the practice of Wicca or any other earth-based (or hearth based – or even kitchen-based) spiritual discipline (yes I know I make jokes about brooms!). They are obviously related, but I make no value judgement on these.
Second, where I use the word shadow, likewise I am not making a value judgement – I’m using it as Jung and the alchemical psychologists do, to point towards some thing’s counterpart. But its not necessarily its opposite – more like a flip side to a coin, part of the whole – but not necessarily comprised of ‘half’ or even ‘equal’. But more about that later.
There are so many aspects to the Witch archetype, I can really only touch the surface of it. Marion Woodman has written a great deal about Her, mostly in relation to eating disorders, through the filter of her training and experience in Jungian analysis. From Woodman’s books the Still Unravished Bride, The Pregnant Virgin, and Addiction to Perfection, I learned a great deal about where the world’s fear and loathing of Mother stems from.
And, although Marion Woodman and I don’t see eye to eye about attaching the word ‘evil’ to Witch, or the ideological argument that Witch is the angry, wronged-by-patriarchy Medusa and must be ‘overcome’ or ‘slain’ by a Hero, she is right about this: Witch energy is the energy of the primal, dark, unknowable annihilating Earth. She is the beginning – the Magna Mater at her scariest. She is scarcity, drought, flood, disaster, dream-crocodiles and spiders. She must be drowned, burned, chased out by Light.
More, Witch is our deepest connection to the Great Mother, the First Mother, the first cell to come into being, the first thing to crawl out of the primordial soup – she is the primordial soup. Mother, Mater, Matter, Mer – the things we can see and touch, the sea, the ground beneath our feet. Witch is the part of Mother that shows us the decay that matter (that is, our flesh and blood) is subject to.
That’s why we are scared – inherent in ‘Mother’ is death. Implied by nurturing and abundance is abandonment and not enough.
In her guise as Medusa, Witch is said to turn us to stone. ‘Immobilised by fear’ is a term we are all familiar with. Unable to move, we small humans are vulnerable to time, nature and death.
Our inner Hero holds up a mirror to Medusa and she is stopped. We cheat time and death with our solar ways – our heroics and Resurrections. Christ is risen – we are immortal because of it. Ding Dong the Witch is Dead, we will all live, free from evil. The separation of Spirit and Matter, religious ideal of transcendence from the wicked flesh, Oedipal capitalism (there isn’t enough! We must grab our share! We must do anything to get our share! We must get what we can from the Earth – now!) , Patriarchy and the Problem of Mother (what I call mother-rage) are not separate issues.
OK, its a bit much to take in, and I’m in danger of turning this into a rant. There is so much more to add – but this is what I’d condense it down to, for now; Its not Witch or Mother, its both, and until these split-apart aspects can be recognised as inherent in each other and to each other, we will remain divided as humans and as a planet. Heroically overcoming the Witch is the same as overcoming Mother. Slay her, put away Mama. Cheat death, beat the price rises, and Mother earth – and Mum in the kitchen – will suffer.
If there is still a Mother Earth left for us after our infantile tantrums about how there isn’t enough of Her to go around.