Sometimes people don't like you.
Happy New Year, Misfit Magickals! We’re starting the year with Deep Beginner posts for your education and enjoyment. Diana is, as she does, beginning with how we think about witchcraft and magick as the foundation for success in spellcasting. So we’re starting 2024 with an absolute beginner’s mind on witchcraft and answering some of the really uncomfortable questions many people fear saying out loud. I am beginning with one of the earliest and toughest questions.
Are people going to not like you if you embrace this practice?
Yes, some people aren’t going to like you, and occult practices will be the excuse. Certain people get pretty into the idea of power over, and they use their religions and the moving goalposts of social acceptability as a way of keeping people under control and afraid to shine all the time. Certain types of Christians do this (you can spot them by the convenient-to-themselves out-of-context Biblical quotes, just like you can spot the decent Christians in part by the absence of such manipulation), and you will also encounter, at times, other witches playing the power-over game, too.
These people are part of the process of recognizing and claiming not just their power but also their inner freedom. In witchcraft, we talk a lot about the power side - but that freedom side really doesn’t seem to be getting developed as much as it could. Yet disengaging with a need for approval is one of the most effective ways to be powerful.
Part of being human is having people dislike you. Literally, every human being has someone who does not like them, and as far as I can tell, that’s the universe balancing something somewhere.
It is okay for people to dislike you. If the right people dislike you, that’s probably good. Some people will have a superstitious reaction to you practicing the Nameless Art and start telling you you’re going to summon demons by shuffling tarot cards and that you’re condemned to hell. It doesn’t matter that history, physics, and science do not support their insistences, and it matters less that their knowledge stops at what some megachurch pastor said about the occult to get them riled up and throwing money into that October tithe pool.
Here’s the next layer of those exhortations:
Some of you will hear a voice whisper, “Maybe they’re right.”
Depending on your personality, you might shrink and avoid these people. You might fight back loudly, especially if you have trauma from the particular church you were raised in - sadly, the louder the shout, the louder the doubts. Shouting down the people who disagree with you shows low confidence. If you’re feeling strong in your choice, you generally don’t feel the need to be self-protective.
That reality is why there are so many anti-LGBTQ+ male senators and pastors forever getting caught in Twin Cities airport bathrooms engaging with attractive young men.
Why do I bring up this uncomfortable question?
Most of the people who read our blog were acculturated in the US to the heavy and complicated Christian culture - so much so that even though most of us were raised Christian, most of us don’t even know that Christianity itself is not a monolith. Christians don’t believe all the same things. A certain loud, “power over” subset likes to exhort all sorts of “facts” about concepts they know little or nothing about because of a distorted belief that spiritual authority on the Christian way of going about things is an authority on all aspects of existence, even people that aren’t participating in that particular religion in that particular way.
Yes, certain specific people will dislike you just because you practice witchcraft. If you’re a people pleaser or crave approval, that need can make you vulnerable.
It may prompt you to all sorts of unhealthy compromises and boundary violations. To practice witchcraft in a healthy way that enriches your life, it’s a good idea to have matured past needing approval or attention from your parents or peers. Getting to that point takes an enormous amount of inner work, and it isn’t the sort of thing that can be resolved with a spell and some light shadow work. As you move forward, you may need sometimes to circle back when your emotions get stirred and ask yourself if you are in some way approval-seeking, whether from other witches, your family, or a partner.
Every so often, even I wish everyone liked me.
What helps me when I have those moments is to remember that I don’t like everyone, and the people I dislike, I dislike for a damn good reason based on how that person treats people. So, mostly, I dislike the people who are already jerks. I’m the angelic half of the misfit magick duo at Golden Apple, so my like and dislike parameter being morality-based should surprise no one. Your asshole tolerance barometer may be and likely is entirely different from mine, and that is genuinely okay.
If you’re in an internal or external situation where you feel called to the Craft but you also feel shut down by social pressure, the broom closet is a valid option. There are plenty of ways to practice magick that require no tools whatsoever. (Yes, I am aware as a witchy shop blog, that’s a dangerous thing to say. Please note I am NOT saying all witchcraft education and products should be free, and I almost died of burnout from buying into that exploitative bullshit, so we aren’t doing or saying that at all anymore.) You do not have to talk about witchcraft with anyone in your circle if you don’t want to.
Golden Apple Witchy Exercise: the Protection Circles
You will need:
a piece of paper
You might even want to add this exercise to any personal journal or book of shadows you might be building.
On the paper, list your social groups and connections by general category. For example, “Work and Coworkers, Family at Home, Extended Family, Scrabble Group.”
On another paper, sketch a small circle in the center of the page and write your name. Then, allowing your intuition to guide you, hold one of those categories in mind and picture sharing with them whether you want to discuss your spiritual endeavors. Drop a dot closer to or farther from you at the center, and draw a circle in that region.
As you look at the page, you’ll be able to see where you have a sense of trust with something so vulnerable about yourself, and you’ll see who you want and need more distance from around this subject.
On a third sheet of paper, again draw the small circle at the center with your name on it. Draw three more concentric circles expanding out from the center.
Ask yourself, “Who should I absolutely not tell about this?” Write the names that pop up in your mind on the outer circles, using your intuition to show you the level of distance you need.
Then ask yourself, “Who can I trust with this?” Drop those names in the center.
For some of you, there won’t be anyone whose name you can safely drop close to yourself. You have our empathy, and you are welcome to join our online community as a fill-in until such a time as you have something healthy built up for yourself locally.
You may want to practice this exercise again whenever your social groups change - it may be enlightening and a great map for sidestepping drama when possible.
Want to join our Island of Misfit toys? Come hang out with us in our Facebook group Under the Golden Apple Tree. (https://www.facebook.com/groups/960679994877279) Ask questions, share what you’ve learned, have folks group fact-check and have a good time!
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