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who knows what you are?

August 20, 2011

I read Hecate Demeter’s post yesterday that asked if there is any evidence that you are following your life’s purpose, and if there is such evidence, who can testify about it on your behalf?

What would your landbase say? What would your watershed say? Do they know that you’re a Witch by what you do? Do they know who you are? Have you spent enough time in relationship with them for them to be sure? Do they know your Name? Do they have any evidence of your purpose?

Hecate herself sees her life purpose as being the Witch she is, and she asserts that her watershed and its denizens would identify her that way. The more I think about that premise, the more curious, troubling, and/or improbable I find it.

The first problem I thought of was that you would have to be popular with a majority of denizens in your watershed, which seems unlikely in the extreme. What sorts of behaviors are your neighbors supposed to be looking for? If one of your neighbors is a deer, or an oak tree, or an earthworm, how do they evaluate the behavior of a human woman who is not a Witch? And how do they then evaluate Hecate’s behavior, and discern her Witchery? What if they agree she’s a Witch, but they don’t think she’s a very good one?

That got me thinking about my own nonhuman neighbors. Will I be asked to sit in judgment on them? Given how many millions of nonhuman denizens there are in my watershed, I am likely surrounded by beings who may well be witches (or the functional equivalent) in their own culture. But how would I know? When I feel I’ve made a connection with a nonhuman neighbor, are they more likely to be a witch, a shaman, or just someone comfortable walking between worlds? Do nonhumans have spirit animals that might be human beings? Are they individuals — human beings they actually know — or are they idealized, or archetypes?

I had an experience two years ago where I “communed” with a boulder beside a river, and for a timeless moment, found myself invited to share in the rock’s perception of the passage of time. It was entirely different than human time. Now I’m wondering if perhaps that rock was a shaman, or the equivalent.

What can we expect to be known by? And whom is doing the knowing?

To my nonhuman neighbors, perhaps I am just a human who likes their company.

I think what I’m getting at is that I have an inner sense of what I’m doing, and why, and what it means to me. I have shared that with a trusted friend or two. And I don’t have much practice with anybody paying much attention to me at all. But I don’t think that it necessarily follows that I’ve never done anything worth notice. And if witches, shamans, and Pagans walk in liminal spaces, dealing with what is seen and unseen, can we fairly expect a sufficiency of others to know what we are doing? I don’t think we can, but I don’t think that’s a problem either. We each do what we can, when we can, how we can.

I’m grateful to Hecate for giving me an intriguing new way to consider my neighbors.

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