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ASK A WITCH-More than one way

This week's questions both represent different sides to similar things- Wicca and Witchcraft and Masculinity and Femininity. I like to think of our identities and experiences as a rainbow of possibilities, without the rigid structure of black and white.

I am curious about Wicca, I had reached out to a local coven, close to where I live....they said that since I was unknown to them and a man, I would have to start as a "channel slave." Do you know what that is? What do you think about that?

Might be Wiccan

Dear Might,

I must admit, I don’t know much about Wicca. Here’s what I do know: Wicca is an initiatory tradition, meaning that you must be initiated to call yourself a Wiccan and learn the secrets of the religion. Since I am not a Wiccan, I don’t know those secrets, but it is my understanding that Wiccans practice ceremony, ritual, and magic, and follow many (but not all) of the same concepts/beliefs/ideas of other pagan, earth-based traditions. Many people ignorantly conflate witchcraft with Wicca, but they are not the same thing. Simply put, Wicca is a religion and witchcraft is a practice. While there is certainly cross over, not all Wiccans identify as witches and not all witches are religious.

So, with all that said, let’s address the term “channel slave.” Personally, I am not comfortable with the idea of being a slave, but that’s just me. What’s important here is how it makes you feel. There is certainly power in the master/slave dynamic, and for many people it holds a lot of interest, meaning, even arousal. You have to trust your instincts on this one. If the idea of being initiated into a secret sect thrills you, and you like the idea of being a “channel slave” then I say go for it. There is no one right or wrong answer to anything; we must trust our intuition to choose the correct path for ourselves alone.

Is the concept of masculinity a problem or is it normal? I have been reading about toxic masculinity lately, a lot of women’s group labeling it as toxic, I have begun to examine my thoughts on the matter, how I feel and act.

Bad to be Manly?

Dear Manly

I’m glad to hear that you are examining your thoughts, feelings, and actions-that is an important first step towards deeper understanding. The concept of masculinity has certainly become problematic in this modern time, but I believe that there is much to be valued in the masculine, just as there is in the feminine- things are just so out balance right now. The women’s groups you speak of (men feel this way too!) are coming from a deep place of wounding-masculinity that has become “toxic” is contributing to corrupted power, war, rape culture, and violence on women and other marginalized groups.

To heal the broken system of patriarchy we must heal our relationship to the feminine as well as the masculine- acknowledging the value of each is key. There is nothing inherently toxic about the masculine, but, just as all things, when balance is lost then illness spreads. At it’s best masculinity is active, protective, logical, focused, strong, independent and disciplined. Femininity is intuitive, nurturing, compassionate, patient, creative, supportive, and receptive. It is important to note that women have masculine traits and men have feminine traits, and even these statements are coming from a gender binary that many don’t choose to adhere to (I’m simply using these terms to attempt simplicity and clarity).

My advice to you is to continue to become aware of the ways in which you, your community, and your culture are contributing to toxic masculinity, and take steps against it whenever you can. Stand up for others with less safety and privilege than yourself. Cultivate and nurture your feminine characteristics, and acknowledge and appreciate those traits in others. There is a long a twisted path ahead for all of us hoping to bring balance back to our world; we’ll be glad to have you on our side.

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