As a child, I used to spend hours playing under two paper birch trees that were at the top of my grandparent's yard. They towered in the autumn, covering everything underneath a delicate blanket of golden leaves. However, summer was when they were alive for me. The air was always filled with the sound of singing birds, buzzing bees, croaking frogs, and the chattering of my friends.

As I played under the trees, I found myself constantly chatting with the fae that I believed lived within their branches. I spent my days building fairy houses, leaving them offerings of blooming wildflowers, which included roses, snap dragons, and irises,  as tokens of my appreciation for their company. I was a loner as a kid, and a bit eccentric even then.

The birch trees were always the perfect setting for these childhood times. Their slender trunks and peeling paper bark looked like it had been fashioned by fairies' hands. The rustling of their leaves was like a whisper in the wind, a quiet reminder of the magic and mystery that surrounds us every day.

Even now, as an adult, I still feel a sense of peace and wonder when I am in the presence of the birch trees. They remind me of the magic and mystery that I felt as a child, and I can't help but think of the fairy friends that I used to talk to in their branches. For me, the birch trees will always be a reminder that the world is full of wonder and that there's magic to be found in everything, even in the trees that stand tall above us.

Later in my life I was standing in a home that was next to a cow field. There are rumors of fairy lights in the fields of Rogersville and though I had never seen them, I did see something else.

I was standing in my living room one day, when the air changed around me. I was looking out the back window when I saw a boy, dressed in clothes that looked like they were from the 1800s, walking fast up through my back yard. Then the strangest thing happened. It was almost as if time slowed down and sped up at the same time. I saw my hair floating in front of me with the breeze and I could hear the caterpillars, that I kept for my frog, chewing. There was a chiming noise.  I just knew that boy was part of the fae, and for some reason, he was at my home, in my yard.  

All summer I knew there was a troop in the field next to our home. My neck hair would prickle when I worked the garden. I began putting fruits, vegetables,  and herbs, including mugwort, as offerings,  in the field. I wanted to show my respect and admiration for the fairies, and to let them know that they were welcome.

As summer faded into fall, the magic continued to grow. I felt a deep sense of connection to the world around me, and a renewed sense of wonder at the mysteries of the universe. Though I never quite knew what the fairies wanted from me, I felt honored to have made contact with them and to have been blessed with their presence. For me, the field next to my home and the mysterious boy in my backyard will always be reminders that the world is full of magic and wonder, and that there is still so much left to discover beneath the surface of our everyday lives. 

Around the same time, my art and my page picked up momentum, it seemed to come out of nowhere, like I had been blessed. That was almost 8 years ago, and I remember the odd sensation of it all like it was yesterday. I've never written about these publicly before, because I always felt like they were for me, and that I didn't need to, nor did I want to. I have told a couple of friends, and I wrote about the trooping fae as a response for a witchcraft class that I took last year. 

Which brings me to what happened on my page, just a few days ago. I wanted to write a blog to address this, even though I did write a blurb on my page. I felt like I didn't say everything that I needed to say. Because quite simply the way that I was attacked over mugwort, was categorically ridiculous. 

Throughout history, witches have often been viewed as outsiders, and many have chosen to work alone or in small, close-knit groups. The witchcraft way of life is often about exploration, curiosity, and self-discovery, rather than adhering to societal norms or religious dogma. 

For many, witchcraft is a personal practice, and each individual witch makes their own decisions about what works best for them. They may work with certain deities, spirits, or energies or maintain a particular herbal practice that resonates with them. The freedom to experiment, to find what works for each individual, and to work on their own in their way, away from societal norms, is a core tenant of the witchcraft path.

Witches attacking other witches for the way they practice goes directly against the practice of witchcraft, which proponents respect and honour individual freedom and choice. Witchcraft is an extremely personal practice, and it is critical that each individual has the right to follow their path in their unique way. Unfortunately, jealousy and insecurity can cause some witches to lash out at others who don't practice the same way. This can include telling them that they 'aren't "real" witches or that their way of practicing is 'wrong' or 'inferior. However, it is essential to recognize that witchcraft is not an exclusive club, and there is no one right way to practice. It is instead a diverse community that embraces different philosophies, traditions and paths, and anyone who practices can have a place in this broad group. Ideally, witches should encourage one another to experiment and explore the complexities of witchcraft trusting in mutual respect and recognition, whether or not they agree with each other's personal approaches.

Sending or allowing followers to attack someone because they go against the status quo or go against the beliefs of the group is not only wrong, but it's also dangerous. Unfortunately, this is a scenario that has played out across history, and particularly in times where those in power to wield their influence over others to manipulate and control them. The fear that the unconventional beliefs or actions of others will threaten a particular worldview or way of life can often lead to the rejection and even violence against those who resist. This sort of behavior can stem from the desire for power, control and to preserve the status quo of a group, rather than respect individual freedom and diversity of thought.

In general, it is imperative to respect other people's viewpoints, choices, and individual freedom of choice. A diverse population presents opportunities for growth; different perspectives and experiences enrich communities and human progress. People should judge someone based on their own conduct before criticizing others with different approaches.

It is crucial to note that the traditional witchcraft philosophy does not involve judging, attacking, or attempting to suppress another's spirituality or beliefs. Unfortunately, history has shown that witch hunts perpetrated by Christians in the past wrongfully accused and persecuted people that were simply different. And while it is true that some witches practicing today have faced discrimination and prejudice within society, this is not a reason to engage in the same behavior against others. Engaging in witch hunts, based on the beliefs of an individual,  serves only to limit individual human freedom, suppress diversity, and create tension in society. Witch hunts send a clear message of intolerance and can enable a level of superiority and disrespect for those who have different beliefs. It's crucial that everyone, witch or not, resist being a part of a witch hunt mentality, and instead, embrace difference, diversity and co-existing as strongly empowered individuals.

The ideas of Witchcraft written down throughout history hold a critical place in understanding the origins and evolution of the witchcraft path. However, it's essential to recognize that older information or historical books do not automatically hold more truth, wisdom, or credence than more modern ideas or 'personal gnosis.' While it can provide rich and valuable insights, anyone who practices must be willing and able to examine and adapt the ideas they find within historical literature according to their personal insights and contemporary perspectives. Being an active part of a tradition that follows a particular set of guidelines is understandable. In contrast, a significant facet of the Witchcraft way of life is being free to create and develop your unique practice. Witchcraft includes a lot of experimentation and exploration pursuing ways of creating meaning and nurturing growth through personal insight and connection, beyond the dated limits of historical or traditional texts. The concept of developing one's personal practice is learning from any available source rather than following any one particular view strictly.

Folklore and tales of yore are fascinating and can provide valuable insights into cultural perspectives, but it is important to remember that they were not written by sky gods in UFOs that arrived and told us to adhere to them like our lives depend on it. Like my friend Andrea said, "Rowan crosses ward witches, and I have the one that you made for me in my home."

Storytelling has always been an essential part of human culture, used as a way of understanding and interpreting the world around us. Fairy tales, legends, myths, and folklore all grew and evolved out of a sense of community, illustrating shared symbolism and expressing a collective understanding of the natural world. These stories provide an initial framework that we can pursue, offering new insights into growth and self-discovery, but they are not the end-all-be-all of witchcraft philosphy or spirituality.

It's worth understanding that any historical religious or spiritual belief that started as a personal gnosis or personal sacred revelation. It is incredible to note that almost all historical religions, when tracing back to their origin point, grew as a result of individuals experiencing a vision or personal epiphany that became foundational to their beliefs. These served as driving forces for the new religious path, which helped in shaping entire societies and cultures. With this in mind, it's vital for anyone who identifies as a witch to respect and acknowledge the personal gnosis of others, considering it from the start that these personal insights may be forerunners of emerging paradigms. Adeptly rebuffing such beliefs with dismissive tones or resistance serves only to limit ideas and prospects that could conceivably become a launchpad for something fresh or constructively new. It is necessary to cultivate an attitude of openness, curiosity, and respect towards one another's spiritual journey so we can learn from diverse influences to nurture new ideas collectively.

It's important to recognize that there may be situations where you don't agree or connect with someone else's approach to witchcraft practice. When this happens, it's vital to remind oneself of an essential aspect of witchcraft philosophy: that no one has any right to attack or persecute another person's spiritual beliefs or practices strictly because they don't understand or don't prefer them. Every witch is unique, and each has a different way of approaching and practicing their craft. As a result, not everyone is going to like or agree with the approach taken by others, and this is perfectly okay. We need to strive to ensure we stay mindful of our responses and reactions in such situations. It's very easy to apply the rule of "If you don't have anything kind or constructive to say, say nothing. Scroll on by," respond without cruelty, attack, or shrill condemnation. A Witchcraft path that upholds respect and kindness as prime values should seek instead to celebrate diversity, ensure equitability of opinions, and honor individuals' freedom of choice.