My personal blog as a 'grown-up' Goth and Romantic living in the Highlands of Scotland. I write about the places I go, the things I see and my thoughts on life as a Goth and the subculture. Sometimes I write about music I like and sometimes I review things. This blog often includes architectural photography, graveyards and other images from the darker side of life.

The Gothic subculture is not just about imitating each other, it is a creative movement and subculture that grew out of post-punk and is based on seeing beauty in the dark places of the world, and looks back to the various ways throughout history in which people have confronted and explored the macabre, the dark and the taboo, and as such I'm going to post about more than the just the standards of the subculture (Tim Burton, Siouxsie Sioux and Anne Rice et al.) and look at things by people who might not consider themselves anything to do with the subculture, but have eyes for the dark places. Goth should not be limited by what is considered "goth", inspiration comes from all places, the key is to look with open eyes, listen carefully and think with an open mind..

Sunday, 31 March 2013

Romanticism, Mysticism and Witchcraft

As I may have mentioned before, I am Neo-Pagan. For a while I was Wiccan, but these days I don't follow that path. I see my faith as more of a spiritual extension of my Romantic outlook than as religion, and the two are certainly intertwined in my thinking. First and foremost I am a pantheist with a strong regard for what I see as the intrinsic divinity of the Universe. I am not the sort to anthropomorphise my view of the divine - I don't believe in the personifications of the divine as various Gods and Goddesses, nor as a humanoid single God. To me the Earth, the sky, the sun, the moon the vastness of space - the universe, really - ARE God. To me the Divine is intrinsic, immanent, omnipresent in a literal way, not some transcendental being. 

The rocks providing a natural wall. Craig Phadrig, Inverness
I am not entirely sure on the consciousness of the Divine - the idea of one set of monolithic governing thought seems strange to me. I prefer the idea of the Universe being conscious of itself through its denizens rather than having its own separate consciousness. I think this belief in a sanctity of everything rather than a 'spirit' of everything is what differentiates me from an animist. 

Looking ponderous in the late evening.
These days I do still celebrate the eight major Neo-Pagan holidays, but I don't do so as a group. Sometimes I celebrate with a few friends, but I am not part of a Coven or anything similar. I go to the Pagan moots when I can though. To me, faith is mostly a private thing, which is why I am not really writing about it in any depth here. I have been asked before, so this post exists. I have never really felt the inclination to join a 'working group' or any Pagan equivalent to a Church. I'd much rather commune quietly in the forest. 

Lurking amongst the ferns.
I am not really into mythologising the world around me, hence my rejection of God and Goddess characters, and this extends into mythological creatures. While I do believe in the existence of beings that people might consider 'supernatural' and have encountered things that would commonly be termed ghosts, I don't like categorising any such encounters and experiences into the usual mythological taxonomy of angels, fae, demons and suchlike. Partly this is because I like to keep an open mind about what happened, and while I like the 'supernatural' explanations, I know I have no definitive proof of that or any other explanation, and not categorising what happened is part of how I try not pigeon-hole and look upon these experiences narrowly. 

Hiding behind a tree.
I get categorised as a Witch, but I don't like the word - it has too many fantasy-world connotations of flying brooms and turning people into frogs and talking animals and suchlike. I also don't like being called a psychic, as I am no good at 'seeing' the future or any form of pre-cognition, and am also no medium. I do practice what gets termed 'magic' or 'magick' but it is more like a prayer to the universe or or a very exacting wishing than pointing a wand and expecting pyrotechnics and miraculous instantaneous change. I have no idea how magick works, but in my experience I consistently get what I try for, so I will continue to believe in its existence. Don't try requesting spells from me - I won't do them. I know I might be wrong about the existence of magick and that a lot of people think it's hooey, but really, if it doesn't exist all I've done is waste a few moments of time and the cost of a few coloured candles that I'd have probably bought anyway because I like decorating with candles. 

Watching birds above.
The only thing that bugs me is people who assume I am a Witch because as a Romantic Goth I look a LOT like a stereotypical witch, just minus the pointy hat. I even have a lot of silver 'occult' jewellery and a black cat, and I am a walking cliche, but there are a lot of other Goths who look a lot like me who are Christians, Atheists, Agnostics, Jews, Muslims, etc. etc. and while that assumption might be right with me, the version of 'Witch' they are assuming is going to have a lot more to do with Harry Potter or Charmed than Wicca or Neo-Paganism. 

The photographs have nothing to do with me being Neo-Pagan or witchy other than I'm wandering around a forest and wearing a zodiac necklace and pentagram rings; I just wanted an excuse to use them for something. I guess in some ways they reinforce that stereotypical image of the witch - and yes, they were inspired by Morgan La Fey - but this is also a lot of just how I am and how I look like on a day-to-day basis; I wear that medieval-fantasy dress as a summer dress, that is my favourite wig and I love wearing lots of jewellery. Yes, I do like the aesthetic of the stereotypical witches and sorceresses, that fantasy archetype that gets oft recycled, but that's more part of me being Goth than of me being a Witch. I know more earthy nature-loving Hippy Witches than Goth ones, and I know as many male Witches as female, too. 

All photographs are by Raven, although he doesn't think they are his best. The low light levels were tricky, but trying to do this shoot was an educational experience. Spooky colour-changes and other such post-production was done by me as an exercise in being more artistic with Photoshop. 

10 comments:

  1. Well balanced as always and I agree on several points. I know many witches who definitely don't match the pointy hat and broomstick brigade. I also agree that "Witch" has definitely got a bad reputation over the centuries. The photos are excellent as always, from what I remember the lighting was awful. Really like the treatment given them although I can see why Raven doesn't like them. Gives you guys an excuse to go and play and try again.

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    1. The lighting was beautiful from a nature appreciation perspective, but terrible from a photography perspective. I know I certainly wouldn't have a clue on how to capture it beautifully, and I think Raven did a great job.

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  2. I think the nearer you live to nature the more you feel that connection. It's different in the cities and rituals really help people there connect with all that. I feel I need to connect more with the universe, and am thinking of trying to do some small magic to get in touch with that. I believe very strongly that there is magic in the world, it helps me get by all the awfulness. I also find magic in reading and writing. I do believe in the fae and other creatures, but some might say it's just because I am a writer with an overactive imagination!

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    1. Personally, I believe there is more to this world than science has yet described and understood, and also that something does not become any less magical because we understand how it works. I know how night and day happen, why there are solstices and the Northern Lights, why there are eclipses, etc. They are still magical to me, though.

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  3. Oh and this was a very intelligent and thought provoking blog post, and I think it came at an apt time for me, as mentioned above! So thanks!

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    1. Thankyou - "intelligent and thought provoking" is highest praise to me :)

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  4. Thank you for another inspiring blog post. I agree with a lot of what you've put down here and feel that any differences are more a matter of definition than anything else. To me, the important thing is that we keep pondering and intuiting these questions of existence. The answers we receive are often intensely personal.

    I love the photos. You really seem to be in your element when in the woods.

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    1. Away from the majority of the human race, surrounded by nature in all its beauty - that is probably where I am happiest.

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  5. me too? Really, while my disjointed spirituality came eons before I accepted my darker calling I am 100% panentheist and equally 100% Goth. Though admittedly I have a fondness for religious kitsch of many sorts, from "Holy Water" to Saint 7-day candles and even rosaries,

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    1. Christianity has, over the centuries, found many ways for the faithful to express devotion, or focus their prayers, especially the various Catholic traditions around the world. I used to go to Catholic church, and I was always fond of candles, incense, the lives of saints, and the way various buildings always seemed to me like the architects were trying to build a representation of their vision of heaven.

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