Want a bit of context for this post? Listen to me reading the email I sent out to my subscribers last week to prime the pump for this. If you like what you hear, you can get in on this action by entering your email in the red box to the right.
“Can you tell me more about this witchy stuff?” she asked.I stood in front of the audience of women that had gathered for my Unscripted evening and marveled privately at how far I had come since my days of 360 feedback tools, personality profile training, and curriculum development steeped in behavioral science.
If the twenty-something version of myself had been in that audience that night, hearing me say what I said, she would have rolled her eyes, but secretly she would have also leaned in, hungry for what I had to say about all that “stuff.”
The woman who asked the question had been following my work for years and was earnest in her desire to hear my experience. Like me, she had a background in consulting and had spent most of her professional life leveraging her abundance of masculine energy to gain recognition and make a name for herself in a field dominated by men.
This woman knew I had spent the better part of the previous year immersing myself in a self-guided intensive journey into unearthing the witch inside me.
Reading Witch by Lisa Lister felt like an acupuncture needle had been inserted right into the block that had been keeping me from moving forward in a way that was deeper—a way that was instinctively mine, and not just “the way” I habitually reached for because it was readily available, convenient, and comfortable to wear.
This was when I first gave myself permission to not only believe but actually access the magic I had been dancing around most of my life without actually “knowing what I was doing.”
It also helped me to uncouple the concept of being a witch from being Wiccan, something I had never really understood.
One is a relationship, the other is a religion.
One is a birth rite, the other is granted through initiation. She described a witch as this:
The witch is a woman fully in her power. She knows that in any given moment, she can be a hot mess, a woman of grace and beauty, angry and grief-struck, loved and pleasure-sated, tired and soft, or raw and vulnerable. She also knows that in some moments, she can be all of this at once. She is whole.
I knew embodying and tapping into this side of myself more deeply would make me a more whole leader.
So on that day when I got asked that question about the “witch stuff,” I had a lot of thoughts to share, and I had finally found my words and the courage to share them publicly.
She knew I had done a ton of research and had gone deep into my studies and exploration about everything from lunar cycles and sabbats, to working with herbs, essential oils, and crystals, as well as casting spells and crafting personal rituals that helped me to sync myself to the rhythms of the natural world.
She was not questioning the fact that I was a witch. She wanted to meet the witch inside her.
I wrote that back in 2019. It’s in a chapter in my second book, Ignite: Lighting the Leader Fire. I remember writing it at the time feeling…terrified. Not in an insecure way, like “who am I?” to write this. No, it was more like every bone in my body was warning me: DANGER, DANGER, DANGER!
I remember coming home from my writing retreat and announcing to my husband, “I’m pretty sure I’m going to get burned at the stake for that one…”
I felt like I was outing myself as a witch—while also outing myself as a leader. No, that’s not it. It felt like I was equating being a witch with being a leader. (DANGER, DANGER, DANGER!)
But that was then, and this is now.
I’ve come a long way with that fear, and have filled my pockets with notes, widened and deepened my knowledge, and gathered loads more resources to keep me grounded and moving forward on this path.
[side note: notice I didn’t say I’m no longer afraid? I want to be clear that I’ve learned to move with my fear, not beyond it. That’s been key.]
If you’ve read this far, you’re probably as hungry as I was for more details, like breadcrumbs on a trail you’re following into the woods. So without further ado, here’s my download from the last year or two of some of my favorite things I’ve put in my pockets with regard to witching—things I wish like hell I’d known about earlier in my life.
Have at it or tuck this away for a rainy day. It’s not going anywhere. Work your magic as only you can. Believe. Be brave. Lead the way for others that might be following behind you. I’m right here with you.
Books that helped me wrap my brain—and bones—around being a witch.
- Witch: Unleashed, Untamed, Unapologetic by Lisa Lister. This was the book where I finally got the courage to name what I am: a witch. Reading this gave me permission to NOT need a coven or be initiated. It also helped me to differentiate Wiccan from Witch, which felt like a game-changer. It helped me to see that being inconsistent (and wild) was part of my nature–and not a character flaw to be managed. But mostly? It got me to see and own the power I’d sensed all along but had never been able to name.
- Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness (the book, not the series.) This novel helped me to see how a scientist could also be a witch. I saw myself in the main character of Diana Bishop—her skepticism, denial of anything remotely feminine, and late-blooming nature of tapping into deeper levels of her power. Recognizing myself in this character, I was able my intellectual side could intertwine with my magic side without needing to choose one over the other.
- The Circle Within: Creating a Wiccan Spiritual Tradition by Diane Sylvan. I KNOW I just said I wasn’t Wiccan, but hang with me. I read this book years ago when I was still in the corporate world, long before I even understood what being a woman had to do with anything. Long before the crisis that would bring me to my knees and have me reach for something to believe. THIS was the book that helped me to remember the natural world (which includes us humans) is meant to be round, to ebb and flow. It helped me “right” myself instead of “wrong” myself—align more with the natural world (and the cycles that lived within me and stop fighting my human nature that was exhausted from living on an A-Z line.
- The Secret History of Witches by Louisa Morgan. Another novel that helped me to see parts of myself I had buried. It also helped me to appreciate how witching is passed down from woman to woman, like one of those copper rain chains—often hidden from view because these secrets needed to be protected. I also loved how the author referenced historical women as witches, revealing the possibility that things are not as they might seem—or taught. But mostly? I loved the simplicity of the rituals practiced among these five generations of women—the circle of salt, the veil, the connection to the moon. It felt accessible and inspired me to try.
- If Women Rose Rooted: The Journey to Authenticity and Belonging by Sharon Blackie. I don’t know if the word “witch” is ever used in this, but I felt it everywhere. This book intersected “witch” with “leader” more clearly in my mind’s eye, helping me to see the role women have played in helping to preserve, protect and respect the earth’s resources and the well of wisdom we carry in our bodies—our feminine power, that often lives below what we see, even underground, like a vast root system of intelligence. More than that, this book is a call to action that left me panting—full of validation, righteous rage, and on a renewed mission.
- The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd. Again, not a book that professes to be about witches. AND…it felt like it. It was also when I began to intertwine the Black Madonna, the divine feminine, and witches. I started to see how our conversations about witching (and women’s power) have been white-washed, excluding the stories of Black women. There are so many scenes that beautifully illustrate both devotion and divinity to the natural world and the magic contained within it. It also helped me to see how we need each other as women to keep it all alive.
- Women Who Run with the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype by Clarissa Pinkola Estes. I’ve never actually read this book from cover to cover, but there are nights I have slept with it under my pillow—as a reminder that I’m not alone. This is as close as I come to a bible—like a lady bible—and was not surprised to learn this is ranked as one of the all-time best-selling “spiritual” books. This book plugs me into my witch faster than any other, reminding me of my wildish nature, ancient and powerful stories that have been lost to us, and senses that are more powerful than I can imagine. She also weaves in the global nature of this witch conversation, offering examples and stories that transcend language, culture, and geography.
- Wild Mercy: Living The Fierce and Tender Wisdom of the Women Mystics by Mirabai Starr. By now, you’re probably starting to see how I stray from the literal when it comes to wrapping my head around witching. This book is exhibit A. It speaks to the particular energy and power that women possess—and how we are fueled by intimate connections with both the natural world as well as the divine. To me, this gets at the triple helix of the feminine, power, and mysticism, helping me to understand that to be a witch is also about honoring and embodying the mysteries—to be of service.
Tools that help me access my power as a witch.
- Tarot or Oracle Cards. Feminine ones, not the traditional Rider-Waite. My favorite deck is Daughters of the Moon by Fionna Morgan—it’s purple and round like the moon. My other go-to deck is Sacred Rebels by Alana Fairchild. I don’t do elaborate spreads, but reach for these when I’m most lost and need a crumb of something to help me listen. It’s a tool to help me tap into my intuition. Most decks come with a book to offer some words or context for each card—the pages of mine are all marked up. My question is usually this: What do I need to hear? Or: What am I not understanding? I put all of them face down, move my hands over them and flip up the one that feels like it wants to be flipped. Voila.
- An altar. This can be a corner of a room, the top of your dresser, or a milk crate with a napkin over it. Nothing fancy, but a powerful placeholder for your intentions. This is also the place I used to call in and honor various goddesses and deities, like Kali, Lakshmi, Lillith, Artemis, Mary Magdalen, and Ganesha. I often change mine up seasonally with various statues, crystals, and special things, but it almost always has a candle, palo santo, pinion, and sage ready to burn.
- A journal just for the divine. Writing is a powerful form of witchcraft in my mind—personally and professionally. It just is. But this practice is more than just journaling. It’s about and connecting and conversing with something bigger than myself. With what, you ask? It doesn’t really matter, but that wasn’t always the case. I’ve learned my pen seems to know. Each entry generally begins with me asking a question (I’m stuck…what pearls of wisdom do you have for me?)or sharing how I’m feeling (I’m stuck and completely lost…), and then my pen writes this response that always seems to plug me into some deeper truth or wisdom in me.
- Essential oils. I’ve heard that the fastest way to ground yourself as a woman is through scent, and this is certainly true for me. Think of how a scent—like woodsmoke or even freshly-baked cookies—can transport you to a better, happier place instantly. For me, it’s Frankincense. But depending on the season I’ll switch it up—cinnamon in the fall, lemon in the spring, and patchouli in the summer. I never wear perfume anymore and have taken to making my own liquid soap using oils. I put them in spray bottles for linens, cotton balls in my Jeep, and most recently in COVID times, on my mask.
- Crystals. I use to be intimidated by these, but now I use them in a bunch of different ways. You know those smooth “worry stones” they sell with a worn thumbprint? I generally always have one of those in my bra—green aventurine, red carnelian, amethyst, moonstone, jasper, rose quartz, or obsidian. Two or three years ago, I also started using yoni eggs (if you don’t know what those are, I didn’t either, but it’s a practice that’s as old as time–and bonus great for kegels). That has been a powerful investment in both my body and my psyche as a woman.
- Rocks. These are just a constant in my life, and I’m always drawn to them. We have bowls of heart-shaped rocks and loads of cairns built all over our house—inside and out. I generally keep one within reach at all times—just to ground me. I tend to constantly make circles of rocks outside for no apparent reason (and yes, this blog when it first started 15 years ago was called “a circle of stones”.) I paint them, collect them, hold them, build with them. But I never throw them. They’re like friends to me.
- My hands—the two tools that are always with me. Anyone who has watched me tell a story—or dance—can see how I use them. But I never thought of them as tools of magic until I sat with one of my women’s groups one winter evening and asked them: “what is magic?” Silence, and then? Their hands started moving, gesticulating before their words even registered in their brains—let alone were spoken. If I’m not using my hands—making something, cooking, dancing, knitting, building, anything—I’m not making magic, and I’m not good.
Practices that honor the witch in me.
- Solitude. This is where I’m most understood as a “people person”. I require loads of alone time to ground myself and hear my own voice (and that of the divine’s) in this loud world. I’m never lonely when I’m alone, and my family will remind me (thankfully) that whenever I go away by myself, I always come back more me. This is why my witching has never felt the need for a coven, and you’ll rarely see me in a group of women beyond one of my own making. I used to have shame around that. Now I have pride—because it’s one of the hardest and best things I do for myself.
- Being in nature. Sounds obvious to even write this, but how often are you in nature with air pods in listening to a podcast? Or with a friend? Or out on a run getting exercise. This is not that. It’s about letting nature work its magic on you, which means being present to it—not distracted or a blur of activity. Sharon Blackie writes about this very thing beautifully in her book The Enchanted Life. I hear a lot of my clients talk about “tree bathing” or immersing themselves in nature. This is my antidote to technology.
- 1:11 and 11:11. This is how I pray—which for me is synonymous with meditation. It wasn’t until I’d stumbled on this practice, that I realized I was actually born to do this—my birthday is November 1 (11-1). There’s some numerology around these repetitions of ones and you’ll often hear people call them “divine winks”. But whenever I see them—and I do two or three times a day, I stop, close my eyes, and reach my arms to the sky, palms up. I never set out to do this, it just started happening naturally, and then I realized it was working for me. And I’ve been doing it ever since.
- Follow the moon. I started to do this earnestly when my cycles stopped and I sort of…lost my bearings. Then I looked up and I found one. I have a moon chart in my closet and an app on my phone. I’m not religious about tracking, I just know she’s always there with me, pulling me forward like the tides. There are loads of books about how to harness the power of the moon, but I tend to keep it simple, paying attention to the full and the new moon. Sometimes the most beautiful and simple ritual is to just look up.
- Design around the seasons. This is my most winning strategy—in life and in business. The moment I started to see how I move in seasons is the day I gave myself permission to trust my natural rythms. I live in the northeast, where the seasons are distinct, so if I forget, they are right there to remind me. This practice has enabled me to move into deeper levels of power in all areas of my life, from my productivity to my creativity. It’s also insisted that I alter my expectations for myself—changing them as I change the seasons, rather than worrying about being consistent or sustainable.
- Threshold moments. I love a good ritual, but honestly, I don’t do them on a regular basis. Instead, I look for those moments that feel like they are worthy of a sacred pause—and I create a ceremony to honor it. Sometimes it’s public, like when a friend became the first female CEO of her company. Sometimes it’s private, like when I created a crone ceremony for myself last winter. Solstices are perfect times for these (winter and summer) because there is a “handoff” happening from the sun to the moon (or visa-versa).
- Sobriety. I almost didn’t share this one because I don’t talk about it much. But during the pandemic, when I heard so many of my clients decide to abstain from alcohol—at a time so many people were struggling with substance abuse—I realized I had been sober for years. The reality is that alcoholism runs on both sides of my genetic lines and I wanted to break that chain for my children. But I had never really owned it as a decision or connected it to my power and how I show up as a witch. Now I do. Sobriety helps me to keep my wits about me and my senses enlivened.