They’re Watching You

"Three Heads of the Well" by Arthur Rackham, 1918

Don’t delude yourself. The minute you set foot upon the path of witchcraft, a call rings out in the unseen world announcing the fact of your arrival.”

~ Paul Huson, Mastering Witchcraft

Not to sound creepy or anything, but the gods, the spirits of the dead, and inhuman spirits are watching you. Don’t think they’re not. Don’t think you’re too small and insignificant. They’re still watching you. Whether you define them as gods or spirits they truly do have direct and indirect involvement in our lives – for some people on a daily basis. They don’t watch you all the time, but now and then they will check in and do so more often when you’re practicing magic. They watch to measure your progress in this life and in witchcraft. Sometimes they’ll step in at crucial moments in your life where the right word or idea sets you on the right path. They are constantly judging and testing you. Will you make something of yourself? Will you take your witchcraft to the next level or only talk about it? Will you finally realize they are there with you and give due reverence and start acknowledging them? Will you make oaths and keep them? Spoken promises are binding and important, but not as important as the actions that back them up. They wait to see what you DO.

A god’s (especially a mercurial god) favourite trick to do is to put obstacles in your path to see how you react. Do you give up because of it or do you persevere despite it? This lesson teaches that life isn’t easy or fair and people and events will get in the way of your dreams, goals, and spiritual path. Don’t think just because an obstacle appears that “The Universe” is saying it’s not meant to be. If you do this than you take the easy path of least resistance. Remember the three roads from the Ballad of Tam Lin? If after making a decision, however, you fall very ill, have a lot of bad luck, and your world seems to fall apart around you – it may be a sign you’ve made a big decision that isn’t good for you and you are being warned.

Other times they will show up in your mundane life in disguise as a beggar, a homeless schizophrenic, a friendly little old lady, or a stranger who makes an odd comment to you or gives you a bit of advice or warning. Sometimes they will show up in their own form and others times they will possess ordinary people to talk to you. Most witches have this happen to them, but never realize it. Some spend so little time seeing the magic in the mundane that they miss important interactions with gods and spirits. Spirits and gods have talked to me on the bus, the subway, at pubs, and through friends – and that doesn’t even count dreams or trancing out in the kitchen or while carving. Keep your eyes open and your third eye aware for such interactions. Fairy and folktales are full of such occurrences – kings or commoner’s being rewarded for aiding old beggar women who are goddesses in disguise or being killed or cursed when they don’t. The tales don’t lie and perhaps many actually happened. So kiss the hag, be kind to the crazy rude old man sitting next to you on the bus, mind your manners with strangers, and keep any promises you make. You never know what you will be rewarded with.

I hope to do a HedgeFolk Tales in the future about learning manners for interacting with spirits from fairy and folk tales. Interested in learning how to properly interact with gods and spirits? Read more fairy tales! My favourites that teach these lessons include “Habetrot and the Scantlie Mab” (Scots), “Frau Holle” (German), “The Three Heads of the Well” (English), and “The Ballad of King Henry” (Scots). A great book on the subject is Elves, Wights, and Trolls by Kveldulf Gundarsson which provides examples from Scandinavian lore and personal experience.

Author Sarah

Illustrator and weaver of words. Witch. Forest siren with talons, succubic tendencies, a love of otherworldly beauty, poisonous plants, wild places and dead things.

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Join the discussion 27 Comments

  • Scylla says:

    One thing people forget is that the ringing-out never ceases. Each step you take on the path heralds your coming, belies your position, and tells the spirits around you how big (or small) you really are. Each time you tread the mill, or cast a circle, or evoke/invoke spirits? ZING.

    Once, during a bit of late-night-meditation I heard something “inside” that sounded like glass being scraped. I followed the sound with my spirit and found a friend hunkered on his patio inscribing a circle with chalk. Every stroke of the chalk sounded like a glass-cutter. If I heard and followed what else did?

    There can sometimes be something to be scared of – as Jason Miller pointed out in “Protection and Reversal Magick” – not everything out there is friendly, and if you are more experimental there are more chances of something “new” and alien making itself known to you.

    • Heh, exactly. It’s why it’s not practical to practice “white light” witchcraft and never learn protection, banishing, exorcism, and how to make spirit traps. Not everything witches attract is friendly – if we’re lucky they’re just ambivalent. It can take a while until the nasties take notice, but there is no doubt that they will.

      Paul Huson points out the same thing as Jason Miller. Huson’s chapter on “Counter Magic & Protection” is invaluable.

      • Scylla says:

        I’ve goth both “Mastering Witchcraft” and “Protection and Reversal Magic/k”, the latter of which does extensively quote the former. Apparently I need to re-read both. Heavily. Possibly with a shock-collar zapping me any time I look away.

        If anything, the Universe (TPBs? The Witchmother and Witchfather?) have been pointedly revealing that the general ill-ease, exhaustion , and “Jumpiness” I feel every winter is likely not a case of SADD, but a case of “Shield more, dipstick… and stop pissing off other practitioners with your smart mouth.” Of course, only one of these things is physically possible for the Trad-crafter. πŸ˜›

      • LOL! I’m guilty of being dense too. I just asked the spirits what the hell is up with the massive headaches and vertigo I get when I go out into the city. Their answer – you need to shield before you leave your house idiot. They put it more politely, but that was the gist of it.

  • Elizabeth says:

    πŸ™‚ I just love a post that starts with “Not to sound creepy or anything”. And I agree with you on many of your points. Once a person chooses to open their eyes to the possibilities, well, there is just so much out there…

  • Nix says:

    Truly fascinating. There is always a feeling of being watched and sometimes guided.

    Off the subject, I am really growing akin to your writings and hope one day you write a really really long book that I can read for a good long while.

  • Melissa says:

    You know, sometimes I get the oddest urge to help really strange people in really strange circumstances, maybe this explains why I feel the urge to drive strange people to the video store because they don’t have a car or chat with that odd woman everyone else is ignoring. You keep helping my life make sense. That’s really nice.

  • Mike Howard says:

    Great to see a Rackham picture as he is my favourite artist. Back in the 1970s when I worked in Curzon Street in the West End of London I used to walk down Charing Cross Road in my lunchtime and go in the secondhand bookshops. One arty shop had copies of first editions of children’s books illustrated by Rackham for Can$10 each. Pity I could not afford them as today they are worth hundreds of dollars.

    My first occult teacher Madeline Montalban used to say that you should not ignore beggars and walk by as they could be angels in disguise! It was also wise to perform small acts of kindness for strangers because you never knew who they really might be. Good magical advice.

    • I β™₯ Arthur Rackham. He’s one of my all-time favourite artists and influences. I have an original print of the illustration shown hanging up in my home in an oak frame. It’s partly that I love his style and partly that he mainly illustrated my beloved fairy tales.

      • Geetar646 says:

        In ancient Greece, they were called chresmologues, or portents in human form. See, L. Eiseley, The Night Country, 14-28, wherein the author meets one travelling from Phila. to Penn Station. Now we have the DSM-IV to explain such people, however.

  • laurel says:

    this is all very reassuring. i have so many ‘mundane’ happenings that seem to be messages from gods… i really should start practicing communicating with them more often.

  • Great post. I definitely believe it.

    Some people, especially people from Ireland, claim that the Gods are local and I am not really hearing them in America. I’ve seen this reaction a couple times online. I don’t really believe it because I feel and sometimes hear the Gods communicate with me. Has anyone ever told you such things? What do you make of that argument? I believe some spirits are local, but I think there are plenty of pan-tribal, powerful Gods who can travel.

  • Jeannette says:

    There is a great lesson to be learned in that. Everyone should teach their children small and large this ……

  • I love the photo, it reminds me of the thoughts that ran through my head when I saw the pool in this Pagan Eye post: http://www.badwitch.co.uk/2010/09/pagan-eye-pool-in-wood.html

  • I had one who showed up. Definitely schizophrenic, and definitely a messenger. I was working the AA office phones with some friends and since there were there and he needed some warmth and coffee and such I sat and talked with him. He talked about the people who talked to him all the time. I asked him where they were from and he started dancing around and said they were from the stars but now lived in the land of La. La La La La Land…. Heeeee. I believed him.

  • Rachel says:

    This post recalled a memory that’s bothered me for some time. I blogged about it since I can’t sleep, but thought you may enjoy the story:

    There is a couple that has been busking on (the) campus (where I work) for many years, longer than I’ve been around, I expect. They are unique and interesting, and very good musicians. ‘Good’ isn’t exactly the right word…otherworldly. I’ve avoided stopping to listen because I never have any cash to give them, and I feel it’s rude to listen without having something to give in return. But one particular day, the wife, who usually plays violin (incredibly, mind), she started to sing. And the husband sat back, eyes fixed upon her adoringly, to listen to his beautiful lady sing. Her angelic, yet powerful sad, chilling, voice rang out throughout the whole of the covered Washington Avenue bridge. There was something in her voice that was godlike, ethereal, and it’s only now that I recognize it as such. Tears came, unbidden, at the sound of her voice, and with a giant sob in my throat I was overcome with such sorrow I had to stop listening. It was a shameful thing, I did, to put my headphones on when the gods were singing!?! I’ve decided that should I see them again come spring/summer, I’ll have something to offer, and a request (if I could be so bold as to ask): to hear them play their music together, and that maybe, if she would, sing out to the Universe again.

    The very memory of it recalls the same sorrow, the same treacherous beauty of it. I’ve seen them a few times (since then) riding their bikes together, and twice, they’ve looked at me…intently. She, especially. I cannot deny my trepidation of the penetrating look, and now especially when I realize my folly! How does one simply walk away from the shining rays of a god, or the glimmer of a goddess? Because one was foolish, and did not know it.

    • Rachel says:

      OMGS! I just wrote this last night, and today I saw the man on his bike on my noontime walkies! Even in this frigid cold, he still wore his summer ensemble of a black top hot, black coat with long tails, dress shoes (in this thick ice & snow!!) with big red socks, and trousers. Since he was not busking and only riding by, I made sure to, at the very least, offer him a smile (although he looked at me queerly). As a bonus, the gaggle of crows I try to speak to frequently all looked right at me as I offered them greetings! Six of them! Very surreal πŸ™‚

  • CΓ©lie says:

    Thank you so much for all your articles. They are so inspiring and full of wisdom.
    I also read the conversation between you and Scylla, and I would like to know: Would it be possible for you to write an article about the protections you use in order to shield, please?
    Because, I’ve been searching in your blog, and I couldn’t find an article on this subject.

    Thank you so much in advance πŸ™‚

  • judith says:

    I agree sooooooo much. I describe what happens when you practice Witchcraft as becoming “smelly”. Although I will also use “shiny” as a more attractive alternative.

    Why shouldn’t They mess with us all the time? They have plenty of it.

  • loba manca says:

    One night, I was trapped in the last metro until the dawn, one and half hour from my house, after loosing the last train. I started to panic, when a beggar, dressed in blue, with a huge hat, using a cane (he was limping), approached asking for “any coin”. I delivered everything I had in my pockets, and when he came close, (stinking, by the way) he had only one eye.

    When he goes out in the next station, he vanished from my view. Just vanished.

    I spent the night hided in a station (its a very dangerous place to a woman alone in the middle of the night), and I was the only person that none of the guards put out.

    I spent the entire night thinking oh-gods-that-was-odim-that-was-odim-was-odim!

  • Geetar646 says:

    I keep on having really lucid dreams in which Sarah is reading my tarot cards and this music is playing. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aDUYHH7QD5A&feature=youtube_gdata_player Later, a vespa moped symbolizes some kind of phallic steed, she says “get on it” and it revvs-up out of control, landing me into some dyke in Amsterdam or some place. What a muse.

  • I’ve had two encounters with people when I have felt really blessed afterwards and I’m wondering if this is a sign of when you’ve been talking to a deity?

    One was before I became pagan and the other was a couple of weeks ago.

  • Juniper says:

    The encounters a homeless person and travelling hobo happens semi-regularly with me. I try to watch out for the guy on the bus or passing me by on the street who suddenly turns around and says something random yet meaningful and may even seem surprised at himself.

    Its always nice to come across people who have simular experiences, makes you feel slightly less crazy.

  • Skybrighte says:

    Hahaha, talk about being watched! The day before you posted this I was informed that I need to learn to show more respect, so I sent out a little request to show me how. And now I know where to start. -dusts off her copy of Grimm’s- Thanks for the tip. ^^

  • sara says:

    I had an experience in October where I was doing my morning walking prayer as per usual, and walked past a donut shop which is on the way. There are usually some homeless at the bus stop next to it, and I recognized one of them as someone I’ve seen previously but hadn’t seen in a long time. I can’t remember why I didn’t offer him change… whether that was my bus fare for the rest of the week, or what the deal was, but as I was walking down the street I knew I’d seriously effed up. It was a lost opportunity to pay something forward. Haven’t seen the fellow since.