“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.