The Bad Witch at The Watering Hole

Image from Travelers Insurance commercial, "At the Watering Hole" (2010).

Have you seen the Travelers Insurance commercial, “At the Watering Hole,” where all of the creatures of the Savannah “get along”? It’s supposed to be cute and, I suppose, comforting; but it’s actually unnatural and a little creepy. Imagine The Grasslands overflowing with meerkats, gazelle, and water buffalo. Imagine what the world would be like without any predators.

Imagine what day would be like without night. Sure, there are places like Northern Alaska, “The Land of the Midnight Sun,” where the sun shines from May to August. But this light is balanced by an equal amount of darkness on the other half of the year’s wheel.

Imagine what biology would be like without cell death.

Imagine what magic would be like without destruction. Imagine if all the energy we cast out was “good” or if all light was “white.”

But I am remiss.

Please allow me to introduce myself.

I am The Bad Witch.

By “bad,” I do not mean poor or ineffectual. Oh, no. I am very effectual. Sometimes to my own dumbfounding. Neither do I mean “evil.” I have a moral compass, however broken it may seem. I have a clear set of criteria for spell-work and I rarely cast intoxicated. That I can recall.

What I do mean by “bad” is that I may walk a little to the left-hand path. While I’m no Lovecraftian or Satanist, I do appreciate the dark as it so beautifully compliments the light. I am not afraid to cast a binding on a neighborhood creeper; I have no qualms about asking for justice; and I have been know to conjure a boogyman to make someone mindful of dangerous behavior. Especially when it’s me and mine who are in danger. So, while I stay in the middle of the road for the most part and I try to keep my work on the up-an-up, if a raging sense of protectiveness overwhelms me, I will get down and dirty. And I have no problem allowing a willing “dark” entity to help me out. I’m no bigot when it comes to help offered. In the end, I do not consider witchcraft appropriate for the “nice.” There are other branches of Pagainism for that.

So, yes, I am a bad witch. I’m no Glinda. But if I make an oath to you, unless you break it first (and then woe unto you every Tuesday for a year), I’m bound to you for life. I take it very seriously.

I say this because many of the witches I know are oath breakers. Some by word, some by deed, most by breaking silence. I don’t believe that you, reader, are an oath breaker. But, then again, I do not know you. Do I? You could be the Valmont of your coven, for all I know.

I don’t intend to give instruction on oath breaking; that is to say, I don’t intend for this to be a “how-to” for the treacherous. I figure you’ve got that covered without my help. The point of this blog is to provide, by example, instruction concerning the “why not to” of oath-breaking. Especially if you, like so many, have no teacher or mentor. When you are going it alone, the trouble comes when you don’t have someone to tell you what *not* to do. I figure that there are plenty of books out there to show you how to cast, how to write spells, how to fire sigles, how to call the quarters, and how to celebrate Beltane (with your clothes both on and off). But aside from the obligatory, “harm none,” there seems to be no one willing to record the flipside of magic. And if, as witches, we believe in balance, we must believe in the ever-present-staring-you-in-the-face-the-moment-you-realize-you-should-have-thought-that-through-a-little-better flipside.

This may be because we have, up until now, been trying to propagate the Craft. We have been trying to instruct and we do not want to frighten our would-be pupils away. This may be that we do not want to fuel the fires of anti-Pagan sentiment in the U.S. We do not want to provide any ammunition to those already armed to the teeth against us. It may even be that to tell how a spell went wrong, you might have to tell how the spell was composed and would therefore break silence. Because this is not really a spellbook, I will not be recording whole spells. I will give enough information for you to comprehend the situation without telling you everything. If you are versed in the mysteries, you’ll know exactly what happened without my telling you. If you are not yet initiated, it is not my place to fill you in.

I have sat on the sidelines of many a magical FUBAR (and have, admittedly, been embroiled in a few) and I hope to regal you with a few hours of horrific, if not entertaining, stories about what can go wrong when you are reckless with witchcraft. I’ve known witches who cast carelessly and flagrantly (I call this “driveby casting”), those who betray coven members, those who lie – even in ritual – even to themselves, and those with whom no secret is safe. Sounds like any society, right?  I’ll tell you all of these stories in good time, mind you, but you must realize upfront that an oath-breaking witch is not the same as a snarky eleventh-grader. There are universal penalties to oath breaking. Not that I’m being judgmental. I’ve cast and had stuff backfire all over me like pea soup on Linda Blair’s bedsheets. But I try to own up to it. I try to understand what I did and how to prevent it from happening again. (Sometimes successfully!)  I am, after all, the “Bad Witch” indicated in the title of this blog. Which brings me to a point of semantics.

I do not consider the recording and publication of this blog a broken oath. For two reasons. First, I tell only what is mine tell, I will reveal nothing which is an oath-bound mystery. Much of what I will include has already been scavenged by popular media; T.V. and movies like “Charmed,” “The Witches of Waverly Place,” The Craft and Practical Magic (not to mention Anne Rice) have given the world a glimpse into our world, even if it is a strangely eschewed one. These are, of course, fictions. Second, I reserve the right to a spot near, if not on, the fiction shelf myself. Oh, all I’m about to tell you is true enough. But some stories can only be told by poioumena, metaphor, or allegory. In the words of Ken Kesey, “It’s the truth even if it didn’t happen.” We say that the mysteries are “that which cannot be told” don’t we?

Pleased to meet you.

2 comments on “The Bad Witch at The Watering Hole

  1. […] insists itself in the Autumn because without it, we would be overrun. (See “The Bad Witch at the Watering Hole”.) We need a little of the death of winter to make way for the birth of spring. Makes sense in my […]

  2. […] that name and blog behind in favor of a new perspective. (And then go read my first post, “The Bad Witch at the Watering Hole” for some insight into what “bad” really means.) The Files have been written by […]

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