True Story: I’m A Witch

Have you ever wondered about witchcraft? How witches are different from Wiccans? Click through for a FASCINATING interview with a Britton, a 31-year-old witch who really, actually casts spells using herbs, bones, candles, and crystals. >> yesandyes.org
When you hear the word ‘witch’, do you imagine broomsticks and pointy hats? Steaming cauldrons? The AMAZING 1993 movie Hocus Pocus? Well, Britton isn’t any of those things. (Though she does collect bones, herbs, and views the Devil as an ally.) Her interview is fascinating!

Tell us a bit about yourself! 

Of course! I am 31 and originally from Georgia (no accent, boo!) and was born on a military base. Army brat through and through! I moved all over until I landed quite happily in Portland, OR where I have been a resident for close to 9 years now.

For work, I am the nose, creator and founder of my business Haus of Gloi. We’re a vegan bath and body company specializing in made from scratch products and hand blending our own perfumes.

I’ve been doing this for about 8 years now and it’s FINALLY gotten to the point where I can start living the ‘self-employed dream’ of getting paid and having fun (it’s a LOT of hard work folks!). Long-distance hiking is my jam and at the beginning of July I will be hiking 400 miles along the Oregon Coast Trail. Witch Wandering is my hiking blog. Pacific Crest Trail is next year, that’s 2660 miles of hiking!

You’re a practicing witch. Under your definition, what does that mean? And would you consider ‘witch’ a label of your religion? Your job? Your hobby? A little bit of all three?

I think I’d say a little bit of all three. It’s what I am, do and breathe. I don’t like having dichotomies in my life, I believe that what I do for work, play, spiritual, etc. is all intertwined and feeds me and all aspects of my life in a big grand spiraling loop. It took me many years to realize this, but I find it works best for me.

To consider oneself a witch is such a personal thing. For me it’s about being an intermediary between seen and unseen worlds and riding that line, constantly challenging myself, ushering in transformation into my own life and to the lives of others and my community. Living my life to it’s fullest extent no matter what the cost. And of course slinging spells, brewing potions and reading cards!

How is what you’re doing different than Wicca?

Wicca is a religion and a very beautiful one at that. Wiccans generally identify as witches, but not all witches are Wiccans. So, I do not adhere to their code of ethics and ritual practices.
I don’t really have a name for what I do, but I think that it falls somewhere under Traditional Witchcraft. I draw upon historical texts, writing from well known authors in witchcraft, gnosis, traditions of my ancestors and direct head on interaction with spirits in my practice.
It’s a craft. It’s strange and mysterious and weird and it invites a lot of uniquely synchronistic things that will happen in your life.

Ultimately, if I was to describe my practices I am a pagan animist and polytheist who practices folk magic, ancestor veneration, bio-regional herbalism, divination and yet, has not renounced my Christian upbringing or roots.

What are some common mis-conceptions about witches and witchcraft?
Common things would include being evil, Devil worship, wild naked orgies, cursing, poisons!… all of which some witches may, or may not do to some varying degree. I do not like to whitewash or prettify witchcraft. I believe that it has a notorious reputation for a reason, and the Devil is a pretty rad ally.
“Many people will tell you that occultism, witchcraft and magic are dangerous. So they are, so is crossing the road, but we shall not get far if we are afraid ever to attempt it.” – Doreen Valiente
When did you start practicing witchcraft? And how did you get interested in it?
Actively about nine years ago, but looking back into my childhood – I realized it was there all along. I think a lot of us experience a calling, or a waking up of sorts. This happened for me in high school.
A good friend of mine who identified as a pagan answered my questions when I was curious about his beliefs. This opened me up to the possibility that there wasn’t one singular rigid way I had to do or believe in.

The area I live in now though definitely played a role in calling me and waking me up. The Pacific Northwest seems to do this to people, it’s a very magic land and my love and reverence for it runs deep. The land here speaks loudly.

Do the people in your life know you’re a witch?

Most of them know and are completely okay with it. Recently I came out to my father and while we still love each other, we do have our moments of disagreement.

You use a lot of tools in your practice – bones, feathers, crystals, etc. Where do you get these? And how can you tell a ‘good’ bone from one that won’t be useful to you? 

Well, it depends on how you find it, or how they find you. I sit with them and listen. A lot of the items I have, I have found in the woods or they literally just find their way to me. For example years back, I saw this fully sun bleached crow skeleton just a few feet behind a fence on a path that I rode my bike to get to work.
For about two whole months I swear it would just glare at me as I rode by. My gut said, “he needs a home!” so I managed to gather his bones and skull. He is now an ally and spirit friend that I work with.
It can be really gross dirty work, but I take great care when I find animal bones in my wanderings. And if you’re someone who likes to spend a lot of time in nature, a lot of neat treasures will find their way to you.

I also do a lot of wildcrafting, which is the practice of gathering wild medicinal plants, trees and fungi. When you go out to gather medicine, whether it be spiritual or for your actual physical well being – you are opening yourself to the spirit of a place and to the plants trees and rocks of the area.

If you listen carefully and respectfully, watch and observe, they will teach you things and you can hear them speak. It isn’t always in a language that we humans can understand.

Can you give us an example of a common spell that you perform?

I do a lot of candle burning!
A very simple spell is to write out what you wish to happen on a piece of paper, be very specific and aim HIGH! Sign it with your full name and then you fold it up as many times as you like. I usually do it three times.
Each time you fold the paper you fold towards yourself and turn the paper clockwise because you want these things to come to YOU.
Place this under a candle (I like the 4 inch tapers) you have carved your name into spoken your desires over and burn it down until it is out. You then take the remains and keep them close by and in a safe place, or bury them in a potted plant or by your front door.
Make sure that your candle is a color that supports your intent. Red for love, green for money, yellow for success, blue for peace, and you get the idea!
What are some things that have come about because of your witchcraft?

I have experienced much personal growth and self knowledge – the learning and experiential growth never ends. Business success and achieving things I never thought possible for myself. Oh, and a whole lot of weirdness! But I’m OK with that 😉

What tools/books/websites/groups have helped you expand your practice?

Sacred-text.com, The occult publisher Scarlet Imprint who have an excellent blog and New World Witchery podcast are great sites.
Some good books and authors that really opened doors for me are: Witchcraft Medicine: healing arts, shamanic practices and forbidden plants by Christian Rätsch, Claudia Müller-Ebeling, and Wolf-Dieter Storl. Mastering Witchcraft by Paul Huson, Cunning Folk and Familiar Spirits by Emma Wilby, Candle and the Crossroads by Orion Foxwood, The Silver Bullet and Other American Witch Stories by Hubert J. Davis. All works by Doreen Valiente and Nicholaj de Mattos Frisvold.
What’s one thing you’ve learned from this that any of us could apply to our daily lives?

Every little action that we do in the now shapes our future. I believe that we should rid ourselves of the shame and guilt that holds us back, and live as true to ourselves, our passions and desires as possible.

If you do this the road will be hard, as it isn’t easy being unconventional in this world, but it will be beautiful and transformative, and you will never ever regret that.

Do any of you dabble in the occult? Do you have any questions for Britton? I realize that some people might not agree with, support, or understand Britton’s worldview. As always, respectful disagreement is welcome. Incendiary comments will be deleted.

P.S. An interview with a Shaman and a woman who lives in a haunted house!

6 Comments

Laura

So great to see an interview with a fellow witch! I love that it’s so versatile and different for every practitioner, I love reading about others’ experiences. For me, witchcraft is about focusing your intentions and being very very very clear about what it is you want. It’s about knowledge and self discovery, like Britton also mentioned.

Another big part of it for me is feminism and dismantling the patriarchy and reclaiming my feminine power. Thousands of years of witch persecution have not stamped us out, the knowledge and power is still there, and it’s amazing to be able to read and study and work with ancient goddesses that Christianity and other religions tried to destroy. There’s not any mainstream goddess representation in Christianity. There’s no balance between male and female, and I think it’s seriously harming our predominantly Christian American culture. Reconnecting with the Goddess is my way of restoring that balance and it’s so freeing to discover there’s so much more out there than One God.

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Danai

There’s definitely not a single way to be a witch and more power to her, but I have to be honest: As a Wiccan, the phrase “the Devil is a rad ally” really bugs me. I think it perpetuates all the inaccurate stereotypes that have led so many people of the Craft to be burnt at the stake… Also, strangely enough, Doreen Valiente, the writer Britton mentions, is considered the Mother of Wicca. All differences aside though, it was very good to read this interview and have these conversations in the open, out of the broom closet 😉

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Meredith

I’m curious about the statement that devil worship is a misconception about witchcraft but then the author calls him a rad ally. I feel like I’m misunderstanding something there. I’m also wondering about the spell shared being so self-focused. Is it common to do spells for oneself or does the religion wish good things upon others as well? This piece was interesting but it’s like some big pieces of the puzzle are missing!

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Laura

Witchcraft is such a broad, broad thing! Nobody does it the same way! One or two interviews just scratch the surface 🙂

For those curious about the devil/ally/misconceptions, here’s a different example: I have another witch friend who won’t even say “Devil”. She just calls him “dude”. Different people work with different deities and energies. It’s about finding what resonates with you.

Personally, I usually just do spells for myself. Sometimes friends will ask me for tarot readings, and I like to pull cards and do a birthday spell with them if they’re interested. It’s really fun! I don’t really do spells for other people unless they ask me to, though of course I wish good things for others! But again, nobody’s practice is the same, so I’m sure there are witches who actively do spells for others. I’m curious too!

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scar

This was really interesting – it’s nice to see the perspectives of other traditional witchcraft folk, especially when you’re a solitary witch. I love the solitary path but sometimes it’s nice to remember there are others out there 🙂

Also, your websites are beautiful! Can I ask who your designer is? I’m in the market for one!

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Jessie

I have always believed in magic but this year has been the year to delve into it fully after discovering Gala Darling and her awesome witchiness. I resonate more with the pagan views, but again I think I am someone who enjoys learning how others do things and incorporating them into what I do. My partner thinks I’m a bit mad, which is a little frustrating but however! Thank you for sharing Brittons story, I like hearing about other witches!

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