Witches and Shapeshifting: Wha-a-at?

Here is the section of my upcoming book, "Witchcraft, Power, and Transfornation: A Magical, Mystery School for the Twenty-first Century," that I read in my video posted January 7, 2020:

At the core of Witchcraft is the invisible thread from which everything is woven, and by which everything is connected. By tracing this thread in your mind, you can experience myriad forms of life and build a solid foundation for your magic.

How much truth is in the old legends? Neo-Pagan Witches don’t talk a lot about shapeshifting, but we haven’t forgotten that it was once part of our Craft. Most of the Witches I know have their hands full dealing with day-to-day life. We use magic to help ourselves and our acquaintances, and we tend to offer our energies to the forces and beings who work the in the interest of the best outcome for all beings.

Some Witches are interested in shapeshifting as evidenced by their blogs, but after more than twenty years in the craft, I haven’t heard anyone talk about this in person except my HPS Neta. Is this because almost nobody does it, or is it because they’re not talking?

Most of us try to fit into the world around us without calling too much attention to ourselves. If some of us walk the woods on animal legs or sit in meditation while curling up on our child’s bed in Fluffball’s body, we’re not likely to discuss it, except perhaps with trusted coven kin.

Then again, maybe a more material and reasonable explanation applies. At least some of the dynamic between magicians and animals may live in metaphor and imagination. Is shapeshifting the result of an altered state, like flying on a broom under the influence of belladonna or mandrake?

We live during a unique time in history. Our society rejected magic nearly 500 years ago. Those of us who feel called to Witchcraft usually revere science and fact-based discourse. A handful of my Witchy friends are scientists, too.

At the same time, we honor mysteries that logic can’t explain. This subject calls for a balance of open-mindedness and skepticism. We reclaim an animistic world view, yet we remain unwilling to relinquish the benefits which reason and the scientific method have given to humanity.

In fact, magical people were the first scientists. The cunning folk of old Europe studied the natural world around them, gathered up interesting rocks and plants, tried various remedies, and kept records of their results. They learned from each other, and perhaps from transcendental entities. What they knew of working with familiars and shape shifting has not been handed down to us in a neat, easily accessible package.

Human minds crave answers, but spiritual growth refuses to be rushed or boxed in. Secrets hidden for hundreds of years may yet reveal themselves. Sometimes enlightenment comes as a result of allowing the questions to be. Much wisdom may be gained by sitting patiently in a state of ‘not knowing.

“I would rather have questions that can't be answered than answers that can't be questioned.”  ― Richard Feynman

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