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The Shieldmaiden Blog

Oct - 14

Theurgic binding: or, “S#!t just got real”

EDITED TO ADD: The post below has generated quite a bit of discussion and several responses on other blogs: John Beckett, Dver, Rhyd Wildermuth, Ember, and Asa West. In response to the latter post, I just wanted to add a couple thoughts.

Dear readers, I do not think you are easily frightened children, nor is this post an effort to scare anyone. The point of this post is to share real and useful guidance on how to do this work rightly and well, rather than rashly and poorly – but the point of this post is not to tell you that you can’t. You can, and I hope I make that clear.

I also think most of the people reading my blog are thinking adults who can handle theological and magical discourse that goes beyond a comforting pat on the head and empty assurances that you can’t make mistakes, and that there are no risks or consequences in magic and religion. I write from the understanding that magic and religion are operating in the realm of reality, and I seek to arm people with real and useful knowledge for that. I think you, readers, can handle that.

I also believe that if there were no risks in this work, we wouldn’t be bothering with it, because it would be without impact or consequence. I am GLAD to be living in a world in which the Gods and holy powers are animated by more than just the power we might imbue them with. I am GLAD to be living in a world in which magic entails risk, opportunity and consequence. That world is far more interesting to me – and far less lonely – than one in which all of this is dismissed as harmless storytelling or archetype.


I’ve been asked a few times recently about what it means to dedicate oneself to a God, and in particular to the Morrígan, the Goddess I’m dedicated to. I get questions like these:

“Is there a difference between a devotional and a dedicated relationship?”
“At what stage in a relationship with Deity (the Morrígan specifically) can I consider dedication through ritual?”
“Everybody keeps telling me: don’t rush into it and be 100% sure. As things are right now, I really, really WANT to. So then… Why wait?”

In lieu of trying to explain this on a theoretical level, I’m going to get personal.

When the most recent question came in I was in the doctor’s waiting room, to review an MRI scan of my damaged ankle. You see, three months ago while fighting in armor, I got knocked down by a pile of big shieldmen and sprained my left ankle ligaments severely. I was given crutches and told to stay off it for a month while the sprain healed. My friends, knowing I’ve been under orders from the Morrígan to write about Her, started joking with me: “Somebody really wants you to sit down and write that book!”

I laughed. She didn’t have to break my ankle to get me to write the book – I had already committed to it. I committed to it last March when She laid the nóinden on me to finish it by the end of the year, and I committed to it again when I signed a publishing contract that says I’ll deliver my manuscript by December 31st.

When I went down on the field

That recovery month stretched into two, while I spent most of my days sitting at home, foot elevated, writing. My doctor sent me to a specialist. “Ligament injuries take time.” September, I was supposed to be able to start walking in a protective boot, but I couldn’t. “Well, let’s get you an MRI. Better stay off it until we see what’s going on in there.” Another month on crutches. Around the first of October I passed 60,000 words on the manuscript. Today, I saw the specialist who looked at my MRI. I think what they said is “localized osteochodral damage to the talus”. Which translates to: “When you sprained your ankle, your leg bone also took a chunk out of the cartilage on top of your ankle bone and that’s why you still can’t walk. Oh, and you’ll need surgery.”

So it’s another month to wait for my surgery in late October, and then eight more weeks recovery after, until I will be able to walk. And would you look at that? That brings us to the end of December. So what appeared to be a minor combat injury that should have had me on my feet in four to six weeks has now extended to keep me immobilized in my house until the time my book is due to Herself as well as to my publisher. Neat and tidy.

My friends are still teasing me: “Boy, She’s not kidding about getting you to finish that book on time!” I still laugh, but I will admit to you that my laughter has a little touch of grim today. I will admit to feeling a little exposed. The realization that the Goddess you’ve dedicated yourself to has chosen to break your body to ensure the results She wants… is a weighty one. This is not a surprise to me. I knew what I was doing when I dedicated myself to Her fully and gave her guardianship of my destiny and my death. I just didn’t know specifically when or how She might collect on that commitment, and it’s a pretty profound thing to be experiencing. I don’t in the least bit regret it. I’m just telling you this story because it’s a good example of shit just got real around here.

So when people are asking me why they shouldn’t dedicate themselves to Her early in a devotional relationship, this is what I want to say.

Magic is deadly real. And, um, theurgic binding magic? With a war Goddess? Really-deadly-not-fucking-around-seriously real.

I feel like I should maybe say that again. The Gods are not fucking around. When you hand yourself over to Them, They can break your bones, end your life or alter it completely, send you down pathways that foreclose other avenues of choice and ability, and perhaps what should be most sobering of all, transform and sculpt you from the person you were into the person They feel would be most useful to Them. In particular, speaking of the Morrígan, She’s apt to size you up for what sort of weapon you’ll make, and start turning you into that. And, well, here’s the thing: weapons face damage. It’s what they’re made for.

Do you have sovereignty and agency in all of this? Can you control how much of your destiny and being you give Them? Yes, you absolutely can, AND YOU SHOULD. Could you dedicate yourself to Her, but with different terms than I did? Yes. Can there be different degrees and kinds of dedication with different levels of safety and risk? Yes!

BUT: You have to be equipped to enter that negotiation effectively, remaining in full possession of your awareness and discernment of what you are giving, under what terms you are committing to Them, what They want your dedication for (and what, therefore, you may be transformed into in service of that), what you are receiving from Them, what manner of binding you are undertaking in that relationship, and for how long that binding will be in effect. I say “equipped” because this isn’t just about how you feel about that divinity – this is about having the spiritual and magical training to be able to discern, understand and negotiate these things. And perhaps most importantly, it is completely dependent on the clarity, depth, and skill with which you are able to communicate with that divinity, so you can even figure out what They are asking you to undertake and what risks you are accepting.

And that is why I suggest that people give a devotional relationship a LOT of time to develop before considering undertaking dedication to that divinity. That gives you the time to get all those magical, divinatory, theurgic, and psychic skills under your belt. And it gives you the time to get to know that divinity. See what They are up to, what Their agendas are, what sort of service They like to put people to. Maybe hang out with a few other of their devotees for a few years and see what impacts other people experience when they undertake different kinds of initiations,  dedications and devotional contracts.

I also encourage people considering this to ask yourself “Why?” Why do you feel pulled to undertake ritual dedication to this God? Can you articulate clearly why it is necessary for you, who you think will benefit and how? If the answer is something like “I just feel strongly called to”, then you probably haven’t examined it closely enough. If the answer to “Why?” is about your feelings, you may be doing this for the wrong reasons. Devotional dedication isn’t like having sex. We don’t decide to do it because “it feels good” and “I really really want to” and “this person/God enthralls me”. It is a binding magical contract. It’s a lot more like marriage than sex, and maybe more like indentured servitude than marriage (depending on the terms). Dedicating yourself to a divinity before you have both studied and deeply experiential knowledge of Them as well as the skills to actually communicate and negotiate a magical contract with a powerful discarnate being, is something like a person who can’t read signing their name in blood on a document because the person who handed it to them smelled good. Maybe something bad… maybe something good! Maybe it’s a one-month lease for use of premises. Maybe it’s a lifelong marriage contract with a clause excluding divorce. Maybe you just gave them a claim on everyone in your bloodline for nine generations, plus what happens to you in your next nine incarnations. We don’t know, it just felt right!

All right – I’ll simmer down. I don’t mean to mock anyone. I’m just sitting here facing down another three months of disability and I’m trying to convey how real and consequential these choices are. Each of us, when we come to a decision like this, has to make an assessment of where we stand with regard to skill, knowledge, and readiness.  If you’ve thought this through, you know what you’re getting into, and you know it’s worth it to you, then go forward without regrets. I’ll be sending you moral support from where I sit with my smashed ankle elevated, writing this book.

45 comments on Theurgic binding: or, “S#!t just got real”

  1. Asa West says:

    Hi Morpheus,

    First off, I apologize for waiting so long to respond to you. When I first read your response to my post, I took a step back because I didn’t want to escalate the situation further, and I wanted to make sure that I was calm and collected before taking any action.

    While I stand by what I said, I recognize that my post had a negative effect on you and others, and I apologize for that. My intention wasn’t to belittle anyone’s spiritual practice. I strive to write from a place of empathy and understanding, and this has been a learning experience for me.

    Finally, since I’m guessing you’ve had the surgery by now, I hope it went well and your recovery’s going smoothly.

    With much love and admiration,

    1. Morpheus says:

      Hi there – My own apologies as I didn’t see your comment right away, for some reason.
      I think you and I see things quite differently when it comes to relationships with Gods and the impacts of that work. But I don’t take this sort of difference of opinion personally. The world has room in it for many approaches to practice and theology. Thanks for the note! Blessings –

      1. Tina says:

        Hello, my name is Tina. I have been reading and learning about the Celts and druids for quite some time. You know more about them than I thought I did,and I want to know more. I have been to. Avenue, Stonehenge, and the white horse of uffington. I have gone to eire. And still I want to learn more. I am 66 years old
        This has been going on since I was 33. So I need to know more. Thank you for your time. Peace, Tina

  2. pixie says:

    I am really interested in some serious discussions on this topic because I am the result of a vow that a past life incarnation made to a deity. All of these years of life in the Druid tradition and Feri were my unconscious search for this deity that is pretty much unknown outside of Hinduism. When this past life information was revealed it was simultaneously devastating and affirming, and I don’t know maybe my story could be useful for people considering such vows. An Indian mystic from an uncommon sect devoted to a deity alomst totally unknown outside of Asian gets rebooted into a girl born to a working class Polish-American family in rural Indiana and she is unconsciously drawn to all the things in Western culture that were like the Indian religion and she somehow positions herself in the SFBay area so that this deity can find her again and drag her back to the places in India where the past life guy once walked.

    1. pixie says:

      Forgot to add that maybe this would be a good p-con meetup discussion topic.

  3. Morgause says:

    I have exactly the same injury and made exactly the same joke-but-not-a-joke, that I’d been cluttering my life up with too much ‘fluff’ and not getting down to the nitty-gritty that She wanted of me. My surgery – ligament reconstruction with donated tissue from a cadaver, plus drilling for the OCD – takes place in about 3 weeks and after that, I know I’ll be doing a lot more resting than is my wont. I felt like She was grabbing me and saying ‘HEY! I want you to DO this! Is this what it takes to get you to find the time?!’

    I don’t, however, resent or begrudge this. She may not be the conventional nurturing mother type, but She still is a mother and, yes, She just did the divine equivalent of sitting me on the naughty chair for a time out until I can get things right. Tough love is a specialty of Hers, but that ‘s because I see Her as urging me on to develop myself in order to meet both Her agenda for work AND my own needs. My needs, of course, are not always firmly in step with my wants. She’s no fluffy bunny to be indulging me in the latter and I don’t expect Her to be. I respect and love Her for this.

    I guess what I want to say is: yes, s#!t got real and always has been real and will continue to get right up in our faces and real…and that’s okay, though anyone choosing to dedicate to Her ought to be aware of Her nature before they are dedicating. We know our road is not an easy one, but we also know that we can walk it (even with crutches or, in my case, a knee walker) because we have the strength, purpose and stamina to see it through.

    She chose us after all.

    Wishing you a smooth recovery from the surgery. :)

  4. Natalie says:

    It sounds as though perhaps the injury was a form of protection. Perhaps The Morrigan knew that the stress of trying to do many things at once would do you harm, and the injury was a way to allow you to fulfill your promise without overtaxing yourself.

  5. Wytchfawn says:

    We all have free will… it’s what makes us human. We have the right to say ‘no’ to any person, deity or spirit. We are not slaves and any deity who would have me as such, is not worthy of my devotion IMHO.
    At the same time, when we commit to a project in the name of a deity, they have ways of making sure we stick to it. Sounds to me like the Morrigan made you stick to the commitments you promised.

    1. Wytchfawn says:

      Also, our Hermetic priesthood wrote on the very same topic but with definitions of the signposts that accompanies the path of Devotion.

  6. Ban says:

    Curious to come upon your writings again during a heavy thought meditation tonight. Just recently I went through a bit of a lapse where I felt like Alice tumbling down the rabbit hole and taking mistakened turns. Making up for lost time with the divine and learning through the source roots of my mistakes, it stings but…I am grateful through the pain to learn these lessons into wholeness with them.

    I am barely 20 in physical years but the journey, the path I have taken for the past 5 years with the divine has shaped me tremendously. I have made mistakes, innumerable heavy mistakes, but unlike the rest of my generation, I have sacrificed and worked so much with the Goddesses and my God to get to this point.

    Especially last year when my friend perished in a car accident with his newborn child. My niece I never knew existed until many weeks after the crash.. My friend, I barely knew in those 2 years, was the biggest blow I ever experienced in this life and yet he was the dearest blessing that made me bleed spiritually and tearfully before the divine. Painfully vulnerable. Painfully raw, enflaming and trembling at every twist and turn. Only the Goddesses/God’s touch kept me sane, even through the anger of the loss, the ache of having my heart ripped open, the tsunamis of tears that nearly drowned me even at schooling. I barely knew my Goddess Aset, or my God, Loki then, but I gave every ounce of insane, sane, and insecure trust to him, to her since the first day that wound was made. When the first month passed I gave my devotion to them. Not simply for an heavily emotional 18 year old to survive. But because that glimmer of heart light, my spirit, though thrashed trembling in the furls, choose to. My friend’s passing was his sacrifice to us, his only family, but a divine one that had lead to a deeper journey of self discovery, betterment with the divine. They rebirthed me, they taught me so many times, they..have done so much with me and for me, it’s hard to describe beyond these typed words and computer screen. I can only offer to them the intensity of such love that has born from that glimmer of a light they shaped into a rose since those first tears. I am flawed, weaknesses that are my greatest of strengths, but I… I gave them my loneliness to be a heart to heart bridge. I gave them my love….I gave them my hand. Because I yearn to heal, know my true self and share with all of them, my life, my gifts, my passion that is deep and ancient as the oceans of this great mother earth. Liquid fire that burns like the beckons of loneliness they await for me to share…everything…..It has been a year since his passing broke my heart, but it broke so the divine could come in. And it still is a wild temple mandala….but I welcome each moment that they take with each shard ..creating and reweaving something beautiful. It is not simply a service…but an art that I cherish with my divine loves. I only pray it touches all too.

  7. Jaimie says:

    Fascinating comments, all.

    I have some questions, and Asa’s post raised some of them. I have to set them up. Please bear with me. They have to do with the nature of personal sovereignty while relating with a Goddess of sovereignty, as well as other Gods, Themselves Sovereigns relating to humans who are in various relationships with their own personal sovereignty.

    Asa, to me, seems to be suggesting that if our relationship with a God changes as our relationship with our personal sovereignty changes such that we no longer wish to serve them, that it *is* possible to take back that sovereignty given. And thus endeth the relationship, any contracts or oaths null and void. She seems to be suggesting that, as we grow and deepen in personal sovereignty, we very well may desire to end the relationship with the God(s) we serve, and that there *is* room in relationships with deity to take back the sovereignty we have given over to Them regardless of the level of commitment. That theurgic binding can be undone. Morpheus, do you disagree? Others?

    So I see some larger theological issues, which Morpheus raises, as do your other fine comments.

    Do Gods have the power to nullify the contract, oath, relationship if they so desire and theurgically unbind? Do humans have the power to nullify the contract, oath, relationship if they so desire and theurgically unbind? What does sovereignty mean if we’re stuck with a God we feel we’ve outgrown?

    I do not know. I can imagine outgrowing a relationship with a God, although I have not done it. I can imagine rashly rushing into it before knowledge of myself or the God is sufficient to make that a wise choice, although that, too, is not my experience.

    Maybe my questions point to my own lack of understanding of elementary matters. So be it. But if anyone present can say they fully understand themselves, I raise my glass to you. We know ourselves in part. We know each other in part. How well can we then know a *God*? And are we then forever theurgically bound with that which we cannot fully know if we are pledged to Them and really, truly, as a sovereign being, want out?

    I’m not arguing for one position or another. In truth, I am ignorant of the answers. Perhaps my questions are both magickal and theological in nature.

    I have just confused myself.

  8. River Devora says:

    *nodding along with your post* I have had similar experiences with my Gods as well. Within a month of my oathing to Odin, I needed to undergo surgery on my eye. Here’s the thing – I am intensely eye-phobic. I know, working with a one-eyed God, the phobia is rather unfortunate… I stopped breathing during the surgery (it was all done under local anaesthesia, and I could see the knife as it cut me), and Odin stepped in and breathed for me because I couldn’t do it. Because part of what my oathing process called for was trust in Odin, was an ordeal process, and as you say, sh*t got real. There was a raven sitting on the hood of my car when I left the house to go to the surgery, and the surgery process itself I dedicated to him.

    For me, I wouldn’t call my oaths with my Powers “theurgic bindings”, because I don’t tend to use magical-type language to describe my religious work. My oaths are dedication oaths, more like wedding vows. But the idea, I think, is equivalent to what you are describing here.

    1. Morpheus says:

      I feel you, sister! I almost added in some examples about Odinn, as one of those deities who seems to often have very physical impacts on His dedicants. I think every person I know who has done an oath or initiatory rite with Him has had eye complications.

      Re: the language, I take you point. For me and in the tradition I’m working from, magical operations and religious ones are not wholly separate. In a lot of cases, ritual magic is the technology of religion, as I see and experience it. My oath to the Morrígan is a dedication oath and a religious act. And as I see it, when you take an oath, it may be for religious intent but the mechanism by which it becomes binding on you is a magical one, and that’s the theurgic binding I speak of. That is what’s behind my use of language. I do think we’re speaking of essentially equivalent things.

      1. River Devora says:

        on the magic vs. religious lang…*nodnod* yep that makes total sense. I have also often described magic as being one of several types of spirit tech one may find in magico-religious practices. One can practice religion without practicing magic, and one can practice magic without practicing religion, and the two are (for me) separate things, but with enough crossover that I think sometimes the language can get fuzzy.

  9. Sam says:


    I would be really interested in how you define the words “devotion” and “dedication”, and further, what the difference is between devotion, dedication, and submission, if there is any for you. I would also love to hear about your views on your spiritual authority when working with deity.

    Thanks for a very thought provoking post,


    1. Morpheus says:

      Hi there,
      I hope to devote more writing soon to the topic of the difference between devotion and dedication, because it is an important one. For the moment I’m just trying to keep up with my book writing schedule, but look for a follow-up some time in the next few weeks. Best I can do right now!

  10. Valiel says:


    I’m mailing you right now.

  11. I applaud your candor in this posting, but I have to say I don’t have the same experience with the Queen. My formal dedication has been 15+ years now, but I knew Her long before that. In point of fact, I owe my life to Her.

    So my devotion is different. The contention, the negotiation, the “terms”, are things not existent in my relationship to Her and Her’s with me. We rarely argue, and I’m often called to do difficult things by Her, and I do them without question or complaint. And asking the way I honor and bless Her and make my sacrifices to her, mostly sacrificing fears and limitations. I show my courage quietly, always giving public and private honor to Her.

    Only in the last year or so have I had the privilege of meeting others devoted to Her, and been deeply impressed by the strength and courage of many of them. Some seem to resist the calls and suffer for it, but it’s rare and more commonly I meet those who set aside ego and do the duty that comes with devotion.

    In a conversation about this, Orion Foxwood remarked that what I was describing was love, and it seemed that was the core of my experience of the War Goddess. And it is, love and trust.

    So I have a hard time relating to this idea of having the Gods break my leg to force me to fulfill a contract. I can’t imagine the kind of headspace of have to be in to resist a request from my Queen, especially when she has given me the gifts She has, and let me have my life when I should, by rights, be dead.

    I hope your recovery is quick and complete.

    1. Morpheus says:

      Hi, Edward. Thanks for the comment.
      You emphasize something here that is a big part of my point in writing this. The Gods are sometimes going to surprise us with how they collect on or choose to enforce our commitments to them, and we need to take that seriously. Because as you may have noted in your reading of the post, I actually didn’t at any point resist Her order to write. At the time when I was injured, I was already dedicating full-time work hours to writing, as I have been ever since. I’m not sure who you’re referring to when it comes to needing to “set aside ego and do the duty that comes with devotion”. But that’s exactly what I wanted novice devotional practitioners to notice: Even when you ARE doing your duty, following through on your commitments to the Gods, the fact of having given a dedication constitutes a magical binding that may have very real consequences on your life. That in a lot of cases, hardship can come WITH the devotion and the fulfillment of your commitments to the Gods. This isn’t feel-good stuff. We seem to be in agreement on that.

      1. Sam says:


        I would love to know how you define the word “devotion” and what you consider a devotional practitioner apart from others. I would also be really interested in hearing you talk about the difference between devotion and submission, and what your views are on your own spiritual authority in relation to deity.

        Thanks for a very thought provoking post,


      2. Absolutely I agree that the commitments I have made have real consequences, and one needs to enter into them with sober forethought. Secondly , I agree that the magic is and can be deadly real. I also did not mean to imply that you’d not committed fully to writing the book; I suppose I’m a bit confused then why use the blog post to emphasize the deadly seriousness of the commitment to it and your injury, if not to say the Queen broke your leg to force you to write.

        More importantly though, I think what’s lost here is the nature of the relationship between us and Them. I’m no expert on the lore, but whenever the Queen takes a hostile stand, e.g. with Cu in the TBC, it’s because he was letting his pride get in the way of his vision. Heroism isn’t about strength and skill alone, but also about thought and wisdom, things he tends to lack. I submit that her actions to thwart him aren’t just about rejecting Her, but failing to live up to his potential beyond the physical prowess he was born with, and not cultivating grace and wisdom as well.

        I think of loving a war goddess a lot like admiring your drill sergeant. Through all the harshness and pain, there’s a goal: to shape you into a better, more complete person. To hone your physical, mental, and spiritual being thorough a process of tearing out the broken and dysfunctional and tempering and strengthening what remains. While the process hurts like hell, we each know that to represent Her we need to be the best we can.

        I see a lot of chest thumping in certain parts of polytheism, a lot of people showing scars saying how they got their ass kicked and what they survived. I have my scars too, and sometimes I like the validation of the recognition, but I’m more moved by the deep relationship of trust and love I have with Her. I try to remind others when I speak of Her.

        I did a workshop last June about warriorship, and I quoted a Force Recon Marine saying that the hallmark of a warrior is the higher standard of care he has for those he serves and protects. The deeper the love, he said, the deeper the place the fight will come from to protect his charges.

        In all this I don’t want that kind of motivation to be lost in the tales of “you better know what your getting into”. Sure, you’d better. But one should also know that when you succeed, when you honor Her in your victory, She honors and blesses you more than any man or nation can.

      3. Cypress says:

        Wow, Morpheus. I remember you writing at length a while back about waking up to the fact that you were in an abusive romantic partnership.

        So this thing with your ankle… you were injured on the battlefield. *It happens.* It’s curious and disturbing to me that you would take the position that the Morrighan did it because you weren’t working fast enough to suit her. If a human partner broke your ankle for a similar reason, I can only hope you would have had his/her ass thrown in jail. I’m just perplexed about why you worked so hard to break free from an abusive human, but are rationalizing your relationship with a deity who would abuse you–and yes, based on how you described things, that is what it looks like–when things aren’t going Her way.

        1. Morpheus says:

          I think there are a great many more nuanced and intelligent understandings possible than what you seem to take from reading my story. Thanks for linking back to my story on my experiences with abuse – good thing you’re here to remind me, right? Because without that, I’d have forgotten that I am a survivor of abuse? Really?

          If the story I tell in this post looks like abuse to you, you may want to better educate yourself on how abuse actually works. Because, as I clearly state in this post, I made a very clear agreement up-front in which I gave the Morrígan my full being. I did that for my own reasons and as I’ve said in the post, I have never regretted it, nor does anything I’m now experiencing register to me as abuse or suffering, nor come as a surprise. Abusive relationships NEVER begin from up-front negotiation on terms, agreements, and boundaries. NEVER. That is why abusers are able to do what they do – they present themselves as caring partners and then gradually introduce the abusive behaviors while simultaneously undermining their partner’s self-worth.

          In fact the entire POINT of this post is that you can and should enter into these dedicatory devotional relationships from a position of power, which is what I did. Your perpetuating the narrative of abuser/victim dynamic actually erases MY agency in the relationship. It is based on a very shallow reading of my story. I’m sure you can do better.

          1. Cypress says:

            I didn’t think you’d forgotten. :-( My entire point in responding to this post at all was that by linking your injury to your relationship with the Morrighan, I felt that *you* were perpetuating the abuser/victim narrative. And with that, I guess I’ve “said my piece.”

  12. Fawn says:

    Our budding priesthood also re-examined the process of devotional work…and what our relationships with deity look like. These are all good questions, like roadmarks to ‘check in’ with.

  13. Willow says:

    THANK YOU. So many people, especially under the age of 40, do not take this seriously. They bind themselves to things that they don’t fully understand (but think they do) and I’ve seen people destroy their own lives this way. Dark things, especially, are currently “cool” and “edgy” and “misunderstood but actually good inside wubbiekins” because of pop culture, and these truly dark beings eat these people (mostly girls) for lunch from the inside out. When I see it, I simply have to turn away and let it go, because nothing I’ve ever said to them gets through, so I’ve given up trying. It’s sad to see.

    1. If I may–
      The same sort of thing is said about people who give themselves fully to radical eco-activism, that these ‘kids’ don’t know what they’re doing or don’t understand the consequences of their decisions now.

      Some awful things can happen to you when the cops finally track you down for sabotaging a bulldozer or construction site, or for blocking an oil-shipment or pipeline. Your life can get utterly destroyed, you can face thirty of your best years in jail, get raped and worse in prison, and never be able to lead a normal life again.

      Some ‘kids’ just won’t listen, and I’m humbled and grateful for their stubbornness.

    2. Sam says:

      Dear Willow,



      a witch under 40

    3. Alley Valkyrie says:

      I think that ageism serves no useful purpose in this discussion. I know just as many people over the age of 40 who have done exactly as you describe as those who are younger, and as opposed to the youth, the older set sometimes tend to be even more irresponsible as they assume that age equals wisdom and that they know what they’re doing. I think that the Pagan community overall has a very bad habit of underestimating the wisdom of the younger set and sticking to the default assumption that with age comes experience. Some older folks have a lifetime of experience, others have a few years’ worth of experience that they’ve been repeating over and over again for a lifetime. And some of the youth in our community carry a wisdom and an understanding that is developed well beyond what one might assume given their numerical age.

      Do any of us ever “fully understand”? I think the point of this article is that we don’t, even if and when we fully understand the level of commitment that we are taking, we still don’t fully understand at the time how that will actually manifest in our lives until it does.

      The Gods chose me when I was 23, broke my body and my mind in a classically mythological fashion, and I didn’t have the luxury of either life experience or consent in that case. I sure as hell didn’t fully understand the implications at the time, and it took me years to work through and come to terms with what had really happened and why, but I can honestly say that such work would have been infinitely harder had I (or anyone else for that matter) gone through such an experience in my forties as opposed to my twenties.

  14. Féileacán says:

    I think you’ve really hit home with a great way to describe just how “real” it can be. I, for one, am truly praying for the success of your book, both for Her and for all those who wish to learn about Her. But I do hope that what She once broke, She will also help mend when the time is right. A damaged weapon must be repaired to be at its most effective after all.

    I feel compelled to comment to this post, as it has really hit home for me….

    She guided me for years, calling, nudging, until I finally was ready to know the name to the force who has sung like a siren to me and shaped me. I know that if She has been there all along, then why would I choose to separate from Her now? I began learning of Her in any way I could, working with Her and seeing Her in events around me even more. I did a light dedication to begin my devotion to Her and I have continued my studies. I will eventually come to the precipice where I will choose to wear the mantle as one of Her high priestesses. I do not take it lightly, and I know that there is much work and learning as well as reward in walking Her path.

    And though you were bound to write the book, I will thank you anyway for doing it, for the time and the effort it is taking you. As a fellow writer, I know the struggles with getting your ideas onto the blank page. I offer you what support I can from the other end of the country.


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