In all my years of teaching Health Coaching, I've always tried to incorporate getting people to stop, take a moment to breathe and look at things with a different perspective. My teaching in witchcraft is no different. I myself always try to look at different perspectives. It's not always an easy task, but I do try!
As a society we've all come accustomed to conversing with one another through text and meme's. This can make having a conversation extremely challenging. No tones can be heard through texting except for the ones that you project onto it. With that said, let's bring a new perspective, and dive into another hot, controversial topic in the witch community!
GATEKEEPING!! *insert dramatic music here!*
gate·keep·ing /ˈɡātˌkēpiNG/ noun
1. the activity of controlling, and usually limiting, general access to something.
First off...It doesn't have to be dramatic... It's dramatic because people make it that way or take it the wrong way. But how does this word "Gatekeeping" apply to the witchcraft community? There are some people that feel very strongly, that it's their place to tell other witches how to practice their craft or what to believe in the craft. They can even go as far as belittling another witch for the way they practice. Which, by the way, you should NEVER belittle another person! Period.
Example: Someone was explaining their methods on social media platforms (ME) and I received a message that I should not be using a lighter. I should be using matches. "It's more natural with matches, Laurie. Don't use a lighter! That is so stupid and terrible, you shouldn't be teaching people that!"
I'm not going to lie, I was a bit taken aback with the message, but, instead of retaliating with anger, I took a moment, analysed it and came to a conclusion:
A) I will use whatever I want, it's my practice.
B) Using a lighter over matches doesn't make the spell work any less.
C) Calm down and explain.
So, I took away two things and learned from that moment:
1 - Don't get mad because someone said something to me that I didn't agree with. It's my practice, they gave advice, I didn't care for the advice, so I didn't take it. The End. Moving on.
2 - I took some time to explain to this person, there was a better method of "reaching out to me" other than belittling me and demanding I do what they thought was the "right way." Surprisingly, they were receptive to my response and apologized. So, I felt like two people walked away with a lesson learned that day.
Had they not taken my response well, and came at me in a vicious way, I would have ended the conversation there. At that point you just don't engage with someone like that. They clearly aren't interested in anyway but their way. Learn to pick your battles. At the end of the day, I will practice how I want no matter what anyone says to me. It's as simple as that.
We as humans evolved over time and so should our craft -- if the ancestors had an easier way to do something, I am sure they would be all over that method in a heartbeat. I also refuse to start a fire with caveman methods! :)
Now, back to gatekeeping. If you come into a witchy group and ask for advice, EXPECT to get advice. Albeit, more than not, you will get answers you don't like! Will you get people that seem like they have an elitist vibe? Yep. Will you get people that will belittle you and answer with their egos? Yep. Will you get people that give you great advice? Yep. Will you get people that will give you horrible advice? Yep. But you know what? It is ALL OK! Take what serves you well, and leave behind what doesn't, but don't go into the group now screaming, "GATEKEEPER!!"
No...no it's not gate keeping. I will explain why and I am going to keep this extremely simple and to the point.... Gatekeeping, is "The activity of controlling and limiting, general access to something."
NO ONE in a social media setting is controlling YOU or YOUR practice. The only one controlling you is YOU. People can say or type whatever they want to you, but it doesn't mean they have ANY control 'gatekeeping' power over YOU and your practice. No matter how you practice, you’re doing it right. Ignore the haters and the people who tell you, you should do this or that. Trust your gut, and trust your instinct when it comes to your craft and you’ll be doing just fine and dandy.
BUT, if you've never opened a book, never studied, never researched one thing about witchcraft, I highly recommend you NOT dive into spell casting as your first witchy deed. Read. Research. Center and ground. Learn. Read more. Research more. Put in the work! Then do the spells.
LAURIE!!! YOU JUST DID GATEKEEPING. No, I gave advice. Take it or leave it. The power is yours, to take or to leave.
Witchcraft is not some Harry Potter movie. It's a spiritual practice and should be treated sacred. It's a practice where all mundane things should be exhausted first, then, and only then, you try the witchy part. Witchcraft is not for fixing all of life's problems. Sometimes YOU as a person, have to fix your own problems and change thought patterns before moving onto the next step.
Gatekeeping: Stop throwing that word around like it has power. It doesn't. Plain and simple. It only has power if you allow it to have power and then you proceed to follow the advice that the "gatekeeper" was spewing.
I am using the term Gatekeeper loosely here, (I don't believe there are gatekeepers) but I will use it here so that we all know what/who I am talking about.
"Gatekeepers" are people who will tell you what to read, or shouldn't read, they will tell you what to believe and what not to believe. They will tell you how you should practice, how you should stand, how you should sit, how to leave offerings...the list goes on and on... But again, at the end of the day, YOU take what you want and leave behind what you don't want.
There are NO gatekeepers unless YOU make them that.
Witchcraft is unique to each practitioner, as we all do things slightly different. Practicing differently doesn't make it wrong. And of course you WILL get people that say, "Don't do that! It's wrong!" Don't take it personally. Some people simply can not articulate well and/or are just blunt. Or maybe they want to answer you but don't have enough time to type all the details so it sounds bossy. Nothing more, nothing less. Stop reading into hidden messages in everything.
There are no gatekeepers and not everything is terrible.
Speaking of not taking things personally, I highly recommend you read The Four Agreements. One of the agreements is just that.... "Don't take anything personally."
This part is for the "Gatekeepers": If someone comes into a group and asks for advice, and we feel compelled to teach people, we could say something like, "I have never seen this done that way before, can you explain why you do it this way?" Presenting it this way, makes you less egotistical, and threatening and it also opens the conversation up, so that maybe you could learn something new in the process! It also encourages the Novice to engage with the Elders without feeling dumb.
The ELDERS should be doing everything in their power to encourage the next generation to practice, to encourage questions and not create an environment where they are afraid to ask questions. The Elders should be willing to teach the old ways, but also, allowing themselves to be open to embrace new ideas and thoughts. The Elders should be teaching, not belittling. LEAD by example, not by ego.
Or if you see someone doing something that would be counterproductive to their goals, you could offer advice such as, "I do it like this because....XYZ." Don't just say, "Well, I do it like this." without an explanation. Take the time to explain WHY you do it that way. When presenting your opinion, do so in a non-demanding & threatening way. Presenting yourself with a more educational manner, will surely be met with listening ears rather than mirrored attitudes.
BOTH sides of this coin can certainly give and take things a lot better.
BOTH sides can, practice listening, practice leaving egos at the door, practice being receptive to new ways, old ways and ideas, and please stop calling people who are truly trying to educate, gatekeepers. There are no gatekeepers.
We all need to start lifting each other up. I've said it before, as witches, we are healers not destroyers. We have all made mistakes and will more than likely make many more in our lifetime. That is part of the learning process. Trial and error! However, we also need to learn, that egos often get in the way. Ego: Take off the E and let it go!
We are ALL still learning. ALL of us. I don't care how long you have been practicing, there is always room for learning and growth.
Remember there are no gatekeepers.
Until next time, Live, Love and Magick!