Imposter Witch

Photo by Ibolya Toldi on

Think back to when you first decided to fully embrace the witch in you. How did you feel? If you’re like me, you had a profound sense that you could achieve anything you set your mind to. It was almost as if I put in a cheat code on life and things suddenly seemed so much easier. I was happier, felt grounded and balanced, and in those months following, the weight of my anxiety and uncertainties lifted. On a new path, I was voracious for any knowledge that could help guide my next steps. I bought so many books, sought social groups of like-minded individuals, and did all I could to educate myself on how to be a better witch. And for a while, you could probably say I was the very model of a modern craft practitioner.

But, like all things do, those feeling passed. While I may, at times, feel bursts here and there of that energy, it isn’t the constant euphoria that followed when I was starting out. I guess there is some disappointment that comes with that realization. I used to think that it would only get better. If I felt so great at the beginning, imagine how wonderful I’d feel when I was more knowledgeable. I never really needed hand holding at any point of my journey, but I at least felt like I’d reached the stage where I could help others who needed it. And yet, the more confident I became in what I was doing, the more I wondered if it was genuine. That’s not to say I worried I wasn’t helping for the right reasons. It’s more that I feared I might not be good enough to offer my advice or aid.

Was it enough that I felt like a witch? Called myself a witch? What if I was going through the motions but was falling short? After all, there were so many others who seemed to have a better grasp on it than I did. For example, in the groups that I’m in, these were the kinds of posts I’d wake up to:

  • “I astral projected last night and…”
  • “When I was scrying I saw…”
  • “I conversed with my deceased grandmother last night and…”
  • “I had a vision that…”
  • “The spell I cast worked but…”
  • “Tarot (or other divinatory methods) just comes easily to me.”

Meanwhile, there I was, a tarot deck in my hand, wondering how I was ever going to memorize all the meanings of every card. I knew deep down that it was something that would eventually become intuitive, but when you see not just one but many people saying how simple the process was for them while you’re struggling with it, it makes you wonder if you’re cut out to do it.

Changing gears for a second:

As a writer, I can say with confidence that the writing community is rampant with people who suffer from imposter syndrome. According to the American Psychological Association, “impostor phenomenon occurs among high achievers who are unable to internalize and accept their success. They often attribute their accomplishments to luck rather than to ability, and fear that others will eventually unmask them as a fraud [source].” You find it at every level, too. Whether they’re beginning their first manuscript or have dozens of books published and multiple awards lining their shelves, it’s still pervasive among us. When my first book was published, it took me a year to really think of myself as a writer, and even then, it felt weird to think that there are people out there who read it.

Yet, my accomplishments in writing pale in comparison to my literary hero, Neil Gaiman. Along with a handful of other writers, his works are what inspired me to become a story-teller in the first place. So, when he shared his anecdote about how even he suffered from imposter syndrome (along with another famous scientific icon), it really helped to put things in perspective for me. Even the giants among us, the men and women who seem so elevated in terms of skill and achievement, are human and have their own insecurities and doubts. If you are unfamiliar with what he says about it, I encourage you to click on the link. And if you’re unfamiliar with who Neil Gaiman is, please, please, please go check out his work. You will not be disappointed.

Circling back now:

So what does this have to do with being a witch? Well, imposter syndrome is very real and very common within our community as well. You might wonder why other people can astral project at will while you’re still trying to figure out if you’ve opened your third eye. You might be beating your head against the wall trying to master writing spells and making sigils while you see others doing it in minutes. When you see other people with ‘gifts’ and ‘talents’ it’s easy to think that maybe something is wrong with you. Why is it that everybody else can do these awesome, amazing, incredible things, and you feel like you’re just… ordinary?

So, the first thing you need to do is understand this: anybody can be a witch. It’s not about what gifts you have or how naturally they come. It’s about intention. Secondly, you also need to consider that just because you don’t have the same gifts as somebody else, it doesn’t mean that you don’t have any. So what if you can’t converse with spirits or astral project? Who cares if it takes you a little longer to master the tarot deck than it does for others? Your gifts may lie somewhere you haven’t even considered. You might be a grounding force for others without even realizing it. You may have a way of calming and soothing others simply by being near them. I promise you, there is a gift inside of you.

But who am I? You don’t know me. And you might be thinking, ‘how can you possibly say that there’s something special about me when you’ve never met me?’ That makes sense. Still, I truly and genuinely believe that there is something special in every individual. Saying that, I encourage you to go to a family member or close friend and ask them flat-out what they think your strengths are. It might seem like a strange thing to do, but sometimes the answers can be pleasantly surprising and encouraging. Also, coming from them, it means so much more than when some stranger, witch-lady on the internet tells you that you’re the bee’s knees.

Final thoughts:

Feeling like you don’t belong within the witch community is extremely common. However, most people don’t talk about it because one of the things about imposter syndrome is a fear of being discovered as a fraud. But you aren’t, and you do belong. Think about how far you’ve come already, and if you’re just starting out, think of the reason why you decided to start the journey in the first place. Avoid comparing yourself against others because they may be at a different stage in their journey than you are. You don’t see the full picture and don’t know why or how they came to be able to do the things they are capable of doing. Focus on you, be confident that growth is better than perfection, and understand that the the only person who can define what and who you are is you.

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