Welcome back to our next edition of this series. A few months back, after publishing our first 4 interviews, an outpouring of interest came in from women in this community who wanted to contribute by sharing their words, experience and perspective. Holding a space for these women to tell their stories felt like a real honor to me.
I am continuing to publish the words of some of my favorite Witches that I have personally reached out to, as well as readers of HTHG that I have not yet personally met, because it feels IMPORTANT and I will keep doing it until it leads to something else.
HTHG started out about simply DIY HAIR and has taken us down a portal deeper into identity and empowerment. The question of what it means to be a WITCH is simply a facet and a stop along the journey, a moment to dive into a subject that obviously touches many of us.
The process of producing content that is authentic and meaningful has been very much like following a single firefly deep into a big dark cave. Occasionally, the firefly enters a small chamber, and illuminates every aspect of its surroundings. There, we stop to look around.
Please enjoy this interview with Natalia Karoway on the topic of what it means to be a witch.
What does the term Witch mean to you?
To me, a witch is someone who is tapped into the magic of existence and is devoted to assisting in the healing of mother earth and all of her children—human, animal, plant and beyond. A witch is deeply connected to the natural world — and she collaborates with the energy of earth and spirit to instigate transformations for herself and for those who call upon her. She is a space holder, knowing that she does not provide “healings” yet she uses her wisdom, power, and magic to set a stage for what is possible around her.
How would one know that one was a witch? 🙂
I think that it is simply a resonance and an alignment with the magical energetics of living in service to the earth and your community. It doesn’t have to be a strict definition. There are many other definitions than my personal thoughts above. I don’t believe you need to be initiated or called upon… but you do need to choose to walk the path and live it in action—not just in a sense of fashion or collecting crystals. I view it as stepping into a position of service.
Talk about intention and manifestation…..How do they work together, Can you recall the first time you experienced their power in action?
I love working with intention and manifestation. I do believe that committed action on an intention absolutely manifests experiences into being. But it’s the action that is critical. It’s not just holding on to a thought. You begin with the vision and foundation for the intention. You can hold it in your heart, write it out, meditate on it and bring it into ceremony. And then you begin to notice… the places where you can take inspired action… the opportunities that arise where you can take the path needed… stoking the fire of the intention, bringing it to life. That’s where I see the magic happening.
I used to work with vision boards a lot and found this process to be incredibly powerful. The action piece was always included after creating my collage of dream photos and words, but when I would look back at them after a year or even a few, I was always pleasantly surprised at how much I had brought into being. Sometimes the photos were just beautiful scenes I found online not even knowing where they may have been snapped, but I found myself visiting some of the exact locations without consciously thinking planning it. It’s really exciting, magical, and mind blowing!!
These days I work more in ceremony, bringing the intention, amplifying it with prayer, making heartfelt offerings, and then walking through the doors that open afterwards. Ceremony brings the awareness and plants the seeds of opportunity, but we still must walk through that door, answer that phone call, take that left turn.
How do you think that a collection of witches is magnified in power to an individual witch?
As with anything, I see collective energy always surpassing the individual. In the shamanic tradition I’ve studied with, the goal is to always live as a collective entity. The individual path is where we have the most challenges and the most suffering. When we dream together, come together with a common goal, plant that seed, and we all water and nourish it… it does not get more powerful than that!
Where would you direct a woman who is interested in exploring her inner witch for the first time? (books? Plants? etc)
I would first gently nudge her to venture into nature as much as possible. To listen to the forests, the plants, the water, the sky. There’s so much to be discovered in our deep connection with the earth.
I also have loved having teachers on my path. I find nothing more nurturing and fulfilling than being mentored in these realms. Sure there are wonderful books, but there is still much of this magical path that is an oral tradition. Learning from our wise elders has always built the strongest foundation for me and it carries forth a tradition unbroken.
I love the books of Scott Cunningham and my absolute favorite plant book is “Herbal Rituals” by Judith Berger. I also wrote a book called “Living Sacred Ceremony” for those who wish for inspiration in the realm of transformational ceremony practices.
How do the facets of our souls (shadow side, sun-lit side, good, evil) effect the process of owning our power?
Those of us who choose to walk this path must be willing to dance in the shadows. I actually love shadow work. Looking in these dark spaces certainly isn’t the most comfortable, but for me, it is the space in which I have the most growth. When we explore and find some understanding of our shadow self, I believe there is less to fear. And the less fear we have, the more powerful we can become.
Why do you think it is so hard for some of us to own our power, speak to the woman who knows she has it but is afraid to use it.
I think there are so many factors here. First of all, we have a collective wound as women who know our ancestors have literally been burned at the stake for using our power. It’s not something that we want to see happen ever again. There is a still a huge collective of dark masculine who fear the power of the divine feminine and will do anything to keep us from rising. It can be incredibly scary to rise into our full and powerful potential. But I see us as having no choice. Our time is now and if we don’t rise up, we are literally risking the extinction of our entire planet.
So to the women who feel the power within rising and the fear dancing with it, I say you are not alone in this. Find your sisters and rise to power together. We will walk this path side by side.
Tell us a little bit about your personal witch journey. ( if you want:)
My mom lived in Salem during college and took classes with Laurie Cabot, one of our most famous modern witches. So in my early teen years, there were books on the shelf that piqued my curiosity. At around 14 or 15, I visited a local metaphysical shop and I was blown away when the owner popped out, spoke a few words to me, and asked if I was an Aquarius. Um, yes!! I wanted what she had! I grabbed one of Scott Cunningham’s books on Wicca and a deck of tarot cards. The first spell I cast was of course for love. And let me tell you, IT WORKED. It was at that time that I felt connected to a power that I had never experienced or even thought possible. Like woah, you can change things about your life and your path. It was amazing and empowering for a young woman.
But it wasn’t all goodness. There was a darkness, too. And I learned what happens when you harness that power for things that are not so beneficial for all involved. And that’s how I understood which path not to walk and who I actually wanted to be in this world.
I lost the connection for a time in college while pursuing academics and a more traditional job path. But I could’t stay away for long. Once a witch, always a witch. I stepped on to the shamanic path in my 20’s and the herbal path in the more recent years. All the pieces have been coming together and adding up. And I am honored and proud to use my magic and medicine to assist my community.
What is our role now, as witches of the world, and how would you like to see us collectively using our powers to heal?
The role of the witch is growing in these changing times. I think that it is imperative that we step into our communities (and even outside of our communities and comfort zones) to educate and empower each other.
For example, with our recent governmental upheaval, women are fearing the loss of our reproductive rights. Others are worried about losing complete access to healthcare. But who took care of the reproductive health of women before these modern times? The witches—the herbalists + the midwives. Who made medicine when there was no modern healthcare? The witches. And they risked themselves to share their medicine.
We are perhaps coming full circle and returning to times like these. So I see our role becoming crucial and that role is one of empowering our sisters in health sovereignty and sharing our knowledge and medicine far and wide. And I don’t mean to leave out the men or those who don’t identify as women! This is just my present example. There are many places where this same sharing of education, empowerment, and support can be applied. We all have different strengths and bodies of knowledge. We can be pillars in our community so people know who to turn to when they need a specific type of support. So this means being loud and proud of what we have to offer!
Natalia Karoway is a lover and practitioner of shamanism, herbalism, and sacred ceremony. She has trained extensively in Andean shamanism and Western herbalism and merges the wisdom of the two lineages in her offerings. These days, you can find her whipping up plant magic goods for ceremony, healing, and beauty at Sacred Botanica.