As an atheist witch, I draw a distinction between Wonder and Awe.
Wonder is easy for me.
“I wonder why is the sky blue…lemme look it up”
“I wonder why do people do magick…lemme look it up and start a YouTube about it and ask lots of people about it”
“I wonder why Tik Tok is the most popular app in the world…lemme look it up and try it out”
But Awe, which is defined by Brené Brown as when we “stand back and observe to provide a stage for the phenomenon to shine’” has come into my life far more obliquely.
The last time I truly felt Awe was more than a decade ago, when I was in deep emotional pain. I was in awe of that pain, like “how am I still alive when I feel like I’m being ripped apart by a million Great White sharks?”
Awe comes to me in the times when I am human, fragile, even dangerously vulnerable. Awe is when I am most alone. Just before I die, I know I will experience the greatest burst of Awe. I figure it will be the biggest, most terrifying, most alone feeling ever.
But I’m not someone looking for “peak experiences” or chasing after some ephemeral high. I always side-eye Awe suspiciously, like it’s a used car salesman trying to sell me timeshares as well.
So many spiritual people fetishize the sanitized version of Awe, constantly need to be in Awe. It’s their fentanyl, their escape from the perceived mundane flavor of life. They cling to it, needing Awe to be their savior, their next fix, their final solution, as they are led into the slaughterhouse.
So many are bummed for me, because I am not in Awe of magic.
I say that magic is humdrum and mundane to me, and others insist that I’m not doing witchcraft right. As if witchcraft needs to be a religious, ecstatic experience.
I want to normalize witchcraft in a more quiet, functional, even utilitarian sense. Let it be like a good set of mud boots, here to help us while we muck and fertilize our pens and fields. But otherwise, something that we can slip on and off, rinse off in the backyard, and toss on the shoe rack, sturdily waiting to be utilized again.
Witchcraft is a tool to explore my Wonder – a trusted tool that I reach for time and time again.
But also, a tool that I may totally forget about most of the time, which I don’t consider the first, or even the most important, tool in my arsenal.
And yet it occupies a respected position in my life.
I know there must be others who think how I do, who practice as I do.
And to them, I want to say: I see you. I acknowledge you. I am one of you.