Seven years ago, sitting with my web designer at a sweet little restaurant (which no longer exists) on a snowy November evening, I proposed an idea.
At the time it felt like a big idea, one that would take a lot of energy and resources…
But I had a little tickle in my belly telling me I was on to something. So I tentatively laid it on the table amongst the sweet potato fries and warm beet salads. It was a program called Your Wild and Wonderful Herbal Year.
Yup, it was a mouthful. And while the name didn’t stick, the program did. It’s called Witch Camp. Now, my team and I excitedly plan our whole year around it, anticipating the lengthening nights, dry leaves, and spiced cider that announce its beginning.
“Witch Camp” began as an inside joke, or perhaps an insider’s club: the women who worked for me liked to say they worked at Witch Camp.
As we came together to create Your Wild and Wonderful Herbal Year, I started to hear murmurs from my team: “this is Witch Camp!” Eventually my web designer made a stand: I can’t get inspired to work on this program when the name is so boring. It needs to be called Witch Camp.
Seven years later, sitting down to work on Book #4 (which has so many working titles we don’t even know how to refer to it anymore), I’m looking at these power words— witch, priestess, shaman— and trying to understand what it is in our spirits that react (strongly!) to these motifs. Why do these words hold so much weight? They stir up both lust and revulsion, hope and fear.
I’m starting to believe it’s because these words point us to parts of ourselves that have been buried, parts of ourselves that scare or entice us, that threaten to overturn our carefully constructed ideas of who we are. We tend to fear what we don’t know, even when what we don’t know is a facet of our own self… and there is a surprising amount of stuff we hide from ourselves. Stuff that we either purposely tuck away or things that get lost under the weight of years.
Bits of our spirits get buried as we move through life.
It can seem benign: you give up dancing because your parents say that it’s frivolous or your friends think you’ll never be any good. You think it doesn’t make sense to spend time on something that’ll never amount to anything (often making this judgement call based on whether it’ll bring you money instead of whether it’ll bring you joy).
So a part of you vanishes. One day you look in the mirror and see a 2D version of your self. And this 2D self has a job or a house or children or a partner who’s used to this version. Becoming multidimensional again might mean change, it might mean loss. Plus, we’re not sure we have the time or skills to become multidimensional again.
But what if it’s not about finding an extra ten hours in the week to acquire new skill sets? What if instead it’s about reconnecting with the feeling each of these archetypes inspire within you? What if it’s about remembering to be brave and creative and nurturing instead of learning judo, taking a jewelry making class, and going to culinary school?
Often times archetypes represent a character trait we admire. You can step into those spaces within yourself by engaging with the archetypal pattern and seeing yourself reflected in it.
It would save a lot of pain if this was taught in school. But there are no classes on recording your dreams or seeing a sign amidst the clamoring visuals of daily life. Most high school teachers don’t explicate how the patterns of nature relate to our own cycles and rhythms.
We graduate not knowing that the phases of the moon can teach us how to create new things in the world or that the Medicine of Wolf can show us how to work together in a pack. We aren’t taught that archetypes— like Ninja, Artisan, and Chef— can teach us about missing pieces of ourselves, parts we need to acknowledge to feel fully alive and engaged.
The unacknowledged stuff within ourselves can scare us…. but it can also make us whole.