Growing up in The Church (capital "T", capital "C"), witches were a symbol of evil.

Witches worshipped the devil and led believers into horrible sins. I certainly would never be a "witch", I told myself. I would never wield those "evil powers". I wanted to help people and to be a force for good in the world. Anything I wanted to do or be had to be begged for in prayer. The most righteous believers were the most submissive to The Church and to "God's Will". 

After a whole lot of submission and pain and loss and disappointment, I chose to stop believing in a Divine entity. I was on my own. And while it was f*cking hard to be out in the world alone, it was easier than kneeling down in front of something that won't talk back.

After even more years of stubbornly "doing it myself", I began exploring how to heal my physical wounds through yoga and found I had to heal my connection to the Divine, too. Ugh. That is not the direction I wanted to go in. Couldn't I just have the pretty yoga body and be done with it? Why did I have to face down my dark fears?

I couldn't admit yet that I had any "power" because "power" was evil. So instead, I became all about "surrender".

(Yep, that is eerily like "submission" above, isn't it?)

I "surrendered" to the toxic work environments and unhealthy relationships because "surrender" was the holy option, the way of the yogi. When I would stand up for myself, my legs were wobbly. I would give in quickly, or I would run as fast I could and then collapse into a pile. I didn't understand how to be supple and strong.

I was a watery mess. I cried a lot. I repeated the same mistakes over and over. I thought if I could just be more watery, maybe it would get better?

Nope.

Then the visions started to creep up on me. 

Having my face eaten off and my lungs replaced with wolf lungs in Finland. Repeated visions of a large man's back as he washes dishes. Standing up only to realize that I was a giant who had been still for so long that moss has grown over my whole body. 

I was convinced I was going crazy. I waffled between leave me alone! and help me! until I was moving from job to job, apartment to apartment, just hoping that the voices would stop in some new setup.

They didn't.

On the verge of a psychotic break, I finally slumped down and sobbed into my hands. "Ok. I'm listening. tell me what to do."

My oh my, did things get so much kinder and sweeter after that.

These divine guides weren't trying to make me crazy or panicked. They weren't trying to co-opt me for evil. They were just trying to get me to admit that I wasn't alone -- and that it was time for me to start listening to them. They were asking me to stop listening to my fears about being myself. They were asking me to step into the light and accept the role they were offering as a creatrix, as a healer, as an oracle. 

They were telling me that seemingly other-worldly power given by the divine is not to be feared -- it is to be wielded with grace and love and humility.

With a tentative acceptance of this charge, I assumed I would have to do a lot of "proving". To undergo some serious shamanic-death-type shit. To have to find some crazy-ass mentor out in the woods to "show me the way". I thought I had lots of time before I would have to make any real changes. I thought I could keep a low profile for years even -- because I surely didn't want anyone else to know I had started to believe this craziness.

Nah. All that struggle and running and angst for over a decade? That was the tribulation, the proving, and the death.

In a single morning, the guides pruned off all remaining leeches on my energy. All the guilt I had been shouldering for so many things and for so many people evaporated. I was free. And now that I was free, I could actually begin creating all the good for the world that I had been wanting to do my whole life.

Whether you call it 'witch', 'shaman', 'psychic', 'sage', or 'that crazy person who just knows shit', so many of us are called to accept our power to tap into the Divine Goodness and shape the well-being of our community. By running from "power" out of fear that I would become evil, I denied who I was, and I denied the gifts that the Divine was trying to give me in order to create more good in the world. I suffered a whole lot of pain because of that denial.

Have you been trying to keep yourself small because having 'power' just seems too scary? 

If you are afraid that your family will toss you out or God will think you are a sinner or that you friends will stop talking to you, let me tell you, honey... that cramped feeling in your chest is so much worse than any of those options.

Step into the light. Take the hand. Listen to the voices. Cast the spells. Play with the tools.

You. Are. NOT. CRAZY. And I promise -- you won't regret listening.

It's all the Divine Goodness trying to talk to you.

But like 'witch', 'bitch', 'cunt' and 'menstruation', 'power' is NOT the dirty word we've been taught it is. We absolutely need to embrace, rather than reject, the idea of power in order to claim our fullness and our true expression in the world as women.

- Lisa Lister, Witch