Sunday, July 28, 2013

Greetings from A Briar Witch

Hello!  My name is Melissa Cowen...well...actually it's not.  Melissa Cowen was a pen name I took 20 years ago when I wrote my first and only book.  The book did so poorly that it made around $600.00 after cost with close to $200.00 of that coming from my family and myself.  You would think that with that kind of luck I would ditch the name Cowen and never speak of it again.  The problem is I have always like Melissa's name and have looked for an opportunity to use it for all these years.  Now that I'm starting to blog I thought that perhaps Melissa would rise from the ashes of her failed book and see if the internet is more to her liking.

So...Hello, My name is Melissa Cowen.  I live on a farm in the driftless area of Wisconsin, which has been passed down for seven generations.  The land itself is part of my family, part of who I am, and colors much of what I talk and write about.  The connection, not only to the Earth as a whole but to this particular piece of the Earth is what has led me to the path I follow now.  I am a farmer, a teacher, a homesteader, an animal trainer, a landlord, a entertainer, a healer.  I touch this land through my growing food, pasturing my animals, harvesting my herbs, hunting with the wild ones, sleeping out under the stars, and my spirituality. 

Well, one can not talk about being a witch without actually talking about spirituality in some way.  Yes, I am a witch, but before you shut down completely and shake your head, I am not a New Age-y witch.  In fact I am darn near as redneck as a person can be without marrying my first cousin.  I am a witch mainly because I consciously practice magic.  Everyone practices magic...ever driven past an accident and think something on the order of, "Oh, that looks bad. I hope everyone is okay."  Why did you do this hoping?  Why do you hope your team wins, or pray that the kids get home safe the first time they go out on their own?  Because you are practicing magic.  Whether you pull the energy from yourself or if you are asking a deity to do it for you, when you want something to happen and you put energy behind it, you are practicing magic.  A witch just goes a step further and puts conscious effort behind her hopes and wishes.  No big deal.

But as I said, I am not a New Age-y witch.  In fact the term I use for myself is "Secular Witch" with the term Briar Witch to say that I live with the wilds of nature,.  I have no religious beliefs behind my magic.  I do not believe in religious laws, which I believe to come from basic human nature.  I don't want you to hurt me, the best way this can happen is if I don't hurt you...Walla, don't do something you wouldn't want done to you.  First rule of survival.  Stallions don't just walk right up to each other and start beating on each other.  They first posture, scream, warn, dance...and only as a last result do they take to fighting.  All animals go out of their way to NOT fight, humans are no different.  It's just that we turned animal instinct into religious laws with punishments built in for those who do not follow those laws.   I follow what all animals instincts dictate I follow; I try to be the best person I can be, not for fear of invisible reprisals but because I WANT to be a good person.  I can't be one without at least putting some effort to the task.

I am a witch through my connection to the land, to nature itself.  I live with nature, my electricity comes from the sun that shines on me, from the wind that blows around me.  My food comes from the earth beneath my feet.  I am warm because trees sacrifice their wood at the command of my chainsaw.   I am cooled by the spring water flowing into my spring house.  I am surrounded by wild lands where I forage and hunt.  My medicine is my food, my herbs, my exercise, my animals, and my loved ones.  Even my income comes from my farm and land.  I own several "artist's retreats" where people can stay in solitude for artists to use when they need alone time to work.  They are also used for romantic get aways, and retreats for those who want privacy.  A barn on the retreat site is used for weddings and other gatherings.  And I teach at a folk school that I am part owner of.

I love my life, mainly for the simplicity of it.  It is hard work, running several businesses, keeping a farm going, taking care of loved ones and friends.  But it is simple.  That is who I am...a simple person.  I do not over think many things.  They are what they are and it is up to me to accept the universe for what it is and work with its energies.  It is not good or bad, right or wrong, black or white.  It is survival in all its beauty and ugliness.  I revel in it with all my heart every day.