Southern Witch: Exploring Pagan Beliefs and Practices in the Rural South

I’m a lifelong southerner. I’m also a witch. I assure you that it’s possible to be both. Paganism is alive and growing here in the land itself and in our folk traditions that have been passed down for generations. This blog explores the unique joys and challenges of being a witch and priestess of the Goddess in the Deep South, a place where the crossroads meet.

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Being True to Myself at Yule

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs

I confess that I’m not much of a kitchen witch. I can cook, but it doesn’t thrill me to labor over a hot stove. I eat to live; I don’t live to eat, and that attitude is almost an abomination in the South. People vacation here mostly for the culinary delights, especially the barbecue, and it is no wonder. Every issue of Southern Living is loaded with food porn. Thus, when you hail from a place that practically worships food as a god, it is generally expected that you, too, shall fall in line and pay homage to the almighty cookbook. I don’t, which makes the holiday season of gathering and feasting a bit awkward. So much of it centers around gastronomy, and that’s just not my focus.

What I really want in the weeks leading up to Yule is peace and quiet. I want reflection. I want a stack of books, a cup of tea, and solitude. I want that pregnant pause before another year begins. I want to review what worked, what didn’t, what changed, and what I’m doing with my one wild and precious life, as Mary Oliver wrote. In order to cultivate this for myself, I’ve had to say NO to all the voices yelling at me to buy this, go there, do that, cook this, and please him/her/them. I don’t have the time or energy for anything unless it feels like an authentic YES.

Being true to myself and what my spirit craves at year’s end has meant disappointing others at times, and I’m okay with that. This whole season is a mini-lesson in boundary setting and being mindful of energy, which is a lot like currency. We only have so much to spend, so it’s best to spend it wisely. 

You won’t find me in a mall looking for bargains, or at a holiday party looking bored, or decking my halls, or baking cookies. Nothing is wrong with any of those activities; they simply don’t nourish my soul or make me feel festive. It’s quite the opposite—they drain me. 

Things that nourish me are walking in the woods, journaling, knitting or crocheting a charity project, reading, playing music, meditating, and more BE-ing instead of DO-ing. If you look for me, look in all the places where the crowds aren’t gathered, perhaps a lakeside, a meandering trail, or the cozy corner of a library.      

Solstice comes from the Latin word solstitium (sol ‘sun’ + stit ‘stopped, stationary’). We are invited to pause at Yule, to feel the silence and the darkness before rebirth. I think much of the commercialism and hustle bustle in the outer world is a way of avoiding the natural call to go within, to be present with what is mysterious and even a bit unsettling at Winter Solstice. We want the return of the light so badly that we miss the gifts to be found in the dark, the stillness, the pause. Don’t skip over that part. Dive into it, lie down with it, curl up with it, and wrap it around you. See what is really going on inside when you’re not being distracted by glitter and sleigh bells.

Oh, and if you want to walk in the woods or meditate with me by the lake, I’ll be there.        

Blessed Be

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Jen is a pagan blogger, poet, Reiki practitioner, and aspiring massage therapist. Her passion is exploring and celebrating the Divine Feminine through art, shamanic ritual, and intuitive readings.


  • Dianne McGehee
    Dianne McGehee Thursday, 30 November 2017

    This is exactly how I feel. Thank you for expressing it so well. Oh, BTW, I live in Gulf Shores, AL, so your writing is really meaningful for me.

  • Jen
    Jen Friday, 01 December 2017

    Howdy neighbor! I'm glad to know another southern witch. :)

  • Agnes Toews-Andrews
    Agnes Toews-Andrews Thursday, 30 November 2017

    Beautifully said and my sentiments, exactly, Jennifer. Thank you. Bright blessings! Agnes.

  • Solitarieone
    Solitarieone Friday, 01 December 2017

    Ahhh. Your post made me feel so good, Jennifer. Someone who feels exactly how I feel. I live in the South, too, and I know the importance that’s placed on food and “bringing a dish” to every event. I do love the South’s “Bless your heart” sentiment though.

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