The Witch Within Us

shallow-focus-photo-of-woman-with-face-art-3163994_Photo by Paul Kerby Genil
Photo by Paul Kerby Genil

There is no animal more invincible than a woman, nor fire either, or any wildcat so ruthless. (Aristophanes)


The truth is, witches still exist. They never ceased to exist.

Men have tried by every means to destroy them, but they’ve never succeeded and never will, because the witch-woman is a fundamental element of this planet, like air and water.

Who are the witches? We can consider them in a folkloristic or childish sense as monstrous, grotesque and evil beings. Still, in reality, witches are women who cannot and do not want to conform to specific models imposed by society, if these constraints go against their deepest instincts.

The Woman And The Fire

woman-holds-lighted-sparkler-3135232_Photo by Rahul Pandit
Photo by Rahul Pandit

Originally there were matriarchal societies, the first divinities were statues of prosperous female figures, representing the concepts of life, abundance, birth and inner power. Fire, an element worshipped since ancient times, was often guarded and kept alive by women.

In Ancient Greece, there was a goddess who is now almost totally forgotten: Hestia (Vesta for the Romans). Hestia is the guardian of the fire, the accomplished woman who perceives her body as a temple and gives herself entirely. She is the shelter from darkness, protector of the hearth, and keeper of the secrets of fire. Her sexuality is free and selfless because she can light the fire; she doesn’t need a man to do it. Her symbol is the circle, which is a complete element, in the middle of which she welcomes other people to warm and comfort them.

Hestia ‘s flame never dies. It is the mystical fire from which all stories are born, Hestia is also the goddess of the stories around the hearth; the goddess of secret traditions, initiatory tales and ancient wisdom. This goddess is mysterious and forgotten, but in reality, her voice is always inside every woman, her warmth is what drives us not to fear anything, to endure pain, loneliness, and teaches us the art of love.

Hestia, like other powerful female divinities, has been forgotten because the destructive action of patriarchal society has imposed a strict and radical code of conduct. The concepts of giving, of listening, of universal love, have been replaced by war, conquests, ambition and passion for temporal power.

Over the centuries, patriarchal society has continuously tried to repress women and has relegated them to two rigid and opposing stereotypes: the angelic image of the mother (see the Virgin Mary), and the distorted image of the witch.

Such a sharp division of female identity has caused the cultural loss of women’s power and spirituality.

Witch Hunt

bonfire-burning-campfire-fire-270815
Photo by Pixabay

In Europe alone, as a result of Inquisition trials, there were nine million witches killed between 1500 and 1800; and there were witch trials also elsewhere, just remember the witches of Salem in what is now the United States or Joan of Arc in England.

The accusation of sorcery and heresy was addressed to those women who did not conform to the models imposed by society, and in particular, to the healers: in fact, only men could practise medicine.

The witches’ curse, therefore, lay in the knowledge. Witches were herbalists, midwives and body healers; they were free spirits, confident and fed by the flame of Hestia; they did not accept to be relegated to the submissive figure of being weak and silent. Witches spoke loudly or whispered true, and therefore, frightening words. All these are subversive elements of society.

The followers of sorcery have never worshipped the devil (not even today!). Satan is a figure created by the first Jewish and Christian sects and destined to debate with God about ethics and morals, to distinguish good from evil conceptually.

The witch-woman embodies the nature and the original power of the woman. Ann Belford Ulanov, Professor of Psychiatry and Religion, defines the woman as “the witch bursting with energy”, in a spasmodic search for the meaning of life.

The witch’s primary impulse is to be herself, to express herself freely and without limits, to seek the flame within herself and finally bring it to the surface.

Are You A Witch?

I am, or better, I am desperately trying to bring out the witch inside me, so long dormant and buried by years of conforming convictions that I thought were right. I diligently followed a path that had been traced for me, and in the end, also by myself, because for so long, I considered it appropriate, necessary. As a kid, I was really convinced that I was a witch; still, that sense of rebellion and life-force died out in years of work (not particularly loved) and due to the daily difficulties: children, duties, bills, responsibilities. Only recently, the goddess Hestia whispered in my ears to wake me up; she called me to feed the flame and recognize my inner strength.

Do you think I’m crazy? I’m not. After all, who are the witches?

  • They are independent women who love the freedom of expression and whose capacity for introspection is surprising, often frightening.
  • The witch-woman loves animals and especially cats, from which she draws energy, connection with deep instincts and relaxation. The cat has always been considered a sacred animal (see the Ancient Egyptians) because it is magical: it can be a bridge between this dimension and the world of the spirits.
  • The witch-woman loves the woods, gardens, flowers and plants. She feels good in the green because it’s part of her soul.
  • The witch-woman loves rainbows, but also rain, storms and thunderstorms: all the intense manifestations of mother earth that help connection and communication.
  • The witch-woman needs moments of solitude and silence and meditation to recharge and connect.
  • The witch-woman has a troubled emotional life, marked by pain, depression, sadness but also by the constant search for balance and self-awareness, which will eventually lead her to wisdom.
  • The witch-woman thinks with her head, and she will clash against the rules, the patriarchal society, the impositions.
  • The witch-woman lives on empathy, compassion and sharing. She talks and knows how to listen; she cries, despairs and laughs again, always reborn and renewed.
  • Witches are women on the path to constant evolution.

Sorcery is one of the oldest natural religions and represents a real lifestyle.

If we learn to feed the goddess Hestia who lives as an archetype within each one of us, we will achieve a profound inner balance. Hestia is the goddess of silence and light. Her voice can be heard in the crackling of the fire, and if we enter her magic circle, we can increase our inner strength. If we learn to free the woman-witch within us, we will be able to embark on our journey towards what we want to achieve, with determination.

We need to devote time to our inner fire. Let’s not let our temple become cold and desolate. Let’s melt the trapped emotions with our flame and let them flow, and with them, let us get rid of constraints and limiting thoughts.

On my path towards evolution and self-improvement, I decided to free myself from the shackles of a job I didn’t like and forced me to trade my time for money. I chose to work for myself and build my new career, using one of the most powerful means we have at our disposal: the Internet.

If you also want to reinvent yourself and try to be free and self-confident, register here to get the FREE Workshop. We will teach you step-by-step how to start your online business. Anything is possible if you decide to do it.

Women must always remember who they are and what they can do. They should not be afraid to cross the endless fields of irrationality, nor should they be afraid to hang on the stars at night, leaning against the balcony of the sky. They must not be scared of the darkness that sinks things, because that darkness frees a multitude of treasures. That darkness which they, free and proud, know as no man will ever know. (Virginia Woolf)

The Power Of Your Thoughts

Ocean -Photo by Emiliano Arano
Ocean -Photo by Emiliano Arano

The time spent listening to yourself, and getting into your thoughts is helpful – it’s an excellent approach for personal growth and creativity.

However, getting “in our head” can sometimes be hazardous; this happens if we follow negative thoughts.

We must be aware of the critical difference between introspection and rumination.

Introspection is a useful process of self-reflection and exploration, which is good for our well-being and our brain.

Rumination, on the other hand, can spiral us into a vicious circle of negative thinking that holds us back and hurts us severely.

What Is The Rumination?

Physically, it is a characteristic function of Ruminants, for which the food, after brief chewing, is conveyed into the first gastric compartment (rumen) and then rejected into the mouth where it undergoes a second, more accurate chewing.

Psychologically, rumination is a cognitive process characterised by a dysfunctional and maladaptive style of thinking that focuses primarily on internal emotional states and their negative consequences.

Thus, we take back our negative thoughts and turn them over and over in our heads, without advancing in any direction, but remaining stuck in negativity.

Our Constructive Self vs Our Destructive Self

Woman's Face -Photo by Nicolette Attree
Woman’s Face -Photo by Nicolette Attree

Each of us often has two attitudes: a constructive one, which is our desire to achieving a goal and positive self-assertion, and a destructive one, which is our self-critical, self-destructive, paranoid and suspicious side.

This inner criticism sometimes takes over our thinking and leads us to rumination. Rumination is dangerous because it leads to depression, anxiety and unhappiness.

When we find ourselves in this downward spiral, we absolutely must strive to avoid ruminating. We can use various tools to make us stop as soon as possible. First of all, we must be able to understand that we are entering into rumination. How? By analysing three factors:

1- If my thought is abstract and does not lead to action but leads me into other thoughts, then that thought is negative;

2- If the content of my thought is purely verbal, I do not visualise images but I “see” only words in my mind, then that thought is negative.

3- If my thought is repetitive and focuses only on adverse events that have happened or may happen, then that thought is negative.

It is not easy to understand when we are slipping into the spiral, but we can ask ourselves simple questions:

  • What is this thought bringing me?
  • Do I need it?
  • Does it help me get out of this problem?
  • Does this thought correspond to reality?

Mindfulness

Water -Photo by Ian Turnell
Water -Photo by Ian Turnell

Mindfulness is another healthy practice that we can adopt and which not only improves our quality of life but also extends its duration. Practically an elixir of life! When we learn to meditate, we learn to choose our thoughts. Therefore, we can move away from our destructive side better.

At first, this can be quite a challenge, because our inner critical voice enters our thoughts without us realising it. We can, for example, sit in meditation and start thinking, “You don’t have time for this. “It won’t help.” “You won’t make it.” Our inner critical voice may also attack our efforts to meditate or control our thoughts. “You’re terrible at this.” “You can’t stand still for even a minute.” “You’ll never be able to relax.”

Faced with this situation, we must persevere and practice. A few minutes every day, until we learn to be aware and to recognise our thoughts.

As my mentor says, we can even give these thoughts a nickname. Here it comes Miss I Know Everything, here it comes Mrs I’m Not Good Enough, here it comes Mrs I’m Cracking Everything, etc. This is fun!

When we recognise these thoughts, we can welcome them and let them pass: imagine we are in a room, we welcome our guests and let them move in the garden. Then, if we want, we decide to chat with our best guests, the charismatic and inspiring ones.

When we dedicate ourselves and meditate, we must always look for an attitude that is called COAL by Dr Siegel, clinical professor of psychiatry at the UCLA. COAL means curious, open, accepting and loving.

In this way, we give meaning and direction to our lives without falling victim to the inner criticism that holds us back and prevents us from achieving balance, fulfilment and, in the end, happiness.

The Cat And The Mouse

Cat and Mouse
Cat and Mouse

Tarthang Tulku, a Buddhist expert, claims that when we reflect internally on ourselves, we react similarly to that of a hungry cat watching mice. Just like the hungry cat, we end up “swooping in” on any information that comes into our heads without questioning its validity”.

Asking the right questions is another tool that helps us get closer to introspection and move away from rumination.

  • To develop self-awareness, one must build a habit of asking what and not why.

When we ask ourselves “why”, we put ourselves in the position of “victim” and focus on our limits. When we ask ourselves “what”, instead we stimulate our curiosity and focus on the aspects that we can modify to achieve a more functional result.

Example: Instead of asking myself, “Why am I feeling stressed today?”, I’ll ask myself, “What am I feeling right now?” What can I do to feel better?”

I’ve always asked myself a lot of questions, too many probably, and I was for years prey to unhappiness because there were things in my life that I didn’t like and I didn’t know how to change them. I lacked the courage and the energy to do it.

Everything changed when I started asking the right questions and patiently searching for the answers. Still, now I fall into rumination, especially at night, but now I know how to recognise my “negative guests”, and I know how to find the strength to let them out into the garden.

Discover how I changed my life.

Gender Pay Gap: Why Women Are Paid Less

boy-and-girl-cutout-decals-1386336_Photo by Magda Ehlers from Pexels
Gender Pay Gap – Photo by Magda Ehlers

Recently, the Gender Pay Gap has attracted media attention. The 2018 MeTooMovement, which began in protest against harassment and sexual assault, led to the analysis of gender inequalities in the workplace in 2019, including not only pay disparity but also barriers to the advancement of women in leadership.

Facts: Women employed in the workforce:

  • are less than men;
  • earn less than men;
  • work about six more hours per week (between paid and unpaid work);
  • are forced to take more time off work to take care of children;
  • are still excluded from management roles;

According to a study by the International Labour Organization (ILO) conducted in around 70 countries – covering 80% of the world’s workers population – women earn on average 20% less than men.

Fact: In all countries of the world and most sectors, women are still paid less than men. This pay gap continues to represent one of the most widespread social injustices in the world.

What is Gender Pay Gap?

The Gender Pay Gap is the difference in salary between men and women and refers to the average annual wage of women, compared to men, for the same job.

The Gender Pay Gap is very complicated because different countries often use different indicators (for example, some countries measure salaries on an hourly basis, others on a weekly or monthly basis).

When they consider only the average salary of men and female, the Gender Pay Gap is called unadjusted. If, on the other hand, they take into account other factors that contribute to the gap – such as access to education, type of employment, number of working hours – the Gender Pay Gap is called adjusted.

According to a 2018 study, the average (unadjusted) Gender Pay Gap in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries is 13.4%.

Three lies they often tell us.

1. “Women earn less because they are in less skilled and therefore less well-paid jobs.”

Wrong! Women are paid less to do the same work as men, at all professional levels. The wage difference occurs in all sectors and types of employment. In general, the higher the professional qualification, the wider the gap.

2. “Often, women work part-time, which is why they earn less money.”

Wrong! The wage gap between men and women is calculated on a gross hourly basis. Working fewer hours a week means taking less money home at the end of the month, not earning less money every hour. Moreover, part-time work for women is not always a choice but comes from the need to take care of children and the family.

3. “Men study more; that’s why they do more paid jobs.”

Wrong! Today, 60% of graduates in Europe are women. In the United States, 36.6% of women have a degree, compared with 35.4% represented by men. But studying is not enough to reach the level attributed to men; management positions are reserved for men.

These aspects affect career opportunities and raise several questions about the distribution of the workload (paid and unpaid) between gender.

Recently published data tend to make us feel discouraged, but there is hope!

woman-holding-book-3747246_Photo by Polina Zimmerman from Pexels
Girl Boss – Photo by Polina Zimmerman

Two very virtuous countries have already taken the path of real equality between men and women in the workplace: Iceland and Rwanda.

Iceland has become the first country in the world to enforce equal pay.

Iceland was the first state to elect a female president directly, and today the prime minister is a woman. Almost half of the deputies and company directors are women. Childcare centres and parental leave ensure that nearly four out of five women have a job.

Fríða Rós Valdimarsdóttir is the chair of the Icelandic Women’s Rights Association; this association was instrumental in preparing a plan that led Iceland to become the first country in the world to impose equal pay legally.

As of January 2018, a law is in force according to which any public or private body, which employs more than 25 people, must demonstrate that there is no wage disparity between male and female employees. It must prove this through certification, which must be submitted every three years; in the event of non-compliance, the company will face costly daily fines.

Other countries also provide equal pay for equal work through human rights legislation, but the reality shows very disappointing data. Iceland was the first country to pass a specific law imposing rules and fines, making it possible to achieve true equality.

Rwanda beats the United States (and Europe) in gender equality.

About two decades ago, some 800,000 Rwandans dramatically died in just three months because of civil war. In the wake of these horrific events, women accounted for between 60 and 70% of the surviving population. They had no choice but to fill the roles once occupied by men.

A similar trend had occurred during the Second World War – when men went to war, the demand for female workers increased significantly, as did wages. But once the war was over, things quickly returned to normal. What did Rwanda do differently? It implemented policies to help keep women in employment.

Today, 86% of Rwandan women are employed, compared with 56% of women in the United States. In Rwanda, women earn 88 cents for every dollar that men earn; in the United States, only 74 cents.

Women in Rwanda benefit from three months of paid maternity leave (there is no such thing as paid maternity leave in the United States).  Women’s political participation in Rwanda is very high, thanks to a law that has required women to make up 30% of parliamentarians for the last 20 years. In the United States, it will take 500 years for women to achieve equal representation in politics.

Why is political representation so important? Because, when women work in politics, they put essential issues on the table that would otherwise be neglected. This event has a significant dragging effect for the benefit of women from all walks of life.

These actions can help create greater awareness and pave the way for fair gender pay.

For example:

  • Implementing pay transparency: knowing the salaries of all employees can reveal prejudices and stereotypes in organisations’ pay structures and enable employers and social partners to take tangible action towards equal pay.
  • Ensuring equal access to education: it is crucial to provide girls with accurate information about career options even in fields not traditionally associated with women. For example, by promoting science subjects among girls.
  • Supporting families: childcare and parental leave. Women are still primarily responsible for raising children; childcare costs prevent women all over the world from entering or re-entering the labour market and participating in politics. Therefore, childcare must be of the highest quality, and the state must also finance the cost. Parental leave must be shared and fairly rewarded. If men have the same opportunity to take a break from work to care for their children, the current structural discrimination decreases and motherhood is not a penalty.

I do hope that this process will accelerate over the next decade because there is no point in having to wait 500 years! It is ridiculous.

In the meantime, I invite you to think about investing in yourself, to break away from this system and professionally develop yourself in a free mode, not conditioned by society and full of personal satisfaction.

Think of a turning point and look at the digital landscape to reinvent yourself. The digital economy offers many opportunities, depending on everyone’s interests; it’s definitely the work of the future, so don’t risk to be left out and don’t remain behind men, again.

Click here to receive a Free Workshop that explains what opportunities you have and how to get started. Make a choice today!

“Each time a woman stands up for herself, she stands up for all women.” (Maya Angelou)