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from witch to yogi
Photography by frank mckenna

from witch to yogi

by kate mclean
Practice Yoga | Personal Story


being true to me

I began my spiritual journey when I was nine. My mother introduced me to Paganism, and we spent whole days reading, meditating, chanting, praying and casting circle. We'd read tarot cards, light incense and candles, and charge crystals in the moonlight. We'd celebrate the turning of the Earth, the change in the seasons, and the phases of the moon. We spoke openly and unabashedly about fairies, angels, spirit animals, guides, and ghosts. It was a time of magic for me and my first taste of the spiritual life.

And then, when I was eleven, I was baptized in the Mormon Church. My mom wanted us to know our options, to be able to make an informed decision and she dragged us to church every Sunday where we sat in too-hard pews, during long and boring mornings where the preacher would talk extensively about mortality and heaven. We sang hymns, went to Sunday School, learned about Jesus, Adam and Eve and all the things the Book of Mormon said we should not do. It was literally the opposite of what my mother had been teaching me. Within the stone walls and wooden pews, I felt stifled, as if I were playing pretend.

Church was not for me. I was very much a child of the Earth, no different than the moon or stars and more at home among the singing trees of the forest than within the confines of Church walls. But my only problem was my fear of being accepted. I was not able to call myself a witch openly, I was not able to bravely admit what I was to anyone and I was ashamed when my mother did just that. What would people think of me? What would my friends say?

Instead of being glad that we no longer had to attend church and that I could be who I truly was, I gave up my craft. I didn't practice, I didn't meditate, I even refused to cast circle. I pretended I loathed everything my mother stood for and everything I believed in. I hid under the cover of night and within the safety of my own room and read my tarot cards, wrote extensively in my journals and read every spiritual book I could get my hands on. I became a closet witch.

The year I turned fourteen was the year my life would begin to unravel. My dad killed himself in August of 2005. My family was destroyed, my world turned upside down, and my life became consumed with grief and anger. I lost my faith in the Goddess. I lost my faith in magic. I was lost, broken and being slowly destroyed by the ego. And to make matters worse, I continued to ignore my soul's callings.

This continued on for six years, pain and guilt and anger nearly destroyed my relationship, my family and myself. But when I was 21 the Goddess gave me my most precious gift; my beautiful, intuitive, brilliant daughter. The moment I met her I knew I had to let go of my pain. I had to do better for her. I had to give her the best opportunity I could.

So I got on a yoga mat for the first time and I learned to breathe.

I moved my body in ways I didn't know I could. I learned how the breath and body are meant to work together. I learned stillness and peace in meditation. I learned that the mat was where life took place, even when I wasn't on it and I learned my true vocation and another, more acceptable way of listening to the call of Spirit. For two and a half years I got on my mat every single day without fail. I became the mother I'd always wanted to be, with a few small hiccups, and I'd fallen in love with my practice.

One day, my sister-in-law suggested Yoga Teacher Training. The ego was right there, right away. It filled my head with all the reasons I couldn't possibly succeed: I was still broken, I wasn't good enough, I hadn't been practicing long enough, my daughter needed me, we had no money...on and on it went. But eventually I found my home studio, I found my first teacher, and I took the leap of faith and decided it was time to change my life. I could no longer stand the anger, the grief, the pain or the guilt I felt about my dad or my past. They served no purpose and were hindering my growth.

Now I'm five months into my seven month program at Glow Yoga Studio in Whitby, ON. I will be certified this coming March and all parts of my life will finally be in sync. I will be able to help others, like me, who are allowing their ego to destroy their self-love and ultimately their life.

The point of my story is only this: you MUST be true to who you are, no matter what anyone might say about it. Each of us is given a different path to walk, a different journey to experience, and it is only us that can make the trip. There are no short cuts, no easier routes. Life is made for us. The Universe answers every call you put your energy into. The point is to shine your authentic self so brightly that the Universe has no choice but to answer your call. Every single thing you are repressing, resisting, or hating, are all things you judge and feel are judged by others. But no one is paying attention to you. We are all wrapped up in our own stories, our own dreams and we are all looking for the same thing out of life: liberation. Just be who you are. It is the most beautiful gift you can offer the divine.

Allow yourself to experience who you are, the good, the bad, the ugly, the magnificent, the spiritual, the mundane, the weird, and even the magical. You are made of stardust and energy. You are given but a short hundred years, at most for many of us, to experience this life and make the most of it. Why are you wasting any more time letting the ego rule you? Why are you wasting this magnificent gift on self-hate, anger, guilt or pain? These are questions I've asked myself, and only very recently. And I don't know either. Seems like a waste of energy to me, and why should we waste our energy on anything that doesn't serve us?

Like Dr. Seuss says: "Be who you are and say what you will, because those that mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind."

Embrace the beauty of you. Embrace your destiny. We are all made of love, to be love, and to share our love with the world. Be the LOVE. It is the way of the future.

Namaste

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