Über dies Existenz: Interview with a Green Witch in New York City

Source: Wicca Book of Herbal Spells - cast-a-spell.com

NP: This is a unique look into the life of a woman who describes herself as a Green Witch. A witch in the non-traditional sense of witchcraft. According to the Urban Dictionary a green witch is one that “specializes in the earthen world, is typically female, practices solitarily, and is a Pagan. Green witches know much about the identities, myths, care of plant life and seek to preserve it. They attempt to connect with the earthen world with New Age methods such as meditating.”  Is that definition somewhat accurate in your realization as a Green Witch? Given the nature of your professional position in your community few people know of you as a witch?

Green Witch: The practice of a Green Witch is a nature-based philosophy that includes spirituality and our interactions with nature and our environment. We recognize magic as a natural phenomenon.  We understand and embrace the concepts of healing, harmony and balance in a holistic manner.  We work with the earth as a greater whole.  We are herbalists, midwives, healers and have respect for the modern world and integrate within it, when possible, into our spiritual practices.

Yes, I prefer not to reveal my identity, as I am well known throughout our community in both practice and policy. 

NP: How would you describe your childhood. The events of your teens years and the experiences that set you on what I perceive as a tumultuous path of self-discovery?

Green Witch:  Brought up by a very large, close knit family…they were immigrants with roots from Southern Italy. Many things that I have learned, I learned from the women in my family, my grandmothers, my aunts and of course, my mother. I was taught about the spirits of nature.  I learned about herbal medicine, the use of herbs in our diets and as healing remedies. I learned how to read tarot cards. And I learned to appreciate the wild and untamed child within me, although I can’t say that everyone in my family would agree.  I was born a free spirit, and although that was not always an approved behavior, I had very little restrictions, and grew up in an area on the outskirts of New York City where the world was at my fingertips.

NPCould you elaborate in detail your experiences in life that altered your personal and world view?

Green Witch:   I was a child of the 60’s, in every way shape and form.  I smoked weed at age 13 and was totally taken in by the whole psychedelic era. My friends and I grew weed and led a hippie lifestyle, some of us became peaceniks, bikers, and future rock stars and we were changing social norms.  My first serious boyfriend was a member of a notorious biker club. He was a badass, and I loved the notoriety of being a protected entity. And yes, I went to Woodstock. We marched and protested and fought the good fight not very differently than what we are witnessing today. 

I must say, it was not easy. I experienced rape, heartache, trauma, love, and compassion in a crazy mixture. Being a part of a biker gang was and is a dangerous journey.  During the late 60’s and 70’s, the bikers I knew were not only drug runners, they were also bodyguards and provided security for those upcoming rock stars.  I was introduced to both real and surreal worlds at a very young age.  I continued to practice my own craft, however my personal rituals and approach to life was much more than that kind of irresponsible danger, it was an attitude that led me to learn survival tactics and an attitude that granted me wisdom to help me navigate the compromises that life leaves in the way. It gave me the strength and the confidence to struggle and work through the burdens that I would be facing.  I became a single teenage mother of two boys, and I would need to elicit guidance on which path to follow. 

NP: Do you mark or measure your life so to speak, within the context of these experiences?

Green Witch: Absolutely.  There is always a beginning as there is an end.  I lived among an environment of continuous change, a time of war and peace, social unrest, of racial injustice, and of poverty.  As a single mother, I had to learn how to work the system, I had to stand on that welfare line, and wonder where my next dollar would come from.  When psychedelics were no longer available, I watched my friends and lovers sink deep into the depths of heroin addiction.  Cocaine became a number one hit song, a socially acceptable poison.  One by one my friends died or disappeared.  I had to survive, I had to fight to be recognized and to get that grant for the poor single moms to go to school and become something, someone.  I went to college through a government funded program, The EOF, The Educational Funding Program, I went to college, and I became a Registered Professional Nurse, and raced right smack into the burn/trauma/emergency care pit. I joined other women and men who wanted nothing more than to help otters and to survive.

NP: Do you perceive that you have magical qualities? Or are the qualities you have gained over a lifetime something that is the potential for anyone to attain?  

Magic and Witch go hand in hand – there’s a rhythm to it. Magic is a natural phenomenon.  It is that combination of energy and nature, it’s natural.  Nature is magical, it is the art of learning to recognize the natural elements that nature provides.  The basis of the natural world is composed of four elements- earth, fire, air and water. A Green Witch recognizes those elements as the building of life, and a balance that strengthens our connection to the natural world. 

Magic is an art, and we understand the outside forces of these elements where we learn to open ourselves to the energy of nature.  We connect, and we learn that we can work as a median between the world and with people through nature. This creates an exchange with energy, and so the dedication to the craft unfolds.  Not everyone can attain this.  It’s a wisdom instilled from before birth that is passed on and develops.  Not everyone is a born healer, not everyone becomes a nurse, or a healer or an herbalist, we are all different.  This knowledge is passed on, as we live closely with earth. We study, and we are curious by nature, we interact and experience the blessings that we have the insight to provide.  We have an attitude, different for others and we take an oath to follow this path.  For me, nursing is based on holistic care, and I took an oath to abide by that.  I continue to learn on a daily basis by never forgetting that the spirits of nature and the elements around me give me the serenity to walk this path.

NP: I am currently in touch with a person who identifies with witchcraft and traces their ancestry back to women persecuted during the Salem Witch trials. Have you wondered about your ancestry and what led you to your becoming a Green Witch? 

Green Witch: No, not really, because my ancestry does not trace back to such a time. Women were persecuted and feared in this country during that time.  I know my ancestry, know who my teachers were, and have studied enough to understand the roots of my path.  My family came from Italy to this country during the 20th century. Italians are known to use herbs for any different reasons, as medicines and as nourishment. 

We practice Benedicaria. Benedicaria, which means Way of Blessing,” is  related to family-based folk traditions found throughout Italy, most notably in southern Italy and Sicily. Though referred to by some as “Folk Magic” or even as “Witchcraft,” the various Benedicaria Traditions are concerned almost exclusively with healing, cleansing, spirituality, and religious devotion.  That is my ancestry.

NP: As a Green Witch what are your concerns, scientific and otherwise, for the future of the planet?   

Green Witch: I am as concerned as others are about climate change.  What we are doing to our present world can interfere with the magical qualities of the natural world.  We are stripping our planet of its many energies.  We interfere with the homeostasis of the planet and we disrupt all energies.  Plants cannot survive, thus the practice of using our very own herbs to use the practice of homeopathy, to create from what the earth provides for us to create natural life-saving techniques is becoming more difficult.  

Green witchcraft is always about the present state of our environment, and our environment sucks.  We currently have politicians that have interfered with the natural state of being aware and safe in our own emotional and spiritual states.  We have viruses that we don’t appear to know much about, and we cannot evaluate what those outcomes will be.  We are losing our connection with the earth, and what we need to do to maintain some sort of semblance.  If we lose all contact with our environment, we will lose touch with the one thing that connects each and every one of us with nature.  I pray in wonder for our future.