Interview with Amythyst Raine-Hatayama
by Nimue Brown
Amythyst Raine- Hatayama is the author of The Gray Witch’s Grimoire. She’s an American witch following her own path. Interviewer Nimue Brown is a British Druid.
Nimue: What led you to decide that ‘gray’ was the word for your witchcraft?
Amythyst: Why the term “gray magick”? When magick is discussed, it’s often talked about in terms of “white” and “black”. One type (white) being spiritual and fluffy, delightfully angelic, and pure of intention, harming no one and nothing in any way, shape, or form. It’s practitioners are looked upon as sweet and saintly, pure of heart, and pillars of the Pagan community. The other type (black) is booed at and hissed upon, considered evil and foreboding, dark of intention, and harmful to body, mind, and soul. It’s practitioners are often shunned from what would be considered the main-stream Pagan community.
The truth is that very few magickal practitioners are completely white, or completely black. Most of us fall in the middle; where we practice magick in Shades of Gray. Nothing in life is either black or white, nothing, whether we’re talking about the mundane everyday world, or the practice of magick.
The witch has to decide where she falls in this valley of morals and ethics. How gray is she? What’s acceptable to her? What does she view as right or wrong? How is she going to develop her magickal practices, by what moral compass? How is she going to expand her spiritual connections? How is she going to find the path best suited to her, one she feels confident in, one that sits peacefully with her conscience?
Everyone’s path is a path built upon individual opinions and ideas. Everyone’s spirituality is a personal journey. The world seen in shades of gray is really quite beautiful, sometimes painfully human, always wondrous…and infinitely magickal.
Nimue: What helps you find your moral bearings?
Amythyst: Our moral bearings, this was a hard/easy question. For most human beings, I think it’s naturally ingrained; it’s just a small percentage of the human race who’s “center” is off, or who’s center is “off” just enough that it can be easily influenced by outside circumstances and people. You would think that what’s right or wrong would be so for everyone, a universal thing, but this just isn’t the case, especially considering societal and spiritual differences throughout all the cultures of the world.
What helps me stay connected to my moral bearings is a mixture of all the people, experiences, and spiritual explorations that have added to my life experiences. At this point, upon this journey, it is the Mother Goddess who guides me, keeps me balanced, measures my reactions to people, circumstances, and injustice. The Goddess keeps me centered. She illuminates the world through a filter of black and white, including all the shades of gray; and in the process helps me to traverse this magickal journey called Life.
Nimue: What do you prioritise?
Amythyst: A woman’s life is so full of priorities (no matter what the stage) as to be mind-boggling. And it’s so funny, while tripping through one insanely busy bustling stage of life, we always are so sure the next stage will be more simple; it never is.
Prioritizing depends upon whether you are a Maiden, Mother, or Crone. The priorities for each stage will differ greatly. I can only speak from my own experiences:
The Maiden: for me it was education and employment. It was the idea of forging gallantly ahead to get a degree in order to earn a good living and be able to take care of myself. It was a “me first” sort of stage, actually readying myself for the Big Wide World to come.
The Mother: I have seven children, the last six were born about 2-3 years apart. My world at this stage was all about the physical care of these little individuals. I was a stay-at-home Mom and my priorities were focused on babies and toddlers, cooking, cleaning, and laundry (lots of it!). At this stage you are definitely not putting yourself first; your needs are last on the list to be met. I realize on looking back that my priorities encompassed what would be a relatively brief section of overwhelming Life, but at the time I didn’t realize what a temporary setting this was.
The Crone: You are emerging from the full blunt force of life like a diver just breaking the surface of the water. You can take a deep breath, reassess your health, your circumstances, relationships, family, finances, desires and goals. My priorities, as I enter this last stage of womanhood, tend to center around goals set long ago, ambitions birthed at youth, lost dreams and a bucket-list of Things-To-Do while I still am able. You’ve actually come full circle when you enter this stage, you’re back at the “me first” point. Priorities are all about perspective.
Nimue: I notice there are a lot of versions of feminism that seem really opposed to women taking traditional female roles with smaller families or no children at all being seen as more liberating. I know you’ve done a lot of work on feminist spirituality, so I’m guessing this is something you have strong opinions about?
Amythyst: I have strong feelings about this topic in that I feel every women must make decisions about her role(s) in life based on how she feels, what she wants. No woman should have children because other people think she should, or because she feels it’s somehow expected of her, when in fact she has no desire to experience motherhood; just as the flip side is true; if a woman wants a brood of babies, that’s her choice and no one has the right to scrutinize and criticize her decision.
When I write, I write from my own experience, so the Mother stage of the female cycle for me is dominated by babies and toddlers and everything that goes with a stay-at-home-mother, because that’s what I was. It’s what I can relate to, it’s what has shaped me into the woman I am today. Everything that I’ve experienced in my past defines me and will most certainly affect my future.
Nimue: Like you I’m very wary of any kind of feminism that tries to dictate, especially versions that want us to effectively become more like men. Are there any tools or approaches you think would help a woman develop that awareness of being the makers of their own destiny? And what about women stuck in countries, or cultures, or family settings that deny them their own power? What can be done to help there?
Amythyst: The most important thing woman today have to be aware of is that they are in charge of their destiny.
First, tools and approaches. For me, spiritual practices help in this department, as far as empowering me and reminding me that I am in charge of “Me”;no one else but my own self. It’s an amazing revelation, knowledge of and awareness of the Goddess, knowing that there is a magickal Feminine Energy swirling through the universe that connects specifically with my femaleness. This is powerful stuff. I can see why men got sucked into the patriarchal system. It’s pretty heady to be able to identify personally with the Divine.
As far as approaches, I think it helps to integrate your spiritual practices naturally into your everyday life. When I get up in the morning, or when I have a sudden thought about a specific circumstance, or when somebody needs some sort of magickal energy, or just because it feels good and makes me all warm and fuzzy inside I’ll light a candle, or a bunch of candles to the Goddess; sometimes I throw in some incense too, just for some extra energy and space cleansing, or just because it smells good.
Not every moment with the Divine has to be a great big supernatural aha moment. The quiet little snatches of time spent in mediation, aware of the universe and all it’s magick and power, are just as uplifting and necessary.
About all the women in the world who are living with cultures or families that do not acknowledge the wonders and magick and power of the feminine, or the Feminine Divine, I want to say “Don’t give up!” The magick is there, the power is there; people living on this Earth are all aware of these plights now. You’d have to be living in the Dark Ages not to know that there are places in the world where women are stoned to death under the guise of morality; doused with acid for rejecting suitors, or even lesser reasons, denied human rights that should be basic for human beings no matter what gender or ethnicity.
Don’t give up, I say, because the world knows…and so does the Goddess. Change is in the air.