Witches, Artists, and Neurodiversity

Witches, Artists, and Neurodiversity

Francesca De Grandis’ painting of a head in which the brain consists of a rainbow of infinity signs. The ears on the head are pointed, like an elf’s.

Please note: sometimes, the limits of language make discussing neurodiversity feel impossible for me. E.g., the paragraph below stating that one’s witchcraft and art intertwine with where one is on the spectrum is kind of like saying that one’s self intertwines with one’s self. Since other folks might feel as challenged expressing themselves as I do, I use various terms—e.g., neurodiversity, autistic, on the spectrum—to honor everyone’s right to choose their own words. Without that right, self-expression becomes even more limited. And with that:

A Neurodiverse Celebration,
Eliminating Cliches about Autism

I invited witches and artists who identify as being on the spectrum to share their personal experiences of how their witchcraft and/or art intertwine with their particular neuro-diverse state.

My goal was to show artistic and mystical experiences because I suspect they could:
* be lovely fellowship for artists and witches on the spectrum, as well as for other individuals
* counteract blanket clichés, e.g., show how diverse people on the spectrum might be, as opposed to them getting lumped together as all the same
* reveal a depth of being that clichés about autism hide
* demonstrate wonderful magical, creative, and other traits that more theoretical statements might not as easily convey

Here are those experiences:

Candace LaRue

Candace LaRue, writer, gardener, and warrior for children:

Growing up as an undiagnosed autistic meant that I was always considered “weird.” I often spent time alone, choosing, for example, to walk the mile or so to school every day instead of taking the bus. 

I spent time alone in the woods, talking to the plants. Every spring I would walk alone and sing to the violets as they woke up. And when they sang back to me, I wasn’t surprised. 

I believe I come from a long line of autistic women. I know I come from a long line of women who practiced fey touched magic. I learned from them how to “be” in this world and it was consistent with what I also needed to manage my neurodiversity in a world that considered my gifts and differences to be odd at best, and frightening at times. 

My mother taught me to listen quietly and hear her thoughts. She taught me how to wrap an imaginary cloak around me to make me invisible. None of this seemed strange to me because everything was strange in some way in my life. Being autistic and raised by women who were likely also autistic taught me to have an open mind about everything. 

Kathy Crabbe

Kathy Crabbe, soul reader, artist, spirit medium, astrologer:

Here is a little something I wrote this morning:

Critiquing! I have always spotted the mistake(s) in everything and today at the Winter Solstice I asked, “How can this be of service?” Being the one who always spots the mistakes is not easy, and does not make one likable, but as a messenger between worlds I really want to get the message right. As a trickster (Hermes) I need to inject the Quirk, the humour, the twist in the message too and that is how my brain works ~ wyrd!

I asked artists if they’d like to contribute visual art related to one or more of their creative experiences of being on the spectrum. This is what Kathy sent:

Catherine Mills

Catherine Mills, film buff and mother of two wizards:

I was born with epilepsy as a result of being sick and a super premature baby at 1lb 6oz. I have had seizures since I was a baby and have not stopped. I just manage them now naturally after trying years of unsuccessful pills.

Even as a little girl I knew my brain was unique and different than my sisters’ and other kids.’ I was dark, feminine and feminist, sarcastic, and always made respect for nature and natural law—my bottom line.

I swear I was born a witch; as a little girl, I always knew I wanted to be a witch, to live in my female power and commune with nature, to live my life the way I wanted, but did not have an outlet and could not do my witchcraft studies until I moved from home at age 19.

Then I found myself in tarot decks, crystals, honoring the moon phases, the wheel of the year, the goddess, shadow work, and my intuition, and I live in that space till this day. … I’m now 32.

Francesca De Grandis

Francesca De Grandis (aka Outlaw Bunny), shamanic guide, Fairy artist, mystical innovator:

I love my brain. It’s a jungle gym, a playground, and everything else in existence—the whole universe between my ears. I’m pretty happy living there. Live there all day long.

Montaigne said, “I study myself more than any other subject.” If I want to understand something on the opposite end of the world, I might do it by studying my cells. The universe is in them (I mean that literally). Or I study the skin on my hand because I, in Blake’s words, “hold infinity in the palm.”

Is it true of everyone’s palm, so I am not unusual?

Oppressors hate that I live in a mental amusement park, let alone that it has jungle gyms on which I strengthen myself and wild rides that illuminate my mind and heart. Oppressors want me to think dully, slowly, and divorced from my heart and body, so they make up reasons to shame me for my speed, accuracy of thought, and heart-mind-body union.

Here’s one reason for the hate. The thrills and insights that occur when I race through the starlit sky, joyous as Santa Claus in his sleigh, jumping from thought to thought to thought—from star to star to star—connecting all the points in the connect-the-dots painting that is the cosmos, won’t allow me to be menial, pulling at my forelocks and knuckling under.

A heart with a rainbow of infinity signs in it. Painting by FDG.Connecting all the dots unites all my aspects. This wholeness, too, keeps me from abject obedience. Ha!

I’m grateful Mom was a witch. Most of the family and neighborhood ridiculed and battered me as a child. Except Mom was golden as an eagle, fighting to protect me and elevating me to the stars. I was her fledgling learning flight.

I can’t speak for anyone else, but my mysticism and place on the spectrum seem synonymous. … No, no, there is more involved than that. … Except, everything is everything, so …

… Magna Mater—Great Mother Goddess, Creator of All—is also the Queen of Fairies, which is far from what most people think of as the Creator of All. However, She is both Creator and creation.

Is She on the spectrum? Yes, and She is the spectrum. I suspect you are, too.

But then, so is a banana?

One of my students told me she can’t explain to her friends what I do as a shamanic guide because it has everything in it, and the Goddess has everything in Her. Given what I’ve said above, I obviously see my shamanic work the same way my student does. Therefore, I have the same problem describing it. “Everything is there” or “I address everything” sounds grandiose or like tacky promotion.

Also: everything in each of my courses connects to everything in all my other courses, not only intellectually but as an actual connection and integration on the physical and esoteric planes. In that process, each class participant is integrated with and connected to all the dots of reality, and each participant’s aspects are integrated with all their other aspects. This paragraph sounds arrogant to some people. But it’s the reality I live in.

I’m not saying we accomplish it perfectly—it’s an ideal we strive for. … But it’s not an abstract ideal alone; it’s something we embody.

Though we might do it far from perfectly, we accomplish it to a degree many people would think impossible.

Stardrenched witches like us are scattered throughout the globe.

I love my feet.

A foot with a rainbow of infinity signs in it. Painting by FDG.

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One Response to Witches, Artists, and Neurodiversity

  1. Chris Reed says:

    Totally agree with the this. My ND/trickster led me to work in experiential learning and train as an arts therapist. Try looking at Lewis Hyde’s ‘Trickster makes the World’. I reread it recently and it made me think of the trickster as an ancient way of describing Neurodiversity. He looks at gods and artists and shaman, but Issac Newton or Marie Curie as scientists could also be in there. Great article. Thanks

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