All of this has lead to much reflection - mostly deciding it was time to buy a better moisturizer and wondering where the hell the last twenty years went. I've also been thinking about how my practice of Wicca has changed over the years. I've also been thinking about how fucking cool it was to be a teen Witch in the 90's.
I miss the 90's. I'm not alone in my nostalgia, as I've seen plenty of my contemporaries of late waxing nostalgic about that time period. I miss the music, the movies, the fashion, the bright eyed newbie excitement I had for Wicca. I've thought about The Craft, Charmed, Buffy, Practical Magic, the Lilith Fair and all the sort of stuff teenaged me couldn't shut up about. I've thought about how it's now totally uncool to admit that media or literary depictions of Witches ever influenced your thinking, religious choices, or fashion sense.
When I think a lot, I start making lists. This is a rough timeline of Witch related media events:
The Craft - May 3 1996
Lilith Fair - September of 1996 and the official tour in 1997
Sabrina The Teenage Witch - September 27 1996
Witchvox launches in 1997
Buffy The Vampire Slayer - March 10 1997
Godsmack by Godsmack - August 25 1998
Teen Witch by SRW - September 8 1998
Charmed - October 7 1998
Practical Magic - October 16 1998
Voodoo by Godsmack - music video - October 20 1999
Somewhere in there the internet became a thing that everyone had access to, Llewellyn went through a big publishing boom, big chain bookstores started opening in previously book-dry areas, and more people started thinking about witchcraft, Goddess spirituality, Girl Power, and alternative healing/spirituality in general.
When I discovered Paganism in 1994, it was through coffee table books from the 60's. It confirmed for me that such things had existed - and not too terribly long ago - but I had no idea if people were still doing it. I spent the next few years, and indeed the entirety of my teens and early twenties experiencing huge growth within Paganism but also with a pop culture that was saturated with Witches and Witch-related content.
The Goddess was alive. Magick was afoot. We were Everywhere, just not anywhere near me. None of that prevented me from having a really dumb haircut, bad skin, and no friends but it was really fucking cool.
Until it wasn't.
West Memphis 3 happened. Columbine happened. Someone I considered a friend told his evangelical parents that I practiced Witchcraft and they called the cops. That was the end of wearing black and Pagan jewelry openly for a while.
In the time period, I read everything I could get my hands on. I read great stuff. I read absolute garbage. I read a lot that was in between. I participated in chatrooms and "online rituals" back in the days when every Pagan website had dozens of pentacle gifs and Enya midi files.
I had some dumb ideas - though most of those were accepted as facts at that time. I had very pretty altars and everything smelled of sandalwood, sage and chamomile tea while Loreen McKennit gave us Celtic Realness in the background.
Eventually I went to college, met other people who identified as Pagan, and I cannot thank the Gods enough that we didn't form a coven or do much Pagan stuff together. I don't want to imagine the emotional and psychic scars we all would have walked away with.
College meant having access to better libraries and money to buy better books. It's also where I started thinking about the Pagans I knew and how different we all were - so different that we never ritualized together because no one agreed or was on the same page about things. I always knew that I wanted to join a coven and have a traditional background - I just wasn't sure what kind of coven or tradition I was best suited for. It was several years before I met people who hadn't cobbled something together via books and personal invention.
I recently found that first pentacle I wore. It was sold as "sterling silver" but it's so obviously fake. It's huge and tacky and the silver plating has fallen away to reveal cheap brass underneath. There's a perfect metaphor in there somewhere.