The idea that a witch bows to no-one and no-thing is absurd to me. And part of me wonders if this talk emerges from a perspective steeped in imperialist and white supremacist cultures; that is, cultures like the U.S., Great Britain, and Western Europe.
It is a deep and potent mystery known to me that to surrender is one of the greatest acts of power. It demonstrates our inherent autonomy, our agency, our choice. This is not the giving away of one's power; power being the ability to enact one's intention in the world, to change the world, to make stuff happen—which is that last "inch" of us, our self-sovereignty, which we must never give away. To surrender is the joining of one's will and power with forces and beings that are deeper and wider than our limited reach as particulate beings usually allows. To rely on Them, as They rely on us. An exchange always happens with surrender, for there is great power in us, in our particulate agency and perspective. And There is great wisdom in acknowledging powers greater than one's own, and coming into relationship with them. This is power-with, after all.
A deep part of witchcraft, for me, is a recognition of the fundamental reality of our world—that we live, move, and have our being within a rich webwork of countless beings and forces that are interdependent and co-reliant with one another. This is a tenant of the animistic worldview, which I believe traditional witchcraft springs from. Our human civilization relies directly on the bioregion, no matter how glamoured we have become in our modernity with the cities most of us occupy. Witches tend to make reference to the Land, who to many of us is the Green Gown, the Moon-Sea-Earth Goddess who teaches us sorcery; for the Land itself is the greatest gramarye. And the Land is both womb and tomb; just as the Witchmother Goddess is both the one who births and the reaper, Queen over the Dead. All things grow from its bounteous treasure-trove, but it also is the repository for all life.
Below us, in the older way of thinking, the Dead go into the Underworld/Innerworld and are transformed or re-membered into Fateful beings; beings who shape the world. This is a very tactile, concrete fact. The very ground we walk on is made of the transformed dead matter (bodies!) of countless beings through countless ages, and it sustains all living organisms. Death and Life feed one another. As an animist, knowing that matter and spirit are not (and have never been) separate, the Land—the Body of the Earth—is the most spiritual substance. This includes our own bodies, as we are not distinct from the Earth, ever as particulate as we think ourselves to be.
The authority the Dead have over our lives today is immense. Remember that authority and author are from the same root. Everything that sustains us is woven from the Dead—from the food we eat, the materials we make our clothes and homes from, the technology we use and fossil fuels we burn to create energy, to the inheritances both biological-genetic and those of our human cultures and the Luck-force with each of us moves through life. The deeds of our personal Ancestors directly affect us, as the world is shaped by what humans have done. Even the reputations of our family (whether relatives or those friends we choose) give us access to relationships within communities, or they can shut us out. What we inherit deeply shapes us.
We must also remember that the Dead are both the Ancestors and the Descendants, those who may be reborn into flesh and filled with breath. Who are the gods if not the forces of the world wearing the faces of the most ancient things, those Dead, human and other-than-human, who have gone into the great Cauldron and been transformed into the Fateful Powers, trembling with passion and dissolving their edges to become more-than-particulate sentience? I bow to the Dead, for they are greater than me, and I recognize their authority in my life. This is not weakness, this is claiming my power and the power-with, for truly even the very last inch of me comes through from my Ancestors, and I shall will it to those who will descend from my line.