I've always fancied myself a witch, even before I was old enough to realize there are "weirdos" out there actually practicing Wicca. Instead of Disney's Sleeping Beauty I wanted to be a less malevolent Maleficent or Mad Madam Mim. Movies like Hocus Pocus, Practical Magic, and The Craft awoke a deep-rooted kinship within my young millennial mind. I wanted this magic for myself. In fact I took my first trip to Salem and bought a book on the very subject of Witchcraft when I was around 13 years old.
Since then I've realized that witches ARE real and magic DOES exist but it's not the flying on broomsticks or shooting lightning out of your hands stuff like my younger self saw in my favorite films. It's so much more beautiful and mundane than that.
Though I don't feel aligned with any organized religion, pagan or otherwise, I do practice witchcraft and magic daily. I feel magic when I connect with my Celtic heritage and study the lifestyle and teachings of the Druids.* I feel magic in all things that come from the earth. I feel magic in making things with my hands. If I have to pick some labels you can call me a Hedge Witch/House Witch/Green Witch/Craft Witch, but the magical thing about being a witch is you don't have to call it any one thing. It just is what you are if you feel it and I do.
(*it's important to note that Western European traditions are not and should not be the only widely celebrated forms of witchcraft, of course! It just happens to be where my ancestors originate and so I feel organically called to it, without fear of appropriation.)
There's a much heavier conversation to have when remembering that not all that long ago, the only boxes you needed to check in order to be labeled and then imprisoned as a witch were: female (primarily), unmarried, and outspoken. That's pretty much it. And if you lived in a cottage on the outskirts of town, practiced herbal medicine or midwifery, and had a cat companion or two then you'd be burned at the stake for sure. Just stop and think about that for a moment. That actually happened.
If it was the the 17th century right now today would you be labeled a witch? I certainly would, and if you ask me I'd be living the dream!
Now I say that in jest, obviously. Being imprisoned and burned alive simply for being marked as "different", and therefore a witch, is arguably not living the dream. This very non-dreamy persecution of marginalized folks has continued throughout history and into modern times. If you identify as non-white, non-christian, non-binary, queer, disabled, or anything otherwise "other" you've probably experienced some form of proverbial witch-hunt in your life. It's fair to question in that case why anyone would voluntarily assign themselves a witch. For me (a white, disabled, cisgender American-born citizen) to be able to write these thoughts aloud without much fear of persecution is a privilege not everyone has. I recognize that and do not take it for granted. By sharing my thoughts here I hope to honor and acknowledge those who could not and cannot think authentically aloud.
With that said, what I mean to invoke by discussing the more contemporary concept of witchcraft is: Why is "witch" a term society still shies away from when being a 'unique, independent, free-thinking, organic gardening-cat lover' is actually what a lot of us want to be when we grow up?! That's a rhetorical question, it's no wonder to me how #witchyvibes is trending with 4+ million tags on Instagram. There's definitely a reclamation of the witch identity happening right now and I'm so here for it. Again, living the dream, folks!
Still, witchcraft (even in the contemporary context) is not a term I use lightly. It's not simply a vibe to try on every October (though every witch starts somewhere, no gatekeeping here!). Those of us who feel the magnetic pull of this identity also feel and understand the weight of all of them witches who came before us, whether they chose that label for themselves or not. My hope is that you'll read these words and also feel kinship. My hope is that you feel safe and encouraged here in this space to lean deeper into the pull of this craft, *if* you feel called to do so.
What does this pull feel like? For me the pull of magic feels like witnessing a murmuration of birds or waking up to find the first breakthrough of a tiny spring seedling. It's feeling my breath paused in my chest in response to the awe of those incredible, yet ordinary things. Sure there's a scientific explanation for these very natural phenomena but what is science if not an explanation for how magic works?
The pull of magic is also a life-long fascination with all things occult and unorthodox, a connection with "other" and otherworldly. It's a deep spiritual connection with the earth and the seasons. It's the feeling of alchemy that accompanies everything my hands make, it's an ability to see real magic in those "ordinary" things... I mean, is there anything on this earth that's actually ordinary? Isn't everything genuinely extraordinary simply because it exists?! -- Magic!
And well, friend, at this point I bet I'm preaching to the choir because if you made it this far I think it's safe to say we're already in the same coven.
Welcome home, Witch. I'm glad you're here.
What magic shall we craft today?