Are you a good witch or a bad witch?

There has been a resurgence of the term “witch” in feminist and spiritual circles. People are reclaiming the word for women’s empowerment as well as breaking old, outdated stereotypes of ugly hunched over women in tall pointy hats trying to eat children or cast spells to bring death and destruction to their foes. And while I saw posts from self-proclaimed witches sharing their intentions of love, healing, and unity amid the pandemic and civil unrest, the outdated stereotypes were perpetuated online.

I saw a post on social media of a women saying “Please pray for our country and our president. There is a full moon coming and I fear the witches will be out worshipping.” The same woman who posted about going to the church to light a candle at the altar of Christ and say a prayer that the witches are unsuccessful in their pursuits.  See the hypocrisy yet?

Who or what was the early witch?

First, let’s clear up who the early witch was. Witches were hunted as far back as the 1300s, with mentions of them in the bible. Christians and witch hunters accused (mostly) women (because of their “inherent evil nature”) of being agents of the devil who sold their souls to the devil in exchange for power. Thousands of innocent people have been tried and executed around the globe using torture and bizarre tests to “prove” the person was a witch. None of which are actual ways to prove that someone is working with the devil ― just in case there is any confusion.

True early witches were mostly natural healers, medicine people, and “wise women” that focused on helping people and their communities. They used herbs, cast spells, performed rituals, and called upon the spirits to bring about positive change and healing.

I’m not saying there weren’t any witches practicing the dark arts or didn’t have ill intent. What I am saying is that the majority were simply misunderstood. Like today’s witches.

Who or what is the modern witch?

Today’s witches can’t be easily defined. There are many types of witches from around the world that have their own flavor of witch. Many witches pull from a variety of beliefs and multi-cultural practices to create their own special brew of witchiness. There are some who focus on herbs and botany, others that focus on the Lunar cycles, kitchen rituals, divination tools, elemental ceremony and rituals, sex magick, and so much more.

I’m going to share commonalities between the witches in my circle. This is not all encompassing by any means. But most self-proclaimed witches that I know or am acquainted with believe:

Oneness – We are all connected. We are all one. We are all divinely created as unique and individual manifestations that connect to make the whole, beautiful picture of the Divine. And for this, we honor and celebrate the diversity of the Divine and each other.

Self-Acceptance – We need to dig deep within ourselves to understand, heal, and love our mind, body, and soul. The dark and the light. Through this life-long journey we learn to love and respect every cell of our imperfect selves. Only then are we able to understand the soul of another.    

Self-Responsibility – We are responsible for our actions, reactions, and outcomes. It is our responsibility to set healthy boundaries and choose the people places and things that we choose carefully. You are the only one responsible for your happiness and are responsible to make changes to your people, place, or things if they don’t make you feel happy, healthy, and full of love.

Love – We need to do what we can to help our brothers and sisters from all walks of life rise because we are all connected. The intent for the spells, ceremonies, rituals, and other practices is for the highest and greatest good for the individual, the community, and the planet.

Nature – Witches feel deeply connected to nature and the elements (earth, air, fire, water). They understand the wisdom, healing, and power found in nature and the importance of honoring, learning from, and working with Mother Earth. This includes all creatures, elements, elementals, the sun and the moon, the universe, and everything in between.

Divine – There is a power higher than ourselves. Sometimes that is Nature, the Great Spirit, the Divine Feminine, Source, Universe, Moon, Goddess, and even God. No matter what you want to call it, there is a belief that there is something bigger than us helping us on our path.

The Rule of 3 – Whatever energy we put out, positive, neutral or negative, comes back to us three times. Similar to karma, this rule is an ethical stance against causing others harm. It’s why intention is so important in any ritual, ceremony, or spell.

There are many more things to learn about the witches among us than what I have shared here. So next time you see a witch in person or online, I encourage you to strike up a conversation and get to know them. Leave judgement at the door and be open to getting to know the person under the imagined (and sometimes real) pointy hat.

“A witch is a woman who emerges from deep within herself. She is a woman who has honestly explored her light and learned to celebrate her darkness. She is a woman who is able to fall in love with the magnificent possibilities of her power. She is a woman who radiates mystery. She is magnetic. She is a witch.”

Dasha Elliot

Stay curious, my friends!

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