Witchcraft is loaded term that has long inspired both fascination and fear. Witch is a slur and a dangerous accusation. It’s also a very popular aesthetic and you can buy a Witchcraft Supply Kit on Amazon. It comes with tiny jars.
The dictionary (Merriam-Webster) offers four contradictory entries for witch, which I will combine into a single entry:
A witch is a mean, ugly old woman or a charming, alluring, young woman who practices either evil magic with demons or a modern nature religion with trees.
As for me, I’m more of a 40-something, quirky woman who practices a nature religion with demons. Kidding about the demons…or am I?
And therein lies part of my love for this word. I want to see who jumps to conclusions and who dares to ask, “Demons? What do you mean by that? Witchcraft? What do you mean by that?”
(And, no, I don’t agree with the dictionary about witch referring exclusively to women.)
My teacher Griffin of the Ced Tradition, and I’m paraphrasing here, says that witchcraft is rooted in the ability to commune with spirits and the ability to make magic.
Let’s start with the spirit part. Some of the world’s organized religions operate as hierarchies wherein only their highest of high priests or clergy are allowed to converse with spirits, gods, or God. Only they decide what goes in the holy book or accepted liturgy.
You might be allowed to pray, but they determine how you pray. You might be allowed to talk at God. But you don’t get to turn around and tell people what God told you. That’s called cutting out the middleman. And, historically, the middleman doesn’t like to be cut out.
The witch is the cultural heretic who thinks and acts outside the dogma, communing directly with spirit and divinity.
Further, if you make magic, specifically, the kind of magic that changes destiny and reality by the power of your will and desire…you’re not just talking to a god, you’re doing what gods do! Beyond religion or culture or a specific priesthood, you are circumventing the organization and rules of the universe!
The witch is the cosmic heretic who dares to participate in the on-going creation of the universe.
For me, witchcraft is about creating opportunities through spiritwork, spellwork, and ritual to experience, embody, and participate in the paradox of liberation and connection—a kind of freedom that makes you more able to love; a kind of love that sets you free.
It’s about the willingness to be perceived as heretical in pursuit of what is deeply ethical.
So, knowing this, should witchcraft still inspire so much fascination and fear?
Witches rock the boat culturally and cosmically. How wonderful! How terrifying!
And, on a personal level, witchcraft offers folks like us who are probably already a bit weird and sensitive even bigger freedom and deeper feelings. Yikes. Hope you like change.
I guess the dictionary was right in presenting a set of contradictions. Witchcraft is both hideous and healing. Witches dance around the fire—sweating and screaming in ecstatic and necessary grief. Witchcraft is honest in a way that most folks recoil from. That tarot deck or divination can be so rude in a way that is deeply kind.
Witchcraft is beautiful and terrible and it makes sense to me that some folks feel more fear than fascination.
Then there’s us. Looking at weird websites again. By at least a little, our fascination exceeding our fear.