What image first comes to mind when I say the word “witch”?
Is it an old lady with warts mixing potions in a giant, black cauldron with an equally-black feline by her side?
Or is it a preteen girl being tied to a stake while piles of wood are lit as a priest declares her a heretic?
Or maybe a group of women dancing naked on a full moon around a bonfire while they have orgies and drink each other’s blood and worship the Devil?
It’s not surprising that these images of witches are the ones that come up when we hear the word “witch”. It’s commonly used as a curse, as something to disgust and fear.
Witches are given a very poor representation because of history. Now, do some witches not have bonfire orgies and drink blood and mix potions? No, some do. But that’s not what defines you as a witch.
What Start It?
The spread of women as witches originally started during the Renaissance.
Midwives who were unmarried and did what they wanted (*gasp* independence?!) were tried and found to be witches. Why wouldn’t they be? They knew how to make healing salves and assist in childbirth and minds of their own. The horror!
Over time, the witch became an idea that was personified into two things: an old, evil crone or seductive, sinful woman. They were sexualized or made grotesque, this sort of thing that you wanted but was hideous inside and out.
Men that were depicted with similar powers were called warlocks and were always made evil. They used “black magic” and turned people into swans or straight up killed them.
Nowadays, the witch is considered to be from a long line of family magic. Multiple generations of women follow the rede and rules of threefold. At least in pop culture and media, that’s the idea.
How Does Magic Work?
My perspective? A witch is a person (notice I didn’t specify sex) that can control the energy around them. They influence it to make what they want to happen come true.
If they want clearer weather, they influence the energy around them to do so.
If they want to heal a loved one with a cup of tea, they influence the energy in the tea to do so.
Now, that doesn’t mean using candles and herbs and sigils is ineffective for witches. Quite the contrary.
If you go to work and sell things on eBay and start a business, are you more likely to make money? Of course!
The same idea applies to witchcraft, only there’s more of a symbolic use for items. Like, for example, a money spell could be created with some coins, herbs associated with good fortune or luck or wealth, colors that are associated with the same things, a picture of what you ultimately want, etc.
What Classifies a Witch?
Every individual witch, regardless of how they practice, is entitled to that practice. Just like the general population is allowed to worship what they want, the same goes for witchcraft.
Some people worship deities, some don’t.
Some incorporate religion into their practice, some don’t.
Some do yoga and meditate, some don’t.
Some carry crystals around and use them for everything and it’s mother, some don’t.
Some cook specials and sew poppets, some don’t.
Some use menstrual blood and animal skulls, some don’t.
Some have generations of magic in their bloodline and use a family grimoire, some don’t.
Some use sex magic and practice skyclad (i.e. naked), some don’t.
The point I’m getting at is, as a witch, you have a right to practice however you want. You’re allowed to study whatever you want and do what you wish with your craft.
What’s not allowed, in my opinion, is the judging and criticizing other witches and their practices.
No one is forcing you to curse someone. No one at all. If that’s not your practice, then don’t do it. But someone else’s practice is their business, not yours. No curse shaming.
No one is forcing you to follow the sabbats and do a daily ritual. You are still a witch, even if you can only practice once a month. Your craft, your beliefs, your rules.
What Kind of Witch Are You?
If I were to name myself, I would be a solitary, nonsecular eclectic cottage witch.
In normal-people speak, I do magic that involves the home and family, which for me includes sewing, crocheting, cooking, herbal remedies, and taking care of my family. Now, the eclectic part just means I dabble in a lot of different areas. Divination, such as tarot, doesn’t fall under a typical cottage witch practice. I’m open to using all kinds of magic and I study (when I can) as many different kinds as I can.
I don’t worship any deities or follow a certain religion. In the future, that may change, but for now, I’m nonsecular.
I don’t practice in a coven for many reasons. I’m very much an introvert and would more observe what’s going on than actually participate. I also don’t have time for regular practice, like many covens require. Being a mom and a student AND a business owner, my time is very limited.
However, I still practice every day. If I’m not doing a small spell over some mac and cheese, I’m doing a daily tarot draw or brief meditation or cleansing.
I believe simple, everyday magic is just as powerful as a huge ritual.
I believe curses and hexes are just as valid as banishing spells.
I believe magic is our own personal energy working for us.
I believe magic is neutral and has no color; it’s how we use it that matters.
I am a witch. Nothing can ever say I’m otherwise.