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What It Means to Be a Witch: From the Voices of Wild Women Describing Their Magickal Path. {Part Two}

 

“Magic isn’t just spells and potions. Your badge – it’s just a star, just another symbol. Your talisman. It can’t stop criminals in their tracks, can it? It has power because you believe it does. Wish you could believe in me.” ~ Alice Hoffman, Practical Magic

“Nature has always been incredibly special to me as some of my oldest memories are those of me cooking with my late father or scuba-diving and going on safari with my mother and stepfather. I don’t remember a single day growing up that didn’t involve climbing trees, collecting rocks, flowers, bones and feathers or swimming in the sea.

For some reason it always felt like home, nothing else mattered when I was in nature and I always felt a calling or something deeper when in nature, almost a spiritual connection that I could never put into words.

Living in South Africa, witchcraft is always connected with negativity for the most part. It is something to be afraid of, so I never had any guidance and to this day I’m not exactly open about my craft.” ~ Sarah, Green Kitchen Witch, South Africa

Magic, like reiki or ch’i, is a force that resides in everything. We cannot see it, but it is there. Like the joy we feel when a baby smiles for the first time, to the warm feeling we get when we bake muffins on a soft September Sunday. Or the fireflies in our hearts when we fall in love. Magic stirs all around us, reminding us that in between the sadness that life can bring weaves an energy of pure love and mystery.

Women for centuries have known this, have felt this, and stitch it into everything they create out of love. Whether that is tending to a garden, cooking for others, creating a poetic incantation or birthing a child. Magic is the act of creation and knowledge with love at its core, it is a loving intention in daily life. A spell is simply a prayer, a song is simply sound healing, potions are just remedies, and poppets are art therapy.

Even darker magic has its roots in love that has turned into hate and bitterness. 

Magic can be a simple prayer, an offering (like the puja ceremonies in India), an incantation that feels like a meditation. A spell that is said enough times becomes a mantra. Magic is thought that becomes conscious, that becomes an action, that becomes reality.

Women who freely work with this intuition and independence rather than follow the regimens of religious or societal order were condemned as witches, and in some countries, this is still a taboo word and a practice to be fearful of. Yet we know that once upon a time, the word witch actually meant wise

With the rise in popularity in witchcraft today, we find many people from the LGBTQA community choosing this practice because it is freeing and gives them a sense of personal power to explore otherness on a spiritual level without the guilt, fear or shame. Being in a coven also encourages a sense of belonging and inclusivity within a safe, sacred space.

Witchcraft encourages feelings of  empowerment and the freedom to explore their identities. Perhaps this desire within the queer community to practice witchcraft feels so natural since they are both beautiful expressions of otherness.

Men throughout history also worked magic — there are modern wizards, warlocks, magi and druids in the present day too. 

With the fall of patriarchy and toxic masculinity, many men are also seeking new ways to connect with their mind, body and spirit. To take back personal power, self-expression, and discovering their connection to the macrocosm of the universe as well as the dual energy of the Divine Feminine and Sacred Masculine which is not present in mainstream religions.

Men who practice a more earth-based path say they feel more connected to themselves, feel more grounded, and have more reverence, patience and love for the magic that is their life. Connecting with the goddess aspect encourages them to have awareness of their own emotions and recognize they are whole and complete as they are.

Drink red pepper tea for an upset stomach or butterfly weed for nerves, place myrtle beneath your pillow at night for good dreams, plant tulsi to bring joy to your life and meadow sweet for a strong, everlasting love.

In the first part, we explored the possible origins of the words witch, weird and woo, and learned from the voices of some wonderful women what their practice in traditional witchcraft of Green Witchery, Kitchen Witchery and Hedge Witchery embodies. These are the main three paths of witchery that are most common (outside of Wicca, which is a religion).

In this second part, we discover lesser known magical practices which, much like many aspects to life, show that witchcraft is a very broad spectrum and the journey is a personal one. How one woman defines her spiritual practice will be totally different from another’s.

I would like to continue this research to do a Part Three and interview people from all walks of life, including genders, ethnicity, race and more to give everyone a voice to illustrate their personal practice of witchcraft and why it is integral to their well-being and outlook on lifeBut let’s take a look at some lesser known paths in witchcraft.

The Moon Witch

Moon witches (also known as astrology witches) observe and study the celestial bodies in the night sky and ritualize their life around what is going on in the heavens depending on the moon phase, planetary alignments and retrogrades. Moon witches will be guided to utilize these energies in their daily practice.

They will grow herbs based on moon phases, cleanse their crystals under the moon, create moon water bottles and potions, tend to own astronomy equipment, and have excellent knowledge on birth charts. They can guess your sun sign by looking at you, but will prefer to talk about your moon sign because this is the heart and emotional center of a person, and they tend to be night owls.

Slightly more cosmic than your average earthbound witch, they can be flamboyantly dressed or a lover of glitter. Moon-bathing is a favored pastime.

“As above so below! Everything happening in the vast universe is happening inside of your little earth body! Can you feel it? Being a solitary moon witch, my mind totally geeks out at astronomy, scientific knowledge, the moon phases and astrology. I embody and feel these subjects, they are not just amazing subjects to learn. This is my witchcraft.

I essentially notice what’s going on in our night sky, our heavens, in direct correlation to our signs and daily life.

An example of my craft involves a Cancer new moon ritual, where I will be having a special bath with sea shells, rose quartz, ylang-ylang essential oil and sea salt, and a sequence of seated yoga poses specific to the water element,  followed by a most nourishing child’s pose.

I will then dive into a meditation to set a new intention and cast a spell of love and healing upon myself from head to toe. Sounds good ? You should try it!” ~ Mikiyo Joyce, London

The Crow Witch

Similar to a hedge witch, witches who work with animal spirit totems are shamanic in nature, and much like priestesses dedicated to a deity, certain witches will be dedicated to a power animal that represents the unseen life force. Not necessarily a familiar, for familiars tend to be little helpers. The power animal a witch is dedicated to is imbued with a touch of divinity, like a sacred bond.

There are wolf witches, snake witches, leopard witches and more. A crow witch is attuned to the symbolism of crows, and includes feathers and other crow talismans in their personal rituals and offerings as healers and guides to those who seek their wisdom.

“I am divinely guided and connected with Mother Earth, and I receive guidance from the Universe and my cosmic Spirit, for I feel we are all connected.

My path involves working with the power elements, directions of Mother Earth and with animal spirits, particularly crows and ravens, for these are my power animals that I communicate with in waking life and in subtle realms.

The crow totem empowers me to see truth, to manifest, to protect and heal myself and others, and continue to connect me with the energies of Mother Earth. I do not open myself to everyone because it’s a secret path, I prefer it this way. In life, people may not understand our path, but then this path is not for everyone and that’s okay.

I enjoy being shown sacred messages by animal spirits and my spirit family. I believe when we truly open up, Spirit will guide us through animal messages and synchronicities we can’t explain. Spirit will also guide you to kindred souls and help you let go of those who are not of the same frequency.

I learn my life lessons by peering through the thin veil and seeing what others may not see, the crow guides me on this journey.” ~ Desiree, USA

Crossed knives set out on the dinner table means there is bound to be a quarrel. Peonies protect against motion sickness and ward off evil. A halo around the moon is a sign of disruption — either a change in weather, fever or bad fortune. When it is double-ringed, expect a love affair to go wrong. Wear Tiger’s eye when blood is on the moon.

The Energy Witch

Working with energy can involve a number of tools such as sound healing, smudging, healing crystals, drumming, meditation, working with high-vibe light or sound resonance, and even shadow work.

Energy witches are attuned to feeling energy in a room, in a gathering and within an individual. Very empathic, they can sense when energy and moods shift and can pick up when someone is energetically low, angry or upset. Usually becoming energy healers, reiki practitioners and lightworkers, they connect to Source very deeply and are very detail-oriented when cleansing a space or a person’s aura.

They also tend to have a lot of knowledge on the chakras, auras, koshas and other forms of energy healing like working with plant energy, light and sound vibrations, the elemental kingdom, ancestral and angelic frequencies, and planetary energies.

“Working with energy and being able to tune into this infinite source is truly a gift. To be able to give yourself hands-on healing is truly one of the greatest things you can do for yourself. It allows you to open up as a channel to receive the light to move through you, and ignites your soul.

When you work with your energy body, you’re tapping in on a cellular level that also influences your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual bodies, so it’s all-encompassing and connected. It doesn’t take much to have a deeply powerful experience.

My practice and teachings are about empowering myself and others to find that wisdom from within to connect deeply, very simply, yet powerfully. Realizing that nothing is separate, allowing your inner world to guide you, and following on from your ancestors who guided you here.

We connect to the elements, dream space and deep listening, so that we can remember and then follow the path of the awakening heart. This is more than energy, this is elemental embodiment, energy medicine, transformation and evolution. A daily practice of awareness, love and light.”  ~ Jo Lewins, Ibiza (Interview With Reiki Master Jo Lewins)

When butter melts, it is a sign that intense love is in the home. When a broom falls, company is coming. When moths tap upon the window, a thunderstorm is brewing. Always keep mint on your window sill in August to keep the flies away.

The Dianic Witch Priestess

Many feminist witches follow this path as it is deeply connected to goddess archetypes and only female deities are worshiped in ritual and ceremonies. Diana is the Roman Goddess of the hunt and the moon. It is interesting to note that within Dianic witchcraft, hexing and curses are actually allowed.

It is considered acceptable to hex or bind someone who does harm to women. in particular, men who perpetrate sexual violence against women and children.

I am a Dianic and green (esoteric herbalist) witch, and a Plant Spirit Healing practitioner.

My spiritual belief has always been a goddess-centered one, and it led me to become an ordained Dianic clergy (priestess), validating a spiritual path started during adolescence, and affirming my dedication to female wisdom and awakening by supporting women and their spiritual needs.

My ministry involves helping women reach a deep knowledge of their wild and intuitive nature, regain their individual sovereignty, and become aware of their inner power.

My life has also always been deeply connected to nature, and this communion with the Earth led me to the study of plants through different approaches — magical-energetic, therapeutic, eco-spiritual and botanical. I have learned that we depend on plants in a very deep and intimate way.

We can definitely say that we live because of plants. They can offer us much more than what is visible, and they can nurture our soul when we connect to their conscious spirit and ancestral knowledge.

So, in my personal spiritual practice, I bring together my cyclic, mystic and intuitive female nature, marked by the initiatic passages of women’s blood and divine guidance, together with the wild knowledge of the ancient Green Spirits, their soul medicine and healing.” ~ Cristina “Dianara” Pandolfo, Wales, UK

On the first Friday of the quarter moon of every month, write the name of someone you wish to be rid of and burn it. If a woman is in trouble, she should wear something blue for protection. If a candle burns blue, it means a spirit is in the house. Plant fruit trees during the dark of the moon. Plant dahlias for happiness and resiliency, and ranunculus for self-empowerment when life gets tricky.

The Yoga Witch

This path fuses yogic philosophy with pagan roots. Both are heavily steeped in goddess mythology and ritual. Yoga witches focus on female empowerment through the practice of Shakti energy combined with Mother Earth magick.

Yoga witches can be found in yoga studios, but unlike most yoga practitioners, they have a mystical vibe about them, oftentimes wearing mala beads with a pentagram attached, with smokey eyes and pagan tattoos that have been given to them in a tattoo ceremony, reading books related to diverse spiritual ideas and philosophies, and have a home full of yogic and witchy oddities combined.

Upon their altar, they may include both Hindu deities with other gods and goddesses from Celtic, Greek or Roman mythology.

“I tap into the feminine energy in the form of Kali, the Mother, the Goddess. I honor the Great Mother and see myself as a Yoga witch in her service to help restore the Feminine by unlocking her power. My craft is an embodied integrative practice for women, combining conscious movement, breath, sound, imagination, sharing circles, devotional rituals and meditations.

This practice has its roots in ancient Eastern philosophies of Raja Yoga, Advaita Vedanta and non-dualist tradition of Kashmir Shaivism (tantra). It also integrates the contemporary expression of creativity in the form of dance and other embodied healing practices.

I love to approach  yoga in a feminine way, honoring a woman’s unique journey, and whatever is going on in her body, heart and soul. What is fascinating about this feminine way is that we don’t have to really ‘do’ anything for spirituality. Rather, it’s giving a woman a deep sense of being in herself and feeling part of the big cosmic womb of Mother Earth.” ~ Zoe Zeynep Abay, London

This two-part article is merely a glimpse into the world of witchcraft. There are many other types of witches, from sea witches to music witches and art witches, eclectic witches and fairy witches. The path of witchcraft is so beautifully diverse and freeing because the term witch simply means to be wise about your craft, your passion.

The two parts allowed 11 women’s voices from around the world to be heard and celebrated. Each one is unique and yet all are connected by their yearning to deepen their love for the Divine Feminine, magic in the mundane, and Mother Earth. Sharing their voices will give you a new understanding of what it is to be a witch.

“At the end of it all, I see magic and witchcraft as ever-evolving, and as we shift and shape ourselves within our own skin, our craft changes with us. It’s about the evolution of not only what resonates within us, but with what resonates around us. Nothing is stagnant, and it is the same for our craft.

Like the ebb and flow of the tides, the changing seasons, or the birth and rebirth of every living being, I believe we take our whole lives to define what truly makes us who we are, and our paths can be the same. It’s all very personal and up to the individual at the end of the day.

Magic is something we should all learn to accept and embrace, and I hope one day people who practice won’t be seen in such a negative light.” ~ Sarah, Green Kitchen Witch, South Africa

This is the second of a two-part article. Read Part 1 here.

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Katie Ness is an Ayurvedic Yoga teacher for all ages, Reiki teacher, Women’s Circle facilitator, belly dancer and artist from the UK. As a traveling yogini, she has visited over 20 countries and hopes to facilitate international Yoga and Sacred Feminine retreats in the near future. She spends her free time illustrating in her nature journal, reading an absurd amount of books, playing with her tarot cards, or crafting dream-catchers. At present, she is studying herbalism, floral design and botanical illustration. She can be found practicing yoga and writing poetry in woodlands and by the sea. You could contact Katie via Instagram.

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