With Halloween around the corner, I have noticed in this past year, a large fluctuation in the amount of attention being brought to all forms of the occult and witchcraft. Articles and profiles revolving around media influencers, empaths, gurus, sensitives, and sage burners... Every Becky and Tom who has an instagram account can now hold the title of "WITCH" or "BRUJA/BRUJO" proudly under their signature. It is a self raised flag of their own volition and reward without any prior study.
Or is there more meat to the loaf then we perceive?
This is the information age after all, is it not? With so many profiles popping up in every creative field it is hard to keep track of the content that is being reposted incessantly. Just do a quick search through hashtags like #witch, #witchcraft, #healer, #mystic or hell, even #shaman. There are varying levels of appropriation from the influences of Hollywood. Wide Brimmed black hats, pointed manicured nails, and any reference to the rumored Grand Witch of us all, Stevie Nicks. Upside down crosses, pentagrams, and chanting about "light as a feather, stiff as a board."
Real witches of old originate from the earliest forms of animism and shamanic practice. Using magic as a means to bend the energy and cosmos around them. So when you reach out to a witch on social media who is an energy healer, why do they have so many titles? Or so many hashtags? The same question could be asked before our age to many women in the craft. They were called cutwives, midwives, healers, wise women, maenads, oracles, and the list goes on depending on which cultural reference you look to.
So what is a witch, and how do you REALLY know if someone who claims to be one is?
Well, let's start with some background on where witches might really originate from:
A witch is a facilitator of gnostic ideals and practices—a gnostic believer is looking for experiences within the divine all around them, or the unexplained. How do most witches become experts in this? Some would say; Study, practice, trial and error. Or in the newer sects of witchcraft, they commit to what is called "A year and a day." This tradition passes down through wicca, an earth based religion in neo-paganism. This commitment to study is how a new witch is initiated into their coven and accepted as a true practitioner of the craft.
Not all witches participate within a coven. Not all witches are wiccan. There are so many facets to the craft and what it means to every individual. Not all witches are psychic or seers of the future. Not all witches read tarot cards or divine information from spirits. In comparison, not all christians believe in the laying on of hands to heal, while some believe strongly in baptism to be forgiven. There are many moving parts within the constructs of the craft, and many layers to spirituality in every type of theology. As a practicing witch myself, I thoroughly believe that knowing the history and the origins of what we are is so important. Socially and historically.
To summarize: without structure, there is no balance. If you seek a witch for counsel or advice, be wary of those who lack knowledge and understanding of various spiritual practices. A true wise one will understand how to work with you and your beliefs, regardless of background or faith. In many ways, witches and the word witch become linear to many types of healing art or modalities that empower the self. After all, a witch is the one who bends and transmutes energy to their will. Either for personal or collective gain. Be safe with who you give your time and money to, and take every bit of information and understanding with a grain of salt. If something doesn't feel right, do not commit. Honor yourself, and respect the path.
This is by no means an article to attack or disprove anyone who claims to be a witch. There is a beautiful variety of witches in popular culture and the media now who are truly showing the world that witches are not evil, and not inherently good either... Happy (almost) Halloween!