There are crones in the woods tonight, slipping frog legs into their chapped lips, cursing the villages that raised them, and cackling so loud children cry at the echoes.
That’s how witches are seen, right? Or are we missing something? Are we missing a gaping perspective from Africa and Asia, where witches are something entirely different? Where witchcraft is defined as something else?
That brings us to the matter today: defining the modern, Western witch. Why do we see her the way we do, and who are these mysterious witches?
And why aren’t we writing about them?
A 2014 Pew Research Center report suggests that the United States’ adult population of pagans and Wiccans was about 730,000. Modern-day witches in America, many who connect themselves to the pre-Christianity Wicca religion. The tricky thing about today’s witches is that the meaning of ‘witch’ varies from person to person.
Many of today’s witches see witchcraft as empowering and deeply spiritual–channeling focus and energy and power. However, the old crone story is never far–dating as far back as Horace’s Satires circa 35 B.C. to the new pieces of media being released every day, full of both victimized witches, accused without reason and turned bitter, to the old crones, to covens, organized and corrupt.
Witches throughout Europe that were persecuted were often people, mostly women, who had no defense. They would be the poor, the shunned, the outcasts. They would be accused because people would blame them for their misfortunes. Witchcraft was consorting with the devil, it was damning.
But today’s witches? These people are powerful. They are in touch with themselves and strive to connect their energies to the world around them. Many of them follow pagan religions, one of the most dominant being Wicca, and since few people are born into it the way people have been born into major world religions–they choose to do it.
So let's talk about how we got to Wicca as it is today. Let’s talk about how something people would rather hang than confess to doing turned into a religion and a culture that brings people joy.
First, since so many of us writers use social media as a platform to connect, I started looking into other communities o the Internet! Local pagan communities can be devastatingly hard to find, but here are these servers full of people who can teach witchcraft and who understand the practice, religious or otherwise. They can serve as support systems for each other outside of covens (which again, can be difficult to find nearby.)
Witch practices that tend to attract people that choose this path include goddess worship, the following of the moon cycle, and most importantly, the idea that affirmations, belief, and spiritual energy are enough for each person to make difference.
Wicca originated as duotheistic, with a Horned God and a Mother Goddess, but some Wiccans now follow a being even above them, a genderless entity whose existence is too vast and meaningful to be understood by humans. Some people who follow Wicca also believe in nature spirits, or believe that all the gods and goddesses of the world’s religions are one supernatural god and goddess.
is a high school student in New Jersey. They like (in no particular order) books, music, science, history, running, and (of course) writing and are always up to learn something new! Find them on Instagram at @writing_stoot.
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