Broomsticks and Cauldrons, pointy hats and wicked potions. The quintessential ingredients that make for the perfect witch…well, the ones we see in movies.
In reality, witches come in all ages, sizes and personalities. They are students, teachers, flight attendants, bankers, and doctors.
They are Wiccans, the real witches of the world, and no, they don’t turn people into frogs – unfortunately.
Wicca is a nature-based religion. Wiccans honour the powers of nature through ritual worship and have a commitment to living in balance with Earth. They do not support evil concepts but build a peaceful way of life that benefits them and the people around them.
They follow the wheel of the year, which is made of eight main sabbats:
- ‘Winter Solstice (Yule)
- Imbolc (Candlemas)
- Ostara (Spring Equinox)
- Beltane (May Eve)
- Litha (Summer Solstice)
- Lughnasadh (Lammas)
- Mabon (Autumn Equinox)
- Samhain (Hallowe’en)
Samhain (Halloween) is the biggest celebration for many witches and wiccans. It marks the wheel of the year completing a full circle (similar to New Year).
Kirsty Ryder, a follower of Wicca says that she finds her divination and spell work is most powerful at this time of year. She said, “Because I feel most powerful, I like to practice rituals and magick that require more energy and attention and perhaps focus on banishing anything negative from the passing year so that it does not continue on into the new year.”
Thalia Deore, another follower of Wicca celebrates by having a ritual of thanksgiving, “I’ll feast with my family and carve jack-o-lanterns which will be placed in the windows to guide the dead. I’ll also find time to use my tarot cards and divine what the year to come will hold.”
Beyond the major celebrations, witches get on with their day-to-day lives like anyone else and have a solitary practice.
Deore does this by regularly performing rituals and spells. When it comes to potions, she says that “anything can be a potion. My morning coffee is a potion because I stir my intention into the coffee and stir clockwise to bring the intention back to me.”
Deore’s favourite potion is one of self-love, “The easiest is to make tea with rose petals, honey and a pinch of cinnamon, which warms the heart and brings a sense of self-worth.”
For Ryder, “spellcasting is about intention and energy—setting an intention, tapping into the energy needed to manifest that intention, and then directing that energy into your spell work to achieve the desired outcome.”
Some Wiccans and witches do practice in covens. A Coven is a group of witches who follow the same path. “Many witches. Believe that magic is stronger within a coven as you can share collective energies and share spells and tips,” says Deore.
Although in 2019, witches are being more recognized in society, they are still struggling to shake their historical stereotype.
Deore shares, “There are a lot of people who assume I’m either a Satanist and all I do is curse people and shrink heads… or they think I’m insane and that I think I can fly on a broom and make Trump stop being president”
“‘Witch’ is such a loaded word!” says Ryder, “Even now the idea of witches and witchcraft scares people and is full of misunderstandings and incorrect connotations. The symbol of the witch in its historical, anthropological, religious and pop culture manifestations conjures up a range of opposing and contentious ideas.”
With these negative connotations, there is no wonder that most Wiccans don’t share too much about their religion. “Two years ago, I was in middle management at an up and coming credit company. No-one I worked with knew that every day I sprayed my desk with a cleaning mist and wrote sigils (magical symbols) on my reports before handing them to the boss.” shares Deore.
But despite its long and complicated history, the witch aesthetic is celebrated more than ever. And with the rise of social media, witches are able to communicate much easier than before. Who knows, you might even be following one!
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Words: Ashleigh Swan
Photos: Unsplash / Thalia Deore and Kirsty Ryder