Forget Hocus Pocus – meet the real witches of the world

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).

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In preparation for this year’s #mabsdrawlloweenclub / #inktober here’s a little #meettheartist (mostly reposted from last year) to give anyone new an insight into who they are following… . 1. I’m Kirsty, I’m 25, I live in York, UK. I am a Libra October baby 💀🥀 . . 2. I’m a first year PhD student in Archaeology at @uniofyork. . 3. I’ve always been a creative person but I didn’t really begin drawing until I was around 20 years old. . 4. I love the freedom and self expression art gives. To be able to picture something in your mind and translate it into a physical thing is very exciting. Though equally this can be frustrating, I often feel as if my hand is playing catch up the vivid ideas I have of the types of art I would like to create – versus my own abilities and limitations as a part time illustrator! . 5. I draw with traditional dip pen and ink. I am heavily inspired by nature, Victoriana, by dark and spooky things and all things relating to witches and witchcraft. . 6. In my spare time I’m an avid reader, I love to visit museums and heritage sites, I practice yoga every morning and I’m happiest when I can be outside and connect with nature. I collect plants and crystals and bits and pieces I pick up from places I visit. I like to watch horror films and I am unashamedly addicted to playing Animal Crossing (very excited for March 20)! . 7. I have a rare connective tissue disorder called Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, it really really sucks but I’ve learned to cope with it over the years and I try not to let it hold me back. . 8. I listen to Pearl Jam absolutely everyday. Eddie Vedder is my King. . Likewise for Black Sabbath, Fleetwood Mac, Mad Season, Bauhaus and Siouxsie & the Banshees to name a small few. I love music. . 9. Some of my favourite artists I follow here are @billsafi @sineateruk @brettmanningart @poisonappleprintshop and @caitlinmccarthyart. . 10. Hmm… I have endless love for LOTR and Harry Potter, I have a masters degree in Cultural Heritage Management, raccoons are my favourite animal and the number one place on my very long ‘to visit’ list is Japan. . ~ If you’re a new follower or you’ve been here a while, thank you. And if you read to the end 🖤

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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! 

 

 

Words: Ashleigh Swan

Photos: Unsplash / Thalia Deore and Kirsty Ryder