Everyone who studies and practices witchcraft has a definition of what it means to be a witch. Some may think it’s someone who is in a coven, or others perhaps think it’s someone who practices spell work. Many of the more conservative views have a strict definition, and many experienced witches even call someone who is only beginning their practice a “baby witch”.
Maybe you don’t agree with me, but I will argue that the definition of a witch is much simpler. A witch is someone who sees and practices magic.
That’s it. No other qualifications needed.
But this also depends on what your definition of magic is, so let’s discuss magic and what it really means to be a witch.
What is Magic? (Magick)
The dictionary says that magic is “the power of apparently influencing the course of events by using mysterious or supernatural forces.” But (of course) I don’t like this definition.
Magic (sometimes spelled magick) is anything with a high vibrational energy or power that you can sense.
Fire is magic, so lighting a candle is deeply magical and spiritual. Rainbows are magic. I like to hang crystal prisms up in my windows to flood my living space with rainbows during the day!
The cooling, soothing nature of water is magical. Drinking a glass of water during the day, I fully appreciate the magic of water as it nourishes my body.
Hiking through nature or laying on the earth and feeling our Mother’s firm, gentle energy is magic. A cool breeze in the summer is magic.
Wanting something for your highest good, like a job, a partner, or a child, and then receiving that gift is magic. The Law of Attraction is magic. Setting an intention for the day is magic.
Trusting our feelings or instincts over our intellect is also a form of magic. Magic is the opposite of thinking.
Sure, casting spells and making potions are also magic. But we cannot ignore the simple magic that is around us every day!
A Witch is NOT….
Let’s take a moment to discuss what a witch is not.
Even the small snippet from Wikipedia is an insulting definition of a witch. They claim that witchcraft is traditionally using magic is to do harm.
This definition itself is harmful: in the male-Christian-centric world that has endangered women’s lives and spirits for thousands of years, of course they would want people to fear witchcraft.
In my own experience with friends who practice witchcraft, as well as online communities of which I’m a part, witches primarily use magic for good.
In fact, if they also practice Wicca, they adhere to the Wiccan Rede, which says:
If it harm none, do what you will.
(Not all witches practice Wicca, and not all Wiccans are witches.)
A few more “NOTS”
- A witch is NOT someone who dresses in all black and wears pointy hats (although they might)
- A witch is NOT someone who worships satan
A Witch is someone who…
Sees magic in the world all around
When you get out of the mainstream, male-Christian-centered world, you immediately step into the world of magic.
And magic truly is all around us. A witch is someone who sees this and uses that power in whatever way she can. Maybe it’s teaching a young girl that she is indeed powerful. Braiding flowers, celebrating pagan holidays, and using herbal remedies for ailments are all forms of magic.
The magic of the elements and the natural world that I mentioned above is another way that we can embrace the magic of our world. Even as we slowly strangle our Mother Earth to death with our pollution, she gives us beauty and wonder every day.
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One of the most obvious uses of magic is by casting spells.
Honestly, I don’t often cast spells. I do, however, practice rituals and use spiritual energy for my benefit and the benefit of those around me.
Sometimes these “spells” are for protection, to break the bonds of someone who continues to try to imprison my spirit, or to bring me abundance and joy. As mentioned above, most of the spells a witch casts are for good.
For getting started on spellcasting, I recommend the blog “Flying the Hedge” and her Spellcrafting series.
Uses the Law of Attraction and Manifests what she wants
The Law of Attraction is a powerful, natural law used by the Universe/God/Source that essentially says that you attract your life to you. Highly successful people and celebrities talk about using the Law of Attraction to manifest the kinds of success they’ve seen in their lives.
I would venture to say that if you use the Law of Attraction, you’re a witch. I know that witchcraft and manifestation don’t seem to connect, but because this is a power that we humans cannot understand (yet), I will go so far to say that the Law of Attraction is in fact a form of magic.
Appreciates nature and the natural cycles of the world
Witches are often those who know exactly what moon phase we’re in, what planting Zone they live in, and how to grow herbs inside. A witch is someone who listens to the natural world around them and derives meaning and spirituality from our natural world.
Our natural world is not just a source of resources to be exploited by big companies hoping to make a profit. Nature is the primary source of magic in our world, and we are all connected to nature and the beautiful Mother Earth around us.
Calls herself a witch
Although someone can be witchy without actually calling themselves a witch, identifying as a witch is as simple as it gets. And if you’re to the point where you’re calling yourself a witch, you’ve probably already been practicing magic for a long time.
Other witches cannot tell you that you’re not a witch simply because you don’t prescribe to the exact philosophy or definition that they do. You’re valid as a witch, whatever your definition is.
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Works with Energy
Practitioners of Reiki, psychic arts, or other forms of energy healing and manipulation… I would argue that these are all witches as well.
In that early Christian world, anyone who practiced a form or energy or healing that was not within the patriarchal box of rational intellect and medicine was dubbed a witch. Often, women would be tried and hanged for witchcraft who did not even identify as a witch, but was practicing something totally natural to them.
Follow energy or following your instincts (rather than intellect) meant you were a witch.
Fights patriarchal systems
Because witches present as the antithesis of the Christian, male, authoritarian world, I would say that anyone who considers themselves a feminist or works to dismantle many of the societal constructs of patriarchy and capitalism would also be a witch.
This applies to intersectional allies as well, who support anti-racism, neurodiversity, women’s health rights, equity, LGTBQ+ rights, disability rights, and more.
A witch is someone who is sovereign within this very controlling society. She speaks her truth, stands in her power, and uses energy/magic for her own good, regardless of what others think or say about her.
While this kind of independence would have gotten a woman killed only a few centuries ago, witches can feel proud to stand in sovereignty today.
The spiritual implications of sovereignty aren’t often discussed (usually it’s a term used in relation to a nation of peoples seeking independence from an oppressive situation, i.e. Indigenous nations in the US), it can absolutely apply to individuals standing firmly against their own oppression (and the oppression of others.)
Yes, even intentions are a simple kind of magic. We use magic every day, sometimes without even thinking about it. When we set intentions, we’re putting our energy out into the world.
I intend to enjoy my Sunday in mother nature, basking in her beauty, and enjoying the power of my own body as I go for a hike.
In stating this, I am speaking directly to the Universe. It is a prayer of sorts. It helps to guide our feelings, our thoughts, our behaviors, and even tells God/Spirit what kinds of energy we would like to receive from others and the natural world.
Keeps a log or journal of her spiritual quests or spells
Anyone who keeps a spiritual or personal growth journal is a witch of sorts. This is a woman who is growing in power and moving against the crowd to seek quiet and listen to her own heart.
This is not a weak or faint quest at all. It takes courage to peer into one’s own heart and mind and see what kinds of monsters (or worse, powers) reside there.
Is Wiccan or Pagan
I whole-hearted support those who are Wiccan calling themselves witches even if they do not actively practice magic. Magic lies with our ancestors who participated in pagan practices, holidays, and celebrations. Magic lies in our blood that our ancestors passed to us.
And at the root of it, we ALL have ancestors who lived beyond the oppressive world that we live in now. And in practicing paganism or pagan-based religions, we lift up their spirits and embrace their love, their sovereignty, their magic.
Want to know what it means to be a witch? I highly encourage you write your own definition of a witch. Because witchcraft is something so personal, so highly varied, that it’s almost impossible to narrow down traits into one clear-cut definition.
So when you’re tempted to say, “A witch is someone who…” and rattle off a list of traits…
Just remember: a witch is someone who has broken out of the mold of a magicless world.
What do you think? What is your definition of a witch?
Drop me a comment below!
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