As Tumblr spells and the witch “aesthetic” gain popularity, it is hard for people to understand what Witchcraft truly is.
First and foremost, a lot of people associate Wicca with being witchcraft, which — like squares and rectangles — only relate in some ways. The Celtic Connection explains that while Wicca draws from the Old Traditions of Witchcraft, “one can be a witch, without being a Wiccan, just as a person can be a Christian, without being a Baptist.”
A Wiccan follows a specific belief system and way of life surrounding the peace, harmony and balance of nature and all things living. On the other hand, Witchcraft is “a spiritual system that fosters the free thought and will of the individual, encourages learning and an understanding of the earth and nature thereby affirming the divinity in all living things.”
However, through the years the idea of Wiccans and Witches has been misconstrued and twisted. It seems no matter where you look Witches are either “sources of great comfort” or “great terror,” and there is no in between. Even just looking at “The Wizard of Oz” you get asked “are you a good witch or a bad witch?”
Media representation is no different. For years, the image of the witch has been associated with “evil, heathenism, and unrighteousness.” Whether witches are being treated as the monster in a closet or as a cackling succubus, they are shown as a being of nefarious motivations.
It’s the same in history. The title of “witch” has been used to dehumanize women and punish those who disagree with Christianity. Dating back to the medieval church of the fifteenth through eighteenth centuries, they “created these myths to convert the followers of the old nature based religions to the [church's] way of thinking.”
Today, it’s not that serious. Sure, “The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” and “Hocus Pocus” still have characters that portray witches as animal sacrificing, people eating beings, but at least there are no more witch hunts happening.
Now, the amount of people who identify as Witches are somewhere between 1 and 1.5 million, making up about 0.4% of Americans. Mostly, today’s Witches celebrate the seasonal cycles of the sun and moon, create spells involving harmony, love, healing, wisdom and creativity as well as mixing potions for health.
There is also a rise of the new age Witches who buy thirty dollar crystals from Urban Outfitters and get their spells from a Tumblr post ending in “like to charge reblog to cast.” Some witches are rejecting this current from of Wicca because of its “less-than-perfect reinvention of witchcraft.” However, whether they use essential oils from Target or make authentic potions, they are all witches in their own right.
Wiccans and witches are not and will never be cult leaders, demon worshipers or Satanists, human or animal sacrificers, life force stealers or hexers. I grew up with a father who is a Wiccan, and I can honestly say I didn’t find any dead animals or hex bags in my backyard. The only thing different is that I was present for a lot more Dungeon and Dragons games than I would assume others were. But even if my dad wasn’t too authentic of a witch, he was never bad. This Halloween we can take comfort in the fact that there will be no cackling witch flying over the moon on their broomstick tonight.