When I introduce myself I say “I am a Witch” but what do I mean when I say that? In the most basic sense it means I am a practitioner of Witchcraft. I am a child of the world; nurtured by the ebb and flow of nature, nourished by the blood of earth and claw, but there is so much more underlying that title.
The word “witch” is an emotive one and is a descriptor which pings the radar on both sides of the fence. Many non-pagans associate it with the image of the knarled Crone, as typified in Disneys Evil Queen from Snow White, or at the very least with women who act with baneful intent in all that they do. Even amongst some Pagans the word is so tainted by this image that they adopt narrower definitions and lables, sometimes without fully understanding their meaning.
On the flip side there are women, and men, who are reclaiming the word and image as their own. They embrace its bewitching origins and embracing it as a positive and empowering description of themselves. Where once the word was used to describe women of a certain age, appearance and/or social status (or even as an insult and attempt to destroy a reputation) it is now being used to describe a full range of independent and vibrant people.
A Witch, as I alluded to above, is someone who is in tune with nature, but it is also someone intune with the Land and it’s history, weaving the Spirit of the Land into their Craft.
A Witch is a seeker who will not be bound by convention and what society expects of them; they are open to knowledge and experience and will not willingly be limited by tradition, even their own.
A Witch carries with them a sense of self in all aspects of their Craft and life. They are their own master, and a master of themselves.
A Witch can be female, male, gay, straight, monogamous, polyamorous (ad infinitum). The only limits upon who can become a Witch are those imposed by the individual themselves.
To be a Witch is a statement of individuality and nonconformity. Being or becoming a Witch does not automatically subscribe you to a particular code or creed and one cannot assume that all Witches are bound by a single code of ethics or morals. By definition a Witch will define these things for themselves.
Above all a Witch is ever growing, ever changing. They are always reaching out towards that which they do not already know. They are ever aspiring to master their craft, The Craft.
I am a Heketean Witch, which means that much of my practice and craft is influenced by my devotion to Hekate but that is not the limit of my practice. My path has crossed with many different streams over the years and each has left it’s mark. “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts” and I am still finding ‘parts’ that resonate with me, the whole.
So, what is a Witch? A Witch is everything outlined above and more. Each Witch comes to the Craft with their own understanding and experience and this is really the first time I have attempted to distill into words what has been a primal and evolutionary journey over the last 17 years. I know that I have failed to translate all my thoughts into words but I am sure that as I move through this year of introspection more will come to the fore.
I am sure that your own personal experience and journey will mean that your answer to the question of “What is a Witch” will be subtlety, maybe even drastically, different to mine and that’s one of the reasons I have opened this series up for other people to use and follow either online or in their own lives. This is just the first installment of 52 weeks of reflection on my Craft so please check out the Defining My Craft page for more of my musings.
Elphaba Tropp from the cover of Gregory Maguire’s Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West. Original artwork by Douglas Smith