The past few years has seen a massive surge in the interest and practice of witchcraft and, well, I will be frank: I have not always felt good about this. I have been practicing since age 12 and spent most of my life “in the broom closet” because, up until recently, coming out as a witch was a dicey thing.
Also, I have been obsessed with spirituality and metaphysics and the question of Spirit and the Divine for my entire life. I have been devoted to my spiritual growth, first and foremost, for as long as I can remember. So the idea that some folks are coming to witchcraft because of a “starter witch pack” they picked up at the register at Sephora makes it hard to take some of these “newbies” seriously.
However, I can see now as our community grows that many of you “newbies” are For Realz. I see now that this is a revolution much like other social revolutions: we exist and have always existed, but now we feel safe to show our true selves and pursue our truths.
No matter how you’ve come to witchcraft, whether through starter packs or Instagram astrologers or that cool chick in your yoga class who invites you to her full moon gathering, you are welcome here.
But there is a lot of information out there, and a lot of misinformation, and not a lot of help that doesn’t ask for either your money or your obedience. So I wanted to welcome you new witches in another way.
Dear New Witches,
Welcome to witchcraft! It is everything you want it to be, and nothing you think it is. If you’re wondering whether or not you can call yourself a witch, let me make it clear: if you practice witchcraft in any shape or form and identify with the word “witch,” CONGRATULATIONS! You are a witch!
So what is witchcraft? That is a hotly debated subject! So here is what I know about it that I feel confident sharing with you as you begin or continue your journey.
Everyone can be a witch: every age, every gender, every color, every person seeking the fulfillment of a magical life. It is a path to empowerment, and a path of learning to let go of our need to dominate our environments. It is a practice, a discipline, a celebration, a recognition of your own power and divinity and the power and divinity of others.
The practice of witchcraft means different things to different people. The history of witchcraft is long and winding, but today it is most simply defined as a spiritual practice that seeks to observe and work with the connection between the physical and the non-physical worlds.
Many witches observe annual agricultural and seasonal changes which show us how the changes in the world around us affect us internally. We observe the phases of the moon and recognize the waxing and waning energies it imparts to our lives. We recognize the energies of plants, animals, lands, bodies of water, stones, crystals, clouds, planets, buildings, and more. We use this awareness to live in harmony with the ebb and flow of life, death, and all things in between.
We seek to hone the senses that cannot be scientifically validated: intuition, gut feelings, empathy; we seek to observe energies that cannot be measured: spirit, intention, life force. We seek to use all of these things to improve our lives, the lives of the people we love, and the communities and world we live in.
I believe witchcraft is inherently political, for it has everything to do with power and the people who do and do not have it. Witchcraft seeks to empower the practitioner, but also makes us aware of where power comes from, how it is given, and how it is taken. When you reclaim your power, it is a political act. When you reclaim sovreignty over your body, it is a political act. When you reclaim your connection with the natural world, it is a politcal act. When you reject the version of reality and the roles that your have been indoctrinated to accept, it is a political act. These are all inherent to practicing the craft.
To me, witchcraft is a journey back to your authentic self. It is a commitment to a lifetime of stripping away layers of misinformation you have gathered (and will gather) about who you are and how you should live your life. It is a lifetime of fighting to defend that core of authenticity, because she will slip away, over and over again, as we are brough low by pain, fear, insecurity, and crisis.
Witchcraft is a path to self revelation, self healing, and self love. There is no place for self flaggellation in witchcraft, so if you’re not ready to learn to love yourself, this might not be the place for you.
Witchcraft is a religion of the body. As much as we work in the service of Spirit and Divinity and attune ourselves to the invisible and energetic world, we still feel that world inside our physical selves. We honor the pleasures of the body, the sacredness of our flesh, and the connection between body and spirit.
As witches, we believe in magic. Magic means different things to different people, too. Sometimes magic is about harnessing energy and directing it towards an intention. Sometimes magic is about being in the flow of the energy around you and not fighting it. Sometimes magic is about realizing and appreciating the divinity of the tree across the street and basking in that feeling of connection.
Magic is not necessarily about casting spells. Some witches do not even cast spells. In my 22 years as a self-identified practicing witch, I have cast fewer than 10 actual spells. I have performed magic, observed rituals, prayed and visualized and many other magical things, but I have only recently begun to actually craft and execute spells to help me on my journey. (They do work. Not always, and not always as expected, but more often than not my spells have yielded undeniable results.)
Witches believe in different things. Take all of this welcome letter with a grain of salt, because not all witches will agree with what I’m saying here no matter how broad and inclusive I try to be. I encourage you to find out about what other witches believe, to research and study and cultivate a wide base of knowledge and understanding about the various forms of witchcraft. But remember that there is no one true way to be a witch. The question is, what do YOU believe?
If I can give you one piece of advice as a new witch, it is this: Always consider your heart. Check in with your heart when you start something new, when you think of joining a coven, when you seek out a teacher, when you think of investing in an online course that promises to supercharge your spell work in 30 days (don’t do it, it’s a trap). If you’re reading a book on witchcraft and the author says something that doesn’t jive with your heart, leave it on the page. If you’re reading something unrelated to witchcraft and it speaks to you in a witchy way, tuck it away for consideration in your practice. If you meet other witches who make you feel unwelcome, unsafe, or disempowered, they are not the witches you should look to for an example of how to be a witch. If you are about to do something in your practice that makes you feel uncomfortable, ashamed, or conflicted, take a step back and see if you are truly on your best path.
I have written this letter to you for two reasons: the first is to welcome you to this beautiful, life-changing path that you have only just begun to walk. The second reason is because the path of the modern witch can be a very challenging, lonely path. We do not have churches to attend. We are not entirely welcome in many communities, no matter the rise of the popularity of witchcraft. Most witches are solitaire practitioners, and it can be a struggle to find a sense of real connection and community with other witches, even with our ability to connect online.
Unfortunatley I do not have any solutions for you in regards to that problem, other than to keep your practice alive and your eyes open for opportunities to connect. Keep studying your craft. Keep seeking like minds. Keep listening to your heart when you do encounter a new witch. And if you can, if you are able, let the people you know and trust see that you identify as a witch. Let new people know, too–you would be surprised how many of us are out here, and we are always SO EXCITED to meet a fellow witch in the wild.
So welcome to witchcraft, baby witches. Anyone who says you’re not welcome here can go straight to the hell I don’t believe in.
Brightest blessings and blessed be and all the other new age salutations,
Your friendly neighborhood runcible witch
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