Are witches real? Yes, they are, and we’re in the middle of a witchcraft renaissance. Whether you have a favorite TikTok tarot reader or are looking to deepen your practice beyond checking your horoscopes, you may have questions about precisely what it means to be a witch. All across the world, from Africa to North American Indigenous cultures, to the Puritanical attacks of the Salem Witch trial, the witch is a figure of hope and healing or evil and danger, depending on your point of view.
As a practicing witch and Allure’s resident astrologer, it’s vital to me to get the record straight about witches, who historically, have always been badasses. While unfortunately, Voodoo queen Marie Laveau is no longer living, there are plenty of witches still alive today who are down to talk about the craft. Kristen J. Sollée, author of Witch Hunt: A Traveler’s Guide to the Power & Persecution of the Witch, cites Joan Wright, the first woman charged with being a witch in North America, as one of her favorite witches of all time. “She made the badass move of making light of the accusation and forgave her neighbors for speaking ill of her,” Wright says. “Although the verdict from her 1626 Jamestown, Virginia trial is lost [to history], historians believe she was most likely acquitted.”
Despite the role of the witch as a healer capable of both great power and incredible forgiveness, society’s fear of their power is deep-rooted. In medieval England, people associated makeup with Satan, and there are even popular myths about the government outlawing lipstick to combat witchcraft. The connection between cosmetics, perceived evil, and witchcraft is not unusual. Witches have been paying the price for enjoying life, be it by dancing naked or wearing lipstick, for far too long.
When asked about her favorite historical witchcraft moment in modern history, Sollée calls out Bri Luna’s founding of The Hoodwitch website and community in 2013, which helped usher in the current witchcraft revival. Adding a witchcraft practice to your life can be a powerful act of rebellion, self-care, and even activism. But first, we must debunk some major myths lingering about witchcraft. (For instance, did you know that a person of any gender can be a witch, and that the whole black magick versus white magick thing is rather racist?) Keep reading, and regardless of your orientation, race, gender, or economic background, you’ll see that you will always have a home with the witches.
What is magick?
Witches are people who practice magick. Magick, which witches like to spell with a “k” to differentiate it from stage magic, is real, too. The practice of magick is about raising and directing energy to fulfill your intentions. Witches believe that everything contains energy: This includes nature, orgasms, and of course, yourself. Have you ever had a vivid dream about someone, only for them to text you the very next day? It’s possible that your psychic intuition was burning bright. When you’re overwhelmed and stressed, do you ever turn your bathtub into a cauldron by filling it with soothing salts, perhaps lighting some candles to set the mood further? That’s a self-love spell. In today’s busy world, finding a way to unwind, relax, and re-connect with yourself is a powerful spell indeed. Simply writing out gratitude lists or repeating a mantra is casting a spell, as it means you’re injecting reminders of your self-worth into your life. The act of manifestation, and magick itself, is simply focusing energy to produce the desired effect, and it’s much easier than you think.
How does one become a witch?
While some organized spiritual groups may have initiation rites, all that you need to become a witch is yourself. Many practicing witches describe a life-long connection to nature, intuition, or the heavenly bodies such as the moon or stars. Most Pagan practices tend to be rooted in nature and community, after all.