As I begin to add more content to newsletters, it'll be archived and available here on the blog, separately from the podcast/tarot-specific content. We love a good system.
When I first tried on the label, "witch," it did not fit.
This might ramble, but I promise you some honest-to-goodness statistics at the end of it all.
I had just begun the journey of unifying what had until then been disparate beliefs and practices in my life, weaving the familiar, my Jewish upbringing and weekly acupuncture appointment, together with new meditative and devotional practice and research into herbalism, spellwork, and more.
For quite a while, the label still felt heavy and a bit scratchy, an antique cloak of wool and mystery. So I read more. I experimented more. And by some imperceptible shift, I felt some sort of level up. The cloak’s weight protected me and its mystery fueled me.
I felt special. I felt part of something, despite my staunchly solitary practice. And it was convenient — in one short, spooky, alluring word, I could communicate to the world that I read tarot, freaking love crystals, geek out on astrology and plant medicine, have an altar, yell at crows, etc. The cloak grew lighter and lighter.
Recently, it seems to have fallen away altogether.
I don’t know if I’m a good enough writer to communicate how non-hierarchical this experience has been for me. I entered the identity of witchcraft feeling that I needed to earn it. I step away from it delightfully directionless. This is not a step forward or another level up. This is not evolution. It is not graduation. Friends, this isn’t even a spiral. It is my unique motion through the collective blob of our individual spiritualities, all tumbled together. I haven’t moved on. I moved in, or perhaps a little thataway.
Spiritual metaphors are not the only influence behind this shift. I’ve been asking how we reached this moment of WitchTok, dollar store craft, and white sage sold at Sephora and learning how Wicca, for better and for worse, has affected the way we compare modern-day magic making to what might more accurately be considered ancient folk medicine. This is a larger topic for a larger context, but suffice to say, there are so many connotations and definitions surrounding this work, and maybe I just don’t feel like wading through those details right now. Language is never enough; that’s why we have poetry.
So what about you? Do you identify as a witch, or simply #witchy? Do you feel it’s a title you need to earn, one that can arrive to you in a moment of revelation, or an identity into which you must be initiated? Was “witch” a dirty word in your home growing up? Is it still one now? If so, I applaud your presence on this newsletter and would love to ask you a few more questions…
Any Instagram followers may remember my recent research project collecting some data on these and other questions. Here are the results, as promised.
When asked if they identified as a witch, 69% of respondents answered, “Yes.”
Of those respondents, 39% consider their identity more relevant to “what you do” — activities, routines, practices — while 61% chose “who you are” — world view, values, sense of self.
For 75% of respondents the word “witch” was considered a dirty word at some point in their life, culture, upbringing, etc.
Of those who do not identify as a witch, 60% wished they did, crediting their hesitancy to lack of knowledge, habit, and not deserving the title.
When those who do identify as a witch were asked how they reached their identity…
23% responded “A Moment of Awakening”
54% responded “Research and Study”
15% responded “Rite of Passage”
8% responded “Recognition by Elders or Teachers”
Thank you to those who participated. It meant a great deal to me. And thank you to Brittany over at @blessed.vigil for inspiring the questions in the first place.
Finally, if you are exploring your identity in the witchy arena but feel lost, unworthy, etc, I’ll take this moment to shout out the two books that got me started, and continue to be a massive influence on my life and practice, whatever I call it:
I hope you are all loving up on spooky season, whatever your identity, and thank you always for the space to process some of this stuff in community. I am here to return the favor and welcome any and all responses, however rambling.
P.S. Here’s a brief little playlist that draws from a number of my spiritual chapters.
I hope you enjoy <3
from New Moon Newsletter No. 8