“Don’t use that title!” One of my dearest friends thought you’d be offended. I decided you can handle it.
Because you know what I mean.
When people think of the modern witch, they instantly picture an emotionally unstable teenager with dark, heavy eyeliner, black fishnets and an unhealthy obsession with death metal.
Or maybe a 30-something single lady with too many cats who takes role-playing and cosplay way too far.
Possibly, if you’re feeling generous, a middle-aged woman with an extensive collection of crystals and a home remedy for every possible ailment.
I’m not saying those folks aren’t out there. They exist. And don’t get me wrong, a lot of them are really fun.
But I want to talk to you about the ones that they don’t make Hollywood films about.
Like the upwardly mobile career woman with an enviable stock portfolio and a subscription to The New Yorker.
Or the church-going stay-at-home mom. Oh, I know. You never suspected her. But I assure you, I’ve seen her chanting at a moon circle or two.
Or the lady who works the tasting bar at the wine shop, your kid’s pediatrician, your hair stylist, your lawyer.
I’m here to tell you, they’re out there, too.
Maybe you’re one of them.
Why We Need to Take a Wrecking Ball to Stereotypes About Witchcraft
Tim, 32, of Fairfax, Virginia, is probably not what you think of when you hear the word witch.
With a business-casual wardrobe, an obsession with K-Pop and an impressive grasp of Middle Eastern politics, you’re more likely to mistake him for a local congressman than a witch.
Anyone can look at him and understand instinctively that he doesn’t fit into the very rigid mold of a stereotypical practitioner. But I want to know from him what it is about him that might make his practice so surprising to others. So I ask him.
“I believe and follow my path because it is what I believe. It is not a statement, I’m not trying to prove a point, rather I seek a different path then what is mainstream and respect those whom believe differently. I actively try to be a witch that is approachable; one that allows others to take a second look and maybe rethink their preconceived misconceptions.”
I ask him what he thinks those misconceptions are.
“That we are hateful. That our path is self serving and that we seek to harm others. Magick is power from the ‘devil’ rather than simply a utilization of energy towards a purpose. As with all paths, there are the good, the bad, and the downright idiotic. We are your neighbors, we have families, we hold down jobs, we are more rational than you might think.”
So what’s the big deal?
Why does it matter if the world at large thinks we’re all a bunch of geeky, socially awkward weirdos with bad taste in hats?
Well, first of all, because we’re not. Most of us aren’t delusional, desperate, friendless, godless or without respect for the classical sciences.
I don’t know about you, but I have friends. I go out. And definitely not to the local goth club.
My collection of jazz and Delta blues far exceeds my collection of Skinny Puppy or whatever.
If I had to pick a style icon, I’d choose Jackie O, not Amy Lee.
I also have no interest in period costumes, role-playing games or owning an unsustainable number of cats.
I guess I don’t see anything wrong with any of those things per sey. But that’s not my scene.
And honestly, I believe there are a lot of people out there who might benefit from a more holistic, earth-centered approach to spirituality.
But many of those people simply have no other point of reference except The Craft or Charmed or Harry Potter or whatever.
They understandably don’t want to be associated with angst-y, black-lipsticked teenagers or the whole silly, fictionalized version of magic they see on Netflix.
How to Find Your Folks if You’re Not Into Cloaks
So let’s say the idea of modern witchcraft intrigues you.
But maybe not so much the circus-like stereotype of people dressed up like Nordic gods dancing around a fire.
First of all, nothing says you need to hang out with anyone at all to work in the Craft. Lots of people practice as solitaries.
But if you want a community, then I encourage you to find people you can relate to.
Here’s the reality: Events that cater specifically to pagans, Wiccans or practitioners of witchcraft tend to attract the more . . . theatrical crowd. I ain’t knocking them, they are definitely their own kind of experience.
But unfortunately, this often leaves someone looking for something else with the impression that there are no other options.
Try this instead.
Focus in on exactly which aspect of the Craft you want to learn the most about at the moment.
Are you learning herbalism? Try joining a gardening club or natural health circle to learn more about the metaphysical and medicinal properties of plants.
Maybe you’re into the moon cycles. If that’s your jam, try looking for a local moon circle. Often, these circles focus on women’s issues, the cyclic nature of our lives and astrological studies.
You can take this in a kinds of directions. Candle making classes, natural living groups, and classes or groups interested in local folklore all may draw people with your common interests.
Or, if you just want a spiritual community, consider attending a Unitarian Universalist church. Their congregations welcome openly practicing witches.
There are lots of ways to find people to walk with on your path in the Craft.
Many practitioners “hide” in plain sight, and many of them don’t conform to the stereotypes you may be familiar with.
Whether you’re a carpooling mom with a black belt in Shotokan, a Wallstreet investor who raises bees in her spare time, or a star-gazing sorority girl with a knack for poker, the Craft has room for you, and there are people just like you who practice, too.
Finding them can be challenging. But worthwhile connections usually are.