“Where shall we three meet again in thunder, lightning, or in rain?
When the hurlyburly ‘s done, when the battle ‘s lost and won”
― William Shakespeare,
What do we actually know about witches? Does witchcraft still exist in the modern world?
A witch is a person who practices witchcraft. Traditionally, the word was used to accuse someone of bewitching someone, or casting a spell on them to gain control over them by magic. It is now also used by some to refer to those who practice various contemporary religions such as Wicca.
The practice of witchcraft is deeply rooted in history, and has—excuse the joke—conjured up some very interesting facts. Here are top 10 weird things about modern witches you may not know:
1 – Witches Don’t Necessarily “Celebrate” Halloween (Samhain)
For Wiccans, it’s a time to remember those who have died. Wiccans also use this time, when the veil between the living and dead is the weakest, to communicate. That can mean simply honoring them with a ritual or actually speaking to them.
Witch Lucya Starz says she and her fellow witches have a specific ritual. “We put out all the lights except for a single candle and ask departed loved ones to join us for the evening, then sit in silence for a while to see if we get messages from them. What we normally do in my coven is scry into a cauldron full of water. A bit like using a crystal ball, you look for images in the water. They aren’t clear images like a movie – more like shadows or ripples in the water. Usually what you see is rather vague and hard to interpret as well. The people we try to communicate with are our departed loved ones,” Starza said.
2 – There Are Plenty of Male Witches (Don’t Call Them Warlocks)
Witchcraft is not gender specific and both men and women can be witches. Calling a male witch a warlock is not cool. A warlock is witch who has been exiled from his coven.
3 – Technowitches and Technopagans Exist
The technowitch is online and uses technology in her or his practice. Willow on Buffy the Vampire Slayer was a technowitch. So was Jenny Calendar. Witches and their other fellow ilk use the technology of their respective eras, so it’s no surprise that technowitches exist. A technowitch may have a digital version of something used in the practical world of witchcraft and neopaganism practice.
4 – In Sweden, Easter Is the Time of Witches
Because Swedish witches do what they want, they tend to fly up chimneys, cackle at moon, and run amok during the days leading up to Easter. For this reason, kids there dress up as witches and go door to door, asking for treats in the Swedish version of trick or treat.
5 – Witches Celebrate Getting Older
As a woman ages in the practice of witchcraft, her respect and wisdom are honored (the inverse of what society and advertising does).
6 – Anyone Can Be a Witch
You don’t have to get a degree, be born into it, inherit a title or some such to become a witch. It’s a choice. All you have to do is ask a current witch, read up on the subject (there are plenty of online sources and real papery kind of books), and be open minded.
7 – There’s a Witch School in Blackpool, England
Kathey Rowan-Drewitt, a Wiccan priestess and magician, has taught more than 60 witches about Wicca. “We use spells to do good. We never do nasty spells. They’re always so life takes a better turn. Getting promotions, helping neighbours get on better. I do spells for any problem in life.”
Rowan-Drewitt says that every day people use magic and just don’t know it. “When you gather round a birthday cake and blow out candles and make a wish. You raise energy, focus and make a wish and don’t tell anyone what it is – in essence it is magic.”
8 – Some Modern Witches See the Deities as Symbols
Deities represent the cycle of birth, life, death, and rebirth. Because witches and pagans commonly believe in pantheism, polytheism, and animism, they can also shift from a deity to one that best represents what they are trying to accomplish. That is not to say that deities are just symbols, it’s just that they do not exist independently of humanity.
9 – Many Books Have Been Written to Portray Witchcraft in a Positive Light
The Witch Next Door teaches tolerance and to accept the differences of others and their beliefs. Before there was Harry Potter, there was The Witch Family. The book was not quite on the same scale, but was just as powerful for young readers.
10 – Witches Do Believe in Good and Bad Forces, but Not Satan
Some witches believe in good and bad “extra-dimensional or intermediate beings.” As someone or something can have a positive force, they can also have a negative force. Not all witches believe in The Mother Goddess and the Horned God, but they agree about one thing: the Devil does not exist. They are not Satan worshippers.