Witch. Even the word itself is slippery and wild-eyed, delicious, dressed up all in black.
Witches are bad, bad girls. They’re ill-behaved, impure, messy, full of life. Witches are women who stand out, who are different. They’re the ones that make you a little uneasy and draw you in at the same time. They’re the original nonconformists, either because they can’t help it, or because they don’t care.
For ages, women who stick out have been ridiculed, ruined, tortured, raped, and murdered for being different. For making people uncomfortable. For being too old, or too wealthy, or too wise. For being sexual, for loving other women, for having children out of wedlock. For being too beautiful, or for being too ugly. For possessing unsanctioned knowledge. For being too ambitious, for speaking their minds. For challenging the status quo.
The witch is a woman who doesn’t answer to anyone. The witch is someone who lives outside of the polite rules of society. The witch is someone who knows she won’t find answers in a doctrine or an ideology – she has all of the answers inside of herself, in her heart, in her intuition. She prioritizes that knowledge. She trusts herself.
Witches are traditionally women who are midwives and healers, spiritual counselors and leaders. A witch is a woman in touch with her dark side. And I don’t mean to say that she’s cruel or vengeful – I mean that she knows that darkness is a part of life, and that she doesn’t run from it. She’s fearless. She allows herself to feel anger without guilt, because anger is a fire – something beautiful that destroys, but also nourishes. She allows herself to feel sadness, fear, doubt, disgust. She knows each one of them has a purpose.
She knows that death is a part of life, that there’s nothing unnatural or frightening or evil about it.
The witch is close to nature. Polite society would have us believe that this is a bad thing. That celebrating the passing of the seasons is somehow blasphemous against the same divine force that created it all. That compassion for animals is foolish and useless. That the earth is indifferent to our presence upon it. That sexuality is dirty and wrong, instead of the absolutely vital urge to be close to each other, or to create life, or hell, just to have a bit of fun.
Witches have power without having to resort to destruction or coercion, because their power comes from within. Their power is authentic, magnetic, inborn. It’s not something that can be taught or taken away.
Witches are women who can’t be controlled. And to those upholding the so-called values of the patriarchy, those who are bent on controlling how women look, how we act, how we live our lives, how we express ourselves, and how we relate to men and each other, that’s the scariest thing of all.
So they turned witches into women who eat babies instead of ushering new life into the world. They turned them into women who poison instead of heal. They turned celebrations into black Sabbaths and communities into covens. Witches became women who corrupted instead of collaborated, who were obsessed with revenge and power, prestige, privilege, who took joy in inflicting pain.
They turned women, and witches, into a mirror. They look at us, and they see the worst parts of themselves, reflected back.
But they did get one thing right. The witch is pure magic. The witch transforms, alchemizes, creates. She labours. She makes the world a better place.
The witch is the activist marching in the streets. The witch is a six year old girl poking at a dead bird in the forest, curious, because she should be, because her mind is scientific and poetic and beautiful. The witch is the mother with a child who just doesn’t fit into the way the world wants him to be, and who fights tooth and nail to make his life even a little easier for him. The witch is an entrepreneur with a vision and a plan, thrusting her fists through glass ceilings with a war cry that would make any Valkyrie proud. The witch is an artist, a dancer, a musician, anyone who works to remind us of truth and beauty in this broken world. The witch is a woman with cancer and one month to live, deciding to live out her days as peacefully and gracefully as possible. The witch is the woman with ten dogs at her heels at the park. The witch is the woman in shit-covered scrubs.
The witch is the woman who quits her soul-sucking office job to write stories.
The world needs more witchy women. Misbehave. Reclaim your power. Your individuality. Your spirit. Time is waiting.
After all, as we all know, it’s the season of the witch.