It’s officially Halloween, the time to kick back, dress up in costume, and enjoy a scary movie or two under the dark October sky. While witches, ghosts, and all things ghoulish are common themes for this time of year, what many people don’t know is that witches and witchcraft exist outside of our favorite Halloween movies, and have for a very long time. For years, the media have constructed images of witches as haggard, old, devil-worshipping women, with images like the Hocus Pocus’ Sanderson Sisters coming to mind. Such images work to fictionalize and demonize witchcraft by perpetuating false narratives around the practice. However, in recent years, with witchcraft on the rise, more and more witches are becoming open about the practice, showing that magic really does exist, just not in the way we’ve been taught to understand it.
So what is witchcraft anyway? The definition varies depending on who you ask, but an article by The Nerdist explains it best as “the practice of using metaphysical methods and rituals to shift energy, effect change, create spells, or connect with a higher power.” Such a definition may surprise you as it varies from the more widely accepted image of witchcraft the media has put forth for years. However, the fact of the matter is witchcraft has always been around, and while its form has changed and adapted over the years, it’s still managed to maintain influence and support in modern-day society.
Many of our first points of reference to witchcraft are in the Salem witch trials, however, witchcraft has an extensive and global history that extends long before the Salem witch trials. From Brujeria in the Caribbean and Latin America to Wicca practiced in parts of Europe. While witchcraft has remained a taboo practice for many years, recently, an increasing number of millennials have turned to it, as a means of breaking away from systematic sources of spirituality and developing new and natural spiritual practices. A symbol of female strength, witchcraft’s feminist undertones provide it’s participants not just with the power to manipulate their surroundings, but power for the self as well. Such elements of the practice have widespread appeal, particularly in a time where many women, particularly women from marginalized communities are seeking new ways to reclaim their agency from oppressive systems. Witchcraft offers these women a way to assert control over their lives in a way that steers away negativity and promotes positivity.
While witchcraft is not for everyone, it shouldn’t be dismissed. Its practice stretches back further than can be traced, and continues to hold substantial influence in many communities. For millennials, witchcraft is speaking to a side of them that’s been suppressed and oppressed for years. Living in an Anthro centric society, witchcraft offers a gateway back to our natural roots.