Witches get a bad rap. They don’t have beaky noses but are as likely as anyone else to have too much Botox. The broom thing is just a pagan fertility ritual and they can’t fly above traffic on the LIE. And they do not worship Satan. They don’t even believe in Satan but instead that everyone is responsible for their own actions, so you can’t say the Devil made me do it. Christianity took the old-world horned god who consorted with the goddess to ensure procreation for the family, herds, and crops and demonized the figure to become the new god’s foe.
Witches actually adhere to strict ethics. The guiding principle for any ritual work is, “If it harm none, do thou what you will.” Also, any spell is cast under the caveat, “For the best of all concerned.” You don’t want to wish for a million dollars, get hit by a bus, and be paralyzed with a million-dollar settlement.
Most of the women killed during the witch hunts in the Middle Ages were either midwives or healers. And widows were especially suspect. If one accused her of being a witch and she was convicted, the accuser inherited her property. Any woman on Further Lane could be a target.
The cat part, however, is real. They do like black cats who might be their familiar or spirit animal.
The modern craft is known as Wicca and widely popular. Even all branches of the military recognize Wicca as an official religious group. The Wiccan new year is known as Samhain but has been coopted to be the sugar coma, naughty nurse extravaganza, candy corn martini holiday known as Halloween. Besides being a boon to the fishnet stocking business and dental practices, the more spiritual aspect is rarely recognized.
Samhain honors the cycle of the year heading into winter and is considered a time when the veil between the two worlds of life and the afterlife is thinnest. If you feel a bit spooky or sense a ghost, maybe it’s real.
For an actual witch’s celebration, you will see a group gather, and yes, men can be witches also (no such thing as a warlock). Salt water is sprinkled around the parameter of the circle to get rid of any negative energy and ensure protection. The altar is decorated with seasonal bounty, from apples to pomegranates, and orange, red, and green candles. Four elements are invited in: East is air, where we are reminded of our powers of intellect; South is fire and the power of passion; West is water and the waves of emotion; and North is earth and grounding. It is the balance of all these elements which is essential for goals to be manifested. Both herbs and essential oils are thought to have certain properties and can be incorporated.
In this safe space, the practitioner can meditate on what they either want to manifest or banish. It can be a person alone or a group. It is even rumored that a group of witches got together in England to form Operation Cone of Power to use their energy to repel Hitler. Even though he was set to cross the channel, he didn’t.
Do spells work? Say you do a spell for a new job and get one. It could be it was the new job spell. It could be that getting grounded and focused and the power of positive thinking created through the ritual put the job seeker in a good place. It could be taking the time to draft a new resumé was the trick. Or maybe it was sheer coincidence. But in a world filled with negativity, there is a lot to be said for the benefit of tuning out the world, connecting to nature, inviting in positive forces, celebrating ritual and channeling manifesting energy.
So, if you see a witch this Halloween, say “You go, girl!”