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Why We Love A Witch

1
Halloween is around the corner so it’s time to think about all things witchy! The “Witch” aesthetic is seemingly having a moment on social media, especially within visual-heavy platforms such as insta and tiktok. At last glance on insta the hashtag #Witchyvibes was up to 2.8m.

On even a very basic level this is unsurprising. Witchy aesthetic can be beautiful, ethereal, mystical, and of course bewitching! We’ve just come out of a pandemic which saw a lot of us endlessly scrolling through our feeds to escape the misery of lockdowns, illness,

SelfishMother.com
2
family deaths, job losses and battered mental health. Whilst simultaneously being told to get outside to do our daily exercise. Well, what marries the outdoors and social media? Gorgeous, nature filled profiles with pretty shots of vintage jars of herbs, dried flowers, moon phase wall hangings and candles, of course!

But does the increasingly popular fascination with witches go beyond pretty herb displays, small mammal skulls, Tarot Cards, and swirling incense? I would argue that it most certainly does. And not just for those fully invested in the

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mystical side of practising witchcraft or Wicca.

Witches symbolise rebellion. Witches of yore are seen as sticking two fingers up (or the middle finger if you’re stateside!) to the establishment. The “establishment” being the oppressive and often misogynistic standards of Christianity adhered to at the time. St Augustine claimed they were influenced by and had sex with demons! Demons of a fictional nature mind, and not the rapey men that medieval society was rife with.

Witches were the original feminists. Witches would not be dictated to

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4
about shunning the heretic occult! They had their own knowledge and their own agenda which didn’t involve centring men or giving them power. In fact, unlike other facets of society where power would be handed down through the male line, Witches passed their wisdom down through the women.

Putting aside the magical element of witchcraft, witches or “healers” were seen as vital contributors to society. Originally encouraged in the Middle Ages to take care of sick children, wounded men and attend births, their knowledge of home remedies and

SelfishMother.com
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traditional medicinal practices made them invaluable. But thanks to misogyny and it’s tyrannical grip over our history as women, as times moved on and understanding modern medicine became increasingly complex, these women were excluded from developing their skills by being forbidden to study. Barred from most if not all academic institutions these women became marginalised. Often meeting with harsh punishment when they defied laws forbidding them to carry on practising, which many of them did.

Indeed, women who were accused of practising witchcraft

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6
or being witches were ruthlessly hunted across Europe from approx. 1450s-1750s. Anyone could accuse women of witchcraft, even children. If you took a dislike to that quiet, mysterious lady who lives in the wood you could quite easily have her up on witchcraft charges and hung, beheaded or burned at the stake faster than you could say “historical atrocity”. And many innocent women were tried and killed this way. One of the most famous examples of this in the Uk was the Pendle witch trials where 9 yr old Jennet Device sent 9 women (including her own
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mother) to death with her witness statement. The story is brilliantly explored in the fictional novel “The Familiars” by Stacey Halls.

Zoom forward to the 21st Century and although things may well have changed a BIT in terms of sending innocent people to their death (unless of course, you’re a person of colour at the hands of the police), other things have not changed so much for women, young and old. We still experience institutionalised misogyny. There is still a glass ceiling for us careerwise. We live in a rape culture and we still have a

SelfishMother.com
8
unequal pay gap. Women are still the predominant child-rearers and domestic carers. It’s no wonder we want to turn to empowering social media accounts where women are the linchpin and not the afterthought.

So, lets embrace the spooky, nature worshiping, dark, tantalising witch aesthetic wholeheartedly. Who knows, we might learn something invaluable we can pass onto our mini witches when fighting the patriarchy! Witches Unite!

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- 12 Oct 21

Halloween is around the corner so it’s time to think about all things witchy! The “Witch” aesthetic is seemingly having a moment on social media, especially within visual-heavy platforms such as insta and tiktok. At last glance on insta the hashtag #Witchyvibes was up to 2.8m.

On even a very basic level this is unsurprising. Witchy aesthetic can be beautiful, ethereal, mystical, and of course bewitching! We’ve just come out of a pandemic which saw a lot of us endlessly scrolling through our feeds to escape the misery of lockdowns, illness, family deaths, job losses and battered mental health. Whilst simultaneously being told to get outside to do our daily exercise. Well, what marries the outdoors and social media? Gorgeous, nature filled profiles with pretty shots of vintage jars of herbs, dried flowers, moon phase wall hangings and candles, of course!

But does the increasingly popular fascination with witches go beyond pretty herb displays, small mammal skulls, Tarot Cards, and swirling incense? I would argue that it most certainly does. And not just for those fully invested in the mystical side of practising witchcraft or Wicca.

Witches symbolise rebellion. Witches of yore are seen as sticking two fingers up (or the middle finger if you’re stateside!) to the establishment. The “establishment” being the oppressive and often misogynistic standards of Christianity adhered to at the time. St Augustine claimed they were influenced by and had sex with demons! Demons of a fictional nature mind, and not the rapey men that medieval society was rife with.

Witches were the original feminists. Witches would not be dictated to about shunning the heretic occult! They had their own knowledge and their own agenda which didn’t involve centring men or giving them power. In fact, unlike other facets of society where power would be handed down through the male line, Witches passed their wisdom down through the women.

Putting aside the magical element of witchcraft, witches or “healers” were seen as vital contributors to society. Originally encouraged in the Middle Ages to take care of sick children, wounded men and attend births, their knowledge of home remedies and traditional medicinal practices made them invaluable. But thanks to misogyny and it’s tyrannical grip over our history as women, as times moved on and understanding modern medicine became increasingly complex, these women were excluded from developing their skills by being forbidden to study. Barred from most if not all academic institutions these women became marginalised. Often meeting with harsh punishment when they defied laws forbidding them to carry on practising, which many of them did.

Indeed, women who were accused of practising witchcraft or being witches were ruthlessly hunted across Europe from approx. 1450s-1750s. Anyone could accuse women of witchcraft, even children. If you took a dislike to that quiet, mysterious lady who lives in the wood you could quite easily have her up on witchcraft charges and hung, beheaded or burned at the stake faster than you could say “historical atrocity”. And many innocent women were tried and killed this way. One of the most famous examples of this in the Uk was the Pendle witch trials where 9 yr old Jennet Device sent 9 women (including her own mother) to death with her witness statement. The story is brilliantly explored in the fictional novel “The Familiars” by Stacey Halls.

Zoom forward to the 21st Century and although things may well have changed a BIT in terms of sending innocent people to their death (unless of course, you’re a person of colour at the hands of the police), other things have not changed so much for women, young and old. We still experience institutionalised misogyny. There is still a glass ceiling for us careerwise. We live in a rape culture and we still have a unequal pay gap. Women are still the predominant child-rearers and domestic carers. It’s no wonder we want to turn to empowering social media accounts where women are the linchpin and not the afterthought.

So, lets embrace the spooky, nature worshiping, dark, tantalising witch aesthetic wholeheartedly. Who knows, we might learn something invaluable we can pass onto our mini witches when fighting the patriarchy! Witches Unite!

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Jess is a wine-addled, social media tart, *feminist and chronic over sharer. She lives in Cardiff with her husband, children (G-11/J-7) and some cats. Went to art school but after graduation got sucked into working for "the man". Now trying to claw her creative way out by fancying herself as a bit of writer. (*Intersectional/trans incl)

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