Witchcraft, Womanhood & Wellness: What It Means to Be a Modern Witch
Posted by Courtney Mayszak, RDN, LDN
Oct 28, 2019
If you haven’t noticed, witches walk among us. Everything from our Wiccan friend-of-a-friend to the Instagram influencers with witchy vibes tells us: we’ve reached peak witch.
And it's nothing like the fairy tales. While the witches of the past have been relegated to storybooks, not seen as having legitimate magical power, today’s witches hold another kind of power: empowerment.
So what does being a ‘modern witch’ mean exactly? And what does practicing witchcraft in this day and age look like? This article discusses:
- The connections between witchcraft and feminism
- Why your period is a symbol of female sorcery
- How modern witchcraft can manifest as millennial wellness trends
The witch as a feminist icon
Why do witches and women go so well together? And what does it mean for the modern feminist?
While cis-men have certainly practiced their fair share of ‘occult science’, the majority of those accused and punished for witchcraft throughout history have been women. Women made up over 80% of people burned at the stake during the Reformation—a period of Christian uprising in 16th century Europe.
Christianity is just one example. Women were the embodiment of evil in Greek and Roman myth, too. But no matter the belief system or period in history, the notion of the witch—a female that’s more powerful than a normal human, but not quite a god, was unacceptable. It challenged existing power structures and the status quo. Sound like feminism yet?
Consider the classic witch archetype. Her coven emphasizes sisterhood and female relationships. She makes sexual pacts with the devil, and she fucks with gender norms. Not only does she have power over men, she makes men completely irrelevant—and not just sexually.
The innate power of the witch—her magic—exists outside of social, political, and economic realms. It exists outside the patriarchy. And that’s why witches are so scary. Specifically, they’re scary to the men who try to contain them.
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Our #WCW this and every week (especially during spooky season): Lilith. Jewish folkloric demon of the night. Sexual deviant. Feminist goddess. Adam's first wife that no one wants to talk about. Rabbinic lore suggests God made Lilith before Eve, but when Adam told her to "lie beneath" him, she insisted, "You lie beneath me! We are both equals. For both of us are from the Earth." And with that, she flew away, and not even God could stop her. Because we love a #womanontop, we can get behind the modern interpretations of Lilith who have championed her as 'the first feminist', representing sexual freedom and instilling fear into the hearts of the patriarchy. 📷: @nina_masci_art
Another connection between witches and womanhood: menstruation!
Almost everything about periods is inherently mystical, from their cyclical nature, to their connection to the lunar calendar, to the notion of period symptoms being perceived as a “curse."
Like witchcraft, periods are stigmatized and hidden from society; both challenge societal norms when exposed.
Periods also hearken witchy themes of sisterhood, covens, and communal female power. Periods are a platform for bleeders to support each other through shared experience, and this can manifest as anything from period talk to menstrual activism.
Not to mention that periods are made of blood—an intrinsically spooky substance that oozes, gushes, splatters, and stains. It’s the stuff of spiritual rites that’s spilled in sacrifices, smeared in rituals, and trickled into potions. The very sight of it conjures feelings—be it squeamishness, disgust, or empowerment.
While blood is baseline spooky, period blood in particular is on a different level. Normally, blood connotes violence, injury, and death. Period blood is special, peaceful blood. It confers life rather than taketh away. It’s a symbol of female reproduction, a marker of fertility, and a vital sign of health. Heck, you can even fertilize your plants with it. Powerful stuff, right? No wonder periods have been enshrined in divine female mythology since the dawn of womankind.
And the fact that you can bleed for a week straight without dying? Seems awfully otherworldly to us.
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“Supernatural red wine” was the term given to menstrual blood in Greek mythology, and it was thought to have miraculous powers. It could confer immortality when smeared on Egyptian pharaohs, Celtic kings, and the early followers of Tao. Roman, Norse, Hindi, and Australian aboriginal creation myths all refer to the mysterious nature of the moon’s cycle and menstrual blood flow as the very origin of life. Periods are sacred. How are you not magic? 📷: @marianrrea
Self-care and alternative medicine as modern witchcraft
So besides slaying the patriarchy and celebrating menstruation, what does practicing modern witchcraft look like?
Surely there are real women who identify as legitimate witches, sit in pentagrams, and hex their enemies (political or otherwise). However, we think modern witchcraft can also take much simpler forms, and may even be things you, mortal reader, already practice.
Take self-care, for example. Like witchcraft, self-care is based on the premise that your magic comes from within, and that you as an individual have an innate ability to heal. When we consider how much Wicca emphasizes personal determination and freedoms, self-care rituals as acts of modern witchcraft make perfect sense. As Spiritual Writer & Wellness Educator Lalah Delia puts it, “Self-care is how you take your power back.” And witchcraft, after all, is about power.
Take natural medicine as another example. From the astrology elements earth, wind, fire, and air, to the fact that so much mischief seems to happen in the woods, there’s a strong connection between witchcraft and the natural world. Natural medicine is no exception.
Like witchcraft, natural medicine and herbalism are crafts that must be learned, honed, and harnessed. We see this concept of witchcraft as a learned skilled play out in the magical schools of pop culture, like Hogwarts in Harry Potter, or the Academy of Unseen Arts in The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.
This notion of using natural substances strategically—be them herbs, vitamins, minerals, or foods—to essentially biohack your body so you can achieve your fullest potential of health seems...decidedly witchy, no?
Not to mention that alternative medicine, as a concept, is fundamentally witchy. Like we learned above, witchcraft is about rebellion, challenging existing power structures, and embracing personal freedoms.
When you use natural means of healing, you’re challenging the existing power structures of conventional medicine, and embracing your personal freedom to seek alternatives if the status quo isn’t serving you.
Why using De Lune is the ultimate act of the modern witch
Consider the themes underlying witchcraft we discussed above: feminism, menstruation, self-care rituals, natural healing, and challenging convention.
Now consider Pain Tonic.
- It’s a ‘tincture’ (read: Muggle for ‘potion’) with ingredients from nature.
- We created it as an alternative to conventional medicine, because conventional medicine failed us.
- You drop it into tea as a self-care ritual.
- You use it to control your period—an intrinsically mystical phenomena.
- Its healing powers make period cramps disappear, as if by magic. (Or at least that’s what real people have told us.)
As much as we identify as scientists, we cannot deny there's an inherent witchiness to our products and what they do.
At the end of the day, witchcraft is about female empowerment. And what is more empowering than bleeders taking control of their bodies and minds, and reclaiming their time, energy, and power?
So what does all this mean for you, as someone who likely checks your Co-Star, maybe owns a set of tarot cards, but probably isn’t casting spells in a pointy hat? With no disrespect to the #witchesofinstagram who find legitimate power in Wiccan rituals, we believe there’s a little bit of witch in every woman.
Do you consider yourself a feminist? Do you embrace alternative healing practices? Do you use De Lune to manage your period symptoms? Yes? Then welcome to the coven. You’re a modern witch.