Bring on the council of Hags: witch politics
Welcome back to the bi-weekly witch! I hope all of you are feeling recharged and balanced from the recent full moon in Virgo, because this week we’re discussing witch politics.
As I’ve said many times before, witchcraft is secular; it can be combined with any or no religion. When it comes to politics, however, witchcraft is a little less grey. As I touched on in my last article, historically (in the Western world) the term “witch” has been used to persecute. Those in power have pulled the witch and everything associated with her (folk healing, feminine power, and solidarity) into the political in order to shame and control.
"The feminist agenda is not about equal rights for women. It is about a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians." — Pat Robertson
This quote is as recent as 1992 and, despite its ill intent, is honestly inspiring (in my opinion).
The term “witch hunt” is a great example of how the figure of the witch is used in politics. From the witch crazes of Europe and Colonial America, to the Communist scare of the ‘50s, this term has been used to describe the scapegoating and persecution of a nondominant group by those in power. When someone like Trump uses “witch hunt” to describe the investigation into his campaign colluding with Russia, it is a misuse of the term. Trump is not a member of a disenfranchised group. The investigation isn’t being used to silence and destroy him for who he is, but a legal investigation into criminal activities. You can’t cry about being discriminated against when you are not part of discriminated groups (and are being held accountable for treason).
An accurate modern use of ”witch hunt” would be Trump’s scapegoating of immigrants.
Fourth-wave feminism, which kicked off around 2012 with the rise of social media, has reclaimed “witch” in a big way. The witch has always embraced outsiders and outcasts—those who are lonely, odd, and ostracized, those who are outspoken in spite of the predominant culture. And despite all of this, she's still powerful. As an archetype, the Witch is the perfect embodiment of this most recent iteration of feminism.
Like the expansion of what the witch looks like—away from the white Wiccan waif to include people of color of any faith—fourth-wave feminism has embraced intersectionality, a term coined by Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw. It acknowledges that discrimination occurs at a higher rate for those whose identities intersect many outgroups. It strives to center women of color, disabled women, and gender nonconforming people, as well as deconstruct these socialized traits in individuals.
This tradition of persecution and living on the fringe gives modern witches a leg up in being able to recognize oppression—many of them have multiple oppressed identities themselves, and those that don’t are being taught to recognize privilege and how they benefit from institutionalized discrimination in order to better themselves.
In the witchcraft community, the rise of awareness around cultural appropriation is a symptom of the politically aware witch. A witch does not have access to all traditions. For example, many American Indigenous traditions are closed to her (i.e please stop using terms like spirit animal, totem animal, two spirit, and dream catchers). Many Vodou traditions are closed to her. Knowing and respecting boundaries is an essential tool in witchcraft and politics.
Just as the modern witch must be aware of various oppressive structures and groups, she also recognizes that she is most potent in a thriving culture of friends: a support system. A community. Political organizations like W.I.T.C.H. is a great example of politically progressive covens. But a witch looking to get involved doesn’t have to join her local W.I.T.C.H. chapter. She can invest in her community through all sorts of different means, whether that’s volunteering time at a local charity or participating in school clubs or starting a coven with friends.
Investing in bettering herself is an important first step on any witch’s path! Two weeks from now, we’ll dive into the crafting side of the witch.