Modern Witchcraft and Feminism: #NowWhat

Modern witchcraft isn't so strange.

ColumnModern witchcraft is gaining popularity among women of all ages. And while modern witches still practice magic—in a sense—the rise of the modern witch is more about reclaiming power and embracing feminism. 

That new, old-fashioned witchcraft

Many women who were pre-teens and teens in the 1990s were well acquainted with witchcraft from watching “The Craft” on repeat at slumber parties.

That film—along with “Hocus Pocus,” “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” etc.—lead to innocent dabbling with Ouija boards, and games, such as Light As a Feather, Stiff As a Board. Then came the horoscopes and tarot cards.

While many girls ceased playing these games once they went to college, many young women began to take up the craft seriously in early adulthood.

No, these women don’t think they can fly on brooms, or bring back the dead, but they do think that their energy—their natural, feminine energy—can be put to good use.

Basic witch

Salon calls this recent resurgence of witchcraft “Mysticore.” The news site’s term is meant to represent mysticism, obviously, and the fact that mysticism—at least the type of mysticism that’s gaining the attention of modern women—isn’t subversive. In fact, it could be described as downright normal.

“While social media and feminism have brought witchcraft to the fore, the new kaleidoscopic array of spell casting, ritual observing (from pagan holidays to full moons) and crystal charging draws from traditional mysticism, magic and paganism,” Slate reports.

“Served buffet style to an eager audience of open-minded converts, it’s shining a white light on everything from fashion and health to politics.”

And that makes sense.

There’s a portion of the public that’s always going to jump onto a trend because it’s new, but there’s nothing wrong with that. I’m sure we’ve all tried something new—a beauty product, health product, practice—because it sounded inspiring or fun. If that makes a practice normal, great! Because the other portion of this population—and we’re not talking people who are casting spells to make a boy like them—may be on to something more meaningful.

It’s the feminism, stupid

The roots of this trend are planted in women’s historical individualism—a.k.a, women misbehaving.

Although women have come a long way since getting burned at the stake during the Salem Witch Trials, females still face persecution for merely existing.

In some countries, it’s considered acceptable to stone women who have, supposedly, dishonored their families. And although this practice is certainly not tolerated in America, there are still plenty of women who, every year, are forced to fight for their independence and rights.

America still doesn’t take rape culture seriously. America tolerates a society that would rather suspend football players than banning them for beating their partners. And American politicians breathlessly posit that powerful women, such as Hillary Clinton, are inherently weak and sick.

“Laura Briggs, a historian who specializes in reproductive politics at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, draws a straight line between the Clinton claims and hysteria, an amorphous, catchall medical diagnosis given to women—typically white women—in the 1800s and early 1900s,” The Atlantic reports.

“…the thing that’s so striking about this random collection of symptoms [that Hillary Clinton supposedly is burdened with] is that they actually really are all hysteria symptoms,” Briggs explains.

“She coughs, she has fits, she falls down, she has memory lapses—it’s really extraordinary. It’s like they’re working off of some very 19th, early 20th century script. And what’s even more striking is how much they actually echo the 18th century stuff about witchcraft: Women possessed often had fits, fell down, didn’t remember what they had said later. It’s a way of discrediting women as women.”

Reclaim the power

It’s no surprise that more women are choosing to set up crystal grids, meditate on the changing seasons, and celebrate the waxing and waning of the moon; or that women and girls are forming “covens” to meet with other like-minded females to talk about inherent feminine power. Modern mysticism is merely an extension of feminism.

Sure, all this may not read like conventional feminism, but that’s a good thing. Modern feminism needs to accept new avenues of female thought—ahem, step aside, white feminism… cough, cough…

This change allows inclusion of women from all walks of life and demands females listen to and empower each other.

So, if that’s what the rising wave of Mysticore is ushering in, we all should welcome it.

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Abbie Stutzer

Writer, editor, and owner of Ginchy!, a freelance writing and editing company, and home funeral hub. Adores smart sex ed, sustainable ag, spooky history, women's health, feminism, horror, wine, and sci-fi.