“Why write about witches? Are you a witch?” I get asked this a lot. The second part of that question always has an emotion attached to it. The person asking is usually curious, although whether this curiosity stems from their belief that I must be crazy because “there is no such thing as witches” or whether it is their own desires manifesting as curiosity, I don’t know. Sometimes the question holds an element of fear. At the end of the day I never have the same answer to give. My answer always depends on who asks it and where I am. Today I’m going to address the questions.
Why do I write about Witches?
I’ve always been obsessed with witches. As a kid the surest way to get me to watch something, or read something, was to have a witch in it (a dragon didn’t hurt either). I grew up in the 90s and 00s and shows like Sabrina The Teenage Witch, The Worst Witch and reruns of Bewitched held me captive. I used to race home from school daily to catch Passions with the wicked Tabitha (is it any wonder my first book is basically a soap opera about witches?). When it came to books I was obsessed with the Harry Potter series, I must have read them at least once a year, The Wizard of Oz, and The Chronicles of Narnia. So, I guess it was a natural progression from reading about witches to writing about them.
I think that part of my writing about witches is that when it comes to witches anything is possible. Film and literary witches are essentially capable of anything. Each writer brings their own ideas about witchcraft to their writing. Some witches need wands, some point a finger, and some twitch their nose, but essentially witches are only limited by their imagination.
Witches are superstition embodied. There’s a rich history, real and fictional, about witches. Every culture has some belief about the existence of witches. Witches are a monomyth, like the great flood or the belief in dragons.
Are you a witch?
One of my earliest memories is of a car trip I was on with my parents. I was six, I think, at the time and I remember asking my mother if I was a witch. I remember her asking why I would ask something like that and I told her it was because I knew I was different. She said of course I wasn’t and to be honest I never believed her.
I like to think I’m psychic. I often know things I have no way of knowing or I can “feel” when something is not right. I don’t know for sure whether psychic abilities are “real” or if maybe I can recognise some body language subconsciously and process that information in such a way that it seems to appear in my head as a psychic knowing. I have dreamt future events but never in such a way that the prior knowledge would actually help me; it usually ends up more like a déjà vu moment. I have been employed as a tarot reader and like my grandmother before me I have a knack with reading tea leaves. My grandmother says I have the fae, a term her family has used for generations on the Welsh side to describe family members who have been able to demonstrate some kind of psychic knowing. As a teenager I was drawn to divination arts such as tarot and tea leaves and these ventures kicked off into my research into real life witchcraft.
So to answer the question; yes, I am a witch.
At the end of the day identifying as a witch is empowering to me. It helps me take control of my life and manifest the reality I want to live in. It helps me focus my intention and make me take the necessary steps to living the life I want to live. It helps me be the best version of myself that I can be. It helps me drive growth. Can I light a candle with the sheer power of my mind, no. Can I give the idiot driver in front of me a flat tyre at the stop sign? No. But identifying as a witch gives me a sense of calm, of purpose and a sense of identity. I’ve always felt like an outsider, and in many of the literary and film portrayals of witches they represent the outsider. Who doesn’t recognise Fairuza Balk saying, “We are the weirdos mister”? She wasn’t an outsider just for her gothy exterior. Archetypally witches fall into the category of Other. They are different from the rest of society in almost every representation of them, especially in horror. Humans are typically afraid of the Other, the Unknown, the Uncontrollable. It is part of what makes the superstition around witches so strong. Witches are like any other group of people. There are good, bad and neutral people identifying as witches. Not all witches are wicked and not all witches should be feared. As with my favourite quote from The Craft, “The only good or bad is in the heart of the witch”. From my own experience I can say for sure that witchcraft can be an empowering thing, positive, beautiful and inspiring.