Many people are trying to take back the word witch. To say “I’m a witch” is a huge act, considering the way the word has been used over many centuries. By using the word openly, claiming it and redefining, or at least reasserting it, opens the way to mending. There are many groups combining depth and inner work with magic and calling it witchcraft, themselves witches. A semi-universal tenet for this type of pagan spirituality is “do no harm.” To sort out the “do no harm,” we have to reflect on what harm would look like, what is being harmed already. It’s work that needs doing. Healing is at the heart of it.

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One such group is Reclaiming, which is also trying to do the magic of healing the earth.

When I was active in a group called Circle of Aradia, I researched ancients goddesses, and was in touch with the seasons in a ritual way, making small acts in nature sacred. A favorite ritual was making myself into smoke or mist. During that time, I had the richest dreams of my life. It’s been hard to maintain these practices, though. I don’t seem to take the time anymore.

One of my favorite parts of witchy groups is the idea of hedge witches. This seems the closest to those who used herbs for healing (some of the basis of modern medicine), and paid attention to the synergies in nature around them. Cooking is alchemy; there are so many perfect metaphors for alchemy in our inner lives and growth.

I’ve been watching how the concept of witch has been evolving in fantasy literature. Some authors have developed the idea of being a witch as genetic, being born with witch powers. Others design a world in which anyone can perform magic if they have the right words, spells, materials, etc… For those who read fantasy lit, the term witch may have already shifted away from the evil, life-sucking portrayal that’s filled our media. To not leave the term alone but to bring it into the light and thoughtfully define it, imbue it with the life it deserves, can be healing for all society – me thinks.

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