Witchcraft is so much more than smoke cleansing, astrology and love spells. It’s spiritual healing. It inspires action in times when it’s needed. It’s empowerment for those who are powerless. With all of these things in mind, there still seems to be a rather large number of people who wish to ignore the very political nature of the craft. Witchcraft is indeed very political, and the sole act of being a witch is a political statement — as much as it is a spiritual, philosophical and social one.
A history of oppression
Witchcraft has largely been tied to oppressed groups; In particular women and people of lower social class, as well as people foreign to white and European society. Overall, the vast majority of people who have been executed under suspicion of practicing witchcraft have been women. What’s more, many of those women were merely suspicious due to being of little wealth, not attending church regularly or even being from a foreign region such as the Mediterranean, Africa and the Caribbean. Men who were accused of witchcraft in history also tended to be from a lower income than their accusers, or they were suspected of associating with female witches who stood accused.
In perhaps the most notorious witch trial in history, the entire hysteria of Salem was blamed on one single woman of color. Tituba was a servant from the Caribbean, who may have either been of African or Arawak descent. At the beginning of the Salem trials, Tituba stood accused of teaching witchcraft to the young girls in the home where she was enslaved. From this accusation sprang dozens more, directed all over Salem — which resulted in the deaths of multiple women and at least two men.
Even today, there are parts of the world where you can be executed under suspicion of practicing witchcraft. Sometimes these suspicions can be triggered by something as mundane as being born with certain birth defects or even skin conditions. The problem is such an issue in parts of Africa, that charities such as this one exist to help provide assistance to orphans who have been accused of witchcraft.
A history of fighting oppression
Because witchcraft itself has a history of being repressed and shunned, it only makes sense for witches to also fight against oppression. That magical resistance is present during this modern era — what with the “Hex Trump” movement that rose to fame in 2016 — and this is far from the only time witches have banded together for what they perceived as the greater good. During World War II, it’s believed that a group of witches in England came together to direct all of their energy to prevent Hitler’s men from reaching their homeland. This event is endearingly called The Cone of Power by Wiccans, and others in the spiritual community who believe that it happened. Whether this is something that actually happened or not, the point of the story is important to grasp. And that point is that witchcraft was utilized with the intent to stop a political oppressive force. These witches of the World War II era were not sitting at home shunning any discussion of politics or current global events. Instead, they chose to knowingly use their energy — or powers, if you prefer — to fight oppression. These could potentially be some of our ancestors, and they more than understood the political nature of their spiritual gifts.
Witchcraft is an alternative lifestyle
Alternative lifestyles — at their very cores — are political statements. Whether that lifestyle be veganism, polyamory, the hippie life or witchcraft, you’re choosing to stand against the status quo and explore something that might not be widely understood or accepted by others. Choosing to live an alternative lifestyle means that you’re voicing your opposition to what would be considered “traditional” to the culture that surrounds you. That is especially if you’re choosing to dive into Wicca, which is really a new religion in the big scheme of things. If you’re openly living an alternative lifestyle that — by design — openly rejects tradition, then you have already made a political statement. With that said, it makes no sense for someone to choose this alternative lifestyle, only to shun any and all political discourse — because, again, they’ve already made a political statement by choosing the lifestyle they’ve chosen.
That’s unless, of course, a person is adopting the aesthetic and title of witch in order to look “cool,” and they haven’t spent much time pondering on their decision. These tend to be the same culture-vultures who continue to use white sage, and who wave off oppressed voices with snark and ignorance. When politics are discussed, their go-to response is usually, “Does everything have to be so political all the time,” or “I don’t get into politics.” Hopefully some of these types read this post, or at least some other literature to clue them in on just how political being a witch actually is!
You don’t necessarily have to be a political person to be a witch; That’s not at all what this article is saying. However, it’s important to understand that spirituality and politics usually go hand-in-hand. Most of us are fortunate enough that we are able to claim the title of witch with little to no consequence — but that is still a privilege that others on this planet don’t have. Furthermore, those of us who do have this privilege can lose it at any time — yet we still take it for granted. In recent days, the state of Texas effectively banned abortion, including cases of rape and incest. The Christian-conservative landscape is one that exists as a dire threat against not only women’s rights and the rights of BIPOC, but also religious rights. If we continue to ignore the political nature of the craft, we could very well watch our rights to practice it disappear before our very eyes. That is one very important reason to acknowledge and utilize the political nature of witchcraft.