Reclaiming "Witch" & Remembering the Salem Witch Trials

Reclaiming "Witch" & Remembering the Salem Witch Trials

Posted by Auburn Lily on March 16th 2019

This time of year in 1692, the town of Salem, Massachusetts was in a frenzy. Driven by fear – of the Devil, of evil, of the unknown – the people of Salem accused more than 200 people of being "a witch." These so-called devil-worshippers were so feared, so hated, their communities called for their death. The accused were primarily women, with only a few men getting caught up in the fray.

The witch hunts were not just limited to Salem, or even just to America, but these particular trials had a huge impact on culture and the collective consciousness. I was born 300 years after the trials began, and it still had a profound impact on me even as a child. I devoured books about the trials, fiction and non, from the time I was 6- or 7-years-old, trying to understand, remember – and to quote our friend Marianne Mitchell – Re-Cognize.

What does it mean to be a witch?

What does it mean to be a woman?

Why and how did we let this happen?

My visceral response to these books even as a child screams to me now, this memory is in our blood – back, and back, and back, generations and lifetimes, we are connected to the witch hunt. We are still nursing the wounds. We are here to heal this trauma to the Divine Feminine.

And so, we honor the witches passed, the witch's past.

What Does It Mean to Be a Witch?

As we remember the witch hunt, I think it is important to highlight many of the people who were put to death were women, and sometimes men, who were reclusive, who were unmarried, who did not fit the image of who you should be according to society. Maybe they were healers. Maybe they lit candles and chanted. Maybe they danced in the woods. Maybe they did not. Regardless, this frames the witch hunt as a mass murder of the empowered, of the hermit, and largely, of the Divine Feminine.

But that is not what we called them, Divine or Sacred – Healer, Wise One. We called them "Witch."

Witch.

The word stirs so much emotion in many. There is a Christian fear of a damned woman, colluding with Satan, wreaking horrors in her community. There is a Hollywood archetype of the warty old hermit, out to get children or pretty young women, filled with a vile hatred. There is another pop-culture image of a goth girl with her tongue pierced, her hair box-dyed black with ripped fishnets, Doc Martens, and a pentacle choker.

There is obviously still a held belief to be a witch is to be a Wiccan, and not only that, but to be Wiccan is to be Satanic, is to be Evil, evidenced by the number of people who have waltzed up to me accusing me of being Wiccan, spitting it out of their mouths. Evidenced by the fact that powerful women are still being dragged through the court of law, accused of being a witch, a cultist, having her children taken because of this still-present notion that a woman in her power is a woman to fear.

On my own path, even knowing what I was tapping into was Spirit, I was beginning to unravel secrets bound up by fear. It was because of this fear I cowered from the word witch for as long as I did. I have been working in this realm since I was 17 years old, identifying as a witch since age 19, but I did not begin to outwardly call myself a witch until I read Lisa Lister's book, right after I started my work at Earth Magick. I called myself an energy worker, a light worker, or just would not mention it at all. I was so scared of judgement, of rejection.

I was worried that other witches would see me and see a novice. That long time practitioners would think I was a joke. That Christians would turn their back on me. So it took me nearly 7 years of fully identifying as a witch before I ever so much as breathed the word as an identifier, scared of what people might think I mean, of what people might think I do, of who people might think I am.

But to us, and to many others, being a witch means standing in your power. 

That is it.

"Our work, the work of the witch, is to make it safe to be powerful again." - Lisa Lister

To be a witch is to walk in step with nature, to use your mind to the fullest extent, to embody your own knowingness. So, we see witches living in rhythm with the moon, tapping into the power of the elements, plants and crystals, memorizing remedies for ailments and disease. We see witches meeting in groups, exchanging wisdom, empowering each other along the way.

At the shop, we believe our magick abides by the laws of quantum physics. This idea that everything in this Universe is energy; everything has a vibration, due to the fact that an electron is both a particle and a wave. And every single thing has its OWN vibration, its own collection of wavelengths, and that is why we perceive our bodies as separate from the ground, from the tree – the coffeecup from the notebook – on and on. So, if this is true with the mundane, our every day objects, it is then true with what we would consider our sacred tools: an amethyst from a sage leaf, from a candle, from a feather. They appear different and react differently because they have differing vibrational energy.

Over time, our ancestors studied this. So if the amethyst is different from the rose quartz, why? Certainly one is purple and one is pink, but how do they differ otherwise? How does it affect my energy field? How do they interact together? Mind you, many of our ancestors were not studying these topics through the lens of quantum mechanics, but science has certainly backed up the study, admittedly or otherwise.

A witch is someone who sees these powers, recognizes them, and uses their focus to conduct energy. Humans are conductors, after all. To us, a witch's religion is Nature. Our spirituality, Spirit. Our journey, back to the building blocks, before the fragmentation of the Divine.

"A witch is a wise woman aligned with the Earth, a healer. It's a word that demands destigmatization at this crucial time in the planet's history when we desperately need the medicine of the feminine to rise and rebalance humanity and the Earth." - Sarah Durham Wilson

Standing in Our Power as the Divine Feminine

Despite all the odds stacked up against us, I truly believe it is our duty as awakened women to claim and embody our power. No more will we hide from (or behind) men, craft our magick behind closed doors, hardly dare to whisper our truth. Instead, we will use our voice as a limitless fountain of truth. We will proudly share our creations, manifest our dreams. We will discover, hone, enhance, magnify, and occupy our power.

What does that look like? Well, I think it looks a few billion different ways, as every being has their own kind of magick. Some are mothers, fathers; some manifest, empower others; some connect to and channel a higher power; some speak the language of the Earth. And all are valuable to this movement, this unyielding call for the Divine Feminine to rise.

Earth Magick was born out of a trauma, out of an awakening, out of an answering, out of a rising – and now we are unfurling, spreading our roots and aiming to empower new people each day, shaking them up and taking them out of the mundane, into divine love. Some come to us as seasoned practitioners. Some come to us wondering, "what do you do with crystals?" Some have never burned sage. Some are far wiser than us, teaching and blessing us. But all are essential to the journey: nurturing the magick in us all.

Rising to Balance the Divine Masculine

The witch hunts are just one example of the globe rejecting the power of the feminine. And the kicker is, it is not just men attacking divine femininity. The first accusers in the Salem witch hunts were young women! Not only have our brothers turned their backs time after time, but our sisters too.

Out of this disenfranchising of women, we saw the rise of feminism, and over the course of history, and even now, we sometimes get swept into this "down with men" mentality, when we really should mean "down with the patriarchy." But what is the difference?

Patriarchy has a few different definitions according to Merriam-Webster, and all of them are terribly out of balance:

  • social organization marked by the supremacy of the father in the clan or family
  • the legal dependence of wives and children
  • the reckoning of descent and inheritance in the male line
  • control by men of a disproportionately large share of power
  • a society or institution organized according to the principles or practices of patriarchy

The idea a wise woman is suspicious – a powerful woman, an independent woman – is born from a patriarchal mindset and society. Patriarchy is responsible for women turning their backs on one another, for drawing an imaginary line between the masculine and feminine.

What we need is a restoration of balance between the divine masculine and the divine feminine. They are innately intertwined, but humankind continuously strives for one to rule over the other. If patriarchy has set the masculine up for success, for rule, we must raise the divine feminine to meet the mark rather than slash our brothers down.

As carriers of the Divine Feminine energy, we must nourish, nurture, and above all, love.

This is, of course, easier said than done. Certainly there is turmoil in our blood. Many of us feel traumatized, wronged, dismissed, shot down, or trampled on. But allowing those feelings to lead our charge only creates more separation. Those feelings are driven by patriarchy disguised as our experience.

Especially since beginning my journey with Earth Magick, I have met so many truly divine men, and it gives me hope. Men who see the imbalance and work to rectify it. Men who have been touched by the divine feminine and see the truth.

Let us marry the masculine and the feminine to truly honor those who died for our magick, for our femininity, by triumphing over the fear and standing in our power, in our balance and in our truth.

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Sources: Two Quotes from "Witch: Unleashed. Untamed. Unapologetic" by Lisa Lister