Compiled by: LouLou PIscatore
Intro by Lisa Lister
Witch. A term that has previously been used to demonize, stigmatize and repress women, is now being reclaimed. Women across the globe are now actively using it as a way to describe themselves. In a world where the word ‘witch’ has previously conjured up images of wart-faced old women huddled around a cauldron, the witch has undergone a serious image overhaul in the 21st century. Far from being about practising the dark arts, the modern witch movement is all about female empowerment. Women are gathering in circles – both online and offline – to celebrate the different phases of the moon cycle. They’re performing rituals to honour the seasons, and casting spells to heal, to manifest and to rediscover their magic.
The witch represents the part of each of us that has been censored, ignored, punished and demonized. And it’s a part that wants – no, needs – to be accessed and fully expressed. The witch is a woman fully in her power. She’s in touch with the dark. She knows how to be the witness, how to let things go and how to follow her own counsel. She’s the one who knows without fail that there’s more to this life than actually meets the eye. She knows that in any given moment, she can be a hot mess, a woman of grace and beauty, angry and grief-struck, loved and pleasure-sated, tired and soft or raw and vulnerable. She also knows that in some moments, she can be all of these at once.
And a woman who’s whole? Well, she’s a scary threat to anyone who’s not in full integrity – not fully aligned with the truth of who they are and what they stand for – ourselves and our own delicate egos included. It’s time to remember that to be a witch is to be a powerful woman in a world where women have, for thousands of years until now, felt powerless.
Our Local Witchy Women
Shawn Engel of Witchy Wisdoms
Shawn Engel is a NYC-based Witch, Fulfillment Coach, and Energy Expert. She helps women at a crossroads find fulfillment outside of the grind, so they can focus on growing their spirituality, expanding their consciousness, and infusing their lives with creativity. Over the course of a year and a half, she has made magic with thousands of women online through her podcast, tarot readings, and one on one mentorships. As a master of the shadow and bringer of light, she helps women all over the world conjure confidence.
1. What does the word Witch mean to you?
"Witch" is such a beautiful concept because it's a reclamation of what once meant a powerful healer, and has for centuries been demonized by men and the ignorant public. I know it's a trigger for some, but for me it breathes ancient magick and light. I use the word Witch regularly, and even in my moniker, because I want to continue to attach beauty to the name instead of contributing to the "boil, boil, toil and trouble" stigma we've all been subject to over the years.
2. Tell me about the Co-Creation Coven and what happens there.
My Co-Creation Coven is an online community of witches, where we simply share magick, spells, our gifts, and ask questions. Almost weekly I do live videos in the group and talk about the energy in the stars, what kind of spell casting is appropriate for the moon phase, give tips on certain kinds of magick (like dressing candles, scrying mirrors, sex magic ,etc.) and host challenges. With my help and some necessary shadow work, we were able to move past our blocks to co-create with the universe, instead of fighting against it.
3. So why now? Why do you think the witch archetype is being awakened at this time.
I think that, thanks to the age of social media, injustices that women have been faced with for ages are finally coming to the surface. And now that the odds are so blatantly not in our favor with the election, women everywhere are looking for the power within themselves — the divine feminine that is so needed in this misogynistic world. And because so many women are doing this on various social media platforms with high visibility, women all over the world can find us and unite with us. That is one of the biggest reasons why I love my Coven so much. Being a Witch used to be a solitary practice, maybe if you were lucky there was one other weird girl in school who wanted to cast spells instead of going to parties. But now we're so easily reachable online that we don't have to go through this journey alone.
4. How do we leave room for magic in our everyday lives?
Being present and being conscious is necessary. Times in America seem really dark right now, but there is light and beauty all around us. We must stay aware and grateful for all that we do have, while using our voices to fight against what threatens our values. We must also learn to not shame ourselves for simply existing, because we are deserving of every piece of good this world has to offer, despite what messages we may have received as young girls. And taking care of ourselves is absolutely imperative. Self love and self care are the foundations for the energy we put into our magick. So once we learn these practices and implement them daily, the magick finds us and flows through us effortlessly.
Born in the jungle of Costa Rica with the gift of intuitive sight, Adriana Ayales came from a lineage of Shamanic-style healers. Attuned to mysticism, Adriana’s grandmother taught her how to unlock these talents within herself from a young age. She began pursuing herbal medicine, learning rainforest tribal herbalism from local healers, and then later on learning North American and European botany in California. She founded Anima Mundi, an herbal apothecary, to celebrate the herbal treasures in the rainforest and the world through the art of ancient medicine making.
1. What is it like working with herbs and why do you think there is a renewed interest in plant medicine right now?
For me, it’s like working with the origins of life. It’s a fundamental part of our being to be connected to nature and its endless kingdom of food and medicines. I think plant medicine has become so popular as it brings us back to the source. I believe that the inherent intelligence in plants attunes us to ancestral consciousness, something that many in the global community nowadays have lost access to, due modern constraints.
2. How does the "witch" archetype show up in your work?
Almost every single time I explain my “job” to people, they immediately start asking me about magical potions, and if I'm a real witch. I of course just nod and say, “exactly.” I guess my entire life’s work is associated to being a witch, so that’s pretty much all I know! It’s interesting how throughout humanity, if you’re connected to your psychic power, and nature, and brew herbal concoctions, you’relabeled as a witch. And I love that now, the collective conscious is awakening so much so, that it’s “cool” to be that. Even though I sometimes cannot believe how terrible trends can be, I think being connected to moon cycles, the earth and plant healing is something so essential, that it doesn't matter how it translates into today’s world. The more people we have doing this, the more elevated our planet will be.
3. Does the change of seasons affect your treatment protocols?
It certainly does. I unconsciously gravitate to certain herbs more then others during different seasons. And, more than anything, many of us develop the same challenges during the same season, so there’s naturally a group of herbal allies that herbalists refer to, to heal the seasonal imbalance. For example, during summer I love using the flowers that are in bloom to make vibrational essences, like yarrow flower essence for energetic protection, or marigolds for solar plexus activators. Blood + lymph tonics area also great during summer to purify, like red clover, red raspberry leaf, schizandra berries, turmeric and more!
4. How does "magic" show up -- in your work, and in your life?
In everything (mostly)! Life is magic, and it is up to us to attune our mind to see it as such, no matter the circumstances. I’m beyond grateful to have come across plant medicine teachers from a young age that have taught me about accessing magic and manifestation. And, the power of shifting perception into experiencing magic, as much as possible, within our earthly existence. It’s unbelievable what starts happening when we align our mind to the numinous existence of nature — life truly starts translating itself as a magical and perfectly synchronistic experience.
Sarah Lyons is a writer, journalist, activist, and witch who has been practicing magic for over a decade. She is Broadly and Catland’s resident Tarot Expert, and hosts a weekly talk show for Broadly through Facebook live. A self-taught witch, Sarah mainly draws her inspiration from English, American, and Northern European folk practices. When not reading cards or engaging in political organizing, Sarah can mostly be found watching horror movies.
1. What does the word "witch" mean to you?
To me "Witch" is where the spiritual meets the political. The word witch was never seen as a good word until very recently, and most of the people in the past we would now consider to be witches used different names for themselves, like healer, fairy doctor, or cunning person. Witch was used as a political label against those whom the State and Church saw as disposable, or threatening to their power, the same way "felon" or "terrorist," are political labels today. However, there is another dimension to it, and that is the dimension of magic. When I call myself a witch, I'm not just aligning myself with oppressed people of the past and present, I'm acknowledging there are other powers in the universe that we all can tap into, and that in fact everything has magical power. Being a witch, to me, means having a practical, adaptable spirituality, that seeks a relationship with the world around me.
2. Tell me about your practice and the work that you do...
Right now the majority of what I do practically is Tarot reading. I also read at Catland Books in Brooklyn. Beyond that, it's practical, everyday things that make up my craft, like working with spirits and honoring my ancestors, and helping out friends if they need a little magic. One of the things I like about Witchcraft as opposed to other spiritual paths, is how inherently active it is, it has 'craft' right there in the name! For me, my spirituality is a verb, it's what I do.
3. Why do you think the witch archetype is being awakened now?
I think we've been seeing a decline in mainstream religious participation in America over the last few decades. Witchcraft steps in to fill this vacuum very nicely, especially when paired with Feminism stepping into the mainstream. If we want to look just at archetypes, we are living in a new feudal era! Kings of the past could have never imagined the wealth amassed within the top 1% of the world's population. So, if the era of kings and peasants is going to come back, so too is the era of witches.
4. How do you make space for magic in your everyday life?
I think part of practicing witchcraft is recognizing and getting to a point where there is no line between magical life and everyday life. Everything is made up of magic. However, there are two daily practices I engage in no matter what. Each morning I leave a glass of water at my ancestral altar, as a way of thanking my ancestors and honoring them for bringing me to where I am today. Then, every night, I thank four things: the land, the gods, spirits and animals of the place I'm dwelling on, the mighty dead, and the living people. In-between all that, I'll use magic practically as I need it.
Madeleine Murphy is an intuitive healer who embraces ancient metaphysical and mystical principles and applies them to modern life through practices that emphasize wellness, self love and sisterhood as a pathway to owning your creativity and power. Madeleine has studied reiki, meditation, herbalism, crystal healing, divine feminine empowerment, shamanism and ancient healing ceremonies. She incorporates all of this magic and more into her one-on-one and group work. In addition to Sacred Space, she is also the co-founder of Montauk Juice Factory and The End Brooklyn.
1.Tell me about the "sacred space" you have created, and the work that you do there.
Sacred Space is all about creating the intention to heal, tapping into your intuitive power, owning your pleasure and raising your vibration. This is a movement that is about the individual and the collective. It’s about creating a beautiful sacred space within you first and then finding the tools and guidance to match your outer world to your inner world. You are your own sacred space. We are entering a time in our society where we need to return to gathering. Magic happens when we gather. We are craving sisterhood and a return to ritual. Intentional living. Community. Ceremony. These are things women have done since the beginning of time so that we can release, create space, empower, and hold space for each other’s dreams. We opened Sacred Space to a digital platform this year because we want this information to be accessible and approachable to everyone. Our intention is to create a global community of sisterhood where we use social media to uplift and inspire each other.
2. What does the word witch mean to you and why do you think this archetype is showing up now?
Contrary to what society wants us to believe, a witch is not an old cranky, miserly woman with a pointy hat and a gnarly wart. She is a wise healer, wild woman, goddess, force of nature, creatrix, vixen, sorceress, high priestess, earth mama, mystical and master manifestor. She is a woman who is whole in herself: untamed, unapologetic and unbound. She is sovereign. She communes with nature. She creates. She flows. She feels. And she doesn’t say sorry or try to play small to make others feel more comfortable.
A witch is a woman who can heal herself and trusts her inner authority. Chances are most of us- somewhere in our ancestral line were women who healed themselves, their family and their communities through herbs, teas, tinctures, oils, intuitive knowing and insights. Their power was slowly stripped away. But now we are reclaiming that word. To me I always think of witch as a Woman Intuitively Teaching, Creating, Healing. Calling yourself a witch is a huge honor and every woman has a witch within waiting to wake up.
The witch archetype is showing up now in such full force because there is a rising happening in the divine feminine. There is a rising going on and we need to do it from a really rooted, fortified spot. The return of the witch is about learning to trust ourselves fully so we don’t have to look outside of ourselves for anything.
3. Which magical modalities do you use?
In terms of healing magical modalities: I work with crystals, herbs, oils, numerology, astrology, tarot/oracle decks, reiki and energy medicine. After having several a-ha moments with my ancestors and higher self, I am starting to deepen my studies with shamanic healing and I am very stoked to see where that takes me. For me, the common denominator is I like to have fun with healing and get creative in a cosmic sense. I love herbalism and plant medicine and I channel that through both of my businesses but what really excites me is getting to take ancient knowledge and bringing it to the world in a colorful, bright and playful way.
All of the tools are amazing but nothing is better than what I call babe magic. Babe magic is what happens when you make self love, intuition and pleasure top priority for your mind, body and spirit.
By slowing down, getting quiet, enjoying gentle movements and understanding the language of your soul and your body, you create an alchemy. This alchemy transmutes the mundane into the mystical. Babe magic is also figuring out what speaks to your spirit and helps move you towards your center. Writing, having sex and being in nature are my biggest magic self-starters. And a good dance party. Never underestimate the transformative benefits of a good dance party to shift your whole vibration and activate your inner babe magic.
4. How do you leave room for magic in your practice and your life?
Magic is everything to me. Leaving room for magic hinges a lot about mindfulness and really being aware of the beauty around you and within you at every moment. It’s about slowing down because magic is pleasure. I read something once from Maha Rose that said our wands of ascension are laughter and orgasm and it hit me so hard. That is the truth.
Modern witchcraft is about weaving intention, sensuality, pleasure and intuition into everything you do. When we think of witches in a coven we think of women speaking incantations (intention), dancing around a fire (sensuality), cackling (pleasure) and calling upon a higher source (intuition). Spell-casting, potion-making is all about you and finding the creativity, sensuality and love in everything you do. Build sacred spaces and make them beautiful around you. Eat a gorgeous meal with no distractions. Apply your mascara like a high priestess adorning herself. Let the breeze envelope you and run through your hair. Connecting to your pleasure is connecting to your power.