Words Alisande Healy Orme
“Life can be magical or mundane, it’s your decision which one” It was with these words of advice ringing in her ears that Lucybloom Webb, a 30 year old Dublin makeup artist, decided to embrace the mystery of the world around her.
She uses crystals, pendulums, tarot cards, runes, and sacred geometry cards and can be considered part of a growing movement amongst city-dwelling female 20-somethings to delve into Wiccan rituals and natural magic in a way that’s more accepted and respected than it’s ever been.
It’s less eye-of-newt and more crystal-in-your-pocket-on-a-Tinder-date, these modern witches are crushing traditional perceptions of witchcraft and the occult, writes Cathy Wright.
Traditionally, witches have had a rocky relationship with popular culture.
Growing up, my earliest memories of witches were the bald, toeless Quentin Blake illustrations for Roald Dahl’s The Witches, Bette Midler’s wart nosed, cauldron stirring character in the film Hocus Pocus, and any number of halloween costumes that my mother fashioned from black bin liners and green face paint. Even the ‘good witch’ in The Wizard of Oz seemed more like a fairy princess to me than her wicked counterpart.
TV shows like Sabrina The Teenage Witch were admittedly less focused on portraying witchcraft as evil, but nonetheless presented witches as loners, separated from society and constantly battling for acceptance by hiding their ‘true’ witch selves.
The Craft at least referred to some Wiccan practices but was still the basic ‘good vs evil’ narrative that we’d come to expect. Witches have been perceived as being very capable of using their powers to harm others and for selfish reasons.
Are these ‘witches’ in film and TV even Wiccan?
The answer is no. Wiccan magic (or magick as some refer to it, to differentiate it from stage magic tricks) is described as being performed to “enhance personal growth and well-being of self and others through blessings, protection, and healing”. It is not used to vanquish demons by blasting them into balls of fire and smoke as seen in long-running TV series Charmed.
Despite these Hollywood representations of witches as inherently evil, why are more and more women being drawn to these esoteric practices?
With pop culture figures such as Azealia Banks tweeting about being ‘a witch’, American Horror Story emerging as one of the most popular seasons in the franchise, and runway trends as seen at Marc Jacobs, Emanuel Ungaro and Marchesa, witches have once again re-emerged into the public consciousness. But there is a deeper, more powerful reason than fashion that women such as Webb are being drawn to ritual and witchcraft.
In Webb’s own words: “I’ve managed to manifest some things into my life which I’ve been striving for years. Some people will throw this down to coincidence, I myself don’t believe in coincidence”.
Ritual and Wiccan practices are being used as methods of self-improvement.
Katelan Foisy, the proprietor of Catland Bookshop, Brooklyn NY, runs regular individual and group events using pagan rituals and achieving career goals, self-fulfilment, sexual empowerment, or letting go of past relationships or traumas are just some of the results practitioners refer to. This type of witchcraft and approach to occult practices represent a kind of unapologetic female ambition and empowerment.
Witchcraft has always been associated with feminine power. In the past, this was one of the reasons that ‘witches’ were vilified and feared, as they were seen as a threat to a patriarchal society. In the late 1960’s, the US feminist movement saw the emergence of W.I.T.C.H or Women’s International Terrorist Conspiracy from Hell.
This was a collection of feminist groups across the country seeking to engage in expressly political action. Using the acronym W.I.T.C.H and carrying out actions such as mock hexes at various locations (including Wallstreet), they took the negative connotations of witchcraft and managed to draw attention to the feminist movement.
Wicca itself is another way of seeing the world, and when viewed from this perspective, it’s appeal to hard-working career driven young females in hectic urban landscape is clear. The stresses of city-centre life, the traffic, rush-hour, long work days and extortionate rents for small apartments must make it difficult to tune out the noise and tune in to the natural world?
“I suppose I’m intrigued by the presence of magic within the universe surrounding us, whether that be nature, the subconscious, mathematics, or even the phenomenon of sacred geometry/ the phi ratio/ the Platonic solids-Structures which are the basis on which everything in the universe is made and the theories on which we are all connected” says Webb.
“I find a lot of people love dwelling in their own misery, in fact, I probably was one of this people-until I began to get in touch with the earth, the elements, the universe and began to listen to this constant communique”.
Webb still considers herself a beginner with all things esoteric, but finds her pursuit of knowledge is an important tool for her to question the society around her and ultimately achieve a greater understanding of her surroundings.
This is not an ancient and stagnant view of the world. Women are understanding more and more that witchcraft and an understanding of the occult is not in conflict with their lives. Rather, it helps them to manage the madness of their environment, focus on the goals they want to achieve, and embrace their feminine powers.
There is a plethora of information available online on how to practice witchcraft in an urban setting, see moodymoon.com for more information.
Happy Krissy at Flickr
Javier Morales at Flickr