Am I a Witch?
Before we can answer the question of ‘Am I a Witch?’, we need to talk about what a Witch is, and what a Witch isn’t.
I invite you to head over to my course on the differences between Paganism, Wicca & Witchcraft. It’s a good primer for what we’re going to discuss here.
For the purposes of our definitions, we’ll explore the term ‘Witch’ in the context of someone who is not Wiccan. Never assume someone is Wiccan just because they use the label ‘Witch’. Most Witches are not Wiccan. While most everything below will also apply to Wiccans who identify as Witches, any additional moral code and ethics they may have via their Wiccan religion will affect some of these statements.
First, let’s strip away any preconceived notions, stereotypes and myths about Witches in general. We’ll start with what Witches are not.
Charmed, The Craft, Sabrina, Witches of Eastwick, AHS Coven, Harry Potter, Hocus Pocus, The Blair Witch Project, and other popular movies are all fun entertainment! They're also grossly unrealistic models for what being a Witch is. If you’ve come here to be a Witch because you want to do what those fictional Witches in your favorite TV or book series do, you’re in the wrong place.
Witches are not what you see in movies, television series and YA books. Hollywood’s portrayals of Witches perpetuate vestiges of an old, Puritan mindset that still pervades our culture. Keep in mind the ‘Witch’ was largely written from a Puritan and Protestant perspective. Witches have always stood in as an archetype for difficult, childless, independent women in fiction.
What Witches Aren’t
As Witches, we don’t:
Fly around on brooms
Move objects with our mind
Shoot lightning bolts out of our hands
Worship the Devil… or Black Phillip
All dress in black
All like Stevie Nicks
Segregate magick into “black” as evil or “white” as good (also has offensive racial undertones)
Harm babies or children
Have green skin or crooked long noses
Use umbrellas to jump (float) off of our roof
Wiggle our nose to do spells
Poof in and out of different realms in a cloud of smoke
Explode things with our ‘powers’
Have special ‘powers’
Separate ourselves into categories of ‘Good’ or ‘Bad’, or ‘Light’ or ‘Dark’ (however New Age and Christian religions often do)
It may seem many or all of these are obvious, but in my experience, many well-meaning, earnest seekers get confused about what is real v/s what is not. I've heard more than one of these statements spoken as 'true' or 'fact' by enough beginners that I've learned I can't accurately assume every one is operating at the same beginner level.
Witches Are Not Afraid of the Term ‘Witch’
If, after educating yourself, you are still afraid of the term ‘Witch’ or concerned for the safety of yourself, your soul or your loved ones, then the path is not for you.
Not All Witches are White Women
Despite Hollywood depictions of Witches, not all Witches are white women. Witches can be any gender or race. Witches who are Black and People of Color are underrepresented in Pagan and Witchcraft spaces within American society, yet they make up a large percentage of people in this country who identify as Witch.
Witches can also be male. A male Witch is still a Witch. He is not a ‘warlock’.
What Witches Are
Look like you and me, like everyday people- a child’s teacher, the bank teller, the grocery clerk, the salesperson, the postal deliverer, the attorney, the librarian, the nurse.
Often use brooms, sometimes consecrated, for sweeping out energy from our home or ritual space
Wish we could levitate or move objects with our mind!
Like to wear clothes that fit our personality and sometimes that’s black, sometimes that’s rainbow colors. We also sometimes use color correspondences in what choice of colors we wear each day. Some Witches dress modestly, some not so much.
Travel to other planes via Spiritual and Astral means- our bodies stay here on Earth at all times.
Practice and hone our craft over many years
Come from all walks of life, professions, socio-economic situations, religious upbringings, genders, sexualities, races and ethnicities, and cultures
Witches are Mortal- Like Everyone Else
I hate to burst your bubble, but being a Witch doesn’t come with immortality. That’s because Witches are human. We aren’t other-worldly beings with super powers. We get hurt, we get sick, and we suffer from all the same physical, mental and emotional maladies as everyone else. And when it’s our time, we die.
You Can’t be Born a Witch
Despite what that psychic told you, what your Tarot cards said, what that prominent author trying to sell books, or what the internet would have you believe, you absolutely, positively cannot be born a Witch.
I promise you, no matter how much you want it to be true, no matter how much time you’ve invested in the idea that you were ‘born this way’, no matter how many people you’ve convinced and no matter how many of them believe you, no matter how many past lives you ‘remember’ of being a ‘Witch’, no matter how many ‘Witches’ you claim are in your family or Ancestry, no matter how many spiritual readers tell you you’re special or have ‘gifts’ or are a natural born Shaman, Witch, Psychic, (fill in the blank), no matter if your Grandmother ‘knew things’, no matter if you ‘know things’, no matter if you are a descendant of someone who died during the Salem Witch Trials (none of whom were Witches, btw)- none of that makes you a Witch in any way, shape or form in this life.
Your parents or Aunts aren’t going to disclose to you the exciting news of ‘Surprise, you’re a Witch!’ on your 16th, 18th or 21st birthday. There’s no Hogwarts letter coming.
This doesn't mean you can't be raised a Witch. Many Witches are raised within family traditions and never participated in any other belief system or religion. However, absent that training, modeling and life-time of education from experienced Witches, you wouldn't have the first clue about how to be a Witch.
Witchcraft is not a religion, birthright or something found in your DNA. Witchcraft is a practice, a set of skills.
You can't be born a Witch any more than you can be born a mathematician.
Having interests or beliefs in common with popular 'Witch' practices also does not make you a Witch. You can believe in Witches, reincarnation, magick, spells, and astral travel- none of those beliefs make you a Witch, because (a) not all Witches believe in those things, and (b) many people who are not Witches believe in those things, but most importantly, (c) being a Witch is not a belief system- it's a practice, and that practice is more than any one thing.
You may have an affinity for animals and communicate with them well- doesn't make you a Witch. Reading or owning Tarot cards doesn't make you a Witch, and it doesn't mean you were ever meant to be one. Lots of people all over the world have used Tarot cards and most are not Witches.
The same is true for a lot of other reasons people are told or believe they are 'Natural Witches'. Prophetic dreams, seeing ghosts, liking crystals, feeling 'different'. It's all meaningless when determining if you are in fact a Witch.
There’s No Witch Test
There is no test to determine if you are or are not a Witch. You can’t take a Buzzfeed quiz online to tell you if you’re a Witch, or Psychic, or have ‘Gifts’. Or what percentage of those you are/have. Found a quiz or test on a ‘real Witchcraft’ page? That’s also bogus.
Articles, YouTube videos, Blog Lists, Instagram Posts, Pinterest Boards, Facebook memes, etc. will all try to reel you in and get you to engage with their content to earn clicks and advertising dollars or even to sell you products, all at the promise of diagnosing your ‘specialness’. They are highly successful at it, too! Who doesn’t want to feel special? Who doesn’t feel like they are the odd duck out? Who doesn’t want to be told they have a purpose? Who doesn't love being told they have powers or gifts? These sites and quizzes play on algorithms that apply to most people and appeal to insecurities, predictable human reactions and behaviors.
‘13 Signs You’re a Witch’, or ‘How To Know If You Are A Witch By Blood And Have Magical Powers’, and 'What Type Of Witch Are You?', or how about 'Ever Wonder If You're Witch?'. Insert extreme eye roll and laughter here. Yes my lovelies- these are real titles for just such quizzes and videos. These are purely entertainment and have zero basis in reality. Yet I see people I know in my local community taking them seriously and treating them like they just had their ‘awakening’ or received their Hogwarts letter. It’s not real, people. Sure- take the quizzes and watch the videos and share them with friends. Have fun with them! Enjoy the laughs. But don’t take them seriously, believe them or base your identity off of them. No matter how much stock you place in them, it won’t make you a Witch.
Being a Witch Isn’t Instant
Witches can spend many years studying before fully starting their practice. Don't rush into being a Witch.
Witches Are Not Initiated
Witches are not ‘initiated’ because Witchcraft is a craft, not a religion. There is no High Priest or Priestess (that’s strictly coven-based Wicca, some of who may identify as Witch). No one is going to hand you a degree or diploma or certificate declaring you are in fact a real Witch.
Are You a Witch?
You may not be able to be born a Witch, but you can certainly call the shots and decide to be one.
Being a Witch is not something someone else can tell you. It's not a certificate or label you get handed. A witch is someone who self-identifies as a Witch and who wholeheartedly believes in their personal craft. The good news is you and only you are in charge over whether or not you become a Witch.
Witchcraft is open and accessible to anyone who is willing to do the work. Not everyone is. A Witch possesses or seeks to develop strong self-discipline, fortitude, self-reliance, self-motivation, perseverance, and the work of Knowing Thyself. Witchcraft is the ‘Craft of the Wise’. It requires emotional, mental and spiritual maturity.
Is Witchcraft or Being a Witch Dangerous?
I would say if you’re doing the work, then yes, it can be. Witchcraft comes with some risks and no guarantees.
If you’re not doing the work or are fairly inexperienced still, then it’s probably fairly safe, mostly because you haven’t yet ventured too far away from your safety net. That will change the further into your journey you get.
If you’re doing the work badly, carelessly, or foolishly- then being a Witch could be quite dangerous for you. Being a Witch is not for you.
Let's look at potential dangers of the Craft ...
Most of these are low-risk, common sense dangers you would encounter anywhere regardless of whether you were being a Witch while doing it.
There is always a risk of being burned when working with fire in any form.
Unattended candles are a fire-hazard. Never leave your candles unattended or placed near flammable materials such as curtains, sleeves, shelves, walls, etc.
Candle wax is flammable and can catch when pooled or dripping.
The burning of some candle waxes, such as paraffin, can cause respiratory problems
A cauldron fire can get out of hand.
Cast iron cauldrons become hot and burn you. Handle just like you would a hot pan on the stove.
Burn only incense or small fires indoors when there is ample clearance on all sides, and with plenty of ventilation.
Accumulation of heat under a cauldron can burn the surface below.
OILS & HERBS
Oils are flammable- using them with candles increases fire risk
Adding herbs to candles can cause excess smoke or fire
Some herbs when burned can be toxic or have undesired effects on health
Some oils, especially certain essential oils, should never be burned or diffused.
Some oils and herbs that are safe for adults may not be safe for children, pets and pregnant women
Wildcrafting, foraging, collecting and using herbs that you are unfamiliar with can be fatal. Poisoning is a real danger if you do not know what you’re doing.
Have a fire extinguisher on hand
Know and practice basic fire safety
Hiking or walking in the woods can result in injury, becoming lost, and having an encounter with a predatory animal
Bug bites, poisonous plants, scrapes and bruises, etc. Educate yourself on how to treat minor burns and cuts, and take all necessary precautions to keep yourself happy and safe.
Trespassing on private land can result in arrest or legal complications
Practicing Witchcraft on public lands and parks may also come with criminal or legal consequences if those practices violate any local, state or Federal laws, such as burning things, using endangered or protected animal parts, harming the eco-system or wildlife, being naked, etc.
PEDOPHILES, PERVERTS, FRAUDS, AND OTHER PREDATORS
Encountering someone like this at a Witch gathering, event, group, in a coven setting, or other space is a possibility. This often takes place in environments designed to make you feel safe by someone who intends to exploit your trust or naiveté.
No matter the religion or community, there will always be those who claim to be spiritual but do not have your safety or best interests in mind.
CHEMISTRY & MAD SCIENCE
Mixing ingredients that you don’t understand can result in serious