Witchcraft, An Act of Resistance
Witchcraft is an act of resistance. Or it should be.
To some, witchcraft is a religion, to others, a spiritual practise, to others, a way of life, or all three, but it is also a tool. Witchcraft has always been the tool of the poor, the repressed, the maligned, those to whom without its protection, and often times solace, would have been powerless against those whom would seek to hold them down, to make them comply, to oppress them and rule them, without mercy and kindness.
Do not let your witchcraft be tamed, for us witches are wild things. Isn’t that why we are witches? If the comfort and ease of acceptance, of ‘‘normality’’ was what we wanted, then why would we bother with the effort that witchcraft takes? Because make no mistake, it does take effort and at times, sheer will. It’s not all love and lightness. Sometimes, quite often in fact, the real world is a harsh and unrelenting world. It isn’t always, nor often enough, all love and light, and so, when needed, our witchcraft must respond in like.
In an ideal world, there would be no poverty, no destruction of the Earth, no misery, no injustice. But the world is not ideal, and witchcraft is for these times. However all too often, within the pagan community, both online and real world, the Wiccan threefold law is thrown about by others who would tell a fellow witch what is and is not acceptable based on their own beliefs. I am not anti-Wiccan and I know some badass Wiccans. I also know that the threefold law, like the concept of karma, is often used in a generic and simplified way. That instead of a guideline for religion, much the same as the Christian commandments, the threefold law is something to strive for, to attain, to help you when you may be unsure. However, it must work both ways. And in my opinion, anyone or anything that tries to harm me, my family, or my home—whether that be due to prejudice because of my race, spiritual beliefs, financial status, or whatever—then I am within my rights to defend myself by whatever means I deem necessary. I will respond in kind.
Our witchcraft must be fierce, but so must we. Fighting doesn’t always have to mean violence, but sometimes it does. There is no escaping that fact. It isn’t enough to politely protest in the allocated area and it isn’t enough to obey the law, especially when laws are unjust. You may disagree with me, and that’s okay. But think about this: Do you think that movements such as the suffragettes, or the civil rights movement, or the anti-slavery movements were successful, won their battles without the use of violence? Without smashing the very laws that made their oppression legal? The truth is they were not and did not. They were won through sheer hard work, through blood and sweat, and yes, a river, no an ocean of tears. People died, giving the ultimate sacrifice for their cause. The good fight is never easy. Nothing worth having is ever easily attained.
Today the battles are different, but not by much. It is still the poor of the world that are the hardest done by, the minorities, the small people. You and me. The fight includes the changing of perceptions. How many times do you hear justification for the way others are treated? “Well, the police do have a hard job to do" is often the response when discussing police brutality and the lack of punishment. Or “Well, maybe they should have gone to college, then they’d be better off" when talking about the working poor. Sound familiar? And all too often, the people who make these excuses for the mistreatment of others are well-meaning. They try not to rock the boat; they don’t want to upset anybody. They will sit on the fence and then say they can see both sides.
I say there is no room for indifference. There is no room for fence-sitters. Sometimes you have to say your piece and do your thing, regardless of those who don’t agree with you and how they might feel. You may even lose a friend or two, but then hey, they couldn’t have been that great in the first place. Why can’t the police do their job without the institutional and at times outright racist behaviour, especially when it leaves husbandless wives and fatherless children? Why are they not punished for the laws they break? How can they uphold the law and yet not be subjected to it themselves? Why should someone who works a shitty job for forty hours a week still struggle to survive? I’m not talking about luxuries, but about having enough to eat, for gas and electric, clothes, the basic necessities. Ask them about the capitalist system and how can it be fair when it requires that there must always be someone at the bottom? Ask the fence sitters and placaters these questions and see what they say, how they respond. It might make them awkward and defensive, or it might ignite a spark somewhere within them, a spark that might take hold, engulfing them with passion.
So how does this figure into witchcraft? How can we make our crafts acts of resistance? Firstly, we must stop telling witches what they can and cannot do. Take a look online, there are countless forums and opinion pieces filled with witches telling other witches what is and what is not accepted. Stop that shit. It isn’t important and only draws us away from the things that do matter.
Cursing and hexing are valuable tools in a witch's arsenal. Don’t be afraid to use them for just causes. Sometimes, quite often in fact, love and light, kind thoughts and healing thoughts are not enough. Sometimes in order to heal, the sickness has to be cut off, amputated and discarded. I personally love a good cursing, there are some great ones out there!
And if you feel that cursing and hexing are not for you, that’s okay too. Use binding spells to help stop destructive behaviour, or protection spells. Or just get out there and help in your own community in whatever way you can. We all have something to offer, some skill, or even just our time and effort. Make a difference where you live.
Those are just some of the ways in which we, as witches, can magically intervene, but resistance doesn’t end there. It starts with the little things. Take your craft down to its bare basics. Think before you buy. Is that special witchy item you want mass produced by people with little in the way of human rights, in poor conditions? What is it made from and is it recyclable? Are the plant stuffs you use organic or have they been sprayed with life-killing pesticides that seep into the waterways, causing harm to the natural world? Do you really need another mined crystal? What about the food that you eat? Or the clothes on your back?
We cannot be lazy. These things do make a difference. How can we, as pagans, justify not recycling, or buying goods with such negative emotional energy? How can it not impact your practise? How does it not leave it hollow? We cannot say we care for the Earth and those who call it home and then buy clothes made by some kid in a sweatshop thousands of miles away, or buy eggs from caged hens, or meat from animals that have spent their whole lives in a cage so small they cannot move? All of these are little acts of resistance, and it’s okay to start little. Resistance is scary, but like anything, the more familiar you become, the more fear recedes. Soon you’ll find yourself speaking and acting out against larger issues. You’ll find your voice, and courage you never realised you had.
We must remember that we are witches. We are the brave, the warriors and healers. It is time, witches, to make our voices heard against the brutality of the system, against the uncaring capitalist system that would pit friend against friend, neighbour against neighbour, until we are all divided. We cannot let this happen, must not let it happen. We are witches, we are not without power. We must be fierce, and so must our witchcraft.
Our witchcraft is our resistance.
My name is Emma Kathryn, an eclectic witch, my path is a mixture of traditional European witchcraft, voodoo and obeah, a mixture representing my heritage. I live in the middle of England in a little town in Nottinghamshire, with my partner, two teenage sons and two crazy dogs, Boo and Dexter. When not working in a bookshop full time, I like to spend time with my family outdoors, with the dogs. And weaving magick, of course!