Search the "witch" tag on tumblr or Instagram. Now, take a shot every time you see a pentagram on a black leather cord. A skull draped in dark fabric. A pale, thin woman with blue hair dressed all in gauzy black doing sexy poses in a forest. A dimly lit selfie of a dark-haired women in a bustier captioned "Hail Satan."
Actually, don't do this, because you'll get alcohol poisoning in about five minutes.
Disclaimer about this post: I am not dismissing or criticizing witches who like this aesthetic, or cultivate these kinds of images with their craft. It's not wrong, it's great! It's just also time to discuss why it can be harmful to have "one story" about witches be the predominant story that is told on social media.
I work in an office. 90% of my wardrobe is "business casual." Yes, I like black, but mainly because it's easy to throw on at 8:30 am when you're running late for a 9 am meeting. I own only one long black skirt. My hair is brown and very curly and has never, ever hung in straight, dark, mysterious curtains around my face. I love pink. I have a pink planner and a pink pencil case and a pink 3DS and a pink purse. I'm very picky about jewelry, but I like my pair of subtle clear quartz earrings because I can wear them to work without it screaming "hey! I'm into hippie magic shit!" I am NOT sexy. My body type resembles "middle age mom." I have never taken ethereal hazy photos in a forest throwing a smoldering glance over my shoulder while holding animal bones. I own one long black skirt and I pair it with combat boots when I'm feeling REALLY alternative that day.
I do not look like a witch. But I AM a witch
I practice magic. I constantly seek out new spells, information about herbs, and best practices for mindful magic. I grow plants that I use in my practice. I use glamours to make myself feel more confident. I draw sigils for myself and friends and keep them in inconspicuous places. My magic is small and quiet and colorful. It blends in with its surrounding like camoflauge. It lets me be nimble and intimate and personal with my intentions and practice, rather than feeling like everything needs to look a certain way (a feeling that very much relates to my previous post).
Above: you'll see that I am not at all like the typical witch you see on tumblr or Instagram. The all black nonsmiling selfie is as close as I come, and that was taken to communicate how crappy I was feeling during PMS. Womp.
It also lets me reject the male gaze upon witches. Witches are known to embrace and harness their sexuality for magical practices. Witches are not bound by traditional sexual norms, which allows them the freedom to practice magic in the nude, wear loose fitting or revealing clothing, and play with their makeup and hair however they see fit. However, this sexual freedom has been exploited by mainstream media. Instead of seeing witches as sexually liberated, mainstream media portrays them as sex objects (think busty, blonde, ditzy Sarah in Hocus Pocus, the Bayonetta video games, etc). I, personally, do not tie my sexuality directly to my magic, simply because I prefer not to be seen in super sexual ways. Rejecting the mainstream idea of magic also helps me reject the idea that magic must be inherently sexual. Interestingly, anime does an awesome job of portraying witches as gender norm-breaking, sexually empowered people without falling prey to sexualizing their outfits and every move. Madoka Magica, Witch Academy, Soul Eater, etc are all great witch anime shows.
Sometimes I feel like I don't belong in the community. I don't like to post pictures of my magic, or use common witch and craft related tags. I reblog and follow people on tumblr, but I don't post many things of my own. I would just look so...out of place amidst the sexy selfies and long black nails and dark, dark, color schemes. I'm bubbly, and pink, and predictably boring most of the time. I don't have specialized equipment, or heavy pewter bowls, or bookcases filled with crystals. It's easy to feel inadequate and othered when other people have built such a following around their brand of magic that looks oh-so-similar to all the other well-known witch bloggers. It keeps me rather solitary and doubting of whether I'm "good" enough to speak for my place in the witch community.
This blog has been my attempt at overcoming that uncertainty. It incorporates my magic with my love of financial empowerment with my love of comics, and frames my magical practice in my journey to mental health and well being. This blog is a place of light, of feeling bright, of proclaiming a love of pink and flowers and super basic stock photos.
I may not look like a witch. I may not always feel like I belong. But magic belongs to me as much as it belongs to all who seek it, and this is my reminder that you can't be caught trespassing on land that was cultivated for anyone who seeks to put down roots in its soil.