In times of uncontrollable and frightening external events, many people turn to spirituality to ask for answers and a sense of regrounding whether that be within a religion, a personal faith, a scientific approach or convening with something a little more along the pagan lines.
The rise of the Insta Witch.
The concept of witchcraft has been around for centuries – it could be argued it’s been around since the dawn of humankind. Nearly every society on Earth, for or against, has had their Wanda, Samantha, Sabrina and Hermione including those of our digital worlds. For years I have watched the online witch community grow. Today it thrives and not only in consumable popular culture; Instagram and TikTok have been the modern covens you can sign up to when you’ve been locked down irl. Witch is such an aesthetic, pinterest boards are a great way to dip your toes in.
Despite the fact that many people, majoritively women, have felt embraced by this way of life there are many to damn the movement stating that the Insta Witch is only for the esthetic. As Urban Dictionary (trusted source) puts it, an insta witch is:
‘Someone who calls themselves a witch but the only knowledge they have gained came from Instagram. Frequently gullible and easily upset..’
Now I believe that is the case for most things where information can be digested in small, brief packets. There is probably a large chunk of society who only get their local/world news from Instagram and ideas about investing in bitcoin from TikTok. But I stand for the rising popularity of the Insta Witch because at the heart of the movement lies a greater meaning.
Women are still persecuted for sorcery today. In the ‘Western World’, many governments stopped the persecution of ‘Witches’ in the mid – late 1700’s. In Britain, The Witchcraft Act of 1735 made it illegal for practising the occult, but abolished the hunting and executions of witches and replaced it with a maximum penalty of a years imprisonment. Trumps favourite catchphrase is ‘Witchhunt’ and throughout his Presidency and run for office, he continually marked Hillary as a witch, also stating that this ‘witchhunt’ impeachment against him is a hoax and a greater threat to the country than him. In 2009 Saudi Arabia devised a special police unit dedicated to fighting against the dark arts (in 2011 a woman was beheaded due to allegedly practising witchcraft) and there are places in Africa such as the Central African Republic where Witchcraft is still one of the highest crimes at a 40% conviction rate. In 2017, the President of Cameroon Paul Biya urged his public to use witchcraft as a means of combatting Boko Haram whereas in Brazil in 2017, the philosopher Judith Butler was accused of being a witch and burnt in effigy due to her gender theories. In Nepal witch hunts are also common where the victims are low caste women and in Papua New Guinea the practise of the healing ‘white magic’ is legal unlike ‘black magic’.
Beliefs and rituals vary for each individual depending on whether they practise a pagan religion like Wicca or not. But overall, witches believe not only in The Goddess, The God, Nature and the central myth around the craft itself, but a key part of modern witchcraft is personal development through rituals and ‘magic’ (also known as manifestation). And I’m pretty sure that this was the initial intention of the Pagans; who witches really were and what they really stood for:
Back in the day, your lineage wrote your future for you – if your father was a tanner or a farm hand, you’d be a tanner or a farm hand and the generations go on. If you started to believe you were destined for something greater, that you could really change your stars you would seek a truth seer, healers, mystics, elders and witches for wisdom, guidance and help as education was not democratised.
Sure. Spells and moon baths are important contributors towards a witches identity but the end goal is to raise consciousness. To rise above a station where society has placed them, to gain knowledge and utilise what they had and may learn. (Vikings only went Viking to do better, to be contenders, to be somebody – not just bums which was probably what they were) E.G Using herbs for specific things as they were our first form of medicine and poison – sage is high in antioxidants and is a natural cleaning agent and pesticide (weirdly). Or Thyme, with its main oil as Thymol fights against the enzyme COX-2 responsible for inflammation. Herbal teas?
Modern Witches use the moon cycle to invest in themselves and devote time to their goals which may seem crazy to some people yet incredibly organised if you’re Bill Gates and use the sun as your clock, rising with it at 6am everyday to stay goal orientated. It ain’t that different is it? Aren’t we all just trying to do our best anyway?
So. If you’re all about levelling up, making this world slightly better than when we entered it, learning as much as you can and ‘fulfilling some sort of potential’ (When did everybody become a witch? Turns out, we were always here) then I’m not sorry to the Insta Witch and Tiktok Tarot haters because I’m here for Wanda, Samantha, Hermione and Sabrina..and maybe Bill Gates?
Tabitha is a musician based in London. Lover of the arts, fashion, culture and annoyingly curious of everything.