What Makes a Witch?

In my early days in the Craft I remember coming across the phrase “Only a Witch can make a Witch.” It was a troubling thing to read because at that time I didn’t know any other Witches. In fact my first few years in Witchcraft were spent in relative isolation, I practiced as a solitary.

"The Witch on Her Broom Stick" by Ida Rentoul Outhwaite.  From WikiMedia.

“The Witch on Her Broom Stick” by Ida Rentoul Outhwaite. From WikiMedia.

There is power in initiation rituals, and traditions have value, but neither are necessary to be a Witch. Witchcraft is something we feel in our hearts, it’s not something that can be conferred upon another person like a title. I’m of the opinion that only the gods (or love) can make a Witch. It’s something that must be done for ones self, no one else can really do it for you.

When You Say You Are a Witch, You Probably Become a Witch

When does someone truly become a Witch? The moment they start calling themselves one. The word witch is rich and complex, and there are many different kinds of Witchcraft. The moment “I’m a Witch” sincerely leaves the lips of someone, that person becomes a Witch.

Should it really be that easy? Maybe, maybe not, but I think we all have better things to do than play word police. Wanna be a Witch? Then you have to accept everything that comes with it, and this includes the myriad strains, types, and perceptions of Witchcraft.

Del Dotto Fountain

Human made, still magickal.

Living a Magickal Life

Witchcraft is a magickal path, and for some of us it’s even a magickal religion, magick is often the one thing that unites the various communities gathered under the broomstick. Living a magickal life is not necessarily about performing spells (though that can be a part of it); living a magickal life is about how we perceive the world around us and how we interact with it.

There’s magick in everything. There’s magick in a sunrise, and there’s magick when a dandelion blooms in the cracks of a city sidewalk. If looking at the moon ever grows tiresome there’s something wrong with me as a Witch, because there’s nothing more magickal than the moon. A magickal life is about appreciation, it’s about realizing how extraordinary it is that we are here and that life and beauty exist all around us.

Practicing Magick

A Witch doesn’t only embrace magick in their daily life, they also practice it. “Practicing magick” is more than spellwork, it’s about how we use the natural powers and energies that surround us. It’s about radiating positive energy and pushing that out into the universe, for like attracts like is one of the most basic tenants of magickal practice.

As Witches we all have unique abilities and skills too, and I think we are obligated to use them, or at least be aware of them. If you are close to the spirits of you ancestors it’s your job to listen to them. If you believe in astrology it’s up to you explore that belief and apply it to your own life. If the gods call to you, answer that call, and honor them. For me these are all ways of practicing magick, for they are all ways of changing of bringing change into our lives.

That's magickal to me.

That’s magickal to me.

Walking the Wheel of the Year

Our days shouldn’t simply bleed into each other. Today is different than yesterday, and tomorrow will be something else entirely. As a Witch I can feel the subtle changes that occur on this earth everyday. August is not simply a continuation of July, it’s a new chapter in the never-ending story of the Wheel of the Year.

When Summer turns to Autumn, it’s something a Witch can feel in their bones. We are a part of the Earth, not apart from it, and when we do feel disconnected from this beautiful place it’s up to us to re-establish that connection through ritual, observance, magick, and any other means at our disposal.

Living in Harmony With the Earth

It is near impossible to live in complete harmony with the Earth in this day and age. The food we eat is often created in deplorable conditions (especially “factory farms” that produce meat), fossil fuels are attached to nearly everything we buy (did you think that orange from Argentina got here on its own), and many of us are forced to spend way too much time in our cars. But nearly every Witch that I know tries to live a life that doesn’t completely destroy the Earth. I think most of us know that we have a long way to go in order to be better stewards of the planet, and knowing that is at least a beginning.

In my own life I try to be conscious of where I buy things, and how much packaging they contain. I also try and make smart choices about food and visit my local farmer’s market (though I’ll admit to a weakness for anything described as “flamin’ hot”), and local merchants accessible by foot or public transit. None of this will save the Earth, but most of this gets me up off my couch and out into the wider world.

Follow me down to the path to the Summer festival!

Witchcraft is a journey, not a destination.

Being Open to New Ways of Being & Thinking

Witches use what works! As long as we approach our magickal practices with respect and reverence there’s pretty much nothing we can’t utilize in our personal work. It’s not “fluffy bunny” to use a New Age technique if it works for you, and nothing wrong with borrowing an old Christian spell from the grandparents. The smart Witch is always on the look out for new techniques, new ideas, and new ways of doing things.

Witchcraft is a journey, not a destination. The end-goal of Christianity is to end up in Christian heaven, there’s nothing like an absolute goal at the end of the Witchcraft rainbow. What I want to do as a Witch is to continue to grow and experience, and those things never stop.

Want to be a Witch? Embrace the day, embrace the world, embrace the magick, and embrace being a Witch!

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About Jason Mankey

Jason Mankey has been involved with Paganism for the last twenty years, and has spent the last ten of those years as a speaker, writer, and High Priest. Jason can often be found lecturing on the Pagan Festival circuit, so you might just bump into him. When not reading and researching Pagan history he likes to crank up the Led Zeppelin, do rituals in honor of Jim Morrison (of The Doors), and sing numerous praises to Pan, Dionysus, and Aphrodite. He lives in Sunnyvale CA with his wife Ari and two hyper-kinetic cats.