Witchcraft is a Practice, Not a Birthright

Witchcraft is a Practice, Not a Birthright December 10, 2018

While there might be a little witch inside everyone, some claim a special inheritance. Flouncing supposed witchblood, either by birth or through various traditions, doesn’t make you a witch. You know what does? Practicing witchcraft.

Does it matter if she has a fancy witch pedigree? I don’t think so. She’s a model, perhaps not a witch at all. Witchblood works the same way, having it doesn’t make you any more of a witch than the model in this photo. Image: Canstock

What Makes You a Witch?

I read hundreds of answers to this question every week. It’s one of the questions asked on the application to join my Facebook group, The Witches’ Realm.

Sometimes people respond to the questions about defining their witchery with something like, “I was born one.” It’s wonderful to have such a lineage, but it doesn’t make you a witch. Some claim to be descendants of a long line of witches, while others were gifted with certain skills with no obvious familial connection. I believe in the power of witchblood. I also believe that having it doesn’t make you a witch. Witchcraft is a practice, not a birthright.

Do those who claim bloodline rights to a certain tradition, deity or practice have some type of exclusive claim to these things? No. As a Hekatean Witch, it’s definitely something I considered years ago when I first began following her torches. I’ve encountered lots of flouncing, hating and witchsplaining along the way, too. This is usually conducted by those who feel they have some special right to the things that I am being called to. Witchblood doesn’t give you proprietary rights to anything, nor does it make you a witch. We need to stop putting up with self-proclaimed hereditary witches who spread toxicity, especially by telling others that they can’t witch the way they feel in their heart.

Found on Pinterest.

There’s a Little Witch in Everyone

Aren’t we all somehow descended from the witches of old? Whether it’s in our direct ancestry or in spirit, I definitely believe there is at least a little bit of witchiness in everyone. How we take inherited talents and use them is what makes us witches. But even this is a bit complicated. Many of the respondents to the question above say things about being a psychic, empath, healer or other variety of energy worker. All these things are certainly special, but they only are part of witchcraft if the practitioner sees it that way. In other words, you can be any or all of those things and not call yourself a witch. I’m a big advocate for self-definition so there’s no way I’m going to label anyone else a witch unless they claim the title. There’s a lot of responsibility that comes with it. Continuing with the self-definition theme, what if you claim that your ancestors were witches but they didn’t define themselves as such? Don’t they have a right to self-define as well?

Just to be clear, while there might be a little witch inside every one of us, I’m not referring to general energy work, psychic abilities, or intuition. I’m certainly not associating inherent witchiness with light workers, either. I’m talking about actual witchcraft: casting spells to achieve desired outcomes using correspondences and spirits. Intention is not enough, neither is claiming to have witchblood. I think many of us are drawn to the practice of magick because we all have a spark somewhere inside of us that knows the truth. For some, the spark shines much brighter regardless of fancy pedigrees. We know the world is enchanted, that spirits are real, and that plants, animals, stones and such yearn for our witches’ touch.


The Benefits of Witchblood

Coming from a long line of highly intuitive family members doesn’t make you a witch, although it does potentially give you some genetic abilities to draw upon. With DNA analysis, we have access to our family tree far beyond the paper trails left by our grandmothers. There’s witchblood that is claimed through family lore and then there’s genetic code. I was shocked when I discovered that about 50% of my DNA comes from an area associated with Hekate’s ancient cult. You could say that Hekate is in my blood, but millions share my DNA and don’t associate with the Dark Mother. My female relatives are certainly very intuitive, some are great manifesters, and there’s many healers. None of them would call themselves a witch. I could spin this into a lovely tale of witch ancestry, but I’m generally in favor in honesty which is not shared by some of these so-called descended witches. You know those elaborate stories that just don’t ring true. One thing that my inheritance includes is a very good nose for things that don’t smell right. Can this be interpreted as a witchy skill? For sure. Does it make me a witch? No way.

Witchblood: Lies and Truth

Let’s talk about those fabulous tales. Just to be clear, if your story of coming from a line of witches (the self-defined kind) goes back to the Battle of Hastings, that’s wonderful. I’m not doubting you. But I am saying that false claims, either through complete fabrication or by reaching into the past to slap the label of “witch” on our ancestors, is doing a mighty disservice to witches everywhere. Honestly, the aura of false superiority that comes from some of these witches is enough to make anyone question their prowess. I’ve heard from witches who feel they aren’t enough because they lack a pedigree. You are just as much a witch as those waving their family trees like achievement certificates.

In my experience, those who hang their witch identity on lineage are often preoccupied with presenting themselves in a certain way. There’s all sorts of reasons for this: it can be 100% true (highly unlikely), they might not be confident in their abilities, or they just really want to feel better than everyone else. Note that reasons #2 and #3 are not mutually exclusive. I reviewed thousands of answers to the “what makes you a witch” question, so I’m basing this on research and not merely my opinion. A huge percent of those who respond claiming witchblood (without any further explanation) fit into at least one category of toxic witches. You know who doesn’t? The ones who say that they aren’t certain if they are a witch, but they want to learn. That, beautiful creatures, is an honest answer.

Does being psychic make you a witch? Only if you say so. Image: Canstock

Witchblood by Artificial Insemination

Another thing that’s far too common these days is flaunting a huge list of witchy credentials, sort of witchblood by adoption or artificial insemination. Some people seem to believe that the more courses they take, the greater percent of witchblood they have. No. I’m all in favor of learning, but all the witch credentials in the world don’t make you one. Then there’s this whole lineage thing where being taught by a teacher who was taught by a certain teacher makes you a better witch. That’s witchblood by proxy. Courses and proximal lineage don’t make you a witch. Practice does.

Spells Make Us Witches

Being able to claim that you’re descended from a long line of witches is awesome, but it doesn’t tell me anything about you as a practitioner unlike those who list their skills as evidence. Believing that you’re from a long line of witches is wonderful, but there’s also the risk of resting on our laurels instead of honing our practice. Psychic abilities, energy work, and healing practices are great but they aren’t exclusive to witchcraft. The one thing that certainly makes you a witch is regularly engaging in the one practice that’s unique to us: casting spells. If you never do a spell, you’re not a witch.

Spells are what make witches, not blood. From Practical Magic.

I believe in unleashing the inner witch inside all of us, regardless of our DNA. The Sacred Seven, my course on transformative witchcraft, is now open for applications. Learn more here.

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About Cyndi
Cyndi Brannen is a witch and spiritual teacher, a trained energetic healer, psychic and herbalist. Merging together her training in shamanism, Tarot, past life work, meditation and psychology, she teaches and writes about better living through witchcraft. Keeping Her Keys: An Introduction to Hekate’s Modern Witchcraft explores Hekate from her ancient origins to modern understanding through magic and personal development is available now for pre-order from Moon Books. True Magic: Unleashing Your Inner Witch uses the magic of the elements and the three realms to activate your true witch powers and will be available later in 2019 from Moon as well. Connect with her on Facebook or at keepingherkeys.com to learn more about her teaching and writing. Cyndi lives in rural coastal Nova Scotia with her two sons where she can often be found wandering the cliffs or wild foraging plants. She lives what she teaches: fierce love, emotional courage and true magic. You can read more about the author here.

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