The other day, I saw someone’s twitter handle. ‘Fourth generation hereditary witch.’ Bullcrap, I thought.
We’d all like to think we’re special, and to some degree, we are. I never believe in lying about anything, but there are so many hereditary witches these days who have such high degrees and long lineages. I know these people are probably young witches who feel the call of the witch, and I don’t want to dissuade them from the calling, but it’s important to be honest.
When it comes to hereditary witches, it’s all about how you define who/what a witch is. There are two basic options.
1. A Witch Is Someone Who Self-Identifies as a Witch
If we define a witch as ‘someone who self-identifies as a witch,’ few of us would actually be hereditary witches. There’s nothing wrong with this honest assessment. If the issue were black and white, this would be the deciding factor, and would eliminate many ‘hereditary witches.’
I do acknowledge that it’s possible that there are third and fourth generation witches out there, with all generations identifying as witches. Many of the witches I grew up with have kids and even grandkids (though they’re young still, too young to use Twitter).
I applaud anyone whose parents and any further generations own the title of witch. And if I’m honest, I’m a little jealous, too. But how far back does the witch lineage really go? It’d be hard for most people to come up with an unbroken self-identified witchcraft lineage longer than two or three generations.
Which brings me to the next option of how to define a witch.
2. All ‘Witchy’ People Are Witches, Whether They Identify As Such or Not
The trouble with most ‘fourth generation hereditary witches’ is when we get into the gray area, or what I call ‘the Stevie Nicks area.’ Stevie Nicks is a signer from the 1970’s-1980’s who has witch chic down unlike any other, has a song called Rhiannon, who says she experiences psychic phenomena, and even plays a witch character on a popular television show. Despite all that, she doesn’t call herself a witch.
‘Witch’ was considered a bad word back in the day, and even today, some people refuse to use it. It’s important to look back at our ancestors and the era they lived in. Your ancestors may have survived the McCarthy times in America (1947-late 1950s), when many people’s lives were ruined for even appearing to have any leftist thoughts. There are stories of people being taken away in the middle of the night and never being heard from again. It was a very hard time, when freedom simply wasn’t truly free.
Many people couldn’t explore witchcraft or anything spiritual due to the very oppressive regime and also a limitation of information. The fear of ‘being the other’ probably never went away, and so, conforming was the norm.
With our ancestors’ lack of self-identification as witches, uncomfortable questions arise. How much of a hereditary witch is anyone without the self-acknowledgment?
We could call our ancestors ‘honorary witches,’ but I don’t know if they’d like that. Maybe we could just trust Stevie Nicks and our ancestors to make their own decisions about who and what they are.
Then again, maybe witchcraft is ancient part of all of us, and it’s waking up! Maybe we’re all hereditary witches, and our powers have been mostly dormant for decades, and they’re all coming out now!
I’m being silly, but I have a point. Being descended from people who were ‘witchy’ or had some witchy abilities is a huge possibility for most people. There are so many kinds of witchy and otherworldly powers in the world. If even just 10% of people in the world have these otherworldly powers, it’s likely that everyone descended from at least one magical person.
But what do we call that, if they didn’t identify as witches?
In the end, I think self-identification and honesty wins. We can have different opinions on magic and witchcraft, but calling one’s self a witch, or not, is pretty basic.
Perhaps instead of using ‘hereditary witch,’ we could use ‘a witch with spiritual ancestors,’ or ‘a witch with psychic ancestors,’ or, my absolute favorite, and what I happen to be, ‘a third generation witchy person.’