Historically, witches have been vilified by Western societies. Strapped to ducking stools and burnt at stakes, witches were associated with a dangerous, renegade sexuality and often made the focal point for society’s deep-seated anxieties about the role of women.
New magazine Sabat aims to revive the idea of the witch in popular culture in a celebratory light. As founder and editor Elisabeth Krohn explains, “to me a witch is an empowered person, someone who can see the nuances of the world and work with them, and who is not afraid to fight for what she/he wants or believes in. I don't think you have to be far into the world of esoterica to call yourself a witch in this day and age, you just have to trust yourself and see beyond the surface mechanics around you.”
For those of you who are new to 21st-century witchcraft, we ask the Sabat contributors how best to incorporate witchcraft into your daily life. This is your guide to being a witch in 2016.
AMPLIFY YOUR INNER VOICE AND LISTEN TO YOUR GUT
Krohn explains that you don’t actually need to be stirring a cauldron to be in touch with your inner witch – you can incorporate witchcraft into a lot of regular pursuits. “I spend a lot of time trying to amplify that inner voice. Meditating over Tarot cards can help, but so can going for a run, listening to music, hearing what you want to hear and seeing what you want to see and physically manifesting your dreams and associations no matter how farfetched or hard to explain they might seem at first.”
Often, feelings that are hard to shake but which you sit on or ignore exist for a reason. Witches always pay attention to their gut feelings and rely on their intuition. “Focus on your intuition - that gut feeling is there for a reason.”
EMBRACE YOUR WOMANLY POWERS
Being a witch is easier than you might think. All you have to do is tap the inner witch within. “Witches are at liberty to use our womanly powers any way we like”, Krohn, explains. “Being a witch you are confronted with the light and dark of the human and feminine nature. This can help you realise and ultimately accept that there are many aspects to being a woman - we are not all sugar and spice and all things nice.” By accepting the inherent darkness in us all, women can fight the patriarchy. “When we do, we are no longer held in a psychological prison of shame based on rules of order and appropriateness dictated by patriarchy.”
YOU CAN FORGET THE POINTY HATS
Sabat contributor and queer femme witch Fay Nowitz explains that there’s no dress code when it comes to modern witchhood. “Dress however the hell you want to! Dress to empower yourself. It’s not about what you wear, it’s about the mindset and your practice”. So you won’t need a highly flammable polyester witch cloak from a fancy-dress store, then. Which is probably just as well, because literally no one looks good in them.
CREATE YOUR OWN SPELLS
Katie Karpetz of The Witchery explains. “Spell work is not some sort of rigid scientific process that you need to follow the step-by-step instructions of. It’s perfectly fine to substitute and change ingredients to make it more fitting to your needs.”
You also don’t need expensive equipment to cast spells. Many spells can be made with things lying around your kitchen. “One of my favourite spells would be the honey jar or any other type of sweetening spell. I find them slow to work but very effective. I’m also a very big fan of candle magic.”
CONNECT WITH YOUR FELLOW INSTA WITCHES
If you’re curious to learn more about modern witchhood, but don’t know where to start, Krohn recommends you get online. “Through social media the occult and hidden was made accessible to me - so were individuals who taught me about a world of womanly wisdom I had arrogantly ignored.”
Budding witches would do well to get on Instagram in particular and connect with their fellow Insta Witches. “Sharing their idiosyncratic stories and lifestyles adds to our spectrum of understanding of what it can feel like to be a woman and a witch.”
TRAIN YOUR WITCH MUSCLES
Lucius Matthiesen, Sabat’s contributing tarot card-slinger, explains why being a witch is a way of life, not a hobby. “You’ve got to train and flex your invisible witch-muscles or they’ll wither as any would other muscle group. Do something witchy every day, even if it’s something as simple as saying a little prayer to the gods you’ve invented or leaving a bag of basmati rice and coins in the graveyard for the local spirits to feast upon.”
WE ARE ALL WITCHES
Look, you may not feel like a witch all of the time. You may not even feel like a witch some of the time. But deep down, whether you acknowledge it or not, that badass witch is deep within you, waiting to come out. As Matthiesen says, it’s buried deep within your subconscious.
“Being a witch means being aware of how very fucking powerful you are. Being aware that you create yourself and the world you live, and you direct the forces of your life – for better or for worse. Being connected to that inner source of creativity, magic and intuition which flows naturally within all of us, but which to most is inaccessible because it’s buried so deep in the subconscious that it can’t be seen, felt or understood by the conscious mind.”
Follow Sirin Kale on Twitter here @thedalstonyears