I have been thinking about what witchcraft means to me. My social anthropology studies have brought me here more formally this week, but it has been on my mind on and off for years without being able to commit words to my thoughts.
I am someone who just knows if you are pregnant. Don’t ask me how. I just know. Even if you don’t yet. Jokingly, I have been called a witch or mystic many times because of my uncanny abilities. I find it a weird party trick too to be honest but it’s mine to play with and most people think it is pretty cool.
Like many people, I see coincidences in everyday life that stop me in my tracks; I see people I haven’t seen in decades, minutes after they pop into my head totally out the blue. That’s one of the easier examples to explain but I might post another time about some of the other crazy ones. I keep a notebook dedicated to them these days.
Oh and next door’s black cat follows me everywhere and we have this weird connection where it’ll watch me in the house from the garden. I do wonder who’s spirit animal it is.
I also dream cinematically; feel phones buzzing in my pocket when there is no message; and struggle badly with sensory overload.
Could I be a witch? Looking at definitions of old, perhaps I would have been at risk of a pyre. I definitely have my quirks.
Separately, but perhaps timely, I recently learnt about global “hearing voices” networks, which I now follow quite closely with fascination and awe.
To give you a flavour: many people in these online networks have been diagnosed with mental health conditions after becoming terribly distressed at the voices they hear in their minds, and consequently have had them medicated to silence the chatter; which is sometimes a source of great sadness and grief to individuals at the loss once the distress subsides. Unexplained voices are pigeon-holed in the rational world as Being BAD for us.
On the other hand, many people in the forums hear voices that do not distress them, but are problematic for those around them in camp “normal”. Non-distressed accounts were described by those identifying as feared visionaries, mocked psychics, artists & creatives, horse whisperers, layline water seekers and the like, who in the main seem to be perfectly peaceful nice people who live and/or work with their additional voices in the face of prejudices and societal disapproval and embrace the situation.
It seems distress is often caused by a fear of sharing the fact they hear voices because of how they might be perceived. Taboos like this can be equally traumatic to try and hide but in turn to share can lead on to the medicalisation of the individual either voluntarily or against their will.
It is worth remembering that in reality, when it comes to wider society, it is only a tiny percentage of voice hearers that end up fuelling our hunger for the true crime documentaries that splay the aftermath of dangerous intrusive voices & thoughts on our screens, clouding perception of all those hearing them.
I guess I too had certain incorrect ideas about this until I became interested in finding out more.
But what if we (society) could change our collective perception and viewed these voices as gifts or superpowers and responded in a slightly different way? There is an element of negative witch style treatment of the “othered” in society here. Could we benefit from them?
What if these individuals simply do have better brains; higher insight, instincts, are closer to nature and generally just more tuned in to the world around us. Could we learn more if we tapped in? Or are we afraid of the shadows?
Or could the be the powerful patriarchy that feels threatened? I mean, there’s a story about a guy whose birthday we celebrate on 25th December who didn’t fair too well along these kind of lines.
It is well known that in many surviving indigenous communities, those with a third eye remain extremely powerful and can command positions of great respect and responsibility, but not in modern global culture. What can we learn from this before these communities become further subsumed by individualism, capitalism and consumerism?
I can’t help feeling that these maligned groups are treated like versions of those put on trial for black magic witchcraft throughout history. Humans that for one reason or another were regarded as different, as wrong or dangerous.
I believe in keeping a totally open mind about what witchcraft is or isn’t or whether it exists at all, however, general fear of it has always been and continues to be a worldwide phenomenon.
I mean all of the above in a totally complimentary and supportive way to all our different thinkers. I guess the word “witch” feels not right in a modern context but by definition I feel it is relevant to make the comparison. Maybe the word needs a positive re-brand?
Perhaps I could be a witch too. I think I might start self identifying as one. See where it gets me.
My most important message folks – be kind.