Spells. Moon rituals. Crystals & herbs. Each of these things and many more are associated with what has been branded modern witchcraft.
But what is modern witchcraft? Who is the modern witch, and what does she do?
In short, what makes a witch a witch?
Let’s break it down.
What Modern Witchcraft Isn’t
Before we talk about what modern witchcraft is, let’s talk about what it isn’t.
It’s not a fashion choice. It’s not a fantasy novel. Or a bunch of socially awkward teenagers playing around with an Ouiji board on the weekends.
And although the mystical allure associated with the modern witch is often the subject of television series and movies, the reality is actually much simpler and (sorry, kids) less glamorous.
But also, way more interesting.
Okay, so what is modern witchcraft?
Man, that’s a tough one. Because if you ask any modern practitioner for a true definition, you’ll get a different answer every time.
But in a nutshell:
Modern witchcraft is the use of spells, rituals, incantations, and visualizations based on the philosophy that it’s possible to shape your destiny with your intentions or will alone.
Nearly everything else—-the particulars of spell work, the belief or non-belief in god(s), the celebration of holidays, political views, the use of tools (or the option to not use them at all), all of these things are unique to the individual practitioner.
In the general, modern sense, witchcraft has no central authority. There is no agreed-upon scripture or doctrine. Which is both the difficulty and the beauty of it. Practitioners are free to create their own unique practice.
Of course, that also means they are responsible for their own practice, and the results of that practice.
The practitioner is expected to come up with her own moral and ethical code. She must decide for herself whether a love spell is unethical, or even if she believes it will work. She has to make up her mind about big, heady things like whether or not she believes in god, or if it’s okay for her to continue to practice spellcraft alongside Christianity.
These things are not decided for her. She must decide them herself. Which makes the modern witch, first and foremost, a kind of spiritual rebel.
The true secret of magic.
In the beginning, a brand-new baby witch is nearly always attracted to a magical practice by the spells.
Specifically (if we’re being honest) she is likely attracted by the idea of power.
Don’t judge her for that. That attraction is natural. It’s human nature to want control of your life.
If we’re being really honest, it’s even natural to occasionally want control over others (although this is obviously much more ethically problematic and controversial).
But what the experienced witch eventually learns—through trial, error, and frankly, a lot of pain—is that magic isn’t a tool of power.
It’s a tool for spiritual education.
Beginning practitioners often fret about whether or not their spells will work. Did I use the right oils? The right herbs? The right lunar cycle?
But if magic is really just a focused intention to shape your fate, your intentions will manifest in some way.
It’s not about whether your spell works—it will work. That part is all but guaranteed.
It’s a matter of how it manifests. Often, what you think you want is very different from what you actually want. Which is why some people consider it so dangerous. Ironically, if spells and magic are what attract people to witchcraft, the possibility that they work is what scares them off.
But it should be the reason they come to it. Because learning the difference between what you think you so desperately, stubbornly want and what you actually need is one of life’s most valuable lessons.
And magic is the wisest teacher I know.