Since the traditions of modern witchcraft came out of the broom closet, witchcraft has undergone a reinvention or a rebirth. Many modern witches shy away from the archetypical image of the witch, with her many symbols like broom, cauldron, pointy hat, black cat, toads and other nightly creatures, the famous familiar spirits, spells, hexes and curses, contact to the spirits of the dead, shape shifting into animals, the knowledge of herbs and poisons, the legendary flying ointment, meetings on crossroads and old cemeteries or the fly through the night on broomsticks or pitchforks.
Many modern witches claim that the stereotypical witch is only fantasy and that in truth witchcraft is and was different than this image.
Witchcraft evolved into a modern religion, which is a good thing. Modern witches gather on the seasonal festivals, celebrate the seasonal changes, belief in and honor the Great Goddess and the Horned God and some of these witches work positive magic- without harming or manipulating other people.
They use the the symbols of the ceremonial magic in their rites: the athame, the chalice, the wand and the pentacle. And their rituals are also influenced by the ceremonial magic in their structure.
But at the same time modern witchcraft has lost (for me personal) much of its mystical side, a lot of the magic and its power.
The spells of many modern witches seem (to me personal) more like positive thinking with the help of some material supplies (like candles and herbs) and positive affirmations. And many modern witches don’t even belief in real magic, for them the magic, the rites and the spells are something psychological, through which them they are talking to their unconsciousness, through their spells they can work changes with their unconsciousness. This kind of magic is more a type of placebo effect sometimes.
But in the archetype of the witch, with all its many symbols, there you can find much truths about witchcraft. Our modern archetype of the witch has changed and evolved over time, the archetype of the evil witch is changing into something more positive and more ambivalent. For centuries the archetype of the witch was only seen as evil. Now in many movies, books and fantasy the witches can be supportive and good. They can be a guides for heroes, a helper in need AND someone who can also act against their enemies. And this ambivalent image of the witch is the original one. Even the most ancient witches of our culture Medea and Circe, could be helpers of the heroes, could heal and bless. But at the same time they could get a nightmare if you tried to work against them.
But you don’t have to look back into the shadows of the centuries- if you want to come into contact with the power behind the witch archetype. Our MODERN archetype is filled with many things, that can work if you use them. And when you use them- you will tap into a pattern. The broom can be a working tool in many witcheries, the cauldron can be used to empower herbal mixtures, amulets and to make potions. Even the pointy hat- that is so strongly connected to our modern archetypical witch, can be a powerful tool in your witchcraft. If you work with the symbols that are connected to the archetypical witch- you can draw power from this archetype in your rites and spells. But at the same time in our MODERN witch aretype lies the seeds of old witchcraft- there they were able to survive hidden and open to see at the same time. The symbols of the archetypical witch are telling us stories of the past, of the old witches in the villages not so long ago…
In the old times there were no books about witchcraft (exept some grimoires) and people who were drawn to witchcraft, could not learn it from books, like it is today. When people were interested in witchcraft they had to use the information they got from folklore about witches. Maybe they tried out things they heard in stories- what witches do. Stories about people that went into the night, in search for forbidden knowledge and power, about people that went out of the village, to secret places, to meet with the spirits of old and when they came back, they were changed, they got witches. And then when the inner draw of these people who wanted to be witches, was strong enough, they overcame their fear and went into the night themselves. To the old crossroads, gallows hills, burial mounds, or into the dark woods, where the veils between the human world and the other side were (and still are) more thin. If they had enough talent, will or luck, they would be able to meet a spirit and through the contact to this spirit (wich got their familiar spirit) they would learn witchcraft from this spirit- or the spirit helped to awake the witch-fire inside of them, this witch-fire lay dormant in them, sleeping in their blood, all the time and this fire drew them to their journey. And through this inner fire and the contact to the spirit(s) they got witches.
I think it is time that the modern witches reclaim the power of the old witch, the ability to make contact to familiar spirits, the dead and the spirits that surrounds us, the power to leave the body and fly through the night or to shape shift (in trance) into animals, the power to bless and to curse threw spells that make real changes- not just placebo effects. To find again the knowledge of the herbs. It is time to meet again on the old crossroads and dance with the spirits, to dig graveyard dirt on nightly cemeteries, to contact the underworld/otherworld, celebrate rites in moonlit clearings of the dark woods, with pointy hats, brooms and cauldrons that boil over a fire, or to work spells on the hearth of our home. And to meet with the Witchqueen on her crossroads in the time of the dark moons. It is time to awaken the witch-fire again…