— Witching Hour

From magic to magick: Witchcraft helped me find myself

Alexandra Herstik

The word “witch” means something different to everyone. Although I can’t define the practice for anyone else, I do feel comfortable talking about what it means to me, and what the past 11 years on this path have meant to me. So low and behold — my journey with Witchcraft.

The first question to answer is…

What is Witchcraft?

That, again, is different to everyone. Witchcraft has been practiced by cultures all across the world for centuries. Witches are the medicine men and the wise women, the seers, the magicians, the healers. Witch, as it so happens, is also a gender-neutral term. Witchcraft is defined by living in tune with nature, worshipping the cycles of the earth and all her seasons, and by working with magick.

Magick, spelled with a “k” to separate from sleight-of-hand magic, is working with energy for a desired outcome, also known as a spell. This can be anything from lighting a candle and saying a spell to drinking tea and visualizing a desired outcome. Typically, witches work with the cycles of the Moon, celebrating when she’s full, and also when she’s new. Witches also celebrate sun holidays like the solstices and equinoxes.

Witchcraft isn’t a religion, it’s a path and a way of living. Witchcraft honors the Earth, and although it can be part of a religion, like it is to me, there is no deity that “needs” to be honored to call yourself a Witch. What witchcraft does emphasize is the divine feminine. For many witches, the emphasis on Goddess is a reclamation of the patriarchal values many of us have had instilled in ourselves from a really young age. Witchcraft is a reclamation of self-love, of self-worth, and of bodily autonomy. It is a way to say that you have the power. It is like an energetic cheat code that anyone can have in life. But like anything, being a powerful witch takes practice.

And although it’s cool and trendy right now, something I really stress anytime I write about witchcraft is that it’s not a trend. 

Being a witch means walking a path that thousands and thousands and thousands of women, and men, have died for. It means honoring the legacy of the wise women and divine feminine in everything you do. The persecution of witches is directly tied to the patriarchy, to the church being threatened by wise, strong, sexual women. When you call yourself a witch, you wear a label many didn’t, and still don’t, have the luxury of wearing without facing persecution.”

My story.

I grew up Jewish, my dad’s a Reform Rabbi, but I have always been a deeply spiritual human. My mother was my first introduction to yoga, crystals, consciousness, reincarnation, the whole shebang. I grew up talking to my dad about religion, god, the universe, death and philosophy. I have always been intrigued by the unknown and I was lucky enough to have parents who fostered this curiosity.

When I was 11, my aunties gave me a Faery Oracle Deck for Hannukah. Oracle decks are like tarot, in that they’re used for divination, connection, and personal growth — but where tarot has a “set” structure, oracle decks are left up to the interpretation of the artist. Brian Froud’s deck, the one I was gifted, pulled me down a rabbit hole right into the land of the Faery. (The Faery are energetic beings who don’t exist on this realm, but in another realm parallel to ours called the astral. Think Alice in Wonderland or lucid dreaming!)

As soon as I got this deck, I was hooked. I would go to the local Barnes & Nobles and sit for hours exploring anything and everything mystical. I eventually discovered The Witches Guide to Faery Folk, and as soon as I read it, I knew things would never be the same.

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