There’s a lot that can be said for aesthetics. This term has been making quite a come back in casual vocabulary lately with the help of websites like Pintrest and Tumblr. Also, thanks to modern media the aesthetic for witches and witchcraft related items has been booming. Companies are now going out of their way to embrace this new “dark” and edgy look that calls upon feminine power and marketing it to a new crowd of people who are self proclaimed “witches”. Witchcraft is more than just an aesthetic though.
Aesthetics is an appreciation for the beauty within something, typically it is related to art. I have to admit that, like many people, I am in love with aesthetics and much of what I do is for the aesthetic. The quest for aesthetics isn’t about vanity it’s about the expression for the love of the beauty within the world. For this reason, I appreciate that more websites, media, and even companies are embracing the simple beauty in cohesive pieces coming together to tell a story or set a tone. However, it also can belittle the very narrative it’s trying to portray.
A quick Pintrest search for any word followed by “aesthetic” will likely yield a result similar to the images in this post. Collages of unrelated images edited in a similar fashion to fit together to create a specific thought or feeling. One of the biggest issues with these collages is that they are comprised of stolen images which are being edited over (which is insulting to the original artist and violates their intellectual property) and are then taken out of the context in which the original artist might have meant them to be used in. The next issue with this is that they don’t have context. They are simply intended to be taken at face value, shared on social media platforms, and used to express a sense of “yas” that would be too long for text because our attention spans on social media is too limited.
Don’t get me wrong friends, I am guilty of loving these images, pinning them to my boards, sharing them on Facebook, and scrolling through pages and pages of aesthetically driven images to inspire me. I am also guilty of ignoring text heavy posts and putting things on the back burner (only to be forgotten) if they don’t trigger my interest right away. I truly am a product of my times.
But I would also be lying if I didn’t admit that I am getting increasingly frustrated by the amount of people who are calling themselves “witches” because they have a “witchy vibe” and have been decorating their house with Halloween decorations and using shows like Penny Dreadful and AHS: Coven as inspiration. Openly expressing that you’re a witch has been a taboo thing for centuries, it’s only in the past 10 years or so that people have been getting more comfortable with the idea that there’s people who practice witchcraft. Many things have changed in this time and the lore of the witch is a wonderful mascot for the empowered feminine energy that will always fight back. But being a witch is more than a black dress, wide brim black hat, candles, and crystals. It’s more than just putting on your best pair of high heels and storming into a room like you own the place. Witchcraft is a practice that takes years to work on. It’s a life long study and an actual lifestyle.
As I discussed in my post How To Become A Witch and Practice Witchcraft, part of being a witch is being present and mindful. It requires a lot of study and practice. You’re not just going to wake up one day and suddenly be an all powerful super being. There is no hidden book in the attic to read from that will give you powers, there’s no owl bringing you a letter, and you’re not going to suddenly find yourself shooting lightening from your hands. Putting on a black dress doesn’t make you a witch, it just makes for a good outfit.
Looking back on the 22 years I have been studying and practicing witchcraft for, and thinking about all the backlash I’ve received for it just makes it all the more insulting that my life is now being compressed down into nothing more than a way of looking. I invite everyone and anyone to be a witch, which is why I began this series of Witchy Wednesdays. I want to share the knowledge I have with anyone who is interested in learning more about witchcraft, and I hope that you can take my words and advice and use this to create your own path. I only ask that to those who do not have interest in digging deeper to please realize that this is much more than just a superficial way of standing out.
As a witch we work to heal ourselves and those around us, we strive to better our lives and enrich the lives of those we meet, we spend countless hours devoting our time and energy to the world around us in ways that can only be understood by connection. We didn’t get here by putting on a conical hat or tapping our heels together either. We have the freedoms to practice our craft the way we can now because we were lifted up by the blood, tears, bones, and fires of the witches who came before us and even those who were not practitioners but were still burned, stoned, beaten, tortured, drowned, and violated in the name of witchcraft.
I am glad that we are starting to appreciate the beauty within the craft and I am so happy that witches are being accepted more and more. The aesthetics of witches and witchcraft is indeed stunning, powerful, and wonderful and I am ecstatic that non-practitioners are able to see the pulchritude that we see everyday. But I beg you to remember that all witches and witchcraft itself has a history and a presence which runs much deeper than the pretty pictures you’ve seen online and is more alluring than the crystals sitting on shelves. If you are truly interested in witches and witchcraft I invite you to learn about it. If you have questions, please do ask. I am not telling you to stop spreading the aesthetic of the witch, simply to realize that this is a lifestyle and practice that spans across numerous cultures and religions with varying customs, traditions, and history. Appreciate the beauty, but respect the people and the culture of the practitioners.