I Have a Problem with “Witchy”

I’m generally an anti-bandwagon kind of person by nature. But there’s something about people throwing around the word “witchy” that has been bothering me on a deeper level than I could describe until this writing. Let me explain–I’ve seen this word used on tinder profiles, in descriptions of one’s fashion sense, one’s interests, one’s decorations around their house, etc. Based off of context clues, it appears people are currently using this word to describe a sense of earthiness, a sense of weirdness, but in a trendy way–and not really at all in connection to witchcraft, let me be clear. It seems to be more of an intended celebration of the kinds of women who have been persecuted in various cultural histories–wild women, mystics, those who didn’t conform to cultural norms, those who were declared suspicious and therefore “witches,” purveyors of dark magic. Agents of Satan, what have you. Many of these women were persecuted, killed, abused, cast out.

My great grandmother.

My great grandmother.

I totally support memorializing these mothers of ours. This intention is fabulous, but I don’t think it’s really succeeding. The ways I’m seeing the word “witchy” used to describe things or activities is bothering me. Like, utilizing this animal skull is so witchy! Making these salves out of weeds is so witchy! Learning herbal things is so witchy. It’s become a trend, which does touch a couple nerves of mine. But here’s what bothers me I suppose–things like herbalism, utilizing natural objects–those aren’t ancient uncovered reclaimed practices. Those are things my great grandmothers did and they were not declared trendy. Those are concrete ways to live off the land, especially if you are poor. My great grandmother Bessie ate dandelion roots and it wasn’t because she was cool or organic. It’s because that what you do if your joints hurt. She wasn’t a witch and she wasn’t trendy. My grandfathers raised me that if you hunt an animal, you use all of its skin and bones in addition to the meat so that nothing goes to waste and the animal’s soul is respected. That’s just what you do. As such, my relatives’ homes in the country were filled with utilitarian bones and skins. They were not called witchy. And nobody seems to be celebrating the folks of the Tennessee countryside.

I am a 22nd generation Tennessean. I get severely bothered when certain things of my ancestors’ culture is co-opted by modern hipsters. These staples of living off of the land have become so fashionable, yet so many urbanites still look down on those who live in rural areas. It’s not cool to BE from the country, but it’s cool if you take those practices or homesteading ways and plop them in the middle of the city. Then, it’s countercultural and subversive…and witchy, I guess.

(Not to mention, I actually have some friends who practice witchcraft. I would imagine they might have some feelings on the subject.)

Of course, these are just my feelings of what comes to mind when I hear others using the word “witchy.” Most likely, very most likely, people who use the word do not mean of these things when they say it. They may feel different things and mean different things. Probably it has deep significance for them. Not denying that. These are my unsolicited thoughts that are better here than on a really long Facebook post. 😉

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