In case, you’ve been living under a rock, Halloween is just around the corner, and soon enough we’ll inevitably find ourselves surrounded by a slew of green-faced, tall-hatted “witches.” While this particular Halloween costume has been a popular choice for years and years, we have to stop and think—is this really representative of the modern witch? Is this even what she looks like?
The answer, of course, is no. In fact, she’s quite the opposite. She’s the embodiment of feminine empowerment and strength, with a deeply rooted connection to the Earth. We chatted with Sarah Durham Wilson, an inspiring priestess, writer, women’s leader, and the brains behind DoItGirl, to get the lowdown on the modern witch.
“A witch is a wise woman aligned with the Earth, a healer,” says Wilson. “It’s a word that demands destigmatization at this crucial time in the planet’s history when we desperately need the medicine of the feminine to rise and rebalance humanity and the earth.”
The common misconceptions surrounding witches are the ones we’ve been programmed to think about for centuries—that they are evil, bad, and ugly. They’re freaks; too outspoken or too different. The only truth in that is they are different—and that’s a beautiful thing. “She’s different because, in a society that wants us all the same, she’s taken the unbeaten path and discovered herself,” says Wilson. “That has made her powerful, and powerful women are feared.”
Witches honor the ways of the feminine—the intuition, the wisdom, and the self-healing. They don’t worship Satan, they honor Earth. While there is darkness accredited to witches, it’s not bad or evil—instead, it’s empowering. “We do have a relationship with the dark—which just means our own shadow, which every human has,” she says. “To become aware of one’s darkness means it’s not controlling you anymore, you’re conscious of it. The safe and healthy path to wholeness is to acknowledge one’s own darkness and not be afraid of it.”
In fact, embracing darkness is one of the main ways of the modern witch. On the same day as Halloweens falls Samhain, a holiday observed by many of today’s Wiccans. The day honors the start of the darker half of the year and is treated as a time of healing and making peace with oneself. “We enter the dark, which is the feminine, yin, lunar, and the unseen, mysterious side if things,” says Wilson. “We get to know again those parts we haven’t been allowed to or wanted to see, which we’ve shut out and buried. We enter the time of the crone—the wise woman. The veil is thinner, and we are closer than ever to spirits, the other side, our ancestors, and our deepest knowing.”
That doesn’t sound like a wart-covered woman with a long black dress and a piercing cackle, now does it?
Not only is that type of costume interpretation dated and wrong, it’s a sort of propaganda that leads us to feel powerless in today’s society. “It’s all patriarchal programming to perpetuate fear of the witch,” says Wilson:
It dates back to the witch hunts, or the femicide against women, that took place most famously in Salem, but most massively in Europe. The more we fear the witch, the more we fear our own power—which is exactly the point of patriarchal propaganda. It gets us to fear ourselves, therefore we never know ourselves or find the power within, thus always bow to a power without. That way, we can stay small and contained.
Still, that doesn’t stop many women from embracing their inner witch. Many choose to congregate in covens, something that was once banned due to their power and effectiveness, and Wilson is someone that helps bring them together. Leading retreats and councils, she brings hundreds of women together internationally. “Trust me, there is nothing more powerful than a group of women coming together in ritual and devotion with powerful healing intentions,” says Wilson “Miracles and massive shifts take place.”
So, as you scramble to get together your last-minute Halloween costume, don’t opt for the outdated “witch” costume. Rather, channel a female that you find empowering. Someone strong, a feminist. And on that day, remember to embrace your own darkness.