Are You Born a Witch or Do You Become a Witch?
What is a Witch?
For thousands of years, witches have walked the earth. They weren't always called witches, but they were there with or without labels. These individuals were people who lived amongst their tribes and later within villages, and they were considered the healers and wise men and women. There were various names for these individuals, including but not limited to: wiseman, wisewoman, cunningfolk, shaman, seer, witch doctor, elder, oracle, etc. Documentation of these special people dates back to ancient times.
People in tribes and villages would go to these individuals to ask for help with healing, birthing babies, finding items that were lost, breaking curses, advice for business and war, and more. After time went by, many of these wise individuals were accused of witchcraft and heresy. They were called witches and driven from their homes, tried and tortured, and executed. Yet somehow they've survived.
Today, there are people who call themselves witches and believe in the ways of Mother Earth. They follow the paths of their ancestors and study the use of plants and crystals in healing and other matters. They seek wisdom and otherworldly experiences. These are the true witches of our time. They existed then and they exist now. But the question is, are you born a witch or do you become one?
Are We Born Witches?
There are two sides to the argument of whether one is born a witch or whether one becomes a witch over time. The first argument is that one is born a witch. That it is a part of one's very being - physically, mentally, and spiritually. If asked when one "became" a witch, many modern day witches will respond with "sometime as a child or as a teen, I can't quite remember". This is often because they believe they've always had this part of them deep inside. Even as children, these modern day witches say they felt "magick" and felt "witchy" without having a label for it.
For instance, as a child, often witches have a strong connection with nature. They climb trees, build forts in trees, hide in the woods. They help their mothers or grandmothers in the garden. They might even grow their own plants. It is also true that witches have an affinity for animals and wildlife. They might take in abandoned animals or feed wild animals. They are drawn to life in many forms.
Witches might also have intense spiritual experiences and dreams as children. For example, in ancient times and in some cultures today, shamans are thought to "come into" their gifts after traumatic experiences such as near death experiences or severe illnesses. This can also happen to witches. Witches may also be fascinated with the paranormal at a young age - ghosts, vampires, werewolves, etc. Their dreams as children might include flying or their souls leaving their bodies. All of these experiences can and have happened to witches at young ages.
What do all of these signs point to? Witches are born and not made.
Witches have lived past lives as witches and the memory of such is carried with their souls through each incarnation. It is also possible that witches carry the DNA memory of other witches in their ancestry and therefore, again, are born into their "knowing" that they are indeed magickal individuals.
If we subscribe to this belief, that witches are born and not made, this means that not everyone can truly be a witch. This statement angers many and they will argue that anyone can be a witch. That it is a learned craft or practice, which leads us to our next section...
Or Do We Become Witches?
The other argument as to the origins of witches is that they are made. They become witches at some point in their lives. Some say they are "called" to the craft. They may stumble upon it accidentally or someone may introduce witchcraft to them. Maybe they find a book in a thrift store or see something online about modern day witches. Immediately they feel drawn to the craft. Is witchcraft real? Can it be a religion? Can it be my religion? All of these are questions the newly called witch might find him or herself asking.
Witches are made by first being called to the path of a witch then learning how to be a witch. Some say this is the way of it. Whether the person learns through a family member or through a mentor or friend, witches are made. The label "witch" is one that is earned. Witches have to seek wisdom of the earth, the elements, the otherworldly, the ancestors and more. A witch never stops learning. Some say in order to be a witch, the person has to dedicate a year and a day to the study of the basics of the craft and then be officially initiated into the craft by someone else who is an initiated witch or high priest/priestess of a coven. Others disagree with this and say that this is a religious rite only adherent to Wicca (a form of religious witchcraft developed by a man named Gerald Gardner in the 1940s).
One of the main qualities of the witch is that he or she is constantly seeking. Constantly wanting to learn and know more about the world around them and the world inside of them and how these things are connected. One can't simply call themselves a "witch" just because they feel like it. It is not a label one can just claim without proving they deserve the label. It is sort of like calling oneself a carpenter or a plumber. It is a skill and a way of life that is practiced on a daily basis and has to be learned first.
In the author's experience, there are those who call themselves witches for a month or two then quickly back out of the label. This is due to these individuals being young or flippant about the label - perhaps they do this because it seems like the "cool" thing to do. It is a trend or a passing hobby to these folks. Unfortunately, this gives other life-long dedicates and seekers a bad rap. It might make other witches seem fickle or fake. At the same time, this happens with every other religion in the world. People may come to a religion, find that it is interesting, call themselves whatever the religion is then change their mind shortly to move onto something else.
Witches are made into witches by their own individual drive and dedication to the craft. It is not just a practice or a religion. As my friend Fox says, witchcraft is a discipline and a way of life.
Witchcraft is more than a religion or a practice. It is a discipline and a way of life.— Fox
A Little of Both?
Maybe like me, you can't make up your mind whether witches are born or made. Maybe you believe it is most likely a combination of both. All people are born with psychic and instinctive abilities. They are born with the ability to connect to their own souls and use their own intuition. They are also born with the ability to see the magic in all of nature. Unfortunately, most people lose these abilities over time. Society teaches us that "psychics" are crazy or fraudulent. They teach us that using our imaginations is simply for children. That it's child's play to believe in ghosts, fairies, and magic. That what we can see, physically, is what is really there...nothing else.
Or our religion taught to us as children teaches us that these things are "evil" or should be expelled from our belief systems. To believe in magic or witches is sinful and will send you to Hell.
For these reasons, people are separated from their magical abilities...which in reality aren't magical at all. They are simply our spiritual connection to the world around us, including other humans and inherent energies.
This being said, witches are those people who have harnessed their innate spiritual abilities. They are the people who didn't give up hope on magic and pretend. Maybe they are simply the children who never turned their back on the world or their intuition. When they are "called" to the craft, they realize deep inside that they were always a witch. But now is the time to take up the path, to study and retain ancient wisdom. To learn about the world around them and inside of them. A witch never stops learning and never stops practicing. A witch maybe born but is also made.
So what do you think?
Are witches born or made?
© 2017 Nicole Canfield