Different Kinds of Witches Today
What Is a Witch?
A witch is someone who works with the forces of nature and the divine energy within and without in order to make changes to her reality. A witch seeks answers from the old ways of her ancestors – through study of folklore, legends, mythology, religion, and history in its many forms. A witch acknowledges that simply harnessing the power in her thoughts and words can make changes in the physical and spiritual realms. A witch sees the beauty in things that many people may overlook. Many witches use herbs and crystals in their practice. Just as stones and crystals have vibrations, so too do herbs and plants. A witch can use her craft in order to make changes in her own life, including but not limited to healing, prosperity, intuition, and protection. The word “witch” while it has much stereotype and superstition surrounding it, is also very powerful and ancient. It evokes a sense of memory or universal-connection that can't quite be explained unless you are a witch.
Many Different Kinds of Witches
Just as there are various types of religion and categories under each religion, there are various types of witchcraft. We can look at the term "witchcraft" as a practice and it can therefore be bent and shaped to fit the individual witch's personal religion, lifestyle, beliefs and customs. Witches can follow a traditional path of witchcraft set up by their ancestors or those who have gone before, or they can make their very own path/practice. That is the beauty of witchcraft...it knows no boundaries, no set dogma, no rules or restrictions.
I'll bet you didn't know there are different kinds of witches in today's world. Did you? Read on to learn more about some of the witchcraft paths.
What is an eclectic witch? This is a witch who pulls from many different religions, traditions, and magical practices in order to create his/her own. For example, an eclectic witch might honor a Hindu god and a Celtic goddess but also weave in ancestor-worship into his/her practice. An eclectic witch might also not have any gods/goddesses but practice magic in sync with the natural elements around him/her.
An eclectic witch might use various forms of divination from various cultures like: runes, the I-ching, tarot cards, and more. He or she might also leave religion out of practice completely and simply practice a magic that is based on his/her thoughts and intentions.
Traditional (Folkloric) Witch
When a witch says she is "traditional" this can usually mean one of two things: she is a traditional wiccan witch or she is a traditional (folkloric) witch. A traditional Wiccan witch is different than a traditional witch in that a traditional Wiccan bases her practice off of her religion which is Wicca.
Traditional (folkloric) witchcraft is a magical practice based on historical and folkloric accounts of witchcraft. While some may consider this their religion, it is separate from Wicca. Often, traditional witches read folk tales and witch trial documents in order to ascertain how witchcraft might have been practiced by one's ancestors. While it is difficult to say whether these accounts are the purest accounts of witchcraft, they are the closest we have to understanding what witchcraft was like hundreds of years ago. Antidotes from folk magic, folklore, folk medicine, and ancient myths are used daily in a traditional witch's practice (including wortcunning, shapeshifting, and more).
Green witches, also called garden witches, are individuals who practice most of their witchcraft in the garden or among the greenery. Some say green witches are also forest witches as they are attached to all things green - plants, trees, wildflowers, et cetera.
Green witches may have their own garden in which they grow plants they use in their practice. They will speak with the plants, connect with the spirits of the plants, perhaps even make offerings to their plant allies. They may also travel into the woods in order to attain certain plants or knowledge from the plants to use in their craft. They often use plants in their spells, charms, rituals and even in their cooking. Green witches also have a working partnership with the spirits of plants such as pixies, gnomes, dryads, nymphs, and other types of faeries.
Green witches study their local environments and get to know the plants in their areas. They can identify wildflowers, local trees, and wildgrowing herbs. They know their poisonous local plants and their medicinal plants.
A hedge witch is a witch who crosses the hedge in order to acquire answers from the spiritual realm but also to explore his or her otherworldly abilities on a deeper level. A hedge witch is not merely a "green" or "garden" witch, though it is often confused with these types.
Hedgecrossing, also known as astral projection/lucid dreaming/shamanic trance-work, is an integral part of a hedge witch's practice. By going into a conscious dream-state, the hedge witch crosses the line between physical and spiritual planes. Often the hedge witch will meet his/her ancestors and other beings over the hedge. The term hedgecrossing is an old term used by shamans and wise-people in the Medieval Times in Europe. This term is actually documented in folklore as being a way people would reach out to the spiritual world for aid in battles, love, etc.
If one was a dreamer, one could cross the veil or hedge between this world and the next, and therefore one had the ability to easily contact the gods/spirits/ancestors. If you are a lucid dreamer, you have the ability to cross the hedge. If you can astral project, you are crossing the hedge. These are just variations in the terms used. Hedge witches can also cross the hedge during deep meditation and trance-work by using drumming, dancing, rattles, and more.
Crossing the hedge (traveling to the otherworlds) was something shamans did dating back to prehistoric times. Shamans were thought to have the ability to speak to the gods and the spirits of the deceased by traveling the world tree…crossing that line between the mundane and the spiritual planes. Emma Wilby, a modern day witchcraft scholar, theorizes that witches in history might have been shamans in that they were able to cross into the spiritual realms easily. They were thought to have held onto this practice, and in fact, the idea of witches flying on brooms was thought to be a metaphor or misconstrued story of witches “flying” into the spiritual realms.
A kitchen witch, also called home and hearth witch, is an individual who makes most of her magic in the kitchen or at the hearth-side. These witches love to cook, work with herbs, make teas, brews, and unguents all from the comfort of his or her kitchen. Often this is the way our ancestors practiced their witchcraft...in the kitchen or while doing their daily chores. These things had to be done, and have to be done in daily life, so why not make them magical?
Kitchen witches use herbs with medicinal and magical intention in their cooking. They might have an herb garden or vegetable garden in which they imbue their intentions and then harvest to feed their families. For instance, perhaps a kitchen witch uses her homegrown rosemary as a protective herb and stuffs it inside an herb-roasted chicken in order to feed her family and give them magical protection through the rosemary. Kitchen witches also pray or chant over the food while they cook it or while they serve it (or both). They may also study older recipes and use recipes from their ancestry or culture or recipes that have been handed down to them by their ancestors.
And Many More!
The kinds of witches today are not limited by labels. Many simply refer to themselves as "witches"...wise women, wise men, cunning women and men who weave magic into their daily lives. It's something they can't escape, something they live and breathe.
In addition to the kinds of witches mentioned above, there are dozens (infinite) types of witches and might also include the witch's religion. While witchcraft is separate from religion and is considered a magical practice, there are those who weave their religious beliefs into their practice...which is okay too! On that note, you might hear someone say they are a Pagan Witch, a Celtic Witch, a Voodoo Witch, a Catholic Witch, and more.
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© 2016 Nicole Canfield