Why we're all still suffering from the witch trials

Samhain blessings and happy happy happy Halloween – one of my favourite nights of the year. I love it for so many reasons, from the memory of comfortably dressing up as a witch, to the magic feeling in the air of the night that the veil between the worlds is meant to be thinnest, to the Samhain start of our new Aurora Coven year, to my very own tradition of watching , one of the best movies in the world ever if you ask me.

Yup, I’ve always loved all things witchy, and now I’m proud to call myself a witch (more on what that means another day, but needless to say that it’s nowhere near as weird as the movies will have you believe and includes no black cats or eyes of newt).

But this isn’t a post about witchcraft specifically, or about encouraging you to join in any of my Halloween traditions, it’s about what the word “witch” means to every one of us, and how it continues to affect us all today.

Have you ever heard of the term “witch wound”?

I’ll be honest, they’re not even words I’d heard until a year or two ago, despite the fact that what it refers to has affected me my entire life.

Let me take you back a few hundred years, when witch trials were rampant throughout the world.

People – mostly women – were arrested, tried and often killed for being “witches”.

And by witches do I mean people who danced naked around a cauldron under a full moon, made and enchanted voodoo dolls to reap revenge on those that had wronged them or sucked out the souls of children to stay immortal (told you I loved )? Nope. Not for the absolute vast majority anyway.

No, as far as the witch hunters were concerned, the definition of being a witch was much loser, including things like:

  • Being a midwife

  • Using herbs or other natural remedies to heal

  • Being part of a group of women

  • Being independent, particularly if that included having money of your own

  • Being poor

  • Being married without children

  • Having lots of children

  • Having sex out of wedlock

  • Being particularly stubborn or determined

  • Going against the rules of the bible

  • Being particularly perceptive

  • Having an argument with someone

  • Being accused by another woman

Hands up if you would’ve been arrested and probably killed as a witch… Yup, me too. A hundred times over. Can you imagine the culture of fear going around?

It made women afraid of being judged, afraid of each other, afraid of themselves and of tapping into what came naturally to them, and afraid to be women for gods’ sakes.

Because in reality isn’t that a lot of what the witch trials were about – forcing people deemed as “lower”, including women, to toe the line and stay in check with what the new ways of the world wanted us to do?

Well it worked a treat. So much so that it’s something we still continue to carry with us generations and generations later through something called the witch wound.

The wonderful Lisa Lister writes a lot about this in her book Witch; about what it means, how it continues to affect us all, and how we go about healing the deep scars it has left. And that’s something I’d encourage you to check out if you’d like to delve deeper into this, because it’s both interesting and pretty damned important.

Very basically though the witch wound is that thing that leads us to accept the idea we’re somehow inherently “less than” we should be; it’s the thing that causes us to be inherently jealous and wary of one another to the point of judging, bitching, slut shaming and betraying. The witch wound leads us all to believe that any of the “old ways” from using natural remedies to tracking our menstrual cycles to honouring the change of the seasons around us is in some way weird and hippy dippy; and the witch wound tells us that speaking up and being ourselves will get us in trouble.

Quite simply the witch wound is the thing that’s left us feeling powerless for a long time now – about the state of the world overall, and about our own lives too.

But it’s time for us to change that; not only because it’s Halloween and I’m having a bit of a witchy takeover to my posts this week, but because the world is changing.

For the first time in a long time we are all being given the space, the opportunity and the encouragement to heal that wound once and for all. And that starts with realising that you’re not alone.

The fact is that every woman - in fact pretty much every person if we’re totally honest – has felt lost, disempowered, alone and stuck at some point in their lives, if not throughout their entire lives.

But that can be healed… it starts with standing together and supporting other women in the unequivocal, non-judgemental way you’d like to be supported to; and it moves onto doing the work you need to do to heal your past, re-connect with your real self, and take back power over your life as a result.

It sounds tough, and it should – we’re talking about overcoming the experiences from your own past that have held you back and kept you feeling small while also undoing hundreds of years of conditioning – but no good story includes a bit of a challenge!

And if there’s one thing I’ve learned from my own journey, and from working with the strong, wonderful and empowered women who come to me as clients, it’s that finding that empowered and authentic happy ending is possible for us all.

#witch #healing #thepast #feminism #sisterhood