Witchcraft as Devotion: A Closer Look at the Practices and Principles of Witchcraft in the Modern Age

 Photography by Mo www.phobymo.com

Photography by Mo www.phobymo.com

Written By Jaliessa Sipress

With Vogue magazine hailing our time as a “witchy renaissance,” it is safe to say that witchcraft is on the rise.* But, what is witchcraft? What is it really for? Is it all just spells to get rich and make people fall in love with you? Is it about worshiping he who not be named and learning how to pronounce wingardium leviosa? For some, it is all of these things and for others, none. A witch can mean many things and can come in many forms, and much of it's popularity seems to stem from that. While witchcraft and wizardry has gained wild popularity for it's reclamation of power and perceived formlessness, what should not be forgotten is that being a witch is less about the fact that one has “power” and more about acknowledging where that power comes from.

Witchcraft is a work of gratitude. It comes from the practice of honoring the people, land and animals that came before you, that coexist with you now and that have yet to arrive. Witchcraft is the work of the wise because it is the everyday practice of those who are humbled by the world around them. Witches find meaning in the mundane and see the magic in weeds growing through cracks in the sidewalk or a shed feather of a dirty bird. Witches are rememberers, mourners and healers because they have reconciled with the cycles of life and realized what is and is not in human hands. Witchcraft is about gratitude and alignment, treading lightly and respectfully and only taking what you need. We must remember that witchcraft is less about control and more about connection. A connection to our own divinity, but also an understanding of the limitations of it.

A witch’s power is in their ability to adapt, working with the natural cycles of the earth to bring about abundance, clarity and direction. It is not about manipulation or having complete control. Witchcraft is about surrendering. It is the knowledge that most things are out of our hands but continuing to work with our surroundings to help swing things in our favor. It is the act of bowing to the elements and submitting to their power that makes a spell stick. Witchcraft is a labor of love and intention. Spells work because they are an act of communion with the powers beyond us, acknowledging our need for help, and partaking in a mutual relationship with things we cannot measure. It is about giving without the expectation of receiving.

 Photography by Gregory Halpern

Photography by Gregory Halpern

To practice magick is to be in attunement with a sensitive and dying world and being interested in working with, fighting for and healing with it. Yes, witches cast spells and ask the universe for guidance. This is because they are interested in being led, in asking for help when in need and respecting that whatever shall come, will come. Sometimes spellwork is feeding late Aunt Mable’s altar or lighting a “road opener” candle for weeks until anything finally sets into motion. Sometimes it is the humbling act of continually asking and never receiving because it is not what the universe wants for you. It can sometimes mean waiting, worrying, re-configuring and waiting again. But all of the waiting and worrying is worth it because the craft is about finding understanding in failed spells and magical mishaps. It is about finding true love for yourself and the world around you and being in communion with the gifts that come from that. It is about faith.

Witchcraft is a fun, freeing, beautiful and impassioned practice, and we must acknowledge that our ability to experience it as such is rooted in the magnetic force of offering. Offering our power, offering our light, offering our darkness, offering our strength, offering our material and immaterial gifts, our dedication and our relationship to the deities and beings that guide us. Staying in a state of gratitude and giving helps to attract the exact blessings you are grateful for. Your love and power are precious tools. Use them to uplift, remember and protect and they shall never go to waste.