Welcome to week four of the Weekly Witch Question! This feature was inspired by a massive list of questions that my dad sent me about witchcraft. The phrasing of these questions were adjusted, if they were changed at all, for clarity.
Feel free to ask any questions about witchcraft that you may have, and, if the question inspires you, respond in your own magickal journal (a prompt can be found below). This week’s question addresses men in witchcraft.
4. Can a man be a witch?
Absolutely! Witchcraft is for everyone, regardless of gender identity, including if they reject gender altogether. Terminology is where it get a little sticky. The term ‘warlock’ which means “oath-breaker” was/can be used for witches who identify as male, but this is also considered to be a pejorative by some. This debate is taken up in the 2018 Witches’ Companion in the article “Exonerating the Warlock: A Brief History and Revision of a Misunderstood Term” by Storm Faerywolf. I’m not sure how Storm identifies, but for another perspective on the debate, that’s the article I recommend. This all seems simple enough, but things get complicated when we start to talk about gender.
What is this? A witch.
Witch is a gender-neutral term and can be used by anyone who considers themselves to be a witch. However – and it’s a big however – the term “witch” is generally considered to be a ‘feminine’ term. Just like “purse” or “whore” the term “witch” is associated with women, and when indicating that it’s associated with a man, “man purse” and “man whore” enter the vernacular. (The title of this post is to poke fun at this, “man witch” it not a term anyone is using.) Since things that are coded as female are then devalued and read as ‘not masculine’, the association between witch and woman is problematic, specifically because it hurts recruitment. Many men interested in witchcraft end up instead in paganism (in general), Druidry, or Satanism rather than witchcraft. Even when pagan men work with magick they are hesitant to call themselves witches.
Looking at pop culture, for example, the most well known male witch in the world is probably Harry Potter, but within that story, male witches are called “wizards”. No magickal modern man that I know calls himself a “wizard,” or a “sorcerer” for that matter, since both of these terms are associated more with fantasy novels than magick. “Mage” has similar issues, as it evokes the feeling of choosing a character class in a fantasy video game.
So, while men are absolutely welcome in witchcraft, we have a real hurdle to get over when it comes to “witch/craft” and gender issues. If there are any magickal men out there reading this, I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
For your magick journal: What terms have you seen used for a man who is a witch? If you are are man and a witch, what do you call yourself? Do you think that the term “witch” is always going to be associated with women? How do you feel about that?
Comme des Garcons fashion via Vogue