Weekly Witch Question #4: Man Witch

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.

Comme des Garcons Fall 2012

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?

Image Credit

Comme des Garcons fashion via Vogue

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Weekly Witch Question #3: Witches in the Media

Welcome to the third installment of the (Bi)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 discussed here inspires you, respond in your own magickal journal (a prompt can be found at the bottom of the post). This week’s question addresses how witches are presented in popular culture, which, in turn, influences how non-magickal people view us.

Question 3: Are there really witches like the ones portrayed in popular media (e.g., Macbeth, Salem Witch Trials, Halloween, etc.)?

30 Rock Witch Undertones

The short answer is no, witches are not like the way we are portrayed in the popular imagination. To illustrate, I’m going to take a moment to address a few of the major ones and add a notable example to the list.

Macbeth: The Macbeth witches are based mostly on other people’s portrayals of witches from that time period; the 2018 Witches’ Companion published by Llewellyn actually has an article about them specifically. The witches three seem to be an adaptation of the three Fates (Greek) or the Norns (Norse) that rule over people’s lives.

Salem: The people who died in Salem weren’t witches at all. The Salem witchcraft trials were one of the last gasps of witchcraft persecution, a European import. There’s a trend at the moment to declare oneself a “descendant of Salem” aka a witch. I find this obnoxious for a few reasons: first, as stated, the people who died in Salem weren’t witches. The other is that I’m an actual descendant of Salem, specifically one of the ‘bad guys’, Cotton Mather. I really do have Salem in my blood; if you don’t, then please don’t buy a shirt pretending to be like me.

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