What it Means to Be a Modern Witch + How to Tell if You Are One

When you think of a witch, what comes to mind? Pointy hats and black cats? Broomsticks and steaming cauldrons? Reclusive, single women with warty noses? Burning at the stake?

For me, a witch is any person who works with the elements and energies around them to create desired change. Witches are empowered and powerful. They strive for harmony and balance, which inevitably involves working with their own shadows and their light.

It wasn’t until I arrived at this personal definition of a witch that I felt comfortable using the term to describe myself. I realized that a witch wasn’t a costume or a book of spells but a lifestyle I was already living.

witchy tarot reader
I studied the tarot for years before delving into witchcraft. Gateway drug?

What Does it Mean to Be a Witch?

One of the things I love most about witches is that the rules about how to be one are few and forgiving. There’s not much in the way of criteria. As far as I can tell, the only requirement to be a witch is to believe in your own magic. Kind of like how the only requirement to join AA is the desire to stop drinking.

Maybe it’s easier to start with what witches aren’t.

Witches Aren’t Always Women

Many people associate witches with women, but this doesn’t have to be the case. True, most witches I know are women, and “wise woman” is another common name for a witch. However, witches are an inclusive bunch. We don’t exclude anyone based on gender or gender identity.

Women have been persecuted throughout history for being witches. By now, we all know that this was just another attempt to shame and scare women who pushed against the boundaries of their own subordination.

If I were in Salem in the late 1600s, I’d have been on trial for several reasons:

  • Having a small mole on my forehead
  • Not having kids
  • Occasionally forgetting to throw out dairy products before they go bad

Based on that logic, I think we can agree that witch trials were baloney.

Witches Aren’t Always Satanists

Firstly, if you believe that all witches are evil devil worshippers, I don’t know what you’re doing here. This is probably not the blog for you. Second, witchcraft is not a religion. I repeat: witchcraft is not a religion.

Satanism is a religion. Paganism is a religion. Wicca is a religion. Christianity and Judaism are religions. Countless other religions exist that I can’t name. A witch can practice any or none of these. Religion and witchcraft are separate entities.

I was raised Lutheran, a form of Protestant Christianity. I value my Christian upbringing and still have a positive relationship with Christianity. As a teen, I was actively involved in my church youth group. I taught Sunday School with my mom. I sang in the choir even though I was tone deaf, and I regularly served as a communion assistant.

Participation in this community taught me the value of devoting my life to the service of something greater than myself. It taught me to always wish peace upon my neighbor, even if I don’t like them.

Now, I integrate these values into my unique approach to spirituality. I don’t follow any particular religion, but I have a strong connection to the divine power that one might call “Mother Nature.” I celebrate the Pagan sabbats that make up the Wheel of the Year (Ostara, Samhain, Yule, etc.). But, for me, this is more about honoring the changing seasons, which is rather witchy.

Witches Are Free to Come As They Are

You don’t need to achieve any milestone or complete a rite of passage to become a witch. You don’t have to come from a family of witches. You don’t need a bag of crystals or a wand. All you have to do is show up in your own life, listen, and act accordingly.

Act according to what? I can’t tell you. That’s for you to find out.

If you’ve ever felt like you received a message—whether it was from a dream you had, a tree you knelt by, or a book that fell off the shelf—that inspired you to take action in some area of your life—calling a friend, forgiving yourself, booking a flight—that’s what I’m talking about. Choose your level of woo.

I started calling myself a witch about five years ago, but only this summer did I learn of my witchy bloodline. My mother’s mother’s mother (maternal great-grandma) immigrated from Hungary with her mother, who was from a family of witches. I was tickled to learn this juicy tidbit about my ancestry, but not surprised. My mom, my female cousins, and I all possess an uncanny level of psychic abilities. My maternal Grandma continues to visit us all, even though it’s been close to a decade since she passed away.

Luna Phoxx wearing her witch's hat and red jasper necklace
You might be a witch if you think your witch’s hat complements every look

There Are All Types of Witches

What I said in the section above is about witchcraft. On the other hand, Wicca is a religion that involves specific ceremonies. I’m not Wiccan and don’t know much about Wicca, but I believe there’s some type of initiation ceremony you go through when joining a coven.

None of that appeals to me. I’m what you call a solitary witch because I practice alone. I’m an eclectic witch because I incorporate different aspects of various witchy ways into my practice.

I also call myself a Green Witch because I work closely with plants. I cultivate and wild harvest herbs and hang them in bunches around my house to turn them into medicine. I meditate with my plants, form relationships with them, and ask for permission before harvesting.

In addition to being a witch, I like to fancy myself a scientist. After a few years in neuroscience research, I met many scientists whose work was propelled by the desire to understand the seemingly unexplainable phenomena we call magic. Do I think there’s a logical explanation for things like feng shui, tarot readings, and my ever-increasing affinity for sparkly rocks? Probably. But who’s going to fund that kind of research?

How to Tell if You’re a Witch

You might be a witch if:

You Feel, See, or Otherwise Perceive Things Most People Don’t

Do you talk to plants? Do they talk back? Have you ever picked up a stone, a crystal, or a piece of petrified wood and felt tingly? Does it ever seem like inanimate objects have a life of their own? Have you ever felt compelled to knock on a piece of wood three times? If so, you might be a witch.

You Collect Plants and Other Random Things

This includes live houseplants and dried herbs, roots, and flowers. You might save them in small jars that take up more and more space on your shelves or mix them in sachets that contain crystals, coins, or slips of paper with wishes written on them.

If people gift you containers of dried herbs, stones, and whatnot, you’re definitely a witch. Or, at least, someone else thinks so.

You Feel at Home in Situations that May Frighten Others

Are you perfectly comfortable sitting alone beneath the moon on an otherwise dark night? Does the idea of running into the howling wind and feeling it whip your hair and clothes excite you? Do you let the rain kiss your skin on a stormy day? Are cemeteries one of your favorite places to visit? It could be that you’re a witch.

Back in 2017, I spent a month camping alone in the desert wilderness of northern Arizona and southern Utah. When I got scared, I’d pour a circle of salt around myself. It worked. Nothing bothered me.

You might be a witch if you decorated your E

You Write or Speak Spells

Also known as intentions, affirmations, and some other names. If you’ve ever written down a dream, goal, or desire, you know the power those words can hold. If you’ve ever written these things in the past tense, as if they’ve already happened, you’re practicing magic.

Writing and chanting words that align with your desires is a key part of a witchy lifestyle.

This doesn’t have to be fancy. I whisper affirmations into my coffee every morning before drinking it.

~ Read more about Witchy rituals to wrap up this year and get a head start on the next ~

You Just Know Things Without Knowing How You Know Them

Have people ever joked that you must be psychic because they were just thinking about you, as you called? Do synchronicities seem to pop up all around you? Do you often have a sneaking suspicion that something’s amiss, only to have it confirmed later?

I don’t know if all witches have psychic abilities, but I’m pretty sure not every psychic is a witch. I will say that witches rely heavily on their intuition. If your intuition is strong, you may be a witch.

You Have a Fondness for Brooms

Keeping your home and hearth (and all the little jars of herbs you collect) free from dust and grime is another essential part of witchcraft. Energy flows best in a clean and uncluttered environment.

Hence, the broom—also called a besom.

Using a broom is not only great for sweeping actual dirt from the floor, but you can use them to symbolically clear away stagnant energy. I plan to make my own “energetic broom” for such purposes.

I freaking love my natural broom. My husband balked at the price, but it’s a lovely housekeeping instrument I use every day. Worth it.

Luna Phoxx as Minerva McGonagall
If you idolize Minerva McGonagall—the true shero of Gryffindor—that doesn’t necessarily make you a witch. It just means you have good taste.

I Think I’m a Witch, So What’s Next?

If you think you might be a witch, or if reading this piqued your curiosity about witchcraft—awesome! Welcome to the club.

My advice is to start learning more about the subject and creating your unique practice. There are tons of books out there. I recommend some in this post: 2021’s best books about witchcraft, tarot, and astrology

Just like any other skill, witchcraft requires dedicated practice. You can’t be a yogi without spending time on the mat. Similarly, witchy powers will wane if you don’t flex those magical muscles.

Additionally, I enjoy connecting with like-minded folks on the internet. I don’t necessarily feel comfortable introducing myself to strangers as a witch. It’s like telling people I grow cannabis. You never know how that’ll be received.

However, the internet is a great place to find weirdos like me. I especially enjoy The Winding Way Witchcraft Community led by Lady Althaea and the Mt. Shasta Goddess Temple app created by Priestess Yeshe.

If there are any witchy resources you love, please share them in the comments!

10 thoughts on “What it Means to Be a Modern Witch + How to Tell if You Are One”

  1. I personally wouldn’t describe myself as a witch but I did meet some lovely witches before I moved. They were awesome and taught me a lot about witchcraft. They were part of a coven, if I’m not mistaken. They actually had their own witchcraft store and that’s how we met. I went in with a friend for fun and we ended up learning so much.

      1. 🤔 I could have sworn that the male was referred to as a “Warlock,” while the female was called a “Witch”?

        Could you please clear up any misconceptions that I may have about the terminology?

      2. Great question ! I’ve heard male witches referred to as many things, including warlocks, witches, shamans, conjurers, sorcerers, etc. The preference of certain terms over others might vary from person to person. Additionally, some religions, such as Wicca, might use certain terms to define male vs female practitioners.

        But I’m not an expert on witchcraft so I can’t give a definitive answer. I’m also not Wiccan and don’t know much about their ways.

        Witchcraft is an open and wide-ranging practice. Generally, a witch is anyone who practices witchcraft. I don’t personally know any men who call themselves witches or warlocks. But I don’t doubt they exist.

        I hope that provides some clarity! I know I didn’t really answer the question 😂

  2. Pingback: Witch Book Review — By Rust of Nail & Prick of Thorn: The Theory & Practice of Effective Home Warding - Luna Phoxx

  3. Psychic Witch by Mat Auryn is a great book helping me dive deeper in knowing myself. I’m glad I can turn to people like you online as well- it’s hard to find locals who would accepting

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