Introduction

In by Lore Wilson

Reclaiming The Witch with Sharon Blackie

 

The women we think of as witches were edge-dwellers: haunters of moonlit crossroads, inhabitants of the margins of community. They were keepers of the ‘old ways’ – natural animists who saw plants and animals not just as allies, but as kin.

They were healers and medicine women, shapeshifters and storykeepers. They were dancers, diviners and dreamers; they were visionaries, consorting with the Otherworld. They were the ‘fairy witches’, the cunning folk, the wise women. They were the guardians of women’s mysteries.

The source of the witch’s power wasn’t culture and hierarchy, but community and grassroots. It was a power, above all, which threatened the establishment – and the patriarchy.

How is it, when witches were once so widely feared and reviled, that they’ve become our role-models for valued new ways of being in the world? Today, the witch embodies all of our longings for the old ways of our ancestors: a reverence for the natural world and our other-than-human kin; a wild, green spirituality linking feminism and environmentalism.

The archetype of the witch is complex and multi-faceted, and there are so many ways to embrace it. In this daylong online workshop, we’ll delve deeply into the many facets of the witch in the history, myth and folklore of Britain and Europe, and in contemporary culture. From the henwife to Baba Yaga, from Granny Weatherwax to the Witches of Eastwick, we’ll work with these questions, and more:

  • What does it mean to claim the Witch archetype, and to reimagine the old ways for today? What is the Shadow side of the witch, and how do we reclaim her power without espousing it?
  • What are women’s mysteries? What are the gifts of the feminine in our native European traditions?
  • How has the legacy of the witch trials damaged us? How do we acknowledge, transform and heal this deepest of archetypal woundings?
  • What do we mean by magic, and enchantment? How do we strip these words of their negative connotations of control and manipulation?