Reclaiming Your Inner Witch

10.31.2019 - By Heroine: Women’s Creative Leadership, Confidence, Wisdom

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Happy Halloween witches! We’re continuing with female archetypes (and stereotypes!) in old fairy and folk tales. We started with this series last season with the Queen and Princess Archetypes (make sure to check them out if you haven't already for context) and this is the last part of that series. Today, on the witch’s new year – Samhain, we are going to look at the witch and the hermit archetypes. They’re more connected than you might think.The witch needs very little introduction. She is in practically every fairy tale by the Grimm Brothers. She’s cruel, conniving, solitary and sometimes, connected to the evilest forces in the world. And in 1692, life imitated art in a big way. An entire community of settlers in Salem, Massachusetts decided that witches were real, and needed to be killed. But where did this idea come from? I caught up with my friend Becca Piastrelli to learn a bit more about how witches got the reputation they have today. Becca is the host of the Belonging Podcast and she and I have been circling on the new moon for years now."It’s a campaign that’s happened for centuries, many generations from basically the rise of Christianity and capitalism in Europe that specifically targeted women who were healers, and midwives and really powerful beings in the community. Ones that people respected and looked up to, maybe they even owned land. And it wasn’t just women, sometimes it was queer men or two-spirit or genderfluid folk. Anyone who didn’t fit the patriarchal paradigm. There was a very calculated campaign to turn the people against them in their earth ways. This is known as the burning time which in many ways is still happening today. Where you hear the term witch hunt in media or popular culture or even see how it’s displayed in media. It’s really something that has been embedded in our ancestral memory for many many generations. "As Christianity grew across Europe, the Church demonized these women and connected them to dangerous, evil forces. It was classic scapegoating. Talking to Becca got me thinking about scapegoating, and I realized, there’s a good reason for men to fear us. Women are connected to the Goddess...and to childbirth...and men are not.So how must it have felt - to be a respected, practicing healer and midwife one day - and called an evil witch - the next? That is why I believe when we meet witches in fairy tales, they are often alone. They live in solitude, in the forest - remember, that’s where the medicines were - scheming, angry and isolated. Basically, the happy midwife becomes a resentful hermit. Have you ever felt like a hermit, Heroine, all alone? The Hermit isn’t all bad - not at all. The bright side of the hermit is that she’s also a mystic. She goes into the forest for some much needed alone time - to reconnect with her spiritual side. She goes there to tend to the parts of herself that are precious, and need protection.But the dark side of the Hermit is avoidance and fear. Keeping people out because they might hurt you. It starts as a punishment for those who have wronged you, but ends up mostly, hurting you. I believe this split - between connected, centered, community-surrounded healer, and betrayed, mystical, and isolated witch - must be healed in each of us. Just think - have you ever been passive-aggressive? Have you said something underhanded, but in a nice way, and not understood why you did it? That has to do with the complicated origins of the witch. She wants to fully express herself - thorns and all - but she knows that patriarchy will cast her out and make her quiet if she does. Well, I want to reclaim the witch archetype within each of us, as so many others have been doing and continue to do today. A witch is creative, she’s complicated, and she’s been to the depths. So whether you’re cooking a large meal...

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