Once hunted down and burned, the witch has been gradually rehabilitated since the 19th century.
The witch today embodies a multitude of figures, starting with that of the benefactress magician associated with neo-pagan movements. One of the best known is wicca (inspired by the English witch, “witch”), codified in the 1950s in England. This religion developed according to pre-Christian beliefs developed mainly in the United States, where approximately one million people today call themselves Wiccans or pagans (according to the Pew Research Center). “The encounter of wicca with the American counter-culture of the 1960s, rejecting the established order, created a massive craze, but also profoundly transformed it”, indicates Damien Karbovnik, historian of religions. Wicca has spread around the world in different forms, mixing Druidism, Greco-Roman, Slavic, Celtic and Norse mythologies. Its followers, mostly women, claim to be sorcerers or witches and celebrate eight major festivals called sabbats, including that of Beltane (or Beltaine). Their credo: the belief in a benevolent divinity that inhabits nature and in magic as a force to be mastered in order to do good.
The new witches and feminism
Among its many contemporary variations, the witch also embodies the feminist and ecological struggle. Based on a historical re-reading of the witch hunt, which targeted between 1430 and 1630 in Europe above all midwives, healers, holders of a certain knowledge, activists (like the Witch Bloc in France) denounce the misogyny of Christianity, and the capitalism that has grown by demonizing powerful women and depleting the resources of the planet. “These witches participate in the search for other ways of organizing living together and bring ecology and feminism together, through ecofeminism, linking the south and the north”, analyzes the philosopher Fabienne Brugère* . Social networks have given an echo to this militant and united witchcraft, through communities that highlight the importance of magic to create a fairer world.
Witchcraft in the age of the internet
More generally and beyond the militant sphere, witchcraft has become a way of life that is shared online. Around the world, young women film themselves brewing potions, teenage girls set up altars in their bedrooms and perform rituals. On Tiktok, the hashtag #witchtok has exceeded 20 billion views! “Some see it as the great return of the irrational. Nope ! says Damien Karbovnik. the spread of witchcraft translates the perception of being at an impasse in a society. She expresses the need to regain control over her life, empirically. It is another form of rationality which is not scientific.
*In his article What happened to the witches in 2021?, published on the website of the daily AOC Media on October 25, 2021.
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Who are the new witches of the 21st century?
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