So what does witchcraft look like in 2017? We spoke to Elisabeth Kohn, a modern witch living in London and the producer of Sabat, a contemporary witch magazine. The modern witch isn’t just about doing spells; though, make no mistake they do do spells. For example Elisabeth says that she, “will do things for the full moon and the new moon. Try to get focus in my life, whether that’s at home or my love life.” And while some spells can be done at any time, Elisabeth likes to focus this around certain phases,“I would say it goes along with moon cycles a lot. I have done a few readings of books in the moonlight with groups of girls in a field.”
But that is just one type of ritual. And witchcraft isn’t just about the spells anymore. It has become so much more. Elisabeth puts it perfectly, “It’s just coming together and feeling that you are in that space of feminine community.” There is a real community feel to being a witch, however, you don’t need to find your coven straight away, some spells can be done alone. Elisabeth, for example, has a small home altar and will meditate on candle flame and burn things to let go of things, while other witches work with herbs, candles, cards and offerings.
Being a witch is also about embracing being a woman and the power that holds. Elisabeth says, “The witch has gone from this object of blame and fear and has been reclaimed and translated into this empowered healing person rather than being a victim.”
We are starting as a society to understand what being a woman is. It isn’t just black and white. It isn’t a woman’s sole purpose to just get married and have kids anymore. And the witch embraces womanhood in all its forms. “I think that the whole witch symbolism allows for a lot more darkness and shadow self and the dark sides to femininity than maybe traditional feminism. The witch gives all of these different gems or interesting dark corners or edges and adds urges and a necessary shadow to women. A good shadow.”
The witch has always been a tool of feminists and now it is becoming more popular in politics and for younger women getting in touch with their own belief systems. “The witch has become something that people aspire to be and want to be associated with and represents strength and independence. Like a potent symbol of female power.”
And being a witch can be a powerful (see what we did there) way to use your voice on issues you feel passionate about. Just recently a coven of witches put a binding spell on Trump, so that he would do no harm. And sure, that hasn’t worked right away, but in the long run, who knows?
And with Trump becoming well known for marginalising people, it was only natural that witches began to speak up, “People are frustrated and, of course, Trump is the symbol of patriarchy and everything wrong with a capitalist society right now. And there are a lot of voices in the witchcraft world who are an opposing force to that who are both symbolically and spiritually trying to stop him and bind him from causing him any more harm.” And look if that works out, who are we to deny that they didn’t have a hand in causing his (fingers crossed) soon to be downfall.
Elisabeth says that the best way to discover more about witches is, surprise surprise, Instagram. Because not all witches live in Salem, some live online. Social media is always gonna play a huge part in our lives, so it makes sense that people are turning to it to discover their pathway in life. “There is a big witchcraft community on Instagram. Witches of Instagram, and that, I think, is where younger people find it. They share their experiences and what they are doing.”
So, if you are feeling the powers within you bubbling to the surface, or if you are just looking for some slick outfit inspo then head to Witches of Instagram, you won’t be disappointed. Because we are not always born into being a witch. Elisabeth says, “It’s something you can tap into. I think it is a lot about feeling empowered in yourself and coming into sureness of yourself. It takes a bit of time and maturity to find that place so some have that from early on and other people I think take longer to try and get it, if they ever do.”
It’s time for witches to rise up. And, there is no denying that witches are trending right now. After the wave of ‘girl power’ during the 90s, witches became more popular. And not just in popular culture, but as a result of women realising it’s ok to be a fine ass feminist. Elisabeth says that, “The witch is absolutely trending. I think it’s natural that there is an upsurge in witchcraft. Of course a lot of that might be superficial, and people who have been a witch for lots and lots of years will say ‘It’s just a trend right now’. But I think it is a good trend.”
And, it is not just people taking to the streets and standing up for their rights, it is manifesting itself, as many subcultures do, in fashion, with 2016’s summer being the season of the witch. You have Alexander Wang and Hood By Air to thank for that. Showing that witchcraft is integrating itself into another thing we worship: brands.
And Elisabeth has started to make a brand of her own. All wrapped up in beautiful art direction, Sabat is a magazine that weaves its way through The Maiden, The Mother and The Crone (the cycles of the moon), delivering intricate designs and articles about all that witchcraft is today.
Having started Sabat during her Masters in Lifestyle Journalism in The London College of Fashion, this deeply personal project has followed her through life. “I had the framework that could allow me to focus on womanhood. Where I am in my life. I also look at the archetype and the changing presence in our life. It was a close and personal but also had a strict framework for me to work to.”
So forget pointy hats and only wearing black. Grab your mates and get down to some rituals. It’s time to push away those pitchforks and take over the world.
Images from Sabat
Photography by Calvin Freeman