When you’re new to witchcraft, and you’re just getting started out in learning the ropes, you can come up against a lot of confusing and conflicting information. This is the nature of traditions that lack a central, unifying body that dictates beliefs. But then it’s also just the way of human nature. Even in the big “book religions” everyone has their personal spin on things despite them being written in black and white.
Witchcraft is no different, in fact, I would say sometimes it’s even more confusing since we lack any sort of foundation to point back to when we’re left scratching our heads by what someone says from a place of authority.
There are some beliefs about witchcraft that a lot of beginners come across in their early days that, in my opinion, are complete myths that need to be ignored. Some of them are intended to literally deter people from pursuing the Craft to maintain exclusivity while others are developed from a variety of other myths and beliefs about magick which eventually morph into something new.
Today I wanted to share some that I ran into early on in my practice as well as a few newer witch myths that I have encountered while working with students, clients, and readers. I feel we need to ignore these, or at the very least sit down and have a good long think about them and find what is right for each of us.
Witches are born not made.
We all hear it at some point and often from many people over the years; you can’t become a witch you have to be born a witch. By the time I was first starting to dip my toes into the Pagan community in the mid-90s, I’d been practicing for about 7 years on my own. I found a lot of people with similar stories to mine; they always felt drawn to magick and eventually discovered it was actually a thing and went from there. However, there were the people I would meet who at best looked down on self-made witches and at worst wholly disregarded them as if they didn’t exist.
For a long time, I was baffled by how many witches I met that came from witch families and were born to witch parents and raised to be witches. But as the years went on, I discovered that a lot of these people were full of shit. Because of this myth that you have to be born a “natural witch” or born into a “witch family” many people would make this claim to be taken seriously when they were actually self-made/self-taught.
There is no “witch gene.” Anyone can become a witch, though many people don’t go very far on that journey once they realize how much work, time, and dedication it takes to develop their skills. I’ve known people legitimately born to one or both parents who were witches, but they didn’t follow that path. Just like you can choose to be a witch you can also choose not to be one. Just because your parents are witches or you have witches somewhere in your ancestry doesn’t mean you are going to be a natural super witch! It’s still a choice. Just like it’s a choice to be a witch and not be a Christian when born to Christian parents in a family with a Christian lineage.
So witches are made; some may have a leg up by being born to witches, but all witches made a choice to walk the path.
Your first tarot deck must be gifted to you and never purchased for yourself.
This myth is interesting because it comes from a belief that predates modern tarot used for divination. It goes back to a time centuries ago when the only way to obtain a tarocchi deck was to have it gifted to you. Often given as a wedding gift, this card game that eventually became the basis for the modern tarot could only be obtained by royalty or the wealthy. This comes from a time long before the modern printing process when the decks were commissioned with each card hand painted. Even once the cards were able to be printed and reproduced more easily the cost was still high which continued to make them available to a select few.
The gifting idea carried into modern times to the point where it became a superstition. This superstition was reaffirmed time and time again by tarot professionals as a way to keep people from getting into tarot for the wrong reasons or to keep them from trying to become professional readers themselves. Since there was once a time when professional readers were few and far between the thought of having competition was a big concern. By telling people that they had to be gifted their first deck by another reader most people weren’t going to get into the practice.
This whole thing is a huge myth. You won’t be cursed or have bad luck if you buy your first deck for yourself. If everyone waited to be gifted their first deck most people would never read tarot. Not to mention that today, unlike hundreds of years ago or even three or four decades ago, there are far more choices in deck themes and art. While I personally feel everyone should at least learn on a Rider Waite Smith deck, the truth is you should start out with a deck that resonates with you. Picking out your own tarot deck and purchasing one that fits for you is the way to go.
Casting spells will always fix anything.
I wish this were true! Fact is this is a huge myth. Magick not only doesn’t always fix things it doesn’t always work. Even if you are a witch that’s a skilled spellcaster, there will always be difficult times and challenges ahead of you. There will be times when opportunities don’t come, doors remain closed, and dreams don’t come to pass. There will be times when no amount of magick will change that.
This doesn’t mean magick can’t help you, but rather that you need to approach things differently. First, you have to acknowledge the facts of a situation and consider all your possible options. You may find it isn’t magick you need but a shift in belief and mindset. If you still feel that spellwork is what you need, it may be a different kind of spell with a different focus than initially worked or thought of.
With all the energies and various factors that make magick work, there are times that it just isn’t going to making something specific happen for you and you need to be open to something else. The irony is when you look back at your situation with distance and objectivity you’ll find that’s just how your spell was meant to work.
Witches can’t work magick for their own personal gain.
This is one that I never understood. If you have this skill and power at your disposal and using it for yourself would improve your life and make you more capable of helping others and putting good out into the world, why would you deny yourself of that?!? Given the very nature of magick and the power of Will, intention, and gnosis, as well as how energy works, it seems to me that the person who will always work the best magick for you, is you.
I’ve got news for you, all magick is for your personal gain in one way or another. That’s just a fact. Even when you’re doing magick for someone else, there is a personal gain to be had even if it’s just feeling good about yourself for helping another person. What you really need to be careful of is doing magick out of greed rather than need. That’s where magick for yourself, or even for someone else, can go wrong.
Witches are always on the fringes of society and don’t engage in “normie” stuff.
This is another of those myths that in part comes from the desire for exclusivity but also from the image of witches that’s been created and perpetuated by pop culture, films, fiction and so on. It’s the idea that witches always wear black, that they don’t have a lot of non-witch friends, that they spend a lot of time at home (especially at night) alone or with other witches doing rituals and casting spells. It’s the idea that you’d never catch a “serious” witch wearing a pink dress hanging out at the mall or going to a dance club with a bunch of non-witches.
That’s all bullshit, 100%.
Some people worry that when they become a witch that they will lose all their friends, that they won’t be able to do things they enjoyed “pre-witch” and that they will need to completely change the aesthetic of their whole life. For some people, this might be something they want! It can be part of the allure, a chance to reinvent themselves and change their lives inside and out. But not everyone feels that way, and it absolutely isn’t a requirement!
Will you lose some friends and upset some family? It’s totally possible. If you’re out and open about your beliefs and practices, there is a good chance some people won’t be down with it, and they may back away a bit. But that doesn’t mean you have to suddenly retreat to the shadows and never be seen again.
When you make a change like this in your life, you definitely will see it ripple outward. But these changes are best left to happen naturally. Don’t change your wardrobe because you became a witch and you feel it was something you had to do. Instead, let it happen organically if it’s going to happen at all.
For instance, you might find that as you learn more about color vibration and color energy that emerald green is your power color while yellow feels draining. You might go through everything you own and get rid of anything yellow and replace it with green. That’s not something you had to do because you became a witch, but it was something you felt drawn to do because of what you learned as a witch; it’s two totally different motivations.
The same is true for anything else, from the movies you watch to the music you listen to all the way to the company you keep. You don’t have to like certain things just because you’re a witch, but you may find yourself drawn to some of those things because you feel a certain energetic pull now. I know plenty of witches who hate new age music just like I know plenty of witches who wouldn’t be caught dead at a heavy metal concert.
Not everything has to be dictated by your magickal practice. Let your changing view of the world and understanding of energy be the driving force behind any changes you make in any aspect of your life once you’ve become a witch rather than forcing yourself to fit a fictional, cliched stereotype.
Witches today are all feminist vegan environmentalist radical left political activists.
Well if that’s the case, I’m out!
This is something that’s become a big thing in the witchcraft community in the last handful of years. While there has always been a feminist undercurrent to modern witchcraft, as well as an environmentalist element, the idea that today anyone who identifies as a witch is any or all of these things just isn’t true. There are a lot of millennial witches out there that certainly would say this describes them entirely, but for a lot of new or would-be witches, this is a pressure that can turn them away from the Craft.
I bring this one up because I’ve had people new to the Craft or curious about the culture within modern witchcraft tell me that they feel their political or personal views don’t align with what they see online or in some of the current books coming out these days. I’ve had people tell me they consider themselves to be politically conservative, and therefore they worry they would be ostracized by the larger, predominantly liberal witchcraft community. Others have shared that they have mixed views on environmental issues or that they are very uncomfortable with the equating of “witch = woman.”
Trust me, you will find witches with all manner of political views, from all socioeconomic backgrounds, and with a variety of opinions on personal responsibly to the world at large. You might not realize it, and you may be surprised by it, but just as there were lots of witches out there cheering on Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton in 2016, there were many backing Donald Trump. Even though it may seem like backing Trump would be to fight against everything witches hold dear, the truth is there is no political element to witchcraft at its core. Many people have made witchcraft political, but witchcraft itself isn’t political.
So first off, no, you don’t have to only be a woman to be a witch. Secondly, you don’t have to have a burning desire to fight the patriarchy and give up bacon to be a witch. You can be a witch and not give a shit one way or the other about any of this stuff, or you can have solidly held beliefs on any part of the social spectrum. Like the changes you make to the clothes you wear, let any changes in these views happen organically as you grow and change through your magickal practice.
Are there things that you were told at the start of your witchy journey that was impressed upon you has hard fact? Were you told about specific requirements to be a witch that you found were total myths? Where there things that you felt held you back until you discovered they were actually subjective?