In India it is almost impossible to not come across a man with a long beard, giving wisdom eloquently to thousands of enchanted people. Swamis, Sadhus, Babas, Sri Sri’s, Oshos, Sadgurus,…there is no dearth of men with long beards and saintly robes preaching, teaching and guiding others spiritually. Yes, there are a few who are not usually bearded – Yogananda, Ramakrishna, even Buddha probably considered shaving to be of at least some importance in addition to meditation.
In the West there were and still are (a few) wise men or wizards, druids, shamans (from before the Pope and his team took over) symbolized by Merlin, Gandalf the Gray, or even the Hermit card of Tarot. All pointing to the higher self, respected, revered, held in awe and fascination, so much so that we call clever computer programs wizards that help us get things done so easily. Truly it has always been a compliment to be a wiz, hasn’t it?
The Hermit of Rider Waite Smith Tarot cards
But where are the women? Not just the few scanty Matas and Ammas (and just why does a woman need to be a motherly figure to get some respect here) but all those numerous women who are wise and enlightened…why just a few in the limelight amidst so many men with beards? Why are they hiding under the veil of mystery just like the High Priestess – sworn to secrecy to practice in mystery covens or solitary, but not proud and open on every street and corner.
Perhaps they all off on their broomsticks to Discworld (of Terry Pratchett) where it is completely normal to be a witch (a wise woman). Are they all still burning at stake, trapped in the cage of the past memories left by Christian inquisitors who made the word witch such an abomination that till date people are afraid to say – Yes, I am A Witch! Confused about whether witchcraft is purely evil or somewhat evil? Worried about whether half the witches are bad ones and not sure which half? Worried that they will put up a curse on you should you refuse to keep them happy? How many people have been brainwashed by Roald Dahl’s The Witches, Hansel and Gretel and other such innocent looking fairy tales passed on over generations to impress upon young minds that a witch can be really a dreadful thing to come by.
Articles of witchcraft have been totally muddled up with all kinds of nonsense even till date – no matter how much we tell these journalists to pay attention to real facts and not fiction. References to movies and television shows such as The Craft, Bewitched, Charmed… that make a mockery of witchcraft, images of brooms and cauldrons of green slime, focus on hexing and love spells, newspaper headlines that begin with the word Devil, features that focus on myths and burning times as if the Christian views of witches are the most important thing about witchcraft, stories that almost always present counter-views by some ill informed rationalist or ‘expert’ who has no idea what witchcraft truly is with focus on how women are hunted and killed on accusations of ‘witchcraft’ when the fact is that it is merely a wrong or inappropriate use of the word witchcraft which as NOTHING to do with those ‘accusations of cursing’, and right on top Halloween cartoons designed to mock at witches used to embellish the story and make it more colourful (Phew! but I am not going to shorten this sentence)….truly journalists can do much better than all this.
Yes, I would love to see more real witches and real witchcraft featured in the media – stories that say the truth, not some conditioned misconceptions but the real truth – that witches are nothing but the wise people who practice folk medicine, give intuitive or spiritual advise and were generally respected long before the meaning of the word witch was distorted to wicked from wit or wisdom which is and will always be what witches are all about. Why else are there so many places and plants, as well as people with the words such as wych, wich or witch in their names all over the western world, if not for the fact that these words were never meant to refer to evil but only to folk or pagan magic which has been practiced all over the world as a natural way of life – you may introspect and find the answer for yourself.
So the next time you hear someone say ‘wise wizard’ and ‘wicked witches’, do give them the facts without any hesitation.
My book Yes, You Are a Witch! has more information. You can get it on kindle or as a paperback – just search on amazon.
And….for the sake of the Goddess, do not forget, witchcraft (not necessarily religious but a spiritual practice) is not exactly the same as Wicca (a specific religion or spirituality).