Happy Leo season (well almost for the patrons getting this in early access!)! As we take a step into a more luxurious and self-loving season, let's talk about the witch aesthetic! 🧙♀️✨
Photos of cards fanned out surrounded by herbs and candles can be mystifying when we feel removed from our spirituality. When life feels painfully mundane, the magical aesthetic feels like a breath of fresh air, a glimpse into a freedom and power we haven't quite found.
But sometimes, this aesthetic feels like a bar to live up to. The aesthetic can become an unreachable goal, this idealistic life of the full time, always perfect witch. They are always clothed in lace and pentacles. They always have candles lit. They capture every magical moment for social media without ever interrupting their intent and concentration.
The truth is, that witch DOESN'T EXIST. Witchcraft and spiritual practice are meant to exist alongside other aspects of life. And although it can be inspiring and calming to escape into the fantasy of aesthetic witchcraft, magic doesn't just happen when the camera is out.
It is unrealistic to expect we could embody the ideal we see in the witch aesthetic. We don't have enough time to achieve the articulate, perfect grimoire or journal. We don't have enough money for the perfect statue. We don't have enough energy to read tarot every moon phase and astrological season. We don't have enough concentration to cast that perfect spell the first time we try. All of this is normal, but sometimes it feels like a failing in our magic that we cannot be visibly magical in that very specific way.
This isn't just about self-esteem, it's also about accessibility. It is classist to imply witchcraft requires certain expensive tools to be real. It is ableist to say one must spend a certain amount of energy, time, and movement on their craft to be truly a witch. It is transphobic to idolize exclusively cis women as the ideal witch. It is racist to imply that witchcraft is an exclusively white experience. It is fatphobic to imply that thinness is a part of what makes someone more witchy.
There is so much about this narrow view of witchcraft that is harmful to those who practice. It hurts the men and nonbinary people who do not see themselves represented. It hurts those who don't have access to photography equipment or those who just don't want to share their craft with everyone! It hurts those have never seen their skin color on a hand holding a tarot deck or lighting a candle. It hurts those who haven't ever seen their love in their Lovers card. It hurts the diverse witches already being strangled by traditional ideas of what a witch is.
But the aesthetic is not malicious. It can be toxic, and needs some reform, but there is value in the fantasy of witchcraft. One of the reasons I even discovered witchcraft and tarot was through aesthetic. The promise of seeing myself through that filter of mystery and power prompted me to step into my magic a little more. It encouraged me to try new things, like a child mimicking a parent's actions. I fell short of the ideal with my dollar store tealights and notebook scrawling, but it was genuine. I began to see potential to expand into a world I never could have dreamed was real.
This isn't to say I don't struggle with the aesthetic of witchcraft. As a nonbinary person with a masculine leaning appearance, I am well aware I don't radiate a witchy look. I have spotted myself in the mirror before and thought "I don't look anything like a witch." I have heard that same voice, mid spell, "This doesn't look anything like a spell should."
This is the same voice that tells me time and time again that I'm not really queer enough, or trans enough, or smart enough, or creative enough, etc. etc. etc. THIS IS IMPOSTER SYNDROME.
The witch aesthetic is, in a way, a test. It is a reminder of the work still needing to be done to include and elevate diversity within the community. It points us inward, to the voice that already exists, that doubts our magic. It asks us to bravely say "My magic is as powerful as that magic. I am just as much a witch."
The truth is, to say magic only exists on worn wood tables lit by candlelight is selling this universe short. Magic is in the way we talk to ourselves when something doesn't go as planned. It is hugs and hellos and goodbyes. It is in stoplights and apologies and your favorite pair of jeans. It is in weeds and cars and bruises and grocery stores. There is no place magic doesn't exist, and there is no way to be a witch that is less magic than others.
So revel in the magic of color and light, of $100 statues and perfect hand written spells if you come by them. But also honor the mundane magic. Honor YOUR unique magic. No one can create the change you can.
A quick tip in line with this sentiment, if you are aching for a statue but can't afford it, print out a picture! I print out images of old greek/roman statues at the library, glue them down onto a thicker paper, and then cut them out with an xacto knife. I make a little stand out of a triangle of thick paper, and tape it to the back. It comes in handy since statues are EXPENSIVE and also I like to rotate what statues I have up a lot! If a printer isnt accessible, there is always drawing or tracing! <3
What are your favorite tricks as a witch on a budget, or under time/energy constraint?