Oh ho ho, it’s that time again witches! Time to give a good hard look at ourselves, and at a little controversy.
A lil’ background on today’s Witch n’ Bitch: Basic Witches by Jaya Saxena and Jess Zimmerman is the Book Club of Shadows pick for the month in my private group for Patreon patrons and this book has sparked just a little nugget of controversy in the witch-o-sphere lately. I really mean it, it’s small. It’s entry level witch controversy. NBD
This adorable, modern grimoire tags itself as a guide on “how to summon success, banish drama, and raise hell with your coven”, and features inclusive artwork and references to important moments in politics from the last year – like the Brock Turner Hex- alongside spells, meditations, guides on demons and familiars, witchy history and divination. So where’s the issue?
The book begins with introductions to our authors, and their own views on witchcraft… and this is where some folks are taking issue.
from Page 15 of Basic Witches:
“In this book, witchcraft doesn’t mean occult or religious practices that historical witches may (or may not) have engaged in, nor does it mean the religious practice that is a sacred tradition for many people worldwide.
For our purposes, witchcraft means the kind of mundane pursuits that might once have resulted in accusation: enjoying sex, controlling reproductive health, hanging out with other women, not caring what men think, disagreeing, and just knowing stuff.”
WILD. I mean, I’ve read books on witchcraft that don’t seem to be about ACTUALLY being a practicing witch but was more about adopting a witchy attitude or life ethos – but they never actually SAID IT. Wild.
In a section about the authors themselves, it even says Jess Zimmerman is a “lifelong atheist and doesn’t believe in mysticism or the occult”.
Throughout the book I had to continuously ask myself… are you a witch if you don’t believe in magic, the occult, or “mysticism”? Is this just taking the modern label of secular or athiest witch to the next level? Or is this… you know… watering down the punch so to speak?
I don’t want to tell you what I think, I want your opinions! I will say, however, that I do have a positive review of Basic Witches coming your way. I have great respect for Jaya Saxena ever since she interviewd me for the Daily Dot during the Brock Turner Hex , and I loved how modern and inclusive the book is. I won’t tolerate any rudeness being lobbed towards the authors on my behalf or because of this question. I just want you to think about it, and then I want you to talk about it in a productive way.
SO HERE’S THE QUESTION:
Do you have to practice magic(k) to be able to call yourself a witch?
And just to stir the cauldron a bit:
What do you consider “practicing magic(k)”?
Do you have to cast spells in order to be practicing magick?
Do you consider yourself a witch based on this?
Would you take witch advice from someone you don’t consider a witch, but who uses the label for themselves?
What do you think non-magic-practicing people get out of taking on the mantle of WITCH?
Got something to say? Share your thoughts by using the tag #WitchNBitch on Facebook, twitter, tumblr, or instagram, or shoot me an email before Friday, March 2nd. You can also comment right here on the post! I’ll be expanding on this issue, and sharing perspectives and thoughts that you share with me, in an upcoming episode of the podcast, where I will also share my full review. (If you don’t want me to share your thoughts, that’s ok too and you can just let me know. )
One thing I want you to include no matter what you have to say is whether or not you’ve actually read the book. it’s ok if you haven’t, but I’ve seen multiple reviews of this book that explicitly state that they haven’t even read it!
Then tune in to The Fat Feminist Witch podcast on Wednesday March 7th, after 1pm, for my episode on Basic Witches; Witches, Sluts Feminists; W.I.TC.H.; The Satanic Temple and the power non-practicing-people and even “aesthetic witches” are getting out of calling themselves WITCH.
Want to see how these #WitchNBitch topics work? Check out the last one:
The book that prompted it: Book Review of Shadows: Witch’s Guide to Wands by Gypsey Elaine Teague