What is the Witch Wound?
Healing the Witch Wound is a bit of a hot topic these days, which I feel is a good thing, because it means folks are waking up to a call deep within to heal ancestral pain and reclaim their power.
The Witch Wound is a collective wound rooted in our ancestral memory and our DNA from persecution and death related to colonisation, the burning times, patriarchy, capitalism and religious extremism. It is a deep and collective ancestral wound we all may carry to varying degrees, and for many, it is still carrying a traumatic charge.
The Witch Wound can manifest in our current life as several fears, including fears of:
- Speaking up or speaking our truth
- Being different or an outcast
- Standing in our own power
- Success or being in the limelight
- Trusting our intuition
- Our body and it’s natural functions
- Being feminine, female or gender non-conforming
- The wild/nature
- The unseen and spirit world
- Pursuing a spiritual or alternative lifestyle or profession
- Calling yourself a Witch, Pagan, Priestess, or other similar identification publicly
As a result of these fears, we may resort to excessive people pleasing, dismissing our intuition, dissociating from the body or present moment, distrust of the body or fear nature, and more. There are many avenues and layers to the healing process, and I feel that each generation and everyone is drawn to their own way of healing it for themselves.
One interesting exercise is to simply notice what thoughts and feelings come to you when you hear the word ‘witch’?
What comes to mind?
A warty, ugly hag with a crooked hat riding a broom?
A powerful, sexual, but immoral or ‘evil’ woman?
A woman speaking her mind bluntly or exerting her will?
A strange healer or non-conformist who lives in the woods, mumbling to plants?
Our negative associations with the word Witch are often rooted in the Witch Wound. For hundreds of years those that lived on the fringe, had spiritual abilities, utilised plant medicine, were women or gender non-conforming, or who held Indigenous perspectives and traditions, have been ostracized, oppressed or targeted through genocide.
Witch is a charged word, one that I choose to identify myself with, because I feel it is an act of reclaiming of its power to do so. It’s a way of bringing the word back into it’s true meaning of a Wise Woman, Healer and Magickal Person. Calling myself a Witch means I’m someone who lives in tune with the spirits of nature, lives by their intuition, who creates and transforms at will- and proud of it.
Even to this day, however, I sometimes struggle in being openly a Witch. While there is much more acceptance than a generation or two ago, it’s still sometimes scary to identify.
Even if you would never identify as a Witch, you still may carry the Witch Wound, which would show up in the list of fears above.
Persecution & Practical Magic
One of my most recurring fears is that of persecution. I feel a familiarity with the scene in my favorite witch movie, Practical Magic where the mob of children yell at the young Owens sisters ‘Witch, Witch, you’re a Bitch!” repeatedly, pointing their accusing fingers at them. Even at a tender young age, the girls were tormented for being descendants of Witches, making them immediate outcasts who had to find their magic within to empower themselves.
The girls’ Witch ancestor, Maria Owens was persecuted and set to be executed in the Salem Witch Trials. She used her magic to escape, but eventually died of a broken heart, and cursed her entire line of descendants that any man who falls in love with an Owens woman will die.
This, of course, sets the plot around the adult Owens sisters, Sally and Gilly, who are struggling with their love lives, losing the men they love. They attempt use magic to fix things, only to make them messier.
My favourite part of the movie is at the end, when Sally and Gilly need a full coven of 13 women to complete a ritual to de-possess Gilly from her abusive dead ex-boyfriend. They are forced to call upon the local, judgy townswomen to come over to help. The women could empathise with wanting to banish an ex, so they managed to put aside their supposed differences, and reconnected with their own power in a circle to heal Gilly. The women found and accessed their own Witch-Power within, through sisterhood and empathy- and made some magick happen! From then on, the Owens family could walk through town being themselves, torment-free, perhaps for the first time in generations.
I love this movie so much because it illustrates how we carry biases, curses and shame for generations, and how it only takes one person making a new, bold decision to end the chain of suffering. Sometimes the only action we need to take is to be ourselves, authentically and openly. It also illustrates how we all have a little ‘witch’ within us, and when we become more comfortable with that part of ourselves, we can love it in others too.
“There’s a little witch in all of us”Aunt Jet Owens
I feel the ancestors are smiling upon those who dare come out of the broom closet, who dare be themselves and live a magical life in this very uncertain world. To all those who are doing this work, take a deep breath, and remember that you are very brave.
The Healing Spiral
Healing the Witch Wound is a lifelong process. I naively thought a few times that I had healed this wound within myself over the years as I started getting more comfortable with who I am, committing to this path and moving away from conditioning. However, it’s been more like a healing spiral that comes around again and again for new layers of deeper work to do. I have come a long way but am nowhere near ‘completely healed’ if that’s a thing.
I still fear persecution. I still feel insecure in myself. I still make myself small, so others feel safer. The world keeps changing and it’s sometimes hard to know when to stand my ground and when to adapt. When to be visible and when to be invisible. When to share my spiritual gifts and when to have boundaries. Like Sally Owens from Practical Magic, I sometimes just long to feel normal and fit in. But life often teaches me that I’m not meant to fit in, and that’s ok!
“My darling girl, when are you going to realize that being normal is not necessarily a virtue? It rather denotes a lack of courage!”Aunt Frances Owens
When we are doing this work reclaiming our authenticity, being bold and brave and ‘out’- I feel we still need to be discerning and it’s ok to have boundaries that keep us safe. What feels safe for me here in Toronto, may not feel safe for a Witch living in a small town in the US Bible Belt. The cost of being oneself is different for every individual.
While it takes courage, bravery and a willingness to start a fire here and there, it can be wise to remember that ‘You don’t need set yourself on fire just to keep others warm’. Self-sacrifice isn’t necessarily the way to help or create change. Courage to be yourself in the capacity that you can handle is a powerful act. In being yourself, you give others permission to do the same. While we may not always fit in, we are never as alone as we think we are.
Gentle Reconnection with your Inner Witch
The first step of healing the Witch Wound is connecting to your Inner Witch. Your Inner Witch may have many facets, and it’s ok if you’re not ready to explore them all yet. She may have been persecuted, exploited, oppressed, or hidden for survival over generations, and you carry that memory in your nervous system and DNA. Some parts may feel more comfortable to connect with than others. For instance, connecting with plants more intimately may feel safer than ritual, spells or doing shadow work.
I am a fan of gentle reconnection to one’s Inner Witch. This is a tender, yet very powerful part of yourself that cannot be rushed or forced out. And even when the Witch IS out, it may be a long journey of fully accepting and embracing her.
If you are interested in healing your Inner Witch, here are a few suggestions that have helped me:
- Intentionally commune with nature as often as you can. Whether it is tending an indoor plant, spending more time outside, or talking to a neighbourhood tree, remember that you ARE nature, and it is YOU. You don’t need to have a green thumb or extensive herbal knowledge to be a Witch. You don’t necessarily need an intermediary to teach you. You have a right to a relationship with the earth. Cultivate your own connection with nature. Choose a tree to have a relationship with. When the sun shines on your face or when you dip your toes into water, acknowledge the elements as beings in their own right, that offer themselves to you and wish to get to know you in return. Even if you are sitting in a fluorescent-lit office in a downtown high rise, you can take a deep breath, close your eyes and connect with your favourite place outdoors in your mind. Surround yourself with reminders of the natural world on your desk or whenever you can’t be outside.
- Practice Gratitude. As cliché as it may sound, taking a few minutes every morning and evening to connect with what you are grateful for opens you to the abundance that supports you, and this is essential when doing brave work of healing. It reminds you that you are loved and supported, you are not alone. It may be interesting to note who you are giving thanks to. What higher power do you believe in? When you cultivate gratitude, you grow your spiritual support system and strengthen your trust in yourself, in others and in the unseen, which is a trust that the Witch Wound often erodes.
- Tap into your intuition. It’s easy to bypass this wisdom as we are conditioned to dismiss intuition for logic in every situation. Take some time to regularly practice re-connecting to your innate knowing. You may feel intuition as a flash of insight, a gut instinct or a tug in your body somewhere. Next time you need to make a decision, even as small as deciding what to eat or where to park you car, check in with your sixth sense. Discerning intuition from other parts of ourselves may be tricky at times. To navigate this process, you may wish to read my blog ‘Is it my intuition? 5 Ways to Tell.’
- Explore different beliefs and paths. There are many different Pagan paths, so it can take some time and experimentation to find what resonates with you. If your chosen path deviates from how you were raised or the dominant belief system in your environment, this can be where the Witch Wound fears show up. Know that you are not alone. We often rely on the trailblazing of others, so seek out elders who have paved the path before you. Perhaps YOU are the Trailblazer of your generation, making it easier for the younger generations to be themselves, OR you may be a Bridge-Maker who facilitates movement between different belief systems and ways of thinking.
- Explore your fears. When you are more comfortable with the above suggestions, you may wish to look at the list of Witch Wound fears from the top of this blog and choose one to work on. Perhaps the one that stands out strongly or comes up most regularly for you. Take some time to reflect on where this fear stems from. Childhood memories or trauma? Social conditioning growing up? A deep memory in your bones, in your DNA, or a past life? It may be something worth exploring through journaling, reflection or a therapist.
- Connect with community. The digital age has made it much easier for Witches to find each other! Whether it is through social media, a local gathering, or just emailing a Witch blogger like me to say hello or ask a question- connecting with like-minded souls is very healing! I know how intimidating it can be to reach out or meet new people. You are welcome to email me any time with your questions or comments!
Your Inner Witch is beautiful, wise and powerful. Your journey is unique and sacred. May you thrive and grow as you break generational curses and stand tall in your power!
If you are looking for witchy community, you may with to check out my Hearthfire Circles– which are both online and in-person.
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As a Witch who makes her home and practice in Tkaronto (Toronto) Ontario, I deeply thank the original stewards of this land: The Mississaugas of the Credit, Mississaugas of Scugog, Alderville, Hiawatha & Curve Lake; The Chippewas of Beausoleil, Rama & Georgina island, the Haudenosaunee and Wendat nations. I acknowledge the resilience of the First Nation, Inuit and Metis people who live and work here in the present, in a system of inequity and oppression. I am working on uncolonising my own practice, amplifying Indigenous voices and supporting Indigenous communities in whatever way I can.