Last week a video came across my Facebook feed that made me scratch my head. The content creator was showing the construction of what they called a “Thankful Spell.” There wasn’t a description of what it was for and when I asked what the intention was, I didn’t get a response, so I shared it and asked my followers. My assumption was that this was another one of those new spells that started on TikTok or Instagram and all the self-proclaimed “baby witches” were doing something I had been left out of the loop on. I wasn’t intending to come off as mean-spirited, it was a genuine question. The content creator then blocked me. I was confused but also not. The person obviously took my question as a challenge to the validity of their work. Which I suppose was true to some part, I didn’t understand how what they did was a spell. In a matter of an hour, there was someone vague booking about me being a bully.
The comments got ugly and meanspirited, so I took the post down. It was another one of those posts by a content creator that was witch-crap, and everyone has witch-crap fatigue, it is no surprise things got messy. After COViD, witchcraft content creation is all about likes and not necessarily substance. There are a lot of people who are good at getting followers but not (objectively) good at witchcraft. You know, the ones who only post the pretty spells but never talk about the results, the ones that are good at lecturing you on magical theory but in doing so dismiss entire races of people and their histories, the ones who are more interested in aesthetic than service. They post things that are half-thought, a quarter-researched, and demand your full attention, baiting you with the promise that they can show you how it’s really done. Not all content creators are like this, there are obviously some genuine and passionate practitioners who are worth following and who are sharing earnestly, but even they get drowned out in the noise.
As most of you know, I am Mr.WitchcraftisSubjective. I understand as a witch of over twenty-something years that the craft looks different for everyone; I start all of my books out with saying it in one form or another. But there are still things that make witchcraft, witchcraft. It’s how we know how to find each other regardless of culture or language, there are hallmarks that make us who we are. The casting of spells is one of them. Throughout time and memorial spells are what made people so scared of us and why people like us flocked to the occult; we could bend fate with magic. That’s what spells do, they create change. They are the single most valuable skill at our disposal. I didn’t blame people for feeling like their spiritual practices had been turned into a joke for likes.
After taking the post down, I did another explaining why I had done so and while there was sincerity in what I said regarding not wanting to create space for our lesser propensities (i.e. bullying) there was also a hint of sarcasm at the end. I said, “I realize that I take the occult more seriously than others and that I cannot expect the same level of reverence from people on the internet. Spells are something you do to create change where I come from. I apologize if my definition doesn’t line up with the standards of today.”
I thought that would put it to bed, but no, the comments were alive with people who thought I was acquiescing to the witch-crap and more or less thanking me for it. Not a thing. Not going to happen.
I have been chewing on it for days. In the end, I learned that the “spell” in question was something the person did to say thank you to a spirit. So, it was a devotional offering. Not necessarily an act of magic, but an observance within most magical acts. My confusion was because they used a term that meant one thing and they assumed it to mean another, either intentionally or unintentionally. Language evolves, yes, but usually when there is a better way to describe or say something. Calling a thing something it isn’t because of ignorance does not make it evolutionary. There is a lot, and I mean a lot, of leeway in witchcraft and the occult. You can use an empty coke can and a pack of mustard to summon goetic demons and it’ll work, we are free to be the spiritual artists we need to be. However, when you say that a paintbrush is a pencil in a public setting and there are other artists in the room, you should absolutely expect someone to point out the obvious.
All of this boils down to a point, I promise, and it is bigger than this one thing. I had this experience recently, so the details are fresh, but this isn’t the only time something like this has happened and I always bend because I don’t want to be an asshole. Other authors and teachers have the same type of experience almost daily and it has become a big discussion on the back-channels. None of us want to be assholes, we all want to be supportive of seekers, but there is a lot of noise to contend with and even more misunderstanding than ever. When I was growing up, the misunderstandings were about us being evil and worshipping “the Satan” (some do, that is cool). Now the misunderstandings are more about which Harry Potter or Charmed fanfic has made its way into occulture and whether or not that is a good thing. It’s where we are, I suppose, but I can’t help but feel it’s all a big waste of time, to be honest. For me, it’s all pointless if it isn’t directed somewhere meaningful.
The other side to this is that haven’t there always been people, especially young people, who take witchcraft out of context and run with it? Who among us wasn’t an angry teenager with a copy of The Craft? I had friends when I was a kid who would make up the craziest stories about being possessed and psychic battles with their neighbors. The only difference is, we didn’t have Instagram. If we had, we probably would have made fools of ourselves in the grandest fashion. When I see the witch-crap, I can’t help but think about the time I thought it would be good to channel an unknown forest spirit at two in the morning while drunk off my ass at camp. Ignorant and oh so stupid, way more drama than it was worth; luckily, there was no one there to record the hysteria.
What I mean to say is that the witch-crap has ALWAYS been here in one form or another, just now we are likely to see it every day. Hopefully, the people creating it continue to grow out of it if they are meant to be here, like I did. For my part, I will endeavor not being an asshole, but I am also not going to hold space for it any more than I would if it were in another form. Sometimes, I guess that might make me an asshole in someone’s eyes and while I am disheartened by that, I am also okay with it.
In closing, like with the news, I encourage you to seek multiple sources before settling on a conclusion or altering your vocabulary.