What is a witch? The question has ten thousand answers, of course. A spiritworker, a healer, a magick-weaver, a wise one. And? What else? Think back – what did that word mean before you knew about the light it contained?
An inconvenient woman. A troublesome, sometimes frightening lady possessed of powers who makes the tightly-corseted guardians of society uncomfortable.
When you take on the mantle of ‘witch,’ you take on all of it. The beautiful, connected spiritual and magickal practice, of course. Your other inheritance is this: you are the surviving flame of the strange fire that burns in the hearts of wild ones. You are the spiritual descendant of people and practices that made the political powers in multiple societies so uncomfortable that people died for it. In a handful of countries, those deaths continue to this day.
You are living proof that there is more than one way to be. Your very existence is an affront to those who would hammer out any deviations from the status quo. Our ways have been prohibited, sneered at and made criminal in culture after culture. Yet somehow, this flowering thistle always rises from the rubble to reach spiny leaves and bright, spiky flowers to the sky.
In a bid to escape some of the more unpleasant forms of social rejection, we have shown our brighter and more beautiful colors to the world over the last couple decades. We focused our practices on healing and the magick of growth and creation so much that some Traditions do not even teach banework. Witches who hex are often given a bit of a wide berth even by other witches. We have gone to great lengths to convince society that we are safe, productive, tax-paying members of the public. But despite all of that, the truth remains.
Witches make people uncomfortable.
The fullness of the word ‘witch’ is not one you can escape. As with all shadows, my instinct is to lean in rather than run. Right now, the shadow of troublesome, inconvenient, impossible-to-ignore disruption is a weapon we have not all learned to wield. We must do so.
Witches of a certain age, it is time. The conformists raised Karen – an embodiment of white privilege, problematic boomer entitlement, and boorish behavior. It is time to summon Lydia.
Out of beloved Gen X pop culture, we call to you, Lydia. Return to us now as you would be at this moment – skirting middle age, still weird, and sick to death of all the bullshit the Fox News-fueled mainstream is pushing. The inconvenient woman has arrived.
Lydia is antisocial. No big public scenes for her. No screaming at store managers or starting a fight in the aisle at the grocery. Instead, Lydia observes and takes careful notes. Lydia uses the privilege her age bought her to quietly take up space. Lydia records many things on her phone, then uses her wits, research, and disdain for the status quo to be terribly inconvenient.
My rising Lydias,
- Stop and video the police when you see them detaining a black or brown person. Just watch and record. Your very presence and the footage in your phone makes the cops uncomfortable and less likely to subject black and brown people to egregious mistreatment. Your age and, if you are white, your race protects you from them. The footage you record may prove invaluable as we continue to fight back against police brutality. Many times, your presence alone means that the footage will show nothing. Which is great. Just quietly stand there, recording, being present, and making the authorities uncomfortable.
- Notice which businesses are following good COVID-19 protocols and which are not. After you leave, call the managers to deliver praise or complaint. Phone phobic? No problem. The world has changed since Lydia last lived here: email, Facebook Message, or @ them on Instagram and Twitter. Tell the other Lydias which stores give a fuck about their customers. Post that information publicly on your social media platforms of choice. No need for unpleasant scenes. Observe, reflect, respond. It’s not as much fun as reading the Handbook for the Recently Deceased, but it serves a good purpose.
- Vote. Order your mail-in ballot here. Look closely at the local elections. Put the full force of your Lydia privilege behind black and brown candidates whose politics align with yours. The big game is important, but it’s the small games where the Lydias can really make a difference. Lift up those local voices. Point to them with your beautiful black-lacquered fingernails. Repost their messages.
- Make the uncomfortable observations. Ask the inconvenient questions. If you witness a microaggression, a misogynistic joke, a slur against the LGBTQIA community, or a baked-in attitude of white supremacy, ask about it. Calmly call it out. Cock an eyebrow, pull out your full Lydia deadpan, and ask a clarifying question. You don’t have to raise your voice to make other people uncomfortable. The right question, delivered with the right amount of sarcasm, will do all the work for you. “What do you mean by that?” is a powerful phrase.
- Send emails, make phone calls. Be politely annoying. Take up space. Start with visiting 5 Calls.org and grow from there.
- Stay weird. Stay visible. It’s summer – show off your tattoos. Invest in a goth floppy hat. Wear a totally unnecessary number of rings. Do that thing with your hair you’ve been meaning to do. Dust off your Docs. Karens can be spotted on sight. Let’s make Lydias the same. The witch aesthetic is a thing right now, so go ahead and get the purse with the occult symbols all over it. Representation matters. Show the kids that adults don’t have to suck. There are choices.
Lydia saves her friends and family by befriending those society has pushed aside, by learning about a culture different than her own, and by using her knowledge to help. Her oddness and separateness from the mainstream are her powers.
Karens like to make a lot of noise. Let’s have Lydias like to make a lot of change. Break out your black eyeliner and go for it.
Got a favorite way to be inconvenient? Hit me up in the comments. Let’s be a collective pain in the ass.
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