The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Witches

A friend recently asked me what it takes to be a witch these days.  The question was in response to my post on modern virtues for witchcraft.  I’ve been turning that question over in my mind since and contemplating all the different skill sets, perspectives and ways of being in the world that contemporary witches regularly display.  That particular question is too large for one single answer, of course.  What it takes to be a witch depends on each witch’s areas of strength and proclivity.  However, it did get me thinking about some of the common traits in the best witches I know.

I have been on the winding Path for a little over 20 years now.  Over that span of time, I’ve had the good fortune to study under, practice with and learn from some amazing witches.  Some of the folks on that list are even friends of mine, and I count myself unbelievably lucky to know such gifted, trailblazing practitioners. I’ve observed that the most effective, powerful, fulfilled and interesting witches I know do share some traits and habits.  I’m not sure that these seven concepts are what it takes to be a witch, but they’re definitely all things that witches do.  And the best witches I know do all of them to a greater or lesser extent.

1) Be Hermione Granger

I’m mostly kidding, of course. (Also, necessary caveat here that JK Rowling, Hermione’s creator, is a TERF and we should not be giving her any more money.)  But share Hermione’s thirst for knowledge.  The best witches I know continue to educate themselves purely for the joy of it.  They go through phases of study that can last years as they explore and become proficient at various fields. And boy, do we have some fields!  Herbalism (magickal and medicinal), Divination (with massive subcategories), Spellcasting, Crafting (with massive subcategories), Ritual Arts, Energetic anatomy, Healing (with massive subcategories), Mediumship/Ancestral work, Devotional Arts, History, Lore and Mythology….the list is more than a witch can go through in a lifetime.  One of the massive subcategories in just one area can take years to fully integrate.  Bored with your practice?  Write out all the fields you know of on the Path on little pieces of paper and stick them in a jar.  Pick one.  And off you go.


2) Be Ms. Frizzle

Have a magic school bus!  I wish, right?  But what I mean by being Ms. Frizzle is TEACH.  Share what you know, and take joy in it.  All the best witches I know are also teachers – they present workshops, courses and classes, host discussion circles, write articles and otherwise find ways to share the shiny things they’ve discovered while digging into their respective fields.  Knowledge is useless if it’s locked away in an ivory tower or buried in a crumbling tome collecting dust in someone’s disused library.  The very best practitioners I know have done a lot of research drudge work, and can take that massive body of study and pull the relevant, relatable, useful pieces forward.  We’re currently seeing an explosion of revision, reflection and improvement upon older magickal techniques and perspectives.  Our teachers are the ones who are able to show us how to light the future with the candles of the past. Which brings me to….


3) Be Jillian Holtzmann

Blow shit up.  Sometimes literally.  Learn from the established sources and then add to the field.  Experiment.  Change things.  Build entirely new ways of approaching magick.  Upset the traditionalists – it’s really fun.  More importantly, it’s necessary.  Almost all of the magickal tech was destroyed, dismantled or subsumed with the rise of top-down hierarchical religions that concentrated power in the priest class and stripped mysticism out of mainstream religion.  We lost a LOT of information.  Contemporary witches are rebuilding our understanding of metaphysics, spirit work, connection and devotion.  Take what you know and move forward, then write up your findings and share them.  The results of your tinkering may very well be the foundation of practice for witches yet to come.  The witches I admire most are constantly experimenting with, adding to and transforming the Path.


4) Be Neytiri

One of the coolest things about Neytiri is that along with being a total badass with excellent aim, she has an independent spiritual practice.  She makes time to seek out the sacred on her own and connect with it.  We don’t have a physical body part that’s specifically for connecting to the psychic or energetic beings around us (I am so jealous of that appendage the Na’vi have), but we can absolutely grow a psychic equivalent.  The best witches I know all have meditation, prayer or devotional practices.  Most have a daily practice that includes time simply sitting with their connection to Spirit.  That which is fed increases.  Part of why really gifted witches tend to have that indefinable shimmer of spirit around them is that they spend time fostering that connection, and they generally do it on their own.  Group rituals are great, but solo practice is also necessary.


5) Be Yoda

Answer questions with grammatically peculiar riddles.  No?  No.  What I mean is that so much of Yoda’s wisdom and power comes from his self-knowledge.  He has explored his own shadow side and integrated it without it taking over.  Yoda has looked into darkness without blinking or shying away from what he finds there.  Really excellent practitioners have done, and regularly approach, shadow work.  They have introspected about their repressed and destructive instincts, traits, memories and attitudes and have done the work to integrate, heal and balance those pieces.  Also, protip, acknowledgement is not enough.  Owning your shit is good.  Working on it is better.  I spent several years working to increase my compassion and empathy, so I know this work is possible.  The best of us have done serious time with their Shadows.


6) Be Guinan

Serve excellent drinks.  Also, listen.  Guinan’s counsel is not sought out because of how much she talks, but because of her ability to listen, reflect, and ask exactly the right questions or make observations about what she’s heard.  The witches I admire most tend to be listeners as well as speakers – they’re obviously curious about how other people approach the Path. When they listen to another person discuss their magickal experiences or perspectives, they tend to ask really interesting, probing questions.  I think some of that has to do with the whole Being Hermione Grainger thing – they’re constantly seeking out knowledge.  What’s different here is that they’ve obviously realized that knowledge comes from more than hitting the stacks.  They’re open to the ideas around them, and love to explore the depths of the journeys of others.


7) Be Morticia

I mean, really, we should all be trying to be Morticia in every way possible because she’s just the COOLEST CHARACTER EVER.  But I’m specifically thinking about how completely grounded in her Self Morticia is.  She knows what she values and what she wants to cultivate.  The presence or absence of other people around her with their competing values and needs does not pull her off her center.  Morticia is not aggressive in her identity – she does not push her agenda on others needlessly.  She is simply herself, with all her strengths and abilities, her preferences and tastes.  That stable sense of firm identity is one of the most enticing things about both Morticia and the witches I admire most.  They know who they are.  They value their identities and strengths and do not attempt to wear a mask or otherwise hide themselves from others.  They are comfortable in their own skin, idiosyncrasies and all.

So, those are my seven.  What are the qualities of the witches you admire most?  The spiritworkers you look up to?  I’m always interested to hear what you think.  Hit me up in the comments.




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