Witches And Bitches: Reclaiming a Racist and sexist narrative

Hello everyone, and welcome back! I hope you’re all staying at home and keeping safe. As some of you know, I became very interested in witchcraft since late last year, and I became very interested in how it is seen in my culture (The yoruba tribe of west Africa), and the bad connotations it has gotten over the years with international and even national movies in all genres. I have also read throughout history the women who have endured suffering and discrimination based on being labelled as a witch, when in reality most of them were simply very outspoken women who did not follow the path set out for them by society, and even the real witches did not deserve such a bad reputation for being authentically themselves.

To understand the liberation of being a witch, we must go back in history to see how attitudes towards witchcraft has shaped what the general opinion of witches, and strongwilled women.

Long before colonisation in most parts of Africa, people practiced witchcraft and voodoo. But their beliefs weren’t just rooted in that. They worshiped the earth and what it brought to them; the sea, morning and night e.t.c. Particularly in the Yoruba tribe, there are different dieties (Orisha) that represent different aspects of the earth, such as Ogun, the god of thunder, Osun, the goddess of water, also linked to love, spirituality and sensuality. All these gods were recognised and held to high esteem, until colonisation in the late 1800s brought Christianity, and a lot of these values were not only eroded, but became criminal, as these people trying to cling to their roots were seen as “devil worshipers” or “heathens”.

This then created the term “black magic” with all it’s negative and evil connotations and its portrayal, from film, to media, to books. Thus, us Africans, and many other POC, are demonised for being close to our culture in this way, because of heavily white-washed ideas and ideals.

Apart from the racial oppression that the term “witchcraft” carries with it, it also carries a lot of sexist baggage. Women in the olden days all over the world were being killed and tortured for simply being outspoken and living in their truth. Once one person thought you were a witch, it would get spread around, and you would be either be tortured until you said you were a witch, or would be killed instantly. A good example would be the Salem witch trials, and the mass hysteria that cost fourteen women and five men their lives. If you don’t know about this already, I will link a video explaining it in detail, so you can really come to grasp with the precariousness of women who refuse to be stereotypical in their ways of living.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B_ZaFmX72EY

Nowadays, witchcraft has become a part of fourth wave feminism and liberation. I started my journey to understanding the intricacies of witchcraft about seven months ago, and it is honestly the most liberating thing to refer to myself as a Yoruba witch, especially because our authentic cultural identities as black women have been and are still suppressed and portrayed as pure evil and malicious. I also think that witchcraft can be an amazing thing for anybody wanting to reclaim their identities while dabbling into new ones, and while it is important to appreciate culture, not appropriate it (appreciating the privilege you have to partake in witchcraft, because many people are still being antagonised for it, and supporting the communities you take practices from by activism, donations e.t.c.), I believe that witchcraft is not gender exclusive, and it can make you feel powerful!

Thank you so much for reading! Please like this post if you enjoyed it, and let me know anything I might have missed. I think I might do a series of posts on this topic, because I did not cover everything!

Stay safe xx

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