Are You Missing Out By Labeling Your Magic?

Have you ever wondered what kind of witch you are? There are so many kinds of magic out there, it’s practically impossible to avoid this question. And it isn’t without its merits! Knowing what kind of witchcraft you practice helps narrow down the incredibly diverse field of magic. It’s a lot easier to choose learning resources, to find spells, and to find other witches like yourself if you know what kind of witch you are.

The problem is, I see witches trying to label themselves far too early in their journey. While these categories can be helpful in some instances, in others it can actually stunt the growth of your magical practice. I talk to brand new witches on almost a daily basis who are paralyzed in their magical journey because they feel like they can’t start learning until they know what kind of witch they are. And I don’t blame them! There’s been a ton of emphasis placed on this idea of labeling our magic in our modern learning environment. I’ve seen everything from “What Kind Of Witch Are You?” quizzes, to giant lists of “types” of witchcraft, to psychic readers claiming to be able to tell you what your “true” witchcraft type is.

It’s all just a bunch of noise though! Nobody else can tell you what kind of witchcraft is right for you and I can tell you that in the first few years of learning, you probably won’t even have a good idea of what kind of witchcraft is right for you. It’s time to debunk the idea that you need to label your witchcraft, and I’ll tell you exactly what to do instead.

What Are Witchcraft Labels?

Witchcraft labels are simply a way of defining the type of magic that a person practices. At a high level, we have labels like ceremonial magic, folk magic, and occult that act is big umbrella terms covering large swaths of the magical community. Then, of course, we have labels that belong to specific groups such as Wicca or Feri witchcraft. On a more micro scale, we have labels that are used by individuals to describe the type of magic that they practice. These are things like green witchcraft, sea witchcraft, kitchen witchcraft, art magic, divination witches, and so on. These describe the kind of magic that an individual witch focuses the majority of their practice around.

These can be super useful! Especially when talking with other magic users, these kinds of labels allow us to communicate a large amount of information about our magical practice in a very simple manner. If someone tells me that they are a poison path witch, then I know that they’re a witch who works primarily with poisonous plants. They very likely focus heavily on the traditional poisonous plants of the craft like belladonna, mandrake root, and datura, and pull heavily from more sabbatic witchcraft traditions. Depending on the witch, I may even feel comfortable assuming that they hold an animist worldview and potentially that they even engage in some work with the Witch Father. That’s a lot of information packed into three words! I would never suggest that we abolish the use of these labels, they are incredibly useful. I simply think they’ve been overemphasized and handed out as a solution for newer witches who are confused in their learning process.

Labels Aren’t Always Beneficial

If I asked you to give me an in depth description of, say, Appalachian granny magic, could you? What if I asked for a description of sabbatic witchcraft? What about chaos magic? Could you tell me what sea witchcraft actually consists of on a concrete level?

This is the real problem of slapping on labels too early. Often, people are using them before they even have a solid idea of what their chosen label means! A newer witch might claim to be a sea witch, but how much do they actually know about performing witchcraft with the sea? And how would they know if sea witchcraft is even right for them if they don’t have a good idea of what all the other options entail? What if this particular witch had a talent for working animal magic but never discovered that because they were so busy focusing on trying to do water magic? Worse yet, what if that witch was a natural psychopomp (a witch who works with the dead and helps them cross over) and began to think that the sea was angry with them because they kept meeting the ghosts of drowned people when they visited the ocean? This is not theoretical! I have met a witch in this exact situation. It took only a few days of working with her to completely transform her mindset and her view of her own magic, turning what initially it seems like a curse into an amazing ability that added so much depth and purpose to her magical practice.

A label can be incredibly useful for communicating a lot of information in a short amount of time, however, this is not how it’s being used by many witches. Instead, labels are being used as limiters. They’re becoming boxes that magic users are trying to force their practice to fit inside so they don’t have to feel any level of uncertainty or confusion about their practice. This is like asking an elementary schooler to choose their college major! It’s insane, you have no idea what you like, what you don’t like, what you’re good at, or what you hate doing. How are you supposed to make these kinds of major decisions when you haven’t even had a chance to properly sample all of the available options?

In the same way that asking a third grader to choose their future career is just plain silly, asking a person who is still in their first couple of years of the craft to choose a single focus and stick to that to the exclusion of all else makes no sense. There are hundreds if not thousands of different magical practices out there. There is no way that a newer witch is going to have the ability to explore and sample even a fraction of those possibilities in the first few years of their craft. This stuff takes time!

Labels are not meant to be limiters. They are a communication tool that allows us to package up a bunch of information about ourselves into a few short words. Labels don’t define what we do or how we practice, labels are how we encapsulate our practice for ease of communication. The practice has to come first. You cannot choose a word to define something that you don’t yet understand the definition of.

Which Comes First?

Words, and therefore labels, are a way of explaining what we observe. We didn’t come up with the word “tree” and then go out and try to find a tree. Language evolves based on the need to communicate. When some far-flung ancestor of the human race first needed to talk about a tree, they came up with the word for it. The tree comes first, and the word comes second. This is how all language works.

What this means is that the witchcraft practice being defined has to exist in such a way that it can be explained before we can slap a label on it. A divination witch has to BE a diviner before adopting the label of divination witch. It would be silly to do it any other way! Calling yourself a divination witch when you’ve never used a divination tool in your life makes no sense. The practice has to exist before a label can be applied to it. And it doesn’t just need to exist in theory, it needs to exist in reality! If I come to you with a pot of dirt that happens to have a seed in it, I can’t tell you that I have a tree. I might be growing a tree, but I don’t have a tree yet. All I have is a pot of dirt and some good intentions. Calling yourself something does not make you that thing. Labeling yourself a green witch doesn’t make you a green witch in practice. You have to do green witchcraft to call yourself a green witch with any truth!

If you can’t look at the witchcraft practice that you have today and come up with an adequate label to describe it as it is right now, not how you want it to be, then your practice is not developed to the point that a label is useful to you. This is not a bad thing! Not having a label is fine. In fact, in a lot of cases, not having a label is better for your witchcraft practice as a whole. We use labels to define what we are, not what we want to be, not what we think we should be, and not what we think we will be. A label defines what is.

You Don’t Need A Label!

Here’s the real kicker, there is absolutely no reason for you to choose a label for your witchcraft. You just don’t need it! Labels for witchcraft are completely optional and something that should only be used for the sake of convenience when chatting to other witches about what you do. No rule says that you have to choose a type of witchcraft to be a real witch. There are no tests that you have to pass to prove that you belong in the witchcraft community. This is a process of you learning about yourself and learning to take control of your life so that you can live the happy, vibrant life that you deserve.

If your witchcraft works and you get real results from your magic, it doesn’t matter what you call it, it’s real magic! You could practice the craft for 20 years and never once choose a label for it, and there would be nothing wrong with that. You could never choose a focus and continue to study broadly, picking up practices here and there as they suit you, and that would be perfectly fine. If the magic works, if the practice suits you, then it’s good witchcraft.

In Part 2, we’ll take a look at how you can go about structuring your craft and your magical learning without the use of labels! >>

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Are You Missing Out By Labeling Your Magic? by The Traveling Witch

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