A Look into The Life of a Modern-Day Witch
Rain Marie (She/They) // Contributor
Talia Rouck (She/Her) // Illustrator
Many people have heard or seen the depictions of witches in the media or heard stories of witches as a child but, what does it mean to be a modern witch? Most cultures have roots in witchcraft and spirituality, as many different forms of Witchcraft have been practiced since the beginning of recorded history. Witchcraft was, unfortunately, demonized and given a bad rep leading many of those who practiced it to hide their beliefs. Today, modern-day witchcraft is resurfacing, as many witches feel safer to openly practice their beliefs. Victoria-based Creative, Tarot Reader, and witch, Dakota Tollefson, sat down with us and took us on a journey of what her practice means to her.
Witchcraft exists in many forms in Dakota’s daily life—from her business as a tarot reader, to keeping two altars (one for her ancestors and one for the changing of the seasons), to involving witchcraft in her daily activities. As many might know, keeping up a daily practice can be difficult with the stress and constant motion of life. Dakota combats this by doing simple daily things such as doing a daily tarot spread. “Every morning when [she] makes tea or coffee [she] blesses it and stirs it a specific amount of times as a ritual” to “connect to [her] sense of spirituality even if [she’s] off to work.” One’s practice, although it can sometimes include complex rituals or long hours of meditation, can also be made up of simple things that help one feel more connected to the world around them and their ancestors.
The autumn season and the month of October is an interesting time for Witches and those interested in spirituality. During October, as Halloween and Samhain (A Celtic festival symbolizing the end of the harvest and the shift into the colder months of the year, celebrated by many Witches) comes closer, Tollefson explained that the veil is getting thinner. This means there is more space for communication with ancestors, spirits, and more connection to the inner spiritual worlds. For Dakota, this means more focus on Shadow Work, which she defines as “bringing awareness to places that don’t feel light and breezy […] and acknowledging ways that [she] can do better moving forward or things that [she] would like to change.” Shadow work to Dakota is “a questioning of our own beliefs, biases and reflections of ourselves and others.”
It is difficult to talk about modern Witchcraft in the month of October without also mentioning all the different forms of media that come out about witchcraft this month, and how being a witch is often portrayed. The character of the witch is seen in many films such as the 1996 teen horror The Craft and shows like Sabrina The Teenage Witch. These movies portray witchcraft to be a fantastical, dangerous force that can be fun to watch, although not completely true to the actual practice of witchcraft. The main issue with these media portrayals is seen through depicting it without the proper education or research behind it. Leading producers to “take things from different cultures without any recognition,” Dakota explained. As witchcraft has appeared in many shapes and forms in different cultures, without the proper research, cultural appropriation or taking things from closed practices can occur.
Witchcraft has recently become more popularized on the internet in virtual communities such as #WitchesOfInstagram and WitchTok. Although these communities are amazing places to learn and connect with people interested in practicing witchcraft, they can also be filled with misinformation. One of the best ways that you can protect yourself from misinformation online is by doing research on who you follow. Dakota notes that misinformation can occur because “social media is so instantaneous […] you can just like someone’s aesthetic so you follow them […] but when it comes to these sort of practices if you take your cultural appreciation seriously instead of cultural appropriation, one of the number one things you can do is do extensive research into who you’re following.” Dakota urges people new to the witchcraft community to “follow BIPOC practitioners, especially Queer-Fem BIPOC practitioners” but to “accept that you will be doing different things than them.”
When looking into all things witchcraft-related this October season, make sure to take some time to focus on the simple things, reflect on how you can grow and change, listen to the voices of the people around you– especially those voices who have been suppressed and make sure to do your research.