Tea Time Ruminations: Male Witches

Tea: Rose/vanilla infusion. Roses are connected with protection, and protection is important traditionally for the time of year. Vanilla is soothing. This time of the year stresses me out.

 

Talking about male spaces can get hairy…pun intended…very rapidly. Some men use the conversation as a way to push women aside more than society already does. This is not okay: this is heinous. Knowingly, I tread with care.

 

The definition of a witch has changed throughout time. The eldest citation of the word witch — and its forebearers — is circa 890:

Laws of Ælfred xxx   Ða fæmnan, þe gewuniað onfon gealdorcræftigan, & scinlæcan, & wiccan.[i]

 

Wicca as a word is masculine, but wicce as a noun is feminine. Germanic languages, though, have for thousands of years not made the connection with sex, and gender. Only until recent encounters with Latinate cultures, and Christianity has the connection been made — more on this in a future post —. So, we have this word that could refer to males, or females. We have this word that, at least at one point, referred to both sexes.

Since the 1960s’ counterculture, though, witch has been increasingly associated with only women. Where does this leave men such as I am who identify with the long lines of witches? Are we simply too late in the game to be players?

When I think of witchery, I think of beauty in defiance, harrowing in deference, and the natural world in all its glory. Needless to say, that is a tall order for anyone to fill, yet I am trying to fill it as best as I can. I still have a long way to go.

So, let’s break this up in three as I can feel all my thoughts bursting forth too quickly:

  • How do I feel, as a male witch, suppressed/side-lined/gaslighted?
  • How does this change how I interact with other witches?
  • Any aspects of witchery, in common parlance, that I would like to change.

 

  • Whenever the concept of witch is mentioned, the image of a defiant female, head to the sky whilst she burns is the default conjuration. The idea that a witch is everything that the patriarchal middle eastern religions have hated throughout their histories persists. As women have been marginalized — and still actively are…looking at you parliaments, and congresses the world over. Iceland, your Alþingi is the best we have, and I thank you. Takk fyrir. — As such, when a man identifies as a witch, others see it as an emasculating maneuver on his part, and the sexists treat him as such. I, personally, divert most of the idiocy into my homosexuality. People are not afraid to hate on men: more, and more are afraid of being perceived as homophobic…even if one participates in homophobic ideas, and policies. Even within Heathen communities, the idea of working with magick as a man is seen as improper. Many use terms like ergi, and argr without fully understanding the cultural situations with the terms…and forgetting that they are insulting Oðinn. Good luck with that. In Wiccan — a community which since its inception in the 1950s has collected other cultures in eclecticism — circles there is the flip-side of the middle eastern society. In Wicca the focus is on the female to the almost exclusion of the male. The only male needed is the son that the goddess births, raises, fucks, and then lets die either by his new son’s hand, or by her own. We have an incestuous filicidal idea of women, and an incestuous suicidal/patricidal idea of men. There is no balance in either world-view. There is no equality in either world-view. When one brings this imbalance into theological discussions, one typically hears comparisons with contemporary political issues: turning over female healthcare choices, equal pay still being a myth that we aim to achieve, or representation in government. One cannot discuss the identity of the male witch outside academia — a few books at the end to begin the search —, and even then there is the entrenched views of woman-equals-witch-equals-woman.
  • I do not bring this up in person anymore. It is relegated to the box with circumcision, Israel-Palestine, and physical books-versus-ebooks. These are arguments that (in order): are seen as medical when they are barbaric, a complex issue that only really effects Israelis and Palestinians — this was my boyfriend’s and my first argument —, and a topic that only matters to those who still actively read. With the identity of the male witch, I feel unsafe to mention it. Most circles are dominated by women if in a neo-pagan setting, are dominated by anti-magick tendencies if Heathen, or not magickal in nature if a holiday setting. With other male witches, I feel a slight connection, but there is so much to do with religious identity more than a few practices. We, also, may have nothing in common other than our genitalia, and the term witch. I do have to adapt certain connections with deities, creatures, and entities. For instance, Hel is a dear goddess to me. She, however, is portrayed in the contemporary Heathen world as a certain type of woman who does not talk to men freely. I have quite a different interaction. To me, she has been the thin-lipped prideful Jadis — to use a fictional example — who governs the world where we will all go.

Yes. One day, you reader, will wither, die, and rot.

  • (continued) The connection with men, and witchery tends to lead towards a succubus/satan relationship. Men-witches are seen as almost pimps of women-witches. That concept is a whole bucket of nope for me. That is patriarchy of a whole new level that belongs somewhere else rather than reality. Satan does come up a lot in witchcraft. Typically it is an Abrahamic saying that one is a devil-worshipper. I have mixed feelings about Satan…as a concept/Satanic Temple view of a philosophy…he is pretty cool. Defying order in exchange for chaos when it is better, not taking direction from a deity who lacks humanity, and supporting the arts/intellectualism…he sounds really cool. I, however, have my own symbols — Baba Yaga, Cerridwen, Oðinn, Dagda, and the like — from my Indo-European heritage that I do not need yet another Eastern imposition telling me how to live. I will say, though, that I do leave offerings for the Djinn when I am in the Middle East. Many pagan podcasters, and pagan shops have included Satanic imagery — Lillith, Beezlebub, and the like — in with witchcraft. I do not see the connection, but, hey, if it works for one, go on. As I told my Satanist roommate, I would have coffee with Lillith, and even troll the hospitals, but I would not invite her over to my house for dinner.
  • I would probably want to change the inverse relationship between witchery, and masculinity. I would want men to take up a historical mantle of pride. Whether witchcraft is ‘real’, or ‘just psychological’…I really do not care. It fulfills me to have meditations, prayers, chanting, and the like in my world. Even if it only serves a psychological need for ritual, I like it. I think that most men would like it, too. I just wish more felt comfortable to experience this empowerment.

 

Side notes: Do not comment any sexist remarks regarding any sex, I have my delete button waiting. Do discuss amongst yourselves — or with your real life friends…the ones whom you abandoned to get on the web…feel free to abandon them every Tuesday, and every other Thursday —, and have a good holiday.

 

Books/Articles about male witches:

Vexed with Devils: Manhood and Witchcraft in Old and New England

Secondary targets? Male witches on trial

Literally unthinkable? Demonological descriptions of male witches

Invisible men The historian and the male witch

Male Witches in Early Modern Europe

 

Side note: Basically, I am in scholarly love with Dr. Apps, and Dr. Gow.

[i] “witch, n.1”. OED Online. July 2018. Oxford University Press. http://www.oed.com/view/Entry/229574?isAdvanced=false&result=1&rskey=wPHc4Z& (accessed October 29, 2018).

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