The Legacy of Witches

Happy Halloween, dear readers.

I love the spooky season: the shortening of days, the overcast skies, the crisp chilly air that curls around boot-clad feet as they crunch over leaves. I revel in the crackle in the air that demarcates October from the rest of the months. I think deep down we all do…deep down we all want to be witches.

We want to channel our forerunners, the women who didn’t do what they were told, who held power and at times projected a fearsome exterior. I speak of the mountain medicine women who lived high up in forest cabins peddling herbs and tinctures and water magic of old, the bayou-dwelling practitioners who had spells for this and poultices for that and painted their porch roofs haint blue, the unmarried town-dwellers who got by on their own so they must be magic.

Every once in a while we want to give in to the idea that there is meaning in the stars, in the cards, in the tea leaves. We want to believe that we as women have some greater inherent power. We want to be the great-great granddaughters of the witches they weren’t able to burn. We want to be loved and feared and independent and powerful.

The witchy idea takes up so many different spaces that anyone can find something to grab onto. We all search for ways to embody more, to take up more space, to be more things: ethereal and grounded, feminine and strong. We like the idea of witches because they were the first women who projected something other than what men said a woman was supposed to be. They scared them. They confused them. Maybe they weren’t doing it consciously, and maybe they didn’t understand that hundreds of years later we would latch onto their otherness as something we could harness. Surely, they suffered.

We have embraced the moniker thrown at women who didn’t fit, who were something other than the norm, because we want to be something other than the norm. Because right now the normal we are living in is terrifying — and we all want to do something.

But it’s hard to feel witchy in the hustle and bustle of the city, when the leaves don’t have that crisp crunch under your feet, when you’re running yourself ragged at your nine-to-five (or two-to-nine, if you’re Zelda), when there’s rent to pay and the world is on fire and the closest you come to concocting a tincture is adding some whiskey to your tea.

But this Halloween, take a moment to embrace your inner modern witch. You can project soft goth or magic lite or Stevie Nicks vibes. You don’t have to go all in. Sometimes we all want to feel a little powerful, and sometimes we all want be a little spooky. Wear that thing that makes you feel ethereal, that makes you feel good. Do a spell to expel the negative energy from your home. Learn to read tarot cards, tea leaves, palms.

Most importantly, harness the legacy of our foremothers for change, and go to the polls next Tuesday. You want to transfigure the world? Vote.


Zelda and Scout are Jennifer Harlan and Kelsey Goldman. Two Louisville, Kentucky gals who now call Brooklyn home, they love bourbon, horse racing, New York in the fall, and kitchen dance parties.

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