I’m grappling tremendously with the function of words existing simultaneously as a mirror, a trap, and an enclosure in and of itself. The gooey instability of words is chaotic but at times useful, in the right hands. Today, I’m thinking particularly in the gooeyness of the word witch.
Although my hope is to expand outside the confines of a eurocentric focus of witchcraft, I also do not want to glimpse over the specific histories of the subjugation of women there and that connection with witchcraft and how those histories were replicated here and elsewhere. Thinking of the witch hunts in Europe in the sixteenth and seventeenth century, the term witch functioned as a tool, an enclosure, a mark, perhaps even a spell in and of itself.
To be called a witch was to become a witch and to be a witch meant to be deserving of death. Which begs the question, is this also an act of magic? And more broadly, if we chart the history of witches and align it with the rise of capitalism and imperialism, are those formations an act of magic, even if a dark one? Working with my definitions laid out in my first post, magic is the use of tools to shape our inner and outer worlds. There was a point when our world was different and not shaped by current hegemonic ways of existing, which means something has changed and someones are shaping it.
Spell to become a witch
If we consider these acts of magic, what does that say about disenchantment? I want to reiterate and place disenchantment within the context of our magical connection with ourselves and each other instead of as something that is the base state of the world.
Magic exists and always has.
This connection with ourselves and each other, feels very important for people of color, especially queer and trans people of color. Thinking of possible current forms of dark magic, this type of structuring feels further connected with how later on witchcraft and demonology were used to justify colonization.
Working with and against language can help us better situate magical powers and undo the acts of control placed upon us. When thinking of language, I want to also understand the language of art and archives, particularly in how they functioned to define the image of witches and worked in tandem with missions of capitalist controls.
A re-imagining of Francisco Goya’s “Witches Flight.”