(**Warning: This is going to be a long one, so hold on to whatever you’ve got.)
For the longest time, I wanted to be a witch. Maybe it’s because I grew up with Hermione Granger, but somehow, I don’t think it’s just because of her. (Not to downplay J.K. Rowling’s impact on my life in the slightest, but I probably watched Kiki’s Delivery Servce at least two hundred times as a child and even more as an adult.)i See, most parents start their kids reading with Dr. Seuss or The Berenstein Bears, but my Dad decided that what I needed as a kid were comic books. From there we moved straight into Harry Potter, The Chronicles of Narnia, and The Hobbit. So…yeah, my childhood was spent fighting evil wizards and riding dragons and talking animals. How could I not want to be a part of that world?
Not to mention, my parents have been divorced since I was around two and I am their only child. My mom was a busy single mom who worked a job while finishing her degree,and on the weekends I say my Dad he often slept in till lunch time, not having gotten enough sleep during the week because of work. I had a lot of time to myself, and I found that the best way to spend it was with my nose in a book. (Which accounts for why I needed glasses in third grade. I am not exaggerating when I say that I always had my nose in a book.)
Right. So I wanted to be a witch. Now what? It turns out that for me, now what was continuing to read about fantastical lands and adventures while being a witch every single year for Halloween until I got bored of Trick-or-Treating which was around the age of ten. (Weird I know. And then as I got older, it began to mean something more. Certain childhood dreams died as all do. For instance, I realized early on that the presents marked “Santa” did not really come from the North Pole. (Although, I did ask one year for a bell from Santa’s Sleigh, and lo and behold, I got one. I think the true story of how I ended up with that bell is better than anything else, but that is a story for another time.) However, I never stopped believing in magic. It was too much a part of my life at that point for me to stop believing. Sure, maybe it was just science that hadn’t been explained, and okay, maybe there isn’t a school for witches and wizards that you can run through a platform for, but that didn’t mean magic couldn’t be real.
I attribute part of this to having grown up without any formal religious instruction. My parents both firmly believed that it was up to me to decide what if any instruction I wanted and I had no interest in it for the longest time. Kids occasionally need answers to those types of questions, but I had my parents and family. They worked enough “miracles” for me that it never occurred to me that I needed a higher power. When I eventually got curious, my mother introduced me to the path of Native American spirituality which honestly made more sense to me than any other religion ever had, partially because it wasn’t an organized religion. Don’t worry, this isn’t going to turn into a discussion on religious beliefs, but that path holds the door open for a lot more possibilities than others do. I could believe in science and magic and a god all at the same time and have it work. Perfect. I don’t like to compromise unnecessarily.
That is a long way of saying that thanks to how I was raised, I never really had to give my dream of being a witch. Do I think that I can turn people into toads? Of course not. (It’s an insult to the toads.) What it does allow me though is a bit of freedom. I’m the “witch” because I’m always prepared, I always have a solution, I can fix most things, and if my friends/family need a miracle I’ll take a look up my sleeves. For me, being a witch is a lot like being a witch in the Discworld universe. Witches are there to get things done. We’re there for the dirty work. We’re just there.
Now this doesn’t mean that I go around with a pointy hat on. I don’t introduce myself as a witch because that would be inaccurate. It’s just part of who I am, this “fixer of things”. And it is my way of holding on to my childhood fantasy of one day having a cauldron of my own and flying through the night. (My friends actually just bought me a small cast iron cauldron, so the engineering community needs to hop to it as far as getting my flying broom working.)
Witch is a big word with a lot encompassing it. Witch can mean the Maleficent or it can mean Baba Yaga. It can mean green and warty or blond and buxom. There are so many myths, histories, stories, and cultures that all spill into the collective cauldron from which witches arise. In that way, we get to define what we ourselves think or as witches. They’re not just archetypes, but personal narratives, from the voodoo priestesses to Glenda.