There is no animal more invincible than a woman, nor fire either, or any wildcat so ruthless. (Aristophanes)
The truth is, witches still exist. They never ceased to exist.
Men have tried by every means to destroy them, but they’ve never succeeded and never will, because the witch-woman is a fundamental element of this planet, like air and water.
Who are the witches? We can consider them in a folkloristic or childish sense as monstrous, grotesque and evil beings. Still, in reality, witches are women who cannot and do not want to conform to specific models imposed by society, if these constraints go against their deepest instincts.
The Woman And The Fire
Originally there were matriarchal societies, the first divinities were statues of prosperous female figures, representing the concepts of life, abundance, birth and inner power. Fire, an element worshipped since ancient times, was often guarded and kept alive by women.
In Ancient Greece, there was a goddess who is now almost totally forgotten: Hestia (Vesta for the Romans). Hestia is the guardian of the fire, the accomplished woman who perceives her body as a temple and gives herself entirely. She is the shelter from darkness, protector of the hearth, and keeper of the secrets of fire. Her sexuality is free and selfless because she can light the fire; she doesn’t need a man to do it. Her symbol is the circle, which is a complete element, in the middle of which she welcomes other people to warm and comfort them.
Hestia ‘s flame never dies. It is the mystical fire from which all stories are born, Hestia is also the goddess of the stories around the hearth; the goddess of secret traditions, initiatory tales and ancient wisdom. This goddess is mysterious and forgotten, but in reality, her voice is always inside every woman, her warmth is what drives us not to fear anything, to endure pain, loneliness, and teaches us the art of love.
Hestia, like other powerful female divinities, has been forgotten because the destructive action of patriarchal society has imposed a strict and radical code of conduct. The concepts of giving, of listening, of universal love, have been replaced by war, conquests, ambition and passion for temporal power.
Over the centuries, patriarchal society has continuously tried to repress women and has relegated them to two rigid and opposing stereotypes: the angelic image of the mother (see the Virgin Mary), and the distorted image of the witch.
Such a sharp division of female identity has caused the cultural loss of women’s power and spirituality.
In Europe alone, as a result of Inquisition trials, there were nine million witches killed between 1500 and 1800; and there were witch trials also elsewhere, just remember the witches of Salem in what is now the United States or Joan of Arc in England.
The accusation of sorcery and heresy was addressed to those women who did not conform to the models imposed by society, and in particular, to the healers: in fact, only men could practise medicine.
The witches’ curse, therefore, lay in the knowledge. Witches were herbalists, midwives and body healers; they were free spirits, confident and fed by the flame of Hestia; they did not accept to be relegated to the submissive figure of being weak and silent. Witches spoke loudly or whispered true, and therefore, frightening words. All these are subversive elements of society.
The followers of sorcery have never worshipped the devil (not even today!). Satan is a figure created by the first Jewish and Christian sects and destined to debate with God about ethics and morals, to distinguish good from evil conceptually.
The witch-woman embodies the nature and the original power of the woman. Ann Belford Ulanov, Professor of Psychiatry and Religion, defines the woman as “the witch bursting with energy”, in a spasmodic search for the meaning of life.
The witch’s primary impulse is to be herself, to express herself freely and without limits, to seek the flame within herself and finally bring it to the surface.
Are You A Witch?
I am, or better, I am desperately trying to bring out the witch inside me, so long dormant and buried by years of conforming convictions that I thought were right. I diligently followed a path that had been traced for me, and in the end, also by myself, because for so long, I considered it appropriate, necessary. As a kid, I was really convinced that I was a witch; still, that sense of rebellion and life-force died out in years of work (not particularly loved) and due to the daily difficulties: children, duties, bills, responsibilities. Only recently, the goddess Hestia whispered in my ears to wake me up; she called me to feed the flame and recognize my inner strength.
Do you think I’m crazy? I’m not. After all, who are the witches?
- They are independent women who love the freedom of expression and whose capacity for introspection is surprising, often frightening.
- The witch-woman loves animals and especially cats, from which she draws energy, connection with deep instincts and relaxation. The cat has always been considered a sacred animal (see the Ancient Egyptians) because it is magical: it can be a bridge between this dimension and the world of the spirits.
- The witch-woman loves the woods, gardens, flowers and plants. She feels good in the green because it’s part of her soul.
- The witch-woman loves rainbows, but also rain, storms and thunderstorms: all the intense manifestations of mother earth that help connection and communication.
- The witch-woman needs moments of solitude and silence and meditation to recharge and connect.
- The witch-woman has a troubled emotional life, marked by pain, depression, sadness but also by the constant search for balance and self-awareness, which will eventually lead her to wisdom.
- The witch-woman thinks with her head, and she will clash against the rules, the patriarchal society, the impositions.
- The witch-woman lives on empathy, compassion and sharing. She talks and knows how to listen; she cries, despairs and laughs again, always reborn and renewed.
- Witches are women on the path to constant evolution.
Sorcery is one of the oldest natural religions and represents a real lifestyle.
If we learn to feed the goddess Hestia who lives as an archetype within each one of us, we will achieve a profound inner balance. Hestia is the goddess of silence and light. Her voice can be heard in the crackling of the fire, and if we enter her magic circle, we can increase our inner strength. If we learn to free the woman-witch within us, we will be able to embark on our journey towards what we want to achieve, with determination.
We need to devote time to our inner fire. Let’s not let our temple become cold and desolate. Let’s melt the trapped emotions with our flame and let them flow, and with them, let us get rid of constraints and limiting thoughts.
On my path towards evolution and self-improvement, I decided to free myself from the shackles of a job I didn’t like and forced me to trade my time for money. I chose to work for myself and build my new career, using one of the most powerful means we have at our disposal: the Internet.
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Women must always remember who they are and what they can do. They should not be afraid to cross the endless fields of irrationality, nor should they be afraid to hang on the stars at night, leaning against the balcony of the sky. They must not be scared of the darkness that sinks things, because that darkness frees a multitude of treasures. That darkness which they, free and proud, know as no man will ever know. (Virginia Woolf)