I’m not going to beat around the bush. I am queer and I know a lot of witches. I don’t think this is a coincidence. For I myself, am a self-identified witch. And we always seem to find each other, somehow.
The witches I know and that I am guided by in some transtemporal kind of way, are not: cackling, cave-dwelling, hexing, pot-stirrers. Although they can tend toward rye humour, adorned sacred spaces, rock-solid boundaries, and have certainly stirred some good trouble in their time.
They can usually be found under titles like social worker, teacher, midwife, therapist, doula, educator, support worker, environmental scientist, human rights lawyer, nurse, aged care worker, to name a few.
They work deep in the throws of community. The parts that are full of shadows and fear and pain. They do not turn away at the sight of society’s ugly ‘nose’, they lean in, warts and all, holding open a kind of ‘holy fire’ at the core of mother earth, that has the capacity to transform the really dark shit into light, hope, and the healthiest embodiments of personal and collective power.
As with queerness, us witches are not always ‘out’. We are not always covered in sparkles and black busty corsets zipping around through the night. Although sometimes, that’s exactly where you will find us, in underground clubs on bright red moons dancing with our people, without any inhibitions.
We are, in (my) queered experience, protecting a part of ourselves much of the time. Making sure the ‘coast is clear’. Making sure it is safe to ‘come out’ or to come into ourselves, depending on how you see it.
To be blunt, we are making sure we won’t be burnt at the stake. That is – to be cast aside, humiliated, hung up, pulled down, shamed, left to drown, by our respective society. For what we know, what we have seen, what we are willing to face and who we are willing to stand up for, in both justice and healing, is considered by patriarchal standards, to be extremely dangerous.
Dangerous. To the order of the patriarchy. To the order of wealth distribution. To the order of white supremacism and privilege. To the cheap production of goods. To what we are taught to desire. To what we are taught to value.
For we know that to truly access individual and community wellbeing and justice on a micro and macro scale, there must be a redistribution of wealth, power, land, story, knowledge and learning. But we also know, as queer icon and writer John Waters puts it, we must be ‘trojan horses’. Going in undercover to “fuck shit up, beautifully” as outsiders, on the inside.
Within myself and many other queer folks I have had the pleasure of friendship and shared love with, I’ve seen how queerness and magic can be inextricably bound by what feels like an ancient force. Showing up to those who society has let believe they are unlovable, unteachable, un-becoming. Showing up with touch and presence like soft electricity, soothing to the wounds. Even the old ones, the ones we don’t know how to speak about.
The ones that maybe aren’t even of this body and time.
One of the most potent intersections I see in queer and magikal identities? Resilience. The force in which they both fight for safety and true holistic health in community and self.
I mean, fuck. We will transmute rage and anger into spells of protection. Acts of unconditional advocacy, love and care. How can you separate the magik and queerness in that? For me, queerness is loving myself fiercely and fully first and then, when my cup is full, taking it to those who aren’t quite there yet, turning on the light, pulling up a seat at the table and saying: “you are so loved and I won’t turn away”.
I am recalling a moment that changed my life.
My maternal grandmother had been in and out of foster homes from a young age, which left a hollow part of the family tree. About six months ago, I found out that I had strong greek ancestry. Upon gaining further access to my lineage, my grandmother showed me a photo of my great-great grandmother.
I got butterflies deep in my stomach. She was striking, broad, tall, fierce as all-hell. She stood two rifles strapped across her chest in a line of men, who she was mostly taller than. She was the kind of friend you would want on your side. A divine thought came through me then, with a clear sense of knowing, so I haven’t doubted it since: “She is guiding me in my queerness.”
Being in a relatively liberal but very heterosexual family, the sense of peace and strength this gave me was immense. The sense that she was helping me ‘come in’ to my queerness, and this feeling that I was supposed to exist, just as I was.
My nan went on to explain that according to her Ancestry DNA research, that this badass woman was on the front lines of the Greek resistance and died there via gunshot. I have so many questions for her, but all I will say here is that If she did not exist, neither would I.
I have a question for you: What queer warriors existed so you could be here? Visualise them. Speak with them. Trust them.
Some of the language we have around sexual identity and gender may be ‘new’. However, being queer is not. To rebel against the social norms of gender binaries, against boxes labelling who and how we love, and other restrictive patriarchal bullshit that is really in essence is about power and fear.
To be queer is not new, but, I can say with absolute certainty, it is as worthy and needed as it ever was.
To my great-great-grandmother who fought the frontlines with men who didn’t deserve her strength, to the witches coming ‘in’ to the world and themselves, to the witches that still find a way to move through us with pride, and to every queer that has learnt to transform external hate and judgement into self-love and community care:
"Remember you are water. Of course, you leave salt trails. Of course, you are crying. Flow. P.S. If there happens to be a multitude of griefs upon you, individual and collective, or fast and slow, or small and large… grief is the growing up of the heart that bursts boundaries like an old skin or a finished life. that grief is gratitude. that water seeks scale, that even your tears seek the recognition of community. that the heart is a front line and the fight is to feel in a world of distraction.
— Adrienne Marie Brown, Emergent Strategy"
We don’t grieve what we don’t care for and your existence is the magic.