November 8, 2022 / Leave a Comment
If you’re just discovering Witchcraft or Wicca, it’s hard to not get overwhelmed by all the books and “types” of practice there are out there. You know you’re a witch, but what type of Witch are you? It’s important to know that you don’t need to pick one to the exclusion of the others when you’re starting out. It may take you a while to really feel out what works for you and what you love best. It’s also possible that you may not want to choose to identify only with one, or might want to focus on one or the other depending on the season.
Why Choose a Type?
Many schools of witchcraft focus on initiation and working for a period of time beforehand. This can be attractive to you if you like delving deep or if you like discipline or the focus. There’s also a certain amount of accountability that comes with focusing on a tradition or a path, especially if you are pursing something designed as an actual course of study.
If you have a family or ancestral tradition you may be intrigued by that, even if it’s a distant connection. This can be tricky, as often these traditions are buried or were abandoned in the preference for assimilation or lost during generational or interpersonal difficulties. Or, perhaps you are adopted and yet feel connected to the traditions of your adoptive family. There are all sorts of issues and challenges with spiritual vs. genetic allegiance, some of which we’ll discuss below.
You may also just desire to feel an identification with something, and feel like “witch” is too generic. Whatever you do, we recommend you avoid the diminutive term “baby witch.” Being a witch is all about honoring and recognizing our own power. Just because you’re starting out doesn’t mean you’re at all a child or “less than” anyone else.
There’s always a consideration of sensitivity to other people’s culture. Cultural appropriation is when you adopt someone else’s culture to use for your personal benefit, particularly without doing so with respect or taking any responsibility for doing any work on behalf of that culture. What you do in the privacy of your own home is up to you, but if you are taking pictures or sharing your practice on the internet it’s an important consideration.
It is, however, difficult to not feel like you’re appropriating a culture if you are out of touch with your own ancestry or if your ancestry has been squashed or scattered. It can also be the case that in a previous live you did belong to a culture and that’s why you’re attracted to it. And there are people who believe that wisdom belongs to all humanity, not specific people.
It’s up to you to figure out where you stand on things. Generally, if you are sensitive to the topic and behave with any amount of respect you’re probably ok. If you’re interested in a particular culture’s practices and concerned about feeling like your practice is authentic, you can study with a living teacher and join a specific lineage.
Types of Witchcraft
The word “witch” came from the word “wicce,” or wise one—and in the old days it was likely that the town witch knew all sorts of things that no one bothered categorizing. In an era of the internet and millions of books with not enough time, people feel the need to define themselves. There are possibly infinite types of witches that we are not listing here, but here are some of the more popular ones you might come across when you begin your studies.
A hedge witch is akin to a green witch in terms of a focus on herbalism and the natural world, but has a special interest in the liminal spaces of the world and the boundaries between one place and another. Their work can include shamanic journeying, work with plants found at the edges of places, or work conducted at the edge of culture or society. Hedge witchery may be for you if you’re attracted to the fringes of things.
Patti Wiggington has a good description of the hedge witch on her web site here. Joanna van den Hoeven just released a wonderful new beginner-friendly book called The Path of the Hedge Witch: Simple Natural Magic and the Art of Hedge Riding.
The Kitchen Witch has been around since the first hearth and fire. Yet, it’s also a bit of a new invention that came along with the fondness for instagram-ready recipes, a plethora of cookbooks, and a desire to come back to the center of the home. The kitchen witch focuses on, predictably, kitchen magic — which includes cooking, the blessing of appliances, and the magical tending of what is often the heart of the home. Kitchen witchery may be for you if you don’t like nature or if you’re a homebody.
There are vast numbers of grimoires and cookbooks available for the kitchen witch these days, but a few of our favorites are The Book of Kitchen Witchery: Spells, recipes, and rituals for magical means, an enchanted garden, and a happy home by Cerridwen Greenleaf, and Kitchen Witchery by Laurel Woodward.
The Green witch is focused on herbs and plants and the cycles of nature. You don’t need a degree in herbalism to be a green witch, but you might enjoy dedicating yourself to a methodical course of study.
You can also garden and grow your own plants for magical use. Even if you don’t have outside space, you can grow things in pots on your windowsill. Having a strong relationship with a few plants is just as useful as being in touch with a garden-load. We recommend Arin Murphy-Hiscock’s Green Witch and Page Vanderbeck’s Green Witchraft as good entry-level books.
It is worth mentioning that any foray into ingesting herbs should be done with caution — plants are medicinal compounds and can have varied effects on different people. Also, many teas or tinctures are not meant to take long-term. It’s important to have a trustworthy book and/or a herbalist to consult.
A house witch focuses on the magic of the home, which is’t restricted to the kitchen like the kitchen witch. If you’re a homebody or interior design enthusiast but hate to cook, this might be fore you. House witchery can involve crystals, feng shui, color magic, and possibly altars on every uninhabited horizontal space.
Arin Murphy-Hiscock has a wonderful book called The House Witch: Your Complete Guide to Creating a Magical Space with Rituals and Spells for Hearth and Home. You can also find many ideas on Pinterest that can help you manifest your intentions for the different rooms of your house. House witchery can be exciting because you can mix it with interior decorating and feng shui and all sorts of ways of feathering your nest.
It can be difficult being a house witch if you have housemates or live with people who either don’t share or are hostile to your spirituality, but there are always ways around this. No one needs to know that the hand-made garland hanging above your door is for protection or that the pretty rose quartz sphere on the table is for radiating love.
Perhaps your biggest choice as a witch is whether you want to work on your own or with others. Both have their merits, and your choice will depend on your personality and inclinations and whether you can find other people locally who share your focus.
You are more likely to find a coven or a group if you want to dedicate yourself to a specific tradition. If you’re eclectic (meaning you want to piece together aspects of your practice from various traditions), you may end up having to do your workings on your own.
Even if you do most of your practice by yourself, it’s still possible to get together with others to celebrate Sabbats or Lunar Cycles. You may have to initiate such things yourself if you want to find people who aren’t already celebrating with other organizations.
Oddly (or not) there are fewer current books specifically dedicated to the solitary witch, and even Silver Ravenwolf’s tome Solitary Witch: The Ultimate Book of Shadows for the New Generation was published in 2003. The COVID years forced a lot of people into becoming “solitary” witches, and many have adapted their rituals and celebrations to an online format. Online groups are a great way to be solitary, yet social.
Most witches who belong to a coven are some form of ceremonial witch, meaning that not only do they follow a specific tradition but have specifically designed rituals in which everyone plays a different part. This can be a huge convenience if you’re new to witchcraft and ritual. Sometimes the logistics of ritual order and materials can seem overwhelming, and having someone else run things can really improve your enjoyment of the whole process as well as help you learn as you go.
It is also true that elements of ritual and ceremony make it easier to enter an energetic space different than the one you occupy when you’re working, making dinner, or navigating ordinary life. Sinking into a good ritual can feel wonderful, especially if you’re not solely responsible for all the details.
You can also be a ceremonial witch on your own if you enjoy ritual, and your rituals don’t necessarily need to be complex. The difference between a ceremonial witch and a not-ceremonial one is largely a matter of regularity, discipline, and interest in staying consistent with various magical correspondences. If you prefer to do things off the cuff as they come to you or don’t like feeling confined to specific procedures, this might not be for you (look for another future article on Chaos Witchery.)
Which Witch are You?
Remember that unless you dedicate yourself to a specific coven or tradition for any specific amount of time, you’re allowed to experiment and see what works for you. Even if you do join a coven, you’re allowed to change your mind. Just because you’ve invested time in something that ends up not being a good match doesn’t mean it’s wasted time.
You may also find that your spirituality can’t be confined to one “type.” If you have a closet full of clothes and want to be able to wear what you feel like on any given day, why would you limit your spirituality to only one “look?” The main issue to consider is whether you’re continuing to “play the field” instead of committing to a serious study. It’s easy to read book after book and try different things, but at some point this takes away from the quality of any actual practice you might have.
Remember, the basic foundation of witchcraft is personal power. You want to tend to yourself and not dissipate your energy. But just as it’s difficult to grow a garden and keep your kitchen clean, witchery itself is a path that takes work and dedication but also humor and humility. If anything, be yourself.