29.10.14

Be Careful What You Witch For

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These days, if you call me a “witch,” I will smile and most like walk a little taller. I will smile and maybe even wink at you. I take so much pride in wearing that word from the inside-out.

Not the way most women would respond. I know. And it’s cause the word “witch” carries so much nastiness. With reason: it’s been sullied, dirtied, bloodied and nothing short of abused. For lifetimes.

This stigma is inextricably tied to the fact that for too long, women have been disempowered in regards to their bodies and self care.

Everything I do (my work, my lifestyle) has Self-Care at its epicenter. I cannot imagine living my life without this as the foundation. I feel blessed to live in a time and place where all the information and resources I need to thrive are accessible to me.

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This hasn’t always been the case (and still isn’t in many countries around the world today). Yet… there was a time when our female ancestors knew exactly how to flow with their cycles and were quite intimate with the wisdom of their bodies.

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There was a time when women predominated as healers. Until the medical profession replaced and systematically drove women out of their tradition to heal themselves and those around them. It was a power struggle which began in Europe during the early modern era, a time during which women lay healers began to be targeted as witches, and then persecuted as such.

It’s a way fucked up fact: The witch-craze and witch-hunts were a well-ordered, systematic and legalistic procedure. It was a persecution led by the dominant institutions: namely, the church & state. Many of the persecuted for witchcraft were midwives, cooks, and herbalists. (source: Witches, Midwives & Nurses by Barbara Ehrenreich and Deirdre English)

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This political and economic monopolization of medicine forced women to stop their practices. The wisdom and the connection to their bodies, to herbs and food and self care, was deeply severed. We’re still healing from it.

Take a look around you: the evidence is everywhere. Look no further than our current medical system. It’s true that more women have entered the medical profession in the last 30-40 years bla bla bla. But so what! It’s still a system that’s heavily fucked.

The persecution of women healers carried on for 4 centuries. Oh- and you didn’t even really NEED to be a healer to be burned at the stake. If you were intimate with your sexuality, or god forbid, inspired lust in men? Witch. If you gathered in privacy with other women? Witch. If you spoke out against what wasn’t right for you or your body? Witch.

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But really… a “witch” was a woman who trusted herself and her senses. A witch knew how to work with plants and deeply respected her environment. A witch gathered with other women to exchange wisdom, to do work together. A witch knew her way around the kitchen, her household, her body.

And all I can think about is the women today whose magnificent work has deeply helped me heal. I think of all the women circles, the books, the medicine. The teachers, the guides. Powerful women who are now thriving in what they do. The work that I do.

The history of witches and of women healers’ fate FUELS me to carry on. To do what I must as a student, as a healer, as a woman. As a witch.

So yeah. Please. You wanna make my day? Call me a witch.

{This Sunday, I’m hosting a Dia de los Muertos celebration called “A Witches’ Soiree”, where I will gather with other women and celebrate our female healer ancetresses.}



Welcome:

My name is Mishel Ixchel. I’m Ecuadorian-born &
NYC-bred. Western Mass is currently home, and it's also where I practice + teach the art of
Sacred Self Care.

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