Witchy Women: Witchcraft, Fashion, And Feminism
Every Stevie Nicks fan knows all about the allure of the magical woman. From her iconic wild twirls to “Rhiannon,” a song about an old Welsh witch that entranced audiences across arenas worldwide, to — despite having had many lovers — defiantly remaining a successful single woman through her 70s and counting, the revival in the cult of Stevie speaks volumes about our current cultural values. In a political age that threatens to bring social progress back into medieval times, there has never been a more opportune moment for the celebration of female power.
Historically, the image of the witch has been used to oppress and subjugate women. Women who were self-possessed and self-aware, who didn’t fit into the traditional roles of motherhood, didn’t rely on men, and had a handle on the natural and supernatural — who had the ability to bend the elements to their will and use their power to achieve their own ends — were seen as something to be reviled and feared. Ugly and terrifying, we have the landmark image of the spinster witch sacrificing animals in her hut, staring into a cauldron down her long, warty nose.
Now, however, while there is still a strong association between female power and witchcraft, in a culture where the focus is on feminism, this association has taken on a positive spin. Rather than something to be feared, the modern witch is one to be revered. Indeed, much of the logic behind equating witchcraft with female power stems from a place of awe for the woman who is strong and effective: Magic, a possible explanation for the “I don’t know how she does it” factor.
And while the sheer capacity of female ability can feel superhuman — think of the mother juggling children, work, home life, and art — the modern witch movement is all about self-love, self-care, independence, and empowerment, and almost every medium is answering the call. Open up Instagram and you’ll see crystals, moons, and pentacles galore. Magic-centered lifestyle and art magazines such as Luna Luna Magazine and Witchcraft Magazine celebrate the power inherent in magic, while popular beauty brands such as Rituel de Fille champion the ritual of makeup as cosmic empowerment. Clothing lines such as the LA-based FOXBLOOD take a poppier approach to witch culture, celebrating the creepy cute and gently occult with flowing black tunics and pentagram-back dresses, while Blackcraft, another popular LA-based brand, uses Satanic imagery to show the inherent power of belief in the self. Models of all shapes, sizes, races, and aesthetics are featured, subverting the traditionally accepted look of beauty in favor of authenticity, diverse representation, and personal style.
According to Sarah Durham-Wilson, a former editor at Interview magazine, the word "witch" itself means something different than it used to. “To us,” she says, “the word ‘witch’ relates to a powerful female energy that’s been repressed for too long.”
Modern feminism is not only about allowing women the same rights as men, it celebrates choice — a woman’s right to personhood — and for many, witchcraft and feminism are the ultimate pairing. Last Halloween, Vermont’s Feminists Against Trump held a “witch-in,” where a mass hex was cast against “The Great Orange One and the racism, xenophobia and sexism he feeds on.” The idea, said group organizer Laurie Essig, wasn’t just to cast a spell on Trump, but also to “make some good feminist magic to surround ourselves with.” That connection has proven to be a necessary thing: in an increasingly digitally connected society, we find ourselves feeling increasingly disconnected from ourselves and others, the natural world, and our inner lives. Social media and the culture of comparison create a serious drain on our emotional well-being, and through reconnecting with our higher purpose, modern witchcraft helps us to reclaim our power and spend our energy wisely.
This Samhain season, in an homage to vibey — to quote Stevie Nicks — superwomen everywhere, we are proud to be designing a line of cosmetics and beauty tools inspired by the modern witch. As the supportive community of powerful women continues to grow with the movement, we are excited to see more and more brands join the coven.