It’s not that I didn’t engage in witchcraft – I’ve kept a spellbook since I was 13. But some of my best childhood memories were of wandering the yard to meditate with old cottonwood and apple trees. I’ve devoted my spiritual life since I was a girl to communication with tree souls, the gods, and animal spirits.
I’ve thought of myself as a pagan before a witch, a priestess before a magician, an animist before a spellcaster.
When I joined the British Druid Order on the beginner course in 2019, I was delighted with the teachings, the stories, and the concepts presented in the curriculum. It had the spiritual ecology I was looking for, but I still felt a crushing grief about the climate and environmental degradation. I realized that what I was looking for was not necessarily a belief system that I could personally identify with, but a toolkit for me to draw upon when I need to engage in action.
I’ve decided that green witchcraft might just be that toolkit I was looking for all along. I haven’t done a formal dedication ritual yet (I think I’ll save that for Beltane), but I have spent the last year reading, learning, and exploring if this is really what I want to do. I’m not one to embark on a new magickal or spiritual journey lightly!
Despite some of the drawbacks and critiques I have of green witchcraft, ultimately these four reasons are guiding me to take the plunge.
- Caregiving from Seed to Sprout
In essence, green witchcraft is an opportunity to re-wild one’s psyche through caring for a variety of vegetation from seed to sprout.
This was actually one reason I had decided that green witchcraft was not the path for me. Green witches are expected to have green thumbs. Of course, there isn’t an expectation to wake up one day and build something on par with A Secret Garden – a window planter of herbs would probably do. But I do not have a green thumb, and I’ve moved internationally so many times in the last six years that keeping anything more than a succulent or two has been impossible.
But this tenet of green witchcraft is essentially what I’m looking for as an eco-pagan and environmentalist. My primary critique of modern life is that we see nature as not only separate from us, but in perpetual servitude to our needs and consumption habits. The green witch’s garden not only pushes back against this but goes a step further by incorporating natural methods of pest prevention or irrigation.
- Aligning Humanity with the Environment
Green witchcraft doesn’t rely on any specific tools. It emphasizes the use of natural, organic materials that can be found on a forest walk, the seaside, or a desert canyon. Like many eco-pagans, I’ve become increasingly frustrated (and at times disgusted) with how magick, wicca, and paganism has become commodified. There are levels of tolerance to this, though. Some people don’t mind the plastic tools or hyper-witchy aesthetics flooding their Instagram feeds. At least we all came together and drew the line at Sephora’s witch kit in 2018.
However you feel or don’t feel (I for one do have a love for aesthetic witchcraft…), I’m proud to be on the first steps of a path that actively promotes disengagement with materials that are produced unsustainably or unethically. I believe the best magick comes directly from the source, that a river pebble is as powerful as aura quartz.
As I mentioned, honoring tree souls is foundational to my spiritual life. Green witchcraft recognizes the oversouls and individual personalities of plant and animal species. This recognition leaves plenty of room for interpretation and differing approaches. Some green witches are very involved with the good people (faeries), others follow the Green Man, and still others are animists from the perspective of an indigenous spiritual tradition.
Nature is varied and wild. One doesn’t need to look far to see that. I appreciate that green witchcraft doesn’t place firm boundaries on how one should or shouldn’t interpret the spiritual realms and personalities that animate the natural world; this inclusivity is crucial.
- Folk Magic
As an eclectic pagan from Jewish heritage married to a southerner, there are many traditions that enter our household. We have a variety of symbols, totems, books, and habits that are sourced from Ancient Egypt to the Canaanites, from medieval Scotland to New Orleans Vodou. These in combination with our own invented traditions, learned habits, and good luck practices given to us by our family line have created a very colorful tapestry of associations and beliefs.
There can be contradictions and conflicts among these – that’s the essential risk of an eclectic pagan path. But it’s important to me that any tradition I follow or engage with leaves space for nuance, variation, and the magic offered by other paths. Green witchcraft embraces folk magic and localized traditions. There isn’t a dogma or list of no-nos that you might find in other witchcraft traditions.
Truthfully, one reason I never fully identified with the term “witch” or devoted myself to magickal study was that I didn’t see the purpose of it. I’ve always held an attitude of attracting what I desire in life through a magnetic pull energetically or, when in great need, calling upon a god or goddess for assistance in manifesting or healing. The spells I have done were deeply intertwined with those deity relationships and energetic balances: I cannot think of a single spell I’ve ever done that did not call upon a god or goddess for blessing, help, and direction. This, combined with astral plane work, divination, and general engagement with spirit realms led me to adopt the identifier of hedge witch for years as a placeholder.
Yet, again and again I came across green witchcraft in my studies and found myself giving it an approving nod. It wasn’t until we were shut inside during the pandemic that I sat down and explored why I felt that magickal path – above all others – to be worth considering. It took some journaling, research, and experimentation, but I’m thrilled to begin something that I know will be a challenge and fulfilling. I’m so excited to eventually call myself a Green Witch.