“Being a mother and a witch are part of the same work in my view.”
As a new mom fumbling through the daily grind of work, caregiving, and what little social life I can manage to eke in, I often find myself wondering how other parents pull it off. Sure, I may be able to slog through the day, but the idea that I could do so while feeling calm? Collected? Powerful, even? A sheer fantasy. Some days I’m so worn down (or, as we say in my household, “like butter scraped over too much bread”), that I feel I’d need to summon supernatural energy to thrive — rather than just survive.
As it turns out, some parents are doing just that. For a growing number of people — including many mothers — witchcraft doesn’t begin or end with Halloween. According to one scholar, the number of Americans who identify with Wicca or paganism has risen from less than 200,000 twenty ago to nearly two million today. While I’ve always adored witch lore, I’d never thought of it in relation to motherhood. But with spooky season upon us, and Hocus Pocus 2 bringing me back to a nostalgic childhood favorite, I remembered how much witches — real witches, not the Disneyfied version — used to intrigue me. I realized that not only do modern witches abound, but many of them are also parents, which got me wondering… might they have some sage wisdom on childrearing? To find out, I turned to the moms who identify as witches to hear how practicing magic helps them raise their children and feel fulfilled and powerful in the process. After talking to seven witches, I got a sense of four overall parenting guidelines. Here’s how they do it.
1. Embrace your power
Many of the women I spoke to talked about how magic helps them claim their power. When Mya Spalter, author of Enchantments: A Modern Witches Guide to Self Possession, was a teenager, studying witchcraft was a way of understanding the power that she could sense in herself and her body. “If that power was going to exist, someone had to wield it, and I wanted that person to be me,” she says.
Nowadays, she defines being a witch as knowing that she’s in charge of her spiritual life and not subscribing to any particular set of doctrines or rules. She hopes to impart that belief to her child, teaching them that they can define spirituality for themselves.
Kristjana Hillberg sees her current beliefs in direct contrast to those of the Mormon religion in which she was raised, where witches and magic were seen as evil and not allowed. She said that feeling witchy is like “breaking out of a cage, challenging that community, embracing curiosity, and feeling truly liberated,” and she hopes to pass on these values to her children.
2. Honor your history and cultural traditions
Many witches consider their practice a way to stay connected to their cultural and familial histories.
Treva Van Cleave, a mother living in the Pacific Northwest, said that when she found out she was pregnant, she thought a lot about her maternal lineage. “I remember feeling afraid of whether I'd be a good mom, if I'd be able to protect our baby in the way she would need, and just more generally, the process of raising a child felt daunting,” she recalled. “There was a necklace my grandmother gave me that always reminds me of her, and I added this necklace to a ritual I did around fertility and getting in touch with my family's line of ‘mother's love’. I charged my necklace with the intentions of this ritual, and it continued emanating these intentions while I wore it.”
Throughout her pregnancy, the necklace provided comfort. “I felt like I could call on my ancestors through this process, and they would be there, giving me the wisdom, courage, and love I needed to be a mother.”
Kathleen Richardson practices Hoodoo, a form of African-American folk magic (also referred to as Conjure or Rootwork) and feels it’s allowed her and her daughter to connect on a deeper level. She explains that it’s not a religion, but the spiritual and supernatural tradition birthed in American slave plantations.
“As a Hoodoo practitioner, I first and foremost engage in rituals to honor my ancestors and invoke the supernatural and spiritual power to manifest health, healing and abundance for myself and my loved ones,” she says.
3. Trust your intuition
If there’s one thing that can make parenting way more overwhelming than it needs to be, it’s trying to heed advice from everywhere and everyone. Between friends, relatives, random articles Googled frantically at midnight, and social media “gurus”, it can be hard to know which person’s opinions to take. Many witches, in contrast, place an emphasis on trusting themselves.
Bethany McCarter, who was raised by a witch and identifies as one herself, said she teaches her children to trust their gut when it comes to sensing auras. For Van Cleave, tarot has at times connected her to her intuition. When she felt conflicted about bringing a child into today’s world, she turned to tarot and pulled the Star.
“This is a special card about hope and keeping an open heart,” she explained. “I come back to this again and again with mothering. This is the most humbling, challenging thing I have done in life, and holding hope that I can follow my intuition and keep going is sometimes all I have.”
4. Manage your parenting stress through ritual
Melanie Marquis, who wrote Witchy Mama: Magickal Traditions, Motherly Insights & Sacred Knowledge, says that at least once a day, she stands outside in the sun to feel the power of the sunlight flowing through her.
“I think about any uncomfortable or unpleasant feelings and tensions within me being driven outward, out of my body and away to dissipate. I exhale fully and slowly. Then I conjure a feeling of love in my heart and I imagine this going out in waves to my home, my neighborhood, my city, the world,” she says.
If she senses anything amiss, she sends out energies of protection and defense, and does additional magic as needed. “Witchcraft is a part of everyday life because magic is always an option in every moment,” she adds.
In the end, it’s all connected: “Being a mother and a witch are part of the same work in my view,” said Marquis. “We chase away the monsters, soothe the sorrows, and embrace the joy. We create a world for our children built on love and endless possibilities.”