Food for thought 2/2023: The Witch is Waking (Rewriting Collective Female Trauma, Part 1)



“We are the granddaughters of the witches that you could not burn.”


How do these words sit with you? What images and feelings come up? Do you resonate with them, or do you feel unease, resistance, disgust, rejection?

“We are the granddaughters of the witches that you could not burn.” - When I saw a young woman wearing a hoodie imprinted with these very words a couple of days ago, they struck me to the core. Hit a nerve. Made me raw, vulnerable, deeply sad. A very old wound cracked open. My chest constricted, and so did my throat. Tears welled up.

And then, all of the sudden, in came the rush, the high, the excitement! Some young women start reclaiming the label “witch” for themselves, I thought.  (“You say ‘witch’ as if it was a bad thing!” I also saw that day online, imprinted on another hoodie. – RIGHT?)

I am German, so we had more than our fair share of witch hunts back in the day. My fellow countryman Martin Luther (1483-1546), the seminal figure of the Protestant Revolution, also expressed himself many times over three decades on the subject of "sorcery" and "witches". Luther was convinced of the possibility of devil's pact, devil's bargain and harmful magic and advocated the judicial prosecution of sorcerers and witches. The statement of the Old Testament "You shall not let the sorceresses live" / “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live” (Exodus 22:17) was valid for him.

So in this vein, Europe set out to kill tens of thousands of its female population from the mid-15th to the mid-18th century. Until the last executions of “witches” in the Dutch Republic (1613), England (1682), Denmark (1693), Norway (1695), Sweden (1704), Scotland (1727), France (1745), Croatia (1758), Germany (1775), Switzerland (1782), and Poland (1783).

To this day the UNO and UNHCR regularly report witch hunt cases all over the world, by the way. Even Wikipedia states: “While prevalent world-wide, hot spots of current witch-hunting are India, Papua New Guinea, Amazonia, and Sub-Saharan Africa. While an unknown problem in vast parts of the Western populations of the world, body-counts of modern witch-hunts by far exceed those of early-modern witch-hunting.”

I was stunned when I read this.


In her efforts to help women to remember, reconnect and reclaim the word “witch” and its original (positive and powerful) connotations, the Brit Lisa Lister writes in her 2017 book “Witch. Untamed. Unleashed. Unapologetic.”:

“For many, hearing The Call will feel like a remembrance […] of who you were before ‘Patriarchy’ put all you fierce and feminine powers into darkness, called them taboo and then taught you to be afraid of the dark. […]


We carry the stories of women who were persecuted, burned, drowned, tortured and silenced because of their power; and we carry it in our very DNA. So waking and reclaiming the witch within us takes really big ovaries. […]


The witch is a woman fully in her power.


She’s in touch with the dark. She knows how to be the witness, how to let things go and how to follow her own counsel. Most importantly though, she questions EVERYTHING.


She’s connected, pussy to the Earth.


She hears the whispers of those who have gone before her, and she feels the ancient secrets that are in her bones. She’s the one who knows without fail that there’s more to this life than actually meets the eye.


She causes hierarchical power structures to shake in her wake.


She knows that in any given moment, she can be a hot mess, a woman of grace and beauty, angry and grief-struck, loved and pleasure-sated, tired and soft or raw and vulnerable.


She also knows that in some moments, she can be all of these at once.




Do you have access to this “remembrance” (as Lisa calls it) and the deeply traumatic witch-hunt experiences in humankind’s collective psyche? Through flashbacks or déjà-vus maybe? Or past life regressions? A vague feeling or a bone-deep knowing? An occasional connection or even permanent line to a collective memory bank? Or ancestors who were persecuted?


Do you feel called to share YOUR story?


© Kory Wynykom, 2023


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