“Witches, Sluts, Feminists” will give you a whole new outlook on the occult
“Witches, Sluts, Feminists” — oh my! Might as well be lions, tigers and bears because this trio is a force that is just as fierce.
If you didn’t know (I didn’t), witchcraft and Wiccan culture are strongly rooted in feminism. Kristen J. Sollee wrote a book on the subject, with the kind of history you are actually going to want to read because it highlights witchy feminism throughout the years in literature, art and even fashion. Yeah, that UNIF pentagram sweater you have in the back of your closet might just be feminist AF.
We talked with Kristen and she shared her thoughts on badass witches both real and imagined, the fourth wave of feminism and how some famous suffragettes were actually super witchy.
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What famous fictional witch do you feel has the strongest feminist undertones?
It’s so hard to choose just one, but maybe whip smart teen witch Hermione Granger? Or as far as a character arc goes, the three witches in “The Witches of Eastwick.” They really go through an awakening process where their friendship is challenged by patriarchal thinking when a handsome devil enters the picture, but in the end discover their greatest powers lie within and with each other — and what’s more feminist than that?
Do you believe in magic and witchcraft?
What’s something surprising you found while researching your book?
How witchy the suffragettes were. I had no idea Elizabeth Cady Stanton wrote the Declaration of Sentiments on a table used for séances, or that Matilda Joslyn Gage was reclaiming the word “witch” as a feminist rallying cry back in the 1890s, or that Sojourner Truth’s spiritual practice has a lot of elements we’d likely label as witchcraft today.
Which feminist icon do you call on when you’re needing some strong inspo?
Elvira all the way. She may not generally be considered a feminist icon, but she inspires the hell out of me with her spooky, witty AF double entendres, her sex positive skewering of sexism, and her hypnotic décolletage.
Witchcraft is full of ritual, what’s one of your own personal rituals?
I enjoy working with the moon cycles. A little candle magic and self-pleasure with a chakrub and a heavy metal soundtrack goes a long way to meet my needs.
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What popular current trends are taken from witch culture?
Herbalism has always been a part of witch culture, and working with herbs, oils, balms, and salves is more and more an avenue folks are exploring to cure what ails them or to conjure a little something.
Describe how you made the initial connection between witches and feminism.
Of course the connection was being written about long before I was born, but for me, it all came alive when I started to draw comparisons between the way the word slut functions in society today and how the word witch did centuries ago.
What are the most laughable misunderstanding regarding witches, the occult or anything groups you reference in your book?
That anything and everything witch-related is devil worship. Like, hello, witches don’t need some all-powerful male figure to draw their power from.
How would you describe the fourth wave of feminism to those who are completely clueless, but want to get woke?
Some folks are still debating if the fourth wave exists at all, but Jessica Valenti proposed the fourth wave was online even back in 2009. To me, it’s defined by internet discourse. Digital connections are the engine of today’s activism, and today’s feminism, and that’s what’s at the core of the fourth wave.
The baddest, coolest feminist witch from history?
Definitely Marie Laveau, the 19th century voodoo queen of New Orleans. She ruled the city both in life and death, and brought people of all races and classes together with her syncretic magical practices.