When one thinks of witches, they usually imagine the green-faced Witch of the West from The Wizard of Oz or the witch from the story of Hansel and Gretel. However, witches are still around and using the tools of their trade to perform ceremonies and rituals that their forbearers have been practicing for centuries.
One photographer, Katarzyna Majak, decided to photograph these women to shed light on those who do not follow the traditional path set aside for women in Poland. These women instead are in tune with themselves and with the spiritual world.
“I had realized there was something amiss around,” Majak explained to The Huffington Post. “I intuitively felt what the mainstream offers to women does not satisfy their deeper search.”
Even beginning this project called to a part of Majak that she did not know existed.
“When I started working on the project I felt some kind of attraction or ‘calling,’ to get deeper and stay open,” she explained. “This must have been the witch calling me, and I followed my instinct.”
“I show women live examples of empowerment, women who live their own lives and follow their own paths, and are courageous enough to show their faces, with the hope that this will empower others. These are women who know who they are: they are their own queens.”
She eventually collected 29 pictures of these amazing women.
Maria, a healer and a visionary, from “Women of Power” series. Courtesy of the artist and Porter Contemporary Gallery
Poland is not the only country with practicing witches. Although many witches must be careful because many prominent religions do not appreciate their presence, to put it nicely. Many women who do not follow the mainstream are considered witches and persecuted for it.
One such woman from Ghana shares her tale of false accusation and fleeing for her life:
Her nephew had accidentally pricked his finger with a needle, and the finger swelled up with infection. Bleg hadn’t been there. But the next morning, she says, her brother-in-law arrived outside her house. “Witch!” he allegedly bellowed for all her neighbors to hear. “Witch!” Then, her nephew’s older brother began beating her, she says, and soon others in the village joined in.
A soothsayer was asked to conduct the ritual test that determines the guilt or innocence of the accused. Slitting the throat of a fowl over a shrine, he threw the dying bird into the air. If the fowl were to fall on its back, it would indicate her innocence; were it to fall on its front, it would prove that Bleg was a witch.
The bird fell on its front.
“I ran,” Bleg recalls. “I knew if I didn’t, they would kill me.” (Newsweek)
Katarzyna, an herbal healer, from “Women of Power” series. Courtesy of the artist and Porter Contemporary Gallery
Witches are people who revere both the God and the Goddess. They seek a more friendly relationship with their natural environment, endeavoring to recognize the sacredness of all of nature. Witches, further, seek to utilize cosmic or psychic forces to do their bidding. To this end, the practice of witchcraft involves knowledge and skill in appropriating the rituals that are believed to harness and focus these energies. (Modern Witchcraft)
These women are not evil. They perform a useful service for those who come and visit them. One such group of witches, located in Eastern Poland, are called the Whispering Witches. They use linen, prayers, chants, and all sorts of other tools to heal those who come to them. Doctors even come and visit them.
Unfortunately, many of the natural remedies that witches use in other countries and even in America are considered unsafe or even illegal. One has to be very careful about how they talk about the natural remedies they use. Even essential oil users cannot state that their oils cure anything. They can only say words like “help” or “may improve.”
But what are people really terrified of? Is it witches or a change of their belief systems. We believe Western medicine is best. We think women should stay within a particular role, become a wife, and care for their families. We believe that the only important thing in life is getting ahead and staying ahead.
These women are not being persecuted for being witches. They are being persecuted for challenging modern beliefs and making people uncomfortable.
One can learn more about modern witchcraft and the roots of these practices from the many different documentaries available on the internet. This one is about Irish Pagan Culture, and I find it truly enlightening.
Take a look at these healers, spiritual leaders, and witches. They are not scary. They are powerful! They are leaders! They are strong!
We need more pictures like these!
Natalia LL, an artist, from “Women of Power” series. Courtesy of the artist and Porter Contemporary Gallery
Justyna, MA-URI, from “Women of Power” series. Courtesy of the artist and Porter Contemporary Gallery
Joanna, Leads women’s circles and ceremonies for women, from “Women of Power” series. Courtesy of the artist and Porter Contemporary Gallery
Anna, Babka, a whisperer, from “Women of Power” series. Courtesy of the artist and Porter Contemporary Gallery
Elwinga, a druid, from “Women of Power” series. Courtesy of the artist and Porter Contemporary Gallery
Kasia Emilia, “The One, who Is,” from “Women of Power” series. Courtesy of the artist and Porter Contemporary Gallery
Paraskiewa, a whisperer, from “Women of Power” series. Courtesy of the artist and Porter Contemporary Gallery
Bea, “The One who Listens to the Woods,” from “Women of Power” series. Courtesy of the artist and Porter Contemporary Gallery