No, I am not talking about Hermione Granger. When we say a witch, the first image that comes in our mind is – a broom, a cauldron, a wand and a black hooded attire. Ofcourse that is a western influence. The desi style is – long untidy hair, saree with the pallu brushing the floor, thick kohl lined eyes.
Traditionally, whom do we call a witch? A woman who practices black magic and does terrible things to others using it. Well, this is a belief which has got diminished with modernization and is difficult to digest if you are literate and well-informed. However, till date, news of this kind surfaces of some so and so lady being branded as a witch and mass beaten to death. These kinds of incidents are usually from interior villages where literacy rate is low, awareness of the outside world is minimum and superstitions are highly dominating. Many a times some male chauvinist in power uses it as a weapon to suppress a voice rising up or just to fulfill his criminal motives. The mindless violence that these women meet is just shocking.
Witchcraft is a wide subject having a fair share in almost every corner of this world. Paulo Coelho’s Brida gives us an Irish view on the subject. Brida can be anyone from us. One who is in search of the two utmost things in life – soul and soulmate. In her quest of these, she finds herself understanding the ways of witchcraft and starts practicing it to rediscover herself and the true meaning of our life cycle. The story emphasizes on will power. It says that, the rituals that are involved in witchcraft are practiced to strengthen our thoughts and according to Noetic Science – ‘’our very thoughts have mass and exerts minuscule amounts of gravity” – which we perceive as magic.
Somewhere we are like Brida. Always in search of oneself, unaware of our potential.
Artist, writer, activist and a high Priestess of Wicca Ipsita Roy Chakraverti breaking all social norms and taboos, has re-defined and re-established the term ‘witch’. She chose Wicca as her religion and declared herself as a ‘witch’ in 1986 which was followed by a lot of backlash and criticism. This 66 years old Indian born Wiccan Priestess claims of the healing powers of the Neo Pagan ways of Wicca and according to her –
“From pre-vedic times, India has worshipped Durga and Kali. Every culture and every civilization around the world has worshipped the female deity, who was a form of the great Mother Goddess (of Wicca). It was she, who was the first Witch…The Witch was always a symbol of the complete woman…Gradually, the power of a witch became a threat to both the male gender and to organized religion. That is when the inquisitions, the witch burnings and the bad mouthing started…Greek Goddess Diana, a patroness of Wicca, became a ‘Dayan’ in India…I have always maintained that every strong woman is a witch…” – Times of India
An author of Beloved Witch, Sacred Evil and The Spirits That I Have Known- she stood up for women battered as dayans in this callous society and initiated The Wiccan Brigade (The Young Bengal Brigade) which works out of Kolkata India. Padded by knowledge and financial resources, –
“Chakraverti started administrating Wiccan ways of healing to the people of India, including travelling to remote villages and teaching the Wiccan way to the female population, several of who were often accused of black magic and witchcraft by male folk and murdered.” – Wikipedia
Her choices in her life has shown us a new dimension to the dreaded subject of witchcraft or dakinividya, establishing the fact that knowledge and the right one free from superstitions is the only answer to the darker side of our culture. As the epitome of women empowerment she always portrayed a witch as the strong willed woman from any walks of life. Her works has been an eye-opener to those who think that the so called ‘weaker’ gender can be abused in the name of anything.
‘’We have mixed up ancient knowledge and superstitions.” – Ipsita Roy Chakraverti