Historically, there have been a lot of seemingly unsavory things associated with witches: Witches have been said to commune orgiastically with the devil, to wield unspeakable and dark power, to threaten the very foundations of heteropatriarchy, and to generally terrify children. These are all things that resonate deeply with us at Broadly.
As a truly dark power stirs in the US, we look back on some of our most glorious witch stories of 2016.
In December of 2015, in an online Queer Witch Collective, a magic user casually offered to ship some human bones they had found in a New Orleans cemetery to other members of the group. The ensuing fallout shook Tumblr to its core, resulted in endless discourse about traditional practices, appropriation, and privilege, became the year's most bizarre meme, and resulted in a criminal investigation into the alleged grave-robbing witch. A year after the controversy, we looked back at the infamous "Boneghazi."
Every year on the summer solstice, Stonehenge is opened to the public, who descend upon the venerated stones for an all-night celebration, culminating in the sunrise, on the longest (and arguably most mystical) day of the year. We went this year and embedded among the crowd, which contained a strange mix of druids and drug-addled teenagers. Most importantly, we met the Merlin of England, to whom I may now be married, though I can't be certain.
William Rouser has been waging a decades-long battle over his right to practice Wicca in prison. He's not alone: Across the country, other incarcerated witches are fighting for recognition so that they can pray to the Old Gods and/or the Goddess as they please.
According to ancient lore, witches used to keep pilfered penises in baskets and feat them oats and other nutritious grains. You can tell this myth was invented by men because the vast majority of women would want a friendlier, more interesting animal companion.
A comprehensive look at sex magic, a centuries-old practice in which one harnesses the power of the orgasm for spiritual manifestation, from its roots in a semi-mythical Tibetan kingdom, to its dubious association with infamous occultist Aleister Crowley, to its modern-day associations with feminism and sex-positivity.
For Lakeesha Harris, being a black witch is about reclaiming ancestral knowledge about witchcraft and using it to fight deep-rooted, systemic oppression. This is why she founded Black Witch University, which will open its doors on 2017's spring equinox.
Witchcraft is thriving in Romania, and even politicians fear its power. We met one of the most respected and powerful witches in the country to cast some spells, brew some potions, and celebrate the solstice. (Unnervingly, she predicted a Third World War.)
Brock Turner, who sexually assaulted an unconscious woman behind a dumpster, may have evaded justice among mortals, but witches across the country attempted to make him reckon with the supernatural.