Posted Under Paganism & Witchcraft

Yes, Witch, You Are An Artist! Embracing the Intersection of Art & Magic

Witch Serpent by Laura Tempest Zakroff

It's much easier to convince someone that they can do magic than getting them to believe they can make art—which is really saying something when you think about how anti-magic modern culture generally is. But the intersection of art and magic is vast and open to the whole of human experience —so why is the making of art such a challenge?

Sure, society loves to see magic in movies, read about it in fictional books, and cast magic spells in games, but suggesting to the general public that magic is real will get you some hard eyerolls and maybe even a call for an exorcism.

It takes a great deal of unwiring for most adults to get past fantasy and fictional ideas of magic and accept their own power to influence the world around them. As children we embrace the power of our imaginations and see far more of the world than adult eyes can ever focus on. But we tend to unlearn our abilities and relegate magic to the back closet so we can be accepted. It's funny to note that in trying times, especially behind closed doors, those same people rolling their eyes at magic will abandon their jaded attitudes to ask for a spell to solve an urgent need, seek out psychic readings, and even whisper about paranormal encounters.

To become a Witch or other kind of magical practitioner requires going against the social grain and embrace that there's more to the world—and ourselves. There's a lot of baggage to overcome, but when we acknowledge the magic within us, everything shifts!

But tell those same Witches that they, too, can make art? They tend to pump the brakes and put up walls on reflex. I've taught my Sigil Witchery workshop hundreds of times, and every single class the same thing happens. As I explain the method, there's at least someone dwelling deep in the fear that they can't possibly do art. And for that one vocal person, there's usually more waiting in the wings, thinking the same thing. Yet every time, within days or weeks of the workshop, that same person sends me a gleeful message (usually with an image of their newly created sigil attached) saying, "I did the thing!"

And the joy I feel that comes from that never gets old. Because those folks managed to break the barrier in their minds that told them they couldn't make art. With a little practice, focus, and imagination, they're doing the thing!

Which brings us back to the question: why is making art often more elusive than doing magic?

Just as society has stereotypes and prejudices against magic, art-making also faces a similar treatment. In the last couple of centuries especially, art has been simultaneously elevated and denigrated. We have the rise of "Fine Art" culture alongside the "starving artist" stereotype. There's "real art" that goes in galleries and museums and then there's "decorative art" that's relegated to the mass market in the guise of home goods and other consumeables. The kind of gatekeeping done in the artificial "Fine Art World" has little to do with talent, practice, or vision—and much more to do with money, trends, and social constructs. Aspiring artists are told they should get "real jobs" or otherwise face of life of poverty and misery. Far too often in our schools, the so-called humanities (music, literature, art) are considered electives, severely underfunded, or have been banished altogether. Everywhere there is judgment, arbitrary limitations, and imposed restrictions.

But art is an integral part of being human, and we suffer by it being relegated to certain people and places. It has been a major part of our development as a species, not only spiritually and emotionally, but also physically. From our ancestors painting in caves to the design of cities, art has been with us all along, creating us as we create art. Being able to express ourselves, communicate with each other, and explore our experiences through art is something that we should know is available to each of us, in our way ways. It's not a matter of comparison of abilities or so-called talent, whether something is "good enough" to be hung on a wall or whether you can make money of it`51;simply making art is a powerful experience. Yet with all of this baggage, we tend to shy away from making art, believing we're not able or allowed to do so.

It's time to shut down that line of thinking. Right now. You don't have to be an "Artist" to make art, just like you don't need to identify as a Witch to cast a spell. But both art and magic are improved through practice and experience.

There are so many things that art and magic have in common as well, including:

  • Uses and strengthens imagination
  • Involves creative problem solving
  • Connects us to the world around us
  • Sharpens our attention to detail
  • Enhances memory and focus
  • Uses symbolism
  • Expresses and shares ideas

The more we connect art and magic in our lives, the more we are able to influence, inspire, create, and empower. The thing is, you're likely already tapping into your inner artist when you work magic and just aren't giving them credit for it. How? Here are just a few examples:

  • When you're carving and dressing a candle with a specific intention, choosing symbols, colors, and other items with which to adorn the candle
  • When you're setting a room for a ritual, building an atmosphere by use of color, sound, light, scent, garments, and decoration
  • When you're drawing sigils and other symbols on your body as wards of protection, empowerment, and healing
  • When you're doing a guided meditation or other form of visualization
  • When you're arranging your altar to reflect the seasons, celebrate festivals, or honor deities
  • When you dress or adorn yourself in certain colors and metals to tap into an energy or power

There are countless other ways as well you're already using art skills in your magic. Imagine what's possible if you leaned into making art a little more! Here are a couple suggestions to help get a little more art into your practice:

  • Get a little sketchbook. Draw without erasing and keep going even if you think you've messed up. Look at the world around you for subjects: plants you're working with, animals, deities, symbols.
  • Play with automatic drawing. Get a large sheet of paper and a nice marker. Set a timer for 1-3 minutes. Put on some music if you'd like. Close your eyes and allow your hand to move until the timer goes off.

For more ways to see how you can incorporate more art into your magical practice, overcome fears, refine your sigilcraft, and collaborate with others, check out Visual Alchemy. And go make some art!

About Laura Tempest Zakroff

Laura Tempest Zakroff (she/they) is a professional artist, author, performer, and Modern Traditional Witch based in New England. She holds a BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design, and her artwork has received awards and ...

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