What is a Death Witch?

What is a death witch?

Death witch and death witchcraft are somewhat umbrella terms that encompass a wide variety of beliefs and practices.

You’ll often find that no two death witches engage in the craft or paganism exactly the same way, but many have similarities. This can really be said about any magical community at large.  For instance, Wicca has a specific framework attached to it, but Wiccans tend to operate uniquely inside that framework and ideology.

That being said, what are some things that fall within the death witchcraft spectrum?

Spirit Communication:

One of the core tenets for most death witchcraft practitioners is spirit communication. Seances (which means to commune with the dead) have been a part of every culture throughout history. In the UK, Canada and the USA, seances became popular during the Victorian era thanks to a movement known as Spiritualism.

Spiritualism began as a religious movement in the United States, often within different sects of Christianity. Today, there are various registered religions around the world based on spiritualist beliefs and principles. However, not all people who identify as spiritualists are part of an established religion. Generally, when referring to spiritualists and spiritualism, it means people from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries (and today), who believed that communication could occur between the living and the dead.

People communicate with spirits in various ways, the most popular of which is through divination methods such as tarot or spirit boards. If you’d like to learn more about this, you can check out my book on the subject, The Book of Seances.

Ancestor Veneration:

Working with the spirits of your ancestors, or honouring them in some fashion, whether through ritual or not, is a form of ancestor veneration.

Many death witches work with their ancestors through magical practices and traditional genealogy for various reasons. Some do so to heal familial trauma or help different spirits on the other side, while others aim to improve their current lives in some way. Most fall somewhere between the two. Ancestor work is deeply personal, and there is no single right reason to participate in it.

Working with your ancestors is about establishing a relationship with death and everything that comes along with it. This includes the spirits of your ancestors, as well as the spirits of other humans and of sacred areas belonging to the dead, such as graveyards.

We all have ancestors, and we all can benefit from building a posthumous relationship with them.

If you’d like to learn more about this, I implore you to read my other book, The Book of Ancestors.

Necromancy:

While both spirit communication and ancestor veneration are forms of necromancy, there is another part many death witch practitioners engage in. That is the communication or summoning of spirits to learn about the future, change the outcome of a situation, or accomplish something using the spirits of the dead.

Necromancy is used in spellwork, from getting a job to hexing your neighbour. Like ancestor work, there is no one right way to participate. It is up to the death witch herself how she’d like to do this work.

Death Doula and Death Positivity:

Because death is something that happens to all of us, the practice of being a death doula or participating in death-positive activism is often an important aspect of the craft of a death witch.

In the simplest of terms, a death doula is like being a midwife, except you’re not helping bring life into this world; you're helping a life end and move on to the next phase.

Death doulas can participate in a broad range of tasks from healthcare to ritual and spiritual work, and not all identify as witches.

Death Deity Work:

Like most people who identify as a death witch, there are certain gods and goddesses who rule over death and the underworld in some way that I work with consistently.

In most mainstream pagan practices, death is ignored until autumn or winter because that is when most of the earth experiences metaphorical and literal death (E.g., the life cycle of plants). But a death witch recognizes that the deities of death are active year-round, though they might be busier during certain times of the year.

In conclusion...

Death witchcraft is a deeply personal and diverse path, with each practitioner bringing their own unique approach to the craft. Whether through spirit communication, ancestor veneration, necromancy, or death positivity, the practices of a death witch are rooted in a profound connection to the mysteries of death and the afterlife.

If you're curious about exploring this path further, I encourage you to delve into the resources mentioned, experiment with simple practices, and, most importantly, follow your intuition and personal beliefs. Remember, there is no one right way to be a death witch—your journey is your own.

For more insights and detailed guides on death witchcraft, please check out my books, The Book of Seances and The Book of Ancestors, and explore the rest of my blog for additional articles and resources.


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