So mote it be! : an anthropological investigation of contemporary feminist witchcraft
Macdonald, Helen M.
The aim of this thesis was to produce an ethnography of contemporary feminist witches and the practice of their 'craft' in New Zealand, particularly the Otago and Canterbury regions. Data was collected over a sixteen month period using the traditional anthropological method of participant observation and formal interviews with practising witches. I became a member of a coven and participated in its formation with other interested women who attended a course on ritual making. Upon meeting witchcraft practitioners, I attempted to place them in a sociological pigeonhole of 'witch', which defies definition. It became evident that contemporary witches encompass a set of chaotic images, each with important implications for ritual practice and the self labelling process. By naming herself a witch, a woman empowers herself with a history, and a set of ideological beliefs, that challenge the prevailing rationalistic and scientific world view. The practice of witchcraft expands beyond important religious implications to provide the resources and tools for a political agenda compatible with feminist, environmental, alternative health, art and peace movement ideologies and protest strategies. Their world view is best explained through eco-feminist theorising that acknowledges the connections between women, ecology and spirituality, and explains why 'witch' is used as an all encompassing self-label by these women, instead of other equally valid but limited labels such as 'femmie', or 'greenie'.
Advisor: Kolig, Erich
Degree Name: Master of Arts
Degree Discipline: Anthropology
Publisher: University of Otago
Research Type: Thesis