The Rise of the Witch

Girls were once raised to aspire to princess-hood — but in 2018, it’s all about making your own magic

Selin Yasar
Published in
5 min readOct 29, 2018


Photo: Larm Rmah/Unsplash

Once upon a time, books and cartoons told little girls that princesses lived a perfect life. A princess was pretty, wealthy, talented, and would fall in love with and marry a brave prince who would rescue her from an evil stepmother or a fierce dragon. She would live happily ever after in his castle, busy having babies while her prince would rule the kingdom and protect her. Any girl would wish for this life, right?

Well, no, because what a woman really wants to be is a witch.

The figure of the witch used to be portrayed as a hag, an old, stooped lady with a hooked nose who was jealous of the princess and tried to kill her. Successive waves in modern literature, music, fashion, television, and films contributed to creating a more positive image of the witch in popular culture, especially in the 1990s and 2000s. She became younger, stronger, sexier—and a hero. She became fashionable. In more recent years, the #witchesofinstagram also put a spell on social media with nearly 2 million photos shared using this hashtag.

Now if we step away from fiction — and yes, this includes Instagram — real-life witches can be a source of inspiration beyond their aesthetics.

Unlike a princess, a witch chooses her path and works and studies hard to achieve her goals.

“A witch is a woman who will not conform and who proclaims herself as feminist. It’s an identity that has free rein with rebellion, with self-creation,” explains Christina Oakley Harrington, high priestess and owner of an occult bookshop in central London.

Unlike a princess, a witch chooses her path and works and studies hard to achieve her goals. She is a woman empowered by her knowledge of different sciences: herbalism, divination, astrology, spells, etc. She’s a seeker; she is looking for answers and wants to explore her abilities.

“I think in the modern age, driven by social media, it’s a period where the older monotheistic traditions are sort of starting to fade away. There’s no one truth. There are a million truths on Google. News is…