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What Is Witchcore? The Aesthetic Gaining Popularity on Social Media, Explained.

On Wednesdays (and all the other days) we wear black.

American Horror Story Coven

If you ever feel lacking in personal inspiration, you need to only look on the internet. On social media, there has been a huge wave of aesthetic trends. The various aesthetics group together an appearance or vibe that people can use as guidelines for fashion or home decor. Some people go a bit more extreme with their adherence to their “core” aesthetic and forget that there can still be problematic aspects to it.

In 2020, Cottagecore (a celebration of cottage life/simple country living, lots of floral prints, and pastels) made it to the mainstream news. A more recent trend focuses on the neon pink vibe with Barbiecore. Another one on the rise celebrates all things Stevie Nicks—wait, no, I mean all things witchy (but Stevie is close enough). Let’s dive into the moody and beautiful world of Witchcore.

We’ll always have witchcraft

During times of worldly troubles, humans turn towards witchcraft. Overall, it gives us a sense of control and a way to understand the seemingly random (and usually negative) events in the universe. Using potions, herbs, and rituals calms us. So, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020, Witchcore (and people identifying as witches) grew into an internet subculture. Who doesn’t want a magic potion (salts and herbs) in their baths to relax instantly? And almost everyone has wanted to see into the future by having their tarot cards or palm read at least once.

Even before 2020, a witchy theme had been stirring since the 2016 election. Using witches as an empowerment symbol among women worked to rebel against the patriarchy. One example was the widespread appearance of the phrase “we are the granddaughters of the witches you weren’t able to burn” on protest signs on t-shirts. Although witchcraft (and all things related to it) is not a gender-specific practice, it is something that draws in a huge amount of women. With the focus on goddesses (and Mother Earth), self-empowerment, and lack of a condescending father figure, it only makes sense why people who feel powerless in other aspects of society love it.

Maybe she’s born with it, maybe it’s sorcery

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Spellman House

Witchcore is for everyone, not just people who identify as witches. If you are familiar with the ongoing list of specialized aesthetics, Witchcore is like a combination of Naturecore and Dark Academia with a dash of the mystical. There are dusty tomes, crystals, overgrown plants, glass bottles, herbs, and candles. Brooms, cauldrons, tarot cards, and celestial-themed items also pop up often. Most animals are welcome, such as snakes, crows, and owls—and of course, cats. Lots of cats, especially black ones. Basically, anything that you think a witch would own or be associated with will appear in Witchcore.

For clothing choices, black is always in (but other colors are acceptable). Flowy clothing, large-brimmed hats, and silver jewelry round out the look. Inspiration for outfits can come from popular media like American Horror Story: Coven, The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, and witchy classic The Craft. Or you can try getting ideas from The Owl House. It may be billed as a kids’ show, but it is full of super cute witchy stuff and is one of the best shows on television.

As always, tread wisely

A popular aspect of Witchcore is the act of sage burning or smudging. Many do not realize this is cultural appropriation. The use of white sage to smudge a person or an area is a tradition specifically from Native American cultures. Not only is it now trendy to do something indigenous people were once punished for practicing, but such mainstream use of the plant is causing over-harvesting, leaving those who use it for spiritual ceremonies with a dwindling supply. Instead of sage burning/smudging, do a smoke cleanse using homegrown sage, incense, or other herbs. People used smoke cleansing practices all over the world, so you are more than likely to find something that fits with your personal heritage.

For me, the trend is kind of a mixed bag. I have been a practicing witch since I delved into the craft around the age of twelve. This means I have traveled down the path for over twenty years. On the plus side, I can now find clothes and housewares that fit my tastes at mainstream stores. I mean, they are now selling Wiccan books at Target. It also makes “witches” much less scary and off-putting. Witchcore may even be a way for people to explore witchcraft in a non-threatening way and become full-fledged witches.

However, I would like to remind people that some of us are witches who have not had a lot of community acceptance for our “aesthetic.” In the past, wearing a pentagram or dressing “witchy” made you a target rather than cool. Teachers, strangers, and co-workers have harassed me for my beliefs over most of my life. So, please remember that for witches, we don’t wear certain symbols because they look cute; it is because they hold power and meaning to us.

Overall, if it makes you happy (and doesn’t hurt anyone), do what you want. We can all wear big hats, light a candle, and dance under the full Moon while “Rhiannon” by Fleetwood Mac plays in the background.

(featured image: FX)

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D.R. Medlen (she/her) is a pop culture staff writer at The Mary Sue. After finishing her BA in History, she finally pursued her lifelong dream of being a full-time writer in 2019. She expertly fangirls over Marvel, Star Wars, and historical fantasy novels (the spicier the better). When she's not writing or reading, she lives that hobbit-core life in California with her spouse, offspring, and animal familiars.