Letting the juices flow: reclaiming the body through witchcraft

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This chapter reports on my current research with young Australian women who identify as witches. Through analysis of ethnographic material collected through interviews and participant observation with individual witches and collectives, I will investigate the articulated practices of these young women, specifically focusing on experiences concerning sexual pleasure and the sacrality of the body. I will examine how these young women embody the label ‘the witch’, how this relates to ritual practices involving nudity and how they reconfigure external classifications of their femininity through such reflexive bodily practices. The female body as a site of contested and conspicuously moralised practices has long been a focus for oppressive language, often within a masculinised frame, that marks the female body as problematic and necessarily subject to control and management. Witchcraft and the witch serve as a symbolic resource for reconfigurations of femininity. This chapter will explore the complex and nuanced ways by which witches resist traditional definitions of femininity, even while faced with intensifying scripts of deeply ingrained bodily gendered norms. Some of the ways through which young women resist these definitions are by utilising nudity, menstruation and tattoos. I will explore the role of these bodily techniques in Reclaiming rituals, examining, in particular, what prompts young women to participate in rituals, their experience of this and the deeper meanings embedded in the choreographic elements of Reclaiming rituals.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEmbodying Religion, Gender and Sexuality
EditorsSarah-Jane Page, Katy Pilcher
Place of PublicationAbingdon OX UK
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9781003130291
ISBN (Print)9780367649555
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameGendering the Study of Religion in Social Sciences

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