My name is Vi, and I am a queer atheist witch. Because all three of these identities have been erased in mainstream culture, many people have misconceptions about what each one means. When the three collide, well, let’s just say people have questions. Many, unfortunately, are borne out of fear, as queer people, atheists, and witches have been painted as the bad guys a lot of the time. Here are seven things I’ve been asked most frequently about the intersection of my identities, and what I hope are some clarifying and reassuring answers.
Question 1: You’re a witch who practices the Craft, are you still an atheist?
Yes. Being an atheist simply means you do not believe in a god or gods. Thus, I do not identify as a pagan or a Wiccan, as both tend to build their Craft around god-worship. Thankfully, the Craft is flexible enough to accommodate a wide range of people. Also, it’s worth noting that not all atheists are skeptics, and not all skeptics are atheists.
Question 2: You’re a queer witch, doesn’t that contradict the binary masculine and feminine underpinnings of traditional Wicca?
Yes. There has been a historical struggle to include queer individuals in the more traditional versions of the Craft, which are based on ancient fertility cults that placed primary emphasis on cis male and female attributes. Again, thankfully the Craft is a flexible medium and has since evolved to be more inclusive. This inclusiveness is actually mythologically accurate if you consider the queer nature of many of the pagan gods and goddesses used in facets of Craft worship (see the myth of Artemis and Callisto, for example).
Question 3: Are you queer because you’re an atheist, or an atheist because you’re queer?
Neither. My sexual preferences are inherent and not influenced by beliefs or worldviews like theism or atheism. Nor did I choose to stop believing in a God based on my sexual preferences, as the God I believed in previously had nothing to say about the morality of queerness.
Question 4: Doesn’t magic contradict science, which is a bedrock of atheism?
Harry Potter versions of magic certainly do fly in the face of science, but that is not the kind of magic the majority of the Craft claims to use. Instead, it has more to do with tapping into the subconscious, aligning energies, and being aware of our connection to the Universe, all things that have quite a bit of overlap in science. For example, some scientists are now positing a “proto-consciousness field” that permeates the universe, something Eliphas Levi discussed in the 1800's as the “astral light” in The Doctrine of Magic.
Question 5: If you’re an atheist witch, does that mean you work with dark magic without fearing consequences from a higher power?
Not at all. My atheism has nothing to do with my morality, and many witches are actually extremely moral. The basic tenet is to do what you want as long as you harm no one (including yourself). However, there are many additional safeguards, such as the Rule of Three, that come into play to promote benevolent magic and discourage witches from using their powers for ill. These tenets have nothing to do with belief in a higher deity or deities.
Question 6: If you’re a queer witch, does that mean you do a lot of sex magic?
No. Neither being queer nor being a witch make someone more sexually promiscuous, although both have been vilified in the media as such. While sex magic can be very powerful, I’ve only completed one rite skyclad and have never participated in ritual sex.
Question 7: Which label came first, second, and third?
First I called myself queer, then I called myself an atheist, and finally I called myself a witch. What came first is irrelevant when it comes to where I place primary importance. I would say that I think about my atheism most often, the Craft second, and give the least thought to my queerness (because it’s just who I am, not a worldview).
If you have more questions for me about any of these identities or how they intersect, feel free to ask them in the comments!