How Joining a Witch Community Helped Me Become a Better Feminist

“Do you want to join our women’s circle this Thursday? It’s open for everyone.”


I was at a café with a small poetry reading group back in 2017, pre-Covid time, when I approached a performer to express how much her #MeToo poem had moved me. Chatting together, she invited me to a women’s circle the following week.


What was a women’s circle? I was skeptical after checking the event titled “New Moon Ceremony” on Facebook, which had a picture of candles surrounded by crystals, leaves, and branches. The first thought that struck me was: is this some weird white hippie ceremony? But, being curious, I ended up going.


The event was held at 7pm at one of the women’s houses. The space was open, with mats and pillows lying around. There were flowers, some candles, Tarot cards, and sage already lit and burning. Cozy.



Some women were already chatting, exchanging clothes, catching up. I didn’t know anyone at first and felt a bit out of place in my work clothes, but stayed put and continued making small talk.


The event started with 10 women sitting in a circle, all of them Westerners. I was the only Thai woman there. We began with some light yoga and a little meditation, then horoscope readings. As we read our horoscopes aloud, we were welcome to reflect on the text and share a part of our lives, or what we felt.


Some shared very personal stories. One woman cried while talking about her trauma. Everyone listened. We were reminded that this was a safe space and we could leave at any time.


I left the event feeling like: “Wow! There is a world I didn’t know existed and it’s for women. A safe space for women!”



I continued to join the events, which take place every new moon, for months. We did all kinds of “witchy” stuff, like writing something on a piece of paper that we want to let go of and burning it, standing in the yard barefoot in a circle and chanting affirmations, and verbally expressing thanks for parts of our body.


Being raised in a conservative society in Thailand, I found this group refreshingly open when it came to talking about the female body. Now, I feel more comfortable talking about things like periods and vaginas, while some my Thai friends in their 30s are still afraid of using tampons.


I left the event feeling like: “Wow! There is a world I didn’t know existed and it’s for women. A safe space for women!”

The women intimately shared and connected in this safe space. Even though I didn't know everyone very well, they shared a part of their story with me and listened to mine.


I remember eagerly talking to my best Thai friend about the experience and was met with accusations: “Are you in a witch cult? Are you turning into a white, hippie farang?” The idea of opening up around women you don’t know seemed so foreign.


Types of Women: Mothers, Whores, Witches

The word witchcraft has had negative connotations for centuries. If anything is considered the opposite of “goodness,” it’s witchcraft. I should know, as all of our Thai vengeful ghosts are women, both in folklore and modern ghost stories, from Phi Pop and Phi KraSue to the infamous Phi Chong Air that was popular in the 2000s.

Modern Thai ghosts are always women: long-haired and pale-skinned, dressed in a white, flowy gown. Many of the guardian spirits we have are also women, such as Phi Ta Kien or Phi Ta Nee, who are believed to be protectors of the forest, but can also be vengeful and bloodthirsty when crossed. They are like mothers, fierce and protective - and people worship motherhood.


However, traits equally as natural, such as sexuality, are condemned and punished in women. Especially in conservative societies, a woman's motherly life-giving ability is highly regarded, but her periods and sexuality are still subjects of taboo. The Virgin Mary is a prime example of this. The patriarchy celebrates the womb, but condemns the vulva.


Even in the year 2021, significant roles for women are still very much defined by these binaries, the mother or the whore, while the women who don’t fit neatly into these roles are deemed “witches.” The trope remains: unattractive, unmarried, unwanted.



Women & Nature

What I’ve come to realise is that, historically, witchcraft was nothing but powerful women deemed dangerous and scary by the ruling gender, men. What made a witch anyway, but a woman with wisdom who could read the moon and the tide, while having a way with herbs such that she could create medicine from food?


Witches held a connection to nature in a way that was more powerful than any man could imagine, and so he could not assume it was anything but magic. In other words, it was merely a way men in power controlled and criminalized women they found threatening. This is what patriarchy does to something it cannot understand: it seeks to control, destroy, possess.


What made a witch anyway, but a woman with wisdom who could read the moon and the tide, while having a way with herbs such that she could create medicine from food?

Isn’t that what men do to nature, parallel to what the patriarchy does to women? The similarity between the conquest to possess, control, and defragment women’s bodies, and the Earth's body, is uncanny.



Being born and raised in Thailand with heavy superstition in every aspect of my life, from having a blessed name picked by monks to reading horoscopes on what color shirt to wear on what day, I spent my 20s rejecting anything that could not be proven by science. But what I have come to learn is that modern life and science is not everything.


Modern life and science have separated us humans further and further from our roots. Of course, that’s not to say we should immediately give up medicine and air-con in order to run around naked in the woods. It is to say, modern life as we know it has stripped our intuition away from our body, mind, spirit, and nature itself.


How far have we strayed that we have learned not to walk barefoot on grass or soil? Or not learned how to build a fire? Or how to grow food? Or learned about the moon phases and gotten in touch with our period cycle?


Considering there is so much humans do not know, participating in “witchy” activities, like learning astrology, is not something so far-fetched. These practices are not something white, or spiritual, or Western to me.



They are the world’s oldest wisdoms, not tainted by binary gender roles or built with social constructs meant to control people of color, women, and other genders who are deemed weaker, inferior people.


Modern life as we know it has stripped our intuition away from our body, mind, spirit, and nature itself.

These skills are something I can use to connect with myself, my ancestors, and my very roots more deeply than nationalities and societies allow. As a living thing on this spinning rock called Earth, no matter my cultural background, I welcome any knowledge that is not limited.


Witches as Feminists

Being part of the witch community allows me to get in touch with the elements. Something organic. Something not manmade. There is a reason Mother Earth is female, after all.


Embracing nature, intuition, and listening to your own body, in contrast with what society tells you, is a feminist act. I have crafted a new relationship with myself. With flowers. With nature. With the moon. With the stars. And most importantly, with fellow women.

There is nothing more rebellious in a society where women are “the other girls” pitched against each other to compete for male validation and attention (looking at you, Thai lakorns) than to surrender your accumulated judgements and ingrained prejudices with a group of women you find trust and support in.


It has always been women who have saved me over the years.


Embracing nature, intuition, and listening to your own body, in contrast with what society tells you, is a feminist act.

Witches, to me, are women of all ages and cultural backgrounds who are in tune with all parts of themselves and the earth; who embrace and value universal sisterhood, and rebel against societal constructs. Unlike the archetypes of the mother and the whore and the witch, each of us are magical beings in our own way and have many, many roles to play.


This community of witches has taught me that every woman is not “the other girl” I have nothing in common with, but a sister I do not yet know.



By Sirin Sinthupong

Sirin is a so-called “radical” feminist, a mother, a writer, a cartoonist and an activist. In her free time, she uses her period blood to paint flowers that celebrate the female body. Sirin is passionate about social issues involving women’s rights to their bodies, and intersectional feminism. Changing the world to be a nicer, safer place where women can freely walk alone at night is one of her biggest dreams. Born and raised in Chiang Mai, Sirin is currently in Phuket with her daughter and her dog.


Illustrations by Nicha Jaroensuk

Nicha is a Thai visual artist and copywriter currently based in Bangkok, Thailand. She’s passionate about all things art and has never read a story she didn’t want to illustrate. Curious and studious, she approaches every day with an insatiable lust for life and an indescribable love for art. You can follow Nicha's work on Instagram @gap.nicha and on her website: www.artindefinitely.com


Black and white photos by Rosalie Wilmot


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