Photographic Alphabet: D is for Frances Denny
Photography by Frances Denny
Photo Editor: Xinxin Zhang
“About MAJOR ARCANA: WITCHES IN AMERICA”
Major Arcana: Witches in America is a collection of portraits of women from across the United States who identify as witches. As early as 15th century Europe, people condemned as witches faced a cruel fate: torture, and in many cases, death. Yet despite its history, recent decades have seen a reclaiming of the word “witch.” In the mid-20th century, emerging pagan communities in the United States and Europe began embracing the term, and since then, “witch” has been adopted by a diverse group of people. Major Arcana explores the various ways the notion of witch-ness belongs to those who claim it, representing the witch as a self-sought identity that both empowers and politicizes its bearer. Each woman photographed for Major Arcana (including genderfluid and trans individuals) pursues a form of witchcraft, whether aligned with a religion (like Wicca or Voudou) or a self-defined practice. No two individuals inhabit the term “witch” in quite the same way, but many consider themselves pagan, and engage in a diversity of traditions, including: mysticism, the occult, politically-oriented activism, polytheism, ritualized "spell-craft," and plant-based healing. Among those included in the series are self-proclaimed green witches, white witches, kitchen witches, hedge witches, and sex witches. “Witch” is a mutable term, belonging to a wide spectrum of people. Major Arcana reflects that spectrum, re-framing the witch as a feminist archetype and the contemporary embodiment of a defiant, unsanctioned femininity.