How Do Modern Witches Look Today?
Portraits of twenty nine polish women: modern witches, sorceresses and healers.
In her series Women of power, polish photographer and writer Katarzyna Majak portrays twenty nine women between the ages of thirty and eighty, who practice different religions and spiritual traditions related to sorcery, witchcraft and shamanism.
In this series, the artist categorically breaks away from our world’s stereotypes of what female beauty should be. Through this portrait collection, Majak redeems the power of femininity —embodied in the archetype of the mother goddess—, the implicit and profound beauty of old age and the plurality of religions and alternative practices that exist in in Poland, a nation that is prominently Catholic.
The project, which was born as a series of photographs or interviews, wound up becoming a book, since the amount of information and content gathered by the artists deserved more than the mere exhibition of the images.
In an interview about her work, Majak asserts that “There is a noticeable women’s spiritual awakening, which is aimed to balance the feminine and masculine, to raise the feminine so that they are both on the same level and neither gets excluded or diminished.”
In the portraits, taken in front of a white backdrop, the women seem powerful queens of the past, saints or goddesses; almost all of them are clad in their ceremonial attire and, at the request of the photographer, hold their power talismans in their hands. Some of the women’s religions or practices are: Cherokee rites, Sufi, Wicca, the ancient druid religion, Buddhism and ancient herbalist and shamanistic practices, to name but a few.
The powerful gaze of the women portrayed by Katarzyna Majak seems to cast a spell over those who observe them. Concerning this, the artist states:
I was interested in whether you can actually transfer energy via photograph. I asked them to heal a potential viewer, look at the lens with a potential to help, get in touch with the energy. I was curious if it is possible with a two-dimensional image–a portrait–to feel that, to transfer that, if there was any magic that could come from just looking at someone else’s image.
In a certain era, witches and sorceresses were a threat —they have been persecuted and murdered since remote times. The role played by these women, whatever their era and culture may be, has always existed as an expression of female power. Thus, Women of Power is the vindication of the role they play in our own age, and it is also an expression of the profound need to re-enchant the world we inhabit.
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