Witch Hunt: The Darkest Night of the Year

feature image via Shutterstock

Is everyone following the twitter account @poetastrologers? It’s my favorite new thing. They keep on calling me and all my friends out in the harshest way possible. I’m never going to get over this twitter account, and neither should you. They somehow manage to be cut-to-the-bone truthful and hilarious at the same time. I thank Cecelia for getting me into astrology so that I could eventually get into this twitter account. Astro Poets makes sure to do a good job and cover all the signs, calling us all out and showing us our deepest truths and realest pop culture comparisons. Check out just a few of these.

The other night was the Winter Solstice, the longest night night of the year and a big night for us witches. Or at least for a lot of witches. It’s the longest night of the year, and so that might seem dark, but that also means that each day after it will have more and more daylight. It’s a night of rebirth and renewal. Honestly, this year I was travelling and tired and busy, so I didn’t do anything. What did you do? What are your favorite solstice rituals? What kind of power do you get from the darkest night of the year? What kind of renewing energy does it give you?

I really loved this article about 5 women, including Princess Nokia, and how they use religion to navigate the modern world. Also, here’s a thing about the Salem Witch Trials and “our miserable present.”

Dead Lesbian Society Pin Pack #01 : Maya, Lexa and Tara

At Autostraddle we had a ton of witchy or witch-adjacent content. We had another brilliant Queer Horoscope by Corina, as well as Cecelia’s Aesthetic Rising, which is a wonderful, insightful and fashionable take on queer horoscopes. We had an article about the magical realism book When the Moon Was Ours and another about queer high fantasy novels. There are probably witches in those, right? I also wrote about my top ten ghosts from this year, which is spooky and therefore sort of witchy. Finally, Cameron Glavin designed the absolutely wonderful dead lesbian pins that include one of our favorite witches, Tara.

Playlist: Crystal Ball


Words With Witches

by Rachel

scrying: a method of divination that can be accomplished through a variety of mediums, including but not limited to crystals, water or liquids, fire, smoke, mirrors or other reflective objects, or even attempting clairvoyance through a trance state without necessarily employing an outside medium. Some practitioners say that the medium of scrying is useful only in serving as something to focus on, helping create a mental state for the practitioner that allows visions or insights to be perceived. Many folk magic practices, from repeating “bloody mary” in front a mirror to older practices that claimed young women could see the image of their future husband if they looked into a mirror in a darkened room, are variations on scrying practices. It’s a broadly defined enough practice that there are no universally agreed upon precepts or schools of thought, but there are many specific practices that fall under the larger umbrella of scrying, from lecanomancy (scrying into a dish of liquid, usually water), anthracomancy (scrying into glowing coals), scyphomancy (scrying into a cup or goblet), or captromancy/enoptromancy (scrying into a mirror). Modern witches may use other reflective surfaces, like the darkened screen of a smartphone or laptop.

Poisonous Plant Corner

by Laura M

Attention witches! This is your scientist friend dropping by to tell you not to eat this plant. Probably don’t try to count the leaves either, because it’s a waste of time? Anyway, here’s what they’re saying at Blarney Castle in Ireland. Caption: “Buxus sempervirens, Common Box. This evergreen shrub is, generally, thought of as purely decorative but it has an important role in keeping witches from entering the house or, when used as a border, from stealing plants in the garden. Witches use knowledge as power and, hence, can tell you the numbers of every branch, every twig and every leaf of every plant — except box. The plant is so compact and the leaves so small that when a witch tries to count them she, inevitably, loses her place and has to start again. This leads to its being planted near the door of a house so that a witch, seeking entry, will be found counting its leaves, over and over. Contains the alkaloid buxine which causes nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. The leaves are poisonous to humans but its unpleasant odor and bitter taste tends to minimize its ingestion. Farm stock, especially cattle are said to have grazed box bushes if they get into gardens. Death may occur through respiratory failure. Contact can cause skin rashes and the clippings should be handled with care. Trials by French workers seemed to show that an extract from box was helpful in reducing the amount of HIV virus in an infected person. This work was done before the present antiretroviral drugs were available and there is a dedication that further trials are being undertaken.”

My Favorite Witch

by Carmen

Hillary Clinton cast a spell on me and now I’m hers. Plus, I think Rush Limbaugh has some evidence about her actual life of witchcraft that he shared with Bernie Sanders but we may never see that since nobody is gonna leak their emails.

Magical Potion of the Month: Belly Heat

by Raquel

Brrrrrr, it’s cold, cold, cold. Even in Texas, we’ve hit some temperatures that make my extremities want to fall off my body (I won’t tell you the temperature, because non-southerners will laugh at me).

Despite its typical portrayal, this month can be a one of complications: maybe you have to deal with family, or figure out how much vacation time you have, or make sure you get the right presents for everyone that matters, or you’re just trying to avoid having to watch Love Actually. Whatever your challenge this month, this is a simple cocktail to calm your nerves and warm your insides. I also thought it was high time I made a bourbon cocktail, for all you whiskey-lovin’ queers!

As always, I believe in experimentation, adjustment, and what-the-hell winging it. Take every instruction as a suggestion, add more or less alcohol to taste. (Warning: I tend to like things strong, and please—let me know if you’ve improved upon what I’ve given you!)

The Belly Heat


  • 2 shots of Bourbon (I used Knob Creek)
  • 1 swig of maple syrup and/or local honey to taste
  • 1 tiny drip of vanilla extract
  • 1 dash of nutmeg


Put a pan over medium heat and pour the bourbon, maple syrup, and vanilla into it. Mix in the nutmeg and stir until it’s warm but not yet steaming.

Take it off the fire and let cool until you’re satisfied it won’t crack your glass and pour it in. If you’re feeling especially cozy, pour it into a mug.

Sip and breath deeply as the bourbon burns down your throat. Let its heat spread deep in your belly and allow yourself to be thankful for something, even if it’s only the end of the year. Let yourself feel warm, and let that warmth act as a surrogate for love. Wrap yourself in a blanket.

If you hate bourbon, I highly recommend mulled wine or pouring rum into your tea.

I feel like a cinnamon stick would be a perfect addition / stirrer to this, but I didn’t have any in my house. If you try it, let me know how it goes.

One last note — my beautiful roommate Angela received some bourbon balls from her lovely mother and they were a masterful pairing. If you’re into some no-bake baking, I highly recommend giving it a try!

Before you go! Autostraddle runs on the reader support of our AF+ Members. If this article meant something to you today — if it informed you or made you smile or feel seen, will you consider joining AF and supporting the people who make this queer media site possible?

Join AF+!


Mey Rude is a fat, trans, Latina lesbian living in LA. She's a writer, journalist, and a trans consultant and sensitivity reader. You can follow her on twitter, or go to her website if you want to hire her.

Mey has written 572 articles for us.


  1. I love winter and the solstice. This was true even before I moved to the planet Arrakis (Arizona).

    I love the winter because we can be outside without getting overheated with intense UV irradiation. My DNA appreciates not being subject to mutating rays when biking around outdoors.

    I love the winter because it feels like everyone is getting renewed, they’ve sunken their roots down into whatever sustains them and are mulching over the experiences of the year and growing into some new promise for the spring.

    I love winter / the night because the hardship of the cold brings everyone together, undoes some of the superficial social heirarchy of the summer: we all look the same bundled up in winter clothes, and we’re all equally helpless / need each other’s help to navigate icy sidewalks and snowed-in driveways. Winter brings our common humanity to the surface in very concrete, practical ways.

    Combine that with the turn towards holiday giving and spending time with loved ones, and doing something special like with food or a trip to the bookstore, is so nice.

    Last thing: most people know that the reason we have seasons is because the Earth is tilted on its axis of rotation: it walks around the sun each year with a permanent slouch, instead of standing upright.

    What I didn’t know is that the reason it has the tilt is due to a planetary collision with early Earth that was powerful enough to knock it off-kilter. BLAM-O! suddenly, we have seasons. :^D

    Also, days on early Earth were only about 6 hours long; they’ve stretched to 24 hours over a few billion years because the inertia of the liquid oceans slowed down the rotation. This is an ongoing process. Neat!

    Happy holidays everybody!

  2. I went to an amazing awesome cool so fun parade/festival at Kensington market in Toronto and there was singing and drumming and shadow puppets and storytelling and I got to see my friend BREATHE FIRE and fire dance with her mom and brother and it was all so BEAUTIFUL!!!!!

  3. I made congri (a bean dish) yesterday without even thinking because I’m a summmer solstice baby, winter makes me wilt and kinda hibernate. Meaning I kinda just want to hide in blankets, sleep and try to survive on beef jerky and a canteen of water and not do anything else.
    There an instinct to make large dishes of food that can be portioned out into multiple, easy to reheat meals when cool weather hits so that I don’t do that.
    Beans in general symbolise energy in times of lean and renewal to me for Sicilian-American folklore reasons, they don’t have to be fava beans to mean good things.

    So um go instincts I did a thing?

    Also got some good sleep in and naturally woke early to start on my baking.
    I re-portioned a banana cookie recipe and am working on subbing wheat flour for rice flour in a sweet potato cookie recipe. The people with gluten issues in my life claim I am flattening them up with my usual peanut butter cookies.

    Magic using reflective surfaces is one of my taboos b/c old school superstitions ( Once you open “things” you can’t be sure they’re closed.) Like talking boards/trying to commune with the dead, you don’t know who or what is answering you. With reflective surfaces you can’t know who’s looking too.

    In a certain religious practice of a certain (old) religion I am not naming when they do a calling for a specific entity all reflective surfaces are covered with a nulling cloth and everyone in the room during this ritual has to have followed the path to a certain degree and earned/found their guardians, be wearing the items of those guardians or leave the room.

    If you’re going to mess with magic involving reflective surfaces, use wards of some kind please.
    Normally I’m like YDY whatev but not with this, deep in my bones not this.

  4. I went to a 6am solstice drumming concert. I’ve been going to this event for years and I love it. It’s not a religious ceremony – it’s a concert by two jazz drummers, but it’s so incredibly spiritual. It’s held indoors – the only light comes from a few candles and glassblock windows. It’s pretty dark at 6am and by the time it ends at 7 or 7:30 it’s fully light.

  5. Happy Solstice witches! I went for a snowy forest walk and then stayed in and read in the evening.
    And yes there are definitely witches in some of those high fantasy books!
    Am loving the playlist. ❤️❤️

  6. We had a solstice bonfire in the snow on Saturday and on the solstice I made sun bread with my toddlers at work and it worked! It brought the sun for a whole day before the skies grayed over again.

  7. I’ll be honest I don’t know anything about witchcraft or believe in it particularly but my dad pointed out that my mum was out picking herbs for a special mushroom dish on the evening of the winter solstice and now we’re all intrigued as to what might happen! should I be scared? I will be helping to eat the mushroom dish tonight

    • If the herbs aren’t poisonous and the mushrooms are only sentimentally “special,” very little should happen :P

  8. This year’s been a monumental reset for me. I put a lot of effort into reassessing things, mainly my values and friendships and my relationship with myself. It’s been difficult and terrifying at times, but I’m grateful for it too.

    I went to a hot meditation session on the solstice (sort of on a whim) and wasn’t sure what to expect… Knowing how my anxiety can get, I was worried I’d start panicking, but it turned out to be lovely and very cleansing. Which sounds about right, but that “being anxious about becoming anxious” phenomenon can be sooo difficult to quiet. Anyway, success!

  9. Bless this post ??
    I’m chilling on a loveseat with an armrest pillow (my partner calls these elephant crotches). It’s wee hours of Christmas Eve. I’m so thankful that there are other witchy queers and queer witches out there.

  10. Believe it or not it’s summer down here in, like, the b-side of the planet or whatever. Here is our beach themed Pagan-ish Aussie Christmas tree – there is a stylised sun on top to reinforce the solstice idea, which is technically a star anyway so that’s kind of cool. It’s my last weeks with my queer found family before I move away so it’s bittersweet and heartachey.

  11. Not sure if anyone gets notified about comments on this post, but I was just wondering is the facebook coven still active? I’d love to join the group

Comments are closed.