What Do Witches And Drag Queens Have In Common?

I am convinced that RuPaul is a witch. 

Yes. I am talking about the one and only RuPaul Andre Charles who created the groundbreaking reality television series RuPaul’s Drag Race. Plus an empire of media and merchandise including his own range of chocolate bars. Goals.

Ru may not explicitly identify as a witch but he definitely wafts of witchiness.

During many episodes of his podcast What’s the Tee? Ru speaks with co-host Michelle Visage about spirituality. He describes the Universe as offering stage directions and human beings as “God in drag”. He adores Tyler Henry (a.k.a. the Hollywood Medium), meditation, Elvira, David Bowie (another witch if ever there were one) and astrology. Ru playfully refers to himself as a “Scorpi-co”. As a fellow Scorpio I have also adopted this term. It is much more fun to say. Try it. Scorpi-co. 

Ru’s not the only drag queen who has a witchy way about him. Aja, Max and Jinkx Monsoon are drag queens who are known to openly identify as witches. 

So, what exactly do these two groups of magical misfits have in common? 

*Disclaimer: I support my local London drag scene. Shout out to The Glory, Pecs Drag Kings, Heaven, VFD, The Crass Menagerie and Jonny Woo’s Lip Sync 1000. However, since lockdown I’ve found myself binge watching a hella lot of Drag Race so please forgive me if this post is Drag Race heavy. I blame COVID-19. 

Witches and drag queens play with language 

Drag queens are renowned for their playful relationship with words. Within drag culture a very particular vernacular exists (Okurrr. Sashay. Shantay). 

Similarly, witches share a special relationship with language and like drag queens have a soft spot for a magical motto or mantra. Some of my favourite witchy and dragy phrases (yes, dragy can be a word, why the devil not?) include:

Not today Satan

Blessed Be

Water off a duck’s back

Witches don’t make magic they are magic

Words are mercurial tools of transformation. Witches and drag queens know this instinctively.

Witches and drag queens begin their journeys in closets

From as far back as the 16th century European Witch Hunts to the 2016 mass shooting in the American LGBTQIA+ nightclub Pulse, anyone who has dared challenge societal rules on gender, sexuality or spirituality has faced persecution. 

Openly identifying as a drag queen or a witch was once a life or death decision. For some people it still is. In Saudi Arabia witchcraft is legally punishable by death. In countries including Tanzania, Gambia, Nepal, India and Uganda, it is not uncommon for people suspected of witchcraft to be killed by their communities. Homosexuality is punishable by death in 12 countries and homosexuality is illegal in 71 countries. Just think of the impact these laws have on drag communities around the world. It’s devastating. 

Fortunately in recent years there has been a shift in western culture towards wokeness. However, make no mistake that many modern witches and drag queens still feel pressured to keep their identities shrouded in secrecy, figuring that it’s just not worth risking a torrent of ignorance, ridicule or abuse. 

In the words of my main man Hamlet: to come out, or not to come out – that is the question.  

For me, The Brit Witch is part of my coming out process. Several of my witchy pals have given me kudos for sharing my witch status (for it do take nerve). Personally, (and I know I’m not alone in this) I worry that fully integrating my day to day life with my spiritual practice might lead to ostracism at work. I have no doubt that some of my muggle mates will struggle to accept my witchy ways. I’m prepared for awkward laughter, eye rolls and having to defend my views. But hey, I guess that’s a small price to pay, because what I stand to gain from speaking out is far greater: freedom to live honestly and holistically. 

As far as I’m concerned, the world would be a brighter and lighter place if society embraced drag queens and witches with arms wide open, infusing us with the confidence to come out of our closets shame free. 

It’s 2020 for Godess sake! Surely it’s time to ditch those closets once and for all? 

Especially Heidi N Closet. Please girl. I love you. Lose the closet.

Witches and drag queens choose their own names

Vivacious. Valentina. The Vixen. Three killer queens with three killer drag names. Many witches also embrace alter egos or witchy names. I go by Gem. Hi there.

I prescribe to the philosophy that names are like wands in as much as they tend to choose the witch. Gem found me quiet naturally. I suppose because Gem is very close to my birth name. I like that Gem reminds me of my collection of crystals. Gem is a three lettered word and three is my lucky number. But the cherry on top of the Gem cake has to be that when I say Gem deliberately and slowly it feels like I’m blowing a kiss. I love that. 

For me, at the heart of adopting a new name is the pagan ideology of “as above so below”. Which in a nutshell means earthly matters reflect the majesty of the Universe. Drag queens understand this thinking. On his podcast, Ru talks about the importance of having a name that vibrates at the energetic frequency you wish to operate on. 

Picking a name is an act of consciousness and a brave move towards shaping your own spiritual path.

Witches and drag queens love ritual

Whether you’re preparing a spell or a Lip Sync there is an inherent sense of occasion when it comes to witchcraft and drag. Ceremonial clothes are donned (thigh-high boots or a rose quartz pendant), offerings are made (a death drop or a carved candle) and intentions are set (I’m going to slay or I’m going to heal). 

I believe that drag queens and witches engage in ritual, performance and theatricality as a means of extending the sacred creative energy we experience within ourselves upwards and outwards to the Universe. 

Witches and drag queens honour divine femine energy

Historically, witches and drag queens have been reproached for our relationship with femininity. Whether we’re women not behaving the way women should, men not behaving the way men should or non-binary people who buck the gender staus quo all together. 

Interestingly, subconsciously or consciously, what has resulted from systematic shaming is an embracement of the very thing that these marginalised groups have been attacked for. Witches and drag queens celebrate ancient and sacred femine values. These values include empathy endurance, sensitivity, beauty, grace and creativity (yes, for me, I see creativity as an innate feminine value. Females do have the capacity to carry and create life and all that). Through embodying and expressing these values we honour the goddess within us. 

My personal practice is grounded in goddess worship. Above my alter I have three images: Sophia Loren (a little nod to my Italian heritage), a print of The Maiden by Gustav Klimt and a fantastical portrait of me as a tarot card gifted to me by one of my best friends. Every time I perform a spell I know that my work is being blessed by divine feminine energy. 

Likewise, lots of drag queens can be seen as performing their own forms of goddess worship by adorning their make-up stations with pictures of their mothers, grandmothers, sisters and female cultural icons. 

Alongside paying homage to the female, many witches also seek balance in duality: feminine AND masculine, moon AND sun, stillness AND action, subconscious AND conscious. Similarly, drag is an art form that finds harmony in duality, with drag queens combining masculine and feminine energies to sickening effects. 

Witches and drag queens are channels

Ru is a fountain of knowledge: “If you can’t love yourself how the hell are you going to love somebody else?”, “Don’t take life too seriously!” and “We are all born naked and the rest is drag”. But the little gem of Ru wisdom that I treasure most dearly is his take on The Wizard of Oz

With the recently melted Wicked Witch of the West’s broomstick in hand, Dorothy and her friends return to the Emerald City. Whilst Dorothy is pleading with the Wizard to help her return home to Kansas, her dog Toto pulls back a suspicious looking curtain to reveal that the Wizard is in fact a sham. He is a human and he cannot magically transport Dorothy home.

Despite his flaws the Wizard proves to be a kind man, offering Dorothy a lift back to Kansas in his hot air balloon. Dorothy, overjoyed, accepts. However just as the balloon is about to depart, Toto runs after a cat, causing Dorothy to chase after the little rascal and the Wizard to fly off without them. But all is not lost. Glinda the Good Witch makes an appearance and shares with Dorothy that all she needs to do to return Kansas is click together the heels of her ruby slippers three times and say “there’s no place like home”. 

It is in this moment that Dorothy realises that she has possessed this ability all along. She never needed the Wizard. She had the power the whole time. She just had to learn it for herself.

Ru preaches this message of inner power loudly and proudly to anyone who will hear him. In his inspiring and uplifting book GuRu, Ru writes:

 “Don’t be afraid of your power.”

Like Dorothy, witches and drag queens choose to boldly step into our powers. We recognise that there is an ever present force that exists within us, a force that if tapped into and harnessed can be used to galvanise us into manifesting our wildest dreams. 

With this knowledge, witches and drag queens become channels for creativity, connection and power.

We make shit happen. 

We are the masters of our own destinies. 

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