Everyone should be able to enjoy this commercial holiday and no one should have to worry about seeing themselves represented negatively so others can have a good time.
A few weeks ago
, a Twitter screenshot began to circulate calling for people not to dress up as witches for Halloween because it was in the same line as dressing up in something like Día de los Muertos face paint. The post posits that witches are a living culture and should be respected. Although I generally disagree with the overall argument, I do think that living magickal practices should be respected.
My point of contention here is that the idea of the witch that children and adults are focusing on during the Halloween festivities has to do with a caricature version of witches created by the Church of England to persecute, namely, Catholics. Witch trials aside, a lot of the fanfare around witches has to do with that and has nothing to do with actual witchcraft. Pointy black hats, brooms for riding, copious amounts of black velvet, all of these, in my opinion are fine to dress up as. However, they are not ours.
Halloween is not exactly Samhain, the Wiccan practice that happens on the same day. Although they do share the idea that spirits and the like can walk the earth around this time, Samhain is a religious celebration and has nothing to do with the commercial celebration of Halloween.
That being said, there are many people who do identify as witches, be they Wiccan (the most popular witchcraft-based following in the US), Chaos magicians, or something else. There are also people who call themselves shamans, rootworkers, or vodou practitioners. These are all valid and living practices and are not there to be made into a costume.
Although the wide world of “pagan” practice may seem like a free for all as to what anyone wants to believe, it is not. There are many religions with their own belief systems, and although some things are religious practices, such as Hoodoo or rootwork, other things like Vodou or Santeria, are religious with deities and rules. These practices should be respected.
Related: The History of Dia de los Muertos and Why You Shouldn't Appropriate It