Photographer Katarzyna Majak discovered a whole new side of Poland when she set out to explore her own spirituality.
It turns out there are lots of modern-day witches, who practice a collection of non-traditional religious and spiritual practices including spiritual healing, shamanism, Wicca, Druidism, and other revivals of Pagan traditions. (Witches are found in the U.S. too, with an estimated 1.2 million people following Pagan beliefs.)
Majak shared a few of these “women of power” with us. Check out more of her work at the Porter Contemporary Gallery.
Over 90% of Poland is Catholic. Because of the country’s conservative values, many women pursue witchcraft and other pagan traditions as an outlet for an alternative spirituality.
Courtesy of Katarzyna Majak and Porter Contemporary Gallery
The women that Majak photographed ranged from early 30s to late 80s. Majak says that they desire to reclaim “matriarchal cults” and female traditions that have long been supressed by Christianity.
The scope of their practices is diverse. Many practice midwifery, healing, art, activism, religious initations, spells, and working with herbs.
Bea “speaks to the woods.” She comes from a long line of family that “looked and saw.” Like many of the women in photos, Bea carries a talisman, which she believes carries magical properties.
Paraskiewa is a “whisperer,” who mix religion and primeval superstitions to heal and remove spells using prayers. Her grandmother taught her the healing spells that she now uses.
Anna is also a whisperer. Many, like Anna, have been practicing for generations, says Majak.
Elwinga is a Druid, a pagan religion associated with ancient Celtic priests. Druids revere nature and perform ceremonies on astronomically significant dates such as the summer and winter solstice.
Katarzyna is a herbal healer. She communicates with “spirits” and combines her knowledge of herbs with actual medical knowledge, to treat those who come to her for help.
Some Polish women feel so constricted that they seek spirituality in distant cultures, says Majak. Justyna practices the religion of the Mauri, the indigenous people of New Zealand.
Vrede considers herself to be a “Volva” or shamanic seeress, meaning that she is in contact with divine spirits.
Maria is a healer and visionary. She uses plant, animal and mineral-based medicines and spiritual therapies to help diagnose and treat issues.
Here, you can see Maria performing a cleansing ritual to rid the soul and body of negative energy.
Despite their non-traditional spiritual practices, these women lead normal lives with families and steady jobs.
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