Witchcraft is an inherently personal business; everybody’s Path will look slightly different. And in contrast to the organized religions of the world, Wicca doesn’t have a central dogma besides the Wiccan Rede. That’s why we often say that there are as many ways to be a Wiccan or a Witch as there are practitioners.
Yet, for all the openness of our spiritual practice and the subjectivity of one’s Path, there are still some unspoken rules within the community. Those new to the Craft may often become attracted by the more shallow or commercial aspects of it—especially nowadays, where being a Witch doesn’t carry the social stigma it once did. And in contrast, some more experienced practitioners can fall into the bad habit of gatekeeping—feeling like only they know the right way to be a Witch. This creates tensions and conflicts that need to be acknowledged.
In this article, we will focus on one of the derogatory terms that sprang as a result of such conflicts: fluffy bunnies. No, it has nothing to do with Ostara and the wonderful animals that appear so frequently during this sabbat’s celebrations. “Fluffy bunnies” is a slur older practitioners used to refer to newbie Witches. We’ll examine both the negative and positive interpretations of this term, why it is outdated, and why it’s better to help guide Witches new to the Craft instead of othering them.
The origins of the term
Although it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly where the term was first used, it seems to have originated during the ‘80s in Wicca festivals in the US, but it wasn’t until the ‘90s that it became really popular. During that time, popular culture started embracing more benign depictions of witchcraft to combat the “Satanic Panic” that was well underway. Shows like Charmed and Buffy the Vampire Slayer started depicting Witches as benevolent and Wiccans, in particular, as harmless but a bit silly “wannabes.”
This resulted in two different things: first, a new generation of people, mostly young women, became interested in Wicca and witchcraft — or at least in the version of Wicca and witchcraft they saw on TV. And secondly, older practitioners felt the need to protect their Craft and their beliefs from what they saw as misrepresentation and slander. These older practitioners felt that the new wave of Witches and Wiccans lacked the seriousness and commitment to studying the Path and only wanted to be associated with the “easier” aspects of it.
What does it mean to be a fluffy bunny?
In the ‘90s, a fluffy bunny was considered someone new to the Path, quite often young in age (or in their teens, even) and quite ignorant about Wiccan and witchcraft traditions: they only knew how to be a Wiccan or a Witch from reading one book or watching a show on TV. It also meant that person usually focused on the “lighter” side of things, using terms like White Magick: being “all white light and fluffy bunnies” and disregarding the darker or more serious aspects of the Craft.
The term is not necessarily associated with an inherent benevolence nowadays. A fluffy bunny can also be someone who is very loud about their Craft and very certain that their way of doing things is the only right one. Someone who has spent a lot of money buying the latest “fashionable” tarot deck or has a ton of crystals, pentacles, and other tools—and believes that owning these items is what makes them a Witch or a Wiccan. They can even use their identity as a Witch/Wiccan to look edgy or rebel against their parents and other authority figures.
Some argue that there’s nothing wrong with any of these things. That being young, soft, and vocal about your Craft is normal and should be encouraged. Witchcraft and Wicca are not and should not be a closed practice—a space where only elders and people who take themselves too seriously are allowed entrance. In this context, being a fluffy bunny is akin to having a growth spurt: a state everyone will go through when they first begin their journey into magick.
Fluffy bunnies and social media witchcraft
Social media has played a big part in making witchcraft and Wicca more “mainstream” in the past few years. Instagram and now TikTok have ushered in a new generation of practitioners who are, understandably, a product of their time. Being a “baby Witch” nowadays (a term with similar connotations to fluffy bunny, used mostly on TikTok to describe new practitioners) comes with a freedom previous generations didn’t have. Although, of course, in most parts of the world, witchcraft is not punishable by death as it was in the Dark Ages. Until recently, there was a certain amount of social stigma involved, especially within predominantly Christian communities. People had to “stay in the broom closet” to not alienate friends and relatives. But Generation Z, aka the people who were born in the mid-90s or later, is different.
What does being a Gen Z have to do with practicing witchcraft differently, you ask? The answer is simple. As new technologies are now available, the means and opportunities have changed drastically. Back when the term “fluffy bunny” was first used, access to Grimoires and Craft tools was still a difficult process that required time—now you can read up spell instructions on Instagram and order sage bundles to have them delivered to your door. With this easiness also comes boldness. Baby Witches on TikTok, using the hashtag #witchtok, have been known to try spells and rituals that are either completely unfeasible (like “hexing the Moon”) or energetically dangerous, like doing spellwork during an Eclipse. They often share tidbits about summoning spirits, demons, and deities with an openness that the 19th and 20th-century occult societies would probably have a stroke over. This clashes with the older belief that witchcraft is a Path one walks in the shadows, among the trusted people of their coven, and doesn’t reveal much to outsiders. Yet, it doesn’t mean it’s inherently wrong.
Secretness, in the past, may have been one of the things that made witchcraft appealing—one of the things that gave it its specialness. But this secretness was rooted in necessity: people would judge us and ostracize us if we identified as Witches in the past. Now that we’re living in a time where adding “Witch” to one’s social media bio is considered perfectly okay… shouldn’t we? When you consider all these things, being a fluffy bunny suddenly doesn’t sound so bad, does it?
How to better guide those new to the Craft
Think back to when you first started on your Path to Wicca or witchcraft. You were probably lost, longing for knowledge that is “correct,” and afraid of the things you didn’t understand, yearning for a sense of community. Even if modern media and technology have changed a lot about how we perceive Witches, this feeling of wanting to learn and needing to belong hasn’t changed. So instead of othering new practitioners and calling them derogatory terms like fluffy bunnies, we should be focusing on offering guidance and support instead. Here are some ways to do that:
Don’t be overly critical of their purchases
When we’re new to the Craft, we all tend to buy more tools and trinkets than are strictly necessary. That’s not a bad thing—it’s how we learn to eventually trust our own intuition and channel our energy. So if the newbie Witch you’re trying to guide keeps buying tarot decks or goddess figurines, don’t belittle them for it. Magickal minimalism takes time.
Steer them towards more books or resources
Some Baby Witches tend to read one book or follow a few TikTok and Instagram accounts and accept these as their source of knowledge. Gently show them this is a limited view of the Craft—share books you’ve loved, blogs and forums you frequent, or perhaps get them a subscription to Wicca Magazine?
Pass on your empirical knowledge, but don’t get angry if they need to do things their way
You can try to share rituals or spells that have worked for you, sigils or runes you love to work with, or deity incantations you prefer. But at the end of the day, what works for you may not work for another Witch, so don’t be angry if they take what you teach them and adjust it to fit their own Path. It’s not a slight to you or your beliefs.
Always be prepared to learn something new yourself
No matter how many years you’ve been following your Path, there’s always something new to learn. Allow yourself to be surprised: a fluffy bunny or a baby Witch may use a certain practice or ritual you hadn’t considered yet! A Witch’s Path to knowledge never ends, after all.