From “witchtok” to the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, witches are having another moment in pop culture (but isn’t magic always in style?). The word “witch” conjures so many different images, but we all basically know it means: Someone who practices magic and is in tune with the cycles of nature (though IRL, a broomstick is not a main mode of transportation and pointy hats are not required!). But how does one actually BECOME a witch? Well, I am one, and this is my story.
There’s a strong line of mysticism and healing in my family, and my mom informed the foundation of my beliefs—she doesn’t define herself as a witch, but she exhibits all of the signs of one! When I was little, we’d spend the mornings decoding my dreams together. My favorite bedtime stories were books of myths about powerful goddesses of Ancient Greece and Rome. When I was sick, my mom made me different herbal teas to heal my ailments. She always reminded me that there are no coincidences, and this way of thinking informed my belief in the interconnectedness of life. I grew up speaking to the animals and the ghosts in my home just as regularly as the people who exist one the “earthly plane.” We spoke of my late grandfather and our interactions with him as if he was still living. But when I brought my Ouija board to a friend’s sleepover and was not allowed to come back, I started to realize that not everyone’s family was like mine.
When I was coming of age in the late ‘90s, there was a resurgence of magic in pop culture and even in the local mall. The general aesthetic was something mimicking the New Age psychedelia of the ‘70s. There’s not a lot to do in suburban New Jersey, so I would find myself getting lost in the occult section of a local bookstore. I was captivated by the covers, especially one showing a witch on a broomstick who seemed to have come to life from the side of an airbrushed van! She was sexy and mysterious, exactly who my awkward 12-year-old self wanted to be. Of course, I bought that book (Shoutout to Silver RavenWolf!).
When I got home, I flipped to the ONLY section of the book that truly mattered to me: love spells! I wanted love, and I wanted it now, and this book was going to show me how to get it. Inspired by Practical Magic’s Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman, I cast a very specific love spell to call in exactly what I was looking for in a match for my 12-year-old self: blue eyes, musically inclined, could talk to animals, and born on Leap Day. Why did he need to born on February 29? I had read in an astrology compatibility book that Virgos match well with Pisces, and that felt like an extra special date for a Piscean birthday.
The funny thing about magic is that you’ll eventually get whatever you ask for, so my advice is to always clarify that it is for your highest good. Time is funny on the astral; it’s flexible and elastic, and everything comes to fruition in due time. I’ve been keeping notes on my spellwork in journals since that first spell, and recently, I realized that the person I asked for in my baby witch spell finally came to me last year…and it ended in an epic disaster. Really, the best love spells are self-love spells, and we should focus on raising our own vibrations rather than attracting someone specific.
I continued to do spellwork throughout my teens and early 20s, but I kept it secret. I wanted a “normal” life; I didn’t want to think about the Universe or my ghost friends or other people’s late relatives who came to me with messages for their loved ones. Being a witch reminds you of your own inner power and uniqueness, yet all I wanted was to be basic and boring and above all else, not weird. However, I couldn’t give up my craft. I did a charm before my driver’s test (I failed parallel parking, yet my instructor still passed me and admitted he didn’t know why he was doing so), I enchanted all of my college applications (and got into everywhere I applied, even the reaches), and I hid magical sachets around my first dorm room. I’ve always struggled with decision-making, so I continued to pull Tarot cards for guidance and assistance. In my first apartment, I chose the room that faced East, with no further explanation. I made tea blends to help my neighbors with what ailed them.
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At some point in my 20s, I disconnected from my spirituality. It didn’t happen overnight, but I was exhausted from feeling so much. I was struggling with addiction, a toxic work environment, and a romantic relationship that was just not working. I lost my power and my sense of self, and I was miserable. I knew I could not live like this anymore, and as much as I tried to be my version of “normal,” it made me feel terrible. I pulled my Tarot deck out again and began asking questions and receiving the guidance I needed. I began to have vivid, psychic dreams. I heard the Spirits whispering a little louder, and I started listening again. The Universe was screaming messages to me from every angle, and at some point, I couldn’t ignore it anymore. I surrendered because there was nothing else left to do!
I got sober, picked my practice back up, and everything began to change for the better. The world made more sense, and I cared and valued myself again. I started my own business that had a foundation of spirituality and began to get press. I debated mentioning in an interview for a major publication that yes, I was a witch. A friend warned me that once you “come out of the broom closet,” you cannot go back in. I was nervous, but I opened that door and never looked back. I’ve now been living my life as a public “professional witch” for five years, and it’s bestowed blessings upon blessings ever since. I wish everyone could find the same acceptance in who they are, because I know firsthand the boundless joy and self-esteem it brings.
I was always a solo practitioner until several years ago, when I was invited to join a coven. I love the autonomy of witchcraft: There is structure, but it’s also self-guided. In the past, I’d been freaked out by communal spirituality. But I knew some of the people in the coven, so I gave it a try and learned that the community provided by my witch sisters is unlike anything I have ever experienced before in my life.
These days, my life as a “working witch” feels pretty typical of any self-employed person during a pandemic. I wake up each morning and pull a Tarot card before meditating. I scroll on social media and check my email before virtually meeting with my wonderful clients for readings. I live my life by the cycles of the Moon and meet with my beautiful coven sisters via Zoom for each holiday of the Pagan Wheel of the Year—our eight Sabbats include the Equinoxes, the Solstices, and the midpoints between each one. I still talk to my plants, fill my purse with crystals, attempt (unsuccessfully!) to grow herbs on my windowsill for spellwork, and keep a crystal ball on my coffee table.
If (after the pandemic) you come to my home, I’ll offer you a custom-blended tea based on your energy right now and ask you what you’ve been dreaming about lately. We can pull some cards and yes, my roommate is a little black cat named Polly Styrene. Oh, and while you’re here, I am listening to what you have to say, but I’m also chatting with your dead grandma behind your shoulder. By the way, she’s great company and she is so happy to see you, too.