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Is Witchcraft Having a Moment? Practicing Witches of the Pacific Northwest Weigh In


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Is Witchcraft Having a Moment? Practicing Witches of the Pacific Northwest Weigh In

Witchcraft seems to have seeped into mainstream pop culture. Now some internet-savvy witches in the Pacific Northwest are adding their own politically minded take to the conversation.

October 30, 2017

With Halloween around the corner, you may have noticed a witchy vibe in the air. But this trend seems to be more than seasonal.

From Instagrams of altars and crystals, to modern-day renditions of Tarot decks, witchcraft seems to have cast a spell on the millennial imagination. It’s not just hidden in the underground subculture either. There are more than 875,000 Instagram posts filed under the hashtag #witchesofinstagram.

Seance essentials are sold at local Urban Outfitters, including books like Material Girl, Mystic World, Practical Magic: A Guide to Crystals, Horoscopes, Psychics, and Spells and Astrology 101. Many Whole Foods Markets now sell common magic and witchcraft paraphernalia like Palo Santo incense and sage bundles.

Bri Luna, owner and creative director of thehoodwitch.com, gazes into a crystal ball.

The trendiness of witchcraft seems to have seeped into mainstream pop culture and now some internet-savvy witches in the Pacific Northwest are adding their own politically minded take to the conversation.

The Seattle and Portland practicing witches we spoke with say that witchcraft creates community and provides a space for them to feel empowered, both personally and collectively.

Ylva Radziszewski prepares for a Lunar Ceremony ritual.

“I’ve been a practicing witch for 23 years and I’ve seen a lot of different ebbs and flow around witch identity,” says Ylva Mara Radziszewski, founder of Cunning Crow Apothecary in Seattle, which sells herbal remedies and ceremonial supplies. Radziszewski says that while the occult has historically been largely the domain of the spiritual underground, some of today’s millennials are mainstreaming magic, fearlessly claiming the identity of witch.

But what is it about this particular moment in time that makes witchcraft so appealing? What draws young folks — particularly those who identify as queer, of color, femme — to this particular brand of mysticism?

“Modern witchcraft is about utilizing the tools that we have now,” says Bri Luna, who goes by the moniker Hoodwitch and has more than 187,000 followers on Instagram. Her website offers “everyday magic for the modern mystic” through a blog, shop and an online community.

It’s really about being inclusive regardless of gender or race or class.

“In the past, witchcraft and mysticism and occultism had to stay so underground. Now we have these platforms like Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr... all these things that people are using as a source of information,” Luna says. “You don’t have to go into these dark libraries anymore. You can essentially just look up groups of people that are practicing things that you’re into. It’s really about being inclusive regardless of gender or race or class.” 

Others are adopting witchcraft as a form of protest out in the world. W.I.T.C.H. PDX is a coven of anonymous witches-as-activists who plan political actions in Portland, Oregon.

W.I.T.C.H. PDX members hold signs at a counter protest of National Day of Prayer march in Portland.


“We have to get out there,” says one member who asked that we not use her real name.
“It's actually really therapeutic for all of us. It makes us feel like we have some agency in all of this chaos happening in the world.”

Members of W.I.T.C.H PDX cover their faces to avoid harassment on the streets and online. They say the anonymous nature of their community of collective activism has empowered them to reclaim the identity of witch and speak out against systems of oppression.

In the world as it is now, we have to create the world that we want. Witchcraft allows you to create a power.

“Maybe you’ve had a bad experience with the church or whatever religion [you] were raised in, but [you] still want to have a higher kind of power to call to,” says another anonymous member.

Talking from behind a black veil, another member of W.I.T.C.H said, “In the world as it is now, we have to create the world that we want. Witchcraft allows you to create a power.”

These interviews with three leading witches in the Pacific Northwest taught us that witchcraft today looks like many things: political, practical, spiritual — and yes — even sparkly and beautiful and mysterious.



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Sarah Strunin

Sarah Strunin is a filmmaker and video journalist from Oakland, California. After graduating from UCLA in 2013 she worked as an Associate Producer on the feature documentary Company Town. She has made Seattle her home for the last four years. Before joining the Spark Public team, she interned at KCTS 9 on the EarthFix team. She freelances on the side making short documentaries, music videos and experimental film. Since moving to Seattle, she spends much of her time dreaming about the sun

More stories by Sarah Strunin

Dylan Tupper Rupert

Dylan Tupper Rupert is a West Coast based writer and designer. Her writing has been published by MTV News, Rookie, The Guardian, Billboard and the Pitchfork Review.

More stories by Dylan Tupper Rupert

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