Along with catchy music, dances and challenges, witchcraft tips have began to circulate on TikTok influencing the rise of ‘baby’ witches
The word witch often conjures up the image of an old, scary looking lady wearing a pointed hat, flying around on a broomstick and casting evil spells. Arguably, the most notorious depiction of witches in England, are found in Shakespeare’s Macbeth chanting ‘Double, double, toil and trouble’ around a cauldron.
We are taught in history about the famous Salem witch trials which sort out to hunt ‘witches’ and bring them to their death. Women were accused of being a witch if they were too young, too old, unable to support themselves financially, too financially independent, if they had spoiled milk in their fridge… the list goes on and thousands of women died.
Witches are still feared in some cultures today. In many parts of Africa and Asia, epidemics and natural disasters are believed to be acts of witchcraft. Certain African communities believe firmly in the reality of witchcraft, to the point where they consult both a medical doctor and a witch doctor, they trust the witch to uncover hidden causes of illness.
In Western societies, countless films and TV programs showcase the wonders of witches. Recent examples of this include Netflix’s ‘The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina’ released in 2020 and Marvel’s comics ‘Vision and The Scarlet Witch.’
There is an unquestionable curiosity when it comes to the realm of witchcraft around the world. Since lockdown, witchcraft has proven to enchant Gen Z and millennials through social media platforms.
As of today, the hashtag #Witchtok has 14.5B views, #Witchcraft has 4.6B and #BabyWitch has 1.7B. The majority of videos that come under the hashtags include manifestation techniques, full moon preparation and self care tips.
Self proclaimed ‘baby witch’ Tia Fontaine has explored the benefits of understanding crystals and astrology along with thousands who have been influenced by TikTok. Ms Fontaine follows along repeating daily positive affirmations and takes to the forest to ground herself with nature.
The twenty-year-old says, “I have entered a world unknown at a time where I didn’t know what the future was going to hold for me. The TikTok algorithms are so good that you can like one video and suddenly you’ll become immersed into loads of videos that interest you. I came across #Witchtok and the rest is history. It has taught me a lot about living life to the fullest and how to be the best version of myself.”
This witchcraft trend is not just limited to TikTok, it has proven popular on other social media sites such as Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.
Ayla Skinner started the Facebook page ‘Witch in the Wilderness’ in March. The page has since racked up 14,300 likes, her aim is to build up a witching community.
Ms Skinner says, “I think people have been so disconnected from the world, working hard, worrying about money, and bringing up children. When the world stopped and went into lockdown people started to become connected again. We slowed down enough to calm our busy lives and began to find that nature and love became our whole purpose. Some people took this further and headed towards witchcraft.
I had already been practising for a few years and then decided to create the Facebook page. When lockdown kicked in I started to do live videos to share my knowledge on witchcraft.
I wanted to give people the feeling they weren’t alone, I wanted to make people laugh and create a community. -Which it did. I made it clear that if anyone felt lonely they could contact me. People felt a connection as they started to get to know me and see me regularly on videos. I’ve met some real life-long friends from this.”
Many witchy accounts have gained a significant following and taken their craft further by starting a business. Among those is the City Witch UK, they describe themselves as a ‘professional witchcraft service.’ They specialise in spells, divination and long distance healing. The business has seen an increase in clients since lockdown.
Business owner Leah Russel explains, “I thought I would struggle during the pandemic like so many others, I was convinced that my business would fail or close as a result. But that wasn’t the case. Bookings increased, clients were flocking to magical practitioners like myself for support. I quickly realised that it was connected to the pandemic. People were afraid and wanted reassurance or protection for their livelihoods.The majority of the work I did was security and healing relationships that had broken down during the lockdown”
Sadly, the increased interest in witchcraft has correlated in the rise of con artists attempting fraud via the craft. The City Witch UK are among the businesses who have been affected. Ms Russel continued: “There are a lot of scammers out there that have been damaging the reputation of professional witches like myself, it’s very upsetting. They have also recognised the increase in people wanting help from spiritual practitioners, and so they steal other peoples work and pass it off as their own to earn money falsely from the public.”
Often in times of political uncertainty witchcraft tends to bubble over the underground and into the mainstream.
The #MeToo movement saw an increase in people identifying as witches, predominantly women and other marginalised groups. According to the 2011 national census, 56,620 people identified as Pagan across England and Wales, as well as 11,766 people identifying as Wiccan.
Currently, there is an ongoing petition to recognise Pagan handfasting as a legal form of marriage in England and Wales. The petition currently has 10,506 and aims for 100,000.
Leah Russel also commented on this, she states “Paganism has been around a lot longer than most modern faith systems that we have today, yet we recognise them over paganism. Most members of the spiritual community will go to a registrar for the first part of the ceremony, then have a high priest or priestess perform the rest of the handfasting on another day. This makes the wedding legally binding. It would be nice to not have to book two separate events but instead have a full wedding day like many other faiths.
What do established witches say about the craft?
Kelly Jarwin has been a solitary witch for 15 years. A solitary witch is defined as an individual who chooses to practice their spirituality in the privacy of their home or other designated space, without the need to participate in a group.
Ms Jarwin believes that witchcraft is a ‘feminist movement’ and is something that empowers women to reclaim their freedom. She explains, “For many years women have been seen as the lesser sex and to be able to reclaim our power is feminist. I guess the word ‘witch’ stirs up fear of women being powerful.”
How did you know you were a witch?
“I’ve always had a natural pull, a knowing and feeling [witchcraft] just made sense to me, as a teenager I discovered some witchcraft and wicca books which I still have to this day. But for me I’ve always been a solitary witch and a nature lover.”
How does it benefit you?
“It gives me some calm time out of the stressful hustle and bustle of life and gives me time to channel my energy positively. However I have received some negativity from my choices. I think it’s important for people to consider others’ life choices. People should be made more aware of Pagan, Wiccan and Witch lifestyles.”
A practicing clairvoyant and witch for over twenty years, Inbaal Honigman states there is ‘room for everyone’ under the umbrella of witchcraft. Ms Honigman runs a successful psychic business where she gives classes and readings.
She appreciates baby witches wishing to explore the possibilities witchcraft has to offer and loves to see it trending on social media.
She says, “In October 2004, I was interviewed and asked about the future of the Craft. I said at the time that I don’t see it going back into being a true Mystery Tradition. I predicted that it would go mainstream. With Miley Cyrus singing ‘I’m a Witch’ and Beyonce singing ‘I charge my crystals in a full moon’, I think this prediction was proved correct.”
How would you define a witch?
“For me, a witch is anyone who engages in witchcraft. If you’re doing spells, rituals, incantations, vision boards, manifesting, self-love jars. Witchcraft for me is the practice, and the belief that magic is real.”
What first drew you to witchcraft?
“You know when religious folk warn you not to meddle in occult practices and that they’re a gateway to witchcraft? In my case, that was bang on the money. I actually accessed witchcraft from the Tarot direction. As I was getting deeper and deeper into the Tarot, back in the mid-90s, people kept asking me if I was a witch – in one case a child in my shop when I was working.I thought, this is happening a lot, so perhaps let’s explore this.”
Advice for baby witches?
For beginner witches – follow your own intuition. Do what feels right, you’ll be guided naturally. Whether you start from magic and manifestation, from astrology, from a connection to the Gods, or from Tarot, like myself, if Witchcraft is the path for you, you’ll find the way. That trust, that belief that you’ll be guided, is exactly what witchcraft feels like, so it’s your first step as a witch, really.
A practicing witch of two years, Cecilia Marini has been influenced by various role models and gains tips on how to practice witchcraft via social media. The thirty-four year old from Denmark has shared her experiences of witch life so far.
Would you say you’ve seen an improvement within yourself since practicing?
“I’m definitely more confident, I believe I have power – both in my own life, and in the world. I tend to connect more things to each other now, and that feels like a satisfying kind of knowing.”
Do you see this as a feminist movement?
“Yes and no. There are many witch-stereotypes. Some things they have in common is that these women are feared and dangerous because of their freedom. They don’t need a man, they are often known to have a promiscuous when it comes to sex and men, and they have some kind of power, to control their surroundings (nature, animals, people, if you believe that). Therefore, I think it’s logical that feminists can use the popularity of witches, and vice versa, many witches are feminists.
For me, as a single woman in my mid-thirties, it also provides me with some comfort in my fearful thoughts of being alone. Because a witch is alone, and strong.”
What would you say to people who want to learn more?
“There are different ways of learning. I tend to read and research a lot. I also follow plenty of Instagram accounts and Facebook groups with witchy tips.”
Have you received any negativity from people about this choice?
“Never. My family is strangely calm about it. It was like it wasn’t news to them when they were told. All my friends appreciate witchcraft too. I only catch some sketchy eyes from potential partners or men I’m dating. Mostly they think I’m joking, and if I’m not sure if they should have an important role in my life anyway, that doesn’t affect me.”
It is clear throughout history witches have been seen as figures to be feared. Witches seem to harness the ability of spiritual empowerment and strength in chaotic times.
In 2021, we recognise the modern witch to be an oasis of peace. It is safe to say that witches are more likely to be using their online community to spread positivity and encourage others to self-improve rather than flying around on broomsticks and casting evil spells.
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