“Everyone on this earth is a witch, they just don’t know it yet.”
Erica Hamilton Kwid owns Blackwater, a boutique located in downtown San Luis Obispo. Though some may think witchcraft is a dated, even mythical practice, Kwid is one of many people who practice witchcraft in present day.
She’s been doing it for a while
“It feels really natural, it feels like it’s something I’ve always kind of done and then I heard the name for it and realized that I was already kind of doing those things,” Kwid said. “Witches are just people who are in tune with their energy and can use their energy to influence things.”
Graphic by Dylan Ring
A common practice
Tall black pointed hats, big black robes, wooden broomsticks and big cauldrons are just a few of the accessories that come to mind when one thinks of the term “witch.” However, in modern times, these are purely stereotypes and nothing more.
“A lot of the time people do practice it in solitude and you don’t hear much about it, but it is still very much there,” anthropology and geography senior Eden Knapp said. “I think it’s a lot more common than even I know.”
A practicing witch, Knapp said witchcraft need not be pinned to a specific religion or type of practice; it can be used by anybody, no matter what his or her beliefs are.
“Witchcraft is just using these tools and these ideals to show respect for what you believe in or may not believe in, it just depends on the person,” Knapp said. “It’s very easy to tailor-make it to your own needs, so it can look very different in different lifestyles.”
Some common materials used in witchcraft are candles, herbs and crystals. While explaining the different kinds of spells, Knapp lit a candle and began a spell.
“Often people like to have the four elements represented as well, so earth, fire, water, air. The air and fire have to be present with the candle flame, but I usually have this cool rock I found on the beach for earth and it has a spot in it that can hold water,” Knapp said. “If you want some extra ‘umph’ in a spell, then you can have crystals.”
Graphic by Dylan Ring
While modern day witches aren’t throwing live animals into bubbling cauldrons, there are still some present day misconceptions about witchcraft. Knapp described an outsider’s perspective of witchcraft as “some kind of old outdated thing that only old crones in the middle ages practice[d] in their cottage.”
Witchcraft is a practice anyone can participate in, but there is another aspect that can come into play — Wicca. Based on pagan beliefs, Wicca is a religion sometimes referred to as “Pagan Witchcraft.” While some Wiccans practice witchcraft, the two are not mutually exclusive.
Regardless, witchcraft is a very malleable and transformable practice. According to Knapp, being a witch has different definitions to different people.
“Some people say a witch is a Wiccan, some people say it’s someone who practices witchcraft, some people practice witchcraft and wouldn’t want to be called a witch,” Knapp said. “So it’s all very depend[ent] on the perspective.”
When Knapp became interested in witchcraft, she realized it wasn’t something that had to be tied to religion, but rather the elements.
“I started looking more into what witchcraft was and it was very much using nature and the Earth in your practice or worship. It doesn’t always have to be super religious though,” she said. “That really seemed comfortable to me and that seemed like what I wanted to do … I picked up along the way that witchcraft was mostly a connection to nature and to the powers you feel.”
Video by Alison Stauf
While the idea of witchcraft may conjure images of potions and cauldrons, the true practice is more modest. With a lot of misinformation floating around on the topic, Knapp laid out the nine most important things to know about witchcraft.
- Witchcraft is practiced by people of varying religions
- Witches cast spells
- Salt and cinnamon are some of the most common spices used in spells
- Some witches use wands
- It’s generally against protocol to cast a spell for someone who hasn’t asked for it
- You can’t charm your way out of everything — if it’s not meant to be, it won’t happen
- Witchcraft is different from Wicca
- The pentagram is one of witchcraft’s most important symbols
- It’s not satanism