Dylan Ring / Mustang News

“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 Knapp described an outsider’s perspective of witchcraft as “some kind of old outdated thing that only old crones in the middle ages practice[d] in their cottage.”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.

  1. Witchcraft is practiced by people of varying religions

“With witchcraft you can almost apply it to any religion — but obviously traditionalists in the religion don’t always see it as proper practice.” | Illustration by Roston Johnson
  • Witches cast spells

  • “I use them for little things a lot of the time, good luck spells are probably the most common ones I do.” | Illustration by Roston Johnson
  • Salt and cinnamon are some of the most common spices used in spells

  • “Salt’s for protection, cinnamon is often linked with good luck.” | Illustration by Roston Johnson
  • Some witches use wands

  • “A lot of the time witches will have wands. I use a stick of selenite, which is thought to help connect to a higher power.” | Illustration by Roston Johnson
  • It’s generally against protocol to cast a spell for someone who hasn’t asked for it

  • “That’s a big rule — even if it’s with good intentions, you don’t really want to cast something for someone if they’re not asking you to, because then you’re meddling in their life.” | Illustration by Roston Johnson
  • You can’t charm your way out of everything — if it’s not meant to be, it won’t happen

  • “There’s this constant mindset in witchcraft that if it’s not supposed to come true for the overall benefit of you, then it won’t happen no matter how badly you want it to. If it’s not meant to be, it’s not going to happen even if you cast a spell for it.” | Illustration by Roston Johnson
  • Witchcraft is different from Wicca
  • “Wicca is a religion and witchcraft is a practice — [witchcraft] can be applied to almost every religion. Wicca is a polytheistic religion that’s based in pagan traditions, and is a cyclical religion so they believe in reincarnation. 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. It’s very easy to tailor-make it your own needs, so it can look very different in different lifestyles.” | Illustration by Roston Johnson
  • The pentagram is one of witchcraft’s most important symbols

  • “The pentagram is traditionally a symbol for protection, strength and guidance. So a lot of the times you want that present; I have it drawn on the bottom of my candle holder I use for spells” | Illustration by Roston Johnson
  • It’s not satanism

  • “When people see the pentagram it’s often thought of as a satanic thing, but satanism is completely different. The pentagram is actually the four elements and the spirit, that’s what the five points represent on it.” | Illustration by Roston Johnson

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