Somewhere near you, in a bookstore café, sits a Witch. She’s not got green skin. There’s no pointy hat. She arrived sans-broomstick and no matter how much you ask she can’t or won’t conjure a fireball to her hand. She sits with a latte, not a potion, and she sips it quietly without so much as a cackle. I know this because at the moment, I’m sitting across from her and I’m honestly woefully disappointed.

‘Coming Out’

The first friend of mine to come out as a witch left me genuinely stunned. My friend, a rational human being I’d known for some years, was claiming to have magical powers. She might as well have told me she could sprout wings or fart the alphabet, it would’ve garnered the same reaction. It all seemed silly, childish, vaguely delusional — and yet, I was desperate to know more.

As the pandemic swept the world, more and more of my friends began to step out of the broom closet. I began to wonder if this sudden spurt of Witch-mania was isolated to my friend group. Was there something about me that attracted practitioners of the dark arts? Apparently not. I was comforted to discover articles popping up across the internet describing the rise of ‘Hip Witches.’

So, with the world creeping open again, I sat down with my friend in a café to ask the ultimate question: why? What had possibly brought her into Witchcraft?

‘I have always had a fascination for it via fantasy books and historical stuff,’ she tells me candidly. ‘But during the first lockdown, I got close to one of the girls in my coven. It’s a very powerful thing in terms of being confident in yourself. The first lockdown I was very much alone and was looking to find something that could give me a boost, which this has.’

Suddenly, looking across the table at this witch, I felt a pang of solidarity. Hadn’t we all felt quite alone through the pandemic; hadn’t we all wanted something to reach for?

The Magic Shop

I began to delve deeper into the world of witches. I asked around where to start? Where does the love of spellcraft begin? I was told of a shop in the West End of Glasgow. A witchy shop that had been there for thirty years. So off I went, tracking through the city in the rain. I was expecting to have to wander down a dark alley and creep into a black, cave-like, dusty old shop filled with strange smells and animal entrails. In fact, I came to a rather pleasant street where sat, Opal Moon.

A bright purple shop, with beautifully painted artwork in the window and a queue outside. I stood in the queue dutifully and glanced round at my compatriots as we all waited for the store to empty out. At the front stood a couple, occasionally hugging each other, behind me stood a tall middle-aged woman who seemed a little stressed. In front of me was Nicole. Nicole explained that she was an Opal Moon regular. She had lived in the area for six years but had been coming to Opal Moon much longer. She used to visit back when the shop was in Ashton Lane. I asked how it started for her and she said it was books. She’d started reading something in Waterstones and over the years had gradually got drawn in.

My turn to enter the store finally came. The whole place smelled incredible; incense burned in an odd symphony of cinnamon and sage. The shop was bright and friendly with soft music audible in the background. The whole place was tiny but they made enchanting use of every inch of space. I spoke to Joan Morrison who has been running the store these last 32 years.

‘I know it seems small, but it started out tiny’, she says laughing. She explains to me that the store stemmed from her interest in jewellery. She began using crystals and became interested in their healing properties. From there, she went on a spiritual journey lasting three decades and along the way her store kept her company. She recalls the early days when people treated her with a little suspicion, hovering at the window, peering in but not daring to cross the threshold. ‘I think they were scared if they came in I’d cast a spell on them! But it’s been nice watching that gradually change and now, well, we are extremely popular’, she admits cheerfully as yet another customer approaches her till. I ask about the pandemic, and she agrees that since they reopened it’s been non-stop! She argues this is down to numerous factors. Partly, she thinks it’s a way for people to deal with their anxiety. Partly — she leans forward and whispers conspiratorially — it may be a bit of a fad caused by a stir on TikTok. But she hopes that what began as a fad turns into a genuine interest.

The Godmother of Witches

For everyone I spoke with so far, the journey began with a casual interest and then some books. So the next logical step for me seemed obvious — get a book.

I went one better. I got an author.

Skye Alexander is for many young witches an entry point into the world of magic. Her books such as The Modern Guide to Witchcraft have sold hundreds of thousands of copies around the world. She herself is both a practising Witch and Wiccan (with the former being a practice and the latter a religion). She explains that there are many different types of witches all of whom experiment with spells that blend ancient principles with modern life. She also talks of the benefits: confidence and community. Alexander agrees that the pandemic has certainly pushed more people to witchcraft and towards her books. ‘Sales have definitely increased the last few years. I’m just guessing, but it’s likely that folks did a lot of protection spells and healing magick during the past couple years.’ (For the pedants amongst you, that’s not a spelling error. ‘Magick’ is a term used by witches and Wiccans to distinguish their practice from Stage Magic.) Her final words stuck with me:

‘We all have magickal power. We’re all potential witches.’

Despite my time with the witches, I am not a convert. I do however now understand them a little more. See, in a world that seems constantly on the precipice of collapse, where we are given such little control over our lives and our fates; don’t we all have little rituals and practices that give us strength? Be it the first cup of coffee in the morning, lucky underwear, or a prayer before bed. Maybe it’s the film we watch whenever we’re down, the TV show we binge on while we study, or even the Cross-Walk button that we press despite suspecting it does nothing. Truthfully, we all have our comforting habits. Hobbies that may seem irrational to others, but which make a genuine difference in our lives.

Maybe witchcraft isn’t for everyone but as we face pandemics, poverty, and tragedy on a seemingly daily basis, and struggle to work out how to fight the doomsday clock — maybe a little magick would do us all some good? We don’t all have to practise witchcraft, but we could all be Witches.

DISCLAIMER: The articles on our website are not endorsed by, or the opinions of Shout Out UK (SOUK), but exclusively the views of the author.