From magic to magick: Witchcraft helped me find myself

Alexandra Herstik

The word “witch” means something different to everyone. Although I can’t define the practice for anyone else, I do feel comfortable talking about what it means to me, and what the past 11 years on this path have meant to me. So low and behold — my journey with Witchcraft.

The first question to answer is…

What is Witchcraft?

That, again, is different to everyone. Witchcraft has been practiced by cultures all across the world for centuries. Witches are the medicine men and the wise women, the seers, the magicians, the healers. Witch, as it so happens, is also a gender-neutral term. Witchcraft is defined by living in tune with nature, worshipping the cycles of the earth and all her seasons, and by working with magick.

Magick, spelled with a “k” to separate from sleight-of-hand magic, is working with energy for a desired outcome, also known as a spell. This can be anything from lighting a candle and saying a spell to drinking tea and visualizing a desired outcome. Typically, witches work with the cycles of the Moon, celebrating when she’s full, and also when she’s new. Witches also celebrate sun holidays like the solstices and equinoxes.

Witchcraft isn’t a religion, it’s a path and a way of living. Witchcraft honors the Earth, and although it can be part of a religion, like it is to me, there is no deity that “needs” to be honored to call yourself a Witch. What witchcraft does emphasize is the divine feminine. For many witches, the emphasis on Goddess is a reclamation of the patriarchal values many of us have had instilled in ourselves from a really young age. Witchcraft is a reclamation of self-love, of self-worth, and of bodily autonomy. It is a way to say that you have the power. It is like an energetic cheat code that anyone can have in life. But like anything, being a powerful witch takes practice.

And although it’s cool and trendy right now, something I really stress anytime I write about witchcraft is that it’s not a trend. 

Being a witch means walking a path that thousands and thousands and thousands of women, and men, have died for. It means honoring the legacy of the wise women and divine feminine in everything you do. The persecution of witches is directly tied to the patriarchy, to the church being threatened by wise, strong, sexual women. When you call yourself a witch, you wear a label many didn’t, and still don’t, have the luxury of wearing without facing persecution.”

My story.

I grew up Jewish, my dad’s a Reform Rabbi, but I have always been a deeply spiritual human. My mother was my first introduction to yoga, crystals, consciousness, reincarnation, the whole shebang. I grew up talking to my dad about religion, god, the universe, death and philosophy. I have always been intrigued by the unknown and I was lucky enough to have parents who fostered this curiosity.

When I was 11, my aunties gave me a Faery Oracle Deck for Hannukah. Oracle decks are like tarot, in that they’re used for divination, connection, and personal growth — but where tarot has a “set” structure, oracle decks are left up to the interpretation of the artist. Brian Froud’s deck, the one I was gifted, pulled me down a rabbit hole right into the land of the Faery. (The Faery are energetic beings who don’t exist on this realm, but in another realm parallel to ours called the astral. Think Alice in Wonderland or lucid dreaming!)

As soon as I got this deck, I was hooked. I would go to the local Barnes & Nobles and sit for hours exploring anything and everything mystical. I eventually discovered The Witches Guide to Faery Folk, and as soon as I read it, I knew things would never be the same.

Finding witchcraft felt like coming home.

I had always been intrigued by witchcraft and the Salem Witch Trials. When I was in the third grade, a few years prior to discovering witchcraft on my own, my aunt and grandma took my sister and me to Salem, MA on Halloween. Besides being a huge tourist trap for the city, Halloween is also New Years for many witches. It’s the day when the veil between this life and the next is at its thinnest.

I remember going to the Museum of Witchcraft, standing in front of a wax statue and feeling overwhelmed when it explained what Wicca is. Wicca is a neo-pagan religion founded in England by Gerald Gardner in 1954. Wicca’s virtues include no harm, living in tune with the Earth, practicing ritual, and recognizing Karma. Loosely based off of what the ancient Celts celebrated, Wicca coming to the US was the beginning of our generation’s reclamation of Earth-based spirituality. And although there are many problems with Wicca — hello, it is a religion invented by white men — hearing these wax figures talk about The Wiccan Rede (“an ye harm none, do what ye will”) and The Rule of Three (“three times what thy sends out comes back to thee”) was a really big moment for me. So when I found Witchcraft on my own years later, I knew it was no coincidence.

Something wicked this way comes🔮 📷: @alexyael

A post shared by Gabriela Lorraine (@gabyherstik) on

By the time I was at a Jewish, month-long sleep away camp against my will at age 12, I knew I was a Witch. I knew I identified as Pagan and that I didn’t feel Jewish anymore. I still had to go through my Bat Mitzvah, a ceremony when a 13-year-old reads from the  Torah and becomes an adult in the eyes of the Jewish community, but I didn’t believe in what I was doing, or who I was praying to.

My parents thought it was a phase. It’s been a decade and I am still a Witch. It wasn’t a phase.

When I first discovered Witchcraft, I thought I was going to own my own metaphysical shop and run my own coven, which is a group of witches who practice together. Then I fell into fashion and fashion writing when I was 14, and knew my dreams of being a High Priestess were no longer. Although I always wanted to combine my love of fashion with my love of witchcraft, mysticism and magick, I didn’t quite know how the two would fit. A decade later and not only do I practice fashion magick, but I’m also able to write about witchcraft and the intersection between spirituality and style.

I’ve done a whole set of looks inspired by tarot cards on my blog, I’ve written clothing protection spells, I’ve even written about how to make your clothing literally witchier. I also have a monthly column on Nylon called “Ask a Witch,” which is where I answer questions about witchcraft. I don’t say this to brag, but so that you know there is always space in the craft for those who ask for it.

When you’re a witch, everything you do is magick. You move through this life in clothing. What you wear is a barrier between you and the world around you. Of course your clothing is spiritual! Whether I’m pulling a tarot card for the day and basing my outfit around that, or charing my clothing with crystals on my altar, I manage to find ways to combine my love of fashion and style.

My own practice also includes working with different gods and goddesses through ritual, offerings, and magick. Right now I’m working with the Roman goddess of love, Venus. I also work with the tarot, sigils (which are like energetically charged magick symbols), the Faery realm, crystals, plant magick, and other forms of energy work like love and sex magick. Even when I’m not performing a spell or ritual, I’m still aware of the way I move through this life.

Energy is the currency of the Witch, and although it’s in some witches’ practice to curse or hex, I don’t intentionally cause harm unless it’s absolutely necessary, and it’s never been necessary in my 23 years.

How you interact with other people and yourself is magick. Being vegetarian is part of my practice. Making an effort to buy ethical fashion brands, or secondhand clothes, is part of my practice. Being grateful for all the gifts I have in this life is part of my practice.

Witchcraft is different for everyone.

If you don’t know where to start, I suggest figuring out what makes you come alive. Witchcraft is all about how you feel, magick is most powerful when you are invested in what you do, and when you believe in it. Whether you’re a musician, artist, math lover, or writer, you can find ways to incorporate this into your own form of witchcraft. Go to your local metaphysical shop or bookstore and explore! Websites like The Hoodwitch, The School of Witchery , The Numinous, Sabat Magazine, the internet, and Instagram are all great resources as well.

Magick is supposed to be an adventure, so find what calls you and go forth unapologetically, and don’t forget to have fun.

More like this

fashionhellogigglesHello GigglesfeminismwomenJourneypowerspellswitchcraftwitchWicca
newsletter illustration

Giggles in Your Inbox

!