Hashtags and Spellbooks: How TikTok Changed Witchcraft

#WitchTok and social media are changing the way society views witches. (Julia Gomez/SFMN)

A witch and her black cat fly past the full moon. There is eye of newt and toe of frog in her bag, ready for her bubbling cauldron at home.

We all know Hollywood’s depiction of a witch. But social media apps like TikTok are changing the way people view what it means to be a witch.

“You can be Catholic and a witch at the same time,” said Domenic Leo, editor-in-chief of The Familiar, an online magazine about witchcraft and the metaphysical. 

Leo is also the supervisor of New Moon Books, Crystals and Candle Inc., a metaphysical shop in Pompano Beach that produces the magazine. He works with his brother, Lawren, the founder of the shop and the publication.

COVID-19 changed the way the shop ran. It closed for a few months when the pandemic first started and that’s when the store began to focus on its online presence. Their Instagram now has over 5,000 followers. Some of their new clientele are going to them straight from #WitchTok. 

Witches are gathering on TikTok using #witchtok to talk about their craft. While some witches talk about protection spells and building religious altars, others make videos about using baneful magic to get revenge on a cheating ex.

According to Statista, 69.1% of TikTok users are millennials and Gen Z.

“They’re the people most influenced by social media,” said Leo.Graphical user interface, application

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Leo noticed an increase in customers coming into the store because they were introduced to witchcraft through the social media app. 

Erin Weston, an associate teaching professor at FIU who teaches two classes on witchcraft and magic, also saw an influx of practitioners in her classes.

“It used to be one or two or three maybe, but I’m seeing a lot more students that are, you know, talking about it,” said Weston. Now, at least a third of her students practice witchcraft.

People might associate witchcraft with Wicca, a religion based on pre-Christian traditions that became popular during the 1950s and 1960s. But it isn’t the only form of witchcraft out there. 

“It’s not just Wicca, it’s a variety of different practices,” said Weston. “Norse and different ones from around the world, people are very interested in connecting with their own heritage.”

Created by Julia Gomez/SFMN

People are curious about magic and the pandemic might have something to do with it. The number of Google searches for “witchcraft” reached its peak at the beginning of August of 2020, when COVID cases spiked. 

Today, #WitchTok has 24.8 billion views. With 5.3 million likes and 21.2 million views, the top video was created by @jaykaizen. The poster talks about charging crystals and using them to restore one’s energy. While this video on the metaphysical is getting a lot of attention, the comment section is filled with varying opinions.

“Bro they aren’t the infinity stones,” writes one user. 

“Thanks for reminding me to charge my crystals,” writes another. “I forgot again.”

https://www.tiktok.com/@jaykaizen/video/6985251406747847941?_t=8QqePi9jr5y&_r=1

The pandemic may have caused a resurgence in the Pagan community, but that isn’t the only change the community faces. 

“It’s sort of moved from that magically oriented and kind of science-fictiony towards the more environmental kind of tradition,” said Weston.

Because of the internet, witches from all over the world share their traditions and ideas online, and people integrate them into their own practices.

“I think it’s just kind of naturally becoming more and more homogenized,” said Weston.

Both Leo and Weston said there isn’t a specific path set to get involved with witchcraft. Each person’s journey is unique. 

“It’s not a religion that you really want to proselytize to try to draw people in,” said Weston.

There isn’t a single path, but Leo does ask that people shop at local metaphysical stores instead of buying from big bookstores.

At Barnes and Noble, “you aren’t going to find the help that you’d find in a witchcraft store,” said Leo.

Leo advises people to explore local shops nearby to learn about their community and get to know the people there.

“A store like this is not here to make people millionaires,” said Leo. “It’s because people are devoted to the subject matter they’re interested in and specialize in.”

Julia Gomez is a student of journalism at Florida International University and hopes to become an investigative journalist. She is experienced in writing about politics and pop culture, and has a passion for music and photography