Modern Witchcraft in Lawrence

Walking into the Village Witch felt like the first time I watched The Craft.

This is partly because the store has the same sort of hues and tapestries draped around as the fictional witch shop in the film.

Two clerks sat inside, barely glancing up at the chime of the bell as I entered. They didn’t greet me, only returned to whatever it was they were mixing up as I stepped toward a long table of crystals. A sign read, “play with the rocks – they like that!” I found myself picking up different stones and crystals, reading summaries on what their purposes were for. There were any range of reasons for the crystals, from stress relief to anger management, for calming or healing purposes.  

Beyond that lay spell kits and herbs rooted in hoodoo magic, an African American spirituality carried to the United States during the slave trade. These spell kits included various herbs and spices needed for particular spells to bring peace of mind, happiness and good fortune. In the corner beside it were stone bowls for grinding herbs and various items for what witches call their “altars”.

Modern witchcraft, a sign explained, seeks to do well. Gone are the days of Salem-like hangings or curses to cause ill. Today, witches typically burn certain flowers or mix herbs while chanting “spells” for increased focus or a clear mind. They keep crystals around for energy and their elemental purposes, a conduit to the natural world we live in. Witchcraft is about thought, using the “think positive thoughts, live a positive life” mantra and adding certain ritualistic elements to it.

Above all, witchcraft is open to interpretation. You can keep crystals nearby or drop them in a bath, but stay away from hoodoo spell kits. You can do tarot readings and light colored candles for their differing purposes, but forego a book of spells. You can make your own spells or use others, you can draw your own tarot decks or buy them, you can make your altar of crystal balls and purchased amethyst or throw some twigs together to bind with twine and keep everyday rocks on a bedside table.

The store also offers books on more traditional witchcraft practices, including wiccan and pagan religious histories and deities and outlines for spell books. Jewelry and soaps are available for purchase, as well as artwork based on astrological signs.

Witches are still among us and very much alive, but not the monsters they’ve been historically made out to be. Keep that in mind when you slouch down on the couch and pop in Hocus Pocus Halloween night.