BGSU witches tell their stories

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Olivia Behm and Olivia Behm

 Instead of practicing one of the more known Abrahamic religions like Christianity, Judaism or Islam, many are turning to witchcraft, more commonly referred to as “the craft” in the witch communities.

According to a 2018 article in Newsweek, the number of Wiccans and Pagans in the United States has grown dramatically, accumulating to 1.5 million practicing witches, outnumbering the 1.4 million Presbyterians in America.

There is a community of people at BGSU who practice witchcraft on campus. Three students practice the craft but in different ways.

“(Practicing witchcraft) is a fact about me that you don’t really need to know to understand me,” junior education major Calvin Kern said.

Before coming to Bowling Green, Kern began an eclectic practice of the craft, meaning that he follows multiple traditions of the craft rather than limiting himself to one.

“There’s no one who does it like I do,” Kern said. “My craft is totally unique to me. It should be personal if you want to do it right.”

Traditional practices, like reading tarot or working with runes or sigils, have become a regular part of his life, but he said the key is to fill whatever he is doing with intent.

Online, witches can find others with a shared interest. There are Facebook groups with thousands of members and over 2.5 million Instagram posts tagged with #witchesofinstagram.

Sophomore ethnic studies major and psychology minor Ky Wilson said she is thankful for these online communities as they are places where witches can collaborate or give advice to one another.

Wilson identifies as a “bruja,” or a witch practicing in a cultural context, and began practicing a year ago following the death of her great grandmother. Wilson recalled the day she inherited her gifts from her grandmother, who was an active bruja herself.

“That was the day my whole perspective of life just changed,” Wilson said.

Bruja tradition is typically more spiritual, but Wilson has integrated more earth-bound practices into her daily life. Some of her favorites include working with oils and crystals, speaking to ancestors while meditating, and reading candles and tarot.

She said being a bruja is something one is born in to, and while she said she was hesitant to embrace her new identify at first, the practice has brought her peace and an understanding of the world.

“I have an understanding of why things happen,” Wilson said. “(Practicing the craft) opens you up and gives you a broader understanding of the world.”

Similarly, senior education major Samantha Provines’ practice is deeply rooted in an understanding of the properties of the world around her and appreciating how natural rhythms, like the position of the moon, influence her life. Provines is a self-identified hedgewitch, or someone who uses plants at the center of their craft.

“There are magical properties of the earth,” Provines said. “You’ve got to be conscious of it.”

Provines began her practice two years ago after reading feminist literature that described the empowerment of witchcraft. To Provines, the craft is about fostering self-growth in addition to this newfound empowerment – astrology as an example.

She said people often use their star signs to excuse their behavior, but they should instead use the traits of their signs to recognize their poor behavior and weaknesses in order to grow.

Provines is focused on being her best self. “It’s not like I’m walking around the union going, ‘Abracadabra!’” Provines said.  

Those who practice the craft are expressing themselves and getting more in touch with the world around them. “We are not what you think we are,” Kern said. “We come in every size, shape, and thought. Just let us be about that.”