Despite what pop-culture lore may have taught you, the majority of men who practice witchcraft do, indeed, refer to themselves as witches. But though they may share a universal name, exactly what that practice looks like varies from witch to witch, so ahead of Halloween, I spoke to three male witches about their craft and how they came to understand it.
I previously spoke to a young Creole witch living in Louisiana and an elder witch leading a coven. Today, meet Scott, a witch who has worked professionally as a healer for the last decade. While incorporating more familiar forms of healing in his work, such as reiki and massage, he also uses neo-Pagan rituals involving cauldrons, crystals and communicating with spirits.
Location: Los Angeles, California
Type: Modern Solitary Witch
On What Witchcraft Means to Him
I’ve been practicing witchcraft for roughly 25 years, the last 10 of which professionally. I started off in Wicca groups, which is like modern neo-Pagan spiritual practices, popularized by people like Scott Cunningham and Gerald Gardner. I got a lot out of it, but I’ve moved away from that and went what they call “solitary,” where I went out on my own to explore the world to see what was available to me with magic.
I had the pleasure of learning from a lot of people in the Pagan community that came up in the 1970s and 1980s and got to test the waters with a lot of different things — magic evolved for me as a meditative, energetic practice. It helped me define who I am as a person and gave me agency in the world.
When we do magic, we’re looking for the ability to change circumstances that might be set against us. So I definitely identify as a witch. It’s my mode in the world, but “witch” is a large umbrella term to me — it represents my meditative practice, doing healing work for people. It represents how I cook my food. It represents what I do when I get in a car and drive, and how I prepare for interviews. It’s a way of interacting with the world. I think everything is magic: It’s a word we can use to describe a lot of different things — we use it to describe life. It’s filled with a spark that we can’t define, and my work is really about having a relationship with that.
I had an incredible mom who really encouraged it in me when I was little. I had imaginary friends, and I’d call things out before they happened. I’d tell my mom that people were saying different things in their head than they would with their mouth. When I was 12 or 13, I began reading whatever I could find in the library, and once I hit that road, that was it. I went to as many classes, talks and events as I could. I volunteered at an occult shop.
The Daily Practice
I cultivate my relationship with magic through daily practices, which might take five minutes or 40. It starts with a brief centering meditation; then I work with tools to come into harmony with the space I’m in. Many of them are modern Pagan tools: the cauldron, the blade, the wand, the cups. I often use stones — they represent certain powers and circumstances in life, the laws of life, the way it operates. The blade represents innovation and ideas, its virtue is truth. So I can incorporate these things into daily meditation.
When I meditate, I’m standing and breathing with the earth, holding the sun and the moon in my heart, placing my foot upon a stone and going through a recitation of prayer to bring myself into harmony and alignment with the earth, and to agree to cooperate with its energies. It’s all for liberation of myself, and liberation of other people. After meditation, I might direct energy with a wand for a specific purpose, like cleansing myself of unhealthy energies, invoking certain energies through esoteric symbols like hexagrams. I usually complete my practice with an affirmation, a statement that I can carry with me throughout the day.
The Professional Practice
I guide people through passages in their lives. I incorporate several things into my practice that I consider part of my witchcraft that may not be part of everyone else’s — I use energy art, like reiki, chanting, crystals. I incorporate massage for some clients, as I’m a certified massage therapist. I do intuitive reading and psychic work. All those things can intermesh.
I give sessions, usually 90 minutes [$150 each session, per his website], where a client and I will breathe, discuss what they’re here for and meditate. I might receive a message from the spirits I work with, then I read from that place and we’ll have a conversation around that. We might call deities or angels into the space, or ancestors. We might do reiki, or I might guide them with imagery. Then we’ll discuss what they experienced, why and what they can do next, like writing these things down and burning them on the full moon, or going to the ocean and making a flower offering by tossing them in the water. It all depends on the person.
On November 7th — the more astrologically accurate Halloween for me, representing the midpoint between the Autumn Equinox and the Winter Solstice — I’m helping host an “ancestral dinner” at A Love Bizarre, a shop in L.A. We’re gonna create a few tables for people and set up a chair for those who passed, serve food, do a ritual, invite them [the spirits] in and invite you to spend time with those spirits. If someone’s lost someone recently, the ritual is allowing them to have a conversation and a meal with that person. So we’ll cast a circle, do some incantations, use some incense that helps us connect to the spirit world, and then share stories. For me, the magic is most powerful when we have gratitude for it. Sharing our stories helps with that.
What the Average Guy Could Gain from the Craft
It would depend on their teacher, but with me, it would help with the ability to self-reflect in an appropriate way. Meditation is a large part of the practice for me, and I think it should be a large part for everyone. It can also help give agency and an understanding of why something didn’t work and how it could in the future.
The underlying emotion we see in a lot of straight men, culturally, is anger. If you live in a culture that oppresses your ability to be emotional because it’s feminizing or negative, what have you got? You’ve got nothing but anger. A lot of men are limited to a certain kind of expression. They think they have to be cool or stoic. One of my friends beautifully refers to anger as a “call to action” — it’s the desire to assert a change. With magic, I can be introspective about the motivation of my anger.
Grief, sadness and anger are all things we suppress. They become assigned to the shadow realm — they creep up in certain ways, and we project them onto other people. When we do magic, we create a space to tap into the anger and discover what it really is that wounded us, and to take that power and go somewhere with it.