Witchcraft gains popularity through TikTok


Throughout history, witches have turned to seclusion and faced being hunted and killed. Today, Gen Z has embraced witchcraft and is sharing their knowledge with the world on TikTok.

Webster junior Hannah Bartz found herself spending hours researching witchcraft after seeing a “#witchtok” video on her “For You” page. The page, based on an algorithm of videos similar to what you have liked, spawned more and more videos.

First, Bartz saw simple videos about tarot reading, which is the practice of using tarot cards to gain insight to a question asked about the past, present or future. Then, the reader interprets the cards.

“The more I saw on TikTok of people saying, ‘Anybody can do this, it’s just a matter of learning how to,’ I was like, ‘Well, hell yeah, if anyone can learn how to, then I want to,’” Bartz said.

Salem vs. TikTok

Bartz described the use of crystals and energy as the main difference between what we consider witchcraft now versus what used to be considered witchcraft. In fact, Bartz explains the Salem witches that may come to mind shouldn’t really be considered witches at all.

In her research, Bartz found that Salem witches experimented with different plants and herbs which had drug-inducing effects. Bartz said the “witches” would get high and do crazy things. Because the way they absorbed the drugs wasn’t sanitary, they would get gangrene, and it’d turn their skin green.

“So, that old witchcraft wasn’t necessarily witchcraft,” Bartz said. “It was just a better understanding of how different plants and herbs, biology, things like that [work.]”

Bartz said to look at a more historical version of witchcraft, the study should be focused on Egyptians and the Greeks, who had prophecies and Oracles.

“All those things are closer to witchcraft than Salem was,” Bartz said.

Different Practices

Depending on how far down the rabbit hole of WitchTok you go, topics such as astral projection, shadow work, lucid dreaming and quantum physics are discussed. Bartz follows 15 to 20 different witches on TikTok, with each specializing in a different kind of witchcraft. For example, one witch can practice divination, with another user only practicing with crystals.

A self-described “baby witch,” Bartz knows she still has a lot to learn when it comes to witchcraft. “Baby witch” is a term used to describe new and inexperienced witches. Most baby witches start off with collecting crystals. Crystals are said to have many healing properties. Rose quartz, moonstone and malachite are some of the many crystals to choose from.

Browsing through crystals, it’s not all about which is the sparkliest or in the best condition. Intuition plays a huge role. Simply meaning, choose the one that speaks to you. Most say, “you’ll know when you know.”

Webster student Jessica Clones’ journey into the metaphysical realm began in high school. Always one with nature, stones and crystals sort of called to her, so she answered. She now has an extensive collection of crystals she uses to practice.

She performs rituals such as cleansing and charging them under the full moon and taking them with her as good luck charms, as she did in high school when she went to her favorite band’s, One Direction, concert.

Bartz waited six to seven months to launch into her practice with crystals. After seeing tarot card videos on TikTok, the “For You” page started showing her videos of other witches practicing with crystals.

“The [videos said], ‘Before you do anything, you need to set clear boundaries and good protection. So, that’s what I did,” Bartz said.

She immersed herself in learning what kind of protection she would need and what kind of protective crystals she would need, too. After she felt she had enough information, she headed to the metaphysical shop. Metaphysical shops sell crystals, tarot cards and almost everything a witch could need.

Graphic by Jenna Jones. Source: https://crystalearthspirit.com/pages/crystal-meanings

“For other new witches or people who want to start practicing, it’s important to learn and it’s totally okay to make mistakes, but just be careful and do your research and give credit where credit is due,” Bartz said.

Due to her practice, Bartz feels she’s changed as a person. She says witchcraft has taught her to look inward, release her anger and resolve her past traumas.

“As much as I hate to say it, I used to be a really passive aggressive and judgemental person,” Bartz said. “But, I’ve learned a lot about myself, and I’m not saying I’m the greatest person but I’m working to become a better person.”

Clones also has been impacted by her practice of witchcraft.

“Psychologically, I’m influencing myself to be more positive and be more open minded and conscious of myself in my body, and how I exist,” Clones said.

Impact on Society

With all of this talk, it begs the question: is all of this becoming too mainstream? Almost anything can become a trend these days — remember the cinnamon challenge? It’s important to note that no matter what you believe in, there are possible repercussions.

Clones and Bartz both major in biological science at Webster. To them, witchcraft can be both a benefit to the environment and have its negative impacts. Clones has brought up the point of sustainability while practicing witchcraft. For example, smudging your house with sage is a common practice for many. It is done to purify and cleanse the air. The problem that has arisen out of this is the overharvesting of white sage, which Indigenous people have used in spiritual ceremonies for centuries. Because of this, it lists it as an at-risk species.

Not only does this raise concerns about sustainability,using herbs such as white sage can be considered cultural appropriation if you do not belong to the Indigenous community. This is why Clones encourages those who do or are looking to practice to do their research before anything. Bartz agrees with this piece of advice. She says it’s important to know witchcraft is not a trend, even though it may be “trending” on TikTok.

“I know I joined right when it started to become like a big trend, but it’s a real kind of serious thing. It’s not something to be played around with or messed with, especially if you’re working with spirits, whether or not you believe in them, you just don’t want to be disrespectful,” Bartz said. “And I think one of the biggest things to be careful of is culture appropriation. Because that’s definitely becoming a problem like karma and chakras, how we’ve learned it is pretty whitewashed.”

Bartz also feels as if witchcraft can be explained by science. Comparing the molecules in a solid and gas to the molecules of a crystal, Bartz explained that a crystal’s size causes different frequencies, thus causing the crystal to affect a person in different ways.

“In the witch community, you see them connect science to witchcraft, you see them connect Christianity to witchcraft,” Bartz said. “They connect all these things together. I’m just like, ‘Wow, everything really can connect.’ It’s not like, ‘you can’t do one and not the other or else it won’t work.’ It can work.”

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Kenya Rosabal
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