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Urban Witchcraft Is on the Rise — Learn More About the Practice

Published on October 23, 2021

Urban witches share what witchcraft means to them. A potion bottle and spell book are pictured.

Like most busy entrepreneurs juggling work, family life and other day-to-day responsibilities, Diana Rajchel begins her day with a simple ritual: pouring herself a cup of coffee. The rest of her morning routine is also fairly mundane for the most part — journaling à la The Artist’s Way, a little yoga, and maybe some meditation.

The slight difference? Rajchel is an urban witch. As such, her morning activities are imbued with a little more magic and witchcraft than the rest of us.

“Most of the time it’s not like the big candles and incense rituals — it’s not big super visual,” she says. “It’s more often about sitting and having conservations with my ancestors, or lighting a candle or pouring drinks.”

Urban witch Diana Rajchel in black and white.
Diana Rajchel is a witch and the author of “Urban Magick: A Guide for the City Witch.” Photo by Nathan McCann Photography.

Witchcraft Can Take Many Different Forms   

Rajchel, a witch, spirit worker and writer, has been practicing witchcraft for 20 years — long before “WitchTok” came into vogue (the popular category of witchy videos on TikTok, which is currently going 20 billion strong). Rajchel says she grew up in a Christian household with the second sight, or the ability to see and hear entities from the non-physical, spiritual world.

She says for many years, she cycled through psychiatrists who would test her for things like schizophrenia until finally, one of them admitted that she wasn’t hallucinating — reality just looked a little different for her.

According to Rajchel, witchcraft can take several different forms and iterations including energy work, crystal therapy and spellwork. For her personally, the idea that comes into play most commonly is animism, or the belief that everything (not just plants, animals and humans but books, objects and even words) is fundamentally alive.

Urban witch leather-bound spell book and precious stones.

How This Urban Witch Found Her Way to Witchcraft

She says it wasn’t until a run-in with a particularly feisty deck of tarot cards in college that she really began to let her curiosity run wild.

“For me, looking back it was an animistic moment: I was bit by my friend’s tarot cards,” she says. “I felt like there were teeth in my arm, and I looked down, and it was coming from the tarot cards. I had been starting to look at books on love magic and energy work — in college my love life was a spectacular mess as many people’s are. When the tarot cards bit me, I saw that they were alive, and they were trying to get my attention.”

After this experience, Rajchel did a deep dive into the research that would help her understand the craft more thoroughly, pouring over books on subjects like physics, folklore and medicine. She continued developing her spiritual senses and knowledge over the years, and today, she helps other urban witches tap into the spiritual world through her writing, classes and one-on-one spiritual sessions.

Black tarot cards surrounded by flowers and precious stones.

Instagram and TikTok ‘Romanticize’ Witchcraft

Although interest in witchcraft has skyrocketed, partly as a result of social media, Rajchel notes there’s an abundance of misinformation and even dangerous advice online. With the visual nature of Instagram and TikTok, many people are romanticizing the craft, equating it with grand visions of crystals, elaborate candles, gothic outfits and black cats.

However, Rajchel says witchcraft is really an internal practice that can be woven into people’s lives without all the fancy tools and paraphernalia we see on Instagram. In fact, much of the practice involves engaging in down-to-earth, pragmatic practices like taking care of your finances or sitting in a quiet room alone with your thoughts — things we may not exactly equate with the sexiness of movies like Practical Magic or Hocus Pocus.

“If you ask 10 different witches to define witchcraft, you’ll get 10 different answers,” Rajchel says. “Misinformation about witchcraft has been around forever, before social media even. It’s really supposed to be quiet, internal. It shouldn’t be some big drama — magic is meant to reduce the drama in your life, not add to it.”

Ingredients for an urban witch spell. Cinnamon sticks, amethyst, lavender, ginger, and other items are pictured in a wooden bowl.

More Women Waking up to Their Power and Spiritual Gifts

Athene Noctua, an artist and tarot card creator who previously went by the name the White Witch Tarot but now goes by Athene Arcana, echoes the sentiments expressed by Rajchel. She says the meaning of witchcraft is broader and more eclectic now than ever before, as more and more women wake up to their power and spiritual gifts.

“Practices that might not previously have been included under this umbrella, now are, as more and more people — in particular women stepping away from mainstream patriarchal religions — are embracing the identity of witch,” Noctua says. “We are beginning to recognize the magic in simpler routines and rituals.”

Bringing Witchcraft Into Everyday Life

Noctua says that bringing an awareness of witchcraft into your everyday life can be exhilarating, liberating and beneficial in terms of channeling your intentions. She adds that witchcraft-inspired practices can elevate any task by bringing an aspect of mindfulness and positive intent to the activity.

“These practices can bring a wonderful richness to simple, everyday tasks like cooking for loved ones,” she says. “Being conscious of the ingredients and the herbs you are using in your food can make every meal a spell, whether a love spell or one of protection.”

Noctua recommends beginning your journey with witchcraft by being more mindful of the world around you and following your intuition.

“Just start paying attention to the world as you move through it: notice nature, be open to subtle patterns and messages,” she says. “As you become more attuned to the energy flowing around you, you will slowly become more confident in developing a path and practice unique to you.”

How Urban Witches Tap Into the Energy of Cities

Not only can witchcraft potentially benefit people’s lives on a personal, everyday basis, but Rajchel believes we can also help others using the practices — whether on an individual or collective level. For example, she says she recently did an invocation in Grand Rapids, Michigan to provide support to a Black community experiencing hardship.

She says she used water as a universal offering and called on the collective energy of a furniture strike that happened in the area in 1918 to increase the flow of abundance and prosperity to the community.

“I invoked the ancestors of the city and asked for their help in not cutting money and energy off, but to have it start flowing into that neighborhood so that people there can start feeling better, finding help and support, feeling entrepreneurial or experimental and to undo the pall of depression,” she says.

According to Rajchel, the results of this kind of spell can take two to three years to manifest, so for now, she’ll be keeping an eye out for positive signs like new businesses opening up in the area, reduced crime rates or increased property values: “The tool I used was water because water is a universal offering. If you don’t know what to offer a spirit, offer water. I poured out the water, told the story of the strike and I called on that communal energy.”

Hands holding a white candle.

Working With Water as an Element

Rajchel explains that water is often used as a tool in spellwork, as it can be a powerful conduit of energy.

“I work with a lot of elements, if you go into really old school magical studies, you’re supposed to try to work with all of them, but I do have a track record of accidentally setting things on fire, so I try to work with water primarily,” she says.

How to Become an Urban Witch

As both Rajchel and Noctua mentioned, modern women everywhere are waking up to the power of witchcraft and how they can use these practices to both improve their lives and benefit society.

Rajchel recommends beginning your journey by first determining what it is that interests you about witchcraft and reading more about the practice, specifically books like Keys to Perception: A Practical Guide to Psychic Development, Being a Pagan: Druids, Wiccans and Witches Today and High Magick: A Guide to the Spiritual Practices That Saved My Life on Death Row.

Rajchel has also penned several books of her own including Urban Magick: A Guide for the City Witch, and a new one set for release on December 8th called Hex Twisting: Countermagick Spells for the Irritated Witch (which, let’s face it, we can all identify with that title somewhat at this point).

She’s also working on a TikTok (or should we say, WitchTok?) series to help people learn the absolute fundamentals of witchcraft. You can find her over at @spooncherry01.

Spirituality Not a ‘One-Size-Fits-All Path to Bliss’

Above all, both Rajchel and Noctua note that context is important when beginning your journey with witchcraft. If you want to become an urban witch, it’s essential to remain true to yourself, do your research and remember that spirituality isn’t a one-size-fits-all, linear path to bliss.

“Listen to yourself, your soul, your gut,” Noctua says. “Spirit will communicate with you in your own language, so if it has meaning for you, it is meaningful.”

Cheers to inspiring people who are carving their own path 🥂!

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The Author
Mackenzie Patterson is a Toronto-based writer and journalist. She enjoys long walks, iced coffee on tap, and discovering all the latest and greatest health and wellness trends.