It’s hard out there for a witch
The mere mention of witches usually conjures dark images of midnight rituals, bubbling cauldrons and frightening spells. But the reality is very different, and the scope of witchcraft and pagan practices reaches far and wide.
As local witch Katie Karpetz explains, “Everyone’s practicing magic, all the time, and they don’t even know it. Like, you wishing for stuff is basically you doing magic. You’re setting intentions.”
Paganism and witchcraft incorporate a myriad of beliefs such as spiritual healing, shamanism and natural devotion. Practices include everything from geometric designs, crystals and herbs, incantations and spell kits—all designed to be executed with focused intention.
Many of these will be available for investigation at The Witchery Market, which has found a new home at the little brick hall in the heart of Old Strathcona just off Whyte Avenue. Two dozen vendors participate, bringing everything from jewellery and natural products to bags and decor items, and of course, all things witchy.
During the two-day market, which will be the last until October, free presentations—tarot readings, manifestation demonstrations, talks of ghosts and hauntings—are offered on the hall’s second floor, which at other times is also used as an altar room by local Freemasons.
Karpetz, also know as The Witch, has always been into ‘witchy’ things. She and Debra Bourne—of Where Faeries Live pagan supply—began constructing a magical arsenal with, from oils and incense to dusting powders, ritual washes and witch bottles. She created an Instagram account and her products started earning a demand.
“Have you ever read about those old European witch bottles they find in England and stuff? And they’re like, ‘Oh, we dug a hole and found this bottle full of nails and pee,’” Karpetz asks.
Liking the concept, but keeping it clean, Karpetz began making her own witch bottles and calling them batteries because they include a first and last layer of magnetic sand, along with herbs and ingredients that align with the intentional purpose before it’s all sealed off with wax.
“The idea is you can bury it on your property to draw money, or whatever, but I’ve made it in such a way that it’s beautiful so you can put it in your window instead,” she explains.
Karpetz would generally classify herself as a practitioner of Slavic folk magic and hoodoo, and has been studying magic for most of her life. Having completed a hoodoo-specific magic course, Karpetz heads to California next month for her third and final year of a hands-on internship. She considers herself spiritual, and although her practices incorporate items and influences from various faiths, this is not a religion to her.
“Wicca is a religion, but witchcraft is not. And you can be a wiccan and a witch, but can also be a witch and not a wiccan. So, it gets weird with stuff like that,” she says.
Witchery is a vague and indeterminate definition, which is partly to blame for the surrounding controversy and confusion. A couple weeks ago, Karpetz found the square credit card reader she uses as a vendor blocked and disabled. Some investigation turned up an explanation from the company saying it was against its policy to use the reader to sell occult items, but it is fine to use it to sell religious things. Frustrated by the practical obstacle to her business as well as the discrimination, Karpetz put up a post on Facebook that went viral and instigated a call from Vice Magazine to investigate the issue. They received no comment from the company behind the readers.
Otherwise, Karpetz says the only adversity she encounters as a contemporary witch is the occasional church-goer posting theoretical threats from Christ on her site.
“I just ban and delete automatically. I won’t put up with stuff like that. I’m like, ‘I don’t go to your church page and poop on it, so don’t come to mine and do that.’ But, it doesn’t happen that often,” she says.
Sat., Apr. 22 – Sun., Apr. 23
The Witchery Market
10433 83 Ave.