The depiction of witches in U.S. mainstream media has varied greatly over the years. Some witches are presented as haggard and conventionally unattractive women draped in black, stirring concoctions in ominous pots. Others fit into the classic childhood fantasy image of a witch with green skin, pointy hats, and flying broomsticks. And then there are the attractive, mysterious witches who blend perfectly into society while secretly wielding their dark powers against enemies. Though these images are all vastly different, there is one thread that tends to bind many of them together: a prominent focus on the White experience.
From the late 1960s to the mid-70s, occult and witchcraft records became an unlikely phenomenon in the UK and USA. These spoken word LPs included narrations of rituals and spells by witches and covens, usually accompanied by bizarre, early electronic esoteric music. Some were relatively obscure private press releases – just look at The Art of Witchcraft by Babetta, AKA ‘Babetta the Sexy Witch’, and Ian Richardson and Barbara Holdridge’s Malleus Maleficarum, which were both released in 1974 and which today fetch hundreds of pounds online – but what’s odder is that major labels were often the ones putting these records out. It wasn’t unusual to find albums like Alex and Maxine Sanders’ A Witch is Born or Louise Huebner’s Seduction Through Witchcraft arriving through Capitol Records, A&M, or Warner Bros – but why did these occult oddities exist in the first place?
Here’s your motivation: You’re lost! You’re angry, wandering through a hellscape of slasher flicks and torture porn and random demons that show up for no reason. Everything seems derivative and repetitive. You’re on a circular path you can’t deviate from. Hungry for originality, hunted by fat, greedy studios who have manipulated you for eons, you stumble, at last, upon a place of refuge. Friends along the way told you about it (the fisherman, the old woman clutching her purse, the young mother and her crying baby) and you’ve finally found it. But inside, there is no warmth, no sustenance, no creature comforts. There are intimations of violence. There’s a whiff of decay. You breathe in the terror of over a hundred years of legends and lore, your mind whirling with questions, but in the end you come upon a blank wall. You’re left with only yourself, and your fear of what may be behind you.
Have any conversation with a witch today about where they go for their magical inspiration and they’re more than likely going to namedrop The Hoodwitch. The site for “everyday magick for the modern mystic,” The Hoodwitch offers free meditations, rituals and horoscopes alongside a carefully curated selection of crystals, herbal smudges, books, and tarot cards for everyone from beginners to full-on occultists. Bri Luna, a seasoned Bruja, and the founder and Creative Director of the site started her online destination for all things mystical over five years ago and has since grown it into a company that operates both URL and IRL.
The video for Princess Nokia’s “Brujas” opens with a striking yet intimate visual: A group of brown women clad in all-white wade in a body of water, tightly interlocking hands against the horizon of a gloomy sky. An indigenous song scores the cinematic scene as the camera hones in on a single figure veiled in blue, a reference to Yemayá, the ruler of the seas in Yoruba and Santería religions.
Then, the video cuts. The women reappear on screen—but this time, they’re modern-day brujas performing a seance in the woods.
Brujería, the Spanish language word for “witchcraft,” is typically used to refer to various spiritual practices that have been used by African, Caribbean, and indigenous Latin American populations for centuries. The West-African Yoruba religion, for instance, is estimated by some anthropologists to have been practiced for thousands of years. And Santería (also known as Lucumi) is an Afro-Cuban religion that took shape alongside the rise of Spanish colonization—and the arrival of Roman Catholicism—in Latin America in the 15th and 16th centuries. Today, brujería—and its accompanying bruja (Spanish for witch) title—are being taken up by a growing community of primarily Latinx women and femmes who want to tap into the mysticism of their heritage, often sharing images of their practice through social media or incorporating bruja culture into their creative pursuits.
Read More – The Young Brujas Reclaiming the Power of Their Ancestors – Broadly