A newly-released book by Erica Feldmann, a witch who lives in Salem, Massachusetts, is set to change the way we think about witchcraft. Beautifully designed and filled with good advice, HausMagick combines the powers of astrology, meditation, herbology and, of course, earth magic, to teach us how to conjure a home we really cherish.
For some, it may be hard to grasp the concept of HausMagick. It explains how your star sign can determine the way you decorate your home – as a Gemini, my home is believed to have a split personality and anyone who has seen my ‘mess cupboard’ can testify this is true. She also reveals the power of the manifesting spell – after her friends were having trouble finding the home of their dreams, Erica says she “drew a rough outline of a house and wrote both their names in it. Then I placed a couple of crystals I knew were good for manifesting success on top, along with a cosy-scented candle and a magnet to attract the manifestation of their wishes… Two weeks later, after months of searching, Kaitlyn and Ben moved into their dream house.”
It might sound crazy to non-believers, but HausMagick touches on plenty of topics important to millennials – there’s currently over 550 Tarot card apps in Apple’s app store, and a YouTube video entitled ‘Learn The 78 Tarot Cards in Two Hours’ has been viewed over a million times. Young people also have an increased interest in crystals – a 2017 survey found 83% of respondents were aware of their birthstones, while there’s over 5 million hashtags for crystals on Instagram. Even Katy Perry once said she carries quantities of rose quartz as it “attracts the male” (this was obviously pre-Orlando). There’s certainly a market out there.
The only problem is, I find it hard to believe in this stuff. Not just witchcraft – I don’t believe in anything. I don’t mean to be morbid, but I’m not religious, I don’t believe in ghosts – I find it challenging to put my belief into anything intangible. But I decided to stick with HausMagick, because, if there’s one thing I do have faith in, it’s having a nice home.
In chapter two, ‘Clearing’, I learn Erica is a fan of opening up physical and energetic spaces as they help you think more clearly and relax more deeply – two things I could certainly use. But I have a lot of stuff – or rather, I have a normal amount of stuff in a very small flat. There are items I just can’t part with, but does that mean I’m destined to possess bad energy until I throw all my belongings out the window? No, Erica tells me: “Sometimes some curated clutter can be very energetically positive. Even though I love a clear surface, my wife is into small collections and has a more eclectic vibe that could clash with my tendency toward Scandinavian minimalism. But there are many ways to honour both types of energy in a space – such as melding different types of art. Who doesn’t love a well-curated gallery wall with lots of different textures?”
Despite being raised in Chicago, Erica decided to move to Salem in 2010 to study a master’s degree in “witches and the sacred feminine”. A long-term interest in interior design – as well as encouragement and guidance from her clairvoyant – helped her decide to combine her two passion and open her HausWitch store, where she sells spell kits to help protect your home from negative energy.
We all know what negative energy feels like – it’s an instinctual feeling you get from walking into a place you just don’t like. But I was curious to know what good energy feels like? “It can be different for everyone,” Erica says. “For where you live, your bedroom might simply feel like home; it’s cosy and comfortable. For some people, good energy feels vibrant and active and alive. So they use brighter colours or textures to liven it up.”
Keen to try out a spell from the book, I settle on a manifesting spell. Only, I live in South West London and not Salem, so spiritual knick-knacks can be hard to come by. Were crystals and the whole shebang crucial to make my spell work? “The thing about spells is it’s really the intention that matters more than the materials you use,” Erica advised. “As long as you’re using items that speak to you and the intention you’re setting, it doesn’t necessarily have to be a crystal. It could be a stone from your neighbourhood, or a trinket from a special moment in your life. It could just be a piece of paper with your intention written on it!” However, if you do want to invest in the specific spell kit, HausWitch does deliver to the UK.
So, I try it. As per the spell, I sit near an open window and write down what I wish to manifest. I won’t tell you what it was. Okay then, it was to buy a house. In lieu of pyrite – an ingredient used in the spell – I use a scented candle, and my talisman, a key from the first house I ever lived in with my partner (I forgot to return the key to the landlord and they’ve never asked for it, so it’s still in my possession). I try to envisage what I wanted, narrowing it to the minute details.
And while I did feel a bit mad reciting “Here is how I manifest what it is in my highest and best” out loud to myself – which was ruined by my boyfriend calling “WHAT?” from the bedroom, leaving me to start again – it did kind of work. I mean, I don’t own a house now or anything, but it gave me a level of focus I hadn’t really experienced before, and an overwhelming sense of calm. I was able to compartmentalise my thoughts about what I needed to do to make this happen.
Before this, my sole experience of witchcraft dates way back to the 90s gothic vibe of The Craft and Practical Magic. Then there’s Hocus Pocus, Blair Witch Project, The Witches. All of which project the idea witches are bad and – let’s be honest – terrible housekeepers. But Erica taught me is witchcraft is actually a form of self-care. “I think there are a lot of misconceptions about what it means to practice witchcraft,” she tells me. “Most witches are just using herbs and intention to take care of themselves; some people use the word as a label to give themselves power when they feel marginalised.”
Being a witch is also far more respectful than you’d imagine. A small section on cultural appropriation acknowledges it draws from the traditions of Hinduism, Buddhism and Native Americans, questioning how it can do better to practise more responsible witchcraft (“I don’t know! But it’s a very important question to consider, even if it makes us feel uncomfortable”).
This book goes way beyond the idea witchcraft could be the new feng shui or hygge – it’s about providing yourself with a safe space. “I suffered from anxiety growing up, and sometimes still do. One of the ways I was able to feel like I had some power over the circumstances was by connecting to the spaces I was in.” It’s also political, in a sense – witches could be viewed as feminists in their earliest form. Erica writes that a witch is a ‘Woman in Total Control of Herself’: “[It] represents all who have been oppressed by the patriarchy, and using the title today is a reclaiming of it.” It’s a description particularly apt in this post- Me Too era. It attempts to provide self-care and mindfulness to those struggling to make sense of the world we live in. Essentially, your home is your protection, and you must treat it with respect and care. In that sense, this book is definitely one to make shelf space for.
HausMagick: Transform Your Home with Witchcraft is out now.