By Mihaela Manova

Season’s greetings to the new aesthetic of the October season: everything pumpkin, scary and  (unsurprisingly) deeply orange. To contribute to the feel of fall, I felt like I should join the many people celebrating this season despite my longing to have a summer do-over.

Over the summer, The Cut wrote a story about amateur witches hexing the moon, an article that not only spiked the interest of many people, but introduced another side of the entertainment app TikTok.

“WitchTok,” a separate section of the app, is an expanding cohort of experienced and baby witches, another name for the beginners who practice the craft.

The rumor of the moon being hexed stemmed from a Twitter thread of more than 30 tweets from the user @heyyadoraa. More than 40,000 people retweeted the thread with the rumor gaining momentum and warning that the Sun could be next too.

Having a developing interest in WitchTok, I dove into learning about the subject. In this age, a simple Google search can lead to becoming anyone you want, and I felt like going “undercover” in this witchy community.

The first thing I’ve discovered is that one should know the difference between Voodoo and witchcraft. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary states that Voodoo is derived from Africa and is  chiefly practiced in Haiti.

On the contrary to someone associating the religion with Voodoo dolls, according to the HuffPost this religion is not a cult and does not practice devil worship or black magic.

Instead, members of WitchTok advise others not to mess with ancient Voodoo spirits due to possible endangerment.

Witchcraft, on the other hand, has many different pathways that one can explore. The top two terms that often stem from the term witchcraft are Paganism and Wicca.

Paganism is an umbrella term for a spiritual belief outside of mainstream organized religions (Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, etc.) which mainly focuses on nature.

According to Britannica, Wicca was created by Gerald Brosseau Gardner, who “founded a new movement based on a reverence of nature, the practice of magic, and the worship of a female deity (the Goddess) and numerous associated deities (such as the Horned God).”

Not every practicing witch agrees with the information from WitchTok. There are many YouTube videos disproving advice with the most common being the terms deity, hexing and the Fae.

A deity is a supernatural being, like a god or goddess, who is worshipped by followers of a certain religion or belief. Being “hexed” often refers to a spell that is cast on someone to give them misfortune.

The Fae, otherwise known as the mythical creatures faeries, resemble an orb of light according to Amino, a discussion app. Comments on WitchTok have different answers to describing the fae, as one user under the name @rhearogue says, “ [They are] Celtic folklore forest creatures. They want to eat you, not befriend you.”

After getting to know the common vocabulary of this community, I began to research the type of content that is made on WitchTok.

My search began after clicking the hashtag #WitchTok on the app. Dozens of videos popped up, explaining and showcasing the powers these users have. These videos do not reside solely on TikTok, as users on YouTube create compilations of the best WitchToks.

As many viewers are beginners to the craft, critics from the community often warn others about misrepresentation, bad usage of the craft and ignorance on certain topics. Comments under the most popular WitchTok compilation warn other beginner witches about the topics presented.

One YouTube user, named “Lavender moon magick,” commented under the compilation, “Just to put this out there but be careful getting information about witchcraft from TikTok, some of these have misinformation in them.”

As a certain video was part of the compilation, user “unknown boi,” said, “Don’t listen to the one telling you to use crystal and herbs instead of therapy!! If you are going to therapy continue, if you need therapy please go!!!”

The most common videos showcase witches sharing spells and tips on how to execute them. To practice a spell, you apparently need to focus and clear your head, set an intention and then perform the spell that you desire.

Stumbling upon other similar content, I learned pendulum readings are one of the more popular types of videos. During a pendulum reading, a crystal strung on a cord hangs over a circular disk with the sides marked yes, no, maybe and rephrase.

Similar to getting answers from a Magic 8-Ball, pendulum readings can tell a person’s future or confirm something in the present. The crystal begins swinging fast toward the answer that it has chosen for you.

After every video I watched, the comments underneath usually prompted various responses. One of which was the increasing amount of Christians advising the witches to repent their practice.

Many of these witches are trying to fight against the stigma that the community faces, arguing that there are different sides to their magic, who they communicate with and the kind of spells they practice.

Observing this witchy community from an outsider perspective, I learned there’s more to WitchTok than what meets the (newt’s) eye.

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(This post was originally published to The Miami Student)