EXPOSING FAMOUS INSTAGRAMMERS! (Illuminati/Selling Souls)
Influencer Witches of Instagram
Six years ago,before Big Witch Energy (BWE) became athing, Bri Luna was living in Los Angeles, running an e-commerce business that sold metaphysical objects like crystals and sage bundles. She had studied witchcraft with both of her grandmothers and, while shipping out orders of custom tarot cards, decided to take to social media to show the world a different kind of witch: one with curly hair, tattoos, and dark skin. "Back then, the representation of witches wasn’t very inclusive,” says Bri, who is Black and Mexican and looks to be in her 20s, although she won’t divulge her age. “The aesthetic was very white, very Salem, veryAmerican Horror Story: Coven. It was all dark robes and pointy hats.”
Bri chose the name @TheHoodWitch (“It’s sci-fi meets the hood,” she explains) and began to broadcast her mystical message out into the universe—of Instagram.
Her first post: a crystal, a candle, and The High Priestess tarot card, along with an explanation of what the card meant ("represents wisdom, serenity, knowledge, and understanding"). Her second: a black-and-white picture of her grandma Sylvia with feathers in her hair and a caption that read “The original hood witch.” It got some likes and a comment that read: “#AGoodWitchIsAHoodWitch.”
Over 2,000 posts later, Bri has 342,000 followers and a tagline,Everyday magic for the modern mystic. She’s still got her shop—now so popular, her witchy wares are often sold out. She’s big enough that she has a business partner and seasonal employees. She’s verified.
And she’s not the only one.
Social media sorceresses are having a moment,gaining popularity with supernatural content such as virtual tarot readings, crystal explainers, astrological memes, reports on the cosmos, New Age healing rituals, and yes, casting spells (love ones, included). While Bri is considered by many to be the Head Witch in Charge of the “witch influencer” movement, there are now dozens of similar accounts for your scrolling enchantment.
There are plenty of reasons why people are looking to get their spiritual fix served up in a square crop, starting with the explosion of wellness culture. It is already a nearly 0 billion industry and is expected to grow to a near-trillion by 2021, with millennials driving the growth, according to Euromonitor International, a market research firm. Increasingly, women include witchcraft in that box of mindful self-care. “Many find witchcraft and tarot incredibly therapeutic,” says Valeria Ruelas, 24, known to her nearly 20,000 followers as @TheMexicanWitch.
According to a 2019 Pew Research Study, millennials are turning away from religion faster than any other group yet still strongly identify as spiritual. And in a contentious political landscape that has left many feeling anxious, marginalized, and hopeless, they’re in desperate need of a sense of connection to something bigger than themselves—something otherworldly even. “In the age of Donald Trump, I notice an uptick in DMs after stressful current events,” Valeria says. She believes the witches are just the type of emotionally accessible influencer that young women are craving.
Unsurprisingly, #MeToo has also contributed to a surge in BWE. “The major religions of the world are patriarchal and worship men,” says Skye Alexander, author of more than two dozen books on spirituality, includingThe Modern Guide to Witchcraft. “This stimulates an interest in goddess-based spirituality, where it’s all about feminine energy and power.”
For many web-based witches, the practice of witchcraft isn’t new—just the platform, which has offered them powerful new ways to make a living from their craft. In 2019, social media witchcraft became Valeria’s full-time job (she had been employed at a hospital as a sexual-health counselor), which she says wouldn’t have happened if she didn’t have the ability to market herself on Instagram.
She started out in 2019 as a tarot reader for her friends and, shortly after, began posting lively horoscopes, tarot forecasts, and metaphysical guidance videos. In one recent post, she offers full moon affirmations, in another, an explanation of how she conducts candle wax readings. Within a year, her following grew to more than 10K.
From her home base in New Orleans, she now gives readings and spiritual consultations to her followers (mostly via phone or FaceTime) and mentors up-and-coming witches. She charges for a standard 30-minute tarot reading. “I love that I can reach anyone, anywhere in the world,” Valeria says.
Shawn Engel (@WitchyWisdoms) has been a full-time witch since last July, when she quit her gig as a bartender in New York City. She had discovered the light of witchcraft in the dark corner of a bookstore as a tween and for years used tarot and holistic healing remedies to help her cope with mental-health issues. Now, she shares her herbal wellness recipes (think: homemade rosewater and ancestral herb bundles) and tarot know-how with her 18,000 followers, charging for tarot readings via email and ,200 for her 2-month long, one-on-one coaching courses. “Witches used to be stuck in the broom closet,” Shawn says. “Social media is a way for us to reach a wider audience.”
But while influencer witches have to think about what’s trending and strategize how to get their posts optimal exposure and engagement, they remain witches first.
This means they mostly avoid sponsored posts, which may not feel authentic to their practice, and upload content only when the cosmos align. Outside her recurring series, such as #WitchTips, which she uses to post nuggets of mystical advice (like, how to be more successful with your spell results or how you should handle your first tarot deck), Valeria says, “All my posts are moments that come from tapping into the Divine.” Often, she meditates or reads her tarot cards for creative clarity before posting. “I try to stay informed and share tips on how to deal with anxiety, trauma, and healing. I also like to start conversations about hard topics, like current events, and help people be vulnerable and open. It’s very powerful.”
“I think of the social climate, the political climate, major astrological events, or even just how I'm feeling when deciding what to put up,” says Bri, who now splits her time between Seattle and New York City. On the one-year anniversary of the Charlottesville attack, Bri posted a simple image that said “Witches Against White Supremacists.” On a Sunday night, when she knows many experience the Sunday Scaries, she might post an inspiring message, like a mantra, to help her followers cleanse their anxious minds.
But it’s not all positive energy and jade stones—even if modern witches don’t have to fear being burned at the stake, they still experience their share of haters. Influencer is a 21st century profession that most people don’t understand—while witchcraft is an ancient practice that attracts a similar vibe of mistrust. Put them together and you have an industry that many people find invalid. “I have been called satanic and devil worshipper, and just get mocked a lot for my practice being ‘make-believe,’” Valeria says. “That’s what hurts the most—the doubt.”
It hasn’t helped that corporations and faux witches have started trying to capitalize on the mystical moment. “There are definitely fake witches online—people mashing together spiritual jargon in order to get a sale,” Shawn says.
Last summer, Sephora debuted “Starter Witch Kits” () that came with tarot cards, sage, and rose quartz. The brand canceled the product after being accused of trying to appropriate indigenous religious practices. Earlier this year, Starbucks also came under fire for poaching an image suspiciously similar to Bri's—her long, talon-esque nails wrapped around a vibrant purple crystal—to advertise its Crystal Ball Frappucino.
“I get it. You can buy fucking crystals at Target now,” says Bakara Wintner (@BakaraW), 28, a Durham, North Carolina-based witch with a septum piercing, fiery opinions, and more than 10,000 followers. But she urges people not to write off witches who do have a real connection to the metaphysical. She herself was an overworked 21-year-old publishing-industry assistant in New York City, making ,000 a year, when she came across her first tarot card. “When I got the deck, there was this instant feeling of recognition that had me in tears from the moment it was in my hands,” she recalls.
For Valeria, witchcraft isn’t a trend—it’s her heritage. “I come from a long line of Mexican folk healers, so I consider herbal medicine and magic a hereditary gift,” she says. “In my late teens, I remember taking out a card from a deck and guessing its meaning correctly, without looking at the book. I felt as if I had already seen these cards. It felt so right. I believe in the Big Bang, I believe in science—but I also believe there's something bigger behind all that.”
Bri agrees that the popularity (and distribution platforms) of modern mysticism needn’t cheapen the magic. “I can give you a really beautiful photo that I hope will capture your attention first, and then hopefully, you read what I’m talking about in the caption and think, Oh, what is this?And then maybe you end up finding something that helps you connect to your deeper self,” she says.
Of course, her online popularity can occasionally feel more like a curse: It can be exhausting being everyone’s witch. “People treat you like their personal 24/7 hotline,” says Bri, who stopped accepting DMs after followers pinged her constantly with requests about “tarot readings, insight on everyday life, and of course, spells—it’s overwhelming.”
Still, most Insta witches say the good outweighs the bad. “The online community of women I've found has been one of my most constant sources of solace and inspiration,” Bakara says. “It’s encouraging to know that you can find people like you, who speak your language. I wish I had this community when I was younger. My followers have provided a meaningful source of connection every time I seek it. That’s real magic.”
Asked if she’s comfortable trafficking in the world of “influencers” Valeria says “Absolutely.” And for anyone accusing her of sellout spirituality? As a witch, she’s well-positioned to handle negative energy—although she promises she won’t be doing any hexing.
“I just block and delete,” Valeria says.
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