Why it's suddenly wicked to be a witch after pandemic triggered a boom

Why it’s suddenly wicked to be a witch: One says she conjured up her soulmate, another that spells helped her beat Covid. After the pandemic triggered a boom in middle-class career women reaching for tarot cards, wands and crystals…

  • Sales of tarot decks have skyrocketed last year, according to manufacturers
  • On TikTok, videos with hashtag #witchtok have totted up over 11 billion views
  • Ten popular Instagram ‘witch’ accounts have over 3m followers between them 
  • Daisy Waugh has been reading cards for years and was busier than in lockdown 
  • Sheila Kadeer is a ‘white witch’, which she kept hidden which in police force 
  • Her spells involve casting ‘intentions’ – affirmations or manifestations of desires 

Admitting to witchie leanings is quite fashionable these days. Friends are teaching themselves how to read palms and crystal balls or applying for courses on psychic meditation while others host tarot evenings.

Sales of tarot decks, according to their manufacturers, have skyrocketed in the past year. Some have even become collectors’ items. A recent Financial Times report suggests there has been a surge of interest in witchcraft during the pandemic. On social media site TikTok, videos with the hashtag #witchtok — where witches show off their rituals and spell-making — have totted up more than 11 billion views, some two billion more than #biden.

And on Instagram, ten of the most popular witch accounts have more than three million followers between them. How things have changed. When I first started reading the Tarot, eight or nine years ago, people used to look at me as if I’d lost my marbles.

I was a professional woman, an author with an orderly life, a tidy house and clean hair. Why was a woman like me dabbling in the occult? Maybe I was having a nervous breakdown? Fast forward to today, and the same people who used once to look askance, now lean in.

Other professional women with orderly lives, tidy houses and clean hair ask me how they can learn to read the cards for themselves, or when I might be available to give them a reading.

I have been reading cards professionally for some time. Since the lockdown I’ve been doing it remotely, via Skype or FaceTime, and I’ve never been busier. Furthermore, my clients have never been smarter. Almost without exception, they are mature, intelligent, successful women.

What happened? Well, the madness of the lockdown played its part. One way or another, the ground shifted beneath every one of us.

The chaos and panic of the past year has revealed, brutally, how the structures around which we have built our lives cannot be taken for granted.

Even our churches were closed. We learned what we knew all along but in the rush of busy existences had chosen to ignore — that nothing is certain in life, nothing is really in our control.

Sheila Kadeer (pictured), 53, is a business coach and witch and said that she uses spells to get jobs. She used a spell to get into the police when she applied to join aged 36  

Which begs the question (more easily avoided in normal times, when we are too busy to think) what is the meaning of it all? Why are we here? What exactly is the point?

There is a pattern to this. Time and again throughout history, in times of trouble — most notably in the aftermath of World War I and the Spanish flu — people find themselves turning towards spirituality.

‘Society has often leaned towards spiritualism at times of turmoil,’ explains Professor Diane Purkiss of Keble College, Oxford, who specialises in witchcraft. ‘During the Great Plague of London, in 1665, people started using charms extensively against the disease, as a way of psychologically creating a safe space for them and their households,’ she says.

‘Today’s witches show that same interest in safeguarding those closest to them.’

‘If God didn’t exist, we would have had to invent him,’ as Voltaire observed, 300 years ago.

I’m never sure if he meant it as an argument for or against God. Either way, it makes sense. We are spiritual creatures. Washing our hands to ward off Covid, making lists to run our lives, hitting work targets, being sensible and ‘following the science’ will never be enough for a truly fulfilled life.

To thrive, we need also to believe there’s something more.

Here, four midlife witches share why magic has cast its spell on them, too…


Business coach and witch Sheila Kadeer, 53, lives with her partner in Sandhurst, Berkshire. She says:

I have had several careers — from serving as a police officer to managing a £7 million portfolio as a product manager.

But the one constant has been my devotion to magic. I am a white witch. It’s a term I’m very comfortable with, and yet for much of my career in the police I had to keep it hidden.

Psychic since childhood, I dived into the world of spirituality after leaving a difficult relationship when I was 32. I found a group of similarly- minded friends and we formed a coven to learn more about witchcraft and spell work.

Many of my spells involve casting ‘intentions’ — affirmations or manifestations of desires, usually via a specific form of words or chant, but also using the power of thought.

The first spell I cast was successful. About 18 years ago, my partner was struggling to sell his house. It had been on the market for six months with no luck. So I created some specific wording, lit a spell candle (I buy mine from Ikea) and on a new moon I said out loud the incantation for the house to be sold within a week.

A new moon is associated with manifesting what you want, and guess what? He found a buyer within a couple of days.

I was 36 when I applied to join the police and I used a spell to make sure I got in. I’m not the most athletic person but I needed to pass a fitness test.

I’d failed it once and only had two more attempts. I picked out one of my oracle cards, which are similar to tarot cards, and popped it in my bra to give me strength. I could feel the energy as I undertook the test — and passed.

I was in the force for seven years before I ended up as a private investigator. Again I used spell work to get jobs. I returned to the corporate world before starting my company as a business coach and psychic.

In March 2020, at the beginning of the pandemic, my business ground to a halt and my income dipped, so I performed a prosperity spell, burning bay leaves and reading out a special incantation.

Within a month my income was back and has increased to more than I could ever have earned as a police officer.

In fact, I’ve seen a big uptick in women getting in touch during the pandemic.

I like to see myself as an alchemist. Alchemy is a magical process and involves changing one thing to another and that’s absolutely what I do with my clients.

I often help them shift a stagnant or failing business into gold. One client who was running a honey business magicked up a grant worth £20,000. This is about helping people to create the life we all deserve.

Many will rubbish my claims but I don’t charge people for the spells I perform. I believe magic is real and yes, I have seen it work many, many times.

Sara Donnelly (pictured), 52, is a therapist and witch who chose not to belong to a coven or follow a specific set of rules. She uses dowsing rods – L-shaped copper rods which usually cross when they meet energy that needs clearing 


Therapist and witch Sara Donnelly, 52, is married with three grown-up children and lives in Box Hill, Surrey, and Trevia, North Cornwall. She says:

I have worked with and tuned in to energy for as long as I can remember. As a child I was aware that I held a gift but was fearful of it at first. I’d hear and see things that I didn’t fully understand. As I grew older, I started to feel more in tune with my abilities.

I choose not to belong to a coven or follow a specific set of rules. I prefer to work as a solitary witch and weave my own practical magic in everyday life. For instance, if I’m making a long car journey, I’ll drive my VW Golf wearing specific crystals to harness a higher vibration for myself and those who are with me, especially my boys, to keep us safe.

Everything holds energy. Crystals carry their own piezoelectric charge or vibration (that means its vibration or energy is released when you apply pressure) and can be used to rebalance a body that feels out of harmony.

Broadly speaking, I use clear quartz for clarity, blue crystals are for communication and rose quartz is for love.

I once viewed a property I was keen on buying, but I could sense a coldness and dark energy in one particular area.

I used dowsing rods, mine are L-shaped copper rods which usually cross when they meet energy that needs clearing.

Another example of spell casting or weaving magic is when I craft. I recently knitted a little bear for a baby who had been born into a young family. As I was knitting, I created a spell about being nurtured, safe and loved, so that every stitch was bound in love.

When I was stuffing the bear, I inserted a silk purse inside the heart area with rose quartz, which signifies pure love, to give loving vibrations to the baby.

At each entrance and exit to my homes, I have a black tourmaline crystal which protects my family and the property.

I burn sage to keep my house clear from sickness and have often sat with the intent to send out peaceful healing to those affected by Covid in the past year.

I have a collection of wands — a slate one, homemade wooden ones in yew, oak and willow, and some have crystals embedded in them. I have a few crystal wands, too.

My sons clubbed together to buy my first wand for Mother’s Day years ago. It was a slate one, and I loved it. While I made my wands from yew and willow branches in our local wood, I also have a large quartz laser-point wand which I use as a focusing tool when working with energies. Wands range from £10 to hundreds of pounds.

One of the regular spells I work on is creating prescription essences, which are a little like Bach Flower Remedies. For example, someone with extreme sinusitis and allergies came to see me.

I used tingsha bells, which are small cymbal-style bells, to cleanse all items. I then set specific crystals around the pot to form an exchange of energy with the water. Finally I used a downer, a pendulum with a crystal at the end of it, to indicate how many drops of essential oil I needed to add for that person. It worked beautifully for the client and she was soon breathing more easily again.

I cannot cure infertility, but two of my previous clients conceived after I assisted them to rebalance their bodies. Both are now pregnant. I helped them release their stagnant energies and emotional blockages so their bodies became more balanced in order to be able to conceive.

My son’s girlfriends, and my nieces, are fans of what I do —they’ve been encouraging me to set up an account on TikTok. It’s great to see our younger generation understanding how to work with energy — so long as they are doing so authentically.

Whenever I’m asked about being a white witch, I encourage everyone to understand that we use our magic in an altruistic manner, for the good of all and the harm of none.

Calista Macgillivray (pictured), 40, is a witch and author who, as a child, spoke to trees and saw fairies, and in her late teens used mystical books her mother gave her and started practising spells 


Witch and author Calista Macgillivray, 40, lives with her three children in Perthshire, Scotland. She says:

I learned about the magical healing powers of plants at my grandmother’s knee; she even encouraged me to wash my face in the morning dew on the first day of May to promote youth and beauty.

It may sound far-fetched, but as a child, I spoke to trees, I saw fairies and, in my late teens, using mystical books my mother gave me, I began practising spells. Films would have us believe you need elaborate paraphernalia and to chant aloud for spells to work, but that simply isn’t true.

Magic comes from within, so a positive intention that comes from the heart will do.

I joined a coven in my early 20s but found it wasn’t for me. Too many people were just trying to enhance their own power rather than help others.

It’s tempting to act in the heat of the moment but whatever negativity you send to someone, it will always come back on you to the power of three.

I prefer to live in harmony with the world around me. Celtic magic, which works with the cycles of nature, is a power I’m particularly drawn to.

I often cast spells in my garden. I cast one for my eldest son when he started school last year. He was so nervous I made a pouch for him with protective herbs including nettle, ginger, garlic and rosemary. It 100 per cent worked — and he made a friend who is still his best friend today. Over the years, I’ve also worked with love magic. I often prefer to cast spells while in the bath. It feels natural to be in water. Once, I worked with the energy of geranium, rose petals and rose quartz creating a geometric grid of crystals and rose petals, then anointed them and myself with geranium essential oil, for balance.

While doing the spell, I visualised my soulmate walking into my life.

Two weeks later he arrived, and because the spell had worked so well and was so powerful, I felt his energy before I saw him.

When he walked into an angel workshop I was holding, I knew it was him. We connected instantly. It was as if the very air between us held magic.

Spiritual healings for clients now bring me in a healthy income, and allow me to live a comfortable lifestyle with my children.

Alex de Angelis (pictured), 38, is a white witch and holistic healer who works with plant medicines and directs healing energy. She performed a healing spell when she caught Covid last year, using medicinal mushrooms and linden blossom to feel better


Holistic healer and white witch Alex de Angelis, 38, is married and has two sons, eight and four. She lives in West London. She says:

I work as a healer and problem solver, in other words a true white witch. Witches make things happen by working with plant medicines, directing healing energy.

For example, I performed a healing spell when I caught Covid last year, using medicinal mushrooms and linden blossom to feel better.

I was given immediate relief — and my recovery time was far shorter than I’d expected.

When I was younger I was worried about what my South Kensington peers might think about me being a witch, but London is still the perfect place to be a witch. I see Hyde Park as my sacred grove. We’re given so much in nature that can help us, we only need to look for it.

I recently made a healing elixir from some violets I found growing near me in a local park. It may sound rather out there, but I let them sit in sacred waters from the White Spring in Glastonbury (I visit the town every year on a personal pilgrimage) and infused them with the intention of aiding ‘rebirth’. There was no chanting, I just placed my hands over it and focused my intention on it.

Violets symbolise unconditional love and hope. That’s why the potion carries the essence of healing and renewal.

Clients find me on Instagram and ask me for healing sessions or to cast runes, an ancient oracle which gives guidance and insight.

With spells, I tend to use the power of sound vibration by chanting and drumming to invoke health, wellbeing and abundance. We know how good our favourite music can make us feel — this is the same principle.

My children pick up on what I do, they’re very in touch with nature. I want them to know that as adults they can overcome their obstacles by going for a walk and observing the cycles of life. I want them to know healing is found by being close to the trees and the earth, not in front of the television.

I’m not surprised about the recent rise in interest about witches. Society has let women shoulder the domestic burden over the past year. No wonder they are looking elsewhere to claim their power back. 

  • You can book readings with Daisy Waugh via her website, daisywaugh.com.

Interviews by Samantha Brick

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