Lunadea. All photos by the author.
This article was originally published on VICE Netherlands.
Historically, witches haven’t been treated all that well: scholars estimate that 40,000 to 50,000 people were executed for “witchcraft” in Europe and the American colonies between the 15th and 18th centuries.
However, now we no longer persecute witchcraft – in most countries, at least – there seem to be more and more people calling themselves “witches” the world over. The hashtag #witchesofinstagram has 5.4 million posts attached to it, while a Google search for “witchcraft course” yields 35 million results. Clearly, the once secretive art of witchcraft has gone both commercial, and online.
To find out how you make a living as a modern witch, I met up with Lunadea Jankiewicz a professional witch and successful entrepreneur. As the 38-year-old laid out her tarot cards, we discussed her business model, witch fashion and the increasing competition in her field.
VICE: Hi, Lunadea. What’s a typical day in the life of a witch?
Lunadea: Each witch has their own speciality, but I jokingly call myself a “computer witch”, because I’m behind the computer a lot, writing courses and workshop materials. Essentially, I’m a teacher. Aside from that, I start the day with a ritual to honour my ancestors.
I do this by placing a small portion of my meal next to an altar, alongside incense and candles. This morning, I offered some cornflakes and coffee. When I have lunch, I add some bread. When you’re a witch, your ancestors are very important. You honour them, so they help you reach your goals.
What does it mean to be a witch?
Witchcraft is a way of life: a combination of being in touch with nature, commemorating the changing of the seasons and finding your own primal strength. Modern witches don’t wear black robes or fly around on broomsticks, but they are connected to their own spirituality. In my case, I teach other witches what witchcraft entails in workshops and classes. I’m always working on one of my witchcraft books and a witch calendar I publish each year.
And you make a living doing this?
Yes, but I also organise a yearly witch festival and I’m ordained to perform ritual witch marriages. On top of that, I sell witch starter kits. All of that combined, I bring in a little over €3,000 (£2,715) a month..
Do you have many expenses?
I employ my boyfriend as a copy editor. I pay him €500 (£452) a month. I’ve also spent a fair amount on all of my web domains, so potential customers can easily find me when they do a Google search for “witchcraft course”, for instance. There are also costs associated with shipping, software and location rental for my workshops.
What do people learn when they do one of your workshops?
How to make ritual candles, how to clear negative energy out of a room or how tarot cards can help you answer life’s big questions. It’s all pretty practical. For €600 (£543) you get ten workshop evenings. An online witch course costs €23 (£20) and comes with 20 pages of information I’ve written myself.
Do you ever get strange requests because you’re a witch?
Yes. I get asked probably once a week to lift a curse that has been placed on someone. I send those people to see someone else, because I don’t have time for it and it’s not my expertise.
How do you set yourself apart from other witches, commercially speaking?
Competition in the field of witchcraft has definitely been increasing, but I’m also one of the most visible witches on social media. It takes a lot of time, but it pays off. I’m mostly active on Facebook and Instagram.
Do you ever hop on a broomstick, just for fun?
The image of a witch on a broomstick was invented by the artist Pieter Bruegel [in the 16th century]. He was the first to depict witches as women flying on broomsticks, stirring pots and having black cats.
Even though it was made up by a late Medieval painter, the image is still very popular – even among witches. I don’t sit on broomsticks, but because this idea of witches still exists, my courses on herbs are very popular. Most witches do dream of living in a cottage in the woods, by the way.