From the LA Times:
The working witches of Los Angeles just want you to be your best self
By DEBORAH NETBURN
JUN 11, 2019 | 3:00 AM
The Oracle of Los Angeles was feeling frazzled.
It was already 2 p.m. and she hadn’t had time to prepare lunch, much less wipe the ash from her altar. A tarot card client had just left her yellow Craftsman house in West Adams, evidenced by the smell of incense still lingering in the air. Within an hour, she was scheduled to meet with another client who was struggling to complete a PhD thesis.
In the meantime, she still had to prepare for her weekly podcast, create a purifying ceremony for a new business–and get her nails done for a reality TV appearance. Any downtime would be consumed with writing. The second draft of her memoir was due to her publisher in a week.
The Oracle, who also goes by Amanda Yates Garcia, is a former arts educator with a master of fine arts in writing, film and critical theory from California Institute of the Arts. For the past eight years she has made her living as a professional witch, performing “energetic healings,” “intuitive empowerment sessions” and the occasional exorcism, while also teaching workshops on the art of magic online and at her home, independent stores, and sites like the J. Paul Getty Museum.
The Oracle understands the value of marketing, so she also devotes several hours each week to outreach: writing newsletters, updating her website and sharing tips on social media on topics such as how to break a curse using the ”disruptive energy of a lunar eclipse.”
“If you think being a witch is just sitting around doing spells all the time, you think wrong,” she says. “Half my business is being on Instagram.” …
If you think all this witch-talk is fringe thinking, it isn’t.
A 2017 survey from the Pew Research Center that examined New Age beliefs in America found that 40% of respondents believe in psychics and another 40% believe that inanimate objects like mountains and trees are imbued with spiritual energy.
It also found that 33% of Americans believe in reincarnation, 29% believe in astrology, and 60% say they hold at least one of these New Age beliefs.
Anecdotal evidence seems to indicate the number of people who call themselves witches is growing.
“Interest in witchcraft waxes and wanes, but it is waxing, again, particularly among young women,” says Helen Berger, a professor at Brandeis University who has been studying witches and pagans for 30 years.
Eras of Female Empowerment in which everybody is supposed to uncritically Believe Women often end up with women doing what they’ve always, deep down, really wanted to do: casting hexes on other women, those Basic Becky Bitches.
And then there this accompanying essay by the reporter who wrote the article above:
Behind the story: She was researching an article on witches — and found a path to self-empowerment
By DEBORAH NETBURN
JUN 11, 2019 | 3:00 AM
… A few days later, I pitched a story to my editor, an article that would explore how working witches in Los Angeles make a living. I thought it would be fun. I didn’t expect it to change my life.
When I started reporting this story I was (and still am) dealing with a personal crisis of enormous proportion. I just couldn’t let it go. But after spending months talking to witches in L.A., I gained new perspectives on how to deal with the deep and painful feelings I was experiencing. …
We talked about why it seems that interest in witches and witchcraft is growing, and she suggested that it had to do with more women seeking environments where they feel respected.
“Women are not empowered in the majority of major religions,” she said. But in witchcraft, “they are accepted as powerful and [are] literally seen as the root of power in the feminine form.”
The next witch I met was Loba Loca, a bruja-healer-activist, who uses the pronouns they/them. We spoke about colonialism and people who burn sage and use crystals without considering where those materials come from. ,,,
On a phone call, the witch and spirit guide Aja Daashuur talked about the power of word magic — repeating mantras to yourself. “We read things every day that affect how we see ourselves,” she said. “Why shouldn’t I tell myself [that] I’m powerful, I’m beautiful, I love myself?”
,,, The Oracle of Los Angeles has her own take on the appeal of witchcraft.
“A lot of people, specifically women, who are attracted to witchcraft were taken to the underworld against their will, usually through trauma, and had to find their way out. Now they are a traveler between two worlds.”
I thought a lot about trauma while I worked on this story; I thought about struggles around love, work and equality and the toll they take on our humanity and sense of self.
I bought a strength candle, placed it atop an altar that I set up at home and sat in front of it for 10 minutes twice a day until it burned down. I told myself that I am strong, powerful and courageous.
I’ve got a foolproof idea for making money. It’s called a Pyramid Scheme. I’ve made a pyramid out of coat hangers and crepe paper. You come over to my house and sit under my pyramid so you can absorb the Pyramid Power. While we’re sitting under the pyramid, I’ll give your own official Build-a-Pyramid kit (some coathangers and crepe paper) and you’ll give me a lot of cash. I’m not really good at math, so here’s Time Magazine on June 16, 1980 explaining the Pyramid Power pyramid scam the swept Southern California for a few delirious weeks in the spring of 1980.
For $1,000 each, 32 newcomers buy slots on the bottom row of a pyramid-shaped roster. Each new player pays half of his $1,000 to the person at the pinnacle, who ends up with $16,000. The new player also pays his remaining $500 to the person directly above him on the next tier, which contains 16 people. Since each person on that tier gets paid by two of the newcomers, he ends up with $1,000, thus recouping his original investment. As more people buy in, the players move up the chart. In time, theoretically, each person reaches the top—and $16,000.
But let’s just add another zero to all the amounts. Wouldn’t you want $160,000?
The great thing about the Pyramid Power pyramid scheme was that it was hard to debunk. It was already pre-debunked. Anti-fraud authorities would go on the local TV news to denounce the pyramid schemes as “pyramid schemes,” which just served as good advertising. “Well, duh, of course it’s a pyramid scheme,” participants would laugh. “How do you think those Egyptian pharaohs got so rich that they could afford those giant pyramids? Through tapping the secret energy of Pyramid Power!”
Now this isn’t 1980 anymore, so I’ll add a few up to date touches like first asking everybody who sits with me under the pyramid their pronouns. Also, feminism. And no microaggressions.