Witchcraft is having a moment right now — and not just because Halloween is right around the corner.
"Here are some of our unique animal products that, as far as I know, you won't be able to find anywhere else in the city," said Blake Malliway, witch and Malliway Bros. co-owner.
In the Chicago neighborhood of Rogers Park is the Malliway Bros. magic and witchcraft shop. Run by brothers Blake and Wyck Malliway, the store carries rare occult books, in-house oils and potions and shelves of candles for different rituals and spells.
"We've got the wedding candles, the pyramid candles, which I love," said Malliway Bros. witch Francesca Rose. "They're great for drawing down energy."
The store opened in 2018 — also as a home for things like tarot readings and workshops on how to actually practice witchcraft.
"Our October calendar in particular is probably my favorite," Blake Malliway said. "We have a broomstick making workshop coming up where we talk about the folklore and the symbolism of the witch's broom."
The Malliways' in-person events book up pretty quickly now, and it shows the growing popularity of Witchcraft — especially among young people.
"They'll say, 'You know, I've been thinking about this a lot, and I want to seriously start pursuing witchcraft. Are there any books or any things you can recommend to help me get started?'" Malliway said. "And these are the questions that I love."
Malliway continued: "Other times, you get people that come in and say, 'I want to bring my lover back, what book can you give me?' Calm yourself."
Broadly speaking, there is no one way to practice witchcraft. It's based on centuries of rituals to commune with spirits and nature through practices like candle work, tarot and astrology.
There's this perception of witchcraft as something that only exists in fairy tales and fantasies, but witches have spanned different cultures and communities around the world.
The pagan religion Wicca is one example of that; there are several more. And some of the practices of magic and spellcraft are pretty ubiquitous too — like making wishes through birthday candles or carrying around rabbits' feet for good luck.
"Everybody in America knows that we carry rabbits' feet for good luck, right?" Malliway said. "It's like those types of things that are just so ingrained into who we are as people, that people do these things without even thinking about it."
Modern magic and witchcraft is building off of that history. And new practitioners are drawn to it for its ritual and spirituality without the structure of mainstream religion, from the way it can be interpreted in personal ways to the sense of control it can offer — especially after the chaos of the past couple years.
"I think with magic, as it's been used for, you know, hundreds and hundreds of years, has been a means of taking back that control, being able to influence that change that you're not seeing in the world right now," Rose said.
Online, witch communities have found homes on Tumblr, Twitch and TikTok, as well as forums on casual game platforms like Neopets.
"I remember talking to people about astrology on Neopets when I was a kid," said New York-based witch Reenna. "You seek out these spaces online because you're different. And it just kind of leads to these spaces for things like witchcraft, astrology, all these other things, these fringe belief systems that are now becoming more popularized."
Reenna livestreams on Twitch and TikTok, where the hashtag #witchtok has more than 20 billion views.
"In the TikTok streams, I'll get like, between one and 2,000 people," Reenna said. "Just talking about all of this stuff: witchcraft, astrology, tarot."
It's a rapidly growing online community — one that is also sometimes based more on a trendy "aesthetic" or style, rather than the actual practice and belief system. And so Newsy entertainment correspondent Casey Mendoza asked: "Do either of you ever worry that it becomes kind of, like, this passing trend for some people?"
"Yeah, I do. And it's going to be, as much as I hate to say it," Malliway said. "It's going to be a passing fad for a few people."
"We're just happy people take a passing interest, I think, in witchcraft," Rose said. "If you don't stick with it, that's between you and your gods."
For now, the modern resurgence of witchcraft and magic continues to grow. And if its centurieslong history has any indication on its future, it's not going anywhere.