Witches of the North West: How paganism is prospering post-pandemic

The Covid pandemic led to an explosion of interest in new hobbies such as crochet, baking banana bread… and witchcraft.

In recent years, modern witchcraft and paganism have seen a revival across the UK and around the world, especially given the rise of social media. 

The development of apps such as TikTok and Instagram provided fertile ground for witchcraft communities to thrive – and they only grew in popularity throughout the pandemic.


Its time to worship the sun!! 🌞 (if he shows here in Glasgow lol) A few of my favourite symbols of Litha / Summer Solstice are: Sunflowers, butterflies, fire, bright colours (blue, green, gold, pink, orange, yellow), wheels, the sun, bees, wild flowers, carnelian, jade, citrine, fire divination and candle magick! 🌞

♬ original sound – Kerri🌱

But why have people turned to witchcraft?

Some have cited a search for spiritual connection during a difficult period of their lives. 

Berwin Mawer, a practising witch of around five years, said: “I ended up finding a practice and beliefs that felt right. I stumbled onto some Tumblr blogs that had resources and guidance which helped me find my feet.”

A few helpful terms to understand the lives of witches and pagans.

Another long-time practitioner Avian Alden said that their exploration of witchcraft helped them to overcome religious trauma.

They said: “I found it very helpful as an outlet for my trauma and it gave me a new perspective of the world that gave me more hope, and made me feel reassured that my beliefs and world views are normal and accepted.”

Others were simply interested in the topic, or felt ‘drawn’ to the practice. 

One practitioner, who asked not to be identified, told Mancunian Matters: “One of my childhood best friends had family that were long time practitioners, and hearing the stories from them about their craft really inspired me to take up my own research and practice.

“It gives me a sense of comfort, I have a lot of positive memories linked with my years of practice, many friends I’ve made along the way, so, naturally, it has come to be a kind of safe space for me.”

This sense of comfort is a recurring theme, with many practitioners mentioning how the craft has helped them to get through tough times and handle their mental health issues.

It also allows people to have a sense of control over the world around them, something many of us suffered with during the height of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Finding community in the physical world

As well as a lack of control over everything that was happening, we also experienced a lack of in-person socialising.

There are clearly many thriving witchcraft and paganism communities online, with more popping up all the time, but is there a place for witches in the North West in the real world?

Anyone looking to explore paganism, witchcraft or spirituality can find a wide range of shops, community events and regular ‘moots’ – pagan meetings – to attend all across the North West and further beyond.

There are even options for those who live in the city.

Mancunian Matters spoke to Lauren Hutchinson, owner of Earth Friendly Rocker, a zero waste shop in Manchester’s Afflecks that is also a metaphysical supply shop.

Lauren started the business as an online shop in 2019 and shortly moved to Afflecks, where it can now be found on the same floor as Crystal Henge – a shop carrying crystals and offering tarot readings – and Potion, a witchy cafe that Lauren also owns.

Earth Friendly Rocker is predominantly a zero-waste shop that Lauren opened after making changes in her life to reduce her personal waste and the waste she encountered in the music industry, but she wanted to offer something different to the typical “white and beige” aesthetic of other eco shops.

When asked about people’s reactions once they realise the shop is ‘witchy’, Lauren said: “To be honest, not everyone notices!

“I’ve tried to make it so that witchcraft is more normalised and multipurpose.

“For example the apothecary at the shop is used by some people to get supplies for spells and some people just think it’s cool to get herbs and flowers for teas and making their own skincare.”

Lauren has been practicing witchcraft for 24 years and is happy that more people are exploring the craft and being open about their practice.

She said: “There’s always been a bit of a stigma attached to witchcraft and it’s good to see that starting to dwindle away.”

This graphic shows the four main lunar phases and their uses in modern witchcraft. The Moon also represents a divine feminine energy.

Like many others, Lauren also found that the lockdowns during the coronavirus pandemic helped her to connect more with her craft.

She said: “Of course, the pandemic was awful for a lot of people, but the up side was having that chance to really connect with what I wanted to do with my life, and my craft is a huge part of that.”

Sadly, the pandemic’s effect on Earth Friendly Rocker was not quite so magical.

Lauren told Mancunian Matters: “My business is really struggling at the moment and cashflow is a huge issue.

“That in turn means I can’t afford to get the stock I want, which means I can’t necessarily grow the business I want to either.

“The last year or so has actually been really sad to see my lovely little shop really struggle.”

With the uptick in people exploring the craft, and newly-practicing witches in search of their first tools, Lauren still has hope for her business.

She said: “I remain positive that somehow, something will come along and save things.

“Best start doing some more prosperity spells eh?”

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