KIRKVILLE, N.Y. (NCC NEWS) – Whether it be American Horror Story or Hocus Pocus, Hollywood has created a number of spooky narratives that many members of the modern-day witchcraft community feel are not an accurate representation.
Juelz Cullen is the president and founder of the Witches and Heathens of CNY.
She also operates a shop called Julie’s Cauldron on her front porch. One of her service offerings is reading tarot cards, and she said has never had an inaccurate reading.
Cullen also considers herself to be an expert when it comes to performing hexes.
“My favorite way is to make a poppet, which is essentially a voodoo doll. I take one square fabric and I fill it with a bunch of negative intent-filled herbs. I essentially name the poppet that person and I light a candle and… then I have a tree that I nail them to,” Cullen said.
Cullen said one of her voodoo subjects experienced illness and torn ligaments in her legs and feet.
While this particular instance may sound extreme, it is the exception, not the norm.
Most practices are not dangerous and provide opportunities for spiritual growth.
Cullen said that one of the greatest misconceptions that people have is that all witches are evil.
“I’m huge on being a good person and someone that gives back to people and really helps people in a significant way and a very big way. That’s my life purpose is to help people on their spiritual journey and succeed in every way possible,” Cullen said.
Some witches, like Syracuse University sophomore Emerson Kopsack, use spells as a way to protect themselves.
“Using your energy and pushing it into an object and by doing so you are putting that intent and energy into the object. Using that object or wearing that object will deplete that energy over time,” Kopsack said.
There is also some guidance from religion when it comes to limitations on witches’ practices.
“I personally don’t do hexes because in Wicca there is a Threefold Law and the Rede. This states harm none and do what you will, which means basically if you are not harming anyone then just do whatever”
While Kopsack is not a part of the Witches and Heathens of CNY, Cullen said the organization has over two thousand members. Cullen said there are far more witchcraft practitioners than most people could even imagine.
According to Robert Gervais, the owner of the Earthbound Metaphysical Shop in North Syracuse, witches are all around us.
“We’ve got people that you would never expect… certain lawyers and politicians stuff like that that are all very secretive,” Gervais said.
The witches who are more open to speaking about their practices are working to change the public’s perception. After all, spells and potions are just a small piece of the puzzle.
The Witches and Heathens of CNY holds an annual gala where a portion of the proceeds from ticket sales are donated to the Food Bank of Central New York.
Fundraisers and community service events are just one way that witches work to show the world who they truly are and distinguish themselves from the stereotypes that plague the community.