Witchcraft: More than American Horror Story

Amelia Heymann
Contributing Writer

India Mayes created a series of illustrations about Wicca for a communications art class to show elements of her faith. Illustration By India Mayse

The most interaction many VCU students have had with witchcraft is watching the TV drama American Horror Story’s third season, called “Coven.” The show held up the ideal of witchcraft being a powerful force only a select few are able to control. While a majority of students don’t know much about witchcraft, there is a real religion that practices it: Wicca.

India Mayes, a VCU communication arts student and practicing Wiccan, said that she found out about it from watching television when she was eight years old. Mayes said she grew up watching Harry Potter and Charmed, and loved the idea of being able to control the energy around her.

“Finding out that magic wasn’t limited to the silver screen at a young age was too perfect for me not to be interested in,” Mayes said.

Mayes said she performed her dedication ritual, similar to a baptism in the sense of converting yourself to a religion, at age 10. Since then, Mayes said she has taught herself how to cast spells, read tarot cards and various other forms of divination.

Mayes said that Wicca has its own religious text much like the Bible or the Quran, called “The Wiccan Rede.”

The core value of the Rede is, “and harm none, do what ye will.”  Mayes said this means you can practice Wicca however you want, as long as it does not hurt you or other people in the process.

If you are interested in Wicca, Mayes said that anyone can become Wiccan or practice witchcraft. She said it’s not like in the movies where there’s a special bloodline, or only a certain breed of people that are gifted with magic. Mayes said as long as you believe you can practice magic, read from a credible spellbook and do your research, anyone can practice Wicca.

Mayes said that learning spells and divination is more than just learning to read tarot cards, but to balance yourself out mentally and spiritually. She said the core of spellwork is being able to visualize and focus so that you have the ability to manifest your will.

“Throughout the duration of your journey you will always be learning and growing,” Mayes said. “So it’s not always as simple as learning how to complete a single task.”

While casting spells is something anyone can do and is generally low risk, Mayes said that you do need to be careful. She said you shouldn’t practice magic when you are ill or generally unwell because you run the risk of draining too much of your energy. She also advised never to cast when you are in a bad mood, otherwise you’ll be putting negative energy into your spell and end up hexing yourself by mistake.

While it’s important to follow the rules of a spell, Mayes said that messing up one small step won’t kill you.

“A lot of people who don’t know about witchcraft assume that if you mess up even in the slightest, the spell will blow up and curse your family for a thousand years or some other nonsense,” Mayes said. “I think it’s kind of funny.”

A final word of advice she gave about spells is that when casting them, you need to be completely clear with your intent, and ask others before casting spells for or on them.

Mayes also said that not all witches are Wiccan.

“Witchcraft is the performance/practice of magic not limited to a single religion or belief system,”  Mayes said. “That’s where the confusion between the two tends to lie.”

Richmond has its very own bookstore specializing in Wicca and other occult practices, called Aquarian Bookshop.

Aquarian, at 3519 Ellwood Ave., is deep within the Carytown area. Despite its name, it’s more of a supply shop than a book store, although you can still find books. While it is small, you can find most of what you need to cast a successful spell, from candles and stones, to herbs and cauldrons.

Mayes said that she likes Aquarian because it’s hard to find a lot of spell supplies outside of the internet, and because Aquarian’s  prices are reasonable. She said she has also found objects she has not been able to find at other metaphysical shops in Aquarian.

Aquarian hosts workshops and classes for those hoping to peek their head into the metaphysical, or the more experienced who wish to broaden their knowledge. If you would like to practice witchcraft all you have to do is look in the right places.


  1. Hi, what does the text read under the bottom right image? Is there anywhere where I can view India Mayes’ other artwork?

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