WitchTok: how the occult became big online

World

WitchTok: how the occult became big online

The pandemic has proven a fertile moment for the magical, and it is finding a home on social media

Siddharth Venkataramakrishnan

How to perform a hex on a cheating ex, using a candle, a wax seal and a burnt lemon; divination with coins and pendulums to discern your future; a medium’s blow-by-blow account of a seance with a client: welcome to the world of the online witch.

On Instagram, 10 of the most popular witch accounts have more than three million followers between them, with half of those added in the past year. On TikTok, videos with the hashtag #witchtok have racked up more than 11 billion views — two billion more than #Biden.

With their glittery creations and dramatic spells, they offer a hint of the “sensual and aesthetic stimulation” that we have been deprived of under lockdown, says Sabina Magliocco, a professor of sociocultural anthropology at the University of British Columbia, Canada...

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