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Male Feminist Investigates How to Become Male Witch

We talked to a male witch about how he joined his coven, common misconceptions about male witchery, and why you should never, ever use the term "warlock."
Image by Gabby Bess and Kat Aileen

Every year around Halloween, groups rightly get upset about appropriation, microaggression, and just outright racist costume choices. So when I heard about male witches, I basically cackled. Initially, I thought the Male Witch phenomenon would be a little bit like the Male Feminist phenomenon: guys climbing over each other to prove how allied they are to a female cause. Most people know male witches as warlocks or wizards; a quick Google image search for "male witch" reveals your basic array of dreamboat swarthy guys with pagan text overlays, mystical-looking tattoos, and cloaks. But that's simply not how it is—at least, not wholly.


I first began to understand the depth of male witch culture via Facebook searching for "male witches." Scrolling through male witch groups on Facebook and looking over other male witch media, it's clear there's a spectrum of male practitioners of magic who take it very seriously; you should never use the word warlock unless you mean it. "Male Witch - still called witch- NOT a warlock! - warlocks were those who gave names of witches and non-witches to the witch hunters for their own personal gain, which is why they were hated by everyone - to be called a 'warlock' is a great insult and injustice to male witches… ;-)" writes Pinterest user Willow Goodwitch.

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Like most Facebook groups, the biggest male witch group—"Male Witches"—seems to exist at a fluctuating irony level that tends towards zero. You have your standard repository of reposted memes, although these have a more pagan bent than the stuff your aunt posts to your feed. The most popular recent post I saw was a picture of a woman riding a broomstick with the text, "Saying Harry Potter is teaching kids witchcraft is like saying watching episodes of Grey's Anatomy makes you a heart surgeon." This seems to be pretty much true. The page also offers room for debate; some Male Witches members hate the idea of Halloween, for example. "As we approach October 31st here we get all the usual commercial hype and bullshit that goes with the public's idea of Halloween," wrote member Johnny Race on a recent thread, "I absolutely abhor the commercialisation of our most sacred sabbat and so I go out of my way to NOT participate in the event."

Advertisement allows for a more consumer witch experience. On the homepage, the Male Witch himself, Phelan, says that he's been practicing witchcraft online since 2000, and his site features a mostly international set of users and clientele. (Through, Phelan offers "magical help with reuniting with a lover, love, money, protection or a break-up ritual.") His website says that he's lived in Atlanta for the past 25 years and no longer meets clients in person; I tried calling, but I got a prerecorded message saying he won't accept phone calls until after October 31st. I tried emailing him to see what the deal was, but he blocked my username from the site. My editor speculates that Phelan put a binding spell on me to prevent me from doing him harm.

Stymied, I emailed another male witch I found through the Facebook group, who asked to be only identified by the initials HS. He quickly informed me—as I suspected—that the internet was not a credible source of information on the more level-headed male witch. HS is a member of a coven based in Raleigh, North Carolina, and works in a job square enough that he was concerned about his employer seeing him associated with witchcraft. Before we entered into our full exchange, HS was careful to qualify his responses:

"There are many different types of self-identifying witches who follow different pagan, Wiccan, hoodoo, or voodoo traditions. I follow the McFarland Dianic tradition, so when I refer to my coven and practices, I am referring to Dianic witchcraft."


The Wheel of the Year. Image via Wikimedia Commons

BROADLY: How did you get started as a witch? Was there pushback from your friends and family?
HS: I got started as a witch during late high school. I guess I was about 17 or 18. A friend's mother was a part of the coven and invited a couple of us to Sabbats, which are major holidays that follow what witches call the Wheel of the Year. We started going because we thought it was ironic and funny, but gradually some of us became more and more interested in the craft, and two of us have now become initiated into the coven. There continues to be major pushback from my mother and derision from my friends of monotheistic religions.

I've heard that the term warlock is offensive to male witches. Why is that?
The term warlock doesn't offend me, but it might offend other Wiccans. It's just not really correct.

What does a witch actually do? Is it an everyday set of activities, or is it more like a personal identifier?
Witches in the Dianic tradition worship the Goddess, and below her the goat-headed God. We practice spellwork, meditation, and visualization—pushing life-force through natural entities and drawing power from major natural wells such as oceans, mountains, trees, rivers, and other places of power. We celebrate holidays, and the inner circle also meets during full and new moons. Like most religions, participation, activities, and practices vary widely from individual to individual and coven to coven.


The veil between the spirit world and our world is thin, so there is lots of movement in between.

Do you see yourself as different from a female witch? Are there gender issues or expectations you see yourself subverting or engaging with?
I don't see myself as different from a female witch. In our branch of witchcraft, men are invited into covens at the discretion of the High Priestess. It's fairly uncommon. I don't know of any straight male witches. Witchcraft is highly involved in subverting the patriarchy and retaking ownership of sexuality outside of masculine power structures.

You said you don't know any straight male witches. What do you identify as?
I identify as gay. I would say the predominant gender identity of witches is women. Antony Hegarty, of Antony and the Johnsons, speculates that LGBT people in general may be more drawn to witchcraft because many societies often consider us witches automatically and kick us out of male-divinity focused religions.

Witches really honestly don't go for the spotlight. More like the darkness.

How many witches are in your coven? How many are male? Do you know many other male witches?
The number of witches in our outer circle fluctuates. Total semi-involved members and neophytes probably hovers around 35–40 individuals. The major holidays, like midsummer and Samhain, are when most people show up. There are, as far as I know, three male witches in the coven and two uninitiated participants who sometimes come to celebrate.


What's the role of magic in your day-to-day life?
I think that magic plays a part in my day-to-day effort to visualize goals, deal with problems, and connect myself to nature. Spells and visualization are all about intentionality and channeling your life force!

Are there many male witches in popular culture?
Not any I can think of. Witches really honestly don't go for the spotlight. More like the darkness.

In our branch of witchcraft men are invited into covens at the discretion of the High Priestess.

What's the most common request people come to you with?
I'm not sure I understand this question. If you mean doing spells for people, it's mostly what you would expect, "curse so-and-so for me," as a joke. I'm not about all that, and even if I was, I'm not experienced enough in magic to try that stuff.

What's your interaction with Halloween?
We celebrate Samhain, which most people call Halloween. The veil between the spirit world and our world is thin, so there is lots of movement in between.

Do you find people dressing as witches appropriative?
No, I don't find it appropriative. I think most witches would not really care, since we are so far removed from the popular culture idea of "witches."

Read more: A Teen Witch's Guide to Staying Alive

Are there rivalries among witch covens? Are there rivalries among male witches?
Ha, ha, no. There is no rivalry of any kind between covens or male witches.

What level of sophistication do you have with magic? Do you make potions?
Magic and especially potions making comes with practice over the years. When witches talk about potions, they're talking about herbalism and tinctures, for the most part. There aren't certain "levels"—it's not like a video game.