One of the main draws of witchcraft is practical magic. With a single incantation, a skilled practitioner can conjure money, or make a stranger fall for her. But for the modern witch, relationships aren't as easy as reciting a love spell.
Witchcraft might be more mainstream than ever before, but not everyone wants to date a serious witch. And it's more difficult to find a coven-compatible partner than you'd expect. The so-called "number one dating and networking community for pagans and witches," pagan-dating.com, looks like a GeoCities page and still mentions Myspace. Tinder is no place for witches (or anyone, really), and the closet thing to a dating app for the magically inclined is Align, an app that merely takes into consideration the user's astrological sign. What's a witch seeking a lover to do?
On Facebook, the Pagan Singles page is home to almost 3,000 witches—and wizards—who ask themselves the same question. "Where is my dark witch to complete my wizard's soul????" one user posted in the group. Another laments: "All i want is a good looking pagan guy who is looking for a committed relationship with a fellow witch, is that too much to ask?" Some witches have found that, too often, that answer is yes.
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In a blog post, Thorn Mooney—a 31-year-old witch from North Carolina—says, "Dating is pretty hard for anyone, but being a witch brings a set of unique challenges." For witches of color, a magic practitioner who goes by the name "Black Witch" writes, the eligible dating pool is even more grim.
Mooney has found that non-pagan men she's dated frequently clash with her practice. A tradtional Gardnerian witch and coven leader who has loved all things witch-y since Buffy, Mooney keeps her magic on a strict schedule. "I'm part of a lineage tradition that's been around for several decades, and we practice in groups. Being part of a coven brings additional complications that someone who practices alone may not have. Where someone who practices alone could make adjustments in their practice based on a partner and a family, I have obligations to a group," she explained to me over the phone. She also practices in the nude, which has the potential to make a possessive partner uncomfortable, she says.
Her dedication to her craft proved to be a problem in her last relationship with a non-pagan partner, who attempted to coerce her into giving up her practice. "I was dating a guy who thought of himself as very open-minded—he practiced yoga and he played guitar and he wrote these 'soulful songs' or whatever—but over time he gradually tried to pull me away from witchcraft," she says. "He tried to convince me that yoga was basically the same thing as being a witch. He wanted something that was more acceptable within his immediate worldview. Something that made more sense to him. Over the course of three years, I found that I was spending more time in his realm and not mine." Mooney's then-boyfriend also complained about her out-of-state travel to pagan festivals and coven meet-ups.
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Because witchcraft can stir up unwanted arguments in relationships, some witches choose to wait to "come out" to their partners, but Mooney is always up front about her practice, even if it's a dealbreaker. "I found that people will either react well to it or they won't," she says. "It's such a significant part of who I am that to me it would be like covering up what I do for a living—why would I do that?"
For Mooney, standing up for herself and her craft ended up being the right decision in her three-year relationship. "It turned into this thing where if I wanted to keep the relationship I had to not travel so much—I had to not be quite as open. He was also very concerned with how his friends would perceive me. It was a classic kind of abusive relationship."
He tried to convince me that yoga was basically the same thing as being a witch.
Once she got out of that bad partnership, she tried online dating and dating fellow pagans (which was, admittedly, better), but she has since decided that her most important relationship is with herself and her coven. However, that doesn't mean she's given up on love spells.
"I would bet that most people come into to witchcraft because they're lonely. I don't know any witches who haven't done love spells—I know plenty that would deny it, but I think love is one of the core things that we, as human beings, long for.
"Right now, a lot of my love spells are about loving myself," she says.
And there are, of course, witches who have found partners—whether by spell or internet—who aren't intimidated by their magic. On the Pagan Singles Facebook page, every so often a witch or a wizard will post a farewell to the group because, well, they're no longer a single pagan.