Witch

I also claim the title “witch,” which is nearly as controversial as my reclaiming of the racial slur “Gypsy.” I grew up in a very spiritually open household. My father was Roman Catholic who shifted to Taoism and Hinduism after his love affair with alternative spiritual practices in the 70’s, like yoga and meditation. My mother was also loosely raised Catholic by her Romani mother, but my grandmother also held on to many aspects of Romani spirituality, like animism (the belief that everything has a soul), energy healing, ancestor altars, herbalism, and other magic work. Roma are not inherently magical; we don’t have psychic powers and we don’t cast curses. Instead, we have a kind of practical magic, which is no different than the prayer and rituals you may find in other spiritual traditions. Romani magic is quite real within the culture, but it looks nothing like the “Gypsy Witchcraft” books you can get at B&N. It’s everyday life, faith, poetry, and hard work.

My grandmother taught me our family trades, dancing and drabaripé (fortune telling, and healing magic), and she taught me about a different kind of witch— the drabarni, or healer or adviser. Usually the drabarni is a woman in the Romani community who uses prayer, amulets, herbs, and energy work to heal physical, emotional, and spiritual illness. Some of these practices survived in my family, despite my grandmother growing up in Nazi Germany and hiding her ethnicity, because down the line there were drabarni in my grandmother’s family.

In college, I studied with Fox Rose Grove, a Pagan school based in a family lineage of witchcraft. While I loved my time there and learned a lot, I moved away from the more structured Paganism when I graduated college and moved to Europe, and began my long meandering travels, work, and grad school. I also enjoy yogic philosophy and tantric practices, and got so much out of my yoga teacher training. I also work closely with a holy woman and friend of the Navajo and Cherokee nations, and she has shared a few practices with me for my own personal growth. I see myself as a witch balancing many traditions and working intuitively and eclectically, and I strive uphold my highest respect for each of their origins and contexts.

I’m available for magic workings and other spell work. Feel free to contact me with inquiries.

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Photo by Oscar Fuertes, styled by Deniz Ataman