Nova Scotia

A Halifax 'school of witchcraft' guides people on their spiritual paths

Neighbourhood Witch, a modern witches boutique, is offering classes on paganism and Wicca. It says there's a growing interest in alternative spiritualities.

'It's all about self-development,' says class organizer Kelly Marney

Class organizer Kelly Marney, left, and Neighbourhood Witch owner Pamela McInnis. (Aya Al-Hakim/CBC)

A magic shop in Halifax has created a school that teaches how to cast spells and make potions, part of an effort to guide people on spiritual paths like paganism and Wicca.

Paganism is an umbrella term used to apply to different earth-based spiritualities, concentrating on specific practices or elements such as ecology, witchcraft or certain gods.

The pagan community is made up of people who identify as Wiccans, druids, shamans or heathens.

Neighbourhood Witch, a Queen Street shop full of incense, books and divination tools, is offering classes on topics such as candle magic and Haitian voodoo to educate a growing number of local pagans.

"It's pretty common that witch shops have an educational section because there aren't a lot of places to learn about these things," said Pamela McInnis, the owner.

At the store's "school of witchcraft," people are taught that magic is the underlying force of nature and that it can be harnessed, through spell-casting or other rituals, to create practical changes in one's life.

Part of the shop's sacred altar. (Aya Al-Hakim/CBC)

Ever since Neighbourhood Witch opened in 2015, McInnis said there has been a huge growth in the number of people interested in alternative spiritualities coming to the store.

"People seem to have a much more open mind nowadays than it times past, so there has been a lot more exploration into alternative spiritualities and its becoming less and less demonized in our culture," she said.

Classes were first offered in May. The most popular are "Introduction to the Pagan Path" and "Magical Herbalism." All are taught by local teachers.

Kelly Marney is the class organizer. She said the classes will allow practitioners to build a community.

"We're hoping to provide the education that they want, the ability to connect with people and to connect with mentors," Marney said.

"There are a lot of solitary practitioners, but I think that they get to a point where book learning needs to move to another level." 

Marney said people are becoming less judgmental about witchcraft. (Aya Al-Hakim/CBC)

Marney moved to a house full of witches when she was 19 years old. It's where she first fell in love with witchcraft.

"Back then people were very quiet. When I first joined the coven I was told that it was under absolute secrecy," she said.

Things have now changed, with people becoming less judgmental in her experience.

"It is important that people have an open mind. You don't have to be a witch to go to some of these classes because it's all about self-development," said Marney.

About the Author

Aya Al-Hakim

Reporter

Aya Al-Hakim is a journalist with CBC Nova Scotia. She can be reached at aya.al-hakim@cbc.ca.