There has been a revival of interest in witchcraft in recent years, as Cornwall Life discovered when we spoke to two women who are practising the art in Cornwall.

Emma Griffin is a witch. It’s a fact she’s more than happy to share these days, but it would’ve been unimaginable a few years ago. 

‘My mum was a witch, and my dad was a psychic medium, so I was brought up to do séances on Sunday after dinner, and just thought it was completely normal,’ says Emma, 46, who moved to Cornwall 19 years ago. 

Great British Life: Emma is following in the footsteps of her mother, who was also a witchEmma is following in the footsteps of her mother, who was also a witch (Image: Emma Griffin)

‘It was my mum who said keep it quiet because you’re going to get a lot of stick. I used to be a photographer, but when I started talking about dead people and witchcraft and crystals, I lost a lot of people, so it did wobble me,’ admits the mum-of-two whose own daughter is following in her footsteps.

But that was then, and opinions have changed, as has Emma’s approach. 

‘When I was 22, I decided to fully embrace Wicca witchcraft. I was like that for about a decade before becoming more of an eclectic witch. Now, I don’t have set rules. I basically pick things from history and traditions and use things that work well for me,’ she explains. 

In 2019, her father passed away and then her mum was diagnosed with cancer, and Emma opened up a healing space to help her with mum’s treatment.

It coincided with a new wave of interest in witchcraft, and the ensuing demand forced her to give up her day job.

In fact, the #WitchTok hashtag has garnered billions of views on the social media app TikTok. Instagram has also played an intrinsic part in shining a light on what was once a secretive culture. 

Great British Life: Emma's Sacred Spaces website receives around 600 enquiries a dayEmma's Sacred Spaces website receives around 600 enquiries a day (Image: Emma Griffin)

‘Witches started sharing their lifestyle on Instagram, and it really made an impact on the younger generation. I think they found a connection to nature to help with their mental health. I could see interest bubbling before the pandemic, but then it just exploded during Covid and lockdown, and now people are really embracing it. I think people are going through spiritual awakenings and looking for different things. Whatever I share on Instagram (to her 60k followers), people really want to explore it,’ says Emma who runs Sacred Spaces and receives around 600 enquiries a day. 

Great British Life: Emma owns cauldrons, and Halloween is her favourite time of yearEmma owns cauldrons, and Halloween is her favourite time of year (Image: Emma Griffin)

‘I’m mainly known for my Guidance Medicine Readings where I help people focus on their purpose and to live authentically. I help clients remove hexes as well as working with spells, but I don’t affect free will. I also do mentoring, and help people live a more chilled, present life, as well as host Sacred Sister Circles where women can come together in a non-judgemental way. We’ll do rituals together, like connecting to nature, burning to let go of fear, and setting intentions together and manifestations, so very gentle things,’ explains Emma who describes manifestation, another term that’s very much in vogue, as ‘basically like a spell’.

Although she owns cauldrons, and Halloween is her favourite time of year, Emma doesn’t wear black. 

‘I’m more of a Molly Weasley,’ she says, laughing, referring to the Harry Potter character depicted by Julie Walters in the films.  

‘When I tell people I’m a witch, they’re usually fascinated, not frightened. I think it’s the movies that scare people.’

Great British Life: Emma is keen to spread the message and open people’s eyes to the world of witchcraftEmma is keen to spread the message and open people’s eyes to the world of witchcraft (Image: Emma Griffin)

There will always be cynics of course, ‘but people thought yoga was woo-woo, didn’t they?’ observes Emma. 

‘We're not that far off the church really. We’re looking at nature, recognising the seasons, we’re celebrating Earth, so nothing bad. We’re just more present and that’s really good for mental health. It’s why I’m keen to spread the message and open people’s eyes to this world.’ 

As is Ayla Skinner, 33, founder of Witch in the Wilderness who lives in North Cornwall.

‘The world is changing, so judgment is changing too. I practised in secret for many years fearing others’ opinions, but in recent years, with the rise of witchcraft, it’s becoming more accepted. Now, it’s more questioning what I do and why, as opposed to ‘Oh, the devil’s work!’' reveals Ayla who started off in mediumship and progressed into witchcraft.

Now, it’s a lifestyle, as well as a business.

Her work typically involves teaching workshops, guiding others ‘into their witchy world’ and selling products from her shop in Delabole.

‘Cornwall is a beautiful place, full of witchcraft and Celtic history. I love that I can walk out my door and within a short drive, be at a sacred site-standing stones, stone circles, moorlands stepped in Neolithic history, it’s gives me such inspiration. It’s so cleansing and great for the soul,’ she says.

‘We all get stuck in the worries of life, the worries of money, and witchcraft gives you the power to change your outlook, change your views. See the world through the eyes of a witch and you will see so much more. A lot of it is about knowing your power, and putting that power into change, as well as helping Mother Earth, protecting her, and using what she gives us.’

Great British Life: Boscastle is home to the Museum of Witchcraft and MagicBoscastle is home to the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic (Image: Museum of Witchcraft and Magic)

One of the most informative places to learn about witchcraft is the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic which was initially established on the Isle of Man in 1951 by Cecil Williamson but has been based in Boscastle for the last 60 years. 

‘Cecil had been met with resistance from other communities but came to Cornwall and no one minded at all. That says something about the Cornish view and take on magical practice, which is embracing of it really,’ remarks Simon Costin, director of the museum since 2013. 

‘It’s really a social history museum, and we cover everything from the persecutions, and how perfectly innocent people were often accused of being a witch because somebody in power wanted their estate or money, to how witches are perceived in popular culture, which is almost always as the ‘baddie’.’ 

There are over 3,500 objects on display, covering myriad aspects of magical practice and theory. 

‘I was always very keen that the collection should be seen for what it is, which is incredibly unique, and important,’ says Simon whose favourite piece is an engraved scrying mirror.  

‘You use it by putting yourself into a light trance, where your mind is empty and it’s easier to ask questions. The idea is the answers will appear in the form of images which you then interpret,’ he explains.  

Great British Life: There are over 3,500 objects on display at the Museum of Witchcraft and MagicThere are over 3,500 objects on display at the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic (Image: Museum of Witchcraft and Magic)

‘There are certain pieces we treat with a great deal of respect, such as a blasting rod made of woven blackthorn that’s used to direct negative energy. If we redisplay that piece, we’re very careful with it because it’s still very much fizzing. That’s the difference with this museum. A lot of the objects aren’t inert, they tend to have a residual energy about them, whether positive or negative, but that’s what makes this museum very different to others.’ 

Simon has noticed a huge increase in visitor numbers in recent years, including academics, as well as curious tourists, and highlights their Instagram following is 87k, ‘which is very good for a small, regional museum’. 

As someone who’s had an academic interest in the occult for many years, he appreciates why people are becomingly increasingly interested in the subject-matter. 

‘I think there’s a general feeling that the church and state aren’t nurturing people in the way they could, or did in the past, so people are feeling a lack of spirituality in their lives. They’re also feeling unempowered given the political turmoil, as well as a lack of connection with the natural world,’ he says.  

‘Witchcraft embraces that, very fully, often working with the seasons of the year, and the rhythms of the natural world. It’s why I consider it to be a very enriching thing to have in one’s life. Come and visit the museum and decide for yourself.’