Back in 2019 we did a crossover episode under mad circumstances with the brilliant Pam Grossman, we're so happy to be able to share the transcript now.
"Pam is a writer, curator, and teacher of magical practice and history. She is the host of The Witch Wave podcast (“the Terry Gross of Witches” - Vulture) and the author of Waking the Witch: Reflections on Women, Magic, and Power (Gallery Books / Simon & Schuster) and What Is A Witch (Tin Can Forest Press). She is also co-editor and co-author of the WITCHCRAFT volume of Taschen’s Library of Esoterica series.
Her group art shows and projects, including Language of the Birds: Occult and Art at NYU’s 80WSE Gallery, have been featured by such outlets as Artforum, The New York Times, The New Yorker, Art in America, New York Magazine, and Teen Vogue.
Pam’s writing has appeared in numerous mediums, including The New York Times, The Atlantic, TIME.com, Ms. Magazine, Electric Literature, Huffington Post, Film Comment, Sabat, Ravenous Zine, and various Fulgur press publications. She has maintained Phantasmaphile, a blog that specializes in art with an esoteric or fantastical bent, since 2005.
In 2017, she launched WitchEmoji, a witch-themed sticker pack for iMessage that became the #1 seller in the App Store.
She is also the co-organizer of the biennial Occult Humanities Conference at NYU, Associate Editor of Abraxas International Journal of Esoteric Studies, and co-founder of the Brooklyn arts & lecture space, Observatory (2009-2014), where her programming explored mysticism via a scholarly yet accessible approach.
Pam is a frequent lecturer on such topics as “The Occult in Modern Art 101,” and “Witch Pictures: Female Magic and Transgression in Western Art,” and she also teaches classes on spellcraft and ritual. As a featured guest on WNYC’s All of It, NPR’s 1A, HuffPost LIVE, The Midnight Archive web series, and myriad other radio shows and podcasts, she has discussed the role of magic in contemporary life. She has also consulted for such brands as Charlotte Tilbury, House of Hackney, and Treadwell’s Books, as well as for film and television, including The Craft: Legacy (Blumhouse/Sony Pictures)."
MW + WW
You must be a witch. Hey witches! It's a big day and a big week. The last full moon before the longest day of the year. It's right now. A powerful, bright, and dynamic time. So this week we're catching up on some things missing witches have done since the end of season two. Maybe all this is news to you.
Maybe you don't have social media. We love that, but follow us if you do. Here's what you might have missed. On Friday's Solstice, we'll be uploading the recording from our live event that we held in May, The Divine Invites You to Dance, in two parts, Missing Witches and Witches Found. Today, in the in case you missed it file, is our interview with one of our favorite podcasting witches, Pam Grossman, which we did for her show, The Witch Wave, in support of her book, Waking the Witch.
Hers is the first voice you'll hear after our theme. Again, huge thanks to Pam for the work she does and the person she is. And come back Friday for a super special two part Litha dance. Blessed be.
You aren't being a proper woman, therefore you must be a witch. Be a witch! Be a witch! Be a witch! Be a witch!
Be a witch! You must be a witch. Now, on to my guests, or perhaps a better word to use would be co hosts, because as I said, this is really kind of a crossover episode between the Witch Wave and the amazing Missing Witches podcast. Missing Witches goes looking for the witches we've been missing throughout history and with their Witches Found series, bringing modern witches to the Missing Witches. Missing Witches podcast was started by Risa Dickens and is now co hosted with her by Amy Torok. They are both very gifted artists and musicians and writers and which is based outside of Montreal. And with the Missing Witches podcast, you can really hear all of their skills be put to use.
When people ask me for other witch podcast recommendations, Missing Witches is always at the top of my list because it is informative and intersectional and so, so inspiring, not to mention beautifully produced. So a real pleasure to listen to. I've learned so much from Risa and Amy and their show, and so when it became time to try and figure out a way to celebrate the release of my book, I immediately thought that they would be perfect to have on the Witchwave to help guide me in a discussion about it.
And frankly, it was also an excuse for me to get to collaborate with them because I'm such a big fan of what they do, and I think you will be too. So what you're about to hear is first me interviewing them about missing witches, and then them interviewing me about waking the witch, and then we get into some really juicy conversation about witches and feminism and all kinds of other magic.
In my experience, if you put a few podcasters together Odds are you're going to have an interesting discussion, and I'm so happy to share ours with you now. Risa joined me rather spontaneously from the woods, and Amy joined me from her home, both outside of Montreal via Skype.
Risa Dickens and Amy Tarek, welcome to The Witch Wave. Hi, Pam. Hi. Thank you so much for having us. I'm so, so thrilled you're both here. And just so we can get your name and voice differentiations, can you tell me who is talking? Hi, this is Risa. And the deep voice is Amy. I love it. And some listeners may be familiar with your voices already because you both have one of my favorite podcasts, Witchly or Otherwise, that you create together called Missing Witches.
And for a little bit of background, one of the reasons that I invited you both on the witch wave is because I've been asked to do as much as I can to talk about my book, but I was feeling a little bit shy about just having a me, me, me episode. And I wanted to also spread the good word about Missing Witches because your podcast is so special.
So we're going to have kind of an unusual format where I'm going to ask you both some questions and then the tables will turn. How does that sound? Oh, can't wait to talk to you about your book, and yeah, we're super thrilled that you like our podcast because we are listeners since the day we launched ours, so we're really excited.
Aw, our podcasts have crushes on each other. It's true. Hardcore. So, for those who may be new to the Missing Witches podcast, you both describe it as a quote, research based feminist occult storytelling project, uh, which is so great. Risa, why don't we start with you? How did Missing Witches come to be and what is your intention for the podcast?
Yeah. So, actually, originally I was brainstorming a, uh, fictional podcast and in the fictional podcast, I thought maybe that these two women would have a podcast where they would do witch history. And then somehow that seemed so much more interesting. fiction I was trying to c I called Amy about it be the natural collaborator
by years and we've just been like kind of creatively inspired by each other. Amy is like a huge inspiration to me as a maker and as a person. And so I called her and told her I had this idea for a podcast called Missing Witches, where we would just get to do this history research. And Amy was like, yeah, fuck, we're doing that.
And then like three, three seconds later, three seconds later, she was like, I've claimed the Instagram, the Twitter, the Facebook. I have the Gmail account. The URL is available. It's a sign. We're doing this. We're launching. So that's kind of the story of how that little light started. I think that I, I jumped on it so, um, immediately because as soon as Risa said it, I was like, oh, obviously that's what we should be doing.
I mean, these were conversations that we were having, like Risa said, for 10 years before we started formalizing the curiosity into the podcast. So it seemed like such a natural and obvious thing for us to do. I was almost like, duh, why? Yeah. Haven't we been doing this? Exactly. So, the Thrust of Missing Witches seems to be about featuring a historical figure, and sometimes someone who's still alive, who is someone who either has identified as a witch, or who we might identify as a witch due to either their orientation in the world or the kind of work that they make.
So how do you decide which witch you're going to feature on each episode? Amy, why don't we start with you? The first season, Risa had a few witches already in mind. Because the idea had sort of been germinating, like she said, as fiction. But I think it's just the ones that we get really excited about, like I remember Arisa calling me up to tell me this story about Monica's show, and I was like, oh, tell me, tell me more, tell me more!
So, uh, whoever gets us really excited, we make a long list. And then we chop it down to who gets our witchy juices flowing the most and whose story we want to research more and whose story we want to tell. And some of the witches that you featured, I'll just run down a quick list of some of my favorite episodes.
You've done Pamela Coleman Smith, who many listeners might know as The illustrator of what was originally called the Rider Waite tarot deck. We call it the Smith Waite tarot deck. So many of her images or all of her images, at least, which were, you know, certainly based on earlier tarot, but which she really made her own.
And, you know, these are the images that have become truly iconic for sure. And then. Zora Neale Hurston, Doreen Valiente, who's one of my favorite witches, who's really, I suppose we could call her like the godmother of Wicca, if Gerald Gardner was the godfather. It's a really eclectic bunch of people. And then you do have some folks who are still with us.
Z Budapest is a really good example. And Amy, I definitely want to talk to you about that episode in particular. I suppose I'll just dive right in. So we've talked about Z on this podcast before and about how she. is a very controversial figure in the witchcraft community and in the world overall. I should also say that Amy, you taught me how to correctly pronounce her full name.
I've been calling her Zuzana this whole time and, and you taught me that it's Zuzana Budapest. Zuzana, yeah, like again, that, that's my Hungarian heritage coming through with the European pronunciation. Hell yeah. So, can, can we talk about that episode in particular? Because that for me, I mean, I love all of your episodes, but that episode for me really sang because you braided together history, also your own autobiography, uh, with some of your family roots, as well as.
diving into the controversy that surrounds Z in terms of some of her transphobic comments that she's made. So how did you go about approaching that episode, Amy? Props to Risa. She was the one who came upon, uh, Zsuzsanna's name first, I think, and, and put it on our short list. And when I read about her a little bit, and you hear about this in the podcast, I read that she had walked, after the Hungarian Revolution, she had walked from Hungary to Austria as a refugee, and my father had done that same walk at that same time.
So I said to Risa, like, I would love to do this episode, you know, we, she does most of the writing. There are certain episodes that I've written that I was like, I really want, because this is very personal to me. It was the first time that it was something that was like, you know, I need to write this. Not just for our listeners, but like for my own self and for my own digging into my Hungarian roots.
Heritage and ancestry. So the name was shortlisted. I said, of course, you know, I, I have to do this story and Risa was very supportive of that. And I'm grateful for that. So the research started like it does with any of our witches. We start with Google. We read as many articles as we can. And then once we've really shortlisted, then we start buying books.
I was into her book. Like the Holy Book of Women's Mysteries, and I'm sure it uses gendered language, but, you know, a lot of feminist work does use gendered language because it's reactionary to patriarchy, so I get that, and that's fine, but I happen to be on Twitter one day, and I'm not on Twitter that often, but someone had said, you know, Z, TERF, this, that, and I was like, oh, is this the case?
I didn't know this, you know, I just started my research on her. And so then, of course, I googled those terms together. And that's trans exclusionary radical feminist, correct? Exactly. Yeah, yeah. TERF ist, just like you said. And so I called Risa and I said, okay, you know, there's a hiccup. Because most of our episodes, Risa will agree, are love letters.
We make no secret of our editorializing of stories and they're love letters to the witches that we're featuring. But this had to be a little bit different because it started as a love letter, but then it was kind of like, but, and we, we said, you know, we can either toss this or we can talk about it. And Risa and I are always on the, on team talk about it.
I think. I love that. And I thought we were going to get some backlash, like, strictly just for featuring her, regardless of how we did it, but we really didn't. It was all quite positive, and I think that's because, again, Risa and I have this sort of mandate of compassion, you know, witches have been demonized so much, so we want to really take a gentle hand as often as we can and talk about why they're amazing, but sometimes, you know, we have to, uh, seek the rot In the, uh, in the ancestor's bones and dig it up and air it out, you know?
Yeah, and it's, it's a really tough one because in the writing of my book, which, uh, we'll get to in a little bit, but, uh, of course I had to mention her and talk about her because she is the founder of Dianic Wicca or, you know, very feminist, feminine focused, goddess focused Wicca, which is. So influential to contemporary witchcraft and to intersectional feminist witchcraft.
But then you're like, ah, fuck, when you start, you know, hearing some of the statements that she continues to make to this day about she believes only cisgendered women are witches or they're the only people that she wants included in her different circles and groves and all of this. Absolute crap.
Honestly. I mean, that's awful and there's no excusing it. But she also, you know, you actually opened my ears up to the fact that she was involved in a lawsuit that the results of which maybe you can actually walk us through that a little bit. Both of you. I just wanted to jump in a little bit before that to say, I think what was important to us In telling that story or in deciding to tell that story was there is so much fear and pain often around being a woman and being a witch, but even more so around being a trans person and a queer person.
So to make a space to say like, no, we've declared this space is a safe space for women and for our magic. Like that's holy and that's huge. And that's important deserves to be cherished, but we then feel and. sort of beautifully expressed in that episode, I think that then it's on us to like make an even bigger space and to make circles of protection for people who experience more violence than we do, you know?
So anyway, that's my tangent. But I thought that was the most important thing in that episode. And I understand if women who have been advocating Keating for safe spaces for women for generations, for decades. Don't see that right up front in front of them, but I think if you spend two seconds in a trans community where they're fighting for their lives in a more profound way, you can see that we have more of a responsibility there.
And there's some really deep magic there if we can hold and cherish those people. Absolutely. I couldn't agree more. And it's honestly that attitude and that approach that makes me love the both of you and love your podcast so much. I know we're focusing on this one particular episode, but, you know, that really comes through in terms of the way that you curate the podcast.
I mean, you have people from so many different backgrounds and it's a real widening of the circle, inclusionary stance. And I'm just so grateful for it. Yeah, intersectionality was Definitely like our first guiding principle, I think, even before compassion. So if we could just finish up the Z Budapest story.
Oh, right. Okay. So she had a little witch store and she was doing a tarot reading and the police came in and arrested her for doing witchcraft. And she took this battle. It took her a decade, I think eight years, maybe 10 years. She took the battle to the state Supreme court and basically. Was eventually, finally acquitted and changed the law in California.
So if there are any California witches out there who make a little cash from your craft, then, you know, maybe Z Budapest isn't all bad, question mark. Again, that, that was the thrust of the episode was like. No one is all good or all bad, but we have to be thinking about our legacy and what message we're leaving behind when we're not there to qualify our statements anymore.
Absolutely. Now, you're both Skyping in from Canada, you're both north of Montreal, is that right? Yeah, and we should say that Amy is Skyping in from her home and Risa is like crouched in the woods somewhere, which is all too appropriate. So thank you both. But I wanted to ask, what is the Canadian?
Witchcraft scene like these days, because certainly down here in the States, it's exploding, especially in urban centers, but really all over the place. And in terms of even my own listener base and readers, it's people from all over. And it seems to be growing and growing. Are you finding that's the case up North as well?
Yeah, it's a funny question. I would say like, yes, unqualified. Yes. It's exploding. We see people reaching out to us from Canada and it really. Intersects with, you know, the environmental movement and the pressure up here to try to figure out a way to meet our climate targets and resist conservatism that we're kind of experiencing coming up from the states and the sort of backlash that's happening everywhere, like, which is are a force to be contended with in that fight.
And they're finding each other. But I would also say, like, Amy and I are kind of in some ways the wrong people to ask that, because, as you said, we live in the woods. Like, we, we left Montreal behind both of us in the last couple of years. And, uh, we both kind of live in the middle of nowhere. And that's been like incredibly sustaining and enriching and like balancing and peace finding.
But it means that sometimes I think, at least for myself, but I feel really sometimes out of touch with trends or like, which is a trend or like scenes. And then we just had our first live show this weekend about dance ritual in a United Church. That was like kind of a really badass, incredible experience, but like to actually do our show in front of.
human people, people coming out of the woodwork who connect with this current that we are all sort of touching and raising was really rad. So, so yes. And also I have no idea. Amy, what do you think? I am on the Missing Witches social media, I think, more than Risa, so I'm on the ground in a digital sense, you know, despite being in the woods.
Obviously, it's having a very major moment. Witchcraft, you know, identifying as witch, claiming the title of witch, and I think it's happening all over the world. We get emails from all over the world, but, um, especially because it is such a vast term that it encompasses everything from like at the risk of using labels a black lipstick goth to a barefoot hippie to a anarchist activist you know any kind of dissident rebel if you're a feminist if you're into herbology all of these things sort of can come under that heading of and as our society grows increasingly more slash less Feminist.
You know, it's a very, it's a very weird time to be alive. Let me just say, because, you know, in the, in the bubble that I live in, that Risa lives in, that presumably you kind of live in yourself. It's like, we surround ourselves with self expression and love and intersectionality, but then you. Go even, even online, like I say, and you see that that's not how everybody is talking and how everybody's feeling.
Oh my goodness. Yeah. And if I could just interject and say, I don't know how much you guys are following the news down here, but bodily autonomy for women is like fucking being re litigated all over again. And all of these states are banning abortion left and right. It's really, really horrifying. To sort of get back to your question, you had asked a bit like networks of witches, and I saw something come up, and I immediately wrote to the person who had posted it.
It was basically, and I'll say this to your listeners, too. We're your Canadian auntie now. If you need to go on a quote unquote vacation for a couple weeks, we'll help you make your. Reservations, quote unquote. We'll take selfies with you. So yeah, to your listeners, hit us up at Missing Witches if you need a, quote unquote, Canadian aunt to go and visit for a couple weeks if things really get too harsh.
But, uh, yeah, the, the internet has really helped the witches come out of the broom closet to a, to a massive degree, because we can still be networking, but we can be doing it in secret. And the thrust of what we do is, Reese's tagline that she came up with was, we go looking for the witches we've been missing.
Yeah. And so I think when you go looking for witches, you find them literally everywhere. You know, some of them are a little more out in the summer, but when you start talking to people about it, yeah, it's quite amazing. I feel really strongly, although sometimes I question our decision to include women who don't self identify as witches, but I do feel like telling like a history of.
female shamans in the Philippines and how they were colonized and burned and called witch during the same period as the witch hunts in Western Europe or telling a story of Maria Sabina, uh, like a healer in the mountains in Oaxaca that to reach out and tell those stories and suggest that those women are part.
Of the same process and have been victimized and violated in like very unique and specific ways to them, but it also in ways that are communal. I feel like telling those stories together and claiming the headline, which kind of gives us some power. And I do love that in your book, Pam, I think we're like close to turning the tables and I want to get there because I stance that you take in your book that like.
The teen mall witch has as much value and as much power and as much strength in her little heart as, you know, the most sacred, dynamic, 50 year old queen. I don't know. Marisa, it's funny that you and I are collaborators because I've made, like, very similar notes here. Um, Pam, your use of the term permission slip.
Like we've had people saying like, you know, I don't necessarily feel like I'm ready or, or deserving or worthy of claiming that term, which, and obviously our answer is always, it's already yours. Yeah. And so you use the term permission slip and I'm. Lifting and keeping that term forever. So thank you so much.
All right. So this is the part where I hand the reins over to you both and you are now the interviewers. So hit me with your best shots, ladies. Risa, let's spring back since we both wanted to jump off on the same point, which was that you were talking about the mall witch versus the high priestess. And one of the things that I picked out was, um, whether it's heartfelt or flippant, public or private, that these are all equal.
Pam, can you talk a bit about, like, the mass equality of witchcraft and that idea that sort of comes through in your book? Sure. I think for me, when I was writing this book, and, and it's also my approach when I'm putting together this podcast, I've discovered the fact that there really is no gatekeeper to witchcraft.
And I know some hardcore Wiccans might disagree with that because they might think, Hey, you know, I've gone through three degrees of initiation and I've been studying and so on and so forth. And there are also folks who identify as witches because of some family lineage. And some tradition that's passed down that is extremely not just important to their identity, but often is an aspect of themselves that has been under threat for a long time.
And so they feel really protective of that. So I don't mean any disrespect to those folks, but truly there really is no one way to be a witch. And In my research, I've discovered that the word witch historically has more often been used as a negative epithet against someone than it has, you know, badge of honor.
Certainly the English word, which anyway has really only. Started to become more positive in the 19th century and at the same time as the first wave of feminism was cresting. So too, was there a more, I don't know, romantic or sympathetic, uh, reframing of witches? So, to sum up, I just feel like the word is so elastic and it means so many different things to different people, and, and it's all meaningful and it's all potentially really empowering.
Yeah. And I think that's what's so attractive, again, to me about the word is that it's a label, but it's like the least label y label because it could mean an infinite number of things. Absolutely. Yeah, I felt so connected to your descriptions of playing with the word as your self identity, you know, that like sometimes it's tongue in cheek, and sometimes it's empowering, and sometimes you don't really want to get into it with everybody, you know, and sometimes it's like a banner that you're really ready to wave and, um, and you sort of describe building that identity over your life.
I wondered if you would tell us more about that process in your life and then maybe about that process. As it was affected by the writing of the book. Oh, yeah. And it's constantly evolving, and I imagine it is for the both of you too, and for a lot of listeners and hopefully readers. You know, I have been doing some form of magic ever since I was a kid.
And I actually think a lot of children do magic very naturally, you know, I think we enter this state of deep imaginal play very intuitively. But, you know, a lot of people outgrow that phase, and I just grew further into it. And Um, you know, I was really attracted to mythology and anything where there were female monsters and witches and magical protagonists.
And then, you know, it evolved into just, you know, a deep, deep interest in all things magical and mythological, both in my reading and in the kind of. art that I was attracted to music. I was attracted to, and eventually that led me to, you know, the witchcraft section of the library and different shops and actually doing, you know, what we might think of as more literal spells or more, I don't know, traditional spells, though I have a problem with the word traditional too here, but yeah, that's really how it started is just never growing out of that.
magical phase of my life. Yeah, I loved in the book you, you talked about, um, I think it was you and your sister sort of came upon this magical space that, I mean, a lot of people would probably walked by and said, oh, that's a swamp. Yep. You know, or that's a puddle, but to you it was a mystical, and I think children and witches sort of have the magical power of x ray vision, where we can see past.
what's there and see the magic behind the facade. And so when you say outgrow, why does that happen? And at what point do people lose their magical vision, do you think? And why? Yeah, I think it's socialized and I think a lot of folks unfortunately have parents who start telling them, you know, certain things aren't real or aren't true or only little kids believe in.
And I think I think you really have to strike a balance and I should say I'm not a parent and I certainly know that everybody does their best and you don't want your kids to walk around being fools and believing in nonsense or bullshit. I understand, but on the other hand, I was really blessed that my parents, they're both Bye.
really artistic. My mom's a painter and my dad's a musician. And, you know, they both had other day jobs and such, but at their core, they're these really spiritual, artistic, sensitive people. And they just never trained that out of me. You know, they didn't. actively encourage it either, they just let me be me.
And that was a real gift that I appreciate more and more as I get older. Uh, Risa is a new parent. So do you have any tips for her raising her little witch? Oh my goodness. I mean, I would just say to allow your child to unfold and whatever they're naturally interested in to, you know, really encourage that sense of wonder.
And I imagine Reese is going to be pretty awesome at that anyway, probably doesn't need my advice, But that's what I would say, you know, I was never shamed for believing in magic or for loving fairy tales or mythology. I was never told that it was time to put those books down or stop watching those cartoons or whatever.
And, you know, I'm 38 now and I still love cartoons and magic and mythology and our apartment is stuffed with all kinds of magical objects. And, you know, I think it's a really beautiful way to be because it feeds your imagination and it fills your heart. Yeah. I feel so excited about. Being a parent, there's so many ways that we can like bring hope into the world and to bring magic into the world and like I feel really like inspired by the idea that like there have been parents like your parents and like mine out there and there have been artists out there who like Allowed a spark in the world that was free from shame and that allowed for the possibility that things could be totally different than they are.
And I want to, I really want to give that to my kid. Amy usually does the witches found interviews, but I did one with, you know, an herbologist and her mom, because she told me, she whispered to me once that her mom had raised her to believe she was a witch. Oh, I love that. And we should just interject to say that.
which is found is kind of the episodes that you do every other week where you talk to contemporary witches. So go on ahead. Yeah, that was an important addition. You know, originally we thought about doing history only, and then I think Amy was so inspired to meet with people as part of building our coven and finding these missing witches that we added this second episode every week where we interview people and.
Doing this interview with a mother and daughter in my basement while my partner and Celia's dad walked around the lake with our two babies so that they wouldn't be hollering in the background was totally magical. And Celia asked her mom if she remembered telling her that she was a witch and getting her to sit and focus on, I think it was a napkin on the table to try to move it with her mind.
And then they both. Giggled. And then Celia was like, maybe you were just trying to keep me busy. It's, it's really interesting. Like, I don't know if you guys read recently that article in the New York times about the placebo effect. It was a really good article and it really reminded me of magic. Not because I think that.
magic isn't real and we're just tricking our minds and it's all bullshit. Even if that is the case, like, who cares? It works. And, you know, I, I often say I'm a pragmatic witch and I would not bother with All of this, if it didn't have results and it didn't really work and, you know, changing my life and making me feel more connected to spirit and, and all of that.
I actually got a text recently from a very good friend of ours. Um, who's the mother of two daughters who, uh, we just adore. And one of her daughters is, gosh, four or five years old. And they just had to put their cat to sleep, which is. Awful and heartbreaking. And ever since then, she's been really scared of ghosts.
And it's not even, oh, she thinks, you know, the ghost of her cat is floating around, but I'm sure it's just, she's afraid and she's sad and she's dealing with death. And so suddenly she's afraid of ghosts. And her mom is not a witchy person, but she texted me and said, is there some kind of ritual we could do or magic we could do to help her be less afraid of ghosts?
And I was like, Yes, I bet you've got some salt in your kitchen and why don't you, you know, sprinkle it around the apartment in a circle with her or put a little bowl of salt in every room and tell her that that's going to protect her. And they did it. And she felt better and no longer afraid of ghosts.
Now, whether or not, yeah, whether or not that actually, you know, protects a home, you know, for scientific or metaphysical reasons, or it was just something that made. her daughter feel better? Like, I honestly don't give a shit. It works. Yeah, I think you said like pragmatic, which was pragmatic, the word. Yes.
But I think that's why our work, the three of us all, all resonates with each other because we are science minded, practical people. You know, sometimes I think the phrase that gets used is woo woo. Like we're not, we're not woo woo. And I have nothing against people who are woo woo. It's just not me, but especially paganism.
Like, the earth, the sky, I mean, this is where we get our air that we breathe. It's very practical to me to be pagan, much more than any other religion, really. All of my senses are engaged in paganism. So, uh, yeah, we're very science minded people, and we don't think that that's out of line with being a witch in any way.
In fact, we did a whole episode with a coven of witches. Led by White Feather Hunter, an amazing artist and scientist out of their lab and their whole practice is science based. I heard that episode. I loved that episode. Again, no disrespect to the woo woo, but like for me and I think for Risa and for yourself, it is very practical.
It is like science based or evidence based, for lack of a better term. Yeah. Evidence based, I think, is a great way of putting it, and it's results oriented. But I really appreciate, you know, the fact that you represent all these different witches in your podcast. And that's what I was trying to do with my book, too, where, you know, there are historical figures in there, and there's, you know, real history of feminism and people fighting against the Vietnam War, and People fighting against, you know, the Nazis and World War II and his witches, like, that's all in there.
But then there's also fictional figures like, you know, Hermione and Sabrina. I wanted to show the fact and the fiction of the witch and how they. feed each other, how they inform each other and change each other and how all of it has helped me shape my own identity as a witch. Because yes, some of it is from our pagan, you know, foremothers, forefathers, forepeople, but a lot of it also comes from the world of art and music and fashion and politics and fiction.
That's important to me too. And, you know, at one point in the book, I say the witch is a creature of accretion, by which I mean every layer adds and adds and adds to the archetype and there are more and more facets that are built up and, and that's why I think it's such a fascinating archetype because it says so much and means so much and has so many different layers to it.
I really appreciated your treatment of like the teen pop culture witch. Yes. Because you weren't glib about it in any way, like the way you analyzed them and sort of unpacked, you know, from Sabrina to. Macbeth even, and it was really exciting to me. So how do you conceive of like young teenage girls and what their power is?
Yes. You know, I really came into witchcraft. in terms of casting intentional spells when I was a teenager. I know that's not true for everybody, but a lot of people have that experience. And for me, and I write about this in the book, some of it is just, I think for especially cisgendered teen girls, it's such a time of your life when you start to feel like you're coming into this power and you also are learning how to control it.
And also all these outside forces are trying to control you. And it's. intense, right? Like you have sexual power and it's kind of dangerous and risky. And also you can use that power for better or for worse. Your body's changing. At the same time, you're getting all these influences from friends and society and teachers and you feel really judged and kind of out of control of your circumstances in a lot of ways too.
So I think. You know, a lot of teen, especially young women, gravitate towards witchcraft to, you know, have some sense of control or agency over their lives. So I think that's a big part of it. But I also think, you know, for me, I had other hard shit going on. You know, and I write about this a little bit in the book.
You know, my older sister, who's a wonderful person and she's thriving now, she was really suffering from mental illness in very intense, scary ways, and so she was also this volatile figure in my house, and I think when you're a teenager, you start to wake up to You know, certain trauma or certain, I guess I would say more adult problems, start to realize, Oh, maybe something in my house isn't okay.
Or maybe this experience I'm having with someone I have a crush on is unhealthy, or I guess it's a loss of innocence is what I'm trying to say in a very roundabout way. And so, um, magic is both, I think. a metaphor for the transformation and the shape shifting that is happening to teenagers, psychologically and physically, but it is also a literal thing that you can do to try to help yourself feel like you have a little bit more autonomy.
Yeah, I just wanted to go back. You're talking about teenage girls and their power. I recently read that the most effective person at changing conservative adults mind about the reality of climate change is like a 12 to 14 year old girl. Oh my goodness. What's the name of that young woman? Oh, her name just slipped out of my head, but there's this like in Greta Thunberg.
Yes. She's like incredible. She's incredible. And talk about also someone who's using her reality as. someone who's like neuro atypical to, to like reach a vast community. Like there's 89 climate strikes planned across Canada for the global day of climate action coming up in September. And that's like her movement.
We've had strikes every Friday going on weeks now led by like students. You have 10 year olds writing to their mayors and their ministers. To declare a climate crisis. Like those are kids and I have so much faith in their power. And, and I think you're so right. And it's such a meaningful message to give to young people.
If you have them in your life that like your power is in part your sexuality and is in part your loss of innocence and is in part your innocence. And you're like, you're asexuality and just your, your knowledge and your energy and you're like pure raw emotion and connection to the world. Absolutely.
We're seeing that here in the States too with like, um, the Parkland kids. So, you know, all of these kids who are trying to fight for gun reform, which is an issue you guys do not really have, but it's a crazy one down here and a really crucial one as you know. So you're right. And it's a teen girl who's.
And leading that charge as well. So you're absolutely right. Thank you both again for being on the show. I have to say it's pretty wild to have people interviewing me and it is also kind of a fantasy come true. So thank you again. Thank you so much for reaching out to us and for sharing your book. We feel really lucky to get to get our hands on it early.
And you know, the world can be dark these days. I hate to keep going back to it, except I don't because it's all that matters. But in Canada, like you've mentioned before, we have abortion rights and we have gun control and we are holding onto those things by the skin of our teeth. Like those are not battles that are done.
And I think that like. Connecting with other witches, however you identify that around the world, to give each other strength, whether in private or in public, is kind of one of the most important things we can do right now to fight patriarchy and greed and the shit that wants to eat us. Absolutely, absolutely.
Part of the thing about being a witch that Risa and I talk about a lot is sort of embracing the light and embracing the darkness. I hesitate to make a pro and con list. Because it's sort of, you know, I don't want to put them in those binaric terms. So in terms of the writing of your book, what were some of the highlights and some of the challenges?
Not pros and cons, but like highlights and, and some of the major challenges that you came up against. Yeah. I would say the highlight for me of the book is Obviously getting to write about something that I love so much and have studied for most of my life in all these different ways. One section of the book in particular was pure joy to write.
A lot of it was really, really hard, but there's a chapter about art witches, and in particular five artists that I identify as witches, Leonora Carrington and Remedios Varo, Pamela Coleman Smith, Hilma Afklint, and Georgina Houghton. And It was so exciting to me to finally be able to frame these female artists as types of witches and to talk about creativity and magic and female autonomy and female authorship or visual authorship as all kind of being part of the same thing or, you know, two sides or maybe that's three sides of the same coin.
That, to me, is what gives me, I mean, the whole book was difficult, but also it gives me a lot of joy. But that notion in particular, I find to be a really liberating one. The fact that our creative work. is our magic when we do it with intention and, you know, if you're not compelled to cast a spell and light candles and all of that, that's fine.
If you're writing a poem or you're being an activist or you're starting a small business, whatever it is, that can be a magical offering too. So that was definitely a highlight talking about art and magic for sure. Oh yes. Any kind of form of creation is definitely magic making. The most challenging thing about writing this book, and I imagine listeners are getting this, uh, from hearing me talk about it, is the book is a lot of things.
It is a lot of history. It is a lot of pop culture analysis and why are we Now celebrating, which is so much and why are they popular and what do they mean, you know, that kind of introspection and more broad analysis of this moment in time. It is also a little bit of memoir. And so trying to braid together these three different types of writing was.
Such a challenge trying to get those levers and levels adjusted well in such a way that hopefully the book is still readable and that they're all flowing into each other instead of being jarring. Um, that was definitely the hardest part. This is like the best alchemy is, you know, when we take Things and put them together to make a greater thing.
Also magic, right? It's part memoir. It's part essay. It's part research It's part and that and it's it's very readable I think Risa and I you you gave us an advanced copy not that long ago and I think both of us were like, yeah Yeah, you know, we'll take a look. We'll skim it and both of us ended up just sitting down and reading.
Yeah Thank you so much. That really means a lot. It's like it's so readable and so delightful and so So exciting. And, you know, just from our own interest in real history and research, there's so much good, juicy, real research that it's not like a slaky story or, you know, it's not just sort of fairies. God bless them.
They're surrounding me now by this creek, but so much good history. I'm like, I can't wait to go back and dig more into those. Women's lives in particular that you shared with us, like you will be quoted on multiple future episodes of Missing Witches. Risa, I was thinking the same thing. I was like mentally highlighting it, like, oh, we'll read this, we'll read this, yeah.
We'll wait until it comes out, though we don't want to give any spoilers to anybody by reading entire chapters. Well, by the time this episode airs, it will be out. Hooray! Hooray! I do want to just thank you from the bottom of my heart for saying all of that because I respect the both of you so much and to know that you guys think that it's working, that the weird combination of genre is working is very affirming for me because I have to say from a practical, like, marketing perspective, my publisher Who's been wonderful, but you know, they've kind of grappled with like, how to categorize this and how to pitch it, you know, how to market it really.
So I'm really delighted that you think it makes sense. Thank you. Oh, it makes perfect sense. It does. And your audience will eat it up. Oh, I hope so. You hear that, audience? Get your knives ready. Eat it. Yes. I know what my sister's getting for Christmas this year. Ah, spoiler alert, indeed. But I have a very brief yes or no question for you, if you don't mind.
Oh, please. Have you seen Jinx Monsoon live yet? I am going in just a few weeks. So excited. I'm losing my mind with joy and anticipation. Yeah, it's everything you want. It could be and more. Yeah. Have you seen Jinx Monsoon? Oh yes, I've seen, I've seen Miss Jinx Monsoon many, several times and I've never, never once been anything less than.
blown away, thrilled, satisfied, wouldn't cover it, but you're going to have an amazing time. And that was one of my favorite episodes. I was like, in case you guys missed it, go check out the episode with Jinx Monsoon. It's fantastic. Yes, drag is magic, everybody. I think folks are so sick of hearing me talk about RuPaul by now, so, but it's with good reason, you know, the, the act of building one's identity and playing with one's identity.
You know, which drag highlights so much, I think is such an important part of the archetype of the witch. And that's why, you know, getting back to an earlier point we've all been making, people can call themselves a witch or think of themselves as a witch for many different reasons. And that can change over the course of your life.
And maybe now you're really into crystals or tarot. You know, maybe you'll never consider yourself pagan or Wiccan. Like, that's fine. Maybe you're not into any of that woo woo shit, but you are a badass feminist and you think that the witch is a wonderful symbol for you as a rebel and as a feminine force that refuses.
To bow down to patriarchal forces herself. You know, that's all important. And I think it's all really meaningful and worthwhile. The witch is the ultimate symbol of intersectional feminism. All cultures have witches and they all represent this, you know, iconoclast strong. Independent person. And that's why I think so many of us strong, independent people tend to gravitate to that.
Absolutely. I highlighted this part from your book and I'm going to print it up and put it on my wall because it speaks to me so much where you say that virgins, whores, daughters, mothers, wives, each of these is defined by whom she's sleeping with or not the care that she's giving or that is given to her, some sort of symbiotic debt, the witch owes nothing.
And that's what makes her dangerous. I love that. And then you say that they commune with the spiritual realm freely and free of any mediator. And I think that is so key to why they've been the target of so much oppression and why there's so much power there. You don't need a mediator to have access to your own power.
It's such a kick ass part of your book. I really, really appreciate you sharing it. Oh, thank you so much. And I think that comes through with all the witches that you highlight on your podcast, whether living or in the, in the next realm, you know, these are people who have Engaged in risky behavior, and most of all, the risk is just being themselves, right?
It's trying to live a life of full purpose and intention, and often going against the grain, because still, so many of our religious structures, our government structures, our business structures, our social structures, are head up and controlled by Cis, straight, white, I will add often Christian, men, and there's nothing wrong with individuals who might fit that profile.
But when that is the only perspective that you have been fed for most of your life, for all of your life, For generations, I believe that it's incredibly destructive and incredibly toxic and the witch is one way forward. The witch is one path through that wilderness to make space that is safe and generative and collective and I believe thoroughly magical.
To make space and to take up space. To allow yourself to take up space, I think is one of the biggest things too. Absolutely. Well, speaking of taking up space, I don't want to take up any more of yours. So grateful to you both for making time to interview me, first of all, but also for the love and craft that you put into the Missing Witches podcast.
It is so well researched. There's so much heart and brain and spirit, and it's beautifully produced as well. So big, big, big thank you. so much. And where can people find Missing Witches? All the podcast places. Missingwitches. com and then, uh, yeah, on Instagram at Missing Witches and then yeah, Spotify, Google Play, uh, Apple Podcasts.
Excellent. Missingwitches. com. Excellent. Did we say that one already? And also missingwitches. com. Also, did we say missingwitches. com? And also guys, missingwitches. com. Well, I'm so glad that we found each other and I wish you just All of the love and creativity and joy that you can possibly muster because you have brought so much of that into my life and my ears.
Thank you both again. Thank you. And thanks to your beautiful listeners. We're so happy to be here. That's it for the show. Thank you again to Risa Dickens and Amy Torek of the Missing Witches podcast for being so generous, supportive, and game. And wickedly, wonderfully smart. Do you have questions, feedback, need some witchly advice, or just want to share something magical that happened to you recently?
Drop me an email at witchwavepodcast at gmail. com We'd love to hear from you, and you just might make it on the witchwire. The Witch Wave is produced and recorded by me, Pam Grossman. This episode was edited by Rachel Jacobs. Thank you, Rachel! And myself. Our theme music is the song Hand and Eye by Lycanthea.
Special thanks go to Matt Freeman and Chiquita Paschal. You can check out information about this and other episodes on our website, which wave podcast. com Please subscribe to us on Apple podcasts and give us lots of sparkly stars It really does make a difference and helps other people find the show You can follow us on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook at WitchWavePod.
And check out my witch emoji for iPhone by going to Witch Emoji or downloading it in the App Store. And please consider buying my book, Waking the Witch. Witches out now. I've also got a ton of events and appearances coming up this month as well as throughout the rest of the year. So go to pamgrossman.com slash events to find out about those. I can't wait to see you on the road. Thank you so much for listening. Witches are the future. I'll catch you next time on the witch wave.
You must be a witch. Thanks for listening to the Missing Witches podcast. Please hit us up on social media at missingwitches or send us an email at missingwitches at gmail. com. Blessed be.