Practicing in Secret (Baby Witch Bootcamp Ch. 25)

Portrait Photo of Woman with Brown Curly Hair Doing the Shhh Sign
“Portrait Photo of Woman with Brown Curly Hair Doing the Shhh Sign” by Andrea Piacquadio, accessed through Pexels

I love things that are traditionally “witchy.” I love dressing candles with herbs. I love setting things on fire. I love making poppets and charms. But not everyone is able to be so obvious in their craft. For various reasons, some witches choose to be secretive about their magical practice.

Why Would You Want to Keep It a Secret?

Historically, witches kept their practice a secret because it wasn’t safe to be open about their beliefs. In the late middle ages, the Catholic Church began to actively persecute witchcraft, herbal medicine, and folk spirituality with the publication of “witch hunting guides” like the Malleus Maleficarum. This witch hunting fervor would continue even after the Protestant Reformation, with some of the most famous witch hunts (such as the Salem trials) carried out by Protestants.

It is important to remember that the witch hunts were political at their heart and that very few of the people executed for witchcraft were what we would recognize today as witches. They were mostly women, poor folks, or members of ethnic or religious minorities. But even so, the danger of being accused of witchcraft and/or devil worship drove many medieval witches, herbalists, and pagans to hide their practice.

The United States experienced a modern witch hunt of sorts in the 1980s with the “Satanic Panic.” We still don’t entirely understand what caused this cultural phenomenon, but what we do know is that it resulted in widespread paranoia about devil worship. Anything that could be misconstrued as “satanic” was shunned or outright persecuted, from Dungeons & Dragons to heavy metal music to nature-based religions like Wicca — and, yes, witchcraft. People who had been comfortably open about their spirituality suddenly found themselves practicing behind closed doors. If you’re over 30, you may remember this. If you’re under 30, the Satanic Panic probably shaped how your parents view witchcraft and paganism, and they may still be grossly misinformed as a result.

Even today, a lot of witches choose to keep their practice a secret because it would be unsafe or uncomfortable to go public. Many witches have family members, friends, or coworkers who would be uncomfortable if they knew about their witchcraft, and may even choose to end the relationship because of it. Some witches live in culturally Christian areas where it might be harder for them to get jobs or make friends if they were openly self-identifying as a witch. Some of us live in places where an outdoor ritual could get the cops called on us, or have missionaries showing up to save our souls.

On the other hand, some witches just like privacy. You may feel like your spirituality is nobody’s business but yours, and for that reason you may prefer to do witchcraft in a way that is more subtle and secretive. Desire for privacy is a perfectly valid reason to stay “in the broom closet.”

There are also some magical traditions that require members to swear a vow of secrecy and to keep the group’s secrets. However, these traditions usually require an in-person initiation, so I won’t be discussing them here.

Inconspicuous Witchcraft

If you haven’t read my posts about magical journaling and kitchen magic, I highly recommend you check them out. Those are two forms of magic that are very easy to practice discretely.

No matter what your reason for keeping your practice a secret, here are a few tips for making magic without drawing attention.

  • Use scented candles. Candle magic is one of the easiest and most versatile forms of spellwork, and all it requires is a candle and your intention. Scented candles are perfect for undercover witches because, rather than adding herbs and oils, you can simply buy a scent that matches your intention. (For example, a vanilla candle is great for love, while a pumpkin spice scent will attract wealth.) Plus, they’re so commonplace that no one will think twice about seeing one in your bedroom or on your desk at work. If you’re a purist and want to make sure you’re using real plant materials, you can get all natural candles scented with essential oils — but lots of witches use artificial scents and get good results, so don’t feel like you have to go with the more expensive option.
  • Diffuse essential oils. Essential oils contain the concentrated essence of a plant, which makes them a must-have tool for witches. Essential oils are also extremely popular right now, both for holistic healing and for aromatherapy, so you definitely won’t attract any negative attention for using them. You can get a good essential oil diffuser for under $20 online. Some brands overcharge for their oils, but you can find good quality oils for under $10. When choosing an essential oil, look at the magical correspondences for the plant it is made from. You can diffuse oils to infuse your space with their energy, similar to the way you would use incense.
  • Enchant your perfume. You can choose a perfume to match your intention or make your own custom perfume by mixing essential oils in a carrier oil. Focus on your intention as you spray the perfume, letting it infuse your energy field with magic. You can also buy magical perfume blends from witch-owned businesses online or on Etsy.
  • Learn shufflemancy. “Shufflemancy” is a modern form of divination that is done by putting a playlist on shuffle — whatever song plays first contains an intuitive message for you, either in the lyrics or in how it makes you feel. You can find playlists specifically made for divination by Googling “shufflemancy playlist,” or you can make your own by compiling a playlist of songs from different genres that deal with different topics. Just be sure to keep it diverse — if your playlist only has love songs on it, you might not get very helpful messages if you have a question about your career.
  • Learn bibliomancy. This divination method is similar to shufflemancy, but much older. Bibliomancy is done by asking your question while holding a book, focusing on your question while connecting with the book’s energy, and then opening it to a random page. There is a long, long tradition within Christianity of doing this with the Bible — if you feel connected to a certain sacred text, you could use it for bibliomancy. You could also use a book of poetry, a novel, or even a dictionary. However, I think it’s important to use a book you feel a connection to, rather than something randomly grabbed off the shelf.
  • Use Pinterest and Spotify as manifestation tools. You may have heard of vision boards, a tool used to manifest something by creating a detailed collection of images that match your intention. Pinterest boards are already essentially virtual vision boards, and creating one with focused intent can be a spell by itself. Likewise, you can use Spotify playlists for manifestation. To do this, create a playlist of songs that match your intention (songs about money or love, for example) and listen to it while meditating on your desired outcome.
  • Choose your outfits with intention. You can pick clothes based on color correspondences (see this post for a guide to color magic), the material they are made from (a wool sweater vs. a cotton T-shirt), or some other symbolism. For example, if you want to feel empowered, you might wear leopard print to channel the energy of a fierce predator.
  • Enchant a piece of jewelry for a specific purpose. You can choose your jewelry based on the correspondence of the metal or gemstones it is made from, make your own piece, or use whatever you already have on hand. You can enchant this jewelry by passing it over the flame of a candle or through the vapor of an essential oil diffuser. State what purpose you want this charm to serve, either out loud or in your mind. Wear this jewelry whenever you need to tap into that energy, and make sure to cleanse it often.
  • Create magical art. If you want to manifest something, draw or paint a picture of it. You don’t have to be a skilled artist — what matters is that you are taking your mental image of what you want and bringing it into the physical world. Fold up the picture and keep it in your pillow, or in some other special place. Likewise, if you want to banish something, draw or paint a picture of it and then rip it into little pieces and throw it out. This ritual allows you to purge yourself of the negative emotions tied to the thing you are banishing.
  • Take a magical bath. We rarely have more privacy than when we’re in the tub. Taking a bath is already a ritual of sorts, and it’s easy to add magic. You can, of course, make magical bath salts by mixing essential oils into Epsom salt, but you can also create bath spells with household objects. For example, a bath with salt and vinegar will clear up nasty energy, while adding milk to your bath will attract love and abundance.

Practicing in secret does not have to mean a less deep or well-rounded practice. There are lots of magical acts that can be done subtly or kept private. The suggestions in this post are by no means exhaustive, and I hope they will give you some ideas for other ways to fill your life with undercover magic.


  • “Introduction” from The Malleus Maleficarum at
  • The Fat Feminist Witch podcast, “Episode 34 — Witches, Midwives, and Doulas”
  • “Most witches are women, because witch hunts were all about persecuting the powerless” by Bridget Marshall for The Conversation
  • New World Witchery podcast, “Episode 118 — The Satanic Panic”

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