Monica Bodirsky is the woman behind WITCHfest North (Oct. 5-31), a city-wide arts festival aimed at empowering and celebrating the diverse community of Witches, Wiccans, Pagans and Polytheists in Toronto. This weekend, WITCHfest North is hosting a Lucky 13 Divination Parlour and Wicked Witchcrafters Fair at Artscape Youngplace (180 Shaw).

We caught up with Monica this week to find out all about it. 

SDTC: What is the biggest misconception about witchcraft that you’d like to clear up?

MB: I can only speak for myself; however, I would like to say that real witches do exist and that our Pagan ancestors, while ignorant of many things, also carried sacred knowledge that should be respected and remembered. Several of my fellow witches and I have never been at odds with science; [we] merely question what constitutes objective and scientific fact. Many of us are well-educated professionals who embrace the quantum physics of witchery and are not childishly waving wands “wishing” for things to come true. Also, there is no such thing as devil worship in my practice.

What has your practice in witchcraft taught you?

To bring balance to all things, be accountable, share knowledge, use power wisely, to be tolerant and kind to non-witches, become one with the environment, and actively change my life.

What’s behind the rising interest in witchcraft at this point in time?

I feel that an individual’s right use of power and respectful relationship to the earth and elements creates a sense of balance in the midst of tenuous world leadership and questionable decision-making. The overt racism and inequity brings power balance and ethics to the forefront of our thought. I believe self-actualization, empowerment and personal connections to the earth, spirituality and feminism all contribute to a rising interest in witchcraft. Taking control of one’s situation and recognizing and embracing individual power has increased in appeal during times when many feel powerless.

If we’re interested in learning more, but are unsure where to start, what resources do you recommend?

I recommend attending WITCHfest North events first and foremost so you can witness the diversity of the community and speak to actual practitioners – not just read about us or get stuck on pop culture stereotypes. Also check blogs, join virtual covens and online witch schools and read as many books as possible. This way you will get an idea of the diversity of our community and learn to distinguish between Witchcraft, Wicca, Wise Women and Pagan philosophies and practices.

What are you most looking forward to at this year’s Witchfest North?

Seeing people come forward, proudly sharing who they are and not feeling that they need to hide their identities to be accepted. I have already met so many community members and am thrilled that we are creating a larger and more cohesive community by becoming visible to the public. I’m also looking forward to sharing our diverse talents with non-practitioners through the safe spaces of retail, coffee shops and our arts practices! I look forward to seeing you there!