Eye of newt, and toe of frog, wool of bat, and tongue of dog … Disney apparently isn’t alone when it comes to making magic in California.
The Golden State is actually home to six of the top 10 “Best Places to be a Witch” in the United States of America, according to a rather singular data crunch by a company called Lawn Love that measured access to tarot readers, astrology classes, covens, natural healers, herbalists and metaphysical supply stores in the nation’s 200 largest cities.
Los Angeles ranked No. 2 in the nation — behind New York City — while Pasadena came in at No. 3, San Francisco ranked No. 5, Orange was No. 6, Torrance ranked No. 9 and Fullerton was No. 10.
Garden Grove and Glendale weren’t far behind, ranking above voodoo queen Marie Laveau’s New Orleans — which seems wrong somehow — while Moreno Valley was almost dead last, at 199 out of 200. Only Laredo, Texas, was worse.
High marks for health, spirituality
“Wellness, spirituality and harmony with nature are central to the tenets of the modern witch religion and synonymous with California (and the L.A. area, in particular), the national leader in wellness trends,” said a statement from the editors who worked on the study.
“If we zoom in on the individual categories … we find that those are precisely the areas — health and spirituality — where the Golden State dominates.”
It’s important to note here that we’re not talking about Shakespeare’s witches, stirring cauldrons and chanting “Adder’s fork, and blind-worm’s sting, lizard’s leg, and owlet’s wing.” We’re talking about pagans, who believe that nature is sacred and the natural cycles of birth, growth and death have profoundly spiritual meanings. And about the adherents of Wicca, a modern-day, nature-based religion, as History.com explains. Adherents often celebrate solstices and equinoxes, and incorporate herbalism and other natural objects into their rituals.
‘Perfectly normal people’
“Witches are perfectly normal people — we just have a spiritual path that is pagan,” said the founder of Bewitched OC, who goes by the name Zelda Twinkletoes. “We are your workmates. We are your neighbors.”
She lives in Garden Grove — one of America’s best cities for witches — and is not a Wiccan, but a pagan.
They do spells, but it’s not quite like what you see on TV, she laughed. “It’s about personal growth. That’s the aim of the majority of the work that I do.”
Groups of Wiccan practitioners are usually called covens, and the practitioners themselves are usually called witches, whether they’re male or female. Los Angeles ranked high in covens — No. 2 — and was No. 3 in supplies, meaning there are plenty of fellow witches to meet and stores to fulfill witchcraft needs.
Pasadena ranked second in both the health and spirituality categories thanks to an abundance of healers, herbalists, tarot readers and supernatural experts.
Orange also ranked ranked high in spirituality (No. 4) and health (No. 5) — thanks to plenty of psychics and reiki healers — while Torrance placed first in the health category by virtue of its many healers and yoga classes.
Mayor confirms health focus
Some city leaders were taken aback by the rankings.
“Any time our city is on a top 10 list, it gets my attention. And ‘Best Cities for Witches’ sure piqued my interest — especially at this time of year!” Torrance Mayor Patrick J. Furey said by email.
“I must confess that I was relieved that our ranking was based on health. We do have an active, healthy population with many, many yoga studios and health clubs. Match that with our two major hospitals within our borders and two more just outside, it is no surprise that Torrance ranked number 1 in the health category.
“I don’t think I want to know what it would take to move up in the rankings!” he added.
Lawn Love compared the 200 biggest U.S. cities and drew its data from sources such as the American Herbalists Guild, Facebook, Find a Grave, Findastrologer.com, Gemstone Well, Herbalists Without Borders, Meetup, The Real Yellow Pages, Unitarian Universalist Association and Yelp, said spokesman John Schmidt.
Why, exactly, would a lawn care matchmaker crunch data on witch havens?
“We have an in-house data team whose knowledge extends beyond lawn care and has access to all of this data, so we figured why not?” Schmidt said. “We’re just having fun while hopefully providing useful insights to the public through (our other, more serious) data-driven stories.”
Thankfully, the company says, you don’t need magic to have a nice lawn. “Lawn Love pros across the country are ready to cast a spell on your landscape and transform your backyard into a haven for relaxation or your favorite late-night rituals,” it punned.
Seeking more magic? There’s a Dia de Los Muertos ceremony and celebration at 7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 30, at the Golden Lotus Oasis in Garden Grove, and there will be a Pagan Pride Day Los Angeles/Orange County from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 7 in El Dorado Park, Area III, Golden Grove, Long Beach. It’s a family-friendly event with children’s activities and food trucks, organizers say.
It’s about getting back to nature, adherents say, and has given birth to the goddess movement. Schmidt quotes Quartz writers Sangeeta Singh-Kurtz and Dan Kopf: “The mainstreaming of mysticism makes sense when you consider how it overlaps with the interests of the millennial women. … (W)itchcraft is the perfect religion for liberal millennials who are already involved in yoga and meditation, mindfulness, and new-age spirituality.”
And that’s so California.
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