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For some who are spiritually inclined, eclipse has added significance

When the Earth, moon and sun align on Monday, Kendra Pape-Green plans to be in a secluded spot in nature.

Rather than taking the astronomical event in with the crowds, she and two others will go somewhere out of the way to make “eclipse water” — an ingredient self-proclaimed witches can use to give their spells some extra oomph.

For some who practice alternative forms of spirituality, including those who identify as witches, a total solar eclipse like the one that will pass over parts of southeastern Canada Monday is more than just an interesting phenomenon: it can be a sacred experience rich with meaning.

“Eclipses are always big moments for change. They’re portals. They’re transformative,” said Pape-Green, 31. “I’ve got some personal changes that I’ve been meaning to make and putting off. This is the moment where I’m going to make some plans, do some intention-setting.”

At the same time, she will set out some water to “charge” under the eclipse — similar to how some people leave their crystals out in the moonlight, believing it will imbue them with energy.

“When there’s a magical need for it — like often I do custom spells for people — I can pull that out and have that extra punch,” she said.

As an eclectic witch, Pape-Green pulls elements from different spiritual traditions to find what works for her. In her case, that includes spellcasting and astrology.

Pape-Green has been practising since she found a book about Wicca in her aunt’s home when she was 13 and has since turned it into her career. She and her wife co-own Witch Plz, a witchy supply store in Innisfil, Ont.

Through that work, Pape-Green said she’s had the opportunity to watch people’s interest in witchcraft grow over the last several years.

A total solar eclipse April 8 will be visible across a swath of North America. An estimated 44 million people live inside the path of totality stretching from Mazatlan, Mexico to Newfoundland; about 32 million of them are in the U.S. (AP Photo)

“It’s the economy. It’s politics,” she said by way of explanation. “It goes back to power — witchcraft is about finding and feeling your personal power and feeling some kind of strength that you might not feel naturally.”

There does seem to be a growth in the popularity of “witchiness” and other New Age ideologies in recent years, though it’s hard to qantify, said Chris Miller, a post-doctoral research fellow with the Nonreligion in a Complex Future project at the University of Ottawa, whose PhD was about the study of contemporary Paganism.

“There’s people who take it very seriously, and I don’t know that that has grown, but what’s definitely grown are the people who are kind of, sort of interested in exploring it,” he said.

Miller said there’s a broad umbrella of spiritual people — be they New Age, Pagan, Wiccan, Heathen or merely “witchy” — whose philosophies overlap but are not necessarily identical.

“Some common things I like to draw on are a belief in multiple deities,” he said. “For some people it’s just two Gods, but for some it’s a whole pantheon. And there’s the ability to practice rituals or magic — to interact with the universe, whether that’s interacting with nature, whether that’s interacting with energy or interacting with gods.”

Astrology is also a common thread for many in these circles, he said, because of how it dovetails with their belief in the cyclical nature of the world.

For Samantha Chin, a Toronto-based astrologer, this eclipse’s position during those cycles has her cautious.

Some followers of astrology believe an eclipse can signal disruption because the moon’s shadow is blocking the sun, which is a guiding force, said Chin, who goes by Lady Samantha.

This year, she noted, the eclipse is happening when Mercury is in retrograde — a phenomenon that the astrologically inclined believe portends miscommunication and faulty decision-making.

“It’s a popular coined term, ‘don’t make decisions on Mercury retrograde,” she said. “But this is even more so the case because it falls on an eclipse, so we can’t see clearly during this time.”

Unlike Pape-Green, who is simply setting intentions that extend beyond the end of Mercury retrograde, Chin said she won’t be charging anything under this eclipse.

“I’ve decided because of the way it’s also affecting my own (astrological) chart that I’m not going to join the masses and buy glasses and allow this eclipse to see me, hoping that it will pass me by,” Chin said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 7, 2024. 

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