“Are you a good witch, or a bad witch?”, asks Glinda upon meeting Dorothy in Oz. “Well I’m not a witch at all…” (despite what some of my exes would say). With Halloween, a.k.a. All Hallows’ Eve quickly approaching, my mind turns to all things apple bobbing and black cats, goblins and ghouls, witches and warlocks.
I thought it’d be cool to get a more personal insight into what it means to actually BE a witch. Like, a real one. Like an “I cast a spell on you” kind of witch. Plus there’s a couple people I’d like to banish…or at least give them a really itchy rash on their ass that won’t go away.
So, where does one find a real witch? Do you look them up in the phone book? Send off a flying messenger monkey? I found them the old fashioned way: on the good ‘ol internet.
My first magical meeting was with a psychic-witch hybrid who has a huge client base. Her name is Johnna Duke and she has an amazing success rate. My friend referred me to her through her website, and I wanted to see how she became a witch, if she was the real deal, and how she felt she could help me.
Johnna’s located in Massachusetts, not too far away from Salem, where the original witches were burned at the stake. Johnna does all her work by phone and she has the best voice, ever—not at all “witch-like.” She sounds more like the bestie you’ve always wanted who can also read the minds of the guys you date and put spells on your ex and shit. I immediately love her. Read on for our interview!
The Gloss: When did you realize you were psychic?
Johnna Duke: Well, I was born to an ‘older mother’ and I believe that you’re either born with a deficit or a gift and I was born with a gift. I realized it was something that other people couldn’t do at about 10 years old when I had open heart surgery.
TG: Wait, you had open heart surgery at 10 years old and knew after that?
JD: Yeah, I was telling the doctors and nurses that there were patients in ‘diabetic shock’ and I was a kid so I didn’t even know what that was! But I knew they were suffering, and I was right. The doctors were like, “How the heck did she know that?”
TG: How did you become a witch?
JD: I connected with someone who had similar gifts and they told me this is what was going on with me and what I could do with it. I was just doing tarot cards for friends and stuff and a friend owned an Occult store in Salem. As you know, part of Salem’s draw is it’s a ‘witchy town’ and they offered me work on the weekends. It was the kind of store where you’d dress up as a witch- you know with the hat and the whole thing… dress up and work in the shop, like an 80’s Pat Benatar witch. I’m more of a ‘psychic in PJs’, kind of reader. I’m not about the ‘show me’ in the theatrical sense of the practice- it’s more about the actual work. Then in 2007, I was working in ‘billing and coding’ in an accounting firm and I was introduced to KEEN, which is a online site where I still work today in addition to my private practice. I started working on KEEN on weekends just to see how it went. Within three weeks I was making more income than I was having worked in accounting for eight years, full time.
TG: How much of your work is psychic and how much is magic- percentage wise?
JD: I’d say it’s about 80/20. 80 percent psychic and 20 percent magically supported. Which is heavier on the magic side than a lot of people do. My work is balanced in a way where I can influence what’s really going on with some magical assistance.
TG: So, do you work in the Wiccan tradition?
JD: I’d say my practice is more eclectic in nature. I call upon a bunch of traditions but I consider myself more of a true Pagan than Wiccan. Among my fellow practitioners we call Wiccans the ‘fluffy bunnies’ of witchcraft.
TG: So what tradition do you practice?
JD: I mix a few traditions. Wiccans’ whole basis is ‘do no harm’, where as I really will harm you if I have to- ( she laughs) I mean, I am very, very ethical about it. I’ve had clients who’ve wanted me to get rid of their boyfriends children and things like that, I won’t do. I won’t help people who ask me things like that or support anything that isn’t ethically correct. I don’t change people’s will. But if you hurt me, or my family or my clients- I’m not above fighting back, magically.
TG: Are there clients you can’t help?
JD: I always tell my clients when they’re being unrealistic. I support and help things along that are already a real possibility. I don’t make people Zombies or anything! I simply remove barriers that are stopping my clients from getting what they want.
TG: So, you’re a “good witch”?
JD: Haha! I’m a really good witch. I’m actually the High Priestess of my coven. I lead the ceremonies and things like that. I truly believe magic is to be done for the greater good of all concerned. Nothing is done against anyone’s will. It might feel like it is, but I’m just helping people who might not know what the best thing for them is, or how to achieve that. They might be blocked for reasons they don’t even know. All my clients have built in protection – meaning no magic will come back and harm my client. I always have some sort of protection for anyone I work with- no client of mine gets hurt on my watch.
TG: Is Halloween your fave holiday?
JD: Haha! Well we call it Samhain and it’s more of a day for honoring the dead and ancestors. It’s definitely a “witch’s holiday.” During this time, the veil is thinner and it’s easier to communicate with the dead and magic is stronger. And yes, I go as a “witch” every year!
TG: What’s a fun example of magic really working?
JD: I think a fun example was this time I did some communication magic where I carved a phrase on a candle. It was a weird, random, obscure phrase – something silly like, “The mosquitos are biting hard today,” or something like that. This was to prove a point to a non-believer…well, don’t you know that exact phrase was repeated to them the next day! This just proves the point that, even if I believe harder than you that the magic will work, it will work. It’s of course better if my client believes too, but if I believe harder than someone doesn’t believe, it will still work.
At this point I ask Johnna a specific question about my love life. I’ll spare the readers the gory details, but I wanted to know what she gets psychically and how should could help me. First thing she does is describe the person in question in scary detail: his personality, our situation, and she totally gets him and our history together. She feels ultimately positive about our future and explains to me that, because Mercury is currently in retrograde (or it was at the time), communication might be more restricted than usual. She said she’ll do some magic for me on the full moon, as that’s the most powerful time to perform magic. She said she’s going to do some communication magic and also some “lust” magic. I’m in! Ultimately, I feel way more uplifted and positive when I got off the phone with Johnna, and I was totally amazed at her psychic abilities.
OkY, so as a follow up: it’s now AFTER the full moon and I’ve actually heard from the person in question more frequently than usual. All I’m saying is I am totally calling this witch back!
Click to the next page to read our next interview!
Next, I found Khi Armand on the site. He’s a practitioner of “Hoodoo”, a folk magic tradition that combines the use of herbs, roots, minerals, prayer with intent, and sometimes the intercession of saints and the deceased. Khi considers himself an intuitive consultant, a shaman, and manifestation expert. In addition to being very kind having great energy, Khi is super knowledgeable about all kinds of magical traditions.
TG: What kind of a witch are you? Or are you a witch at all?
Khi Armand: I practice all kinds of traditions, but Hoodoo, which is African American folk magic from the rural south, is the practice I’m most known for. It includes in its cosmology the idea of cross-conditions—that there can be something standing in the way of your well being. If you go to any traditional root doctor, chances are when you ask them, “Why is my luck bad?”, before they say “light those candles,” they’re going to say, “First we need to cleanse you. We need to take some uncrossing baths and get rid of that stuff that’s standing in the way.” I think I take it a step further to the stuff from childhood that may be blocking the soul parts. That’s where the shamanic part comes in. So, on one hand, I’m a shamanic root doctor and I use the term shaman, even though it can be a contentious term, I had experiences that can only be logged under that.
TG: What kinds of experiences?
KA: Well, a couple years ago I died. It was because a spirit killed me to re-make me and part of that death was splitting into multiple personalities and becoming extremely psychically sensitive for a long period of time, and everything about me changing. So “shaman” is the only term we have that’s crosscultural that can relay that. I’m also a practitioner of Afro-Brazilian witchcraft.
TG: Wow. That’s amazing, so you work with a lot of different elements and traditions. But Hoodoo is the primary magic you practice?
KA: Yes, most of my practice is based in Hoodoo, which is also known as rootwork and conjure, although my practice has become more eclectic over the years to include there other elements. I believe that magic and healing are very connected. Everyone wants to know what’s the most powerful spell for this, that or the other and so often healing and self-healing are left out of the conversation. A lot of people just want a manifestation without thinking, “What is stopping me from being able to manifest? What trauma from my past is holding me back?”
TG: So say someone comes to you looking for the healing of a relationship, to remove the blocks that are preventing it from fully manifesting- is that something you can do?
KA: Absolutely. The first thing I’d start with is divination. That’s a tool where I speak with the client and my helping spirits to understand the energies at play, where is the relationship potentially going and what needs to be done to bring things to a better conclusion. I have multiple divination tools I use for that.
TG: Such as?
KA: I work with Tarot cards extensively, as well as my Bible—there’s a form of divination known as bibliomancy.
TG: What’s that?
KA: It’s where you ask a question and run your hand over the edge of the bible and where my finger falls will give me an answer! You can use it with any other books. You can use it with the poet Hafiz, for instance.
TG: I love that! That’s some magic everyone can do at home!
KA: Absolutely. I also use my pendulums that are used for asking yes or no questions. I also do Geomancy, which is an old European and Arabic divination that involves drawing a lot of dots on a piece of paper and formulating those dots into a graph. It’s not very well known in most circles but I love it myself. “Geo” being Earth and “mancy” being divination so it’s “Earth divination”.
He shows me and it looks like something out of a Geometry class that my brain can’t compute.
TG: So how does that work?
KA: Well, you make random lines of dots on paper while thinking of a question and it breaks into binary. So if the first line has five dots it equals one, if it has four dots, that equals two and it starts to break down into characters. So, it’ll have 2:1, 2:1, dots that has four lines. It’s a little mathematical.
TG: That’s why my brain is frying right now. What else do you do that we haven’t covered?
KA: Another form of divination I use is shamanic journeying. I will either do it with a drum or put in headphones and actually go into the spirit world and ask my helping spirits to show me things and based on the kind of journey, I can go in and resolve issues on the spot: perform a soul retrieval, remove a spirit intrusion or I might just receive information. A lot of people know spiritual work has been done against them which is actually very common and people don’t realize it. We live in a culture that tells us it’s not true, but it happens in all kinds of ways!
TG: Like what?
KA: Well, people might come to someone like me and say, “I hate my co-worker, get rid of them.” Or, “This person caused me harm, hurt them,” or, “My sister stole my man,” or “I want to be dating this person instead of this other person. Break them up and curse them!” It happens all the time. A million people are putting curses on people now as we speak. That’s just intentional magic, there’s also unintentional magic, or energy , such as the “evil eye” or “mal de ojo,” which is when someone is putting energy on you through their jealousy without them realizing it. Then there’s the issue of spirit intrusion. Spirit intrusions on people, in homes—dead people abound in this culture. They wander around, they’ll wander into our apartments and stay there, they’ll attach themselves to us and then we’re sad and we don’t know why.
TG: Do you talk to dead people?
KA: I talk to dead people extensively. I’ll talk to people’s ancestors, I’ll talk to my ancestors, I’ll talk to people who attach themselves to people because it seems like fun, but it’s harmful I’ll also talk to dead people I’ll hire to do work for me.
TG: How do you pay them?
KA: Well usually in alcohol and coins, which is very traditional in Hoodoo. In Hoodoo you’ll find the grave of a spirit that will work for you and you bury something at that grave, usually whisky and coins, or you’re buying the actual dirt that you’ll use in talismans or candles or just throwing it where someone will step where it will affect them.
TG: So even in death it’s still the booze and the money that get the job done.
KA: It’s the booze and the money from womb to tomb!
TG: Ok, so have you ever had a client you couldn’t help?
KA: I’m a spiritual doctor and I love to refer. One of the things I include in my divination is am I the best person to help? I’m so much more excited about getting great results than for someone to pay me for something I can’t help them with, that makes me sad.
TG: How can we stay away from scam-artists?
KA: There’s a blog post I wrote the can help a lot with that! There are a lot of fakes out there and it’s best to educate yourself. This is my 5th year of being a full time practitioner. I’m based out of Brooklyn and my clients find me by my blog, word of mouth and my website.(Related: Above Average: I Already Feel a Lot of Pressure to Lose Weight for Halloween)
At this point I ask Khi about my love life. He does some bibliomancy and reads me some bible verses and tells me that something is happening in terms of active spirit work. He said the best way to help me would be for him to go into a shamanic journey but he asked his guides if there’s any DIY root work I could do to help resolve the issue and he gave me some specific instructions involving a skull candle, herbs and the reading of specific psalms. I’m gonna do it! Why not? Also I felt uplifted and positive after I spent time with Khi. His energy is infectious and wonderful and he’s super kind and knowledgeable.