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Photography Bella Newman

Real Magick: Photographer Bella Newman meets the witches of NYC

The urban witches accessing the other realm from the lower east side

Welcome to Witch Week, a campaign dedicated to exploring how witchcraft, magick and beauty intersect. Discover photo stories shot featuring real witches in NYC, a modern reimagining of the witch, and one witch’s mission to get a tan, as well as in-depth features exploring herbology, science and alchemy, and male witches. Elsewhere, we’ve created four special covers to celebrate the campaign and our one year anniversary – something wicked this way comes.

Pennsylvanian native Bella Newman has been taking pictures since she was 11, shooting professionally for the first time around the age of 17. Now aged 20, and having studied filmmaking at NYU, her rural upbringing still seeps through in her poetic photography, which manages to be bucolic and romantic even within the most urban settings. 

Sofia Coppola in feeling, her sun-dappled portraiture captures the small details of modern American life. Her pictures will make you nostalgic of those youth-filled summers that stretched forever: hazy, dreamy, and pastel-tinted. 

Now, Bella turns her focus to real people, living as real witches in New York City. Photographing them at home in their personal spaces, here we chat to them about magick, beauty, and witchcraft.

AMY ROSE MILLS

Age: 33

Location: New York, NY

Occupation: Luthier, photographer, and artist

Do you believe in magick?

Amy Rose Mills: Of course!

How is it a part of your everyday life?

Amy Rose Mills: The primary role magick plays in my life is via colour, make-up, and fashion. I first learned about colour magick from Sarah Potter and it was a huge light bulb over my head moment. I realised everything from my decor to my appearance was a form of magick! My daily make-up routine is a transformative ritual, whether I’m doing a simple look or something completely over the top. What I choose to wear on my face or body has a huge impact on how I am feeling and the energy I want to put into the world for others to feel.

What does magick mean to you?

Amy Rose Mills: Magick is a way to set intentions in your life, as well as harness and channel energy in positive and transformative ways. For me, it’s the colour of my room, a soft pink, which channels self-love and femininity, surrounding myself with beautiful objects that bring joy into my life, and using make-up and fashion to transform myself every day.

SARAH POTTER

Age: Is a mystery 

Location: Manhattan, NY

Occupation: Spiritual advisor and Tarot reader, Colour Magick practitioner, professional witch and lecturer

Do you believe in magick? 

Sarah Potter: ‘Above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.’ I love that Roald Dahl quote. Magick truly is all around us and once we tap into it, we see and feel the connections everywhere.

How is it a part of your everyday life? 

Sarah Potter: Magick is part of every moment in my world. I can’t separate it from any single aspect of my life. Magick is about intention and being consciously aware of the energy we are putting out into the universe and how we are interacting with others. I begin and end my days with meditation. I visit the Instagram realm through the portal of my phone. I work with my Tarot clients over the phone in my apartment in Manhattan or in person at Black Iris in Brooklyn. My beauty rituals are imbued with intention. I consciously choose what colours to adorn myself in to reflect my current mood or call in a specific energy I need to boost (that’s part of my Colour Magick!). I smile at strangers and hold the door open for those with their hands full. I make direct eye contact when I’m speaking with someone and I am fully present when listening. Communication is magick. Mean what you say and do as you promise. ‘Abracadabra’ I will create as I speak. Kindness is magic. Listening to music and dancing around my home is Magick. Laughing with friends is magical! 

What’s the most magick thing that's ever happened to you? 

Sarah Potter: It’s so hard to pick just one moment! Every time I shuffle the cards with a Tarot client, some major magick goes down!! Every morning, I open my eyes to the sun streaming into my home in Manhattan and I am so thrilled to bounce out of bed and begin my day on service to connecting with so many incredible people through the magick of Tarot! OMG I’m a professional witch living in the most magical city in the world!! I want to pinch myself because it all feels like the loveliest dream come true every day. 

What does magick mean to you?

Sarah Potter: Magick is making the intangible tangible. Being creative is a magical practice. For me, Magick is about being conscious and connected to things so much larger than myself. I think it’s so important to remember that we do not have to stay stuck, we can create change in our own lives and for the well being of others. We have the power to manifest all of our desires and create our own realities. That is true magick. 

ANDY STARKWEATHER

Age: 51

Location: New York City

Occupation: Intuitive medium, occultist, and barber

Do you believe in magick?

Andy Starkweather: I believe people perform magic for entertainment, but personally I believe in Magick. The first being an illusion of defying natural laws, the other (magick) working with natural currents of energy and power to manifest things.

How is it a part of your everyday life?

Andy Starkweather: Everyone performs magick all the time without realising it. Guided meditations, prayer, pathworking and focused visualisations are the tip of the iceberg when it comes to magick. For me in the every day, it can be as simple as visualising where I will be parking and it happening, or thinking of someone I haven’t seen in forever out of the blue and running into them that day or the next.

What's the most magick thing that's ever happened to you?

Andy Starkweather: There are so many things, but one that sticks out in my mind was manifesting an apartment in the heart of Chelsea, that was exactly what I asked for. Unfortunately, I forgot to ask for rent control.

What does magick mean to you?

Andy Starkweather: Magick is an endless sea of untapped potential in the unseen. All we have to do is learn how to tune into it. The mind is where everything happens. It’s much bigger than we can even imagine.

C’ÉTAIT BONTEMPS

Age: 25

Location: Brooklyn, NY

Occupation: Drag and burlesque performer

Do you believe in magick?

C’était BonTemps: I absolutely do! It’s a manifestation of your personal faith and belief in what you can manifest in yourself and the things around you. It fills so much of our everyday!

How is it a part of your everyday?

C’était BonTemps: I’d say magick is all around us, so no one can really go untouched by it. For me, magick as a practice fills a lot of my everyday rituals from getting ready to preparing myself for big events in my life. A little prayer at the beginning and end of my day gives me great strength and calm to get through everyday trials.

What’s the most magick thing that’s ever happened to you?

C’était BonTemps: There are so many things that have happened in my life that could be considered magical. I think the most magick has been finding my life partner, very literally, among a wild crowd of over a thousand people five years ago, and somehow coming to the point of marrying them just this past August. It blows me away every time I think about it, even this long after meeting and being together.

What does magick mean to you?

C’était BonTemps: It means an uncompromising use of faith to manifest dreams. Believing in the tiny and large miracles around me and believing I can make them happen or be part of them. It’s a reclamation of self and of the space I inhabit, spiritually and, in some cases, physically. Magick is a triumph and I am, as you are, magick.

SKYE MCLAUGHLIN

Age: 25

Location: Perkiomemville, PA

Occupation: Multimedia visual artist and living art doll

How is magick a part of your everyday life?

Skye McLaughlin: For me, I believe magick is not as fantastical as it is often presented; a concept that is not removed from everyday life, but rather, it’s fully intertwined with it, manifesting in more mundane sorts of ways than one might expect. I think magick isn’t something that’s obvious to everyone but it’s always there. Maybe it’s a day where the birds sound extra musical and the light filters perfectly through the trees. Maybe your cup of tea or coffee tastes better than usual. Maybe you’re more perceptive or intuitive right when you need to be. Random things amplified and made extra beautiful or wonderful or helpful by an unseen, un-measurable force. 

What’s the most magick thing that’s ever happened to you?

Skye McLaughlin: I think overall my most magical moments have been special interactions with animals and people. I remember sitting on a dock that jutted out over Lake Harmony with my close friends and we were talking and stargazing and we saw around 15 shooting stars and I’ll just never forget it because it was so perfect and beautiful. That was magick. There have also been a lot of times this year where I’ve said things and visualised them very specifically and they happened exactly like that. Sort of moments where I believe I can do something or believe something can happen and they do happen, even against all odds or likelihood!

What does magick mean to you?

Skye McLaughlin: True Magick is something flying under the radar. It’s a cat hopping in your lap and falling asleep and the warm fuzzy feelings that generates. I cannot recite magick words like ‘Bippity boppity boo’ and turn a pumpkin into a carriage right in front of your eyes. I don’t believe it is something that you directly control. That is a fantasy. But I have an uncanny ability to fix broken things. Cats and dogs really seem to like me wherever I go. I can sometimes get wild animals to come up to me. It’s things happening that are completely inexplicable. I see magick in the small nooks and crannies of everyday life. I can feel it in the air. I can feel it shooting out of my fingertips like sparks. It’s something that is a part of us, and we are a part of it. It works through us and through everything. I can see it. Even if you don’t believe in it, I can promise you it’s there. All you have to do is look. And what that means to me? Everything. That’s where my personal motto stems from: ‘Your belief in yourself is your magick’.

MARSHA MILLS

Age: 43 

Location: Manhattan, New York

Occupation: Elemental and spiritual healer

Do you believe in magick?

Marsha Mills: It’s part of my everyday life because it’s who I am and it comes to me naturally. 

What’s the most magick thing that’s ever happened to you?

Marsha Mills: The most magical thing that ever happened to me is when I made contact with my mother who had passed on. 

What does magick mean to you?

Marsha Mills: Magick changed my life, it’s in me and all around me. It’s also who I’ve become. It showed me my true self.

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