In this issue of Brainscan, Alex Wrekk (Stolen Sharpie Revolution) discusses the individualized witchcraft practice she’s pieced together over the past decade. While documenting her journey, she looks at a variety of other witchcraft traditions, why they didn’t fully work for her, and why secular witchcraft is just as valid as any other form. She also gives plenty of history and context to help understand terms that often get lumped together (Wicca, Pagan, etc), and critiques the cultural appropriation and consumerism that often arise in modern witchcraft manifestations.
The zine can also serve as a how-to guide to building your own practice. She encourages readers who are interested to figure out their own path, and to simply view her story as inspiration to seek something that works for them.
64 pages, quarter legal-sized. Vellum overlays, cardstock cover, and hand-stitched binding with acorn pendants. Illustrations by Steve Larder. – Antiquated Future
I’d like to start off by thanking the author Alex Wrekk, also known as upthewitchypunx on tumblr, for contacting me and offering to send me a copy of this issue of her ‘zine! I’ll admit I’m growing a bit tired of the usual self-help style books that often mirror each other (though I still love every single witchy book I can get my greedy hands on!) and was aching for a new perspective on witchcraft, so I was pretty psyched to see her message in my inbox!
This is probably one of the most lovely and pro-looking zines I’ve ever seen, but still has that feeling that it’s been made by hand and loved and touched. New books made by big publishing houses don’t feel like this. It’s the same feeling I get when I listen to a used record – it’s like I can feel all the feelings the previous listeners felt. Likewise this zine is so personal and authentic that I felt like I was getting a personal window into a real witch’s life!
This zine isn’t full of spells or rituals, there are no instructions or recipes, it’s more of a guide on approaching witchcraft from a DIY perspective, and building your own spiritual path from seemingly nothing. I’ve been recommending Alex’s blog to other witches looking for a secular or non-religious path to witchcraft because I love how personal she is about it. When she shares bits of her own practice and her own beliefs she often ends it off by telling people she does this because it’s part of who she is and what SHE feels is best for HER, and always encourages people to create their own practice. Brainscan #33 compiles this idea and blends it with bits and pieces of Alex’s personal practice and story – her past relationships, her new love, her garden, her home in Portland, her journey to witchcraft, her “wheel of the year”, her art.
There were quite a few moments throughout the issue that had me in stitches too, as a witch who’s long been a little frustrated with her local pagan scene. Alex covers a lot of the same issues I talk about here – cultural appropriation, gendering of everything, trying to make magick sound like science by combining it with dubious physics facts, and making sure a personal practice includes ethics and values like intersectional feminism. As a fellow secular witch who struggled to find a place in mainstream paganism, it all really resonated with me.
In the back of the issue Alex states that she couldn’t really nail down who the target audience for the issue would be, and I find I’m having the same issue. I definitely recommend it to seasoned witches looking to connect with a witch-in-arms, to beginners who are looking for inspiration on building their own secular practice, for skeptics who think new agery and witchcraft are super irrational, for anyone seeking a grasp on the modern witchcraft movement, and for anyone who was a teenage punk who got drive-by shot with a paintball gun by a bunch of local rednecks while waiting for the bus home after a show (oh snap, is that just me?). More so, I recommend it to anyone who still believes modern witchcraft and spirituality are just a consumer fad, something pretty to look at and drape yourself with. The font doesn’t all match, the drawings don’t always fully fit the page (to you anyways), the pages are different sizes and made with different papers, and there’s no colour photography. That’s important. Witchcraft comes in all shapes and sizes and formats and this issue of Brainscan will fit right in among your glossy colour covers, dusty tomes, hand-written scribbles, and electronic witchy lit.
Do you write your own witchy zine?! I’d love to read it and review it! I even accept digital zines! Seriously, hook me up! firstname.lastname@example.org
Ever wondered what my crystal ball rating system actually means?
The Fat Feminist Witch Rating System:
🔮🔮🔮🔮🔮- I literally cannot live without it now
🔮🔮🔮🔮 – YASS
🔮🔮🔮 – It’s good, but it’s not for me
🔮🔮 – Nah
🔮 – I’m literally angry this even exists