Skinned Knees

Shaiylah Toretta

Skinned Knees
Shaiylah Toretta

I met Shaiylah at a metaphysical market in Seattle where we were both vending. After spending about 10 hours with her, I thought she had a lot of interesting things to say about her craft and life in general. She describes herself as an Army wife, a practicing witch for 26 years, an ordained priestess and a devotee of the Covenant of Hekate.

What are some of the most common myths you run into about witches and witchcraft?  

The most common misconception is that witches are evil, that we worship the devil and our only goal is to cause havoc and harm to others. This is the old school, Hollywood myth and unfortunately, where most people's ideas about witchcraft stems from. The truth is, witches are natural healers and don't even believe in the devil, let alone worship him.

Since Inauguration Day, I have seen a huge increase in people dipping their toes into witchcraft. Is this something you’ve noticed?

Witchcraft has always been present. I think this president simply brought a lot of witches out of 'the broom closet'. Most witches, whether they practice as solitaires or in covens, will often come together in the public view, to work magic towards a common goal such as this current presidential administration. So it's not so much an increase in withcraft as it is an increase in public view.

When we met you spoke about the opposition you were met with when you began practicing, how have you noticed attitudes changing towards witchcraft?

Oh yeah. I opened my first shop in 1995, in Virginia of all places. It was not as accepted then as it is now. Don't get me wrong, there is still apprehension, there always will be. But I think that with the rise of feminine power today, witchcraft is becoming more and more acceptable. Ironically, we have Hollywood to thank for that. Shows like Charmed and American Horror Story: Coven, the same media that condemned witchcraft, is particularly responsible for shedding posititve light on witches.

What is your favorite myth or folklore tale?

That's a hard one. I would have to say it's the tale of the Monkey's Paw. It's a story about a monkey's paw that grants wishes to its owner, each whom are lazy, greedy and want to find a magical shortcut in life. But the wishes come true in the most horrible ways. It's kind of morbid, but the morals of the story are, "Be careful what you wish for" and "Every magic requires a cost."

What first peeked your interest in witchcraft?

Oddly enough, it was my interest in history. I was lucky enough to grow up in a family of multiple faiths. My mother was Catholic, her mother southern Baptist, my father an Atheist, his mother a Jehova's Witness. So questioning religions was not only accepted but encouraged. As I got older, I realized that none of the traditional faiths suited me. There was always some form of hypocrisy, confusion that I was uncomfortable with. I remember asking my mom and grandma, 'If we were made in his image, then who made me? Who made girls?' Every picture of God I saw looked nothing like me. At that point I knew I was on a different path of faith. It wasn't until college that I put a name to it. I was a Witch.

What is your favorite piece of advice when it come to magick (or life in general)?

My favorite advice about magick? There is no right or wrong way. You and ONLY YOU can determine how you practice magick. Many people, witches especially, will tell you to 'choose a path' or you're a 'fluffy bunny' or 'stand this way, do it that way, use this color for whatever'. It's all bullshit. Magick, true magick lives within the person practicing it. You don't have to be a witch or wiccan or anything but you. There are hundreds of thousands of books flooding the shelves on magick and witchcraft and they all have one single thing in common "THEY ARE SOMEONE ELSE'S IDEA OF WHAT WORKED FOR THEM" Thats it! The same sized shirt wont fit every person, niether will the same kind of magick fit every witch. Never, ever, ever let anyone tell you how to practice.

What are your beliefs on "the afterlife?"

My beliefs on the afterlife have changed so much, especially after losing my father. I would like to believe that our loved ones stay with us or that we can just call them up on a ouija board, but the truth is, I honestly don't know. And niether does anyone else living. I would like to believe that we come back, that we get other chances to do better. I think we do live multiple lives. In fact, I have a friend who I could swear I've had in past lives. But I don't know.

What are your thoughts/beliefs on good vs. evil?

I honestly believe there is both good and evil in every single one of us. Nothing, including witchcraft, voodoo or any other faith is one nor the other. It's a choice we make and it's our choice alone. "The devil made me do it" is just an excuse for some people.

What is your favorite part of what you do?

My favorite part of what I do is empowering people to believe in themselves. It's helping people to create a way to connect with the divine within themselves.

What is your least favorite part of what you do?

My least favorite thing is having to convince someone that there is no magickal shortcut to what they want in life. For example, when people ask for spells to 'make 'x' fall in love with me". That's not going to happen.

 

You can find Shaiylah's products at www.evhersage.com