Behind the story: Exploring Witchcraft in San Luis Obispo

Welcome! My name is Savannah Sperry and I was part of a team of journalists who covered a story on the presence witchcraft in San Luis Obispo. I had the pleasure of doing some of the public relations work, creating a listicle on the topic and writing this very blog. I’m here to share a piece of our reporting experience, and maybe even some knowledge.

When we began covering this story, we didn’t know where it would take us. We worried it would be sensational, or we wouldn’t find any sources who wanted to speak with us. However, after our team member Dylan Ring posted on a Cal Poly Facebook page asking if anyone practiced witchcraft and would want to speak with us, the response was much greater than we could’ve hoped for. I wouldn’t call it an outpouring, but several self-identified witches reached out to us wanting to talk – we certainly didn’t have a source problem.

Print and public relations team member Monica Roos said, “When we first tossed around this idea, I honestly didn’t think it would get much traction. I was amazed we found a source and were able to talk to her right away. ”

Our first interview was with Eden Knapp, an anthropology and geography senior and a practicing witch. Immediately I was taken aback by the decor in Eden’s apartment. Halloween decorations littered the place and a sign by the door read “The Witch is In.”

“We’re very into Halloween,” Knapp said.

Knapp reads tarot cards for her roommate, anthropology and geology senior Audrey Cody - Photo by Dylan Ring
Knapp reads tarot cards for her roommate, anthropology and geology senior Audrey Cody – Photo by Dylan Ring

A book of palm reading sat on an end table next to a paper bag full of rosemary and a magic 8 ball. On the coffee table were an amethyst crystal, a small stone Knapp found on the beach and a thin wax candle. This was where she practiced her spells. Amethysts are popular crystals, according to Knapp. says amethyst is “healing on all levels –  body, mind, and spirit,” and also “raises vibrational frequency and protects against negative energies.”

One of the more interesting points for me was when Knapp discussed how some witches actually use wands.

“A lot of the time witches will have wands, I use a stick of selenite which is thought to help connect to a higher power,” Knapp said. 

Knapp's selenite crystal wand can be seen in the left hand corner of the table
Knapp’s selenite crystal wand can be seen in the left hand corner of the table photo by Dylan Ring

At the end of her interview, Eden predicted each of our futures by reading our tarot cards. Our time spent with Eden was very lighthearted and each of us had a very positive experience.

Photo by Dylan Ring
Photo by Dylan Ring

Multimedia man Dylan Ring said, “I thought it was really interesting hearing from Eden how connected to nature witchcraft is. I wasn’t familiar with how it worked and now it feels like I could connect with the practice.”

Broadcast team member Alison Stauf was excited to cover the story on her native platform.

“Broadcast is what I am most comfortable with, and I was excited with the potential of interviewing Eden and getting footage of her practicing her witchcraft on camera. It ended up being a little difficult for me to get B-roll for the creative interview, however needless to say, it was a pretty ‘enchanting’ experience,” Stauf said.

Our next interview was with Erica Hamilton, a practicing witch and co-owner of Blackwater, a clothing store in downtown SLO that sells crystals, tarot cards, candles and other witchy items. I couldn’t help myself from looking around at the store’s many cool knick knacks.

Hamilton expressed to us how common the practice of witchcraft truly is.

“Everyone on this Earth is a witch, they just don’t know it yet,” Hamilton said. 

She showed us around her store, gave us some background knowledge on crystals and shared her own experiences using the craft.

I loved sinking my teeth into witchcraft – knowledge I likely would have never stumbled upon on my own. It makes me remember the beauty in journalism, how it enables us to meet interesting people, hear their stories and tell them in creative ways.

Team member Monica Roos had a similar sentiment.

“This class, let alone this particular story, has opened my eyes up to journalism again. There’s always a story to be told, no matter how random, unrealistic or even mythical it seems – there’s something to be discovered, and something to be told,” Roos said.