Jodi Jacobson's journey with witchcraft began when she was in first grade. That's when she started using her spiritual connection with nature to attract things into her life, like a good grade on an upcoming math test.

She remembers going outside and talking to the trees in her yard, bringing them small gifts in hopes that the universe would return these acts of kindness and gratitude. And to her surprise, it did.

Jacobson didn't know it at the time, but she was practicing a type of witchcraft known as manifestation. When performed with a specific intent, some people believe that manifesting can help bring one's desires to fruition.

The 54-year-old Stillwater woman, known as "Witch Jodi" to her social media followers, has been doing witchcraft for more than 40 years. A longtime registered nurse, Jacobson is particularly drawn to using medicinal herbs and holistic treatments in her craft. But she also does spell work, candle magic and other rituals with the intention of healing and protecting others.

In April, Jacobson opened Midwest Witchery & Healing in Stillwater, which sells witchcraft tools such as oils, crystals and candles, and offers classes in herbal magic, tarot card fundamentals and mediumship.

According to Jacobson, witchcraft is experiencing a resurgence.

"Over the past couple of years, the metaphysical is becoming more accepted," she said. "Energy work is becoming more accepted."

On social media platforms like TikTok, videos about crystals, tarot cards, spells and the like — a genre of content users cleverly call "WitchTok" — frequently get more than a million views.

But Minnesota was in the witch business long before it was trending. Jacobson's is just one of a handful of stores catering to witches and fans of the occult that have popped up over the past few decades.

What is witchcraft?

If you thought witchcraft was all about flying broomsticks and eyes of newt, think again.

"There's so much more than just what the storybooks say," Jacobson said.

A wide range of practices fall under the witchcraft umbrella, she explained, including herbalism, manifestation, spellcasting and working with crystals. There's also color magic, where specific colors are used to enhance the effects of witchcraft, and candle magic, which burns certain intents or energies into the universe.

While some see witchcraft as an extension of their spirituality, being a witch isn't necessarily linked to religion. Wicca is a nature-based pagan religion that draws on terminology and practices associated with witchcraft, but not all witches are Wiccan.

And despite its historically negative connotations, Jacobson said, witchcraft has always been used as a method of healing.

"To be a witch is to be a guide, to be a healer, to help people," said Callen Thorn, a provider and teacher at Enchanted Boutique in Maplewood. "And you do that through magic, which I define as the manipulation of energy with intent."

Witchcraft can also facilitate self-healing. "It's helped me deal with a lot of my inner traumas and a lot of my childhood trauma," Thorn said. "I don't think I would truly understand myself if I didn't get into witchcraft."

Thorn explained that witches will often identify with a specific niche. Thorn is a nature witch, because a majority of their practice revolves around working with nature spirits and the elements. A kitchen witch, on the other hand, might incorporate ingredients with metaphysical properties into their cooking. When used with intent, herbs like bay leaves are said to attract prosperity, abundance and health.

Regardless of their niche, real life witches are very different from those portrayed in books, movies and TV shows.

"One of the biggest misconceptions is that people see witches do curses and hexes, but the majority of us don't," Thorn said. "They think that we're evil, that we're devil worshipers, but most of us don't even believe in the devil."

A lot of witches believe that what you put out into the universe comes back at you, sometimes even threefold, Jacobson explained. They typically won't do spells that could put another person in harm's way.

Far from hiding in the shadows, most witches are very open about what they do and encourage questions.

"You don't have to be afraid of it. You can be curious about it and not dabble in it," she said. "But if you're afraid or you have questions, seek out practitioners that can help you."

Casting community

With the help of social media, witchcraft is starting to hit the mainstream. But judging from the stores and classes alone, Minnesotans have been interested in the practice for years.

Enchanted Boutique opened its doors in 2014. The store carries witchy goods, from divination tools, like pendulums and tarot decks, to incense burners. It also offers tarot and psychic readings, reiki, essential oil sessions and ongoing classes for beginning and seasoned witches.

Kim Claggett, who frequents Enchanted Boutique, recently attended a series of Witchcraft 101 classes taught by Thorn. Claggett grew up in a Lutheran household, but never felt a strong connection to the faith. Thorn's classes helped her tap into a different kind of spirituality, she explained.

"It's opened me up to embracing the things that I'm interested in, and the metaphysical in general," Claggett said. "It's enhancing my desire to do more, and to learn more about who I am as a witch."

But even if you don't identify as a witch, you can still try your hand at the craft. There's a spell bar at Jacobson's Midwest Witchery & Healing, a tradition she brought home from fellow witches on the East Coast. Customers can set an intention — courage, fertility, protection, a new job. Then Jacobson selects herbs that customers grind in a mortar and pestle. The herbs are combined with crystals and placed into a bottle for you to take home.

These witchcraft shops also offer safe, inclusive spaces where Minnesota's expanding witch community can come together.

The Eye, a metaphysical supply store in Minneapolis, has been open since 2003, but took on its current name in 2021. It now has more new customers than ever, said owner Thraicie Hawkner.

"We have folks finding friendships that they might not have found elsewhere. We have folks getting emotional and spiritual support here," she said. "More than goods and services, I think we're providing community."