Erica Feldmann is a house witchâ€”to be more precise, sheâ€™s the hauswitch. What started as a small business called HausCraftâ€”involving the meticulously and aesthetically superlative packaging of six curated spellsâ€”quickly turned into a full-time job. In 2015, Feldmann opened her Salem-based home and healing shop Hauswitch, a one-stop-shop for all things magickal and witchy inâ€”where elseâ€”Salem, Massachusetts. The storeâ€™s aesthetic is both ethereal and grounded, and boasts a commitment to both intersectional feminism, and the factual, rather than sensationalized, history of Salem. The shop does a brisk business in Feldmannâ€™s spell kits, as well as in locally sourced items like candles and pillows, and the shopâ€™s own line of â€œplant + magick basedâ€� cleaning products, LightHaus. It hosts events highlighting everything from sex magick to national and local political action, and includes a healing space where visitors can receive services like reiki and tarot readings.
Hauswitchâ€™s rise to popularity and national recognition comes at a time when witchcraft is very on trend, with commercialization of the practice an all-too-common trope. But Hauswitch manages to be accessible without being disingenuous; like Feldmann herself (who, full disclosure I am lucky enough to call a friend), the shop contextualizes witchcraft as a tool that we can use for the care of ourselves, our communities, and our world. These values are reflected in Feldmannâ€™s first book, Hausmagick, a compilation of spells, personal vignettes, and other ways to â€œtransform your home with witchcraft.â€�
I spoke with Feldmann about what it meant to distill her work into a book, the magick of our interiors, Marie Kondo, and more.
Youâ€™ve said that surroundings feel like companions to you. What are your earliest memories of interiors?
As a kid with anxiety and ADD, my brain needed somewhere to go and something to do when I wasnâ€™t being directly engaged, so it would go to the space itself. I think I have a natural sense of balance, so I could sense if something was â€œoff.â€� The space that comes to mind was an office building of my auntâ€™s. She had to go in for an hour of work once, while I was visiting, and she left me in a break room. When she came back, I said, â€œYou should really switch this big painting and that big painting because they would each look better on the otherâ€™s wall. And if you move that chair over there, more people will want to hang out in here.â€� I was 8 years old. She did the things I suggested and called my mom the next week and said, â€œItâ€™s the craziest thing, Erica told me to move stuff around in the breakroom and now everybody wants to hang out in there!â€� Those changes were so obvious to me that for years I honestly thought she set that up as some kind of test. [It] was the first time I realized I was sensing things about spaces that other people werenâ€™t.
All my rooms as a kid were very intentionally decorated, even though we didnâ€™t have a lot of money. My mom grew up in a big family and I think it was a treat for her to be able to give her two kids rooms of their own. We would really go to town creating themes and doing craft projects to bring the rooms to life. In that sense, Iâ€™ve always been involved in creating little sanctuaries for myself; I think the importance of having that space of oneâ€™s own has stuck with me as an adult.
How do witchcraft and magick inform your passion for interiors, and vice versa?
I [fell] away from practicing magick when I was a teen and didnâ€™t start casting spells again until someone asked me to make their home feel like mine. I started thinking about all the ways to make over spaces without using money. In order to bring magick into decorating, I had to re-acquaint myself with witchcraft and really figure out what still held meaning for me and what I could translate to other people.
On a much bigger level, the way that magick has helped me create, build, and grow HausWitch has completely changed the way I understand how witchcraft and magick really work. I believe that interior decorating can be healing, and the way the universe has validated that idea to me with the response my business has gotten is, to me at least, the true magick of my story.
Your book feels like a microcosm of the shop: comforting, luxurious, and disarming. Both the book and the shop make witchcraft and magick accessible without cheapening or trivializing them. How do you accomplish this, especially in light of the growing trendiness of witchcraft?
Witchcraft and magick, just like any other form of spirituality, are based on some kind of philosophy. What I try to do with HausWitch is get down to the brass tacks of that philosophy and reimagine how that looks to the outside world. For a lot of people, witchcraft is about darkness, but for me, [itâ€™s] about being able to grapple with â€œdarkâ€� things and bring them into the light without fear. The archetypal witch isnâ€™t afraid to go into the underworld, look at whatâ€™s there, engage with it, and then come back to the light. When you think about that in terms of the psyche and personal growth, thatâ€™s exactly what you do with psychotherapy. At HausWitch, our brand of witchcraft draws as much from the psychotherapeutic world as it does from traditions like earth magick and meditation.
The shop is a magical space all on its own, [but when] you [add] a bunch of witchesâ€”the staffâ€”who genuinely care a great deal about what people feel when they come in, itâ€™s a recipe for success. The store is like our baby, with six little mothers tending to her. She gets charged up with good vibes that you can feel when you walk in the door. Itâ€™s not just the nice light and exposed brick, itâ€™s also the authentic positivity that we fill the space with.
Itâ€™s like our way of proving that you do in fact have control over how your space feels. When my mom came to the store for the first time she said, â€œIt would be impossible to be depressed if you worked here.â€� Itâ€™s really true! I attribute that to the fact that everyone who works here has an authentic commitment to helping people heal their homes and their lives, and you can feel it. Itâ€™s not just about selling products; itâ€™s about introducing a new way of approaching your life. The products are just there to help if you need them.
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Whatâ€™s the importance of accessibility in interior design, and why does it matter to you that the tips you give in the book are affordable?
This is a huge thing for me. The business of interiors is very aspirational, and everything is based on creating a â€œlook,â€� no matter how unattainable it is to everyday people. For some people that [might] be fun, but for me it created a lot of shame. When I was younger, I didnâ€™t understand that meritocracy is a myth and that most people featured in design magazines are enormously wealthy and/or privileged. I only understood that I didnâ€™t have access to that lifestyle, and on some level that made me feel like a failure.
I think a lot of people have that reaction. Itâ€™s similar to how fashion magazines make people feel about their bodies: We know how damaging that dynamic is, especially for women and girls, and itâ€™s a very similar problem here. Itâ€™s important to me that I make everything HausWitch does as accessible as possible to break that pattern. Poor people deserve comfort too! Plus, a lot of times my favorite projects are the ones that cost the least. My creativity is inspired by a lack of resources in a lot of ways. Not having access to everything you need forces you to think differently, and [to] dig deeper into what you need versus what society tells you to want.
Weâ€™re seeing a moment right now where the power of interiors is really amplified. Take the popularity of Marie Kondo and the relatively simple idea that the way you live in your physical space has the power to affect your emotional and mental health. Why do you think this seems to be resonating with people?
Frankly, I think that a big part of it is that the outside world is a shitshow and we all need a respite. I donâ€™t think people consider how much negative energy weâ€™re absorbing every day and how our bodies, minds, and spirits are suffering from it. [But] what weâ€™re seeing is that people are starting to ask those questions like, â€œAm I hoarding because I like stuff? Or is it because Iâ€™m afraid and living in a scarcity mindset amidst a time of great upheaval and uncertainty and being surrounded by things makes me feel like I have some control?â€� Late-stage capitalism tells us to soothe ourselves with more consumption, but I think people are coming around to the idea that it doesnâ€™t really work that way. The more out of alignment, anxious, and toxic the world gets, the more people understand that sheltering yourself from all that is a crucial part of self-care.
I see this manifest in all sorts of ways with people of who take pride in their plant-parent status or post pictures of their living spaces on Instagram. The flip side of that, though, is an incredible amount of economic anxiety, especially given the increasing costs of living. How does this anxiety interact with taking ownership of the spaces we do have and making them our own?
Barely anyone I know has the ability to buy real estate, myself included. But thatâ€™s the beauty of wresting home dÃ©cor and design away from capitalism. We may not all get to choose every detail of our spaceâ€”the renters among us, like myself, are probably dealing with an ugly kitchen or bathroom or some other feature we have no control overâ€”but that’s okay! You can own your space just by infusing it with your energy and intention. Itâ€™s definitely not as easy as going to Home Depot or Bed Bath & Beyond like the consumer economy would have you believe, but getting aligned with your space, so that you can feel more supported in it, can be free and freeing.