This interview with Ashley, who is studying business and plans to go into real estate, took place in front of the El Camino College Music building in Torrance on February 20, 2019.

Do you consider yourself religious?

Ashley: I’m a witch. I don’t really believe in any gods or anything like that. My being a witch has more to do with the power of my emotions than the whole religious aspect to it. Witchcraft did originate from Wicca, which is a religion – a lot of witches or Wiccans do believe in their own goddesses or god – but you don’t have to believe in a god or anything to be a witch. It’s nothing satanic, to be honest. It’s based on more your emotions and connections to the universe, to the Earth. Like back in the day, a woman or whatever that could heal with science or medicine, stuff like that, was considered a witch. For me, I feel connected to other people. We call ourselves empaths, where we can read other people’s emotions. Since I’m new to that, I can’t read everybody’s emotions, but I can feel it based on how connected I am or gestures, signs, things like that.

I feel connected to Mother Nature because I’ve always been connected to animals and the moon and things like that. Crystals is my main thing. As for me being an atheist, I grew up with a very strong Christian family so everything that was outside of Christianity and all that was very interesting because I wanted to learn more about different religions and other points of view. Considering that there’s thousands of religious points of view, I just don’t really choose one religion. I’m just outside of it and an atheist. But I’m very open-minded to anything. It’s mainly based on the whole science thing.

How did you change from a Christian to an atheist?

Ashley: I’ve always been curious about anything that was science or outside of religion because I love the earth. I met an atheist who explained in his own way how he became an atheist and I wanted to understand his point of view instead of just what everybody taught me so I researched on YouTube stories of how other people became atheist.

For me, even though the only thing I was taught growing up was religion, I’ve always been drawn to more of the science and physical evidence that appears real and that was proven to be real. Then I realized that my parents taught me the same as how they grew up – just what they were told. I’ve always kind of been rebellious, like an individual, so I never really fit into any religion because I just wanted to do my own thing. A lot of things about certain religions are nice, morality-wise, but not everything because every religion has the same thing, that they believe in a higher power. The only thing that I felt like was a higher power was Mother Nature being able to take care of itself. It’s a long story, mainly based on how I feel and how I never got to click with the whole religion thing and then researching more on the earth and evolution and all that stuff. So I guess I became not so religious and eventually I became agnostic. And then I realized that I never fully believed in a god because it was just what I was told. Even when I tried to believe it, it just wasn’t for me because I would rather have physical evidence of things. And I recently became a witch. The whole thing with witchcraft has a lot of misconceptions. We don’t worship Satan. Every witch has their own personality. I’m an atheist, I’m a witch, and I’m also a feminist.

How do you reconcile your attraction to and reliance on physical scientific evidence with your unscientific witch traits?

Ashley: For the emotions, I’m still trying to learn more about that because I’ve always been emotionally like that. I still don’t know why I’m able to. A lot of it’s also the power of your mind. At the end of the day you could place your belief in anything and there’s a 50-50 chance of it happening because it’s the power of your mind that puts energy into whatever you’re believing in.

Is there scientific evidence for that?

Ashley: There is not a lot but I’m still learning on that, too. It’s something emotional-wise I’m very new to because I’ve always been emotional but never really understood the emotional aspect of things and feeling connected.

What makes someone a witch?

Ashley: There’s like a green witch, which is nature and stuff like that, or there’s witches with the tarot cards and stuff like that, or there’s a crystal witch, or there can be satanic witch. There’s different styles of being a witch. I’m goth but there’s different styles of goth. Being goth is based on the music or the fashion or the aesthetic of darkness or whatever. For witches, the basis is the power of your mind and nature and connections to things. That’s something that I just felt more connected to and identifying as.

Witches did come from Wicca and Wiccans do believe in their own goddess and it’s no different from every other religion that believes in a goddess. It has the pentagram, the symbol of the elements and spirit. I don’t believe in the whole spirit thing but that’s what a secular witch is. They place their energy around themselves, not into a higher being. How it is for witches today is very different because there’s crystals, or using sage or tarot cards, or being a medium, being psychic. It’s just different things and some witches are one thing and not the other and they can do their own thing basically. It’s out of rebellion a lot and individuality. But it’s not for the sake of rebellion or for the sake of being outcast.

What attracted you to being a witch?

Ashley: There is a word to describe my aesthetic, which is “nyctophilia,” which is someone who loves the darkness, the night, all of that stuff. But I’ve always been drawn to like the moon and nature and paid attention to the little things about nature and animals. I’ve always been a lone wolf. I like to do my own thing. Me being goth is because I like black and metal music, which is all that is. Being a witch is being connected emotionally or whatever to nature and also the main thing with like plants and animals and crystals and stuff.

What do you mean when you say you’re a feminist?

Ashley: No matter how much times and things have changed for women during the ages you still have some sort of thing against us. Not all feminists are crazy and hate men. What it means for me to be feminist is to be considered that I can do just as much as a man can do and just because I’m a woman doesn’t mean I’m any less. I just value myself and know my worth. I’m well aware that we can do as much as a man can do but it doesn’t mean I think less of them or anyone – because there’s not just only men and only women nowadays. So basically being equal to others.

California Catholic Daily exclusive by Mary Rose.