Witches of America

Witches of America

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"Witches are gathering."

Although a self-proclaimed skeptic, Alex Mar has secretly longed for revelation, envying people with unshakable beliefs. And so when she set out to direct the documentary American Mystic, she was drawn deep into the world of present-day witchcraft. Most people hear "witches" and think of horror films and Halloween, but to the one million Americans who practice Paganism, it's a nature-worshipping, polytheistic, and very real religion.

Witches of America follows Mar on her trip into Paganism and the occult, from its roots in 1950s England to its current American mecca in the Bay Area; from a gathering of more than a thousand witches in the Illinois woods to the New Orleans branch of one of the world's most influential magical societies. She takes part in dozens of rituals, some vast and some intimate, alongside all sorts of people-single mothers, programmers, veterans, and one California priestess who becomes a close friend. This world gives Mar the freedom to confront what she believes is possible-or hopes might be.

With the wit of Susan Orlean and the insight of Leslie Jamison, Mar provides a fresh, unexpected take on faith in America. Whether evangelical, pagan priestess, or atheist, each of us craves a system of meaning to give structure to our lives, and we sometimes find it in unexpected places. Witches of America asks the central question: Why do we choose to believe in anything at all?