Quick Note: Witches in the Wall Street Journal

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  January 13, 2011 — 16 Comments

As the United States faces its worst housing market crisis in history, some are starting to rely on services outside the usual bankers, inspectors, and Realtors in order to ensure they are getting the best deal when buying or selling a home. The Wall Street Journal profiles the rise of spiritual house cleansing services, focusing on Salem, Massachusetts, and local Witches Lori Bruno and Christian Day.

“The foreclosure crisis has helped resurrect an ancient tradition: the house cleansing. Buyers such as Mr. Barletta are turning to witches, psychics, priests and feng shui consultants, among others, to bless or exorcise dwellings. Sellers, too, are adopting the trend to help move a property stuck on the market. […] Mr. Barletta heard about the pair [Bruno and Day] through his real-estate agent after his offer on the home was accepted. “I’m a spiritual person,” he says. “I just wanted to remove the negative energy first.” […] [Salem real-estate agent Janet Andrews] Howcroft attributes recent requests for house blessings in part to the economic picture here. She counted at least eight transactions last year that involved a house cleansing, compared to the occasional request in prior years.”

The WSJ article notes that foreclosures have been booming in Salem, and that house prices are dropping as a result. With the occult an everyday part of Salem’s culture, it makes sense that Witches would be employed. Since house cleansing traditions can be found in most religious faiths, there doesn’t seem to be much of a backlash against this new boom in the practice. The WSJ points out that neither Bruno, nor another local Witch who provides this service charge for it, with Bruno saying she doesn’t “want to live off people’s sadness.” That definitely isn’t a universal attitude among house-cleansers, and many are seeing opportunity for growth in this crisis.

“Elsewhere, others are viewing the rituals as a real business opportunity. Austin, Texas-based feng shui consultant Logynn B. Northrhip is teaming up with Scottsdale, Ariz., real-estate agent Jason Goldberg to offer a package of services to create better vibes in a home, either before sale or after purchase. The two met at a yoga retreat.”

Ever since the current recession hit, there’s been several news outlets who have done some variation of the “psychics do well in hard times” meme. This seems to be the latest permutation. Whether this new (or at least newly lucrative) industry continues once the housing market stabilizes remains to be seen. For now, whether they like it or not, Bruno and Day have become the faces of this trend. No doubt their phones/e-mails are going to be seeing some interesting messages in the weeks ahead.

Jason Pitzl-Waters


  • It is a intriguing change. Don Lewis, who recently moved to Salem to start the World of Witches Museum, has also seen a upswing in these requests as well. I suspect a lot of Salem people have. And just not in housing trends, but in all areas of peoples lives are being requested for magical help.

    • Maybe Don Lewis will use the services of the Witches of Salem, to clean house on the World of Witches Museum and uphold his promises to the backers of WOWM, whom he never honored his promises through Kickstarter. What a shame and a scar on the community to take money from sincere people and believers in the WoWM and never pay the premiums he promised.

      • My practice has definitely experienced a huge upswing in requests for house blessings here in Toronto. It's about half people feeling they have a presence or other "negative energy" they want cleared, and then half wanting to sell a property that has been stagnating in the market. Either way, it's a nice service to have available to those who wish it. So far it has helped many people make a much needed sale so they can move forward!

        • Baruch Dreamstalker

          I've been part of a gang of Pagans who walked single file throughout the apartment recently rented by a couple of us, blessing each room in turn. Two of us, I and a chap on a Native American path, independently stopped to give special attention to the space behind a bedroom door. Neither knew the other had done so until we compared notes later.

          • Riva

            Amin reason homes in Salen (and throughout Mass) are falling into forclosure is because the hosing market is so high. many small modest homes are well over 260K

      • Whoever you are, thank you so much for the daily dose of joy.

        • Was that snark? From the buzz over at Kickstarter, Najah would seem to have a point.

          Boosterism is fine, but there is a point beyond which a lack of respect for promised made makes us all look bad. (I hope to hear soon that this issue is resolved–no snark intended, and I have no dogs in this fight: I had not heard of the project until today.)

      • Bittercup


  • ES1966

    OT: Westboro Baptist Church to picket Arizona shooting victims funeral

  • Baruch Dreamstalker

    It's a real addition to embed these videos, but can't you trim the ads?

    • Jason Pitzl-Waters

      If only.

  • Pitch313

    Another dimension of property management…

    • Bookhousegal

      Hrm, you know, I've never charged for one of those, but they are on occasion non-cakewalkey. 🙂

  • Interesting (an pleasant) that the Salem pair are not charging for the service, but perhaps less to to learn that the Arizona duo are. I'll bet the Yoga retreat had a hearty price-tag too.

    • I find this very encouraging, employing witches for spiritual work in a practical way. Witches have been doing work such as this for ages and I'm happy to see the practice re-emerging. I hope that it continues beyond this foreclosure crisis and that witches' work becomes more commonly accepted.

      • Bookhousegal

        Touches on an old debate, that, but in hard times, supporting your local clergy/magic-workers is a lot better than complaining about someone 'charging' for it.

        Frankly, some of the nast that can accumulate in real-estate-conflict-people-losing-homes situations, ( not to mention pieces of tenants' souls that didn't make it on the moving truck that they're really going to be needing back , ) etc, etc, well, can make these things kind of a much bigger and nastier job than your average scary-haunted-house kind of situations.

        (Not to mention physically-riskier one for *you:* Being in that position and wading through all that 'stuff ' can make one uncomfortably-aware just how close one might appear to being 'The Witch. Working for The Bank. That Took This House.' 🙂 )