Archives For Lori Bruno

There are lots of articles and essays of interest to modern Pagans out there, sometimes more than I can write about in-depth in any given week. So The Wild Hunt must unleash the hounds in order to round them all up.

That’s it for now! Feel free to discuss any of these links in the comments, some of these I may expand into longer posts as needed.


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.

The Salem Gazette published three Wicca/Witchcraft related stories yesterday, each one revealing different aspects of the practice of Witchcraft in the “Witch City” of Salem, and the different ways that modern Paganism enters the mainstream. The first article concerns a panel discussion taking place tomorrow featuring author/journalist Margot Adler and Pagan activist Jerrie Hildebrand.

“The city of Salem’s No Place for Hate Committee will host a panel discussion on April 12 that will focus on practices within the Wiccan faith and the everyday lifestyles of those practicing paganism. The objective of the event is to inform those in attendance about the religion, lifestyle and culture of those who practice Wicca while also touching on the history and its distinction within the Salem community.”

The talk will be opened by Mayor Kimberley Driscoll, a politician who has enjoyed support from the local Pagan community since she first ran for the office. The event is free and open to the public, and will be held Saturday, April 12 at 7 p.m. on the second floor of Old Town Hall, Derby Square.

The second story concerns the opening of a new Witch-themed shop called “Hex”. The store, co-run by Leanne Marrama and Salem impresario Christian Day, promises an “old-world folk magic” feel and approach.

Christian Day and Leanne Marrama

“A new witch shop in town aims to bring this form of old-world folk magic to Salem’s mostly modern pagan community. Hex: Old World Witchery specializes in voodoo dolls, spellbinding candles and European charms used to ward off evil. Shop owners Christian Day and Leanne Marrama, who both consider themselves clairvoyant, aim not only to supply the community with tools of folk magic, but also to serve as proverbial witch doctors, and practice what they preach…”

The ornately designed store is just the latest project from Christian Day, who has become a commercial force to be reckoned with in Salem. Running a tarot consultancy service, a psychic consultancy service, and a popular Salem festival.

The third and final story is a profile of Lori Bruno, a Strega Witch and folk-magic practitioner, who will be offering her services at Christian Day’s new Hex store.

“At 68, Lori Bruno considers herself a kind of real-life version of the storybook witch strega nona. Upon meeting you for the first time she just might call you little cucinella and invite you over for a cup of tea. She smells of warm clothes that just got out of the dryer, has long dyed black hair tied in a loose knot and wears 13 gold rings on her fingers. From her ears dangle gold ankhs and peace signs. Around her neck hangs an Egyptian scarab beetle. And above her kitchen sink, beside the coffee maker, hangs a large stone pentacle. Bruno comes from a long line of streghe, or Italian witches. Growing up in Brooklyn, her mother, a southern-born Italian, would give psychic readings to her Jewish and Irish neighbors, reading tarot cards or using a glass of water like a crystal ball to tell the future.”

These three stories help illustrate the ways that modern Paganism is slowly entering the mainstream. Through activism and education, through commercial ventures and public events, and through sympathetic journalistic profiles. Modern Paganism has utilized these three overlapping factors to slowly inch us towards acceptance since our emergence. Salem, with its large Pagan population (and Pagan tourist trade), represents a “perfect storm” of these elements.

In addition, the stories show how Witchcraft in Salem encompasses everything from the salacious to the sedate. You have practitioners in pointy hats and yards of black fabric wielding wands and brooms, and you have the more reserved wardrobes and methods of the Witches engaging in discussion with academics and politicians. Both serve a clearly defined purpose inside and outside our communities, and both are equally a part of the modern Pagan movement.