Urban Witchcraft: How To Make A Magical Life In The City

As some of you may know, I live in Austin, Texas. While it’s not the biggest city, it is absolutely packed to the brim with people and takes its growth at a sprint. Being in such a busy, populated area can be a challenge for a witch. The traditional methods of doing rituals outdoors go right out the window (unless you’re into 4 am parking garage rituals, uh… no thank you) and your ability to do witchcraft outside the home plummets because there are people EVERYWHERE.

I’m fortunate enough to live in a city that affords me a lot of green space to explore (if not much privacy while I do so). This isn’t the case for many major cities, though. What’s a witch to do when stuck in an urban environment?! Urban witchcraft, of course.

What Is Urban Witchcraft?

Urban witchcraft, like most branches of witchcraft, isn’t a formally organized religion or spiritual practice. Instead, it’s an amalgamation of all the practices used by witches who base their practice in an urban environment. It has some overlap with tech magic and can often involve a deep relationship with genius loci (the spirit of a place). This practice of city witchcraft is a uniquely modern form of magic, prior to the modern age witches would either avoid cities or, if in a larger city, relegated their practices to divination, poppet work, and other such practices that were not dependent upon location. 

With the advent of technology and the stark change in modern social norms, urban witchcraft has become a huge portion of the craft. Over 60% of people in the U.S. live in a city, which means that more of us than ever are practicing witchcraft in an urban environment. It’s time that teachings on witchcraft catch up as well!

Aren’t cities the exact opposite of what witchcraft is about?

This idea often comes from a series of assumptions that don’t really hold up under scrutiny. The first is that witchcraft = nature. Many people feel that witches are “nature worshipers” and while I’m certain there are plenty of nature worshipers among our ranks, it is not an inherent part of the craft as a whole. Witchcraft is the practice of magic, often using folk methods, but the term is also used to describe some methods of occult or ritualized magic as well. Nothing more, and nothing less.

The second assumption we have to deal with here is that urban environments, and truthfully modern human society as a whole, are somehow the opposite of nature. This is not true! Humans are a part of nature, inextricably. We are, at our core, animals. We may be exceedingly smart and creative animals and we may have built amazingly complex cities and social systems, but we are still just animals. We don’t have to do anything to get back to nature, we ARE nature. Everything we build is still a part of nature. Would you look at a beaver dam and condemn it because the beaver built it? No! That would be absurd. 

Humans have many wonderful qualities, but we have our flaws as well. One of our bigger flaws is the tendency to see ourselves as separate. Separate from each other, separate from nature, separate from other nations or peoples. This feeling of separateness is a lie. We are all together on this planet and we are all a deeply ingrained part of nature. Practicing witchcraft in an urban environment is an entirely natural way to practice.

If you’re still not convinced, think about it like this. The energy that we harness as witches isn’t the power of some trees, the power of an environment, or even the power of the earth. We can incorporate those energies into our magic, but when you boil it down, the ability to do that is innate. It’s not something outside of ourselves, it’s us. This magical ability is an innate part of being a human and it doesn’t matter what environment we’re in, what tools we’re using, or what people we’re around. We are the magic. 

So How Do I Practice Urban Witchcraft?

Ok, so now we’re getting into the fun stuff. How can witches actually incorporate an urban setting into the craft? City life is busy and crowded, but an urban environment has a lot to offer to the crafty witch.

1. Work with what you find in your environment

We don’t often think about picking things up in an urban environment, but cities can be a treasure trove to the well-trained eye. Keep an eye out for weeds that you know you can use in your craft, flowers to press for spells, feathers from local birds, pretty packages, or jars that you may be able to repurpose. All kinds of things get abandoned in cities as well and even if something isn’t just lying around, many places will willingly give you all kinds of stuff for free or almost free. Think wooden wine boxes, thrift sales at your local library, project leftovers, and more.

2. Learn to amend your craft for a smaller space

This can be vital for the city witch. Often, living in an urban area means living in a teeny tiny space. You know what this witch doesn’t have room for? A cauldron, a besom, a large altar, or a huge collection of ritual items. Instead, I have to make do with the space and the tools that I have. Use vertical space or already existing space that would otherwise be unusable. Create altars on shelves or maybe even just as wall hangings. Make the most out of windowsills, closet shelves, and, if you’re really lucky, your balcony. 

3. Turn your everyday items into magical items

This one is pretty straightforward. If it’s something you already own and use regularly, you can probably do magic with it. Turn your crockpot into a cauldron, use school supplies to craft sigils, charm your jewelry, cast magic on your makeup, and use your headphones to listen to meditations and witchy music while you’re on the go.

4. Use magic to help you navigate urban spaces

This is one of my favorite ways to use magic in the city. Learn spells that will help you with the more uncomfortable parts of city life. Use wards to create more space around you in crowded places. Charm your car to help you avoid traffic. Enchant your wristwatch so you’re never late for your bus or train. Cast glamours on yourself to avoid being noticed by solicitors and use protective magic to help keep you safe from pickpockets or muggers (and maybe carry some mace as well…).

5. Use the energies that are most powerfully present in your city

Think about your city. What energies can you identify that are always present? Electrical grids? Subways? Maybe your city has a bustling nightlife or an industrial sector. Do men in smart business suits march to and fro all day? What is your city known for? Each of these things can carry its own energy and be transformed into magic with a little practice.

6. Working with genius loci

Working with genius loci is one of my absolute favorite ways to use my craft in big cities. In rural environments, genius loci are the spirits of the land, perhaps the spirit of a particular mountain, a lake, or the spirit of a local landmark. Cities also have genius loci. They can be quite different from the genius loci of less urban environments, but that does not mean that they won’t still have plenty to teach and offer you. Try tapping into that innate spirit in your city. Can you feel your city’s “personality”, the thrum of life that transcends the individual parts that make up the whole? This is the genius loci of your city. Depending on where you live, this spirit can vary hugely. Every city is different, right? This spirit can help you find sources of energy, teach you about the place you live, and give you a lot of insight into the kind of magic available to you. You can speak with them, leave them offerings, and make petitions of them just as you would any other spirit.

7. Create your own green space

Green space can be hard to come by in a city, so if you’re the kind of witch who desperately needs a little more green space, it’s time to figure out how to create it yourself. If you have a balcony, you can go crazy with container gardens. On my balcony, I grow tomatoes, kale, a bunch of herbs, hibiscus, marigolds, and a collection of carnivorous plants (ok, so the carnivorous ones are my partners, but still). If you’re short on cash, don’t worry about buying pots. Plants will grow in just about anything. Reuse plastic containers, 5-gallon buckets, wooden boxes, pallets, canvas bags, jars, anything you can lay hands on that will hold dirt and not dry out too fast. Hell, I’ve even reused yogurt containers to grow plants in.

If you don’t have a balcony, look into window boxes, see what you can grow indoors, and set up hanging planters in your living room. If your house doesn’t get much natural light, consider opting for low-light plants or investing in a small grow light.

8. Instead of seeking quiet, learn to tune into the “hum”

The “hum” can be a hard thing to describe to someone who has never experienced it. In part, it’s the cumulative sounds of a living place. The cars, the conversations, the birds, dripping water, all of it comes together into a symphony of life that conveys a great deal of auditory information. Underneath this, however, there’s more. There’s the sound of life, the spiritual “noise” of people existing and animals and plants, and the genius loci of the city itself. When you can tune in to this thrum of life and noise and spiritual energy, you experience the true nature of the place in that single moment. 

This is a powerful experience in many ways. For one, it can help those who feel out of place or out of alignment in an urban environment connect and find a sense of home in their surroundings. It can teach you a great many things about the magic of the place you live and it can also be used as magic. The hum isn’t just a bunch of noise, it’s raw energy and you can harness this energetic cacophony to power your spells and rituals.

This taps into a form of magic that can be tricky to access but it’s incredibly powerful once you do. Intuitive magic is guaranteed to be more powerful for you personally than any other form of magic on the planet. It’s like the difference between wearing clothing off the rack and wearing clothing that has been tailored to fit your body precisely. The off the rack stuff might feel fine and look good but it will never compare to the look and feel of something tailor-made for you. In the same way, magic that you find in a book or through a teacher might work well for you, it might feel good and give you the results you want but it will never compare to the feel and the power that you can attain through intuitive magic. If you’re ready to go deeper in your craft and begin building a connection to your magic like never before, then click here to learn how you can start finding your own intuitive witchcraft.

9. Learn to tap into the magic of mechanical and electrical items

We touched on the fact that natural items and manmade items are not necessarily distinct earlier in this post and for this particular point; I want to revisit that. Tech magic is something that many traditionalists in witchcraft communities scoff at, but technology is an irrevocable part of human existence in this day and age. Regardless of whether you believe it is inherently magical or not, with the extent to which we interface through it, it’s impossible that it has managed to remain inert and without magic. These items are brimming with human thought, emotion, drive, and will. Not to mention electricity and often sentient spirits all their own. You can absolutely incorporate them into your craft! 

A few ideas to get you started on this: Get to know the spirit of your car/bike/other transportation. This relationship can be invaluable when you need to coax your battery into turning over just once to get your car off the side of the road. Use your phone to cast spells, create electronic sigils, and keep notes about magical happenings and doings. Your grimoire can even be digital! I have a digital version of my grimoire on Evernote, which allows me to access my personal magical resources from every device I own.

Urban environments may seem like an unusual setting for witchcraft, but more and more of us find ourselves in large cities. It’s time to learn how to make our homes work for us!

New to witchcraft?

Sign up for my FREE Witchcraft class!

Updated on August 19, 2023 by Avery Hart


  1. This is a very thought-provoking articule. I live in Warsaw – the capital city of Poland. And I found it hard to feel witchy in here, because I’ve always thought that I have to find some nature and perfect calm place with only some sounds of birds and wind. Actually even in parks I hear people and cars. You just made me realized that I can be witchy also in city and I don’t have to go to my parents who are living in the small village.
    I’ve just also decided to move my grimoire to OneNote. I startes one in a ring binder but it wasn’t portable so I couldn’t written in it when I read sth interesting on my mobile phone during bus or tube travel.
    I just need to remember that I can be a witch everywhere. So thank you for this.

  2. For so long I felt like a failed witch because I didn’t "connect" with nature – Changing my thought pattern and realizing I am innately a part of nature anyway has really lightened that burden. I now feel confident going forward with my practice in the ways I am comfortable: inside, with technology and not necessarily always outside. Thank you!

  3. Thank you. As a beginner at practicing my craft, your information has been invaluable. I recently moved into a newly built home on land that was originally a ranch and used to graze cattle. There is much development already, and more coming. I have a small, but fenced yard with old growth trees. I want to carve out a sacred space here in spite of the close homes being built. I already have visiting squirrels and all kinds of birds. Once I get to build my garden beds, and eventually a fountain, it will be beautiful. We are close to a busy road, and there is always sounds of the neighborhood. It is good to know that I am not wrong in feeling that there is good energy in this little plot of land we have now. And that I can be myself with my craft and grow.

  4. I take the bus to and from work so i listen to beautiful "witchy" music, usually on my way home to help me transition from work mode to home. I use candles to scry while i am taking a bubble bath, drink herbal teas, write in a journal, make gem elixirs in a mason jar in a window during the full moon, plant an herb garden on the balcony, meditate, hang pictures of nature on the wall and have a mini altar set up.

  5. I literally live four blocks from the intersection in the photo you used! I see that green "TD" all the time. It is a very busy place, full of life.

    I was a techy witch before I moved here – I always thought of electricity as a natural element, on par with fire, earth, etc., and you can definitely work with it.

    Now, I feel the energy from the city grid at all times, and interact with it all the time. I keep my window open to hear the street cars pass my house; there is a certain "rush of power" that comes along with heavy vehicles.

    Of course, I sort of have an "apartment-sized altar", but it suits me fine. This city is very open-minded, and we have witchcraft related stores all around. I have yet to directly communicate with any Genius loci, but judging by the locals, the entire spirit of the city is very warm and friendly.

    If you’re in a big city, take note of thrift stores and places that donate clothes and household items. You can score some surprising stuff. Much of my witchy wardrobe came from the big Salvation Army stores here.

    If you really have a need to connect with traditional nature, I say look for easy access parks and trails. Lucky for me, the plants I work with are easy to find, and my spirit animal is one that is abundant in the city – I see them daily.

    The city life isn’t for everyone, but for me it’s urban Witchcraft all the way!

  6. I love your blog so much, it`s one of the prettiest, most useful blogs I have found!

    (the correct word is genius loci by the way)

  7. This was very interesting article! For 2 weeks I was on the road trip around Scandinavia and there was so much beauty! Amazing nature, very little people, almost no cars on the roads. And in few last days, since when I´ve came home, I´ve become almost hyperaware of all the ugly things in city I live in – dirt, trash everywhere, too much cars, heavy traffic, full parking places, too much people, too much homeless people and beggars, street vendors, old buses, advertisements and billboards, noise, shouting arguments on the streets and many other things. I´ve ever consider changing my way to work to avoid some of these things, because they´ve made me really uncomfortable! But maybe it would be good idea to “make friends” with the city and put on some spiritual protection? Even if I´m just starting to learn about magic, so this can be good playground to try some practical magic. Thank you very much for this new view on living in a city 🙂

  8. I live in Philadelphia, and we are really lucky here because we have a huge park system all over the city. Another suggestion is volunteering for urban gardens which has become very popular here. It’s a way to be in nature and even sit around a fire in the middle of the city on some beautiful summer nights. Magical plants like mugwort and nettles grow literally like weeds through the cracks of concrete and in abandon lots.

    YES to the thrift stores for everything from witchy garb (I have never met a Stevie Nicks crocheted shawl in a thrift store that didn’t come home with me) to two random pieces for altars!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.