Marshall, the Witch of Southern Light / Courtesy photo

The Witch of Southern Light Sheds Light on His Spiritual Journey

In 2020, you may have seen a viral TikTok video about how everyday actions can closely resemble witchcraft, like blowing out candles or chanting rhymes. That was the Marshall, the Witch of Southern Light’s first viral video, symbolizing a new chapter in both his spirituality and career.

Marshall’s entrance into the metaphysical started as a solitary Wicca practice in adolescence.

“I discovered witchcraft before I knew I was gay,” he told Georgia Voice. “I was in sixth grade, and I found the witchcraft section at the bookstore. This was back in the ’90s, and I was amazed by these books talking about the spirituality around being a witch. As a young teen, I found Silver Ravenwolf’s ‘Teen Witch,’ ‘Raymond Buckland’s Complete Book of Witchcraft,’ and [several works] by Scott Cunningham.”

These authors are still recognized by many as pioneers of magic in modern times. In stark contrast from the ’90s, the 2010s saw the mainstreaming of witchcraft and new age spiritualities.

“I was a practicing witch all my teenage years,” Marshall said. “In my twenties, I went through [a time of] atheism, and by my late twenties and early thirties, I started to become more exploratory and touched into my witchcraft roots.”

This is when Marshall began exploring the witchy side of TikTok, referred to as WitchTok, to gain knowledge and inspiration from the stories of others. Soon, he began sharing his knowledge and art through the app.

After that, Marshall officially named his account the Witch of Southern Light, a nod to the magic and mysticism of the Northern Lights. With time, his practice grew to focus more on local and folkloric traditions.

“My practice started as a simple practice at home,” he said. “I was exposed to a lot of different practices, ideas, and people [through WitchTok]. Then, I started reading books on traditional witchcraft, [drifting away] from Gardnerian style Wicca into local folkloric witchcraft.”

Gardnerian Wicca can be described as the original “branch” of the Wiccan religion, and it holds a more ceremonial, “traditional” approach to magic than folkloric witchcraft. Folkloric witchcraft is not a religion with a specific set of beliefs or creed; it’s more of a practice, relying on oral histories and local legends to make magic.

Such traditions and histories are outlined in Marshall’s book, “Cunning Words: A Grimoire of Tales and Magic,” which was published last March.

“Cunning Words contains stories, rhymes, and instructions inspired by folklore and the bardic tradition of passing down through rhyme,” Marshall said. “This is a complete departure from any other book.”

He also has a podcast called “Southern Bramble,” in which he and cohost Austin discuss various magical topics from the perspective of two queer witches. They interview experts in various areas of metaphysics to accurately represent the diverse ways in which magic can take shape.

Marshall pointed to the importance of recognizing all forms of magic and not labeling all types of magic and ritual as Witchcraft, so as not to erase different cultures. Various groups around the world have practiced magic and spiritual rituals for ages, from Greece to Egypt to India to the Indigenous peoples of North and South America.

“A lot of the magical practices in the United States were spread from the United Kingdom and Europe, [with roots in ] folk Catholicism, Germanic, and Italian,” he said. “A lot of the magic in the U.S. also came from enslaved and Indigenous people. ‘Witchcraft’ carries its own culture, whereas Hoodoo has its own culture.”

As for those new to the magic of witchcraft, Marshall offered some sage advice.

“It’s not a race, it’s a lifelong journey,” he said. “It will be personal, and there is no need to compare yourself to others, especially on the Internet. It should be vulnerable. It’s not about being the most aesthetic, reading all the books, and having all the tools… While there are rules in witchcraft, they’re flexible.”

Marshall is currently working on a second book and continuing to spellbind listeners on his podcast. You can follow Marshall on TikTok and Instagram @Witchofsouthernlight.