Anywhere else, the sight of a coven of witches floating down the river would be a cause for concern, or at least confusion.
In Portland, we just call it October.
In three years, the annual Witch Paddle has grown from a small group of Facebook friends dressing up and hitting the water into a legitimate civic tradition. Just before Halloween, hundreds of exhibitionists don pointy hats and grab their paddleboards for a slow roll down the Willamette.
Even outside of spooky season, Portland is a place of magic—a town where energy healers and herbalists are taken seriously, where you can grab cocktails at a tarot-themed bar on North Mississippi, and where, if you want to turn witchiness into a way of life, there are plenty of resources at your disposal.
Those looking to turn an interest in the metaphysical into a full-fledged career can study at Portland Psychic School or Portland School of Astrology (see No. 28). Secret Forest Books in Richmond sells everything from hand-carved wands to "ritual kits" in a space that looks like Hogwarts crossed with your great-grandma's living room.
Moonshadow, on Southeast Belmont, refers to itself as "Portland's oldest Pagan resource" and offers "handfastings, legal marriages and all other sacerdotal rites performed by ordained pagan clergy." Homebody in Slabtown sells artisan brooms, and there's even a "Mystic District" that houses three magic supply shops on just one block of the King neighborhood.
"Portland's ability to embrace thinking outside the box makes this a safe place to explore astrology, witchcraft, herbal medicine and the like," says Maria Vashakidze, owner of Seagrape Apothecary on Northeast Wygant Street, "a perfect brew for any witch looking for community."