I’m hoping this will never happen to you, that all your current friends are open minded, and they will be excited that you are going to start practicing witchcraft. But you may be surprised by the reaction of some of them, and you should be prepared for that unfortunate witchcraft side effect.
I started practicing witchcraft after 40, so I was stealth about it. My assumption was that long time friends who knew me as a cynical, largely non-religious person probably wouldn’t get it. Most would think I was nuts. So, other than my wife, I told no one. Except bookstores and Amazon, when I was buying all those witchcraft books!
We redecorated our house, and I set up an altar in a bedroom. When I wasn’t there, my wife showed some of our friends the new decor, and boom, there’s the altar. They asked about it, and my wife casually said I was interested in Wicca. Oh boy.
This reverberated though that friendship circle. At one of our next get-togethers, I could tell there was a different vibe between them and myself. Eventually, a few of our “friends” in that circle stopped inviting us over for parties. The girls all got together as usual, but when it would be couples, we were left out of some gatherings. I vividly remember one time we all were together after that, religion came up, and one person said, “well, he’s apparently a Wiccan now,” in a definitively condescending tone. After that, I didn’t want to be around them either.
Their loss, right? Yes, but that was our social circle, and at midlife, it’s hard to develop new ones. After that, Wicca was never mentioned again around the remainder of the group. Now, over a decade later, I people generally know that I’m Pagan (it says so on my Facebook page), but we leave it at that.
I’ve often said that I am jealous of those that come to Paganism or witchcraft early in life. Those people get to build a life around their path, and friends that they make are often aware from the start that their new friend is a witch. The generation of younger people who come to, or are born into Paganism tend to be very open about it. Because of all the information out there about our paths, today’s youth is much more open-minded, for the most part.
However, there are plenty of exceptions, there are employers scouring your social media, and religious zealots who want to save you. A witch fights a battle against stereotypes, drummed into the public’s head by TV, movies, and churches. Face it, there are lots of people who think of Fairuza Balk flying in a window in “The Craft” when they hear the words witch, Pagan, and Wiccan.
It’s funny how mainstream people love movies like “Practical Magic” or all the Harry Potter movies, or sit and watch TV shows like Buffy, “Charmed,” “The Good Witch,” or the dozens of others, yet look down upon people living a real witchcraft life, with none of the theatrics you find in TV or movies.
So take this as a caveat. If you are new to, or interested in witchcraft, there will be people who don’t like it. Some friends who you might have thought were open minded might surprise you by their reactions. There is a good chance you will lose a friend or two. Hopefully, this won’t happen to you, but I think it’s best to be prepared for the possibility.
I wish you the best.