Being a witch isn’t about wearing a pointy hat and casting spells; it’s about communing with nature and anyone can be a witch.
So says Topanga’s very own white witch, Coco Blignaut. “We all make magic every day,” she says. “Magic shouldn’t be about creating—or wishing for—material things. Magic is simple. It’s not in the ritual, it’s in the intention. We do have rituals, but they are just focal points for the energy we are tapping into.”
You can be a witch without realizing it, Blignaut says. “We all have the magic within us. Some people are more open than others. We just need to slow down the thought process. We think way too many shallow thoughts. We need to immerse ourselves in nature. Put aside our devices for a while and hug a tree.”
When you hold onto a tree, she says, and feel the solidness and the ancientness of it, then you can start to understand a little about the magic wand that might come from it. “A wand is not just a tool. It’s a piece of extremely solid, beautiful, grounding energy you are going to use to tap into the molecules, the inner working of the tree. The ancient Celts were nature workers, constantly sitting under trees.”
If you want something to happen, Blignaut says it’s much simpler than casting spells. “Just sit in silence and tap in,” she said. “I never practice spells. I visualize. If you want to start a new enterprise, just sit down in silence and focus every day for 20 minutes. Don’t fight the thoughts. Let them drift like clouds and focus on your breathing. The breathing will bring you back to the present. The more you breathe, the more the mind will calm down. Then visualize in every detail what you want to happen. Do not put a timeline on it. Do not put any external expectations on it. We are doing a dance with the divine. Find the still place within you, because that’s where the divine lives.”
Not all of Blignaut’s wishes have come true for her, but she maintains that, years later, people may be glad that some of what they wished for never came to pass.
Blignaut teaches classes and workshops in witchcraft but urges caution as there are dark witches and there is bad witchcraft. “You can tell if someone isn’t a good witch. How do you feel when you leave them? If you don’t feel safe, run. A dark spell can only work on you if you have victim consciousness. It’s up to you to protect yourself.”
A negative force impacted Blignaut’s own childhood. Born in France and raised in South Africa, she had someone in her family “who was dark and evil, and I fell victim to her curse. She was extremely jealous of me. There was light in me that people were attracted to. But it’s interesting how dark energy can work. It’s like a boomerang and will go back on those who use it. I grew spiritually and transformed the curse that was put on me.”
However, when Blignaut first moved to Los Angeles, she felt isolated and went through some difficult times, including losing her first husband, Robert, to heroin 16 years ago.
“His death released me into this heavenly place,” she said. “Within two years, I met somebody extraordinary. In fact, the spirit of my deceased husband told me about him. He told me I can’t be in love with a ghost for the rest of my life, ‘I won’t allow that.’ When I least needed or wanted it, Edison came into my life and we moved to Topanga together. There is a wonderful energy in Topanga. It’s especially strong at the Inn of the Seventh Ray.” That thought takes on a particular poignancy, because she married her first husband at The Inn of the Seventh Ray.
Blignaut doesn’t have children of her own, but hosts teas for young people where she teaches them French through art, storytelling and theater. “Underlying the French language is magic, etiquette and respect. My creative projects and the children I teach are my children. I have taken care of and taught well over a thousand children all over the world. They are so inspiring. I would read fairy tales to them. I love fairy tales, but they can be very dark, so I had an idea to take the old fairy tales and transform them into new ones that have more hope and inspiration. I’m now on my third book and having a wonderful time doing it. I infuse the books with magical elements and collage.”
As well as an author, Blignaut is also an actress. She and her husband, Edison Park (a grand master in martial arts), were both members of L.A.-based The Actors’ Gang (founded by Tim Robbins) and started creating projects together. Their first was a play, God’s Gypsy, about the life of Saint Teresa of Avila that’s now being made into a film.
Blignaut says witches were once burned at the stake because the church didn’t want people to have any power. The church hierarchy ordained that communing with nature and using herbs to heal the sick was wrong. Even today, witchcraft is still a touchy subject for many.
As a way of making her craft more accessible to people, Coco Blignaut is hosting a series of “Beloved Witch” workshops on Sundays—October 1, November 12 and December 3—for mature 10-year-olds and up, where participants will make a wand and brew herbs in a cauldron, among other activities. Suggested donation is $50, but no one will be turned away for lack of funds.