brainscan zine


Brainscan #33 DIY Witchery

An Exploration of Secular Witchcraft

In 20 years of publishing Brainscan zine there is one incredibly important thing in my life that I have not written about, and that is witchcraft. I am a witch and I have been studying and practicing witchcraft for over a decade and it has been a very useful tool in my life and personal growth.

This zine is a not a how-to-witch zine. This zine is an issue of Brainscan that just happens to be about witchcraft told through my personal narrative.

In this zine I explore what witchcraft is, how I became interested in it, how I built my own practice as an agnostic secular witch and how that differs from a lot of contemporary witchcraft. I share a glimpse of what my personal practice as a non-pagan and non-Wiccan witch looks like.

I also examine my personal issues with modern pagan and witchcraft culture addressing things like  racism, cultural appropriation, colonialism, capitalism, the excessive gendering of all things. My politics are intersectional and so is my witchcraft.

I also discuss some tips and a few resource for those that might be interested in exploring witchcraft for themselves.

¼ legal sized (7"x 4.25") 64 pages with vellum overlays, cardstock cover, hand stitched binding, illustrations by Steve Larder ( )
100 limited print run also contains hand stamped covers, an acorn charm, a labeled string closure envelope, and some other witchy surprises thrown in.

Available in my Etsy shop here

The cover is a Steve Larder Illustration of an altar I made to help with the process of the latest issue of Stolen Sharpie Revolution: A DIY Resource for Zines and Zine Culture by Alex Wrekk        

Thoughts on Brainscan 33

I say thoughts because I don’t do reviews, they take too much time and revision that I am more than happy to just word vomit. I was hoping to take my time reading this but as someone who decided to start witching because I could, I couldn’t really stop reading till I finished it.

Brainscan 33 DIY Witchery has to be my favorite piece of literature(?) about witchcraft. I felt nostalgic reading this. I’ve always been interested in magic and witchcraft but in my younger years everything I ran into was love spells and Wicca when I wanted something else. I tried religion and it never worked for my younger self so I couldn’t see my self following any religion and at one point gave up on witchcraft because of how closely everything I found was related to a sort of religion.

It wasn’t until I was reliving some awful memories that I turned to witchcraft because it seemed like the only thing that would give me control over my life and past. From there I started to find things that worked for me and found things that didn’t. This zine puts the last two years I’ve been stumbling through witchcraft into words and gives me a sense of better understanding that I’m getting somewhere even if it feels like I’m all over the place. I don’t want to spoil it for anyone waiting for it. But it’s the zine I wish my younger 11 year old self would’ve had when she first took interest in witchcraft.

My neighbor put one of those fake owls on their roof, the kind meant to scare away birds. It is right across the street from where I have been leaving at least one peanut almost daily for my crow friends for about 3.5 years. The crow sat on the line right by the stupid fake owl. I nodded like I knew. I’ve seen groups of crows harass a barred owl, they don’t care about the stupid fake owl, even if its head turns around.

Things are always busy. here’s some stuff in no particular order:

  • Our shared warehouse that the button shop is in is having and open house on Thursday. We have a meeting tonight to finalize stuff. We are going to have a button making station. Gotta put my customer service face on for an evening.
  • My sister’s birthday is this week. She wanted a lemon tree. I got her a lime tree because they didn’t have any lemon trees yet. I hope i get some limes from her for tacos.
  • After my sister’s birthday it is 2 months til my birthday. I turn 40 which doesn’t feel weird, but sounds weird. I gave up bemoaning being old over a decade ago. The older I get, the more “me” I become.
  • My mom wanted to buy me and earthquake kit but I wanted a brick with my name on it put in Pioneer Courthouse Square in Portland, aka: the living room of Portland. I pretty much have all the earthquake stuff like a radio and water and a crank flashlight. My mom sent me a text this morning to say she purchased the brick. “Alex Wrekk” will be on a brick and I’m totally going to take a photo with it every time I got downtown.
  • My BFF @stevelarder will be her in about a month and a half. I’m so excited! Last night I reserved a beach house for my birthday. The plan is to end my 30s while sitting on a beach drinking a beer as the sun sets into the Pacific.
  • I’ve been invited to be a guest speaker at the Salt Lake Alt-Press fest in July. It is the 20th anniversary of my zine Brainscan. I’m trying to write something to say about how zines have been the skeleton key into lots of rad experiences without making me look like a braggart.
  • I hope to FINALLY have my witch zine done for the event!
  •  We have a new postage printer at the shop and it makes me way happier than a postage printer should.
  • The next PDX Witch Guild podcast is about half edited. Maybe we’ll have a new one by this weekend?
Portland is home

My mom has been helping my grandmother move into a retirement facility the past few weeks. She told me the other day that she’s like to give me my great-grandmother’s rose bush. I’m not really a big fan of roses, I think they are the prima donna of plants. I always feel obligated to like then because I live in Portland, The Rose City.

Then I asked what side of the family this rose was from and it happened to be the paternal side. Then I realized that my great-grandmother Walker lived on about 34th and Emerson in NorthEast Portland and I live on the corner of Minnesota and Emerson in North Portland. I live on the same street that my grandfather grew up on, just about 50 blocks away, and now my mom is giving me a rosebush that grew on the same street. it’s like the rose is returning home.

I have been meaning to sit down and work on my new zine and a lot of it has to do with home and fitting in. This rose seems like a perfect metaphor for what I have been thinking about. I always feel like I need to prove my “portland-ness”, probably because through my family I know how much real Portlanders are annoyed with transplants, especially ones from California. In July I will have lived here 14 years. My mom grew up here. I spent most of my summers here as a kid. Having my great-grandmother’s rose in my yard seems like just another reason that Portland is home. Thinking I have to prove my Portland-ness is stupid, I know. I own a house and a business here. It is home.

Despite my love/hate relationships with roses, I think I’ll put a rose on the cover of my next zine.