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Witchcraft & Divination in New York: Legality & Laws


Written by: Tina Caro

New York, a cultural melting pot and the epicenter of change, has seen a long history of diverse beliefs, practices, and traditions.

As the intersection of old-world traditions and new-age spirituality, understanding New York’s legal stance on witchcraft and other mystical practices becomes both intriguing and significant.

Reviewed by a lawyer, Juliana Sirotsky Soria

Juliana Sirotsky Soria, an esteemed lawyer with a master’s degree passed with distinction in General Theory of Jurisdiction and Process from PUC/RS and a law graduate from PUCRS, meticulously reviewed the article.

Drawing upon her vast academic and professional experience, she confirmed the accuracy of the legal concepts presented and commended the comprehensive nature of the overview.

However, Ms. Soria emphasized the importance of always consulting state-specific legal codes and guidelines for precise details.


Is practicing Witchcraft in New York legal?

Yes, practicing witchcraft in New York is legal.

Is believing in Wicca in New York legal?

Absolutely. One’s belief in Wicca or any other faith is protected under the Constitution.

Is Tarot legal in New York?

Yes, tarot reading, as a form of divination, is legal in New York.

Is Fortune-Telling legal in New York?

Yes, although certain municipalities may require practitioners to obtain specific permits or licenses.

A few states ban fortune telling for reasons other than entertainment. A person violates New York’s ban on fortune telling when:

For a fee or compensation which he directly or indirectly solicits or receives, he claims or pretends to tell fortunes, or holds himself out as being able, by claimed or pretended use of occult powers, to answer questions or give advice on personal matters or to exorcise, influence or affect evil spirits or curses.

New York does have an exception, however, for fortune telling “as part of a show or exhibition solely for the purpose of entertainment or amusement.”

Source: https://www.findlaw.com/legalblogs/criminal-defense/is-fortune-telling-illegal/

Source: https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2014/11/when-is-fortunetelling-a-crime/382738/

It is estimated that there are 200 psychic businesses in New York City. Believe it or not, in New York fortune telling is a crime under New York Penal Law. Specifically, the Fortune Telling charge is codified in Penal Law Section 165.35. Although Fortune Telling is generally not prosecuted, Fortune Telling Fraud is prosecuted by both New York State and federal authorities.

A person is guilty of Fortune Telling under New York Law when these elements are met:

  1. For a fee of compensation, solicited directly or indirectly,
  2. S/he claims or pretends to tell fortune, OR
  3. Or holding himself or herself out as being able, by claimed or pretended use of occult powers,
  4. To answer questions of give advice on personal matters, OR
  5. To influence or affect evil spirits or curses.

Source: https://fastlawpc.com/new-york-fortune-telling/

What do New York laws specifically state about witchcraft?

Modern New York laws do not specifically mention witchcraft. Instead, the emphasis is on ensuring religious freedoms and preventing fraudulent practices.

How have witchcraft-related laws in New York evolved historically?

Historically, New York, like many states, had laws against “pretending to possess magical powers.” These have since been overturned, especially in light of religious freedom protections.

Is witchcraft recognized as a legitimate practice under New York law?

Yes, witchcraft and related practices are recognized and protected as spiritual or religious practices under the law.

How does the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution apply to the practice of witchcraft in New York?

The First Amendment, guaranteeing freedom of religion, protects those practicing or believing in witchcraft in New York.

What legal protections exist to safeguard the rights of witchcraft practitioners?

Practitioners are shielded by state anti-discrimination laws and federal laws that ensure religious freedom and protection against religious discrimination.

How does New York’s approach to witchcraft compare to other U.S. states?

New York, being progressive in many respects, is more accepting of varied spiritual practices, mirroring many states that champion religious freedom.

What is the presence and legal status of Wiccan and pagan communities in New York?

Wiccan and pagan communities are active and thriving in New York and are protected under laws ensuring religious freedoms.

Are there any known communities or organizations in New York that support or advocate for witchcraft practitioners?

Certainly, there are numerous spiritual shops, covens, and organizations that support and promote these practices across the state.

Have practitioners of witchcraft in New York faced discrimination, and what legal remedies are available in such cases?

While individual experiences vary, those facing discrimination can resort to state and federal anti-discrimination laws for recourse.

What are common misconceptions about witchcraft, Wicca, and paganism, and how do they differ from reality?

Many misconceive them as “dark” or “evil” practices, while in reality, they often emphasize nature, harmony, and personal growth.

How might public misconceptions about witchcraft lead to legal implications?

Misunderstandings can lead to biases, potentially discriminatory acts, or unjustified fears and opposition against practitioners.

Has there been any significant media coverage or public discourse in New York surrounding witchcraft or related practices in recent years?

Given New York’s media prominence, various discussions, articles, and even events touch on the topic, reflecting both traditional and modern perspectives.

What role do educational institutions in New York play in addressing or perpetuating misconceptions about witchcraft?

Colleges and universities might offer courses on related topics, potentially clarifying misconceptions. Yet, the role varies across institutions.

Are there any resources or educational programs in New York aimed at promoting understanding and tolerance towards witchcraft and related practices?

Numerous workshops, seminars, and events, particularly in metropolitan areas, aim to educate and promote understanding of these practices.


From the bustling streets of Manhattan to the tranquil havens of upstate, New York stands as a testament to diversity, change, and acceptance.

Witchcraft, Wicca, and other spiritual practices, while sometimes misunderstood, find a place of acceptance and legal protection in the Empire State. As the world grapples with understanding varied beliefs, New York remains a beacon, showcasing the harmony of coexistence.

Tina Caro

Tina Caro is a witch with more than 10 years of experience, a yogi, an astrologer, and a passionate supporter of all things holistic! She’s also an owner of the website Magickal Spot where she discusses a variety of her favorite topics.

Magickal Spot has helped thousands of readers worldwide, and she’s personally worked with hundreds of clients and helped them manifest desires to have a happier and more abundant life.

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