The 1960s are known as the era that changed the nation. It was a time of revolution–free love, peace, social, and political. Those who weren’t there to witness or experience the “Turn on, tune in, drop out” moments might not be aware of the other revolution brewing: the occult explosion. By the late 60s, esoterica was big business and supernaturalism had seeped into newly published books, as well as fashion, film, games, and music.
It made sense that with the popular rise in occultism, Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors would appoint their very first (and only) official witch.
Born in New York in 1930, Louise Huebner had a life as a witch that some might say was foreordained. As a sixth-generation witch, she was taught the craft by family members, picking it up rather quickly. Having her heart set on the west coast, Louise relocated to Los Angeles, where she opened her first astrology office. By 1965 she was writing astrology-themed newspaper columns and found herself on air–no, not on a broom but on television and radio. Louise emerged as a regular guest on Los Angeles’ popular KLAC radio station and would also land appearances on television talk shows.
In addition to her astrology practice, Louise was the Cultural Chairman of the 14th district of Los Angeles. In 1968, she orchestrated a highly successful LA Birthday celebration that sparked interest from the county’s Parks and Recreation Division. Shortly after, Louise received a phone call from the county’s director inviting her to a meeting. When she was there, she learned that Los Angeles County was planning a series of 12 summer concerts at the Hollywood Bowl and they wanted her to provide the event with the same successful outcome as the birthday party.
After reading the concert’s program list and seeing that the first concert was called “Folklore Day,” Louise jumped at the opportunity. Having full creative control, Louise suggested she would host the world’s first gigantic Spellcast. Louise felt that she could create even more publicity by leading the crowd into casting a spell to increase the romantic and sexual vitality of all 78 cities within Los Angeles County. A week before the first Spellcast, the Board of County Supervisors chairman, Ernest Debs, awarded Louise with a sealed certificate designating her as the official witch of Los Angeles County.
The first Sunday of the new concert series at the Hollywood Bowl took place on July 21, 1968. Over 11,000 people appeared that day to accompany Louise in casting a sexual vitality spell over Los Angeles County. Members of the crowd were provided with candles, garlic, and chalk and were instructed to draw a chalk circle around themselves. Together they chanted:
“Light the flame,
Bright the fire,
Red is the color of desire.”
Additionally, members of the audience wrote personal wishes and problems down on slips of paper and placed them in a large cauldron. The festivities went on throughout the day, and eight other witches assisted Louise, sharing recipes for potions to those who were interested.
After the Hollywood Bowl, Louise continued promoting various events around Los Angeles. The year 1969 approached and by this time she had established herself as a syndicated astrologist, witch, and book author.
On New Year’s Eve, Louis received a letter from the Los Angeles County Counsel, John D. Maharg, notifying her that she no longer had authority to operate under the official witch title. In the letter, he stated that the certificate was only intended for promotional use relating to the Hollywood Bowl concert series.
Louise didn’t wait long to respond; in fact, she made her response public and retaliated by threatening to invoke her magical powers. In her letter to John D. Maharg, she writes:
“If Supervisor Debs persists in asking the Department of Parks and Recreation to unload me–or, Mr. Maharg to intimidate me, that will only create bad feelings in me, and I will be forced through an act of pride to take back the Los Angeles County Spell for increased Sexual Vitality. What with smog and freeways being what they are, I shudder to think of what the De-Spelling could do to devastate the County. Surely in these critical times, other areas should capture the attention of both Supervisor Debs and our Mr. Maharg. To think that good and valuable County time and effort could go into getting rid of happy publicity and good clean fun in the County Parks fascinates me.”
In less than a day, the story went viral. Possibly out of fear of negative press, the Supervisor and County Counsel never responded. Louise continued her public occult practices, and until her death in 2014, she remained the first and only Official Witch of Los Angeles.
Kristin Thomas is a freelance journalist currently residing in the port city of A Coruña, Spain. She has a keen interest in pre-1970’s pop culture, history of occultism, and the obscure.