I once was a witch.
Technically, there are some people who think I am still a witch. But I mean a formal practioner of The Craft.
It happened while I was living just off of 4th Avenue in Tucson, Arizona.
Which is a great place if you want to be funky, retro, anarchist or odd-ball.
Oh, that reminds me, the 4th Avenue Street Fair is happening in two weeks.
At this point, people usually ask if I mean Wiccan, to which I say, “No, I was a witch.” Wiccan embraces only white magick. I personally think that—if there is magick—it is both good and bad, just like everyday people.
I know, I know, I know. Friends say to me: “But what? But how? You are an educated woman! You champion science and eschew astrology! How could you ever be a witch?”
I respond with my own query: “Can you explain to me how chanting a spell and offering a prayer are inherently different? Can you explain to me how lighting a candle and asking for good luck to find you and lighting a candle so someone’s soul goes to heaven any different? Because there is only one thing I can see that truly separates magick from organized religion and that is the sex of the person in charge of it.”
So, yeah, my interest in witchcraft has always been feminist. And stay-weird curiosity.
But you would be surprised at how much scholasticism can be included in magick.
For example, I once made up a neo-pagan calendar that included colors, Celtic runes and Shakespearean plays. No joke. I think we are in the turquoise, thorn and Taming of the Shrew phase of the calendar.
I couldn’t for the life of me find that calendar as I looked through my mementos, but I did find the completely legit voodoo doll a friend bought for me on Beale Street in Memphis.
I remember the day she gave it to me. We were laughing about it on her porch when her husband came outside for a smoke. He looked at it and swallowed hard. “You bought her a voodoo doll? Why the fucking hell would you buy her a voodoo doll?”
Truth is, the guy was a friend. We bonded at a Halloween party during a two-hour conversation that was mostly about Stephen King. I fell off the wagon and smoked a pack of cigarettes that night, woke up the next morning feeling like excrement, and got the fuck back on the wagon. Because smoking is a filthy and destructive habit.
At any rate, when my friend and he went on a Caribbean cruise, they left me with power of attorney to handle healthcare and worst-case scenarios for their two kids.
So he literally trusted me with the lives of his children. And he still didn’t think I should be trusted with a voodoo doll.
I have never used the voodoo doll for good or bad. In fact, the only real damage anyone is likely to sustain from said effigy is a long-winded and one-sided conversation about the differences between the voodoo and hoodoo traditions.
Because what I find fascinating about The Craft is that 1) it’s done at home, with ingredients like herbs and cloth and candles that are usually found at home, 2) it’s predominantly practiced by women, 3) people are weird, and I love them for it.
Double back to an earlier paragraph: “I personally think that—if there is magick—it is both good and bad, just like everyday people.”
Which means I am as skeptical about witchcraft as I am everything else. Yet I am still mesmerized by the effects of group psychology, not only because they played a huge part in the Salem Witch trials, but because I have daily contact with people who believe that if you just pray hard enough, journal about your wishes, and write down the name of a soul you are worried about and get a circle of believers to pray over it… that if you can only do that hard enough—and if God says that it’s okay—you will get your desires.
Again, I see no difference between organized religion and magick, except witchcraft allows me to work out my mojo in my dojo alone, as a single woman. If I feel like it. After all, it is Friday, the best day to cast love spells.
I am so not serious. Please don’t call the police, a priest, a rabbi, a bishop or my mom.