“As I do this candle spell, bring thy enemy three nights of hell,” I timidly intoned, hoping my neighbors weren’t listening through our thin walls.
Of all the bizarre things I’ve done in the name of journalism, standing in my apartment dripping hot wax on a photograph of a co-worker while chanting a spell is probably one of the strangest.
“Candle black, black as night/bring him pains of flesh tonight./Lesions on his skin will afflict him,” and so on and so forth. Spooky stuff.
I did the spell on Saturday afternoon and he says that he didn’t feel cursed until I started pestering him about it on Monday morning, so I think the hex failed. That, and the fact that his skin is free of lesions. Damn. Possible explanations for said failure? I’d had to use a photocopy of his photograph (he wanted the original back), and I don’t actually harbor any deep hatred for the man (he was simply the first one who agreed to be the subject of a potential hex).
Or maybe it was because I’m not a believer; as with any spiritual endeavor, ritual is rather empty — and useless — if you don’t believe in its larger purpose. At least, that’s what I found as I embarked on a mission to live my life (for a week or so) by the spellbook in honor of Halloween. (Real witches, by the way, celebrate their “Samhain” in a variety of ways that don’t all involve spells and incantations.)
The source of most of my enchantments was Ileana Abrev’s White Spells (Llewellyn Publications, 2007), procured at Borders; the rest I found online. Materials used were things I already had in my cupboards, or picked up at the grocery store or at the Magick Closet, a spiritual-goods retailer on Forest Avenue.
I chose spells that entailed the least amount of extra work and mortification on my part. I was not, for example, going to sprinkle crumbled bay leaves around the head of a potential new beau while he slept in an effort to get him to like me more. (“Oh, sorry, it was just for work,” I can picture myself saying sheepishly as he collects his belongings and hightails it outta there.) Nor was I willing to risk incurring the ire of my landlord by sprinkling “fresh alfalfa sprouts” in the front and back of my apartment building “seven times every Thursday” — even if it would have increased my prosperity. (Who has time for this? And I’d definitely fail to prosper if I lost my job for skipping out seven times in one day in search of prosperity.) And I don’t even know where the closest rose bush is, much less have such a need to “attract love” that I would bury a piece of rose quartz beneath one, then dig it up “on Friday at the stroke of midnight and leave a seed of a flower behind.”
But despite my reticence to come fully out of the broom-closet (an actual term used to describe the “outing” of Wiccans), the idea of mixing up some herbs, lighting some candles, and taking a bath was palatable. My results were mixed.