When I was very, very young—maybe 14—my best friend Lilian* and I did magic spells in her basement.
We were shopping at the mall when I came across a copy of either Drawing Down The Moon or Silver Ravenwolf’s Teen Witch: Wicca For A New Generation (lol). I had grown up watching horror movies and felt intrinsically separated from most kids, so I was also drawn to fringe interests, like magic, while other girls my age were playing in the pool. Note: I’m depicting the very cliched version of myself on purpose.
My friend and I had often played games like Bloody Mary and Light As A Feather, Stiff As A Board and we’d both owned Ouija Boards. In general, we preferred spooks to boys and spent late nights summoning ghosts, our hair in long braids accented with dandelions. One summer, we made a few short horror films on VHS tapes—hour-long nightmares documenting our unhealthy, twisted and obviously unsupervised teenaged lives.
In one I played a possessed, lingerie-clad Russian ghost hunter named Anastasia. In another, we’d parodied The Blaire Witch Project and called it The Laundry Witch (it was
fucking retarded about haunted clothing ). In another, we were alien-researching scientists going through some sort of horrific battle–complete with Rammstein’s Dildos-and-Nuns-on-Fire music on in the background.
When not making cinema we went to the local library and sat in the aisles reading all about the occult. We had no real understanding of what separated Wiccans from Druids, for example, but we knew we had some interest in trying to be part of the magic.
I had fallen in love with the idea of casting my will out into the universe, even though I grew up Atheist. I also rented massive, hard-cover picture books about Satanism and relished in the photos of nude, 1970’s worshipers. Despite its major differences to the Wiccan magic I’d been reading about, I even felt some sort of misunderstood pull to the gluttony and sexuality. I found it glamorous and foreign.
Lilian and I took to the 99 cent store for colored candles (green for money, pink for love), brought leaves in from outside and cast a sacred circle with all of the elements: table salt, pebbles, a fancy crystal bowl of water and flame. We made laurels and took purification baths. We captured the moon as it fell into pond water and bottled it with perfume. We divined secrets and wisdom from tea leaves and we picked new friends according to their astrological signs. We had devised our own eclectic, obsessive magical organization. It was secret and ours and powerful.
Looking back, my interest in the occult coincided with my earliest era of real (non-romantic) heartbreak. Lilian and I both came from seriously dysfunctional families, and I think that is what drove us to find some sort of alternate power. We just needed something to help me get through.
My parents were, for all intents and purposes, broken entities. My mother had become addicted to drugs, and my father was long gone, stolen by drug abuse and selfishness and a listless, lost-ness that I now can understand because he is my blood, and I am like him at my worst. To this day I make exceptions for him and my mother; it is a sign of codependency that made its early appearances in the Sacred Circle.
My thoughts: If people don’t love me like I love them, there’s a spell for that.
Many teenage girls lives in a dreamland all their own. When young girls are born with some sort of artistic ability or ethereal nature or a void in the shape of parent or a mentor, these alternative worlds become all that they know and all that they are.
I spent years (and still do) running away to a place in my head that is all white linen and horses and things that can never hurt you and people that will always love you.
One night we did a love spell. I had been missing my father—he was in and out of jail, and I was just fascinated with him—the vanishing act of him, the quiet absence, the grief. My father was an insanely gifted musician—and I had known that and always admired it, and so I began to see my father in the boys I liked.
I was in love with the band Hanson (obviously not something that I am proud of). I loved their long blonde hair and their musical ability and the fact that every other girl on earth was screaming for them. I wanted them. I wanted them badly. I wanted a boy just like those boys. It wasn’t sexual; rather, it was something much more fluid and surreal. They were aesthetic representatives; they were teenage Kings. And I was blossoming into the hungry thing I am today, only I didn’t know that yet. I just wanted to be loved. I wanted to find what was missing.
The truth its that when you leave a child home alone enough, they will derive a sense of love from fantasy.
I wish I hadn’t cast spells for boys; I wish I hadn’t trained my brain to see boys as problem solvers, someone who would patch up the bloodied spot where my family once was.
To this day I still love ritual and I still want things terribly and I still cannot control my wild visions, but I know it is all rooted in science and fact and logic.
The brain is an organ that learns its sorrows and comforts.