I did a lot of really stupid stuff when I was starting out as a Witch, and a lot of it still keeps me up a night. Just when I’m getting ready to fall asleep I start having flashbacks to poorly constructed love spells, silly prayers, and telling the Goddess to go sit in the corner. Most of us don’t start with a whole lot of knowledge of what we should be doing, and as a result we make a lot of stupid Witchcraft mistakes.
SCREWED UP LOVE SPELLS
Oh my first love spell . . . . in retrospect it’s a spell so stupid that I’ll never be over it. One of the most important rules of magick is to “be specific” when you ask for something. Oh I was specific when I cast my spell, it was just a truly ignorant kind of specific.
You see, I asked to “fall in love.” I didn’t ask for anyone to reciprocate that love, I wasn’t smart enough to use magick to make me love myself, I simply thought falling head over heels for someone would be more than enough. And of course, I fell in love, it was just with a lovely (and very committed) Mormon girl named Amanda.
How derpy was my love for this girl? I visited her Mormon church and watched her teach Sunday school. I also read the Book of Mormon, and wrote her a really silly love letter complete with quotes from Joseph Smith’s masterpiece. She and I would go on long walks where she talked about her ex-boyfriend while I mooned and pined over here, we possibly shared a pity kiss on her part. My spellwork was successful, my wooing of Amanda not so much.
HEY GODDESS, GO SIT IN THE CORNER
It was one of the best Samhain rituals I’ve ever experienced, and yet all of us involved in it had no idea what we were doing. For that particular sabbat my ritual group had decided we were going to draw down the Goddess for the first time. We spent a lot of time looking at Janet and Stewart Farrar’s The Witch’s Bible to figure just out how to do it, and we were buzzing in the days leading up to the ritual.
I remember the drawing down, and our High Priest invoking the Goddess into the body of our High Priestess. And after the Lady had been drawn down I remember my High Priestess’s body glowing like she had swallowed several lightbulbs. She radiated power and grace, and to this day it’s one of my most cherished memories as a Witch.
However, after we drew down the Goddess we didn’t give her anything to do! We didn’t invite her to speak or even read The Charge of the Goddess. We essentially sat her in a corner for the rest of the ritual before asking her to leave. That night was powerful, but it could have been so much more if we had known what we were doing!
I ONCE TREATED DEITIES AS CORRESPONDENCES
If you were reading Witchcraft books in the 1990’s you might remember how every book seemed to have a list of correspondences. Every herb, rock, and even goddess were all on a master list matching them to specific ideas and attributes. Back then I’d look at a ritual and what it was trying to do and then simply dial up a god or a goddess I’d never heard of because they were associated with “money” or “fertility.” That is not good.
Even worse I thought that it was just fine to call on anyone who happened to have their name listed in a book. Am I sorry Inuit Pinga for bothering you at Samhain many (many many) years ago? Yes, and she knows I am.
SOME OF MY EARLY RITUALS SET OFF SMOKE ALARMS
One of the prettiest magick books I’ve ever flipped through is 1989’s Good Magic by Susan Medici, and for about a year it was a huge influence on me. The spells, the eye-catching photography, and the promise that just about anything could be fixed with magick made it hard to put down. (How long ago was this? I just flipped through in the middle of writing this article and found a picture of the band Soul Asylum probably used as a bookmark.)
Anyways, one of the spells in that book called for a fire, and not just lit incense or a flickering pillar candle fire, but a real fire. Not thinking all that much about it, I gathered up some newspaper and a few small pieces of wood and threw them in a metal dish on my kitchen table. Within about 30 seconds my entire basement apartment was flooded with smoke, the shrill shriek of the smoke alaram, and yelling from my upstairs neighbors wondering what was going on. It was the last time I ever burned an intentional fire indoors.
I WAS OFFENDED BY EVERYTHING (AND BELIEVED EVERYTHING)
Ahh the early days. There were nights spent gathering rain water, days spent building ritual tools, and evenings yelling at anyone who used the word “Witch” in a way I felt was derogatory. When a friend would say “Wicked Witch,” even if they were just talking about The Wizard of Oz, I’d let them know just how offensive such a thing was! Identifying as a Witch means accepting that the word Witch has a multitude of meanings. Playing “Witch Police” is an exhausting undertaking and just not worth the effort.
Why did I care so much? Because Witchcraft was the Old Religion of course! A Llewellyn video I had said that Witchcraft went back to the Stone Age, and how could anyone be wrong about that? Every religion gets its ancient history correct, right? Witches say a lot of shit, and there’s a lot of stuff in books that’s shit too. A wise Witch is wary, asks questions, and doesn’t have to believe everything they’ve been told or read.