My first foray into witchcraft began two summers ago, when I decided to try a love spell.
I have always been fascinated by the concept of witchcraft – a connection of one’s body, mind and soul into the earth around us – and luckily for me, my mother is totally obsessed with witches.
My family and I would always joke that my mother was a witch in a former life (although we did find that a distant relative on my father’s side was killed during the Salem Witch Trials) and my entire life I was exposed to kitchen witches and an eternal obsession with Halloween.
My mother and her family are very Polish Catholic (for those who do not know what I mean by that: a lot of Hail Marys, a sharing of the blessed wafer and egg on Christmas and Easter, and trips to Czestochowa in Pennsylvania with my Polish grandmother), so witchcraft was the farthest thing I could think of from my Catholic upbringing.
I’ve always considered myself an eternal pessimist, a non-believer and a realist in every sense of the word. But a small, minuscule part of me wanted love and to be with someone who loved me as much as my father loves my mom. I hid that part of me away, in my journal mostly, and the occasional sob on the bus while listening to Adele’s 21.
After returning from a trip to Cape May, NJ, my parents returned with a candle. They visited a local store, The Guardian, in which were many items that could be considered both spiritual and in the genre of witchcraft.
The candle read as followed:
Quick Spell Candle
This candle is a call for love. Believe the call will be answered and write on the candle (with a pencil or toothpick from top to bottom) what you wish to have in a love relationship, also write the person’s name, if you know it.
Burn the candle on a Friday. Carry a piece of the leftover wax with you for seven days, then discard.
Skeptically, I burnt the candle on the night of October 17, 2012, while drinking tea and watching Hocus Pocus (just for fun and sarcasm). I followed the instructions, tossed the leftover wax at the end of the seven days and promptly forgot about the spell. I had a lot on my plate and rarely spoke of it. But I quietly marked off days in my planner, counting down until the day I would meet him.
Six months to the day, I was dating my (now ex) boyfriend. And although the relationship ended a few months later, I was a true believer in the power of the spell.
This past August, I burnt my third love spell candle (I do not count the second one I burnt last August because I was not pure in my intentions. I was still not over it, freshly dumped, and did not believe the call would be answered, which is explicitly stated in the instructions). So why did I burn a third candle?
It seems almost shallow and stupid to participate in something that I am only doing to find love. And for a proud feminist, I feel as though I am basically betraying all of my beliefs that I do not need a man in order to feel important or fulfilled.
Feminism is a broad term for a very complicated situation. We are expected to be perfect and unwavering in all of our convictions, for which we are constantly condemned, and at the same time be ashamed of feeling, well, like a stereotypical “woman.” Abigail circa two years ago would’ve scoffed at the suggestion to cast a love spell candle and wait for a magical man to show up; but it happened.
The third time I lit the candle, the spell worked, and I count myself lucky for the man that I am with (who self-identifies as a feminist and totally accepted it when I told him he was under a spell!) Part of the spell working is the belief that when you put all of yourself into something, it was happening for you and part of it is that I was truly ready for love and all the joy that it brings.
Feminism can forage into many different aspects of our lives, and because it is a political belief and because we are human (not because we are specifically “women”) we are allowed to change our minds. We are allowed to expand our self-definitions and accept love into our lives, through any means necessary. I embrace small aspects of witchcraft into my life because it restored my belief in something.
I am a Christmas-Easter Catholic (going to Church only on holidays, so to speak), and I have struggled with my faith for a very long time. I like the feeling of belonging to a faith that I create, that I can create a positive vibe and that I do not have to feel ashamed for the church I belong to.
Am I a practicing Wiccan? No, not at the moment. But the link between my love for witches and my feminist identification is that the practicing is up to the individual. I can be a sometimes-witch feminist and still embrace Catholic traditions that my late grandmother shared with me. My way of honoring my Polish grandmother, who passed away two years ago in May, is to develop myself as an intersection between all of these things. She would’ve loved my love spell candle, the fact that I say Hail Marys before every audition and final, and want to work in the field of feminist media.
Photo credit: personal photos, The Guardian website, and History of Massachusetts