The very first evening it felt like fall this year, I curled myself up in an oversized flannel shirt, whiskey-spiked tea in hand, and pushed <PLAY> to begin re-watching, possibly, one of the best movies made about witches of all time: Practical Magic (will someday write an entire BUT IS IT LIT? // Sandra Bullock).
For those who have not experienced the beauty of this 1998 rom/com/dram starring the aforementioned and Nicole Kidman, the story centers around two witch-sisters cursed to forever have the men they love meet an untimely death. At a young age, the main character creates and casts a love spell that she believes will never be applicable to a man, thus saving her the strife of a broken heart.
It was either the crisp air tumbling in through my open window, or Stevie Nicks’s voice swooning during a close-up of a full moon on the television that made me remember the love spell I wrote after having seen this movie for the first time. I was 12 years old; my walls were full of Backstreet Boys posters, and my face was full of zits. The hormones were raging, and the daydreams about someday-loves were always full-length feature films in my mind. The unmistakable wobble that comes with navigating adolescence underlined pure magic as the only thing to lean on. A simple spell written in bright pink marker seemed the one logical step to take next in my rickety journey towards young adulthood.
Below is an actual piece of my life sixteen years ago. No shame.
Sixteen years later and, though I have steadied myself, I am still fascinated by the raw power of words. I am not convinced lighting a candle and sprinkling flower petals around an object representing that which I desire is absolutely necessary, but there remains an optimism in the idea that maybe, if we feel the tiny bones of our fingers creak beneath the pen, or if we sense the weighted air move inside our lungs as we speak, our wishes might come true. Our designs may manifest.
A Brief Poetry/Spell Compare and Contrast
- Most spells tend to reflect periods of time and commonalities of the human experience such as times of loss and love; times we are fearful, times of abundance and thankfulness, times of hope. Poetry and literature call to us because they are inspired by those same experiences.
- Poems share pieces of the author with the rest of the world. Spells are also flavored by their creators and casters who often include personal traditions and practices.
- Spells and incantations often take those things which we view as ordinary (stones, herbs, flowers, pieces of twine, candles, etc.) and make them magical. Somehow, there is a way to feel the atoms move through pieces of amethyst as you hold them in your hands by candlelight. Similarly, poems draw mysticism from the floorboards of every day life. Think of “The Red Wheelbarrow” by William Carlos Williams.
- Like poems, spells and incantations contain carefully chosen, purposeful words. These words are cast out, sent into space to bring us something in return. Where a spell may ask for luck in job endeavors or help in navigating the roads of a romance, a poem may ask for clarity enough to see deeply into the the smoke of life, safe passage to the other side.
Here’s an incantation that has resonated not only with the daydreaming diviner in me, but with the poet as well. It’s taken from Llewellyn’s 2014 Witches’ Spell-A-Day Almanac: Holidays & Lore.
I also highly recommend Sister Karol’s Book of Spells and Blessings
by Karol Jackowski.
In closing, I leave you with a local “Love Potion 717” written by The Triangle’s dear friend, natural gatherer and collector of light, Michelle Johnsen (you can check out her enchanting photography here).
“Love Potion 717”
meet me in the garden;
we’ve elixirs to compose-
kava root, and rose;
cinnamon and cardamom
with hawthorne (just a pinch)
from lovely green and rooted plants;
and one song from the finch.
then meet me in the apiary
we’ve honey to collect-
an ancient potion element
to aid in its effects.
and now we to the kitchen
to set his heart aflame
by simmering decoctions
while whispering his name.
bottle with a ginkgo sprig,
store in darkness, shake at noon
beneath the sun for four long weeks-
open at full moon.
deftly dip the dropper
into wine or mead or brew
and offer to this cherished man-
make true love come to you.