The Book Of Shadows

Written By: Heather  Buchanan

Watchtowers of the East – We welcome you, the element of air, the use of intellect. Watchtowers of the South – We welcome you, the element of fire, the reminder of our passion. Watchtowers of the West – We welcome you, the element of water, the symbol of our emotions. Watchtowers of the North – We welcome you, the element of earth, the sense of grounding. Be our witness, our protection, our bliss.

Thus the circle was drawn, clockwise in the sand, deisul as it is called in Wicca, to invoke positive energy. The moon was full. The waves lapped gently on the beach. The sacred space marked by candles and protected by the salt water sprinkled on its perimeter.

It all started over a bottle of rosé on a rainy Memorial Day weekend. Four friends – strong, beautiful, women who somehow found their lives out of control, dreams dashed, tweets full of #fuckfrank, drowning in credit card debt and jacked up on artificial hormones. Something had to be done.

Magic was the answer.

One friend was assigned to find a feather and started stalking a duck family. Another had to find salt, and being a gourmand, picked out an expensive French sea salt. I had to send the third back because she chose vanilla scented candles – a scent I can’t stand. She found a wonderful lavender replacement. I went to work on the altar, fresh roses for love, basil for protection, and magic wands from the Five and Dime.

As I slid my toes in the sand, I tried to connect to my happy youth in Sagaponack, a beautiful place on the ocean named after the healing root Sagga. Connecting to hope. Connecting to the magic inherent in this place. Connecting to a time before student loans, IVF, alcoholism and back fat. When Candy Kitchen ice cream was measured in licks and not hours to burn it off at Soul Cycle. When any of life’s mysteries could be solved by Nancy Drew. When happily ever after was about finding prince charming and not experimenting with all seven emotional dwarves. A time when “He loves me not” was only a random pull on a daisy petal and not a truth you ignored until it destroyed your soul.

If faith was piece of fabric, ours had been torn, taped together, ripped apart, stapled, and it had an unidentifiable stain that no amount of washing could get out.

That which we thought was a given when we were young… a happy future, now required rituals and goddesses and full moon energy and for the incessant rain to stop.

I didn’t necessarily announce I was a witch. Although on one first date there was a man who started touting the virtues of Bill O’Reilly so I leaned in and said, “I’m actually a Democrat, and a witch. Why don’t we have our first fight now and get it over with.” The witch part he enjoyed, it was the Democrat part that was the problem.

I learned about witchcraft when I lived in Los Angeles in the 90’s when you either were into cocaine and kick boxing or aromatherapy and wicca. Its spiritual motto “If it harm none, do thou what you will” appealed to me as well as its firm stance that everyone is responsible for their actions. There is no devil to blame it on (witches don’t believe in Satan) – it’s totally your bad. The ancient pagan practices, the roots of wicca, worshiped the goddesses at a time when women with their magical ability to give birth were venerated.   Divinity lay in the earth, the animals, and each other, and survival depended on mutual respect. Even the proverbial broom riding was a fertility ritual for the crops and herds.

Being a witch, however, could be a dangerous thing. In Europe and even East Hampton the accusation could lead to death. In the Village of East Hampton Goody Garlick was tried in the 1650’s for killing Elizabeth Gardiner Howell. Goody wasn’t a witch – she was just a healer with a black cat and possibly French. Luckily she was not convicted and killed like so many others. In the original Hamptons real estate grab, anyone who accused a witch who was subsequently found guilty inherited her land. Can you imagine all those potential witches on Further Lane?

But for this day, my friends and I were protected. We were in sacred space. The rain had stopped. And we had the correct Southampton parking permit for the beach.

The altar looked divine with roses, quartz crystals to channel the energy, the protective basil, and some sea glass I’d saved since my youth, a reminder of time’s power to smooth sharp edges. We all held our magic wands, gold with pink ribbons and rhinestones. We all inhaled a special mix of jasmine, ylang ylang, and geranium – a potent mix for love, fertility, and protection.

Each one of wrote down our wish on a piece of paper and put it on the altar.

An athame, ornate knife, had cut the circle in the sand and very expensive French salt and spring water sprinkled to deflect any negative energy. We welcomed in air with the duck feather, fire with the lavender candle, water, and earth with a bit of soil from Billy Joel’s former oceanfront house (look he has to represent good luck.) One of my friends led a mesmerizing Sanskrit chant, another listed each one of our amazing great qualities, and the third had us grasp hands and create a cone of mutual goddess power.

Each one of wrote down our wish on a piece of paper and put it on the altar.

I opened my Book of Shadows, my witch notebook where I had chronicled different spells, incantations, magical aromatherapy mixes and a kick ass peach pie recipe.

“For the best of all concerned we ask the great goddess energy to be with us here today in this place of great magic. Bring us back to the place of faith when we believed that dreams do come true and that love and family and happy homes and financial security are all possible.”

“And oh yeah” I added, “We want to banish back fat.”

As we all sat on that beach in that silent moment, I felt a warm energy run through me from the top of my head down into the earth. We knew on an instinctive level that we were creating magic. And also that no matter the outcome, the profound realization was that we had each other.

And that was what would carry us through whatever the future would bring. Together we took that fabric of faith and rewove it into something beautiful, shiny and strong.

“So mote it be.”

When we met again a year later we checked in on the outcome of that very powerful spell.   I’d like to tell you but the ancient wicca creed is, “To know, to will, and to keep silent.”

Let’s just say we have each other’s (amazingly strong) backs.