The Plot Thickens: Basic Witches
This post was originally posted on Medium.
Basic Witches: How to Summon Success, Banish Drama, and Raise Hell with Your Coven by Jaya Saxena and Jess Zimmerman is a guidebook to embracing your inner witch and living your life to the fullest. Saxena and Zimmerman open the book by describing the aims of the guide and working through the power of everyday magical thinking. To be clear: this is not a book to be used by actual magic practitioners (apparently there has been some upset in that community about the title of the book). Because this book is more of a guide than a full-fledged self-help book, I recommend reading the first chapter for an explanation for what to expect from the book, finding the section that you’d most like to set as a goal, and then try out their recommendations for a week or so. I personally enjoyed the book most by flipping to the chapters pertaining to areas that I wanted to work on, like self-care, and trying to integrate the tips in the book into my daily routine.
The plot thickens... where you want it to! Interested in changing up your look based on your favorite witch? Adding a little magic to your exercise routine? How about deepening friendships within your chosen coven or centering yourself in self-care? This book is all about making a ritual out of the thing that you want to improve upon, like upgrading your wardrobe. While each section of the book contains a ‘spell’ or ‘hex,’ these are mini-rituals that help you to center yourself and your mission. For example, the spell to ‘Find Your Colors’ in the Glamour section of the book lists spell ingredients (a full moon, a bathtub, a candle in your favorite color, and matches) then walks you through an incantation and visualization exercise. This method of physical and mental alignment harkens to how incorporating long-term goals into your daily routine helps you to become your best self. This should sound familiar to anyone who has started using a planner to better prioritize daily tasks or committed to a change in budgeting habits.
Generally, all of the spells and rituals discussed within the book are practical and can serve as inspiration for trying new ways to cope or resolve personal issues. Personally, I found that one of the final chapters, about exploring your inner demons, hit home. Located within the Banishment section of the book, which is all about finding the power to avoid what brings you down, the exploring inner demons portion is all about identifying, learning the history of, and exorcising demons. I found two demons (demon #2: who makes you feel like all of your friends are mad at you, don’t like you, or laughing behind your back and demon #6: who convinces you that everything bad that happens is your fault and anything good that happens is a fluke). The funny thing about having these demons is that they come from a very narcissistic and unreasonable place, which is how I usually reason myself away from these thoughts.
Thankfully, this book offers another solution in the form of a spell for personal demon exorcism that promises to help you weaken and eventually evict unwelcome mental guests.
First, you use a black pen to write down the negative things your inner nemesis tells you about yourself.
Then you use a red pen to draw the ugliest, most vicious demon possible on top of these words.
Next, you fold the paper, place it into a bowl, then light it with a match, as it burns you repeat a self-affirming mantra, or incantation.
The final step is mixing the ashes with your favorite perfume, rubbing this mixture onto a part of your body, then literally washing the demon away.
As you can see, this guide is good at helping you to explore the inner workings of your best and worst thoughts and provide action items to energize and reinforce better thought cycles. I can’t promise that I’ll tackle every problem or practice every spell but this guide has inspired me to be a little nicer to myself - isn’t that something we all can use more of?
Porshéa Patterson is a Ravenclaw who can’t get enough out of reading, fandoms, intersectional feminism, and research — it’s also her day job. She is the Research Team Lead for the Harry Potter Alliance and frequent contributor to Black Girls Create; follow her @Porshea_obvi on Twitter.