On discovering witchcraft at 40

H-hey there! It’s only been what, two years? You know how they say life can change in an instant? Well, they ain’t kidding! That happy marriage? That stable career? Gone! Good health? Blammo! I was raped in February and I was diagnosed with ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) last month. You’ll see the word “carcinoma” there and correctly guess that this means I have cancer. My neurologist was kind enough to reassure me that it was pre-cancer. The oncology surgeon who will be removing it in a couple of weeks assured me that it’s being treated like cancer because it’s what cancer turns into. It can come back if it feels like it. In other words, I really need to update my bio on this site.

I’m not wrong to feel terrified. This is happening while I am without a partner, have only half of my job (oh yeah, two weeks after I was raped, I received a layoff notice that my full-time job was being whittled down to a part-time job) which means that I have barely any money, my credit score’s turned to shit, I’m on sick leave for pretty unbearable stress, and the things that have kept me sane have come from places that I never would have expected a year ago: witchcraft, crystals, and tarot cards. Really.

I’m not going to focus on the causes of these endings because there’s no point. What I’ll focus on is the simple psychology and power of being with other women after something (or several somethings) terrible have happened to you, something where men have taken something from you, and you are now trying to navigate your course back to a new normal. In the book HausMagick: Transform your House with Witchcraft by Erica Feldman (2019, HarperOne), she points out that “spell is a prayer with props” to readers who might fret that they don’t have the right magical tools together as starter witches. The crystals, the bundles of herbs, pentacle jewelry, ceremonial knives… I think anyone can be a witch, with or without these things. You can be a witch with bespoke soy wax candles or Bath and Body Works candles. She goes on: “Witchcraft is all about self-empowerment, so remember you are the magic behind your spells.”

You are the magic. You drive this car. You call the shots. Your life might have been derailed by other people’s decisions, but this? This is yours. Rather, this is mine. This belongs to me.

If you had a ton of traumatic things happen in a short amount of time, doesn’t the idea of self-empowerment and manifesting your intentions sound like the dream of a woman who has been utterly fucking crushed by the people and systems she put her trust in? I always wanted a set of tarot cards, but never found a set that I liked. I always thought that I had low-grade intuition. I love animals. I’m a weirdo loner who picks up on other people’s emotions but can’t communicate with them, this is the perfect scene for me!

I’m not expecting to learn to fly. I’m expecting to learn to look at the world for what it is but through a new perspective. This is a way to meditate with props. This is a way to set goals with props. This is a way to decorate the house, to augment existing practices, and to give myself something to focus on. This is a way to connect with other women who have been down their own roads.