On Friday the 13th in February, three BuzzFeed writers/amateur witches gathered in a small Manhattan apartment with the express purpose of casting spells on our co-workers — specifically, 10 colleagues who volunteered to undergo unspecified magical intentions over a period of approximately six weeks. (Good witchcraft protocol — and probably HR — states that magic only be used on willing participants.)
Our aim was to evaluate the following:
1) If magic "works."
2) If, knowing they were being subjected to amateur witchcraft, our subjects would report experiencing anything atypical during the period of study.
In order to make our nonscientific study slightly more scientific, we assigned four of our 10 volunteers to a control group, which would undergo no spells or magical intention. Each of the 10 volunteers was told that some unspecific spell was being carried out on their behalf. Over the course of the experiment, we sent each of the 10 participants three separate surveys and asked them to report on the events of the previous week.
First we cleansed the apartment by burning sage and wiping the floor with rosewater. Sage and rosewater are thought to have magical properties that give witches wisdom and protection.
We also waved the burning sage over each other's bodies, in order to make ourselves as receptive to the power of the spirits and the wisdom of the universe as possible.
We then scattered the floor with rose petals and mint, which are used to make spells work more quickly. In the center, we lit two large white candles as protection.
Everything we read told us that we needed to be entirely earnest and intentional about the procedure if we wanted anything to happen. And while it felt a little unnatural to go around in a circle making requests of the spirits, the atmosphere created by the candles and scattered rose petal offerings made us feel that it was important to try. Giggling was kept to an absolute minimum.
Then, we started casting spells.
Before gathering, we made a list of our willing participants, as well as their requests for preferred types of magic. Alana located appropriate spells from a few spell books (purchased at Enchantments in Manhattan's East Village), and from the internet.
The participants, the spells they were subjected to, and their results are as follows.
Spell 1: A lover for Brett.
Spell 2: A mega-viral post for Ahmed.
Spell 3: A beautiful life for Dorsey.
We hoped that with our powers combined, this spell would be especially potent and the old fella's luck would turn around. And did it ever.
Alana was out with a friend two days after the spell had been cast. They were exchanging the hottest flirt and gossip tips under the sun. Seemingly out of nowhere, the friend asked if Alana knew Dorsey at work. "Why yes, I do," she attempted to say casually. The friend went on to discuss how funny and good-looking she thought Dorsey was, and asked if he was single. Alana felt an overwhelming temptation to draw her Cupid's bow and put together a courting arrangement immediately, but she knew better than to manipulate the intentions and schedules that the spirits had in mind.
Our first check-in survey included a question about how participants' love lives were faring. Most of the single participants chose either the option which read "Single, the last 10 days are even more heartbreaking than most in my hopeless march toward permanent singleness" or "Single, had no movement," but Dorsey alone chose "Single, but I've been flirting up a storm!"
Love was in the air just as there was magic in our veins.
We also asked participants to guess which spell they were under. Dorsey replied, "A good luck spell," which was fairly remarkable considering how few people think they have good luck. Especially after Brett and some of our placebo users accused us of cursing them, this was an especially welcome surprise.
Spell 4: A "fairy vision" for Erin.
Spell 5: A banished "Evil Eye" for Matt.
Spell 6: A sweetheart for Krutika.
As for the control group:
Meanwhile, the control group was answering the surveys as well. Both the bewitched group and the untouched group had varying levels of confidence that their spell had worked. One woman (a control group member) was convinced she had a love spell on her as she was being flocked to by eligible suitors, when really it was just her being so fine. Brett thought he had a curse, of course, when really we had simply mixed spells to ill effect. Overwhelmingly, however, the results suggested most our participants had some intuition as to the type of spells cast, and in some cases, evidence that they had "worked."
We came into witchcraft with earnest and open heart, but not necessarily a belief in magic's efficacy. Once these results were in, it was a little harder to deny the power our intentions could have on the universe. In demonstrating respect for the spirits' power, they in turn allowed us to give our friends and colleagues a magical experience. Whether it was luck or coincidence or real magic, or a little bit of all three, we cannot say for sure. Further study needed.