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This Is What Happened When We Cast Spells On Our BuzzFeed Co-Workers

The most magical experiment there ever was.

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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.


We cast the SATOR spell on Brett, an ancient written spell traced back to the Roman Empire. Though it has a history of being used to put out or protect against fires, it is also, curiously, used as a love spell. If it worked, we could claim to have sent Brett a love interest and prevented him from experiencing a fire emergency.

The Spell:

The spell simply requires that you write out the following letters on a piece of paper:






The spell book told us that for use in protections against fire, one should place the paper at the highest point in one's home. Just to be safe, Alana taped up the piece of paper in the highest floor of the building where BuzzFeed offices are located.


Fearing that a building maintenance person would happen upon our spell and think there was an imminent threat to building safety, we did not leave it in the highest spot for more than a few minutes without supervision.

This, as it turns out, is what the highest floor of our building looks like:


Brett's Results:
There is good reason to believe that this space is haunted or cursed and that our spell wouldn't work on such spiritually bankrupt ground. Or at least this is what we are telling ourselves, because the love spell did not work at all. Not only did Brett encounter a rough spot in his love life, he was visited by several other catastrophes. Each of his surveys indicated that he believed we had cursed him. What are you, SATOR spell? Why did you do this to Brett? We wondered, but never found any answers.


Spell 2: A mega-viral post for Ahmed.



Ahmed started at BuzzFeed in an editorial fellowship program and had only recently become a staff writer when we started casting spells. Ahmed is a good dude, so we wanted to give him what every new BuzzFeed staffer craves: a post that goes hella viral.

The Spell:

Alana used her background as a legendary MC to come up with the following rhyming spell to cast on Ahmed:

Summon traffic, hearts, and shares,
Diminish the frown that Ahmed wears.
Let his genius travel far and wide,
Bringing Ahmed joy and pride.
Spirits withhold a downward spiral,
And grant a post that's mega-viral.

We read the spell aloud in unison. We did not use any supplementary herbs or ingredients and were thus armed only with our purest intentions and our confidence that this spell could (potentially) come true.


A week later, on Feb. 20, we realized that...maybe...magic was really happening. Alana was scrolling through the BuzzFeed homepage and clicked on the most popular post of the day:


Not only was the top post of the day by Ahmed, it had accumulated over 2 million views in two days, qualifying it to be a top BuzzFeed post. Up until that point, the most views that one of his posts had received was 512,000. We proceeded to absolutely lose our shit in the chatroom we had created to track our experiment's progress:

Spell 3: A beautiful life for Dorsey.



Dorsey is old as hell and chill as fuck. We learned in the course of doing witchcraft that he is also highly impressionable. Before we had even embarked on our magical endeavors, Dorsey became convinced that a curse had been placed on him, as he experienced all manner of horrors and inconveniences the weekend after we sought consent for the spells.

The Spell:

Because we felt bad that he was having such bad luck, once we did eventually embark on our spell-casting journey, we made a special effort to wish Dorsey luck in love, money, and career with a powerful photo spell. We burned lavender incense — meant to lift the mood and spirits — and then we googled Dorsey on an iPhone, pulled up his image, and went around in a circle bestowing our most earnest wishes for good fortune one by one, as if we were the fairies in Sleeping Beauty. It was not weird at all:


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.


Erin requested a spell that was weird and specific, and though part of us wanted to be like, "We are witches, not genies," we decided to oblige her. (Her initial request, for a spell that would make all of her food taste like lemons, was denied.)

The Spell:

We decided to wish that Erin would see fairies either in her dreams or in her daily life. Thyme is the preferred herb of fairy magic, so we burned some of it while we concentrated our energies and intentions on making Erin have fairy visions.


The unanticipated treasure of this spell was that we got to ask everyone about their dreams in our surveys, and we learned just how weird our colleagues are when they sleep. But Erin is by far the weirdest. Throughout the course of our magical engagement, Erin had the following dreams:

- She had a really amazing mustache.

- She was supposed to be hosting a party but snuck off to bang her boyfriend instead.

- She wanted to jump off the Empire State Building but was afraid of crushing bystanders.

- She found a hidden room in her house and had a ham sandwich.

- She had to attach the wheels of a plane to the plane in flight so she was strapped to the bottom of the plane, which also had a vagina-like hole in the bottom of it.

- She had a scorpion infestation in her childhood home.

We would later learn that burning thyme is actually meant for love spells and attracting money — wearing a sprig of thyme is for attracting fairies. We apologize to Erin if we accidentally strengthened her relationship or bank account inadvertently, and didn't get her closer to dreaming of woodland fantasy creatures.

Spell 5: A banished "Evil Eye" for Matt.


In Matt's initial survey, he reported a back pain and headache that we were absolutely certain had psychic causes — aka Malochia or "The Evil Eye." Matt has a relentlessly positive and helpful attitude that makes him a source of warmth and inspiration to many, but an enemy to haters, curmudgeons, and sorcerers — who probably sent him the Malochia.

The Spell:

The spell requires that a teaspoon of olive oil be placed in a small dish and the following prayer-cum-spell is said over it:

"Adoni, Lord of the worlds, visible and invisible, be Matt's physician and comfort him in his distress. Heal and remove from him this which has been placed on him to aggrieve his head and back. Thou art his only help, Thou art his only counsel, Thou art his only source of action. Come to his help we pray thee to give healing. Amen."

We aren't sure who Adoni is, but he sounded pretty legit, and this just felt like a good and proper spell to us. We waited.


This one was hard to get a read on, because we sort of guessed that Matt was afflicted by a psychic force. We couldn't actually prove it. Maybe he just has a slipped disc. Whatever, we aren't doctors. We're witches. However, both of the surveys involved asking what spells our subjects thought they were under, and Matt's responses were "Inner Peace" and "One for a little more peace." So while we don't know if we provided any lasting back pain relief, it would appear that there was at least a temporary uptick in peace.


Spell 6: A sweetheart for Krutika.



Krutika is a world champion shade-thrower when it comes to bad dating behaviors, so we thought a great challenge would be to find a cool, not-terrible dude or lady for Krutika.

The Spell:

We carved Krutika's initials and her star sign into a love spell candle and performed a rhyming spell designed to bring her a hot babe with manners and class and interesting things to say. It read:

"Banish fuckboy, flake, and ghost,
Send her one who cares the most,
Summon a single from New York City,
A haystack needle who's not grade-A shitty,
May she find a love on Tinder
That wicked spirits cannot hinder."

In the last installment of our questions, when we asked our subjects what spell they believed they were under, Krutika replied, "Something that made me more charming and less distrustful of most people, seeing as I've been somewhat successfully dating someone for the last month-ish." Naturally, minds were lost and we had to immediately confirm with her over chat:


Afterward, an excited and holy-shit-witchcraft-is-real conversation took place in person, and we confirmed that an anomalous and wonderful guy had come into Krutika's life and they'd been spending time together for the last month. Though he was not found through Tinder, the fact that the spell produced a compatible guy in a sea of duds spoke to our witchy witchy souls.

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.