Hi! We're Arianna and Katie and we like casting spells and giving advice. So we're combining those interests here, in Witches' Counsel, where you can send us any problems, hang-ups, fears, etc., and we will do everything in our ~power~ to help. Reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I start high school in the fall, and I'm really worried. You know those weird lists about who's a slut, or a whore, or hot, or ugly, that you think only exist in movies about high school? Yeah, my school has those. Plus, there are a lot of drugs circulating in the high school and I hear stories all the time about girls whose nudes got leaked. How do I keep myself and my friends away from all this stuff?
Thanks in advance,
The Freshest Freshman
We're going to skip the part where we tell you that what happens in the next four years won't mean much in the grand scheme of things, and how in ten years you won't care about that one fight or rumor or broken heart. We're far enough away from high school to know that this is true, but CLOSE enough to remember that understanding this won't make it any easier to live through whatever's happening while it's happening. We respect you too much to pretend otherwise.
So you're worried about high school. This is fair. High school is scary! It's right around the time that you start to see a lot of advice about staying ~true to yourself~ and when all of your decisions begin to feel much more weighted. Your letter says you're worried you might fall into drugs (which, by the way, good call on avoiding them — we promise teenage hormones will provide enough of an emotional thrill ride for now) or that you'll end up on some shitty Who's-Who list. You've got a good amount of control over the first one, hardly any over the second, and even less where your friends are concerned. Here's what you can control: how you react to it, and what you let it do to you. You have the power to either allow the people who don't even know the core of you to chip away at it, or to resist them.
Some good ways to resist? Surround yourself with good friends. Pursue extracurriculars that make you feel good about yourself. Don't completely dismiss your family. Understand that you will get pulled into the drama, and that it's OK and maybe even a worthwhile part of your high school experience. And keep a journal! It's a great way to stay in touch with yourself as you change in all the little, exciting ways you can't even imagine right now.
Your letter shows that you have a strong sense of who you are and what you care about, but all of this still does take some willpower. We're going to go ahead and give you a little magical boost to help. This shield spell comes from Ann-Marie Gallagher's The Spells Bible, and it offers protection in stressful situations. Here's what we did:
We inscribed a black candle with your name. We lit the candle while saying, "Banish [your name]'s fears," and then visualized a long, full-body shield. While still visualizing, we tied a knot in a pre-cut (12 inches) piece of string, and then continued to visualize more shields overlapping each other in the form of a full-body armor, tying a knot for each one. Then, we dripped wax from the candle onto each knot, and secured the string in a pouch for safe-keeping.
Good luck, and have fun. THESE ARE THE BEST YEARS OF YOUR LIFE! (JK, they're 100% not, but they can be pretty great.)
I have always been very interested in spell-casting and have tried multiple times to attempt it on my own. I do own a few books; however, I was wondering how you have learned all that you know? I would love to practice the craft but really am not sure where to start. Any light you could shine on me would be very much appreciated!
Learning in Los Angeles
Would that we could tell you our prowess comes from being direct descendants of some ancient, powerful witch's bloodline, or maybe that we found a large, dusty, leather-bound book of spells in an underused library and that it tingled when we touched it, or that our grandmothers told us when we were thirteen years old that we were different from the other little girls. We would feel much cooler if we could write back to you and say, "Sorry, but there is just no way for a mere mortal to replicate our journey." Alas, it is not so.
The good thing about this is that it means it won't be terribly difficult for you to get to a position of similar expertise and experience. (We should acknowledge here the possibility of some third, indefinable quality — a psychic intuition or natural aptitude, or what some might call "a gift." Both of us have felt, at times, that we have a knack for this sort of thing, but not always; sometimes we doubt our ability to effect change and can only put forward our best intentions.) You own a few books on witchcraft, so you're already on your way. If you're looking for more, two that we like (and reference often in this column) are Everyday Magic by Dorothy Morrison, and The Spells Bible by Ann-Marie Gallagher. Morrison's in particular is easy to use, comprehensive, and relatively light on materials needed. Gallagher's is a bit more involved/advanced, and many of the spells require harder-to-find ingredients and supplies, but the book is fun and easy to read, with a thorough introduction to the history and techniques of magic.
We also got started by visiting our local witchcraft and occult supply store (Enchantments in the East Village), and taking classes there — on candle magic and herbs — when available. One of us also practices tarot, which is a great tool for exercising one's intuition. (We like the classic Rider Waite deck as well as the very beautiful Wild Unknown deck.) Think of your inner eye like a muscle. The more you use it, the stronger it will become. The more you work with these tools, the better able you will be to understand yourself, others, and the world around you.
The main thing, we think, is to have good intentions. Our spell-casting is one that believes that good things are possible when you ask for them. It's not always possible to see if or how or why magic "works," but we believe that telling the universe what you want certainly can't hurt.
Best of luck, and goddess bless.