In the lead-up to Halloween, Standard Issue is dropping a dose of spook each day. Today Fiona Longmuir remembers discovering witches were real and her attempts to become one.
As a kid, I was obsessed with magic. From Matilda to Chocolat, from perusing crystals in patchouli-scented shops to cutting out love spells from pre-teen magazines, I’d eat up anything with even the remotest whiff of enchantment to it.
When I was about 13, I stumbled on a series of books about a young girl who discovers that she is actually the most powerful witch in the world after taking part in a Wiccan circle. A quick Google search confirmed that Wicca was a real, actual religion practised by real, actual people. Real-life witches! I was convinced I’d cracked it. All I had to do was become a Wiccan and my powers would reveal themselves.
I roped in my best friend, figuring that someone who knew how to tightline at 13 and wore purple bell-bottom cords was probably the best companion for a journey into the occult. We began our quest at the local half-price jewellers, where we each bought a pentagram for £7.99. A great bargain for eternal power, I’m sure you’ll agree. I fastened mine around my neck on a silver chain, while my friend, being infinitely cooler, threaded hers on a black shoelace.
“Following an unfortunate incident involving my hair catching fire, I didn’t have any candles. I did, however, have a lava lamp.”
I scoured the books that had started it all, because obviously a young adult book series is the best place from which to glean religious information.
(Aside: there is now a genuine Wikihow page on casting a Wiccan circle. Thirteen-year-old me could have done wonders with the modern internet.)
My diary was retitled my ‘Book of Secrets’. I took to speaking in what I imagined was a wise, mystical voice. We planned to hold the magic circle that would inevitably release our powers.
My teenage struggle for identity was locked in a constant battle with the fact that I actually had a really good relationship with my parents. I wasn’t sure how to ask if they’d buy me the necessary supplies to conduct a Wiccan ritual in my bedroom, so we decided to gather what we could and improvise the rest. Rather than drawing a chalk circle on my carpet, our circle was made of clothes. We switched off the lights and I changed into a long black robe left over from an old Halloween costume.
Our very in-depth research informed us that we should place representatives of the elements at the four compass points in the circle. A bowl of water represented water – nailed that one. A bowl of salt topped with a moonstone I acquired during my reiki phase represented Earth – we totally had this down.
Problems hit when we reached the more flammable elements. Following an unfortunate incident involving my hair catching fire, I didn’t have any candles. I did, however, have a lava lamp. It was the early noughties, people. I also had some trouble getting hold of incense sticks to represent air, as I wasn’t sure how to burn incense without my parents noticing. A few spritzes of the Body Shop’s mango body mist would do the job just fine.
We leapt around, waving our arms in witchy motions and reciting angsty chants that I had angstily penned. We prayed for good grades in school, for boys to like us, to become the most powerful witches in the world… you know, normal stuff. We paused only briefly to hurl a shoe at my 10-year-old sister, who had peeked her head around the door to see what all the commotion was about. Obviously, the Wiccan principle of ‘harm none’ doesn’t apply to younger siblings. We finished, satisfied that we had successfully summoned a good spirit, and painted our nails by light of the mystic lava lamp.
My conviction that I was the most powerful magician in existence faded with time. I held one more circle in the woods by our house – to impress a boy who had heard about the original, of course – and after that, my brief stint as a Wiccan was done. I don’t cut out love spells or whisper incantations any more, but I still salute every magpie I see, I wish on every birthday candle I blow out and every so often, you’ll find me gazing wistfully at an embroidered dreamcatcher. I look back on my exploits now with fond mortification but I don’t think I’ll ever grow out of searching for everyday magic.3328 Views
Fiona Longmuir is a professional storyteller, reluctant adult and aspiring funny girl. When not getting naked in tube stations and binge-watching inappropriate TV shows, she can be found scribbling at the Escapologist's Daughter.