Maybe it was a coincidence that I started to re-examine magic when I started crushing again, but they both felt supernatural. If love is the meeting of two of the strongest human drives–fear and desire–then it makes sense that magic should accompany it, with its promise to lead us out of the paralysis that accompanies that hope/fear junction. I had fallen hard for a boy with black hair, blue eyes, and a girlfriend. It felt like being eaten alive. Magic, and the promise of taking back my life, was very alluring.
The occult is attractive because of its furtive nature–something feminine and hidden, underground, semiotic. I spoke to my mother once about issues I was having in a relationship–“He won’t listen to me, he won’t take my suggestions on board”–and she advised me to “make him think it’s his idea”. Like Conjureman Ali said, we manipulate our partners, whether we think we do or not; taking it into my own hands was an intoxicating idea. I decided to do a spell of my own. I immediately questioned that decision.
At first I looked into Wicca, but all the spells seemed so insipid. A wish and a candle–how much could that do for me? But my research led me to hoodoo, and that was where things started to make sense. There’s an internal logic and a groundedness at work in hoodoo, a physicality, that resonated well with me. I’ve never been good at abstract concepts. Wicca promised me the idea of love, and it felt like a lie. Hoodoo, with its plainly worded spells and its massive catalogue of purchasable oils, candles, and powders, promised ways of dealing with the realities of relationships: unrequited love, infidelity, arguments, reconciliation. The monetary value of the accoutrements on sale made them feel potent, and when Conjureman Ali talked about “the rightful state of a person”, I liked that. My rightful state: being loved like I deserved.
The spell I chose was nothing drastic – it was a honey-jar spell, which sweetens the object of your affection’s feelings towards you. There are so many variations on this spell that it’s hard to go wrong. All I’d need was a jar of honey, a candle, a name-paper, and a hair each from the crushee and me. I felt an unexpected pleasure at the thought of laying him low with a good old-fashioned love spell. Girl power, I thought. That’ll show him, I thought.
In the end I didn’t have a jar of honey or a pair of hairs. This was the spell I did:
Take a piece of brown grocery-bag paper and tear it on all four sides so there are no machine-made lines. On the paper, with a red pen, write his full name three times. Turn the paper ninety degrees, and write your name over his three times, so it forms a grid. Then, in a circle around your names, write your wish in one continuous line, without lifting your pen [I wrote “lovemelovemeloveme”]. If you make a mistake, like lifting your pen, throw out the paper and start again. You want it to be perfect.
Now take the paper, place the hairs on it [I skipped this bit], and fold it towards you, to bring your desire to you, saying aloud your intent (“love me” or “be sweet to me”). Fold it again, towards you. Now place it on a white saucer [I used a crystal one because all the white saucers in the house belonged to my housemates] and lay a ring of sweetener–sugar, molasses, syrup, honey–around it. Light a new candle [I dug a half-used one out of the kitchen drawer] on top of the name-paper and let it burn all the way down. Snuff it out with your fingers, never blow it out–it will scatter the spell.
The fact that I lacked the hairs was a serious set-back. The spell’s instructions warned that the effects would be far weaker without them. If I wasn’t even close enough to my beloved to get just one of his hairs, it scoffed, then to make him love me would be asking for some kind of miracle.
My friend Sam told me that when he was fifteen he did a similar kind of spell on “the best boy in drama class”. He wrote his name on a piece of paper and sewed the paper up inside a hand-made doll, and then put it in a tin, covered it with honey, and left it in the back of the cupboard somewhere. Then the guy started acting strange.
“He was straight, so I thought I’d given him feelings he couldn’t deal with and it was making him crazy,” he said.
Sam dug the doll out and burned it.
It hasn’t been very long since I did the spell. Without those hairs, even with all the force of my intent and desire behind it, I’m asking for a lot. But I didn’t even put all the force of my intent and desire behind it. I was scared.
The object of a crush is not a person. They are just an object. You don’t really need them to love you; you need them to be yours. But by the time I was lighting the candle on my bedroom floor, after my correspondence with Conjureman Ali and my spell research and with the weight of needing to “make my peace with God” on my shoulders, my crush stopped being an object and started being a real guy who I could be messing with. This was good for him, maybe, because in all likelihood any magical influence I might have harnessed has well and truly ignored me; but it was better for me, because once he was a person, not a thing, I couldn’t maintain that level of crush on him. He was real. All the magical thinking just fell away.