Guys, I’ve never seriously considered hexing someone. Hexing is Ouija board shit, man, you don’t mess with it, that’s some dark kind of magic and nope. No thanks. But I swear to the goddess.
Yesterday, I was having a good day. I did some housekeeping work in the morning–read a few blogs, did up the basic outline for a few future posts, fooled around on Tumblr for a bit because it’s been a while, and just reread a little of the bookstore boys because it’s been a while, and I’ve worn sweaters every day this week, so I miss Will. After lunch, I started reading the last 100 pages of Wildwood, and that’s when it all started to go downhill.
I don’t want to get into specifics, especially on a public platform, but there are a few women at my work who are just miserable. They’re rude to me. They call me names like bitch and asshole, and I bet they mutter worse things under their breath. They talk about me while I sit right there, my back to them. They spread lies throughout my company about me, telling others that I’m cold, that I hate everyone, that I don’t have friends, that I’m not really part of the team, just someone on the outside looking in. I know this because others have told me. I know this because I’ve heard it firsthand. They don’t care if I’m standing right there, they’ll talk about me.
It gets worse every day. And before you tsk at me for not telling someone, I have. Multiple times. Because we are all women, we’re ignored. Called dramatic. Told that maybe we’re acting this way because there’s an age gap between us. I hear, “Maybe it’s your fault. Maybe you pushed them to this.” By doing what? Saying good morning and asking them how they are? I hear, “When did it start? What did you do to create this?” I asked them to treat me fairly. I asked them for help. I asked for them to explain processes. They yelled at me. They stood up and shamed me. They started sneering at me as I walked by and whispered bitch as I passed. I hear, “Your job performance isn’t what you think it is.” I hear this while I listen to them admit to lying, to ignoring emails, to laughing with each other about how they don’t care.
And last night, when I walked out into the woods at night, there was nothing more that I wanted than to whisper a few words, offer a bit of myself to the trees, ask for their help. Play in the shadows, and watch what unfolds in the light.
And this–this is why I am writing this book. Sister witches it not just a ridiculous, campy story. Yes, it points at the aesthetic of modern witch culture, and it makes fun of it a little because yes, I do think some of it is over the top. Crystals are rocks. They are not magic. You are magic. A crystal is just the vehicle to tap into that magic. So I’ll litter these chapters with crystals and tarot cards and fashion and colored candles and herbs because those vehicles move the magic inside of me. But that’s not why I’m writing this book.
I am writing this book for women like me. Women who are disenchanted with the world around them because it is cruel to them, because it bares its teeth when we ask for fairness, because it whispers seething words at us when we walk with our heads held high. This book is overflowing with women who see that dark, cruel world and go, “Is that all you’ve got?” This book is full of women who wear black and boots and red lips and say, “Give me your worst.” The book is bursting at the seams with women who bite when provoked because they are the women I need.
And I need you to hear their names right now. I need to say them right now so that I remember how powerful women can be, provoked or not.
Henley Abelló is from a Latina family that grew up deep in the South. She loved her parents, who nurtured their girls to believe in what felt best for them, not in just what they believed was the truth. Through tragedy, Henley lost her family, and when she arrived in Salem, it was with hopelessness and fear in her heart. She scrambled for the edges of her life, and for a few years, all she did was survive. Slowly, but surely, though, Henley started to find a new family, started to piece herself back together until people were looking to her to lead them.
She wanted more, she decided, and so she set out to find more, to collect those with magic in their veins, to ask the universe for women like her, and to expect the universe to provide. And when it did, Henley was already grinning. It was time to take over the world.
Adelaide Minami was the first friend that Henley made in Salem. After straying off of the carefully cultivated path that her Korean family laid out for her, they released her to the world. If she kept on this path, they would not support her, and so Adelaide said aloud to herself what they would not, “I am a witch, and they’re right to be afraid of me.” She packed her bags, moved to Salem, and waited there until she bumped into a girl on her way to class. She had long braids and was quick to scowl, but Adelaide knew. She glued herself to Henley, seeking that comfort of another woman others were right to fear.
She wanted to remain soft, to look delicate, but she also wanted to have power, to make people look twice before crossing the street to avoid her when she wished it. She wanted not just power over how the world saw her, though, but power over herself, over how she saw herself, so she began carefully honing her craft until it resembled her and no one else.
When Margot Kamau saw the ad up for a wanted roommate, she didn’t waste time. “You’re witches, right?” she said when she sat down across from Henley and Adelaide, “Because I’m looking for a coven, so I don’t want to waste your time if that’s not what this is.” She was an adopted only child to elderly white parents who doted on her in a way she’d never expected out of life, but who started traveling when she entered college and were mostly gone. She felt connected to the earth, but not to people, and she needed not just other women, but sisters who would understand.
She moved in with Henley and Adelaide a week later, and the universe gave a hearty laugh. You wanted a family, it seemed to say, because a family started sprouted up all around her. She had sisters now, a budding community that they would help to foster and grow, and people drawn to her because she had learned to find her way, yes, but also herself.
Ileana de Santos often got lost in the shuffle. With three sisters and two brothers, despite being the oldest, she was largely forgotten. When she graduated college, she was the first of her family, but then so many others went on to outdo her that they stopped saying, “Be like your sister,” and instead started wondering where she’d wandered off to now. There was no fanfare when she moved out, and Ileana quietly settled into her new life. She fought for a job her tea leaves had warned she would excel at, fought for her girlfriend when Kiran’s family threatened to stop supporting her, fought for her life when it started to crumble at the edges, and she did it all while wearing heels.
She remained a steady force to be reckoned with even as she dressed in pink and collected powdered sugar at the corners of her mouth from Portuguese delights. She started to blossom, the world unfolding before her, as she took what she wanted and held onto it tightly.
Kiran Singh was the favorite of her family for a long time. She was the youngest of two brothers and a sister, and her parents were loathe to part with her when she followed in their footsteps to leave India. But her siblings were calling, and follow she did. They told wonderful tales of America, but the thing that stuck with her the most was this–she might be able to let her heart breathe there. She’d been in America for only a year when she met Ileana, and though she knew soon after that she would do anything to keep this fiery heeled woman in her life, she didn’t tell her parents until a few years later. When they started to pull away, hurling words like disgust and unnatural at her, Kiran stood strong. By then, she had not just Ileana at her side.
For where Kiran’s blood family started to dissolve, she’d begun creating her own family. She wanted community, wanted magic that supported her, wanted witches that understood. When she and Kiran moved in together, it was with a third at their side and with the knowledge that they were unstoppable now, that together they could do anything.
Zariah Émile was there on Kiran’s right, Ileana at her heart’s left, when her parents called her for the final time to say that they were cutting ties with her. She was there to hold her up, to promise she would never abandon her, to call her sister. For though Zariah was still close with her own sister, she knew what it meant to be abandoned by your parents, knew what it meant to hold onto the only ties you had left, and she was never going to let go of her witches. They were hers, and the world be damned.
And though Zariah still had darkness in her heart, still felt called by the shadows, her sisters let her know there was nothing wrong with that, that they supported her path in whichever avenue it might take her, as long as they could witness it with her. They wanted to watch her petals unfold, and, for the first time in her life, Zariah understood what it meant to be loved.
Luciana Vela has no magic in her veins, but she’s got enough fire to scream into the void and smile when it steps back in fear. When she found out magic was real, she immediately accepted it and asked what else was out there. When she met a demon, she asked his intentions with her girls. When someone crossed Henley’s path and promised to destroy her, Luciana laughed in their face and told them they’d have to go through her first, and meant it.
Madeleine Beauchêne was a young girl when she left France for America, running from old, dark memories, and what she found was a little community of old, dark magic waiting for someone to peel back the curtain and seek to understand it. She’s spent years dedicating herself to the preservation of magic, to uncovering the layers of its vast knowledge, and to helping young witches walk through their anger and fear and hatred so they might come out on the other side stronger for it.
They are why I am writing this book. I am why I am writing this book. Women everywhere, told to sit down and be quiet, are why I am writing this book.
And while I didn’t actually get to write yesterday, I feel better just knowing these women are waiting for me when I have the chance to dive back in. I hope someday you get to meet them and feel rooted in power with them.