Enchantments: A Modern Witch’s Guide to Self-Possession
By Mya Spalter
Illustrated by Caroline Paquita
Book design by Elizabeth A.D. Eno
Lenny – an imprint of Random House
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Mya Spalter created an entertaining and budget-friendly look on modern witchcraft. She also laid things bare about working at Enchantments, the oldest witch shop in New York City. She talked about some creepy customers; and was totally honest about why the staff might come off as cold or moody on certain days. Her advice is none other than practical.
This doesn’t mean that only newbies to the craft should read Enchantments. I thoroughly loved every page of this book and I’ve been a practicing witch (basically since I was a kid, but hid it) openly since for over 20 years. I’ve studied with the best like staff at Mystickal Tymes in New Hope, PA and Laurie Cabot from Salem, MA.
What I loved about Spalter was that the reading experience felt like a conversation where we were friends hanging out. By the end, I truly wished we were. She’s a dynamo. I have so many passages of Enchantments highlighted.
She presents ideas for spells and the background of complex studies at an introductory level. When it comes to subjects like astrology, I’ve never been one to excel. I still need the basics. I appreciate that she went into the science of all this! Spalter admits that despite her scholarly basis, sometimes there still aren’t concrete ways to talk about the how’s and why’s of witchcraft. She periodically refers to “vibes” and plainly explains that’s the best way she knows how to describe that thing. Plus, I love a woman that still acknowledges Pluto as a planetary body:
“Each of the nine planets (witches still fux with Pluto), plus the moon and the sun, has a certain personality.”
Spalter answered the question, why you should respect feminism and witchcraft:
“Because at a moment when the rights of women and gender-nonconforming people are under increased and constant attack from institutions of power, a non-hierarchical, goddess-centered style of spirituality has a markedly increased appeal. Because we’re in a moment in which a lot of people are feeling a greater urgency toward practices that can offer some way toward meaning, peace, and self-possession.”
Spalter presents inexpensive options for finding tools and supplies. Hit up yard sales, dollar stores, and simply work with what is already in your possession. Recycle, upcycle, repurpose. She gives several reminders about fire safety which I can appreciate as a witch with cats who just love to knock things over.
“You’ve heard this from me before, but the first step in any uncrossing spell is to clean your filthy apartment.”
Spalter’s approach is refreshing because here’s this author and longtime witch to the community (through retail) who gives you permission to use an à la carte approach. She tried to come up a label for her style of witchcraft and I love it. I love that there’s no one singular way that anyone should feel pressured into following. “Wicca-ria-pop-magic-Jewish-Hoodoo,” is what she calls her religion.
Yoga and chakras are brought up a few times. Spalter is an avid yogi which she says is a grounding ritual for her.
From Hoodoo to Vodou to Voodoo to Christianity; Samhain to Día de los Muertos; to the myths of flying — Spalter’s overview has a lot of illuminating nuggets of information.
“Ancestor worship is a powerful sort of magic. It’s a gratitude practice, not a transaction; it involves no wishing or willing because all of that already happened.”
Spalter does not shy away from the 2016-2018 political climate in the United States. There’s a brief reference to the #BindTrump or mass hexing that goes on around the world. For this, Spalter does not believe in manipulating anyone else’s free will (same with love spells); instead she comes up with creative solutions to using reversing spells.
“If you use the ‘wrong’ color candle during the ‘wrong’ phase of the moon, nothing bad will happen to you. Bad things happen because you’re a mortal human on Earth, like the rest of us, and such is the shit of life.”
What Spalter means by “self-possession” in the full title of the book is the multiple connotations of the term “possession.” She mostly means for the reader/practitioner to embrace their own inner power; although, there is a brief lesson on respecting the religions who do allow living human bodies to be possessed by spirits.
Grant Morrison, comics and occult author, was Spalter’s primary influence for writing her story about Enchantments. Personally, I find Morrison’s non-comic side way more appealing. He’s intelligent and gifted; I just don’t get into his takes on superheroes from what I’ve read of them. Spalter recommends his essay “Pop Magic!” for learning about sigils.
Morrison isn’t the only pop culture figure mentioned. Beyoncé and her brilliant representation of Yemaja get distinguished props.
The illustrations by Caroline Paquita add the flavor of folk art and creation/creative energy bringing the chapters to life. To summarize, if you have any interest at all in how witches today practice, read this book.