I Learned How to Be a Hot Witch With Dame Darcy, and Guess What, You Can Too (With Spells!)

I'm taking "crazy" back. And Dame Darcy is taking "witch" back. Now let's cast some magical spells, sisters.
Publish date:
October 10, 2012
hot witches, dame darcy

I met Dame Darcy through our mutual friend Jessica Delfino who insisted that as two statuesque blonde witchy chicks who are friends with Courtney Love, we definitely had to meet.

She was right.

When I met her at Whole Foods this weekend, Darcy handed me a copy of her new book, "Handbook for Hot Witches." I sat in the upstairs Union Square coffee area, flipping through doing the speed-reading thing I've become accustomed to when it comes to sussing out books to see if it draws me in or not, and I was hooked. The lines that did it?

"Don't take anyone seriously who says or does negative things to you... Another way is to create a mystique. Don't let just anyone know who you are."

"You have spells in here?" I asked Darcy. "Do they work?"

"Spells are a big part of being a witch," she told me, and she also said that she identifies as a mermaid, and then I texted Courtney, who said, "Send my love, she is my fave super freak," which is quite the compliment.

I'll share my very favorite spell from the book with you guys, but mostly I want to tell you what Darcy made me think about regarding the entire concept of being a witch. It's a term that I use a lot. One time a female writer I don't know that well spent an evening out with me and my close friend Sharon, and the writer then sent me a piece she wrote about our evening out together.

In it, she quoted me and Sharon as kind of squealing, "We're witches! We're witches!" and I had that nasty feeling that comes when someone reports on you, and you're not in control of the narrative. I thought I looked like a dumbass crazy person who cackled drunkenly (I was still partying -- a lot) that I was a fucking witch. Awesome.

Now I look back, and I care. A lot. Less. That makes me happy. I do think there's a big element of context in any kind of reporting; you can either string someone up with their quotes or you can report on them as if you are rooting for them and seeking out the elements that you like and are intrigued by. Slash-and-burn hatchet writing is always fun (and I don't think that's what she was doing necessarily), but it fascinates me to think about contextualization and how we are presented and appear to other people. Does calling yourself a witch necessarily make you look crazy?

Maybe. I think that's the term that has been hardest for me to come to terms with when people are perhaps seeking to be pejorative. "Crazy."

I once talked with another female writer who was telling me about another, much more successful writer in her field, and she said of her: "Oh, that woman is so crazy." I then bitterly interjected, "And by 'crazy' you mean creative and with a strong point of view and outrageous and isn't trying to conform to societal standards?"

The woman looked at me, swordsman-like, and said, "Yes. Exactly."

Oh, touché.

I think I'm now comfortable with "crazy" if that's how people need to define me. I know myself well enough to know who I am, and I think I've let go a lot more of the need for a controlled narrative. If other people need to categorize me that way, then good for them. Whatever neat little box works for you.

"Witch" is a term that Darcy is very aware of as one that needs reclaiming. That's exactly what she's set out to do. And when I was with her, we strolled to a costume shop and sought out sexy witch (or hooker witch, as I called them) outfits to wear to illustrate the idea of the hot witch. And do you know what I felt? I felt a young, girlish-childhood sense of power.

When I was bitterly depressed at the age of 21 as an intern at The Washington Post, very needily and unhealthily obsessed with the man who was to become my ex-husband, something happened that I'll never forget.

That stupid teenage movie "The Craft" came on, and I remember noticing in my body how much more alive I felt. I felt my 13-year-old Mandy inside me revitalized and remembering my two insanely close best friends as a young girl, scheming and dreaming, and while not exactly planting spells per se, it was something quite close to that.

When I was the yearbook editor at my high school, I felt so gross and angry and alienated and confused; I used to actually take home the rejected pictures we weren't using in the yearbook, pictures of the popular girls at school who would ignore me and pretend that I didn't exist as I stood next to them awkwardly, way too tall, totally hating myself. I would put those pictures in the fire at home. I would put them, slowly and ritualistically into the fireplace in San Diego, watching the pictures curl up at the edges and then disappear entirely.

Not voodoo or witchcraft exactly, but a small little reclamation of power and anger as a fucked-up teenage girl who felt so mad and uncomfortable at all the things that I was feeling inside of myself. I didn't wish these girls ill. But I wished the feelings inside myself to be gone. I didn't want other people to have a hold on me. It worked. A little. Maybe.

So that's how I felt when I saw "The Craft" during that very stressful time when it came on TV. That magic sense of girlish power bubbled up inside me. It reminds me a bit of what Naomi Wolf was saying about how pleasure makes women harder to subjugate. I think it also applies to when we lose -- and then maybe reclaim -- that pleasurable youthful sense of witchiness.

And that's what Darcy is doing. Darcy is taking "witch" back. She's taking "mermaid" back, too. And maybe I'm taking "crazy" back. Her book party to celebrate the new book is tomorrow, Thursday at 7 p.m. at Forbidden Planet (832 Broadway), where she'll be signing copies of the new book. I'll be there. Who knows, maybe Courtney will be, too.

In the meantime, here is my favorite spell from the book on "casting a ritual circle." I witch you. With all my heart.

"To spiritually prepare for any ritual, first fill a chalice with salt water. Then walk around the area you wish to contain in a clock-wise direction, sprinkling the water to cast the circle. Have any attendants at the ritual hold hands in the center as you cast the circle. Call out to the spirits as you reach the corresponding points of the compass.

We call to the Spirits of the East and Air: we bid you welcome; enter our circle.

We call to the Spirits of the South and Fire: we bid you welcome; enter our circle.

We call to the Spirits of the West and Water:

we bid you welcome; enter our circle.

We call to the Spirits of the West and Water: we bid you welcome; enter our circle.

We call to the Spirits of the North and Earth: we bid you welcome; enter our circle.

We call to the Spirits Above, to the high beings of the cosmos and other worlds: we bid you welcome; enter our circle.

We call to the Spirits Below, to the ancestors and the ancient ones: we bid you welcome; enter our circle.

We call to the Spirits Below, to the ancestors and the ancient ones: we bid you welcome; enter our circle.

We call to the Spirits of the Center, to the spark of light that meets and merges within each of us: we bid you welcome; enter our circle.

We would also like to welcome to our circle loved ones who have passed on, spirit helpers, guides and higher selves.

The circle is cast and is a safe space. We are now between worlds; what happens between worlds affects all worlds.

When the ritual is complete, undo the circle by saying the following:

We thank you, Spirits of the East, South, West, North, Above, Below and Center. The circle is open but unbroken."


Find Mandy long-form at http://tinyurl.com/stadtmiller.