I've been waiting for my Hogwarts acceptance letter for almost 24 years and still haven't heard back.
But after years of waiting to become my spookiest self, I finally came across my chance at New York City's first witch academy, AKA the Wiccan Family Temple (WFT).
Students at the WFT get to experience myriad aspects of magickal (the Wiccan spelling) thinking and practice. In addition to attending full moon ceremonies, they can participate in various workshops to perfect their witchy craft.
On Sunday, October 9, I fulfilled a lifelong dream by attending a real-life spell casting class, and GODDESS DAMN was it good.
I rolled up to class with no idea what to expect. I was told to bring a "carving tool," which I didn't have, so I brought a small cheese knife.
As I walked into class, backpack-and-cheese-knife-clad, I scanned the crowd. I noticed some familiar faces from the Harvest Moon ceremony last month, but it was dark and I was too enthusiastic about the post-ceremonial wine, so I couldn't remember anyone's name.
The classroom was pretty spartan, white and sleek like something from an IKEA catalog. But in the center was a long, white table with colorful candles and glitter covering almost every inch.
Before we began casting any spells, High Priestess Starr RavenHawk walked us through the ethics of "candle magick."
Candles, she explained, are a powerful tool for spell casting. Each color, symbol, incense and oil involved in a candle crafting ceremony has a special meaning that can help a person achieve their desired goal.
That said, there are some ground rules for candle magick. For one thing, you can't use a candle to hex — or curse — someone. I know this because I asked if I could make a candle to stop Donald Trump from becoming president. I was politely but promptly told this was unethical.
Instead, candles are used to help bring peace, order, and/or prosperity into a person's life. One of my classmates made a candle for her sister who wanted to buy a house. Another created a candle to find inspiration for his next screenplay.
I decided to make my candle for my cat and dog, who relentlessly battle each other for food and/or affection. I hoped my candle would bring order to our tiny Brooklyn apartment.
Once the rules were set, we were ready to get our hands dirty. Or in this case, glittery.
We were instructed to draw different sigils — or magic symbols — into the sides of the candle using our carving tools. Thankfully, Starr had an extra carver for me, as my cheese knife was sad and embarrassing.
I carved lots of sigils onto my candle, since I need all the help I can get. Per Starr's recommendation, I opted for a black candle, to appeal to the gods. I drew the peace sigil and a few others to protect the house from my pugnacious pets.
Next, we tasted some honey to draw the gods.
Honey is the nectar of the gods, so naturally, we had to put some in our glass candle case. However, Starr told us we had to taste a bit of the honey first to assure the pagan gods it wasn't poisoned. We were cool with it.
After dropping some honey in, we rubbed the candle with a bit of oil that correlated to our spell. I used the "peace and protection" oil, which smelled musky and delicious. Starr told us she makes all the oils herself, from natural, organic materials — the recipes are stowed away in her "Book of Shadows" at home.
Whether or not the spell causes a ceasefire in my apartment, creating the candle felt super rewarding — just not for spiritual reasons.
As a recovering ex-Catholic, it was refreshing to hear Starr talk about how witchcraft is supposed to empower us.
I'm still an atheist, but dammit, if loving witchcraft is wrong, I don't wanna be right.