Clarissa, a pseudonymous 27-year-old in L.A., has always had a bit of a “witchy side.” But it wasn’t until after she observed a ritualistic ceremony at a local botanica that she realized her powers, especially regarding matters of the heart.
In fact, she manifested a current hookup by using a common love spell that involves setting magical intentions and attaching them to your favorite perfume — though she was sure to add her own personal twist. “Every time I’d see him, I’d put my pussy juice on my pulse points and then spray perfume over it,” she tells me. “We’ve had an on-and-off thing going for two years now, and he won’t leave me alone for more than two weeks without checking in on me.”
Another aspect of her ritual is masturbation. She describes going into a trance-like headspace when rubbing one out. Sometimes the men she’s manifested are a deliberate part of the ritual, but other times, they flash before her eyes right as she cums. It isn’t long before fantasy becomes reality — whether the man was previously interested in her or not (like two musicians she had crushes on, both of whom had no idea she even existed before her spell).
When you think of love spells or curses, chanting and witchy potions probably immediately come to mind. But the reality is, most spells and curses are about identifying and redirecting energy. “I tend to think of spells more in terms of what they’re trying to accomplish rather than what tools you’re using,” Jaya Saxena, author of Basic Witches: How to Summon Success, Banish Drama and Raise Hell With Your Coven, explains. “There are love spells where you’re trying to affect the mood or behavior of a specific person, versus ones where you’re trying to more vaguely attract love into your life. Things like herbs and candles are just tools to aid in that intention setting.”
You just have to look at Instagram to see the prevalence of modern-day witchcraft (e.g., the hashtag #witchesofinstagram has more than 6 million posts). It makes sense: While witchcraft is inherently political and has deep ties to feminism, it also meshes nicely with contemporary obsessions like self-care and wellness. Also, in a world where online dating can seem futile and depressing, it can be a balm for heartbreak and loneliness.
That said, love spells aren’t without their problems. According to John E.L. Tenney, a paranormal investigator, witch and self-described “professional weirdo,” he was explicitly told not to perform them when he began practicing witchcraft 40 years ago. “I was just a teen at the time, and the other witches I met not only warned me against doing them, they also said I’d ignore that advice and try it anyway,” he tells me. “And they were right.”
Back in the 1980s, Tenney was in a happy relationship, but he wanted to ensure that his and his girlfriend’s hearts would always be together, so he cast a spell. Once it began to manifest, though, she developed a very dangerous obsession with him, he says. “By the time I’d realized it had gone horribly wrong, I couldn’t do anything to reverse it, no matter what I tried. It became a fairly dangerous spell in the sense that it led to a stalking situation.”
Luckily, the spell eventually weakened, and the worst of it finally ended. Still, he warns, “When you want to increase love in someone, what’s going to happen is you have to push something else out of them. This is true of magic in general. When you force something to happen in the universe, when you move energy, something is going to rush in to fill that void.”
For Jenillee, a 38-year-old in Canada, her brush with witchcraft was just high school fun. She and her best friend frequently visited a local shop called the Witch’s Brew where they would buy odd things and incense. One day, they asked the owner if she had anything to make their crushes reciprocate their love. “She sold us some sort of weird powder — I have no idea what was in it — and told us to buy red felt, cut out two heart shapes and sew it up like a heart-shaped pouch with the powder inside and to carry it with us everywhere.”
Within three days, the boys who previously had shown zero interest in the girls were slathering them with attention, she says, and they eventually ended up dating them. “I still always wonder if the powder actually worked, or if having it gave us some extra confidence that allowed us to be seen by these guys,” she says.
Of course, the people who are put under spells can feel like it’s a real violation. Kyle (not his real name), a 33-year-old in Mississippi, was devastated when he learned that his 10-year marriage was the result of a love spell. Back in 2005 — when he was 18 — he met a woman in Europe online, and they began a friendship that caused him to break up with his girlfriend at the time. Kyle decided to take a break from his new online friend, too, but just a short time later, he felt compelled to reach out. He also became incredibly jealous when she mentioned meeting up with a man that they both knew. All of this led to him asking her to be in a more serious long-distance relationship, which resulted in a trip to Germany and marriage.
For a while, they were very happy — both of them feeling as though they’d found their soulmate. But things began to unravel when she confessed to him that she’d done a love spell on him, which, in hindsight, explained everything. “She had ruined a potential relationship with someone I deeply cared about,” he says about her role in his breakup with his previous girlfriend. “She hounded me daily about needing me to love her in return. She even fought with my mom over the phone, criticizing how she raised me. I was done. My feelings toward her were vicious. Then, suddenly, I felt bad and wanted to be kind to her and hear her out. I wouldn’t say that I had a sudden romantic urge or anything, but there was a definite change in my demeanor.”
Again, that’s why Tenney preaches that love connections are better made the old-fashioned way (even if he, too, had to learn that the hard way). “You can have a lot more effect on a person’s life by talking and relating to them, doing the normal work of a human being,” he says. “When you willfully want to change someone, that never really has a good outcome.”
To that end, 55-year-old Clinton always believed that he had a psychic ability, but he didn’t know he could actually manifest energy until just a few years ago. At the time, he was in a long-distance relationship with a woman in the U.K. During one of his visits to see her, he discovered that his love was deathly afraid of cows, as she refused to walk in a pasture with him. It was something he laughed about at the time, since cows are such gentle animals.
But are they?
Cut to a few months later. Clinton was miffed when his girlfriend had stopped texting and calling. When she finally did respond, it was to tell him that she’d fallen in love with another man. Clinton was extremely upset and could feel the wrath inside of him growing to a scary, almost powerful level. Soon thereafter, he’d learn that while his now-ex was crossing a field to meet her new lover at their fuck cabin, she was attacked by cows. “Nigel. Fucker’s name was Nigel,” he recalls.
“Naturally, I cannot prove a supernatural power from me was involved, but if she wasn’t cheating on me, this wouldn’t have happened,” he continues. “The cows knew what she needed. The cows were with me there.”
You don’t have to meet the same bovine fate, though. Witchcraft or no witchcraft, love spell or no love spell (or curse), you’re, as always, the one in charge of your own destiny. “Yes, someone might absolutely be trying to put a spell or curse on you, but ultimately, you’re the major power in your reality,” Tenney says. “Your intention, your mind and your ability to manifest what seems to be our shared reality is up to you.”
He might be right, but I’m still keeping an eye out for that fucker Nigel.