By Katie Elliot
I’ve always had a slight fascination with witchcraft. Whether it was fictional movies airing annually on television prior to Halloween depicting cackling women circling a black, steaming cauldron – an endless tornado of swirling black crinoline – or chapter 10 in my elementary school history book and its sugar-coating of the Salem Witch Trials, I was all in. That’s probably why at the tender age of nine when I stumbled across a Spell Book authored by a self-proclaimed “real” witch amidst the clutter in my cousin’s Pearl Jam-infested bedroom, I could not put it down. I’m not even sure why she had it, but I read the entire book cover to cover and took notes about which spells I thought I could tackle without having to purchase any odds and ends that my $5-per-week allowance could not possibly accommodate.
The one spell that most piqued my interest required nothing further than some pins, my own hair and spending the evening alone, which all seemed doable. The tricky part was that it had to be performed on the evening of January 21, The Eve of Saint Agnes. The spell’s introduction explained that Saint Agnes was a thirteen-year-old virgin who was put to death for refusing to eschew Jesus Christ as her spouse despite multiple requests from high-power potential suitors; January 21 was the day of her martyrdom and it was said that even pagans wept as she was stabbed to death because she was such a beautiful, spirited girl.
At nine years old, I didn’t fully comprehend what all of that back-story meant – there’s no way I knew what a martyr was – all I knew was if I plucked two of my hairs and wrapped each around a pin, put them under my pillow after spending the evening alone and then chanted something to “sweet St. Agnes” as I drifted off to sleep, she would show me my future spouse in my dreams that night. I figured there was no harm in trying.
That afternoon at school I could barely contain myself and was so excited to go home and sit alone in my room until bedtime. I’d already worked out in my mind that I was going to feign being sick so my parents would leave me alone and then I could do as I pleased. This worked like a charm as I was able to eat a meager dinner before 6 p.m., the official start of evening, and then remain in my room for the duration of the night. I’d lifted a couple of straight pins from my mother’s sewing box, plucked and wrapped my hairs and carefully placed them under my pillow. I was all set. I followed the spell meticulously and memorized my chant, which I whispered to myself as I was falling asleep. That night I dreamt of a boy wearing a green baseball cap whose face I couldn’t really see, but whose smile I could just make out from under the bill of the cap. That image was all I remembered when I awoke, but I assumed the spell had worked since I had a dream about a boy and that he was my future spouse who I obviously didn’t know yet. This was my logical explanation for why I couldn’t see his face. I remember feeling proud and simultaneously ashamed because I was doing something that I was pretty certain wouldn’t be smiled upon by my parents or my church, for that matter, but from what I could tell it had worked. Did this make me a witch because I’d seemingly successfully completed a spell? I wasn’t sure and finally decided it was nothing and the dream was a coincidence. Not to mention, I really couldn’t be sure if it had actually worked until I got married, right? At nine, adulthood and marriage was ages away, so with that, I pushed my sinful act of spell-casting to the back of my mind.
Seven years later during my sophomore year of high school I met a boy who was a senior; mutual friends who were dating set us up and my first instinct was that I didn’t really like him. He seemed cocky and for what reason I wasn’t sure. He had a job, a car and an attitude and I was way too proud to let my big personality be eclipsed by some eighteen-year-old Cassanova. He always wore a baseball cap to tame his unruly, black hair and I never really paid much attention to it other than it was in pretty rough shape from years of everyday wear. I’m not sure how or why, but at some point that year I decided I liked this boy; his attitude had waned and he seemed to want to do whatever he could to make me like him. My little ego enjoyed the strokes.
We dated throughout my remaining years in high school and off and on during college. My senior year of college we took a year off and dated other people, but kept finding ways back to each other, the final time when we were both in some friends’ wedding and were forced to attend sundry preliminary parties and other various nuptial festivities. After a solid decade of a roller coaster of a relationship and living in several cities, we got married four years ago and are back in our hometown, only about 20 minutes from the high school courtyard where we first met. I won’t say we were high school sweethearts or soul mates, that sounds too idyllic and frankly, a bit silly as I don’t believe in either. But, I will say one night about a year into our marriage, I sat up straight in bed in the middle of the night when I realized the color of the baseball cap my husband wore the year I met him.
It was hunter green.
Katie Nance Elliott is a freelance marketing communications consultant and writer who left the advertising agency world in search of something a little less structured to nourish her creative spirit. Read her ramblings about popular culture, advertising and the ridiculous situations she finds herself in on her blog So You Think You Can Nance .