Instead I found a really great witch, whom I will not name because I do not want to clog up her Google results. I'll call her Moone.
Moone was neither Goth nor scary aging hippie. She was a friendly, cheerful, bustling, buxom lady, maybe in her mid 30s, in a long flowing skirt and a bright green tank top that allowed much of the buxom to flow over the top of it. She'd just moved the class to a community center in the East Village since she'd overflowed her previous space. She was maybe Caribbean by way of Canada. She seemed to enjoy her religion a great deal.
I took an immediate liking to Moone, who waved us all into the pastel-colored community center and sat us down in a circle. There were a couple of earnest young men, one of whom was clearly the teacher's pet and had maybe had some kind of special relationship with Moone, or had at any rate spent a fair amount of time receiving private tutelage. There were a couple of earnest, adorable young women, one couple wo had rode in on a motorcycle, an 18 year old Goth who slept through most of the class (Sunday mornings can be hard on teenagers), a boomer-aged Hispanic guy who said absolutely nothing, and a couple of boomer-aged women who talked a lot. Like the kids in section who think they know as much as the professor. They drove me nuts.
Moone's two hour class (for which she charged the modest sum of $5) discussed some of her favorite spells and where one could find them. Apparently, many great spells can be found on the internet. And just to be clear, these spells require nothing sinister except maybe spending a little too much money at Whole Foods.
I'll provide one sample spell for you free of charge:
To Attract Money:
You'll need a green candle, 5 silver coins, a small jar filled with sea water, your magick wand, Money Drawing Incense, Mmoney Drawing Oil, Charcoal, Matches, and Jasmine< Basil or Marigold herbs or seeds.
On the night of the full moon, go into the woods or by the sea to a spot where four paths cross (if possible, if not, improvise). Here you will inscribe with your wand a large circle with a pentagram in the center. Dig a small hole in the very center and place the jar in it so the top half is exposed to the moonlight. Place the green candle on top of the jar. Light the candle as you chant the following:
My Lady of the Abundant Sea,
Bring me Wealth and Prosperity.
Now take the silver coins and place one on each point of the pentagram as you chant the following:
Silver Coins that Sparkle Bright,
Increase my Wealth Five-Fold This Night.
When the small candle is completely burned out, open the jar. Pick up each of the silver coins one at a time, an dplace them in the jar as you chant the following:
Earth to Sea, Earth to Sea,
Bring me the Money I Now See.
As I will, So Mote It Be!
Sprinkle a drop or two of water on the ground and thank the Goddess for her blessings. Bring the water home with you and anoint yourself with it every day until it is gone. Snuff out the candle and take it home to continue it's work. You can also carry a pouch filled with jasmine, basil and marigold seeds, drops of money oil, candle droppings. Place oil on hands and on all your bills.
During the class, we walked through spells such as these, and people raised their hands if they asked questions. They were mostly how-to questions, like "Where can I find almond oil" and "what if I hate the smell of jasmine." Moone's answers were generally kind versions of "do the best you can."
I actually really enjoyed the haphazard nature of Moone's witchcraft. If your spell doesn't work, maybe it just wasn't meant to happen, or maybe you had a cold, or maybe your prayer was actually answered, just in a different way. I got the feeling she didn't take the whole thing too seriously - unlike some of the "experts" in the room, who got in arguments with each other over whether you can use oil from the supermarket ("there are all kinds of bad energies in the supermarket") and whether you can really raise magical energies by having sex, or whether all those energies will just end up being dissipated because you'll keep getting distracted by the sex.
"I've done it," one of the middle-aged students said smugly. "You just really have to concentrate." She started lecturing the rest of the class about this, to our horror, and to the annoyance of Moone, who turned away towards her other students and mumbled "That's bullshit. Nobody can do that." Mostly, though, Moone took this counter-lecturing with good grace.
A confession: I used to do this. I don't even think my mom knew that. I went to a hippie school, and in the sixth grade, there was a witchcraft fad, the same way there would later be a Converse sneakers fad and a knitting fad. My inspiration was Joyce, a very cool fellow sixth grader, who even had an altar in her room (she kept precious stones there, and we weren't allowed to touch it, because it would disturb the energies). And, okay, I had some precious stones maybe sitting around too, and maybe I read some books from the library about making offerings to the earth and the different energies of different types of herbs. It was just - cool. I gave up more because I was embarassed about it than because I had any spiritual objections to it or because I "realized" it wouldn't work. I don't think I ever really thought it would work. It was just fun. I've always had trouble with the abstract nature of "pure" religion - with thinking about a God who cannot be imagined or described. Rituals you can hold in your hands are very, very appealing sometimes.
Witchcraft is also different from any of the other religions I've researched because it's so anti-authoritarian. You can go to conventions and group bonfires and rites and such if you like, but really, you don't have to. You can just do it on your own, like Starr, and cast a million protection spells on your kids, and find pretty stones, and oils that smell good, and rituals on the internet that feel right, or write your own. You don't have to go to anybody's sermon or donate any money to anyone. You don't have to take orders from anyone. Witchcraft supports eclectic, practical prayer, and you hold things in your hands that help you focus on your prayer, and nobody else really has to know.
At my job, I hear a lot of rhetoric about how great and important community is. But a lot of the time, community is just a group of people who tell you you're doing it wrong and drive you crazy.
Forget those people. Go out into the woods and light yourself some candles. Why not?
Moone is great. You can hire her for private parties. Write me and I'll send you her email address.