One of the first spells I ever cast was one I found on the Internet about breaking with the past. Leaving all the foo-foo out, you were essentially supposed to tie a knot at each end of a length of string, one representing the past and one the future. You were to burn the string through the middle to break with that part of your history, then dispose of the “past” knot.
When I first started learning about Wicca and witchcraft, I wanted badly to dress the part. I went on eBay and found all these magnificently witchy clothes. I had a black crushed velvet skirt and a purple one. I had the obligatory black top with bell sleeves ripe for catching fire in the candlelight. My favorite article of clothing however, was a black corset top laced up with shining black ribbon.
When the top arrived, I couldn’t figure out why it came with about ten feet more ribbon than was necessary as the laces were purely decorative. I cut the excess ribbon off and put it in my witchy kit because, surely, black ribbon must be mystical somehow.
I ended up using it as the “string” in my breaking with the past spell.
I dutifully tied a knot in both ends, past and future. In fact, I tied several knots in the past end, because my past was especially knotty. I held the ribbon over the flame, chanted the words the Internet told me to chant, then placed the ribbon into the flame at the halfway point.
I feel like there must be some spiritual significance in the fact that most super-commercial witchy clothes are also super flammable. Something to do with a legacy of stakes and angry pilgrims maybe?
The ribbon lit and took off, hitting the past knots so fast and hard that it gave my fingers an awful, stinging burn before I knew what hit me. I dropped the ribbon into a dish as it burned to nothing, as if it had never existed. I put my finger in my mouth and nursed the burn.
The past hurt. Severing from the past hurt. Doing a spell severing from the past literally hurt. I had no idea at the time whether ending up slightly injured from your own spellwork is a good sign or a bad sign. Seeing as how my past still continued to haunt me, I guess it’s not the best.
It was as if the Universe said, “Um… Nope.”
Well, we can’t all be Circe every day can we?
I’ve been dinking around at my keyboard for the last five minutes trying to think of a moral to cap off this story. Let’s see:
Wear slow-burning clothes.
Don’t set acetate on fire an inch from your exposed skin.
Expecting a resolution to deep, complex issues via an Internet spell is a little silly.
Bad magic, even with the best intentions, sometimes bites back.
Probably that last one.