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A Conversation With a 17th-Century Sorceress

In response to a recent comment, I got in touch with a 17th-century sorceress.

What kind of spells do you cast?

What kind of spells don’t I cast! Well, there are a number, actually. In fact, mostly I only do love spells, but usually by the time I finish describing their pros and cons, and how people generally feel after I cast one for them (bad, almost uniformly, unless they’re unwell), most people decide against them. Because if you think about it, love spells are deeply sad, and are in fact probably an oxymoron.

But I also do spells for ailments.

What do you wear?

Capes! Cloaks. Lace. Lots of heavy garments over lighter garments, with some thin, papery scraps of cloth tied around various body parts over the heavier garments. Lots of black, lots of gray. Bolts of color here and there, but usually visible only to me (and sometimes others, when I pump my arms, etc.). Honestly I love getting dressed — it helps me get into character, so to speak, not that I’m a character.

I’ve got these wonderful black leather boots that I inherited from my mother. They lace up with tiny ropes of braided whole shed-snakeskins that I have to oil every couple months or so, but I never forget. They look like old gray strings at this point, and have a sort of musty funk, but I don’t mind. It’s part of my history. And I love having little secrets like that. Like, “they’re not bootlaces — they’re braided snakeskins, and nobody knows but me.”

Do you brush your hair?

No, most self-respecting sorceresses don’t, BUT I will say I run my fingernails through it enough that this question is almost moot!

What are your fingernails like?

They’re long, and come to a point. They usually have a little bit of dirt under them, which naturally gathers there when you have nails as long as mine, but I don’t clean them as much as I could because I find it adds to the mystique.

Tell me about the love spells again. Why are they so sad?

Well, think about it. Let’s say you loved someone, and he or she didn’t love you back. Frustrating and heartbreaking. So you come to me, and I cast a love spell to make him love you. Happiness and joy! But … who is this person who now suddenly loves you? Why do they love you? They love you because you bought a bit of magic that made them feel this way, which neuters the very quality that makes love valuable — its mystery, that it must be earned, that it’s free to vanish. They don’t love you — well, they do, but they don’t, if you know what I mean. It’s that their heart has been enslaved. By you. Which is sad.

Do you speak from experience?


Did you undo it?

I did.

What happened? 

He went his own way and I went mine. He never knew he was under a spell, he just thought it was a funny thing he felt for a little while. For me it was the whole world, but oh well, that was a long time ago.

So how many love spells are you casting a week, despite all these disclaimers?

Hmm. Probably in the range of five to six thousand.


I know.


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