Vermont-based witch, astrologer and author Cal Garrison helps enchantresses of all ages overcome life's little setbacks. From finding your car keys to making money materialize out of nowhere, Garrison's got something for you in her Old Girls¹ Book of Spells: The Real Meaning of Menopause, Sex, Car Keys, and Other Important Stuff About Magic, billed as "a guide to witchcraft for mature women."
Garrison, a mature woman herself and Wicca devotee since her teenage years, insists that witching ways take time and practice to perfect. (Pity the newbie who casts a love spell on a hunky office mate, only to attract the attention of the resident computer geek.)
"It takes years of experience and practice to be a good witch," says Garrison. "You gotta be an old witch to know what you're doing."
Many of the more than one hundred original spells in Garrison's book cover what she calls "survival magic": nitty-gritty methods for generating money, enhancing one's career and warding off hot flashes, among other things. Though many of the spells are geared to women of baby-boomer age, Garrison stresses that her book is for any woman wanting hard and fast instructions on setting spells without the silly rituals and new-age shlockiness found in similar tomes.
"You know, 'high priestess' stuff. It's all too damn Catholic for me, thank you very much," says Garrison, who is convinced that fussy rituals and hard-to-find elements are extraneous to spell-casting. She believes that intent is what creates a potent spell, not whether a potion's sea salt was gleaned from the Caspian Sea instead of the spice aisle at Cub Foods.
Once you get a feel for the materials, Garrison says, casting spells can be broken down to a spooky science. For example, a money spell unfolds as follows: Boil a cauldron (aka a plain ol' pot) of water on the stove during a waxing moon phase. One by one, add spices that signify abundance (cinnamon, mistletoe and jasmine work best). While stating your intention out loud to the universe, add objects that represent your desire -- a toy car if you're currently without wheels, loose change or a dollar bill if you' re cash poor, etc.
Garrison swears by such magic's effectiveness. Still, you're more likely to freak out your straitlaced friends with your witchcraft than you are to receive a mysterious bank-account boon. Which brings up this question: How does one know if the spells are working, short of the mortgage company's sending a Christmas card with the message "Happy Holidays! Feel free to skip December's payment!"?
"You'll know that it's working because you'll get results right away," Garrison explains, noting that spell-casters need to stay alert to signs of success. She says the contract for her book came about as a result of a spell: She simply put her desire to write a book "out in the universe." Within three months, she got a phone call from an editor at RedWheel/ Weiser Publishing, requesting that she write a book. Of course, working as an astrology columnist for Glamour and other magazines probably didn't hurt her chances.
Don't be spooked by the slightly sinister connotations inherent in Wicca, Garrison advises. She practices witchcraft that uses natural elements coupled with positive intentions -- as opposed to "black magic," which historically has been used to control and harm others.
Garrison is sure to charm her audience this Sunday at Isis, where she'll discuss her book, answer questions and demonstrate a winter-solstice abundance spell. So drop by for some otherworldly tips. Maybe that hunky colleague's not out of reach after all.