SEASON OF THE WITCH
The year my best friend Joan and I turned thirteen, we started keeping extensive journals, hoping that, since we’d now entered our teens, we’d finally have something worth writing about. That something was love, L-U-V, spelled in poison green neon capital letters, and we were ripe and ready for it… two nubile death-traps, gamey with jail-bait.
In the early seventies, we were drunk on love– free love, Love’s Baby Soft cosmetics, Maybelline’s Roll-On Kissing Gloss, in luscious strawberry and honey orange. Our lips were dripping wet, drenched in promise, and we were dying to be kissed. Love, the way we saw it, was 18-22 years old, tall, long-haired, and lanky, hopefully in a band, and wearing tight patched jeans over a cute little ass. Sometime during that year, I’d heard that the word triskaidecaphobia meant “fear of the number thirteen”…unfortunately; most of the would-be Love Gods we knew definitely had that fear.
Life grew complicated and took on air of espionage as we strove to be mature, mysterious, urban sophisticate foxy ladies. We rearranged our lives in our pursuit of l’amour: instead of rushing home from seventh grade to draw the shades and watch “Dark Shadows” with half the neighborhood, we’d linger at diners smoking Marlboros (the tough, worldly, hippie-chick brand) and drinking black coffee, which we absolutely hated – but God! – it looked so grown-up. After we were sufficiently wired, we’d hit the Fashion Post boutique, trying on all sorts of groovy clothes, and then the Grand Union, where we used to shoplift Maybelline Blooming Colors eye-shadow compacts. I always wore Forest Green, because Cosmo said green eye-shadow looked wanton. Over dinner, I asked my mother what “wanton” meant, and when she said “whorish”, I knew with all my heart and soul that green was, indeed the color of eye shadow I needed to express my true inner feelings.
Wanton-eyed and baby-faced, I waited as patiently as I could for what Cosmo termed a “torrid affair” to occur, but in those days of Free Love, alas…most older men didn’t seem to notice willing, bra-less 13 year-old virgins-not that it really mattered at that point in my development, anyway. And Joan and I had succeeded in terrifying all of the boys our own age. It was clear to us: we needed help in a big way.
Desperate, we turned to Higher Forces, and very seriously practiced witchcraft, calling ourselves Pagans. We earnestly burned incense, buried bits of cloths and hanks of hair, fingernail clippings and coins tied into tiny scraps of material. We’d stare for hours into the flames of candles, we’d sew up little dolls and stick pins into their genital regions.
We’d have sleepover parties at each other’s houses, and would smoke an entire lid of raspy dirt-week, then strip naked and lay on the bed for hours with the lights out, trying to Astral Project. It all went into our diaries– the crushes, the incantations, the drug-inspired supernatural frenzies. We’d write exacting descriptions of what we wore every weekend on what we’d come to term our Fox Hunts … little satin 1940’s bed jackets, glitter platforms and tight-tight jeans covered with Majik Marker doodles of dragons and unicorns. Mine had Queen, Jimmy Hendrix, Bowie and T-Rex lyrics written all over them in a loopy child’s scrawl, the “I’s all dotted with tiny stars – excuse me, I meant Pentagrams.
Ultimately, with no magic other than nature involved, we both got our wishes and lost our virginity, and went on to become, at least for a time, home-wreckers in earnest. Then, very suddenly, it seemed, Joan and I were separated – I moved from Connecticut to California, and we fell out of touch.
Even more suddenly, I was no longer a teenager, and the way of life I’d aspired to as a bright young floozy had grown tiresome by my mid-twenties. Even though I was still into lookin’ for love , I was kind of sick of bars, parking lots, motel-rooms, liars, and being The Other Woman. Being a modern-day man-eater just wasn’t as exciting as it had seemed before I’d ventured into The Jungle Of Lust.
Recently, I dug out an old, dusty box of my diaries, and with them, Joan’s letters, and spent an afternoon re-living our manic, desperate, truly wanton adolescent friendship. It was a union full of furtive notes passed in class, with entire sentences underlined; green sparkly Sally Bowles-style nail-polish, Boone’s Farm Ripple wine, headaches, hallucinations, crying jags, buying speed from bikers and carnies, dramatic entrances and exits, parental screaming matches and uncontrollable giggling.
Down near the bottom of the box was a book Joan had given to me for my fourteenth birthday:
HOW TO BECOME A SENSUOUS WITCH: SPELLS, RITUALS AND RECIPES FOR A LIVELIER LOVE LIFE, BY ABRAGAIL AND VALARIA.
The dog-eared cover featured a sultry sorceress with overly-plucked eyebrows, hot pants and square-heeled lace-up boots posed fetchingly near a bubbling cauldron. I hadn't seen Joan in almost twenty years, but he book still smelled like her sandalwood oil, and by the scent alone, I could conjure her up.
I closed my eyes, and there she was before me, standing in a silver Lurex tube-top and cut-off Levi’s, her long blonde hair shimmering, daring me to take another hit off the joint she’s waving around, while she tosses her head, weaves around a bit on her platforms, dancing in all her teenage glory to her favorite song: Donovan’s “Season Of The Witch”.
Listen to “Season Of The Witch” from my spoken word CD Ruined here: