Magic Reminds Us To Be Awed

Life is the spell.

Harmony Birch
Jan 31, 2023
3 min read
What is Witchcraft?Word WitchcraftKinship
Tunisian desert rose by Laura Peña.
Laura Peña

I stood on a tree stump with the Desert Rose clutched to my chest. This stone was my brother's — my already annoying little brother who wasn't old enough to play with me but figured out that I was entertaining when he threw his blocks in my direction. My brother, who'd transformed my mom from a doting woman who always read to me and rarely raised her voice to someone stressed, impatient, mean. My brother, whose father waltzed back into our life when he felt like it, then disappeared just as suddenly, leaving disaster and tears in his wake. His father, who I was on the cusp of hating, though I was still too young to really know what hatred was.

Today, my mother declared that we were going to release this stone. It had bad energy. This stone had been gifted to my brother by a family friend. It was meant to protect him. We'd found it dropped on our dirt driveway — it must have fallen out of the car. We'd rescued it and put it on our window sill, but a few days later, my mother decided it had to go.

It seemed unfair that I got to keep my Azurite while my brother's stone was to be cast away.

In truth, I'd been jealous of his Desert Rose. It sparkled. I wondered what a baby would do with a rock. But instead of feeling gleeful that it was his stone we were releasing, I saw too clearly the symbolism of the gesture.

My mother was at a breaking point.

In a few weeks' time, she'd rent a U-Haul and drive my brother and me across the country in an attempt to escape his father. But I closed my eyes and thought I could hear the waterfall we often hiked to, where my mom intended to leave the stone. I closed my eyes and thanked the stone I was reluctant to part with. When I opened them, I examined the stone. And found a tiny crystal sprouting from its surface.

Hope burned.

I stumbled off the tree stump and ran toward my mom, who had already hiked a considerable distance ahead.

"Mommy, a crystal grew!"

She didn't believe me at first. But then I showed her, swearing up and down that it hadn't been there before. And she paused. And she cried.

We kept that stone, and 22 years later, she still tells the story of how I was magic and made a crystal grow.

I stopped believing it in early adolescence. Surely, the crystal was there before or had grown without our notice, but it hadn't sprung into existence after a few seconds of kindergarten meditation.

But as I grow, I've learned that the origin of the crystal doesn't matter. Magic isn't only fairy rings and growing crystals. It's the love we feel for our annoying younger siblings. The messiness of jealousy and protectiveness that has always defined my role as an older sister. It's the hope the story seemed to give my mom when her life felt bleak. For me, it's largely faith and possibility.

The last few years, magic is what I turn to while the world burns when my angst feels all-consuming. It's sinking toes into sand; it's murals painted onto the ceilings of palaces; it's the story of someone from a different place and time who imparted life-changing wisdom onto you. Magic reminds us to be awed. It reminds us that life is the spell. We're here. You're here, and life will continue.

Harmony (She/her) is an oldest daughter and big sister to three of the coolest kids on earth. She’s also a librarian with a particular fondness for working with adolescents and instruction. She’s often a bisexual, anarchistic, ADHD, disaster. Her witchcraft is usually solitary and eclectic and often expresses itself via kitchen and word witchery. If you’re looking for more of her work, a Google search proves that the internet is eternal. Or you can check out her podcast Rebel Girls Book Club, a quasi-scholarly exercise in close reading with an emphasis on non-hierarchical practices and intersectional feminism. Currently, Harmony is working toward her Queen of Wands era, and she’s truly rooting for y’all to live your best lives.


Inspired to spread some money magic? The Caribbean Women's Health Association is helping to reduce infant mortality rates, connecting immigrants with health care resources, educating about HIV and aids and how to access treatment, and connecting domestic violence survivors with shelter and assistance.

Here is a link to their website: http://www.cwha.org/ and a link to donate.

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