A Spell for the Evolution of Consciousness

The necessary ingredients:

A cast-iron cauldron

Fresh pure spring water heated in a cast-iron cauldron

Bay leaves



Willow bark

Dragon’s blood incense

A lock of one’s hair

The words “Once upon a time…”

This spell is best done by the light of the waxing moon, within two days of the full moon.

  On your incense burner, light some dragon’s blood incense and burn a piece of willow bark along with the incense. Gather the smoke and offer it up to your matron deities. It is best if you are skyclad, and close to a window where you can see the moon and occasionally speak to her.

  Gather your senses, your wits, and your unanswered questions as you blow them into the water you have heated to a boil. Pour into it your deepest yearnings for the Earth, for humanity, for yourself. Whisper to it secrets that you have told no one. Allow your regrets and your fears and your sorrows to be transformed by the fire, to be eaten by the elements. If you are weeping, allow your tears and snot to fall liberally into the water. All emotings and evacuations are welcome.

  Write down the words “Once upon a time…” on a bay leaf. Throw the bay leaf into the pot of boiling spring water and think of all the fairy tales you have loved, as well as the ones that left something to be desired. Think of everything in between, and then, those funny words: “And then they lived happily ever after.” Imagine that happily ever after doesn’t exist. There is only now, and there is only that idea of “once upon a time” that continues to linger in witches’ heads long into their cronehood.

  On another bay leaf, write down your desired outcome for your story. Not Rapunzel’s. Not Sleeping Beauty’s. Not Snow White’s. Only yours. Take the lock of your hair and wrap it gently around the bay leaf before you drop it into the cauldron. Add two drops of myrrh, and a couple dustings of cinnamon.

  Imagine, as you do this, that your story is becoming something else altogether: not your story but the many snaking threads of all the stories in existence joining together and becoming something other than itself. Allow the steam from your tincture to rise up and meet your face, to pass through and into your pores. Imagine that it is all the hopes of the past, and the yet-to-be-born dreams of the future. Feel the threads of your story fall apart as it joins with all these other stories. See it becoming something else altogether.  No spell has a conclusion. Each magical working is an act of becoming. Allow yourself to be intoxicated by the scent in the way that you would be intoxicated by something that you have not yet come to know. Welcome in the mystery and the idea that you have no clue as to what tomorrow will hold. Let yourself be consumed by wonder.

I’m Nirmala Nataraj, a New York–based writer, editor, book midwife, theater artist, and mythmaker.

As someone who has woven in and out of a number of different word realms—nonprofit communications, advertising, theatre, publishing, and community arts, to name a few—I know that liberation is possible through the stories we choose to tell. As a first-generation South Asian American, I myself exist in the liminal spaces between cultures, art forms, and languages—and it is this multiplicity of narratives that informs my personal and professional approach.

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