So You Want To Be a Witch?

Kids these days think there’s nothing to being a witch but “intention”. Spread your crystals around, draw some sigils by candlelight while you drink herbal tea and your kitty cat makes biscuits on your shoulder, with the soft moonlight shining through the window. Reality. That’s not the moon, kid. It’s a streetlight! Do you even dark?

Listen, if you want to be a witch you ought to hear what Herndon Bogan had to say about it. Herndon was an ex-slave interviewed back in 1936 or so by the Federal Writer’s Project. I’m paraphrasing here, but you can read the original at https://tile.loc.gov/storage-services/service/mss/mesn/mesn-111/mesn-111.pdf It’s on Page 125.

I heard an old woman in Charlotte, North Carolina tell once about witchin’ in slavery times there in Mecklenburg County. She was about 90, so I reckon she’d know. She said that if anybody wanted to be a witch they have to draw a circle on the ground just at dusk, then get in the circle and squat down.

You have to sit and talk to the devil and say, “I will have nothing to do with religion and I want you to make me a witch.” Then, you have to find a big pot and boil a black cat, a bat and a bunch of herbs and drink the soup. Then you will be a real witch.

If you want to witch somebody, you take that soup, just a little bit, and put it in a bottle and bury it under the person’s doorsteps and they’ll be sick.

You can go through the keyhole or down the chimney or through the chinks in a log house and you could ride a person just like riding a horse. But be careful, a person can keep you out of the house by laying a broom in front of the door and putting a pin cushion full of pins beside the bed, if they want to.

That person can kill you too by drawing your picture and shooting it in the head or the heart.

Slave Narratives: a Folk History of Slavery in the United States From Interviews with Former Slaves, North Carolina Narratives, Vol. XI, Part 1. Vol. XI, Publ. 1941. The Federal Writer’s Project, 1936-1938. Library of Congress.

I’m not real clear on the herbs to put in the stew. Maybe it’s personal preference. I’d probably go with something spicy – a little cayenne, some cumin, chili powder, cilantro. Pretty much anything that starts with a C.

I don’t think I mentioned that Herndon was in the Raleigh jail for murdering a hobo, so maybe he wasn’t a witch or he could have gotten out. Or maybe it was winter and the jail had better heat than his witch hut. Who knows?

Hey, where’d that cat come from anyway? She’s looking at you kind of odd.

Alright, see you later. I’ve got to go down to the crossroads and toss some guitar players to the curb and get to work.

Standard disclaimer: Content for entertainment purposes only. Don’t try this at home. Be aware of local ordinances. Author bears no responsibility for the foolish actions of readers. Friends don’t witch friends. Cats are people too. Dietary restrictions may apply. Never eat undercooked bat.

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