Becoming a Witch
“Olivia, is that you?” I gasped, “what are you doing here?”
“Excuse me?” She walked over, “what are you doing here?”
Olivia was much taller than me, towering above me like a giant. She had tan skin, while mine was white as snow; she had chocolate-brown eyes, while mine were forest-green. Her hair was similar to mine — shoulder length and wavy, but hers was more of a reddish tint while mine was orange. Her shoulders were broad with skinny legs, in contrast to my flat chest and thick thighs.
“I, uh…” it felt very odd to say, because no one had ever known this except for my family, but I went ahead and spit it out, “I’m gifted,” I added a shrug, trying to remain casual.
“So am I,” she replied.
“You can see ghosts?” I asked.
“Yes,” she nodded.
“Talk to animals?”
She nodded again.
“Did anyone in school know? Did Annabella know?”
“Of course not!” She stomped her foot. “And you?”
“Nobody knew,” I shook my head.
My world had been shattered. All of this time… and we were both hiding this shared secret… I thought back and imagined how different my childhood would have been if we had both known. But this couldn’t change anything — I still didn’t like her.
“Is this your first day?” I asked.
“Yeah. Yours too, I’d assume?”
“Yeah,” I sighed. “Look, I was hoping to start over as an adult. I meant what I said about wanting to change. I’m going to make friends here.”
And before Olivia could respond, suddenly everyone split off into groups. About six other women right near us formed into a circle and motioned us to join in. And there I was, standing next to Olivia and six other women, all facing one another.
Already, I was totally confused. I was trying to figure out who the teacher was.
As if she had read my mind, Olivia asked, “who’s the teacher?”
Someone responded with a chuckle, “no one, dear. We’re all teachers.”
“All of you?” I raised my eyebrows.
“Yes!” She emphasized, “even you!” She pointed at Olivia and me. “We all have something to learn from each other.”
“How does this work?” Olivia asked. “Are there tests? Homework?”
“None of that,” another woman cut in, shaking her head.
That gave me relief, but also brought some anxiety. I had no idea what to expect.
Another lady said, “we meet almost every day for casual chats. We read books all about magic. We do crafts together. We go out foraging for herbs and stones. It’s lots of fun,” she smiled, obviously picking up on my nervousness.
And then another added, “we begin splitting off into circles so that we can all talk to each other. After a bit, we split off into new circles. Try to get some time with everyone.”
“Please, introduce yourselves!”
I looked at Olivia.
“Hi, I’m Olivia,” she began, “I just completed my twelve years of schooling. I live with my parents, my grandma, four brothers and two sisters. We also have a few cats and a dog. I have been different my whole life, I can see and hear the dead, I can also converse with animals, and I can see people’s auras and read their energy. But no one has ever really known this except for my family — I’m the only one in my family with these abilities, except for my mom, who must’ve passed it down to me. My mom used to belong to this coven but left after she first got pregnant. And, that’s about it.”
And then Olivia turned to me.
“I’m Valerie,” I introduced myself, “and, uh…” I nervously giggled, “well, same. I also went to school with Olivia. Also grew up with these gifts. But, um, don’t have a big family like that. I was an only child and my parents passed away when I was seven. I’ve been living with my aunt ever since… just the two of us. Also my cat, Oats, who died very recently… his ghost is usually around here somewhere…” I scanned the room, “oh!” I perked up, “there he is, taking a little cat nap,” I chuckled.
Olivia looked at me with pity, as if this was her first time she heard about the loss of my parents.
“What!?” I rolled my eyes at her — as if she hadn’t already known it!
Very quickly, I blended into the coven like it was my home. I got to know all of the members, becoming quite close with a few of them. I found it interesting how age didn’t seem to make a difference, I could relate to so many women who were several years older than me.
Over the years, we would have new members occasionally join us. It felt nice to no longer be the youngest.
Olivia and I ended up sticking together, to my surprise. Getting to know her from a new perspective really helped. However, as much time as we spent together, there was still always some type of friction between us. She was so short-tempered and lashed out at me over the smallest things. She never sucked up to me like Annabella did; in fact, often she insulted me or told me that I needed to practice more and try harder. In that way, she challenged me, which I actually respected.
I really did change in the years following joining the coven. I was far more outgoing than ever before. Of course, I didn’t get along with every single woman in the coven, but it was easier for me to put my differences aside and see the best in others.
There was one woman who complained a lot and tended to see things very negatively. But she had a great sense of humor and laughed really hard at my jokes — so I focused on that.
There was another woman who was extremely dramatic about everything, who took things way too personally, and burst into tears every time she made a mistake and someone corrected her. But she was very sweet and empathetic, and she was a really great listener — so I focused on that.
And there was one woman who loved to gossip about others — whether it was a scandal among the town, or news about one of the fellow coven members. It irritated me that she couldn’t mind her own damn business. But she was incredibly smart and taught me many useful skills — so I focused on that.
Along with the women, I also made friends with men for the first time. Across from the coven was a group of warlocks, who were essentially the male form of witches. We often socialized with them, during lunch hours, evenings, and sometimes at parties together.
Growing up, I only ever really had one friend — Annabella. So, to have male friends was even stranger. The only boys I talked to in my teen years were the ones I met up with during full moons — and we didn’t do much talking.
I always watched boys from afar with a bit of disgust. They were attractive to me, physically, but mentally — no. As a child, the boys my age horrified me — loud, reckless, and gross — picking their noses, farting, and making potty jokes without a care. As a teenager, I found the boys my age to be slightly less gross, but still weird. It baffled me to think that some of them were having children at that point — because they still seemed like children to me.
I think there will always be something a little foreign about the male species. But by adulthood, a lot of them really do mature.
One of the warlocks, named Arthur, quickly became my new best friend. Funny enough, he was like the male version of Annabella. He was always sucking up to me, complementing me, boosting my ego. And oddly, we had a lot in common — a great affinity for nature, exploring land together, collecting rocks and hoping to find fossils.
I learned many things from the coven. Sage helps ward off the ghosts, so I always kept a spray in my pocket and a bundle handy. Unfortunately, no one could help me figure out where my parents had gone. Some suggested that they travelled to a higher dimension that couldn’t allow me to see them, somewhere closer to God. Others theorized that they could have immediately incarnated into new lives. Nobody knew for sure.
Aunt Lilac was extremely supportive of my covenhood. Since she was wealthy enough, she provided for the both of us — as long as I continually committed myself to the coven. However, she urged me to find a side-job at the very least.
After a few years of becoming comfortable with my powers, I began offering services to clients. I rented a private booth in down a few days a week. People came up to me and ask me to connect them with their deceased loved ones, or with their pets. Finally, my gifts of conversing with ghosts and speaking to animals paid off — literally.
But the sad truth was that it hardly paid at all. With the amount of coins I had to give up in order to rent my booth, many weeks I merely broke even. I was lucky enough if I made even an inch of a profit — which went straight into my piggy bank.
Aunt Lilac suggested that if I quit the coven in order to work at my booth full-time that I would make a decent profit — but there was no way I was willing to give that up. She also said that if I were to do spell-work, rather than only mediumship, that I would make much more money. But spell-work was a daunting territory that I was not yet ready to capitalize. I needed more practice.
Even though I had become far more outgoing, I still needed my alone time. I spent a lot of my free time roaming the fields, foraging for flowers, herbs, and mushrooms. Sometimes, socializing felt so exhausting, and silent nature was exactly what I needed to recharge my batteries.
But nature was hardly silent. The birds were always chatting with each other — mainly gossiping. Birds are notorious gossipers. The chipmunks and squirrels were always engaging in some type of gimmick, playing jokes on each other, racing up and down trees, competing over who could collect the most nuts. And the bugs often had very philosophical discussions with each other about the meaning of life — especially the grasshoppers, preying mantises, and butterflies. It surprises many people to know that bugs are very wise, despite their frightening appearance.
The fairies had great imaginations and liked to tell each other made-up stories. Their giggles are so loud — they seem to find every little thing hysterical!
Life was good. Now at twenty-three years old, I was an experienced member of the coven with so many great friends! I was learning how to be a witch — how to harness my powers, how to create potions and charms, and how to cast spells. My best friend, Arthur, was right by my side. And I also had Olivia — who was more like a frienemy, but she kept me motivated nonetheless. I felt absolutely blessed. Maybe I was one of God’s favorites.
And then the universe slapped me across the face. It was the second-worst day of my life — the first, being the death of my parents. And now the second — the death of my aunt Lilac.