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Spells in the City

Be afraid! Halloween is here. ‘Tis the season to be sinister, a dank, dark time of poisoned candy, apples laced with razor blades, Jamie Lee Curtis reruns, Richard Nixon masks, feral children asking for “treats,” and, in a quiet corner of my local Barnes & Noble, a table piled with books that go bump in the night. Histories of hauntings lurk near volumes on vampires and a stray copy of Living History that seems, well, strangely at home. O.K., O.K., I admit it. I put it there.

There are tales of devils and stories of ghosts, depictions of demons, and everywhere, orange, black, and nasty, the pumpkin’s evil grin. And don’t forget the witchcraft, except it’s “Wicca” now, and slicker. The wicked witches of old, warty, cackling, and vile, slinking out of deep, dark woods to cast spells over crops, tiny tots, and the unlucky peasants’ luckless livestock have vanished, only to be replaced by even creepier creatures. Heaped like kindling (unfortunate simile, I know), are books by and about those legions of women (and it is mainly women) who have taken to “magick,” chanting, drumming, howling at the moon, and delving into the supposed wisdom of a largely invented past.

And, make no mistake; broomstick surfers take themselves very, very seriously these days. The age of lovely Samantha Stephens, sparkling and funny, more martini glass than cauldron, has faded away, replaced in our duller, more earnest era by the likes of Buffy’s dour Willow, self-involved, self-important and, although this might be expected in sorceresses who like to chant, drum, and howl at the moon, utterly lacking any sense of the ridiculous.

Even the promisingly named How to Turn Your Ex-Boyfriend into a Toad kit turns out to be for real (well, not the toad bit). Its publishers explain “that everything you need is right here in this fun kit: Use the mirror for a special spell to make yourself irresistible to everyone who sees you; the candles will help you to hot up your sex life and you can use the incense in its special toad holder to find your soul mate.”

Read the original article at: The National Review

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