A few years in the past, throughout a time of nice confusion and loss in my life, I stayed with a good friend who recognized as a witch. She carried out a divination ritual for me that left a deep impression, because it charted out the sequence of occasions that might play out in my life for a couple of decade. On the time, many ladies and queer individuals in my life hid their identities as witches, however on this late pandemic period, increasingly are comfy proclaiming this aspect of themselves publicly. Certainly, the rise of “witch” as a public id helps to forged off the stigma of that phrase, at the very least in sure circles.
Spell Bound: A New Witch’s Guide to Crafting the Future (Smith Road Books), written by Chaweon Koo and illustrated by Kring Demetrio, contributes to the rising literature on fashionable magic and witchcraft. With wealthy illustrations and a multicultural perspective that embody each Japanese and Western traditions, it helps readers curious concerning the craft to each see and perceive the big range of expressions that magic can assume, together with within the context of recent applied sciences.
Spell Certain’s chapters are organized by the 5 Chinese language wuxing, regularly translated as “components” or “phases”: wooden, fireplace, earth, metallic, and water. Every chapter is then organized alongside the phases of Western alchemy: nigredo, or burning; albedo, or the the flash of perception; and rubedo, the purified kind that is still.
Within the chapter titled “Hearth,” for instance, Koo traverses time, from historic caves to modern-day VR areas. The nigredo part begins with the fireplace that our homo sapiens ancestors used to navigate the Lascaux caves in France, the place they painted the ghostly animals now well-known in artwork and cultural historical past. The writer makes use of this story to debate the roots of formality in modern magic traditions.
The albedo part introduces the concept that ritual can and needs to be glamorous; as Koo reminds us, even the lotus posture in meditation is itself a type of efficiency. “For any witch setting down their path,” she notes, “if you wish to perceive ritual, there is no such thing as a higher place to start out than a playlist of BTS videos.”
The rubedo part of “Hearth” explores the concept that ritual can enter the metaverse, with new implications for all the things from sacrifice to creating sacred house: “The hallmark of a strong, fashionable witch is her capability to execute high-performance rituals, grounded in historical past and traditions. She isn’t afraid of change and know-how.”
Koo combines reflections, meditations, and workout routines, accompanied by Demetrio’s wealthy illustrations, which convey the e book’s ideas to life. For instance, a meditating femme determine with hair flowing out of an astronaut helmet displays on what magic would possibly seem like on the moon. In a mirrored image on what magic means as we speak, koi fish, symbols of fine lucky and perseverance, hover by way of Koo’s commentary that magic is, essentially, about mastering our psychological focus — maybe a very powerful lesson for crafting a greater future.
One of many boldest design components is the writer’s use of the format to emphasise sure features of the textual content — phrases glide alongside our bodies and wrap round in circles and spirals. Whereas initially I discovered this complicated, it pressured me to pause, rotate the e book, and transfer it round with a view to perceive the phrases. The materiality of the e book recollects what Koo writes concerning the materials world: specifically, that we exist in our bodies and within the bodily world. Books are usually not simply conduits for information, however are bodily issues that we maintain in our palms and that we will, and maybe ought to, flip by way of, spin round, and totally deal with.
Spell Certain is a pleasure to learn cowl to cowl, nevertheless it features greatest as a reference e book, a wonderful object in itself to peruse for inspiration. Readers can glide from matters like incense and NFTs to lucid goals and Tibetan chöd meditation (a loss of life meditation that entails imagining one’s personal physique being chopped up and fed to spirits and demons). As each introductions and provocations, every of those matters will doubtless awaken the reader’s curiosity concerning the breadth and vary of areas to be explored below the umbrella of witchcraft.
Why is fashionable magic so ascendant as we speak? We reside in an age of nice uncertainty, to make sure, and the religious consolation that magic affords may also help us navigate turbulent instances. As archaeologist and historian Chris Gosden has argued, magic has performed a job in human society from earlier than science and even faith, and helps us perceive how we form the world round us, which in flip shapes us. And one explicit commentary from Koo helped me join the Twenty first-century witchcraft phenomenon to a bigger transfer towards decentralization — of media, know-how, spirituality, and id.
“Witches are inherently decentralized,” she writes; “there isn’t a witch council, ruling because the authority on all the things. As a substitute, magic strikes swiftly, peer to see, with extra highly effective nodes holding extra code. However each node, irrespective of how small, is able to transacting within the ecosystem — of performing magic rituals. That is precisely how blockchain know-how works.”
Spell Bound: A New Witch’s Guide to Crafting the Future by Chaweon Koo, with illustrations by Kring Demetrio (2022), is printed Smith Road Books by and is obtainable on-line and in bookstores.