Besides performing my seasonal rituals during Samhain, I indulged in a little experiment last week that I waited all year-long to try. It’s an old-fashioned spell passed down from Appalachian folk magic practices and beliefs, much I am not experienced with, yet from what I remember when I was a teen living in southwestern Missouri, one spell stands out in my memory as being most potent. It was a genuinely spooky spell that passed down through generations of women seeking to know who their lovers will be (I use the term “lover” instead of future spouse because most often it foretells only who has an eye on you already). In another time that lover would be a suitor and, all too soon, girls’ husbands were not of their choice, and they married at a young age, taken away from their families to start ones of their own with men they barely knew. Knowing who will be your future mate ahead of time helped a girl prepare herself for the rest of her life — a much more important prospect than it is today. Today it is a frivolous, parlor game, akin to low magic than to high magick, to take a peek into a mirror and scry for a lover one may only have a short affair with.
The basic spell is one I learned at a slumber party, and I did not realize it was “real” magic at all. My friends and I really loved fortune-telling, especially Tarot reading, but trying out a thing where you plunge yourself into total darkness except for the light of one little candle was a spiritual adventure. What sort of visions would we see? Church pastors threatened us with direct trips to Hell for peeking at our Horoscopes, let alone daring to ask the Fates for a look-see into the future to find out who we might marry! This made the activity ever the more delicious to try. Kids love to dare each other, but they also seek experiences that challenge what is forbidden. I was a bold girl, obsessed with cute boys (um, still am!), and very curious. When someone told me about this spell, it was right up there with “Bloody Mary” and other urban legends, a thing that must be tested, something I can prove myth or truth, but mostly truth or dare.
The Hair and Mirror Divination Spell
The basic spell requires: a dark room (turn off all electrical lights and all other electrical equipment), one white candle (it should be the only source of light in the place, make sure the candle is a long-burning taper or votive that will not burn out during the course of the spell), and two mirrors, one large one big enough to see the top part of your body fully, and one small one to hold in your hand that you can use to see the reflection of the back of your head in the large mirror — both mirrors have to be ones that a woman (or a man, given that he has enough hair) gazes at herself everyday when she does her hair.
The day that is best to do this spell: midnight before Halloween or the midnight of Halloween.
What to do: You must comb your hair over your face til your tresses form a kind of veil over your face. You should still be able to see through your hair, yet still mask your vision a little. Use one hundred strokes to comb your hair. Count each stroke, don’t go too fast or too slow, pick a comfortable pace that will put you at ease. The act of combing (or brushing) your hair should be pleasurable. While getting through your hair, thinking fondly, but not specifically, on the kind of person you would like to meet. Sit in front of the large mirror with your back facing the large mirror as you stroke your hair. After you reach your one hundredth stroke, use one hand, your dominant hand (right or left) to hold your small mirror in front of you. Sit quietly and stare through your hair at the small mirror’s reflection of what is behind you in the large mirror.
What will happen: A vision or apparition of your one true love will appear behind you, staring back at you.
Did the Spell Work in the Past?
Did the mirror divination ever work when I was young? Yes and no. There are a lot of distractions when you are in a group of silly, giggling girls who, like you, are too excited to see anything other than perhaps what they want to see.
It was only when I was in college that I tried it again, with a few friends, as part of a joke, and what I saw was not my fiancé! Yet the vision was also not a face I recognized as anyone I knew, or as anything real or specific, so perhaps I was too drunk to see a damn thing. When I reached my early 20’s, the Hair and Mirror Divination Spell I thought superstition, however I discovered later that some Witches have used it successfully once they adapted it. In other words, you can make an old spell, even one based on superstition or legend, your own. You do not just follow the ‘instructions’ verbatim, you study the hidden meaning behind the legend that makes the spell, where it comes from, how you can make it work for you, change it to suit your fancy, and do a few ‘test runs’ before hand to see if it’s a spell that is truly doable.
I am a firm believer in “Magic is a practice, not a last resort! Use it everyday” because why learn and become an initiate in Witchcraft if you are not going to practice magic as a lifestyle? If I have a problem, I do not wait til the last-minute to page through a grimoire to help myself or someone else, I should be able to perform something on the spot when needed. Like every skill and talent, it requires practice and experience, and the more you do it, the better you get at it.
Another thing I’ve learned: A Witch needs to know what spells work and what do not. This especially comes in handy when you’re tempted to pick up that nice, glossy paperback book with the pretty Gothic-looking cover that claims it contains a never-before-revealed new batch of magic spells by today’s next popular author. After ten to twenty years of practicing Witchcraft, I should page through that book and quickly determine if it is junk. Libraries are full of books that are specifically published to exploit the young, curious, and gullible cowan (the uninitiated Pagan or Wiccan, or one who is a wanna be).
In this age of too much information and not enough guidance, it is no wonder we have such an over abundance of pop culture magic that only serves to pat the back of the soul, not truly empower it. I do not blame any one author for this, but consumerism itself for the trend. People like to make money, Witches or not, someone with magical knowledge can effectively market that to make a living, yet the selling of half-truths should lead the young soul to seek further study, however too many people want to be told what to do as opposed to finding out what to do for themselves. This has not changed over time.
Did I Make it Work Now? What are My Results?
I waited til Samhain to seriously do this spell, first out of keeping to tradition, and to honor the legend, as well as to see if performing it on the time advised to do so makes a difference. Previously this year, I tried it several times on different pagan holy days, as well as different lunar times (waning, waxing, dark, and full moon), once during the day, and at various different times during the night. I tried different mirrors. I tried with and without combing my hair over my face. All with varying degrees of visions produced, but none were of any human faces or forms. Like any divination practice, I found that the exercise helped me slip into a nice, comfortable trance state that made it easy to clear my mind and open my imagination to interpretation. All in all, I gave it all up to revisiting dreams of my youth.
But enter the celebration of my favorite holy day, Samhain 2012, right when I am most in the mood and at a time I consider a very spiritual time when I have the most success practicing divination, I did experience a vision, one most surprising to me, and one I’m not quite sure how to interpret at this time. I first cleansed my home, uncrossed myself, cleared my mind of any possible manipulative intentions (that required meditation), darkened my entire home except for one candle, and even let my cat participate by sitting in the mirror’s reflection with me (because he is in my life, too, so if someone loves me, they have to love my cat as well). With all that done, it paved the way. Like previous attempts, I had a hard time adjusting my small mirror to get the right angle to see behind myself without only capturing my own face. You have to hold the mirror somewhat above your head and at the larger mirror behind you directly into the pitch darkness. After moments that seemed to put my hand and neck into a strained position, the pain of holding that pose faded and the candle light flickered, casting shadows over the mirror to make them appear as if something is dancing behind me. Then the candle light became very bright enough to light up the mirror to give it a sort of glow. Looking at the reflection through my hair was like looking through a golden brown mist not unlike trying to see through the steam in a sauna. For what seemed like a full minute (or longer, I was unsure), I saw a face form, but I could not see who it was. The smile was overly exaggerated, reminded me of a Venetian carnival mask, or most like the comedy mask of the muse Thaleia.
My answer: Yes, it worked. Worked in the sense that I was given a vision. It may not have been the face of a man, or a person, but the symbol of something that could represent someone wearing a mask, or represent the profession, a costume, or some other sign to look for in the future that could lead me on the path to love. Or a spirit may have been laughing back at me! It could be the most simple answer of all: Someone smiling!
I recommend the spell to others, but keep in mind that it takes adjustment. If you are a man, you may want to not try to comb your hair over your face if you have short hair, yet do stroke through your hair for the recommended one hundred times. However, if you are bald, you may want to try a different spell, or just try something else to veil your head. Experiment.
Various uses to divine for other types of true loves that I believe can be adapted in this spell: scry for a new best friend, business partner, the next leader of a group, or any true and worthy person you want in your life, but at the base of it all it must be all about love, and you must have a clear mind. A clear mind can be a hard thing to achieve because often our desires and needs take up our full attention. But… when one desire really bugs us, it is not a bad thing to use a little magic to get what we want.
Case in point: I once performed what was formerly a love spell to attract a lover, but I changed the focus of the spell to attract the perfect doctor for my psychiatric needs! You do not have to use the love spell to attract a lover per say, you can adapt it to bring a different kind of person you need in your life. My doctor is one of the coolest people I know, she even dresses like I imagined she might, wearing leather pants and a half kimono blouse during our first appointment! She even decorated her office with Rococo and Japanese embellishments; two very unique styles that make me feel comfortable and ideas I let leak into my mind when I was thinking about what I wanted while dreaming of the perfect psychiatrist. She was even a horsewoman, too. She was very much like I had special ordered her from the Gods. That is how magic can manifest your desire, but you have to be careful what you ask for, and you better work for it.
Not all modern-day Witches make the best Oracles, we’re human and make misinterpretations. Sometimes it is up to the querent to make sense of the message they are given, and not all signs and omens make much sense, but the best Oracles are guides who can break it down in simple terms for the average person to understand without being condescending. Those of us who make divination our area of expertise, continually practice it, if only on ourselves, to make it of practical use for others, or like any study, a subject of fascination we seek to re-discover time and time again. A new revelation may be experienced, or a different experience may produce a new way to come to new revelations. The practice of divination, whether you believe it works or not, is not crazy, it is a way to enhance and broaden our perceptions through the use of archaic, and even modern techniques, to achieve inspiration for both the self and community. It does not always deal with seeing into the future.
The Hair and Mirror Spell I performed as per the traditional Halloween legend inspired by Appalachian folk beliefs, you can say gave me an inspirational vision, not necessarily one that produced a prophecy of new love. But maybe? I have a whole new year to see it unfold! I won’t go crazy-obsessive looking over my shoulder for anyone with the face of an exaggerated smile in a literal sense, but my immediate interpretation is that whatever is ahead of me is a very happy ending in an area of my life that has always given me misery.
What I’ll write about next: Black Cat Power Part 2: Lore, Luck, & Magic
Go here to read Black Cat Power Part 1: Origins & Witches (My most popular blog post!)