Culture Family Life

A love letter to libraries

I know that I am not alone when I say that we, as humans, find a lot of solace in libraries. They are temples of knowledge, housing collections of stories and dreams alike on their shelves. Libraries are as much a part of our culture as anything else. People have relied on these spaces for warmth, insight, and marvel for centuries. In a way, they hold the key to all of our stories,

I love libraries, and I am terrified to see their eventual demise, especially as our world becomes almost entirely digital. They are gems from the past that have maintained vitality no matter the circumstances or happening outside of their walls. Not to mention they are the cornerstones of entire communities, maybe even countries, granting light and stability to people when nothing, or no one, else seemed able to. They offer more than just books; they offer entry into a space that seems more like a sanctuary run by people grounded in compassion, commitment, creativity, and resilience.

People have relied on these spaces for warmth, insight, and marvel for centuries.

I used to go to the library near my grandparents’ house every other Friday. For the most part, my mom took my brothers and me there to get a new book for school or to see what DVDs we could bring home to watch that evening. But I remember roaming around, starstruck, in between the tall shelves, wondering about the people who wrote each and every single one of those books and how long it might have taken to get them all here.

Most weeks, my mother let me get two books instead of one. I could spend hours there if it was permitted. I always liked watching my mom pick her books for the week, too. She seemed so sophisticated and gentle while scanning the shelves, yet she never knew exactly what she was looking for. If it was winter, afterward we would all pile back into the car with our hardcover books and grab a slice of pizza. If it was summer, we would walk to the Italian Ice shop down the street for some cream ice – those were the best days. 

I fear that libraries have been taken for granted, even in my own life, and am always spellbound to find them chock full of unexpected people, doing unexpected things, with unexpected passions. There is absolutely nothing that compares to the feeling, the pure excitement in my stomach, that erupts every time I am searching in a library for the perfect tale to dig into. A trip to the library seems, to me, to be enchanted. I become whimsical, enveloped by the completeness and simplicity of the entire journey.

Even the smell of a library is impossible to replicate because of its specificity and poignance. I am reminded of sandalwood, dusk, and a particular, antiquated, dampness. Its familiarity is beyond comforting. The air itself seems to be saturated in possibility and imagination. 

I feel at home while pattering around and tracing my fingers between the shelves of books. I fall in love while blowing the dust off of the covers, revealing bright colors and exquisite lines. I spend hours crinkling through the aged, already yellowing, pages of novels wondering which I will pick this time. It is never an easy decision, and I always leave with dozens underneath my arms wondering if the others will still be there when I return the next week. But, that’s the beauty of libraries, isn’t it? Every visit is entirely different from the last and there is no telling what you might stumble upon. Yet each visit is also starkly familiar. 

The air itself seems to be saturated in possibility and imagination.

Books have changed so much of my life, with plotlines, characters, and lessons that have been woven into nearly everything I do – that is every decision, every consideration, and everything that I have grown to appreciate or even pay a little bit more attention to. Books are there to remind me of what’s important, and when I’m not so sure, they’re there for me to lean on. Without libraries, though, I might have never been allowed membership into such a world of splendor. 

Love Life Stories

I tried to ease my anxiety with witchcraft

I first came across the witchcraft community on Tumblr, nestled on my dashboard between cat gifs and political musings. These witches not only posted spells from Wiccan writer Scott Cunningham’s famed grimoires, but created their own. The community was made up of mostly young women and girls, unsurprisingly, and after poking around, I found that there was a fairly low barrier to entry.

Herbs were one of the few elements I found to be within easy reach of me. Living in a black family, my pantry was filled with tons of spices, even if most were two years old. I hoarded these herbs for incenses, spells, you name it.

My main objective at the time was to find a job. Because I have social anxiety, I had communication with DARS, a Texas-based agency that helped people with mental and physical disabilities secure employment. They understood my plight and worked with me just fine, but I felt, like always, that I needed an extra boost. Maybe, I thought, a little success magick was what I needed.

I got on Tumblr again and began to compile all the info I needed into a secondary blog. I gathered items—a green candle, basil, cinnamon oil–for a prosperity spell I created. I set up my circle—where my magick would be cast—in my bedroom closet, made up acorns and paprika and incense. I stared into the candle with deep attention. I visualized, I chanted. “I am worthy of having money,” I repeated to myself while mixing my herbs and oils in a china bowl (sorry, Grandma). I decided to leave the bowl on the closet floor overnight.

[bctt tweet=”‘I am worthy of having money,’ I chanted while mixing herbs and oils in a china bowl.”]

Days later, my job counselor Mary took me in for another interview. Compared to my last interview, when I struggled to hold a panic attack at bay as I was surrounded by Mary, the manager and an associate, I managed this time to have more confidence in my voice and what I said – and I snagged the job. I would like to believe how that maybe, just maybe, that day I just happened to be well rested that day. But things…just worked out.

Next thing I tried to get into was crystals. The idea that crystals could protect you while driving (turquoise), make you feel more feminine (moonstone) and get you horny (carnelian) fascinated me. I wanted to work efficiently so I got a tiger’s eye, commonly noted for courage, from Etsy. Metaphysical and magick shops are so common there that the online marketplace seems to have banned selling spells altogether. Ebay made a similar move to ban intangible supernatural services and “advice; spells; curses; hexing; conjuring; magic; prayers; blessing services; magic potions; healing sessions” in 2012.

Sure, it cost me a few dollars. But in a time where people are always looking for the next thing to improve themselves and make their lives totally fulfilled and magical—self-help books, motivational speeches, programs, dares, mantras—crystal magick interested me enough for me to say, “screw it, let’s test this out.”

I wore the tiger’s eye in the pocket of my shirt. I didn’t have some golden aura visibly enveloping me, but I did feel it. After a while, I started thinking about this life enhancing thing: what about the days I forget my tiger’s eye? How can I get the feelings I want from within?

Some days, I would leave the eye at home to see any differences. But I folded. I knew I needed those external forces to work efficiently and be confident in my abilities. I went to Etsy again to buy a rose quartz pendant to help me with relationships. The pendant broke when I tried to put it on before work. I messaged the shop to get a refund. What I got: “Welllll, it wasn’t our really our fault.”

I entered a slump in my witchcraft. I had wanted to get many crystals; now, not having much spare money to waste, I was scared they may not be the real thing. I decided to collect rocks from parks and use them as alternatives.

Broke witchcraft has now become one of my hobbies. I don’t have a set-in-stone program or credo that I go by. I take my time to decide what I want to do. Sometimes I don’t. Despite not trying to do everything by set rules, I still try to make myself more disciplined because at some point I have to (I’m not going to be in my early twenties forever). I still keep tabs on the witches on Tumblr, a community that I’ve found to be open to people of all genders, sexualities and races.

One thing you’ll often hear they say is that witchcraft is a life enhancer, not a replacement for any work. You still gotta push forth with the resumes and the sales pitches. And any young witchling whose asks for spells to help with period cramps or scars and rashes will often get the response of “I’m not a doctor.” I find that to be quite funny, as witches will claim many ‘cures’ for mental ailments like anxiety: chamomile tea for restless thoughts and insomnia, amethyst to ward against nightmares, lavender for just about anything.

When I came across a certain site that said crystals could help with schizophrenia, I wanted to laugh. My brother has had schizophrenia since his teens and I could only wish that arming him a crystal could ease him. I can’t say if witchcraft is ‘curing’ me of my anxiety. Maybe it could work as a placebo for those dark times.

As I’m writing this, I have a letter from a psychologist sitting in front of me. It’s a referral for an evaluation to see if I have ADHD. I don’t know what to really expect from these results. I just know this is something that needs to be done. There is so much I would like to do in my witchcraft. It’s a vast open book of charms, spells, chants that I’m still researching and trying to gain access.

I’ve since quit the job that I ‘gained’ from my spell. Naturally, it didn’t work out. Magick can help you get your foot in the door, but keeping you in that room, takes much more work.