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JULY 11, 2012

As it turns out, I’m the kind of girl who believes in witches.

When I first started this series, in a last-ditch attempt to reverse 15 years of Titanic-like relationship patterns, I promised myself I would avoid the advice-givers I had hoovered into my brain for years (No more “He’s Just Not That Into You” or “The Rules”), as clearly – that s–t hasn’t worked – and instead consult with unorthodox experts. In fact, the more eccentric, the better!

I had a few ideas – psychic, tarot card reader, love therapist, pleasure coach, maybe a tantra teacher or feung shui decorator … but witches never crossed my mind.  Honestly, I didn’t even know witches existed outside of (my favorite) Broadway musical WICKED (Sing with me now: “Just you and I …. defying gravvvvity!!”).  Well, they do. And they’re nothing like you would imagine.

But here’s the really crazy part: I think they actually work.

A bit about my spiritual background: I began my life as many of us did, a default believer dragged to church on Sundays with Mom & Dad, but quickly segued into a rabid-feminist-Ayn-Rand-objectivist and adamant (adamant!) adolescent atheist.  My parents must have found me just delightful. (Please note sarcasm) At age 26, I went through a rough patch, found myself reading Marianne Williamson’s seminal spiritual bestseller “A Return to Love,” and spent the next few years studying and developing an increasingly deep faith.

Beyond that, I’ve always been an explorer, a seeker. Curious about the world and the way things work, I’ve had quite a bit of success with integrating “Eastern” or “New Age” ideas that I didn’t grow up with – like yoga, acupuncture, meditation, ashrams, the concept of karma, green juices, holistic medicine, etc.  Some of those concepts were considered “fringe” little over a decade ago – and now I’m watching dudes downdog in my yoga class.  How our world can change.

I long ago gave up the idea that conventional wisdom holds all the answers.  My litmus test is simple: do I feel better when I leave and in the days that follow?  If so, as far as I’m concerned, it works. Because of that, The House of Intuition, a sacred spot in East LA that offers everything from shamans, clairvoyant & aura readings to intuitive counseling, chakra balancing, reiki, numerology and crystal healing, has become my drug of choice for healing.

They also offer, of course, witches.

When I walk up the narrow, winding staircase to the house perched precariously at the top of a hill just off of Sunset in Echo Park, I’m not quite sure what to expect. It’s not that I’m anticipating cackling hags painted green (Elephaba!) with pointy hats and broomsticks. This isn’t Halloween. But I also wasn’t expecting what I found: Maja – a self-described “White Witch” – is stunning, with a shampoo-commercial blonde mane and shimmery white makeup with matching white feather earrings and – in a detail I appreciated – silver sparkly Uggs. She looks like Witch Barbie.

The second, Madga – “The Gypsy Witch” – is a slender, curvy Latin goddess, with a calm, radiant energy that puts me into a meditative trance.  A modern witch, she gives readings over text message and tweets (Twitter handle: @Gypsy_Luv).

I love them both immediately.

Beginning my double header session with Maja, I find she has a degree in biochemistry, a Masters in transformational psychology and runs a website called

“You’re so pretty,” I tell her, and I mean it.

“Not all witches are ugly,” she says. And she means it.

She asks what brings me here, and I sigh and explain my sense of being stuck in dating Groundhog Day, making the same mistakes over and over and over. “I’m just tired of it,” I explain. “I feel like I’m blocked.”

“If you want to know the future,” she says by way of introduction, “look at what’s happening right now.”

I wince at the idea; I don’t want to look at what’s happening now, because what’s happening now is that I’ve been on three dates in a row with not so much as a single kiss. If my future is one bereft of kissing, I’m going to be pissed.

Clearly, I determine, I need a love spell. “I’m the kind of person who likes to experiment a little,” I announce, as if it weren’t already obvious from the fact that I’m sitting in front of Witch Barbie. “I’ve found strange things work.”

“What would you like the love spell to do for you?” Maja asks me.  “I would like to make new mistakes,” I say simply.

“I like your attitude, Julia,” she smiles. “A lot of people want a love spell to make someone fall in love with them. And this is the one of the biggest tragedies of the world.”

My pattern of failed relationships and botched dating doesn’t stem from the men – it comes from me, she explains. “If your heart is closed, you could have every man in the world come to you – princes, kings – but there is no place for him to go. So what we want to do with the love spell is open a place to have the love be.”

First, she asks me to write down on a sheet of paper all of the past negative patterns I’ve been harboring in my love life. “How long do you have?” I want to ask.  We fold those up and put them in a – yes – cauldron.  Then Maja hands me another sheet and asks me to list ten characteristics I’m looking for in “the perfect man.” Just TEN? I laugh to myself. I have a 73-point-checklist already prepared! How do I cut 63 items?!

As I’m puzzling over this, I begin writing “loving, kind, fun, intelligent …” and stop, perplexed. I’ve just written down “well-educated” and I blink rapidly, realizing at once the point of the exercise. How important is being well-educated, anyway? Is it really that important?  Wouldn’t I be just as happy with a man who wasn’t?  And if that was the case, how many other items on my list were unnecessary, and possibly holding me back from seeing an amazing partner?  I look up at Maja and she laughs, telling me to stop writing. “You’re already there.”

She has me mold a little clay figurine, called a golem, which will personify the romantically troubled me.  Placing the golem in the cauldron with the two lists, she lights them on fire and does what I assume to be a spell chant thing (okay, so fine, that’s not the technical term).  She asks me to stand over the cauldron and breathe deeply, allowing all of the negativity of my past to leave my body and enter that poor little golem.  I do as requested and almost burst into tears as I feel the emotions flowing out of me along with all the loneliness and romantic disappointment. I want this pain gone. GONE.

“You are recreating yourself,” Maja explains. And I actually feel like I am.

Magda, the Gypsy Witch, then enters the room. She’s in charge of sealing the golem in a little (admittedly creepy!) casket, which she then instructs I throw away as quickly as possible. “You went through a ceremony that symbolized the death of some old habits, shedding some old painful skin. You’re being asked to plug into faith, to trust a process, to believe in something greater and its purpose. How could faith be the answer to someone who has attempted to be logical and methodical, who has analyzed and criticized every aspect of herself and her love life?”

How does she KNOW this!? I wonder. Damn, I think. Then I remember I’m talking to a witch. She probably knows everything.

That next week, wearing a white dress I thought seemed very “ceremonial chic,” I toss my golem into the Pacific Ocean.  The little bastard comes back three times before I finally give up and bury it in the sand.  STAY! I instruct it.  And it does.

Since then, I’ll tell you, things have shifted.  It’s no longer Groundhog Day with my dating life. I’m still making mistakes, sure (have you met me??), but at least now they’re new mistakes. Better mistakes. And that’s progress. More than that, I feel calmer, more grounded, more at peace. I feel … dare I say? The first stirrings of contentment.

What happened that day at the House of Intuition was powerful beyond my imaginings. Do I think it worked?  Well, I don’t think it hurt. And quite possibly I think it helped.  Whether you want to call it a “placebo” effect or whether you really believe that the negative dating energy I had been carrying around like a Sisyphean bolder on my shoulders needed to get thrown in the ocean – it doesn’t really matter.  What matters is that I made a concerted effort to draw a line in the sand: no more old patterns!  At the very least, I know it got me in the right mindset. It wasn’t the end. It was the start.

Since then, I’ve received a crystal reading from Marlene, done Reiki work with Madga and I regularly visit a shaman from Africa named Jude.  I walk in feeling haunted and exhausted, drained of energy and joy. I walk out filled with light and joy.  I light candles and incense, do breathing exercises, and clear my energy on a regular basis.  I’ve morphed into a full-blown believer. Hand over the cauldron!

You can judge and you can say it’s crazy – that’s easy. But who’s to say what REALLY works when it comes to affairs of the heart – except just making conscious decisions to create a new, more fulfilling reality? And that’s what I did with the beautiful witches in that little house on the hill.

All I’m saying: don’t knock it until you’ve thrown your own golem in the ocean.  Metaphorically – or literally. ;-)

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