It’s official. Fall is here with its pumpkin spice lattes, knitted scarves, and apple picking. At least that’s what filling up my Pinterest newsfeed these days, and I freely admit to using these images, along with liberal use of my pumpkin coffee mug, to conjure cooler weather and turning leaves in my still-warm desert city. If you wear the sweater, the cold weather will come, right? Still, lingering warm weather or not, with the passing of the Autumn Equinox on September 22nd, there is one incontrovertible truth that has settle over my life: It’s officially the Season of the Witch.
I’m drawn to the Three of Cups in the tarot as I write this, the card that celebrates female friendships, connectivity, and all things festive. It’s also a card that can appear in a reading when you need to reconnect with your inner femininity, regardless of your gender. And this doesn’t mean relying on gender stereotypes! You don’t have to suddenly start wearing a bright pink tulle dress like Glenda the Good Witch in The Wizard of Oz to reconnect with your inner witch (but you can if that brings you joy). Instead, think about traits traditionally seen as feminine, like feelings your feelings and tuning into your intuition, and reconnect to that. I can think of no better way to do that than to dive into some deliciously witchy reads.
Now you might think I’m about to rattle off a list of paranormal romances featuring fearless magical women and a handful of hot werewolves, vampires, and maybe a dragon or two. But right now, I’m all about the practical magic, to echo the title of the iconic 90s witch movie. Don’t get me wrong, I love bubbling cauldrons and books of spells and monsters that need slaying (or lovin’…it is paranormal romance after all). But I also love it when books show that true magic is in the everyday, as I often say on my blog. In the hustle and bustle of daily life, we can forget that we are magic, so I appreciate anything that brings the enchantments of paranormal and urban fantasy into my day-in, day-out.
In fact, it’s an integral part of my pleasure magic practice, that luscious invocation of all things joyful and delicious in life, to seek out things—especially stories—that remind me that magic is in the very fabric of the here and now. This year especially, I feel we are all in need of reminders that there is hope, there is magic, there is pleasure in the turning of the leaves. So in honor of the Autumn Equinox and the wisdom in the Three of Cups, I recommend three romances and their magical heroines to guide our pleasure magic during the Season of the Witch, which really, is every season in my mind. But that’s bruja life for you.
I should first mention, however, that all of these book feature Black witches or practitioners of folk magic. I am always so happy to read about fellow witches and magical women of color, especially when their stories focus on actual real-life practitioners of witchcraft and other spiritual practices (not all practitioners identity as witches for a variety of reasons—but that’s a whole other topic!). What these stories do is normalize various types of witchy or mystic practices. We have the witch who discovers her power, at least in part, from pop culture in Xeni in the book of the same name. Then there’s Sonja, in A Taste of her Own Medicine, who inherits her abilities from a long line of Gullah ancestors and is trained by her mother. Lastly, we have Dani, in Take a Hint, Dani Brown, who both inherits her Obeah practice from her maternal grandmother and seeks out ways to learn the mystic practice as best she can on her own. She knows she is part of that lineage, but, because of the passing of her grandmother, has to find her way in the craft on her own.
These are some of the most authentic expressions I’ve seen of witchcraft and natural magic,, particularly witches and folk magic partitioners of color, in terms of how witch life plays out in real life. Too often, the idea of a witch is relegated to fantasy and paranormal stories. Mainstream culture forgets that there are actual practitioners of these spiritual paths, like myself. Here’s the other thing, all the expressions of witchyness and magic in these books are entirely authentic in the sense that we all find our way to the craft differently. For some, it gets passed down from generation to generation. For others, it’s in the knowledge that we carry this ability in our blood without direct ties to someone who can’t teach us. So we learn what we can as we can. For others, we find ourselves in pop culture representations of witches. Me? I’m a little bit of all three!
Now, let’s talk about what pleasure magic practices these magical women have to offer us. The first of these books is Xeni by Rebekah Weatherspoon. Xeni is straightforward about her magical side—with the people good enough to be in her inner circle. She’s a witch. All women are, according to her. She’s also bi, as is her cinnamon roll love interest, Mason. Her openness about her sexuality helps Mason to feel comfortable being out. It’s Witch Life 101 to be sex positive! Also, queer culture is HUGE in witchy circles, in case you didn’t know. She later reveals to Mason that she’s “practically magic-ed” herself, by dreaming up an impossible love that, by its very nature, she can never have. But, like the heroine in Practical Magic, where she learned her impossible love spell, Xeni discovers that sometimes the impossible is not only possible, but divinely delicious.
Pleasure Magic Practice from Xeni: Own who you are. Be upfront an unapologetic about it, especially if you’ve found yourself holding back or holding on to things that aren’t letting you be your best self. And beware the spells you cast—you don’t want to accidentally practical magic yourself and end up thinking you’ll never find true love. Sometimes what seems too-good-to-be true is actually just good and true. Period.
Then we have the delightful Take a Hint, Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert. Not going to lie—I felt so SEEN reading this book! The heroine is a witchy professor struggling with balancing her professional drive and passion with her need to nourish her personal life. It me. Here’s where we differ: She’s learning how to practice Obeah and the story opens with her literally asking the Goddess Oshun to send her a fuck buddy. She’s bi, she’s witchy, she’s self-empowered and clearly has no time for romantic entanglements…or so she says. Enter Zafir, the romance-reading cinnamon roll seemingly sent for Oshun herself to help Dani out with her dry spell. There’s a fake relationship and real feelings, which just goes to show you that when you ask divine energies for a little help, you might not get what you want, but you’ll get exactly what the universe knows you need.
Pleasure Magic Practice from Dani: Ask the universe or whatever divine power you choose for your heart’s desire and open yourself to that energy. You might not get what you want, but you’ll get what you need.
My last book recommendation is A Taste of Her Own Medicine by Tasha L. Harrison. Sonja is a a recently divorced woman in her 40s learning how to trust herself and her own abilities on so many levels. Although she doesn’t identify as a witch, she is a conjure woman or magical practitioner, using herbs and other natural magic in her craft. She wants to open up her own business, Good Medicine, featuring homemade beauty products inspired by her Gullah heritage. Her teacher? The sexy younger Atlas, a cinnamon roll entrepreneur who can’t get enough of Sonja. Side note: I’m seeing a trend with cinnamon rolls and witches here…this is a pairing I can get behind! Sonja’s story reminds us that you are never too old to find yourself. During their heated romance, Sonja has a sexual awakening, embraces her abilities, both mystic and mundane, and dares to imagine a more vibrant, fulfilling life for herself.
Pleasure Magic Practice from Sonja: Sex is good medicine. Romance is good medicine. So are herbs and homemade lotions unfused with your good vibes. Enough said.