I just went back to look at this blog for the first time in a while, and a bunch of my old posts have been password-protected somehow. I haven’t changed anything, so I don’t get how this could happen. I tried changing the settings from the admin side of the blog, but it didn’t work. What is going on?
I’ve basically been crying all week. My mom let me skip school because I could hardly get out of bed.
But I can’t let this go. I need to know how this happened. She was the sweetest, kindest, most genuine person I’ve ever met, and I can’t just pretend like something isn’t really really wrong with all this. Why won’t anyone tell me the truth?
The police won’t take me seriously, and her grandma doesn’t want to talk to me. There’s no one else I can ask for help.
The worst part is, I can’t help wondering if there was something I could have done. What if she needed help and I didn’t even notice? I keep going over and over it in my head.
I’m making this post so that maybe someone will see it and catch something I missed. I’m sharing screenshots of all the Facebook posts she made in case there’s anything in there that could explain what happened to her.
I can’t believe this is happening. It doesn’t feel real. I just don’t get it. I don’t understand.
The other day, I was out grocery shopping with my mom, and we ran into Dr. Hargo. I remembered Isabella telling me that he would make house calls sometimes when she was sick and her grandma’s herbal remedies couldn’t cut it.
I asked if he’d heard from her at all and he said he’d just been up to the house the other day. I was so relieved. But then he said Isabella was catatonic. I almost started crying right there in the grocery store. My mom obviously didn’t want to cause a scene, so he wouldn’t really tell me more than that. Apparently her grandmother is taking care of her at home. He told me not to worry. He said that Isabella was resting comfortably now. Those were his exact words, “resting comfortably”, like she’s just taking a nap.
I can’t believe it. I wanted to find her so badly, but not like this. Somehow, this is so much worse.
OK now I’m sure something’s going on. This is really really, like deeply weird.
So last weekend, I decided I should try to talk to Isabella face to face. The problem is, I don’t know where she lives. I mean, I kind of know where, but Isabella never let me come over to her house. She said her grandma wouldn’t like it. Even though she took me out into the woods a bunch of times, the closest I ever came to her house was one time after a party when she let me give her a ride home, but she made me drop her off near the turn for her road. So anyway, I decided to see if I could find her house. I figured if Isabella was just grounded, I could see for myself. If something else was wrong, maybe her grandmother would talk to me.
Every day after school, I went out looking for her house. I got lost a lot. Like, A LOT. Like, I’d turn off onto a road and be driving along it and all of a sudden I’d be back where I started at the highway, like the road was just one big loop. Or I’d see a light off in the distance, and I’d drive towards it, and the next thing I knew, the light would be somewhere else completely. I’ve lived here my whole life. I thought I knew the area pretty well, but I was completely turned around. The longer it went on, the more I started to suspect this was more than just getting lost. Then I saw these clusters of bones hanging from the trees, and I remembered Isabella showing me a concealment charm where you hang bones in the trees and I just . . . I can’t believe it. But I think I’m right.
Then on Monday, I went to the sheriff’s office. They obviously weren’t taking me seriously, like I was just overreacting to a stupid fight. The deputy that took my statement even made it sound like there was something weird about me being worried about Isabella. Like I was stalking her or something.
And then today, they called me. Apparently they talked to Isabella’s grandma, and she said that Isabella is in Wheeling visiting relatives. Except Isabella told me her grandmother was the only family she had.
Why won’t anyone take me seriously?
I am starting to worry that something is really wrong. I haven’t heard from Isabella in two weeks, and that’s not like her at all. Here’s what I know:
The day before Halloween, Isabella was supposed to meet me at the library, which is where we usually wait for each other. We were supposed to go to my house to get ready for a Halloween party one of the girls in my art class was throwing that night. She was going to be Red Riding Hood and I was the woodsman. Isabella never showed up. I texted, but she didn’t answer. I called, but her phone just rang and rang. I wasn’t that worried at first. This happens sometimes. There have been times before when Isabella’s grandmother would say she wasn’t allowed to go out, or she’d have too many chores at home. I was disappointed, but I figured I’d see her in a day or two.
Now her phone is going straight to voicemail. I think it finally ran out of battery. That does happens sometimes because she can’t always get to town to charge her phone. But it’s been two weeks. Whenever she can’t make it, she’ll let me know or apologize later, so I just don’t get what happened. I don’t know what I could have done to make her not want to talk to me anymore. It’s not like we fought or anything. I know people grow apart or have a falling out sometimes. But no matter how much I go over and over those last few days before Halloween, I can’t think of a single thing that would have made her cut me off like that.
Lightning is one of the most dangerous forces in the natural world, according to the hex book. It says evil travels inside lightning, or something like that. Supposedly it can make you sick, which, I mean, yeah, I guess being struck by lightning would be pretty bad.
You have to understand, Granny uses the word “lightning” very broadly. My phone is lightning by her definition. She says lightning makes one more vulnerable to illness, and can make all sorts of terrible things happen. It should be avoided at all costs.
Lightning is a conduit for negative influences. It cleaves things in two, starts fires, leaves terrible scars on the land and the body. People touched by lightning are said to be cursed.
“Body-without-soul” is what you call it when someone sends their spirit out visiting and it doesn’t come back. Someone’s spirit can also be forced out of their body, apparently. This can last for a little while, or a long time. Isabella says there have been cases where people spent the rest of their lives body-without-soul. Her grandma won’t talk about that, though, because even mentioning bad luck can make it happen.
I’m not really sure what “body-without-soul” is supposed to look like because the hex book hardly even mentions it. It kind of reminds me of some of the stuff I’ve read about zombies in a way.
People who are body-without-soul don’t go walking around with their arms out stiff, devouring human flesh. They’re just hollowed out.
OK . . . thanks for really clearing that up, Bella.
Hanging animal bones in the branches of trees is supposed to hide whatever is beyond them. Isabella says that vertebrae are the “traditional” choice, but “bone stars” are the best if you want to conceal something from someone who means you harm. I can’t believe I know this now, but a “bone star” is made of four long bones like femurs tied together like a cross, which . . . gross.
To hide a particular path or road, you can carve your intention into the first tree at the start of the road. I guess this means, like, if you want So-and-So not to notice it, you would carve “So-and-So won’t see this” into the tree? I’m not sure, the hex book doesn’t really specify.
This method can also be used to conceal an object you wish to keep hidden. Like for example, you could carve a charm into the lid of a box if you didn’t want someone looking for it or you could sew one inside a coat to keep the person wearing it from being noticed.
It’s important to know that these charms aren’t foolproof. They work best on the unsuspecting. It would be relatively simple, for instance, to prevent strangers from straying into your field, but it would be more difficult to hide the same field from one who already knew its location. An experienced practitioner, especially a sensitive person or someone with a great deal of power, will be much more adept at seeing through concealments.
There are some days when the natural influences are stronger than others. These are usually good days to practice, though you must also take care, because they are also the days when a practitioner is most easily overpowered by negative influences.
You might think that solstices and equinoxes would be the most important times, and they are a big deal, but Isabella says that the halfway point between a solstice and an equinox is also really significant. That’s when the boundary between the earth and the spirit world is the thinnest. The next most powerful times are full moons and new moons. There are also other days of power that aren’t determined by the natural calendar, like Wednesday, which is the most balanced day because it’s the middle of the week, and a practitioner’s name day.
Your name day is the moment you receive your true name. This is not the same as the day you were born or the day you were named by your parents. This is the day when an elder practitioner divines your true name in blood and makes you known to the spirit world. This initiates you into your power and means you can begin to cultivate new strength, yet it also means you are more vulnerable to the influences of the spirit world. The anniversary of this day is the anniversary of a practitioner’s private power.
Here are some plants and herbs that are useful to a practitioner, according to the hex book:
- Carve your heart’s desire into a beech branch and bury it to make your wish come true.
- Toss Scotch broom in the air to raise the wind. Burn it and bury the ashes to settle the wind.
- Cornflower petals will resolve an argument.
- Pressing a dogwood flower between the pages of your hex book will protect it.
- Wear hawthorn to protect from lightning.
- Oak is one of the most powerful trees. Its wood is good for making tools used in practice.
- Hang rosemary around the house to protect from thieves. If you carry it in a sachet or put it in your bath, it has healing powers.
- Carry a sprig of wormwood in your breast pocket to call someone’s spirit to you.
- A sachet of yarrow under your pillow increases courage and attracts love and friendship.
Dreams are powerful. They often predict things to come, and there are certain signs you can use to interpret the portends in your dreams. But dreams can also be a way to communicate with spirits. Spirits of the dead may make themselves known in dreams, and an experienced practitioner can also send their living spirit out in dreams. This is called visiting.
If you ever wake up feeling like someone just said your name, it’s possible you were visited in the night. If you wake up with a weight on your chest or you can’t move, you are probably being visited by an ill-intentioned spirit.
According to the hex book, dreams about lightning foretell bad luck. If you see the full moon in your dream, it means you are coming into your fullest power. A dream about the waning moon means you will be vulnerable in the next few days. Rabbits are a lucky sign, but hawks are luckier. If you dream about housework, you’ll be facing upheaval soon. Rivers mean change, but also constancy.
There’s so much about dreams in the hex book. There’s no way I can fit it all into one post. I need to do a follow-up someday with more dream interpretation info.
You can wear a length of knotted twine around your neck or wrist to protect yourself from negative influences. The knots are supposed to be spaced at an equal distance along the twine. With each knot, you’re supposed to state your intention. The more knots you make, the stronger the charm will be. Dipping the joined ends of the twine in a mix of blood and honey will make it stronger, too. I didn’t ask whose blood it’s supposed to be. Sealing the ends together with beeswax will also work.
Blood, honey, and beeswax are all powerful binders, and will make almost any charm much stronger. Using all three together is the strongest of all.
And the practitioner’s blood is best, in case you were truly curious. The blood of an animal will also suffice.
Yeah, I’m not going to recommend you cut yourself, but you know, you do you I guess.
You can hang two pieces of crossed iron above your door to protect your home. For even more protection, hammer an iron nail into each corner of your door and window frames. I think this might be related to the superstition of putting a horseshoe above a door for good luck, although it doesn’t have that element of kind of containing the good luck that the horseshoe has.
I’m not sure it works that way. There are influences, good and bad and all kinds in between, and they can touch you or you can draw them to you, but I wouldn’t say you could scoop up good luck like sugar in a spoon. What an odd idea.
Wind chimes are also good protection. The sound of the chimes will dispel negative influences gathered around your home and stop ill-intentioned people from drawing near.
Sage smoke is the best way to purify your home. This ritual was probably borrowed from the Native American practice of smudging, which uses herbs and smoke to purify and bless things.
Sage should be dried in the moonlight, if possible. The more it is exposed to moonlight, the more powerful it will become. This is true of most herbs and magical objects, in fact, except for bones, which should be kept in the shade until they are used.
Don’t forget about fire safety! I learned this the hard way!
Here are some other methods of purification the hex book mentions:
- If you think you’ve been cursed, drink a cup of chamomile tea first thing every morning for three days.
- A bath infused with rosemary and lavender can cleanse any object that has attracted a negative influence.
- To rid your home of ill intent, scatter salt across the floor and sweep it up while singing a hymn backwards. Sweep it out the door without touching the salt.
Before Isabella can start “schooling” me in magic, she says I have to learn the spirit alphabet. Her grandma’s hex book, which is sort of like a spell book, is written in this magical language called the spirit alphabet. Basically it’s like the ABCs of magic.
The spirit alphabet is not a different language, just another alphabet. Granny says it was created a long time ago by the women in our family to prevent outsiders from reading their hex books. Back when the early hex books were written down, women had to be careful who knew they were practitioners, so having a secret way to record their knowledge was important.
Isabella says I’m not allowed to share the whole spirit alphabet here, because writing it all out at once is bad luck. She says it’s OK if I share a little bit though, so here’s some homework she gave me to help me learn it:
What would you do if you found out your new best friend was a witch? Make her teach you everything she knows and start a blog about it, right? Yeah, me too.
Imagine my surprise when one day Isabella just casually mentions that she and her grandma are going to do some magic later. I mean when we first met, I kind of figured they were probably super religious. I guess that’s just my assumption about homeschooled kids, sorry not sorry. I was definitely not expecting her to tell me she’s basically a witch.
I’m really not a witch. And it’s not witchcraft, it’s practice. Practicing is something you do, not something you are. Anyone can practice, although certain people are more adept than others.
OK, whatever you say. She’s definitely a witch, right?
Many of the women in my family have been what Granny calls “sensitive”. I suppose you’d say we’re more attuned to the natural influences in the world. It often skips a generation, so Granny and I are sensitive, but I’m told my mother wasn’t.
We did a test with this sort of pendant thing to find out if I’m sensitive and apparently I’m not really. Oh well, I guess that dream I keep having where I’m scooping out a giant melon isn’t prophetic after all! Isabella says it doesn’t matter, though. She can still teach me the basics. Except she says it’s called “schooling” when you teach someone about magic, I guess? Looks like I’m going to be learning