My ex-husband had everything I’d called for in my love spell.
I’d wanted a water sign; like me, my husband was a Scorpio. I’d wanted my love to play a stringed instrument; his walls were strung with over 30 guitars, ukuleles and banjos. I’d wanted him to be tall; he was a lanky 6’2”.
I’d wanted him to be smart, check: a philosophy major as an undergrad, he was constantly quoting Nietzsche and Alan Watts. His library was filled with books like Jung’s Psychology and Alchemy and Magic and Mystery from Tibet.
Because my previous love spell hadn’t worked — did the spell, got nothing — I figured the second time around, I might as well ask for everything I wanted, no matter how unrealistic.
I wrote that I wanted my new love to be a feminist.
When I met my husband, feminist was the first word he used to describe himself on his Facebook page.
He was the most beautiful man I’d ever seen, with dark curly hair and almond shaped eyes like a knight in a Velazquez painting. Only, with full sleeves of badass tattoos.
What’s more, he was genuinely a kind person. When his friends wanted to see him, he’d drive hours out of his way to make it happen (in Los Angeles, that’s equivalent to stabbing yourself in the heart).
And, for perhaps the first time in my adult life, my lover showered me with the same kindness he extended to others. Early on in our relationship, he arrived at a restaurant where he found me really sick, my eyes red and swollen with flu. He wrapped his arms around me and with the kind of concern I’d rarely experienced before he said, “Let’s get you home.”
He would get up early for work so he could do my dishes. He was constantly giving me foot massages. Without speaking a word of Chinese, he translated the entire Tao Te Ching for me using a pencil, a notebook, and an English to Chinese dictionary. Saying, “I wanted to give you a gift that shows how much effort I’ll put into our relationship to make it work.”
We were together for six years. There was no one in the world I trusted more than him. Everyone thought we had the perfect relationship.
Even I thought we had the perfect relationship.
Then, last summer, we broke up.
While all my friends on Facebook saw that I was having this magical writing retreat in Joshua Tree, what was really happening was me lying on the floor of the desert studio, crying face down on the cement. For a month.
We’d decided to break up two days before I left for the retreat. While I was in the desert, he called me to tell me that basically, he’d been betraying me since before we even got married. When I returned from the retreat, he was already with another woman to whom, he implied, he was planning on get married and having a family.
Reader, I cannot even begin to tell you in tiny blog post like this one how absolutely crushed I was by the failure of my marriage. How heartbroken I was to think that finally, FINALLY, I had gotten it right, that I’d met someone who truly loved and cared about me, whom I adored, only to have our love disintegrate before my eyes, while I looked on helpless to do anything about it.
The feeling is like watching your dog drown. Watching it bark and paw at the water while you stand on the river banks, just out of reach.
And then to face a future of having to do it all again. To face more failure and hurt, while possibly watching my ex-husband go on to have this happy, beautiful family with a new woman…
Gram and Emmylou know a thing or two about love.
“Love hurts” doesn’t begin to describe… Love can fucking destroy you.
But the relevant question for you, dear reader, especially if you have an interest in performing your own love spell, is this: Did my love spell fail? And furthermore, why? And finally, what should I do about it?
There’re two ways that love spells can fail: 1) they don’t work in the first place. You do the spell, and no love happens. Which is what happened to me the first time, you’ll remember. Or 2) You do the spell, love happens, and then it implodes, often spectacularly.
Let’s take a moment to address both of these situations, shall we?
Fail # 1: You Do The Spell And Nothing Happens
First of all, if you’ve done a spell and you don’t see immediate results, one of your options is to be patient. Sometimes getting what you want takes longer than you think it should, and often, you don’t know the reason why until later.
If you don’t believe me, try writing a novel.
A client of mine wrote into her love spell that she wanted the results to happen fast, but she went a year and…crickets. Then, all of a sudden she met her dream man and they decided to move in together within two months. So it was fast, yes? But also slow.
Later, my client told me that it was actually essential that she DIDN’T get together with her new beau earlier. During that period of alone-time she’d been working through a lot of old baggage from her ex. In the end, as much as waiting sucked, she was glad she didn’t bring that baggage into her new relationship.
A few other reasons your love spell might fail to materialize a lover could be that you’re:
- still hung up on an ex
- addicted to drugs or alcohol (in which case, you’re pretty much in a monogamous relationship already…with the drug)
- not giving the spell a vehicle to work (you don’t make an effort to meet people)
- afraid that if you fall in love you’ll have to give up something you really value, like your precious time or your precious apartment or your precious freedom or precious career or whatever (fear is the #1 enemy of love)
- or, and this is a big one, you’re struggling with poor self-confidence (feeling unworthy of love is a tragically unfair love repellant.)
If any of the above are the case and your spell’s not working, then you’re lucky. Because it means you get a little more time to work on yourself before you add another spirit, with his or her own fears and hang ups and struggles, to your personal chemical cocktail. If you were to add another person now, you’d likely end up with Love Spell Fail #2 (see below).
But before we go on to Fail #2, I want to say that just because your love spell isn’t working it doesn’t mean you’re a failure or you aren’t trying hard enough. Like I said before, sometimes you don’t understand the reasons things aren’t going your way until much later.
And too, some things we will just never understand. Some mysteries never get solved. It’s what makes life interesting. Please don’t use not knowing the reasons why you aren’t in a relationship as an excuse to beat yourself up. I can assure you, as someone who’s tried beating myself up often, it doesn’t work. Self abuse won’t make love spontaneously materialize. Spare yourself.
Fail # 2: You Fall In Love, Then The Relationship ImplodesI was married for four years to a man I loved, all in all, we were together for six. There was an extraordinary amount of beauty in our relationship.
I got to:
- curl my fingers in his hair while we crunched salty popcorn, sipped icy beers and watched “Game of Thrones”
- search L.A. for hay bales, silk ribbons, and glass lanterns for our wedding
- brush the tears from his cheeks as he cried in frustration over hating his job
- look into the audience at all my readings and events and see his beautiful face smiling back at me
- hear him whisper “you can do this” while I struggled against the terror of leaving my conventional life and job behind
- kiss the swallow tattoos diving towards his heart while we made love
- take a road trip up the foggy Eucalyptus coast of central California listening to psychedelic throb of the Brian Jonestown Massacre
- wear white and sit in a candlelit circle as we sipped the bitter sacrament of Ayahuasca
- listen to him read out loud from Anne Carson while I made dinner on our antique stove: “Desire doubled is love and love doubled is madness.”
- rescue pregnant street cats
- struggle with all our might at couples counseling to make our marriage work
I’m still outraged about how our marriage ended. At my sense of betrayal, disappointment and loss. Whenever I think of how things went down I feel like I am in a pit wrestling a gigantic and poisonous black serpent.
Even after six months, my anger is still sometimes so raw that I could run through the city with a torch and light it all on fire.
But our relationship wasn’t a failure. As Scorpios, our love was chthonic , we walked into love’s cave together, we saw the crystals and the gold, but then we we’re enveloped by the dark complexities of it. We got separated. For a while, we tried hard to find each other, we called out through the shadows, but in the end we lost hold of the thread that held us together.
My love spell was not a failure. I don’t regret it.
On principle, I refuse to regret having loved someone. He is, was, and shall remain, worthy of love. As am I. As are you.
Love is never a waste of time.
Love is a gift and we are blessed simply to have it pass through our hands.
The truth is, everything we love will one day leave us.
Listen to this song by Liz Durrett if you want to sob over the beauty and tragedy of love.
But if everything impermanent is a failure, then everything is a failure. Nothing of this world can last forever.
Rather than judging love by its duration, we should give up judging love at all. Love is the life force flowing through us. Love is the moment when the walls that separate us from the rest of the universe come tumbling down. And we stand there, naked and afraid, but not alone.
Even a glimpse of that not-aloneness is worth it. Because it’s proof that we are part of something larger and more important than ourselves.
I believe the reason we exist is to create more love in the world.
Love is an action, it’s something we do, and something we create. By performing love spells, we pull love out of the realm of the imaginary (i.e. the spirit world, and/or consciousness), and manifest it here in material reality.
One spell isn’t enough. We need a thousand. We need to do love spells every day.
Fixing Your Love Spell Failures
Since my divorce in many ways I feel liberated. I feel more authentically myself, not having to bend or twist to fit myself into the shape dictated by my relationship. I can let myself expand to fill my full form. And so I know my next love will be even bigger, will go deeper.
When our hearts break and then heal again they become stronger, more durable, able to carry a bigger load.
I say this knowing the next time I love I will also fail. With something as expansive and immense as love, as a human I am destined to failure when I come up against it.
But also, friends, I know this: You and I? We’ll love again. We’ll speak the spell of love as Samuel Becket does:
“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.”
*This article was first published in WITCH magazine.