I am one of those annoying New Age people.
Candles, incense, crystals all over my home. Always reading my horoscope as a Scorpio, of course. Warning my atheist husband, Sam, that we cannot move when Mercury is in retrograde. Pulling tarot cards.
And when I was a Hollywood assistant desperate to get that “break” as a screenwriter, I eventually used the occult to try to make it happen.
I bought my first tarot deck in the sixth grade. Those medieval-like images fascinated me, and I could ask these cards anything about my life. However, in the sixth grade, most of my questions revolved around boys, not my career.
That fascination with the occult stayed with me throughout my teens and early 20s, infiltrating every facet of my life. Every day, I pulled a tarot card, carried crystals in my bra and doused myself in Florida spirit water. I brought tarot cards and my astrology knowledge to nights out as a little party trick for friends. The first night I met my now-husband, I read his tarot at a party.
In fact, I pulled “The Lovers” tarot card for him. “Either you’ll enter a new relationship or have a choice to make.” He laughed, amused.
Though he didn’t believe in any of it, our different points of view have always complemented each other. I help him dream, and he helps me stay grounded in reality. (He’s definitely the Taurus in our relationship.)
And, man, did reality hit with my tumultuous career. As Sam grew in the world of tech as a product manager, I plateaued as an assistant.
Friends from college were moving on ― making six figures, purchasing homes and starting families. I was approaching my late 20s with nothing to show but experience in fetching laundry and answering phones.
Meanwhile, I tried to level up in my writing career, polishing my screenplay, a contained thriller. But when I approached my bosses about reading my script, I was met with an “Oh, um… it’s really busy now. Ask in a few months. Can you grab me another La Croix?”
So when a person describing themselves as a spellcaster messaged me on Instagram, I knew this was a sign from the universe. “Hello. I am a spellcaster,” the message read.
I clicked on the Instagram account, immediately pulled in by the profile photo of three magic candles and a five-pointed star. I noticed the account had more than 1,000 followers, and each image included elaborate descriptions of various spells performed for clients. This had to be legit.
“I do spells. Money. Career. Fame. Love. I guarantee 100% results,” they messaged.
“I’d like to be a successful screenwriter,” I wrote back.
The spellcaster listed off items he would need for the spell: cowries, 70 white candles, a dove.
I didn’t have a dove lying around the house, unfortunately.
Luckily, it turned out the spellcaster could acquire these items on my behalf for $136. That’s cheap in my mind. I once paid a famous tarot reader $400 for a session.
But then he said, “I think I need two other items for this spell because it will be powerful. But I can only get the items in Africa.”
This solidified my trust, knowing that the items used for the spell would be exclusive and not just some expensive fluff from a Los Angeles New Age store. So I agreed and coughed up another $100.
The next day, the spellcaster provided a few rules.
1. Do as I say.
2. Don’t hire another spellcaster.
3. Don’t tell anyone about the spell.
4. Don’t ignore me.
“Follow these rules and my spirits won’t harm you. If you disobey, my spirits can kill you within 48 hours,” he warned.
I am frightened yet too embarrassed to tell anyone about this situation. Only crazy people consult spellcasters, right?
He called the next day demanding more money: “You have lots of dark energy, and I need to do another spell ASAP. I’ll need $200.”
I hung up on him.
Then he kept calling. Over and over again. I kept declining. Over and over again. All the while, I was at work, rolling calls for my producer boss. She was yelling at me to confirm a lunch reservation, but I couldn’t stop looking at my phone, worried for my life.
The calls continued.
By the time I got home, he was calling from a Nigerian +234 number. I blocked it.
Then he warned via text, “I hope you know what you are doing. This is very dangerous. If you value your life, you will finish the spell.”
I cried, unsure what to do. I was pretty sure it was a scam, but what if it wasn’t? And that’s when I realized I had to confess to Sam, my atheist husband.
“Babe, I don’t want you to get upset… I think I’ve fallen for a Nigerian spellcaster scam.”
At first he didn’t blink. Then Sam asked, “Wait, are you serious?”
I expected him to be angry, upset or confused, but he was understanding. No eye roll. No “What magic New Age stuff did you spend money on now?” Instead, he hugged me.
He knew how badly I wanted success and how desperate I had become. I had become so frustrated with the lack of growth in my professional life that I truly believed that the spellcaster’s DM was a gift from the universe.
We changed my phone number, my instagram and anything that could be searchable online.
My husband said, “A: You won’t die. And B: You don’t need spells for success. Just do the work.” And that’s what I did. I went back to work, polishing my screenplay, writing every day and reaching out to professional connections so I can have my material read by the right people.
I needed to reach out to professional mentors, not spellcasters. And two years after the spellcaster incident, I got the break in my career I’d been waiting for, becoming a true crime writer for an online publication and podcast.
Today I describe myself as an agnostic pessimist.
Looking back, I think those tarot card readers, the life coaches and psychics I hired ― they all told me what I desperately wanted to hear. People in healthy relationships aren’t usually asking a psychic about their love life. People content in their careers are not seeking answers from a tarot reader.
I still light magic candles and read tarot now and then, but I don’t rely on the occult to attain my professional goals anymore. It turns out I have always been my own tarot card, my own crystal, my own spell. The gateway to my success has always been with me.