By Christian Chensvold
Witchcraft can be learned, but the best teacher is always a blood relative. That’s what’s known as a family tradition, and for Veronica Varlow witchery is five generations strong in her clan, which hail from the land of Bohemia. Varlow shares the wisdom passed down from her grandma — spiced up with rock and roll attitude — in “Bohemian Magick,” out November 2 from Harper Design. We caught up with Ms. Varlow to get a taste of her potion-filled book.
Q: What is your definition of magic?
A: I believe it’s being able to first accept that there is something supernatural in the world and yourself. Magic is being able to raise that inside you, and project it out in order to create the world that you would like to live in. I grew up in a space where none of the family died, they just became invisible guardians, and if you need their help, you can speak to them out loud, and receive responses from them. My grandmother learned magic from her mother in Bohemia at the turn of the century, and taught me tarot as a child, which I could “read” because it was pictures, which I associated with the stories she told me.
Q: Your book focuses on reclaiming our true selves. How do we lose sight of this deeper self?
A: Growing up in our world. If we were six years old and playing together, we know we’re magic. We’re in tune with our intuition because we have to be: we’re just learning language. We’re open to anything, because no one’s told us it’s impossible. The magical people in my life don’t allow the world to say it doesn’t exist. The more you step away from the everyday world, the better off you are.
Q: How do we know a good witch from a wicked one?
A: When muggles interview me they often ask if I could hex them. But when I was bullied as a child, my mother took my hair and left it for the birds, which can find it easily. She said, “Baby birds are going to sing their first song nestled in your hair, so why would you care what those kids have to say about you?” When I tell that, journalists say it would be so much better if your grandma put a hex on them. But if she had taught me how to do that, then I would have spent my entire existence putting hexes on people, because there are always going to be bullies, especially when you’re living an outsider’s life like we are.