It’s a good time to be a witch, says a Costa Mesa wife, mom and author of ‘The Enchanted Diary.’
By VALERIE TAKAHAMA
The Orange County Register
LITERARY MANIFESTATIONS: In 2000, Jamie Wood published the first of her four books related to the nature-based spiritual practice. Her latest is The Enchanted Diary: A Teens Guide to Magick and Life.
H. LORREN AU JR., THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER
What is Wicca?
“Wicca, also known as Witchcraft, the Craft, or simply the Old Religion, is a nature-based religion, close in ideology to Native American and shamanistic traditions. … Wicca comes from the Saxon root wicca, loosely translated as ‘wise.’ The knowledge of Wicca is derived from the movement of the sun, moon and stars, and the cycles of the seasons.” – “The Wicca Cookbook”
Kevin Wood walks in from the garage where he’s doing the laundry and holds up a black T-shirt that says “Witch and Famous” in white letters.
“That’s Jamie,” he says about his wife.
Meet Jamie Wood, modern-day witch.
She’s a wife and mom who lives in a two-story house in Costa Mesa with a view of a park and “MAJIK” written on the mirrors. She likes butterflies, hummingbirds and fairies, and has a blue butterfly tattoo on the nape of her neck. She lights candles and burns incense when she pays the household bills to make an onerous chore seem a little fun. She calls shoes “nature separators,” and drives barefoot when she takes her sons to and from school in a black Honda SUV. Forget the purse. She grabs the keys and goes.
She dresses in jeans, but she also owns a green velvet cloak and swirly Stevie Nicks outfits. The black T-shirt she got in Salem, Mass., where she signed enough copies of her new book on witchcraft, “The Enchanted Diary,” to give some truth to its “Witch and Famous” boast.
In short, Jamie Wood is out of the broom closet, and proud of it.
Right now, she’s sitting at a table covered with hummus and crackers and goat cheese from Trader Joe’s, with pretty mugs of herbal tea. There’s a miniature caldron and small slips of special paper. She has you write something that you want on the paper, repeat an incantation, “I give to the fire what I most desire,” and light the paper on fire. Swoosh. It’s gone.
Wood, who’s 37, says it’s a good time to be a witch in America. Take a look around: “Bewitched” is out on DVD, “Charmed” is on TV and “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” is in theaters.
“I love that magic is getting this kind of attention, and it’s no longer taboo. ‘Muggle’ is in every new dictionary,” she says about the term for ordinary people without magical powers in “Harry Potter.” “It’s no longer something that can’t be talked about.”
To Wood, it’s a big improvement – not only from the 1600s, when a lot more than paper went up in flames – but from as recently as 2000, when her first book, “The Wicca Cookbook,” was published.
She says that too many of the questions she fielded back then were plain silly.
“‘Do you still fly on a broom?’ ‘Can you make Lucy Liu fall in love with me?'” she says, noting that she’s been teased about Wicca but has never encountered hostility or animosity about it.
“This last time, people were asking intelligent questions that you would hear in a college class rather than at a new age roast. ‘What’s the difference between ‘Wicca’ and ‘witch’?”
Another question: How did the former cheerleader from Canyon High in Anaheim Hills, a Cal State Fullerton grad, the daughter of a lapsed Catholic Latina mother and a white Christian Scientist father, get into witchcraft?
“Wicca combined the Native American leanings I have – the tree-hugging, hippie stuff – with this idea of the god-self being within. It put an umbrella over all these things,” she says.
Her sister-in-law Tara Seefeldt, who has a doctorate in medieval history, introduced her to Wicca with a copy of “The Spiral Dance” by Starhawk, one of the first books to bring the religion and goddess worship to the public in the late 1970s. After reading it, Wood began to practice on her own and found that she gained a sense of harmony with nature, balance in life and empowerment.
“The way Wicca works, it’s a-year-and-a-day philosophy. You can’t simply read about winter solstice, you have to experience winter solstice,” she says.
“There’s a tradition that on winter solstice you stay up and you are the midwife to mother earth. You envision yourself getting ready to birth the sun.”
Her career as an author happened as if by magic.
She had quit a job in marketing and public relations to move to Encinitas in 1995 in part for her husband’s career. When she couldn’t find another position in her field, she switched to massage therapy, and decided to take a part-time job while she was building her client base. Flipping through the classifieds, she saw an ad for an assistant to a literary agent in Del Mar. She applied and got the job.
Over time, the agent, Julie Castiglia, recognized that Wood’s abilities went beyond filing and answering the phone.
“She could do anything she wanted to. She’s one of those people,” Castiglia says. “She is very talented. I knew she was bright and talented.”
The agent tapped that talent just when Wood was becoming depressed about her career prospects.
“Julie called me and said, ‘Hey, an editor is looking for someone to write the Wicca cookbook. Do you know anybody who could do that?’ I said, ‘Pick me! Pick me!'” she recalls.
Castiglia remembers it slightly differently.
“The way I remember, I asked her if she wanted to write a book, or did she think she could write a book,” she says. “Indeed, she wrote a fantastic book.”
Since “The Wicca Cookbook,” co-authored with Seefeldt, she’s written “The Wicca Herbal,” “The Teen Spell Book” and “The Enchanted Diary.” She’s also written a book that has nothing to do with Wicca but draws on her Hispanic roots, “Como te Llamas, Baby: The Hispanic Baby Name Book.” She’s finishing another, a more scholarly work, “Latino Writers and Journalists.”
In the Wood household, Wicca traditions blend seamlessly into everyday life.
Skyler, 8, and Kobe, 6, who attend the Costa Mesa Waldorf School, and their parents celebrate Easter with an Easter egg hunt and ham dinner at Grandpa’s house, and the Wicca holiday on the vernal equinox called Ostara by reading traditional goddess stories; they decorate a Christmas tree and observe the winter solstice with a family feast of seasonal fruits and root vegetables.
They celebrated the Mexican holiday Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, with a traditional altar and a party.
“We invited their friends to come over and bring a picture of their loved ones, a pet or whoever had died,” Wood says. “We had made crystal sugar skulls that they decorated. We had a big pomegranate, and we talked about the many seeds of the pomegranate.”
Just the other night, the family went out to dinner in Sunset Beach, took a walk on the sand and noticed the full moon. It’s a Wiccan tradition to dip crystals or other objects in the ocean under the full moon, but when Skyler and Kobe began to anoint themselves in the water, Jamie suggested they do something else instead.
“It was a little cold to dive in, so all of us picked up a seashell, held it up to moon, gave a silent prayer and made a wish and let the moon absorb it all,” she says.
Then, they threw the shells back into the ocean, piled into the SUV and headed home together with the moon looking down on them.