All images from Bohemian Magick by Veronica Varlow. Published by Harper Design, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers; © 2021 by Veronica Varlow. Photography by Katrin Albert.
We’re thrilled that our very own love witch, Veronica Varlow , published her first book, Bohemian Magick, with Harper Design (the same publisher who issued The Faerie Handbook, The Mermaid Handbook, and The Unicorn Handbook) in October and is sharing her positive, inspirational, beauty-making magic with the world! Below we ask her some questions about the project so near and dear to her heart—and ours too.
Enchanted Living: So what is Bohemian Magick? What does Bohemian Magick mean?
Veronica Varlow: Bohemian Magick is crafting your life as your greatest spell and casting it out into the world. Bam. And in that act—in saying yes to the idea that you can craft your life, you conjure all your confidence and manifest your juiciest dreams—that is calling your genuine power back to you! Bohemian Magick is about uncovering and owning all of your gorgeous, messy, precious, vibrant, unique Wild magic within you.
If Bohemian was a word spell, it would be: nonconformist x art x revolutionary x kaleidoscope x adventure. Bohemians are the artists attuned to their own Wild nature, who create the life they live as a spell. These are people like Frida Kahlo, Nina Simone, Leonard Cohen, Andy Warhol, Hilma af Klint, and Vali Myers.
The word Bohemian has a secret double meaning in the case of my book, because the magic of my lineage is from what was once known as Czechoslovakia, which is the land known as Bohemia. In Bohemian Magick, I share those secret spells, rituals, potions, and charms from my Grandma Helen that have never been written down before.
EL: And who is Grandma Helen, for our readers who don’t know the story?
VV: She is the Queen Eternal of the Bohemian Witches for me! She was my grandma and she taught me all of the Bohemian Magick that she learned from her mother, from the time I was six years old. Man, she was a firecracker of a woman who threw old playing cards down and read the tarot from them. She smoked Lucky Strike cigarettes and talked enthusiastically out loud to the spirits every single day of her life. She carved candles with a pearl-handled switchblade and ironed rose oil into the sheets she shared with my Grandpa Warren, who was the love of her life. She had me reading the tarot at the same time I was learning to read books. She opened the door to a magical life for me.
EL: What does this book mean to you?
VV: Kerouac said, “I’m writing this book because we’re all going to die.” That hit me hard. When I wrote the very last chapter to the reader, I wrote it as if I would accidentally walk out in front of a New York City bus tomorrow, I would have written magic that could live on and help change someone else’s life like my Grandma Helen changed mine. I’m going to be honest, the whole last chapter, tears were falling from my face while I wrote it. It’s raw. This book is a piece of my soul. I take a journey with you as the reader in the book, sharing spells and adventures and these secrets from lost Bohemia, and the last chapter is the moment I hand it all over to you. You’re the hero, the Magician, the High Priestess of this book. Words are wands. Words create legend and become stories for the future. After my home burned to the ground and I lost so many of my personal diaries, when I handed this in, knowing that thousands of copies would be printed internationally, I felt a relief that all of them couldn’t be burned and lost. So, yeah, this book means a lot to me.
EL: What are you hoping to share with this book?
VV: The essence of what I want to share is: Magic is within you and it has always been there. Look, sometimes it is easy to feel alone in the world or misunderstood. It is easy to feel like you might not fit in, or you don’t know how to call upon your magic, or you are learning that you have some supernatural ability and you don’t know what to do or how to take it to the next level. When I wrote this book, I wanted to say, “Hey, you’re not alone. I see you. I believe in your magic. Let’s go on a journey together and let me show you some tips and secret spells to amplify your power.” Just like my Grandma did for me. I put my strongest magic into this book. I know that readers of Bohemian Magick will have more confidence, more sizzling self-love, more electrifying mojo, and more juicy love vibes to stand strong with courage and celebrate who they are in this world. That’s what I want. I want empowered, badass, supportive, confident witches out there to heal this world. I am standing with you and rooting you on. Always.
“Hey, you’re not alone. I see you. I believe in your magic. Let’s go on a journey together and let me show you some tips and secret spells to amplify your power.”
EL: What does being a witch mean to you?
VV: Being a witch to me means unapologetically drawing upon this ancient Wild power in me, along with my spirits and ancestors, to cast a spell of love and art and connection and beauty upon myself, the days of my life, my community, and the world around me. Believing in your own magic is a revolutionary act.
EL: Can anyone be a witch?
VV: Yes. And you don’t need any magical tools or crystals or approval for someone to tell you are. When you decide you are a witch, you claim it. I believe that when we are children, we are in touch with our own natural deep intuition, our creative imaginations and a vibrant connection to the world around us. When we were too little to understand language, we understood our magic. We could feel vibes around us; we would rely on our intuition and our experiences with the natural world around us to protect us and help us learn and grow. We didn’t learn how to doubt ourselves until later. I think that part of becoming a witch is to peel away all the layers that society put on us and to re-remember our original selves.
EL: And what is the Wild? What does this mean and why is it so important?
VV: The Wild is my name for the purest, most ancient magic within you. A powerful life-force energy within us that carries instinctive knowledge from the beginning of time. It is the supernatural force of your instinct and intuition that can guide you like an internal compass. The Wild lives in the strength in your being that rises up when you allow your genuine self to thrive.
EL: How does rock and roll play a part in your vision and what you do?
VV: Rock-and-roll musicians are a great example of people who tap into their Wild, howling with abandon, writing poetry from their spirits, making music and communicating with voice and song. Songs are spells. I’m a witch and a burlesque performer and I know the power of these spells of the blues and rock and roll, they rumble through my hips and shake my body like spirits speaking through a medium. There’s power in that. That’s why each one of the spells in Bohemian Magick is named after a song. Going through the table of contents is like going through a jukebox—you hit the one that will make you feel the best and bring that sanctuary to your Wild soul.
EL: Can you talk about all the work that went into the design of the book?
VV: Bohemian Magick is also a visual spell. I envisioned it as my own personal grimoire with hand-written spells and photos of my rock-and-roll heroes and art and my friends from Witch Camp and the Chelsea Hotel Coven and my weird doodles and imagined it as if I left it behind on a bar for someone to find. I wanted it to be that vulnerable. I wanted it to be like you were peeking into this world where I can whisper the secrets to you. A kind of book you would read under your covers with a flashlight—that kind of vibe. This book was inspired by riot grrl zines and my own tattered grimoires that I dragged all over the world with me. I handwrote pages and got the rights to some of my favorite pieces of magical art and photos of my heroes so they could be present in the spell. They are all there next to me, standing with me on the pages of this book. It’s a visual altar. I put them all together to create a spell for each person who reads it to call their power back to them. I was incredibly lucky to have Raphael Geroni design the book. He nailed it on his first try. I gave him all of the scanned handwritten pages, the photos, and the art, and when I saw it for the first time I sobbed with happiness because I felt the spell working!
Interesting supernatural side note on this design: As I was writing this book, I was talking to one of my friends about how Jacqueline Susann, author of Valley of the Dolls, famously delivered her manuscript on pale pink paper. I did a spell for Jacqueline Susann that night on a pale pink paper that I burned in my cauldron to help deliver the message to her through the smoke reaching to the Otherside. When I saw the book for the first time, I was shocked because Raphael had designed the entire inside on pale pink paper and I never told him the story! He just knew. That’s how deeply tapped into his art intuition he is. Bohemian Magick is an enchanted treasure. I can’t wait for you to hold it in your hands and experience the adventure spell inside!
EL: What’s one special piece of advice you share in the book?
VV: Your life is the greatest spell you will ever cast.
Find Bohemian Magick wherever books are sold.