Lure Of The Sea: Life of A Love Witch

The lure of the sea, the mystery of the deep waters, and the enchantment of the swirling tides have woven their threads into the story of my life. My childhood was spent on Florida’s Treasure Coast. The nickname proved to be more than just a catchy name to entice tourists, for the ocean itself manifested golden pirate coins to the lucky few.

I was raised on tales of mermaids, pirates, fairies, and dragons. My mother, who always had an affinity for the ocean, resembled one of the mermaids from Peter Pan’s Mermaid Lagoon with her thick, beautiful hair and her honey sun-kissed skin. She would swim in the ocean for hours while I played in the sand, building castles and carving moats with the incoming tide.

During that time in my life, when my VHS tape of Peter Pan was nearly worn out from being rewound and rewatched so often, many of my classmates were “growing up” and making fun of me and my friends for believing in myths and fairy tales. But the Treasure Coast didn’t let me down. That year, a lifeguard, swimming with his friends, hit his foot on something a mere hundred yards offshore, and that something was a rusted cannon submerged at the bottom. Eventually after digging and enlisting the help of others, they found 5,100 coins, all minted from 1652 to 1659. The sleepy town was suddenly buzzing. It was possible to have almost nothing one moment, and then discover pirate and riches beyond your wildest dreams the next. In my mind, this was proof that fairy tales come true.

That summer, the beach was flooded with treasure hunters sifting through the tides with wire baskets that looked like McDonald’s fry-cooking contraptions. The 5,100 coins that were found with the cannon were not contained. There was no chest of treasure holding it all, and the coins were scattered along the ocean floor like shells, roaming and moving with every hurricane or raging summer storm that Florida is known for.

I built a huge sandcastle with my brother with a moat and a tunnel to the ocean. I remember us making up a song about the tide bringing the coins to the castle. It went something like this: “All the coins come to the castle, / all the coins decorate the halls, / all the coins come to the castle / and give us sparkly golden walls.” That summer, I never put on shoes, content to walk barefoot and find myself at the water once again, sifting through the sand in the same way Charlie of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory carefully opened his beloved Wonka Bars. The golden ticket was real and it was out there. The ocean held the abundance and kept it secret.

One of the main treasure-hunting boats that had anchored off the beach featured a crystal-crowned mermaid on the prow of the ship. This finned woman was watching over the treasure hunters and finders, keeping them safe and feeding them coins. I remember seeing a picture of her close up on the front page of the local newspaper and begging her to let a fellow mermaid’s daughter in on the treasure.

My treasure arrived in other forms.

In October 2017, the little girl in me delighted in the fact that, once again, I found myself mostly barefoot, running up and down the sands of a foreign land. I stood side by side with nine other women on a beach once known as the City of Dawn, one of the last cities built by the great magical Maya of Mexico. The sky was a showgirl that night, decked in burnt orange and rose pink reflected in the mirror of the endless Caribbean Sea. That night I created a ritual to bring in our own unique selves, inspired by my childhood by the sea. One by one, we walked out to the sea, our dresses floating behind us like mermaid tails. We dipped wooden bowls into the saltwater and whispered our fantasies of the future to the water. We held the bowls above our heads in a toast to the sea and the sky. We then gathered in a circle in a canvas tent illuminated by candles and dipped nine crystals each into the saltwater gift we received from the ocean, filled with our whispers of dreams. The full moon charged the crystals as we set them out overnight. Then we made crystal crowns with them, adorning ourselves like the mermaid I once saw on the treasure ship from my childhood. Our lives are the treasure. Each new day of this enchanted journey is a golden opportunity discovered.

Read more about Veronica Varlow’s Witch Camp and workshops on Instagram: @veronicavarlow.

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Read more about Veronica and David’s worldwide coven and see all of their handmade magical incense, oils, and amulets at Instagram: @veronicavarlow. Find David Garfinkel at @david_garfinkel.