Last night I finished Ariel Gore’s We Were Witches. I rarely have time to read, but I finished this book in just over a week. Sort of a record for my life these days. This book is not just a good book, it’s a gift. We Were Witches is a novel about a queer teenage mother fighting patriarchal shame with the help of spells, old feminists, magic, motherhood, and wild determination, but within that story there is so much more.
I remember when I read Dorothy Allison’s Trash and for the first time and began to feel my shame of being female, of being poor, of being too young to be a mother, and of being gay slowly begin to morph into pride. I remember how that book brought me a sense of belonging to something beautiful and ancient and sacred. I remember feeling power begin to rise up inside of me and with that power a connection to the women before me who fought so hard to banish female shame, to allow us to love one another, and to once again unleash the power that was nearly burned out of us.
We Were Witches transported me back to a time in my life when I had my own feminist circle of witches to learn with, to laugh with, and to stand with me in my own battle against shame. We Were Witches made me remember the late nights making art and taking turns reading aloud from The Collected Poems of Audre Lorde, from Of Woman Born, from Living My Life, from Loving in the War Years, from The Women Who Hate Me, and so many other feminist classics. It reminded me of a time when my flip phone would buzz with a text, “Go outside and look at the moon. The guides are here tonight.” And I would go outside and I would feel the guides there with me. When things were too hard or too dangerous or too confusing we turned to the the women before and they were always there ready to guide us to the next step on our journey.
Somehow I lost that circle of women and somehow I lost sight of my magic. We Were Witches has reignited that magic for me.
Until I picked up that book I hadn’t fully realized how much I needed the guides to return to me, how much I needed to recapture my magic, and how much I needed to lace up my stompy boots, harness my queer teenage mother pride, and go smash some patriarchy.
I love this book.
We Were Witches is a book that kicks shame right in the ass and it does it with wit, humor, spells, rewritten fairy tales, reading lists, and even a magical opossum.
We Were Witches is a new feminist classic. We Were Witches is magic.
Read it now