Where Witches grow

Out of the Broomcloset photo by author Leon Calafiore
Out of the Broomcloset photo by author Leon Calafiore
Out of the Broomcloset

This Pride month seemed to provide a good excuse to switch gears; while another round of ritual to hold back the rising tide of appalling actions in Washington will, no doubt, still be needed, it’s also good to climb off the barricades and stretch one’s legs, and indulge in prerogatives of greater age, which is to say, reminisce.

I owe all that I am today to growing up in Edison, NJ and so, I thank you, hometown, for providing the launching pad for this fabulous life. This may seem to you excessive; you see the over-built exurbia that it is today. Once upon a time, it had the space where magickal things could (and did) occur. When my family moved there in 1962, it had the perfect ratio of woods and empty places to homes, an incredible group of teachers in the public school system, easy access to the vibrant Main Street of Metuchen, and easy train service to New York. If it were a script being pitched, it would be Stand by Me combined with Charmed.

Why was this a perfect laboratory in which to develop? It was easy to conceal what one was becoming, more an incubator than a closet. Things traveled at the speed of a landline phone. Once we were out of the house, we were on our own. School and the library provided some of the first connections to other possibilities by being exposed to the classical world. The one bookstore in Metuchen provided access to the magical texts just being published at that time. The woods provided a perfect locale for gathering some of the materials in those texts, and a safe place to stash them. And then, there was the train.

Edison was close to the forbidden New York City

New York was the forbidden place to go alone, which we knew without being told, because it just was. Being independently wealthy (2 paper routes!), it only seemed right to get on the train, and see what there was to see (having no idea where one was heading was appealing). Stonewall has happened, but it really didn’t have much of an impact on me at 14.

There was friend, let’s call him “Larry” (since that was his name). My folks thought that we were “too close.” Without further explanation (later on, he discovered girls, and that was that). I suppose the constant sleepovers, biking to distant places (like Plainfield), and the fine dining at the local Chinese restaurant, not to mention countless hours in the above-mentioned woods, were some sort of tell-tale signs. I was tending towards a path they didn’t approve of. If only they knew the half of it.

So, off on the train we went, and then took a subway to “The Village” (we weren’t complete babes in the woods). The first thing I saw was a grammar school aged girl, in cape and beret, hailing a cab, all by herself. I thought it was incredibly sophisticated. That’s when I knew that someday, I would move there.

At some point, we decided to have lunch, and went into a restaurant, taking a booth. The notable thing was our server, who looked the two of us up and down, as if to say; “do you boys know where you are?” But the server took our order. I couldn’t distinguish what gender the server was. And I noticed that only men were having lunch; no one paid our bill for us, though (I guess we were too young). It did get me thinking, though…

My Out of the Broomcloset ways started then…

But the reason for this trip down memory lane is that, on this trip, we ended up in some store. I couldn’t tell you where, exactly. I bought my first set of tarot cards there, as well as a book by Eden Grey explaining how to use them, my first occult purchase. I have them both to this day. They are the primary deck I use for reading for clients to this day, near 50 years on (and it’s odd to be looking this far into the past).

So, that’s my story; everything else proceeds from this starting point. No matter your path, carry on as you explore your life, and always do it with Pride.

Leon Calafiore
Leon Calafiore

Contact Leon Calafiore at BigBookOfMagic-outofthebroomcloset.blogspot.com.