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  • Writer's pictureShannon Heibler

Practical Magic (1998)

We had the Time Life set "Mysteries of the Unknown" when I was growing up. Most of the books scared me too much to look at but the book on witches transfixed me. The torture and the trials frightened me but the idea of women having powers. I wanted that. Nothing big, certainly nothing Satanic (I was Very Catholic), but the idea that I could make things happen? What if that power was deep in me? What if I could will things into being? I didn't want to hurt anyone but I wanted to make life better. I wanted, mostly, to feel good about myself. Confidence, the ultimate magic.


Like so many women my age, I fell in love with Practical Magic when I was a lonely adolescent girl. Like so many of my favorite romance movies, it's not really about the love story. When I was a kid, it was an exciting movie about using powers to protect loved ones but it hits differently as an adult. I usually bawl my way through it. I see so much of myself in Sally: the paralyzing fear that I'll feel emotional pain, the willingness to close myself off to people in order to avoid it, the longing to be seen but spending so much energy hiding myself and my abilities because I'm so afraid I'll be rejected. Fear and longing.


2017 was one of the worst years of my life. So many different kinds of heart break experienced in a few short months. It was then that I began my witchcraft practice. I'd always wanted to, but was (shocker) afraid. I read a book that was a gentle, welcoming intro. Nothing serious. I read more. The more I read the more I realized that the practice (for me - it's different for everyone) isn't about acquiring powers but about recognizing and embracing the qualities you already have. It's about accepting that you are worthy and that most of the things you desire are right there for the taking. It can be incredibly difficult to show myself that sort of kindness, which is why I am so glad I am on this journey. (AND THERE'S NO DEVIL, MOM.) And Practical Magic really reinforces that message. It's my nice little Halloween hug movie.


I want the Aunts' house so badly. That kitchen! That solarium! That garden! Gimme gimme gimme. But mostly I want to grow up to be one or both of the Aunts. Whimsical, caring, strong, eccentric! Such excellent qualities. Even better fashion sense.









In the days since I watched and wrote most of this, I started thinking about what a lovely, gentle metaphor this whole movie is for mental health and specifically generational trauma. Isn't that what we really mean when we talk about "a family curse"? There's so much emotional baggage that's being passed to every woman in this family, being told that people don't like them because they're special (which is literally something I heard regularly growing up) and that men will die because of their love. Holy shit that's a lot to lay on little girls. And we can see that some deal better with it than others (I love that girls seem to come in pairs in this family). I never really put together before that Sally and Gillian's mother died from suicide. "Died of a broken heart" is a very kind euphemism that hits pretty accurately. I love that the daughters speak of "forgiving" their mother. As someone who is actively working to break my generational trauma, this movie is now a lot dearer to me.


Digital.





Takeaways:

-I was a little lost on this one. This is the kind of movie that I just like to sit with and producing something from it, or rather, being active with it, felt a little odd. But ultimately I love the Aunts and want more reminders in my life to be more like them so I was thinking about those early 2000s sassy vintage-style postcards that were like "Yeah I like grocery shopping because it means I can buy more wine" or whatever.

-I'm getting happier with my style in digital but oof I feel like I have so much to learn about pen control. I'll get there.


I hope you have a wonderful week and that you have a brownie for breakfast and embrace just how incredible you are. You are worthy of love, the kind of love that even time will lie down and be still for.


Next week: PERFECT MOVIE 1999's The Mummy with Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz. Just so excited to watch it, who knows what I'll make but I get to watch The Mummy.

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