The twenty-one authors who contributed to Becoming Dangerous are witchy and wise, “a coven of weird women playing and sharing with one another.” This essay collection describes the many ways that women, femmes, and non-binary people find and create safe places as acts of resistance, beauty, and hope.
Becoming Dangerous is timely and packed with cultural and pop references. Social media, sex toys, and selfies are just as vital for conjuring as hand-carved candles. The current administration is invoked more than once; for these witches, hate crimes and sexual assault are as much part of the landscape as the Highlands’ wind, itself “sharp and fresh, always so full of petrichor and the taste of wild green leaves.” Magic is present everywhere, from boxing gyms to nail salons. As one writer’s mother reminds her, any river or canal will do.
Editors Katie West and Jasmine Elliott curated a magnificent collection that includes authors of many different backgrounds, abilities, identities, cultures, and beliefs. Becoming Dangerous is at its best when it avoids prescriptions or instructions; Larissa Pham writes beautifully about shaving off her hair and discovering the mind underneath, and Sophie Saint Thomas sweeps every trace of an ex from her reclaimed apartment.
Magic permeates the essays, which play with expectations of where power comes from. Sex work sits comfortably beside skin care. A girl arrayed in Urban Outfitters merchandise is just as worthy and powerful as a professor of engineering or a gamer or a comedian. This is the kind of spiritual connection that can’t be bought at a New Age bookstore or on Etsy—though several of the authors started their practice that way. merritt k, in a terrific piece called “Fingertips,” investigates the intersection of capitalism and self-care, saying “Ritual doesn’t exist outside of capital.”
Becoming Dangerous debates with itself, answers its own questions, and provides a powerful look at how magic and intention can turn the tide of self doubt and empower women, as it has for centuries, in both public and secret practices.
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