“Elissa Washuta is exactly the writer we need right now: as funny as she is formidable a thinker, as thoughtful as she is inventive—her scrutiny is a fearless tool, every subject whittled to its truest form. White Magic is a bracingly original work that enthralled me in a hypnosis on the other side of which I was changed for the better, more likely to trust my own strange intelligence.” —Melissa Febos, author of Girlhood
Throughout her life, Elissa Washuta has been surrounded by cheap facsimiles of Native spiritual tools and occult trends, “starter witch kits” of sage, rose quartz, and tarot cards packaged together in paper and plastic. Following a decade of abuse, addiction, PTSD, and heavy-duty drug treatment for a misdiagnosis of bipolar disorder, she felt drawn to the real spirits and powers her dispossessed and discarded ancestors knew, while she undertook necessary work to find love and meaning. In this collection of intertwined essays, she writes about land, heartbreak, and colonization, about life without the escape hatch of intoxication, and about how she became a powerful witch. She interlaces stories from her forebears with cultural artifacts from her own life—Twin Peaks, the Oregon Trail II video game, a Claymation Satan, a YouTube video of Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham—to explore questions of cultural inheritance and the particular danger, as a Native woman, of relaxing into romantic love under colonial rule.
About the Author
Washuta is a member of the Cowlitz Indian Tribe and a nonfiction writer. She is the author of Starvation Mode and My Body Is a Book of Rules, named a finalist for the Washington State Book Award. With Theresa Warburton, she is co-editor of the anthology Shapes of Native Nonfiction: Collected Essays by Contemporary Writers. She is an assistant professor of creative writing at the Ohio State University.
Elissa Washuta's newest collection of essays is coming out in 2021—and they may be exactly what you need right now. — O, The Oprah Magazine
In brilliant, clear-eyed prose, Elissa Washuta maps a magical passage into (and back out of) the underworld, through knotty legacies of violence and longing and love. Part history, part riddle, part portal: this book worked on me like a spell. I've never read anything like White Magic, and will be returning to it again and again.
— Claire Comstock-Gay, author of Madame Clairevoyant’s Guide to the Stars
Elissa Washuta is exactly the writer we need right now: as funny as she is formidable a thinker, as thoughtful as she is inventive—her scrutiny is a fearless tool, every subject whittled to its truest form. White Magic is a bracingly original work that enthralled me in a hypnosis on the other side of which I was changed for the better, more likely to trust my own strange intelligence.
— Melissa Febos, author of Girlhood
In this incantatory, impassioned book of essays, Elissa Washuta offers readers a glimpse into a world of magic and spirituality, one which she has created for herself, drawing on the traditions of generations before her, and incorporating those things in her own life that have meaning and power. It starts with disillusionment; Washuta is healing from the trauma of a decade of unsustainable intoxication and addiction, and she seeks—and finds—a connection with a world beyond this one. Washuta's essays interlace themes of inheritance, loss, colonialism, identity, and ownership to beautiful, heart-aching effect in this, yes, wholly magical look at learning how to recognize the power that rests within you. — Refinery29