Issue 7: Horror | 730 words

With Witch-in-Residence, Speculative City imagines a co-created speculative world based on real questions that we place in speculative spaces. Our Witch-in-Residence, through her working knowledge of the world and the magic within it, answers questions from beings who seek advice when they find themselves confronting  difficult or confusing situations. Think of Dear Abby with a much more interesting fantasy twist.

Questions or letters for next month’s column are welcome! Email them to witch@speculativecity.com, and we will map your question to our speculative world.

Dear Witch-in-Residence,

I am at a loss and really need some advice. The man I thought was the love of my life is having an emotional affair with a woman claiming to be a witch. He is infatuated with this woman. He says she is interesting and exciting. This has been going on for quite some time now and I have only just learned of it. I am beyond hurt. I thought we were soulmates. Now I am questioning everything. 

How could he do something like this to me? How could SHE do something like this? We have a commitment to each other. How can this woman, who claims she is a witch, not respect our commitment, or commitment in general? What kind of woman wants another woman’s man? I feel that this woman must be a master at manipulation and deceit. My love feels extremely guilty. He feels duped by this woman. Is this part of her witch trickery? Did she cast a spell? Was there more than just an emotional connection? Was it physical? How can I believe him… or her?

Should I stay with him and work on our love and relationship? Can we recover from this? Please, I want your advice.

Hurt and Confused, but mostly Confused


Dear Confused,

Oh, muffin. I’m so sorry. Your pain comes off the page, and it’s clear you are correctly describing yourself. I’m so sorry for the pain you feel and for your confusion. 

I want to try to clarify things a little before I offer you advice.

Magic doesn’t work against someone’s will. It just doesn’t. If your partner was not open to participating in an emotional affair, he would not have done so, no matter how many spells were cast. (And even if magic was used against his will or he was spellbound—he wouldn’t be confused or feel guilty, he’d just be gone.) So, no, she didn’t cast a spell, or if she did, it wasn’t against his will.

Nothing in witchcraft, paganism, Wicca, or magick commits a witch to maintaining someone else’s relationship. Christianity has a stricture like that, about not wanting a woman belonging to someone else. But, with both love and salt, Christians aren’t generally great about that, and the woman-belonging-to-a-man shit is, uh, problematic.

Your love feels guilty because he knows he messed up. It doesn’t matter if it was more than just emotional, except insofar as that would mean your love lied to you, but my dear Confused, your love has already lied to you. He lied when he hid this closeness that he knew would distress you, and he kept it for himself because he wanted it. He lied to himself, too, but that’s secondary.

Which brings me to my advice to you: focus on yourself. Cast your own spells, and cast them on yourself. Cast yourself a spell to call in the kind of love that loves you fiercely and without distraction. (Would this man fit that bill? Would he feel called by a spell like that?) Cast a spell to call in the kind of self-love that lets you ask yourself, with as much gentleness and kindness and support as possible, if you want to be with a man who blames his choices on a woman’s wiles, or a ‘master manipulator’, or a magical spell. This wasn’t a long con, dove. If your partner had wired money to a Nigerian prince or fallen for a Three-card Monte on the train into work, I would say yes, he got conned. But he got caught having an emotional affair. That’s not a con or a spell. That’s him fucking up and getting caught for it. That’s him realizing he’s not happy in his relationship and choosing not to turn toward his primary partner for a solution. That’s on him. It’s not on you, and it’s not on this other woman. 

I don’t know the answers to your other questions of whether you should stay with him or if you can recover. I think you don’t know yet, either, and that’s okay. Give yourself time and therapy. Give yourselves couples therapy and give yourself individual therapy. Give yourself the attention you have been giving him, and her—whoever she is or is not. Give to yourself and keep giving to yourself. 

And good luck. 

Yours with a lot of honesty,


Hilary Berwick

Hilary Berwick

Hilary Berwick is a writer, coder, researcher, and meditation practitioner from Brooklyn, Oakland, Texas, and some points in-between. When she’s not growing plants, reading books about Pagan rituals, or playing RPGs, she writes queer radical speculative fiction and loves on her bigheaded dog.