That Time I Tried to Call Down the Moon, but Called Up Something Else Instead.


Another tale from the 80s. This was the mid-80s, and I was living in a small but hip college town in the deep south. In those days, I was practicing witchcraft to the best of my ability, and I had a group of friends with whom I had formed a loose-knit but sincere newbie coven. 

We read books, we practiced various magical arts, and actually managed, despite ourselves, to become good at various things. I was pretty good at healing bones and muscle, for instance. Another friend became quite proficient at psychometry. And so on. 

One night we'd all taken a walk to a stretch of woodland near my house, where a stream rushed over some large boulders. Though not too far from civilization, the woods were fairly thick and gave a strong sense of isolation. 

One of our friends, a skeptic who had a reputation of not being the brightest bulb in the box, was in rare form that night, mocking our burgeoning esoteric interests. 

I wasn't really attempting to draw down the moon. I was actually trying to annoy our skeptical friend. I stood on a large flat rock in the middle of the stream. Moonlit water was flowing past me, pale and frothy, and over the sound of rushing water I could hear the skeptic's voice as I raised my arms dramatically. "Nothing is going to happen" he said, "nothing is going to happen."

And nothing happened, for a second, or two, or thirty. Then the world lit up like daylight. The light didn't come from any particular direction, it was simply dark one moment, then bright white the next. It was diffuse, coming from everywhere all at once. I almost want to say that it came up from the ground, but it seemed more immediate that that. Like I said, it had no source. It wasn't, then it was, then it wasn't again. 

I dropped my arms, shocked. I know I hadn't actually done anything, but of course I was being credited with the event anyway. After all, I was the one doing the dramatic priestess pose. 

In truth I was scared, and I know I wasn't the only one. One of my closer friends grabbed my hand on the walk back. We were both afraid that we'd return to a town that was no longer there. The light had been so bright we feared a nuclear explosion (yes, I know that sounds ridiculous now, but if you'd grown up during cold-war days, you'd understand).

But the town was there, my house was there, and I never discovered what happened that night. I did, however, gain quite a bit of street-cred as a witch. 

Photo by Zoltan Tasi on Unsplash