The 2023-24 school year’s Witch In Residence (WIR) came to campus on Oct. 1, serving as a peer mentor for tarot readers, spell casters and stoners in their holiest of seasons. This exciting role includes managing the Living Laughing Learning Community, Women In STEM (Spells, Tarot, Emo and Magic).
The elusive role is a collaboration with the Office for Ecstacy and Intoxication, although they have been busy with cyclical reports of anti-antisemitism (AA) and anti-anti-antisemitism (AAA), and thus unable to keep an eye on this vital campus figure. The Office decided to enlist the help of their favorite spunky girl-journalist (the first who emailed back) to broadcast to the masses what the new WIR, Juniper Knotley Rathmore, has in store.
Knowing that WIRs typically prefer to keep to themselves, my initial plan was to investigate undercover. I left a note under an elm tree requesting an appointment with Rathmore for a stick-and-poke tattoo, and awoke the next morning to find three amethyst shards on my doorstep. Having consulted Rathmore’s LinkTree guide, I knew that amethyst corresponds with Wednesday and that I should arrive at 3 a.m. sharp (because shards).
I was so excited my message had been received that I almost cut my hand. This reminded me that I did, in fact, need to let blood to RSVP: left hand for “Yes,” right hand for “Does later in the lunar cycle work? My horoscope was off.” I pricked my left pointer finger and stepped outside to let the wind catch a drop of blood.
I arrived at Rathmore’s residence, an effective use of the former Maggie’s Café space. I knocked three times, and she opened the door, a hazy waft of sage at first obscuring her shawl-draped form.
“So is this on the record?” she asked.
I was stunned. How had she seen through my cover?
As though reading my mind, she responded, “Oh please. You? A stick and poke? You look like your idea of Paganism comes from Sabrina the Teenage Witch. Come on in; I am ready for you.”
My ego bruised but kicking (I do have one tastefully anarchist ankle tattoo, after all), I trepidatiously followed her in, undeterred.
Her room was full of life: Books, colorful crystals and mysterious jars covered every surface. Salamanders roamed a table-sized terrarium, mice scampered through plastic tubes that lined the ceiling and an aloof white cat sat atop an overflowing bookshelf, keeping watch over the leather-bound notebooks.
I turned on my tape recorder, as her tattoo appointment rules said all phones were banned and I thought it fit her whole vibe, and began our interview.
MMH: Alright, I think we’re recording. So, a white cat, huh?
JKR: The black cat feels a little on the nose, y’know?
MMH: Great call. Your room is beautiful by the way.
JKR: Oh, thanks. I used up my RA budget on most of it. I think a big part of my job is about creating a safe space for exploration of the mystic arts, and my room is a big part of that. The animals were tough, though. It is so hard to get one approved as an Especially Satanic Animal!
MMH: What kind of mystic arts have you brought with you to the LLC?
JKR: A blend of ancient traditions. Kabbalah, Voodoo, the thing they do on Shadow and Bone, lots of stuff. I really try to sample from a variety of cultures, but I make sure not to do too much research about appropriate practice so as to not taint my rituals. Appreciation, not appropriation, or Asmodeous will get you!
MMH: Wack. Do you have anything in store for the big day?
JKR: Halloween? Oh, but of course!
At this point, as she began to tell me her Halloweekend plans, my tape recorder experienced significant interference which could not be scrubbed via podcasting software, and gave me a nosebleed when I tried to listen back. I do not know why this happened, as her plans were little more than seeing Rocky Horror and going to the post-Homecoming Football Game party.
The recording eventually resumes to Rathmore answering my question about how she has been adjusting to LC.
JKR: I really feel the need to immerse myself in campus culture, you know? Some freshmen included me in their dispo (slang for dispensary) run and I just felt so welcomed. We are going to smoke under the water tower tonight—I feel so welcomed by the community.
MMH: Damn, girl! I think that’s all we have time for. Thank you so much for meeting with me.
JKR: It’s been a lot of fun.
MMH: What can I say, I am simply full of spunk.
She sent me on my way untattooed, but with a Spirit Halloween gift card as a parting gift.
“Tell ‘em I sent you,” she said. “They will throw in some body glitter for free.”