Leaves shine like jewels where the swollen autumn sun lights them. I’m making my way from Arlington to my second walk of the day, enjoying the last vestiges of fall. To my right, the Potomac sparkles lazily, the sun’s rays kissing the water’s surface here and there. It is my favorite part of the day, the river beside me and the road beneath me.
I was twenty when I first heard of road magic. Standing there, looking over the program for Ostara up at Circle Sanctuary, the workshop title caught my attention. A man they called Billy Crow was leading it and I listened to him as he told us what to do with a hardboiled egg.
“Roll it across your body,” he said, demonstrating. “Let you of your fears, your anger, send it all into the egg. Put it in a paper bag and carry it with you to your car. Throw it out the window as you drive by – but not as you head home, else it will follow you back.” I watched him as he dropped the egg into the brown paper bag and folded it up, over and over again, until he had a small pouch around the egg. I never did that spell or charm or whatever he called it. The idea was interesting, but the idea of chucking an egg out my window at the road below me never appealed. Maybe it worked for him, but my relationship with the road was different. We worked together, neither subservient to the other.
Two years later, I listened as a woman told us her story of magic on the road. She laughed as she told us there was a stretch on her way home sometimes, a seven mile stretch. Told us she would speed up along the road until she hit 77 MPH and throw $0.77 out her window.
“Gives me good luck,” she stated firmly before sipping at her water bottle and waiting for the next person to speak.
When I was twenty, I took a road trip with The Boyfriend to visit my grandmother. She had moved to New Mexico a few years earlier and never met him. I remember sitting in the passenger’s seat as we drove through the desert, staring out at my hand as I held it out the window, slowly moving it to and fro within the air current. Below me, the road called and I greeted it as an old friend. In my hand, then, I saw my first magic. White, ropey tendrils of magic congregated in my hand, pulsing with the rhythm of car tires. It wove in and out of itself, forming a ball in my hand as I held it there, out the window, watching it grow. The moment passed, The Boyfriend caught my attention, and it was gone.
I can only get that on the road.
Like the River, the Road is important to me. I call this journey my Path for a reason; not just for the ease of clarity, but because that is what it is for me. A step, another step, along an old road in the midst of the Forest, overgrown and broken as the Forest tries to take it back from the footfalls of those who came before me. But, with each step, the vines and brush peel back, reluctantly. Some fall back only beneath my knife or my hands as I pull them away for my body to follow.
Late at night, when I couldn’t sleep, I would pick up my car keys and head to the parking lot. It was always at college, far from the city, that I could slip away. Slide into the driver’s seat and disappear into the darkness. I knew the back roads like I knew my own hands by graduation. More than once, I would pull over in the middle of the night to fill my gas tank before heading back to school and praying sleep would come, now that I had sought the comfort of the road. Windows down, music hushed, I would slip my hand outside and greet the road, feeling the ropey white magic rise up and greet me.