Called “exactly what you need right now” by O, The Oprah Magazine upon its release in spring 2021, Elissa Washuta’s White Magic is a dazzling memoir told in a collection of essays. Touching on identity, love, land, colonization and faith, Washuta digs into her relationship—good and bad— with the occult and magic, exploring her identity as a member of the Cowlitz Indian Tribe—and how she became a powerful witch.

Growing up surrounded by cheap replicas of Native spiritual tools, occult trends, and cultural cliches, Washuta turned to the escape hatch of intoxication: a decade of abuse and addiction ensued, followed by PTSD and heavy-duty drug treatment for a misdiagnosis of bipolar disorder. She weaves the stories of her ancestors with the cultural artifacts of her own life: a YouTube video of Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham, Twin Peaks, a Claymation Satan. Through her journey she worked hard to connect with the real spirits and powers her dispossessed and discarded ancestors knew, exploring questions of cultural inheritance and the particular danger, as a Native woman, of relaxing into romantic love under colonial rule.

Don’t miss our exclusive q&a with Elissa Washuta about the first creative spark behind White Magic, embracing the idea of “living without the escape hatch of intoxication”, and what she’s working on next. 

I last bought/am currently reading: More Money Than God: Hedge Funds and the Making of a New Elite by Sebastian Mallaby

I recommend to everyone: This Wound Is a World by Billy-Ray Belcourt

That was my favorite to read last year, and why: The Freezer Door by Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore, a book like a stroll on a beautiful day.

Whose author I would love to have lunch with: The Turquoise Ledge by Leslie Marmon Silko

That made me realize language had power: I think it was a book about Sesame Street.

I’d like to see adapted to the screen: Flash Boys by Michael Lewis

That made me laugh out loud—or cry—while reading it: Nature Poem by Tommy Pico

That has the most gorgeous cover: White Magic by Elissa Washuta 🙂

With the best opening line: I’ve never thought about it!

Bookstore that I frequent/is my favorite: Two Dollar Radio HQ of Columbus, Ohio