The Witching Hour

Sabrina might be following in the nice-witch broom-wake of Samantha from the smash '60s sitcom Bewitched, but most supernatural shows of late are a little more rebellious. Think naughty Nicole Kidman in Practical Magic, the spell-casting sidekick Willow from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, wicked Shannen Doherty in her post-90210 vehicle Charmed, and, queen of all covens, the very angry Fairuza "We are the weirdos, mister" Balk in The Craft. These are edgy, hip, midriff-baring, miniskirt-wearing witches with attitude. They're teen idols.

So what's the progressive, turn-of-the-century parent of a wannabe-witch to do? Take the troubled teen to a "safe and simple" afterschool group at Ruby Rabbit Enchantments. More self-help than scary, The Magic Hour for Teens won't have them doing drugs and dressing Goth. In fact, recommended reading such as Silver Ravenwolf's Teen Witch: Wicca for a New Generation explains that "wearing black clothing and lots of gaudy jewelry and threatening people with the silly nonsense of cursing them puts you far away from the path of the real Wiccan."

Instead, this small but spunky crew fills in mimeographed worksheets, looks for "everyday miracles," repeats such affirmations as "I have lots of money" and "I have perfect health" and studies the occult sciences of astrology, numerology, tarot, runes, meditation, chakras and feng shui. They are supervised by Andrea Foster, spiritual healer, astrologer, Wiccan/pantheist and book lady. "We don't do anything weird," she says. "We don't dance naked or anything."

Foster and Ruby Rabbit owner Melissa Lockwood started the group because when they were growing up they could find only negative books about the Salem witch trials and because they realize teens are intrigued by movies like The Craft. "We wanted to do something positive for kids," says Lockwood. And it seems to be working. These teens have good, solid heads (with pointy hats) on their shoulders.

Oh, sure, these junior high girls (and the lone boy) know that with practice they could accomplish the dramatic feats of levitation and hair-color transformation performed in the movies, but they are practical about their magic indeed. "Why would she want to?" asks Robin Williams of her friend Sterling Lockwood's potential powers for frivolity. With a wisdom beyond her 12 years of age, Sterling (Melissa's youngest daughter) explains that she only casts spells on people who ask her for it and who she deems needy of her intervention: "If somebody was dying in a hospital, I'd try to do a healing spell."

Sterling has apparently convinced her West Houston Charter School classmates of her good-natured reserve as well. Once they called her "evil" -- an insult to which she would reply sadistically, "I'll turn you into a newt." (She got this idea not from magic class but from an old Monty Python movie.) But these days her friends are starting to sniff around her mom's suburban store and even sign up for the class. And Sterling has earned a new schoolyard nickname: Glenda the Good Witch.

-- Lauren Kern

The Magic Hour for Teens is held every Tuesday at 4 p.m. at a round table in the back room of Ruby Rabbit Enchantments, 14520 Memorial, one block east of Dairy Ashford. The class is for teens, age 12 to 18, but parents are allowed to observe. For more information, call (281)679-0770. $5 per class.


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