Two years ago, on my birthday, I got a DM from a girl across the country letting me know that my boyfriend also happened to be her boyfriend. After a year of refusing to acknowledge my existence on social media, he had finally, drunkenly slipped up and posted me to his Instagram Story. She wrote that she wouldn’t judge me if I chose to stay with him, but she was out. “Call me,” I typed back.
Hours of tears and fact-checking later, we’d plotted our revenge. Since I already happened to be flying home a week later to LA, where she lived, we would meet up and post a photo of the two of us together for him to scroll upon. Until then, I would pretend to know nothing of his double life. I’d continue to sleep with him, feign interest in his virtual-reality obsession, and let him rack up flights and Airbnbs on his credit card for the New Year’s trip we’d been planning.
It wasn’t easy—I probably deserve an acting award of some sort—but it was worth it. Minutes after seeing the photo, he unfollowed both of us and disappeared from our lives without a word. Months later, his friend messaged me to deliver one of the greatest compliments an Italian could ever hope to receive: “You got the last laugh.” It was revenge at its best: served cold, in an unexpected way, with no room for escalation.
I haven’t been able to get the recipe right since. In May, I was let go from my job in a pretty ugly way. As someone who has always placed career above all else, it’s been a huge identity loss for me. I was feeling a lot of pent-up anger I didn’t know what to do with, drinking too much, and regularly dreaming that all my teeth were crumbling to dust (which apparently signals inner turmoil and a sense of powerlessness, so … sounds about right). I got caught up in a wild, whirlwind romance that ended painfully—days before Kavanaugh happened and opened up more traumatic old wounds. The hearing marked the first time in my life I acted on the urge to throw plates at the wall.
Basically, I spent the summer feeling like a victim and imagining countless petty, vindictive ways to get even with those who’ve hurt me—and that of course got me nowhere. Not only does an eye for an eye feel dirty, it’s also just incredibly uncreative. Then, in a sort of spiritual intervention, I got an email from a “witch” directing me to take charge of my energy via a line of potions and dusts that can make you rich, sexually irresistible, and maybe even a little psychic, if you go in with the right intentions.
Something came over me and I found myself saying things out loud I didn’t even know I’d been thinking. Things about taking responsibility for my own happiness and healing and coming out stronger.
I want to be all of those things, but it was the tall, black Eye for an Eye Manifestation Candle that spoke to me in my time of need. “Want to see the universe dish up some steaming hot revenge?” it asks. “Need a poisonous relationship in your life to die? Release the flying monkeys and light this up.”
Sage & Salt claims it’s all about “good vibes,” so I asked Corbin Chamberlin, the self-described recovering-fashion-writer-turned-witch behind the brand, how exactly vengeance fits into that. “Positive intentions aren’t always in the form of Palo Santo sticks, mantras of love and light, or crystals sitting on your West Elm coffee table,” he wrote. (The candle and personal crystal he’d given me were sitting on a marble tray on my West Elm coffee table at that moment.) “Harnessing good vibes can mean setting tough boundaries for yourself or finding the courage and strength to leave a toxic job, relationship, or environment. The journey to good vibes can also be about asking the universe to keep the balance of karma by directing your magic to justice.”
Justice, Chamberlin told me, was key—I couldn’t just take down any old person in my path I didn’t like; I needed to be calm, focused, and fair for it to do its work. In other words: completely opposite of the person I’d been the past few months.
I figured I should try to take this somewhat seriously—the candle is $100, after all. The first step is to find a sacred space for it, so I chose my fireplace, right next to the Byredo ‘Altar’ candle. (In a New York City apartment, I’d argue, the only thing more sacred than a fireplace is a washer-dryer unit.)
It took me another couple of weeks to get to step two: “Prior to burning the candle, spend some time with it … grip some crystals, journal, and even dance under the full moon.”
Every time I sat down on the floor with my crystal, I spotted dust bunnies to clean or became consumed with rearranging nearby books by color, a décor trend I absolutely do not agree with.
I finally committed to the process on a night my Bravo livestream was down and I had nothing to do. According to the instructions, though, Tuesday was the day for removing obstacles and finding domination and success, so it seemed serendipitous. I dimmed the lights, kneeled on a pillow in front of the fireplace with my crystal, and closed my eyes. I felt ridiculous. I wanted wine and for the radiator to stop clanking. But a few minutes later, something came over me and I found myself saying things out loud I didn’t even know I’d been thinking. Things about taking responsibility for my own happiness and healing and coming out stronger. Mature, good-person things.
The time had come to put a hex on some assholes and I couldn’t even bring myself to care about them. Maybe that was the magic at work? I lit the candle and got off the floor.
A week later, some unfortunate news came out about the financial state of my former company. The day after that, I went on a great date. Then, almost simultaneously, four big freelance projects fell into my lap. Who can say whether it’s the power of the candle or some positive energetic forces I’ve been sending out into the universe on my own—all I know is things are looking up and no one’s lost an eye … yet.