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Bringing Magic Back To Art-Making Through Hocus Pocus Recipes and Rituals

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Moonlight shines through an open window. The candles burn bright around two desks overflowing with paper and ink pens. Quill hunches over yet another generic poem about nature’s beauty, their beak hovering over the page. Raddish meanwhile lies on their desk, snoozing over the second act to their latest work-in-progress “Untitled commission #42.” A bottle of ink lies over Raddish’s desk, spilled.

As Raddish’s snores fill the air, Quill scribbles out yet another line of their poem. And another. And another. Until the entire page is covered in scribbles. Quill looks over it, scowls, and scrunches up the page into a little ball. Quill stands up and rips up the remaining pages of the poem. They grab their chair, and throw it towards the nearby bin, while Raddish snores up a symphony. Shadows retreat as light enters the study. The caw of their resident alarm clock Ruby Rooster finally rouses the slumbering ginger cat, who jolts up. The second act to “Untitled commission #42” lies on the desk, covered in ink. Raddish screams.

             “No! Spilt ink! Tinder’s gonna be so mad!” Raddish screams. Quill grabs their favourite pen, and scribbles all over an abstract illustration of the sun—their latest visual commission.

“I have had it with all these commissions. You know how long I had to stare at the sun to get the colours just right?” says Quill, as they reach for a pair of sunglasses on their desk to shield their sunken eyes from the sun.

“That was our month's rent…” Quill looks at their pen, then looks at their window. Their breath quickens.

“Aghh! I have officially had it!” they scream, as they proceed to throw their favourite pen right out the open window. “I never want to make anything ever again—if this is what would become of my life’s craft, I would have never picked up a pen!”

“I know, but we can't just quit now—we have all our orders for this month, and we’re way behind in schedule, not to mention we only have 30 gold in the bank, which isn’t even enough for a decent meal of fried salmon, let alone rent!” Quill’s breath slows, as they go to sit on what’s left of their chair. 

“And rent’s due tomorrow—landlord’s gonna evict us any day now…” Raddish looks towards the window with a far-away gaze. “Maybe we just run away?”

Quill shakes their head. 

“We can't just leave our home. Besides, if we abandon ship just like that, we would be ruined, we would never be able to make art in these parts again.”

“...But do you even want to make art?” asks Raddish, their head slumped, tears welling up. 

Quill stares back at Raddish, then turns away. 

“Honestly…no.”

 

The minute those depressing words leave Quill’s beak, a purple vortex opens up in the middle of their study. Raddish screams and wraps their arms around the remains of their ruined manuscript, while Quill falls back on their makeshift chair. The vortex dissipates, revealing a witch draped in purple robes and a tall hat, with a shimmering owl sitting on her shoulder. The witch scowls at the two burnt out creatives.

            “Did I just hear you say you don’t wanna make art anymore? That simply won’t do.” Raddish and Quill stare back at their unexpected guests. They then turn to each other, and back to the still scowling witch.

            “Who are you?” Raddish and Quill say at the same time. 

The witch lifts her hat from her head, and removes a cookbook from the hat.  The cover of the book reads, “Hocus-Pocus Recipes and Rituals.” She passes it to Raddish with a wink and a smile.

            “I’m your local apothecary and witch Selena Sparklemoon, pleasure to meet ya!” says Selena, as she extends her hand out for a handshake. 

Quill crosses their arms, while Raddish gleefully shakes her hand with their free paw. 

“A witch! You’re a real-life honest-to-goodness witch?!” asks Raddish, a twinkle in their wide-open eyes.

“That’s right! And this is my familiar Amon, and we are taking a quick sabbatical from hell to have a little ‘vacation’. Technically, I’m not allowed up here—not since the terrible timey-wimey cheese incident of ‘02… that reminds me,” Selena swiftly and magically closes all the blinds with a flick of her hand. 

“Wait—incident? Cheese? Timey-wimey? HELL?!” Raddish cries out in shock. Selena continues to close up the blinds and turn off the lights, as if nothing has been said. 

“But my heart wept when I heard you both don’t want to make art anymore. It’s just so sad whenever a creative’s fire dies out…” Tears stream down Selena’s face. Amon plucks a black feather from their left wing, and hands it over to Selena. She takes it and wipes her face gingerly. Raddish looks on with a sombre expression.

            “I’m sorry we have upset you Ms. Sparklemoon. Once upon a time ago we did enjoy making art—we really really did. But ever since the rent went up and groceries went way up, we have been working our butts off just to survive—”

            “Which has sucked the fun right out of art making,” says Quill, their gaze firmly on the floor, away from everyone’s gaze.

            “That must be tough for you both. I admit, it has been a hot minute since I was last up here in this realm, but it sounds like it costs a hell of a lot more these days just to live, doesn’t it?” says Selena. 

Raddish and Quill nod their heads furiously.

            “Tell you what, I don't often do this these days, but how about I share a recipe with you?” Selena steps forward towards Raddish and taps her cookbook. “Free of charge. How does that sound?” 

Raddish’s eyes widen with wonder.

            “How will cooking help us?” asks Quill, their intense gaze now directed at Selena. 

Selena stares back at Quill with a steely passion in her eyes.

            “It's not conventional cooking—in fact it doesn’t require a single edible ingredient. But the ritual I’m about to perform will bring back the joy you're currently missing in your art making.”

Selena takes her hat off again, and ruffles around in it. She pulls out a flurry of magical items: candles, chalk, quills, and paper. Amon takes the chalk with their beak and drags it on the study’s floorboards. Quill moves to try and stop Amon, but Selena shakes her head.

            “To get the most out of this ritual, it must be done at the source of your writer’s block. In this case, it’s gotta be your study. Do you trust us to continue?” 

Quill crosses their arms, and grumbles incoherently, but otherwise doesn’t seem to move from their spot. Amon finishes the last of the circle, and sketches a heart inside the circle, followed by a pentagram within the heart. Selena places candles on the top and bottom corners of the pentagram. She clicks her fingers, and the candles light up one by one. Selena walks over to the left corner of the pentagram. Amon flies over to join her, perching on top of her hat. 

            “Now then. Both of you walk over to the other side of us. Then chant what I chant, okie?” Raddish nods, takes Quill’s wing, and they walk to the right pentagram corner. 

Selena gently grabs Amon’s wing, and her eyes start glowing.

            “Ars gratia artis,” Selena chants, her voice taking on an ethereal quality. 

Amon eagerly joins her, followed by Raddish with a little less gusto. Quill’s beak stays shut at first, but they too join in the transfixing incantation. Their collective voices become louder and louder, as blue and orange sparks fizzle and sizzle around Raddish and Quill. Paper floats up above them, followed by two quills. The quills scribble blue and orange lines all over the paper in a shaky tango. The chanting crescendos until a blue, orange, and purple flash envelops the room. Paper and quills drop to the floor. Raddish and Quill stare at each other, panting. 

            “Well, how are you both feeling now?” asks Selena. 

            “...My body feels lighter than air—like I could fly right now if I set my mind to it,” says Quill, with a noticeably less strained voice. 

Raddish jumps into the air, and performs cartwheel after cartwheel.

            “I am glad to hear! However, my work here isn’t quite done yet,” says Selena. 

Quill raises their eyebrow.

            “This ritual isn’t a one-off magical cure—it’s an ongoing magical remedy that we need to do every day. For as long as it takes to get you both back on your feet. So, tell you what,” Selena takes out two sleeping bags from her hat, and places them on the floor next to her and Amon. “I don’t want y’all to go back to being miserable burnouts, so me and Amon will crash here for now, help you out with the rent, until your souls have recovered, and you are fully able to make art for yourselves—and others—again,” Selena bends down and lowers her voice to a whisper.

            “In return, hide me from the authorities.”

            “Wait, you’re a criminal?!” asks Raddish with a shrill tone.

            “Fugitive. Long story short, I got in trouble for messing with ‘illegal’ time travel cheese magic. I’ve been living in the fiery pits of hell ever since with Amon. But I am willing to do this solid for you two. Anything to save you both from eternal writer’s block.” Raddish whispers to Quill something barely audible. Quill clears their throat.

            “We will let you stay. It’s a bit sudden, but you have reminded us that we don’t have to only make art for survival. Truth be told, we have forgotten we can just make art for art’s sake.”

            “Great! Well it’s settled then. Now, for our next ritual—shall we move onto some sculpture work?”

 
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