Sex magic, self-awareness, empowering post-breakup revenge! I loved exploring these topics and more with journalist and author of Sex Witch, Sophie Saint Thomas, for this week’s Girl Boner Radio episode.
Stream it on Apple Podcasts/iTunes, iHeartRadio, Spotify for below! Or read on for a lightly edited transcript.
“Penis Candles, Relationship Styles and Tarot with Sophie Saint Thomas”
a lightly edited Girl Boner Radio transcript
Sophie Saint Thomas grew up in the Caribbean and Virgin Islands, with parents she described as “very liberal.”
They like to say that part of the reason they moved us there was because they didn’t want to raise a daughter under the rule of Ronald Reagan. [laughs] So I do think I always had a lot of freedom around sexuality.
Early on in her childhood, she visited relatives in New York City, where she was mesmerized by a couple of things: the snow covering Brooklyn—pretty incredible for an “island girl”—and the Gay Pride Parade. She told me she remembers thinking that everyone in the parade was “so sparkly and fabulous.”
Of course, they still are.
Sophie now lives in New York City, where one day she walked into an occult bookstore and started a journey into witchcraft that continues today. She told me that nothing about witches had ever seemed taboo or dark to her, given the communities and open-mindedness she grew up in.
She’s also an esteemed journalist and author, with writing published in GQ, Playboy, Cosmopolitan, Forbes, Allure, Glamour, SELF, and more. She writes about sex, drugs, glamour, the occult and other subcultures.
Her latest book, Sex Witch: Magickal Spells for Love, Lust, and Self-Protection, is full of spells to help you lead a more fulfilling life. She told me it was inspired by ways science and witchcraft can coexist. In fact, I asked her if she considers witches the first scientists and she said absolutely, yes.
I’ve been a sex and relationship journalist for over a decade, and as a result have the luxury of getting to interview the top sex scientists or do things like go to the AltSex Conference… It’s an academic conference, where people with like PhDs on furries talk and just share this wealth of knowledge.
The first time I got asked to write about sex magick was probably like five years ago, but I know there’s a huge interest in it. And I would get questions from people like, my scientist boyfriend, like wait, how can this work together?
So I pitched Sex Witch to my publisher as “this is a spell book that will actually work.” And tried to, in each spell work in, you know, whether it’s communication tips or open relationship format information into the rituals to help people find a better sex life. So I guess I wrote that book to answer a question that I found a lot of people asking me.
At the beginning of Sex Witch, Sophie talks about a sexual experience I had to hear more about. It involves a penis candle, a spell and what would turn out to be some self-love magic.
It started just after the end of a harmful relationship.
Oh my god. So I was dating this shit head, that’s the most important part to know. He started as a friend and I fucked him and then we were started dating. And it was one of those situations that you read about where he totally just changed. When he became my boyfriend I saw this whole jealous side, this angry side. At the end it was really fucking scary.
And it took me a long time to get out of that relationship, but when I did it was oh my god. It was just like the best. I got my lips done for the first time, and he had been so against that.
At the time I was living, literally, next to my best friend in the world, Annabel Gat. She is Vice’s astrologer, and I have learned a lot about witchcraft and astrology from her. Anyways, we spent a lot of time together and we learned from a gay friend of ours this penis candle spell. And as I say in the book, they do make vagina candles and I am super queer and bisexual, but it’s harder to fuck a vagina, like put it inside your orifice. So we went with a penis candle.
And I just lived with it for a week like it was my boyfriend. I have this memory of watching “Riverdale” with Annabel and this penis candle is sitting next to us. And I slept with the penis candle.
Then, as my friend instructed me, you put a condom over it, just so you don’t get wax in your vagina or asshole or mouth. You can really use any orifice for this spell. And then I practiced sex magic, which is using your sexual energy or orgasm to kind of like throw it towards – to manifest a goal.
In this case, Sophie aimed to harness her sexual energy to manifest a better partner.
For me, it’s very person-to-person who I’m attracted to so I wasn’t imagining a specific person. But I just imagined someone mostly who treated me well, which seems like a small request but is harder to find than you would imagine. And for me, as someone who writes a lot about sex and, you know, my best friends run sex clubs and/or are sex workers, I do need someone super sex-positive.
After I came on the candle, then I performed imagining that partner candle magic spell, which is when you anoint—okay, I took off the condom—you anoint a candle with—there’s various oils.
And you can carve into the candle. You can carve sigils, magical symbols, a word of what you’re looking for. And then you put it on your altar, or any special place to you, and you light it. And then when it’s done burning, the candle is complete.
I don’t know about you, but that whole thing is nothing like the witches’ spells I heard about growing up: no eyeball soup or quote/unquote “hag” throwing fire while cackling. Given the choice, I am all for coming on a candle, whether we’re in our 20s, 40s or 80s plus.
So did Sophie’s spell work? Yes, but not quite in ways she expected.
My hope was obviously to find a better partner, which I did.
I dated a few people after that, and they’re not the person I live with now, for two years. This magic or like life, whatever you want to call it, doesn’t always really work in a linear fashion. But I think it really in the end was a confidence spell. Like that wasn’t a physically abusive relationship—though he did throw things at me at the end—but it was definitely an emotionally abusive relationship.
I certainly do not mean to suggest that anyone deserves those kind of relationships or summons them. But I know at least speaking for me, back then, this was probably like five or six years ago now, I just didn’t really know how well I could do, if that makes sense. It was like, Oh, this is just my friend. And now we’re having sex. Like, of course, you should be my boyfriend.
I didn’t really realize I could easily get exactly what I was asking for in that spell. The people I dated right after that spell, granted, I didn’t end up living with them but all my partners since then have been super sex positive and super supportive and wonderful. Even the ones where it didn’t work out with them, I wish them nothing but love and have nothing negative to say about them. So that love spell, and I would dare to say most love spells, I do think had more to do with me than other people.
That makes so much sense to me. Even the act of solo play is often about self-love. And when you add intentional thoughts about what you most desire, and imagine yourself delighting in whatever that is? Sounds like a total self-love fest to me, not to mention fun.
Sophie also recommends using magick to explore your ideal relationship style. In Sex Witch, she describes a “Tarot Spread to Find Which Relationship Format is Right for You.” And the spell involves several steps, including reflecting on particular topics and questions she provides and really contemplating your feelings, wants and values. Then you pull cards from a tarot deck.
“To manifest what we want, we must integrate knowledge and reason,” she wrote. “We can’t just dance under a full moon. We must know which type of relationship is best for us and how to communicate with partners to maintain that relationship.”
Sophie’s done a lot of that in her own life and wants others to know that, “There is no right way to love. The only irresponsible relationship format is the one that denies your truth.”
There’s a misconception, one that I definitely had when I first moved to New York in my early 20s, that it was either full on monogamy, which I sucked at, or full on polyamory, which isn’t just an open relationship. It means multiple relationships with other people and letting your partner have multiple relationships with other people. And it turns out, I really sucked at that, too. [chuckles] It’s really hard.
Relationship formats are couture. I think we can tailor them to ourselves and our needs but to do that takes a lot of understanding and self-reflection. I didn’t always know that I didn’t have a ton of sexual jealousy but I did have emotional jealousy, you know, which makes me better suited for like a sexually-open type situation, which is what I have now with my beautiful partner.
And magick, whether it’s using tarot cards or writing down a letter of intention to put into a candle spell, the best way I describe it to people who are skeptics is it’s really like a meditation tool. It’s a tool for self-reflection. It’s a way to receive insight into yourself. It’s a way to get to know yourself and understand your needs better.
And once you’re better at understanding those needs, then you’re more likely to be able to express them to people that you’re dating and end up with a person who you’re compatible with and able to have conversations like, “Well, what kind of relation format do you want? Do you want to be able to do your own thing? Do you want monogamy?”
Those questions and conversations can help on their own, of course, too. If you want to work them into magic, Sophie suggests pulling a card after topic you think about—such as your relationship to sex and whether you feel most fulfilled by one partner, multiple partner or an open sex life. Then you gaze at the spread of cards you’ve pulled and see what it brings up for you.
Personally, for me, I find working with Tarot—that’s my favorite thing—I love candle spells and sex magic and all of them, but to be particularly useful in helping me figure out myself.
I love the way Sophie talks about tarot as a self-guided, tapping into yourself process. And you don’t have to be a witch to partake in them. I have a friend who’s a devoted Catholic and uses tarot cards to guide her journaling. And another friend who’s really into science, as a public health expert, and maintains a meditation/tarot card practice. There’s another example of witchery and science blending together.
I asked Sophie if a beginner can just dive in and give tarot a try on their own, without having their cards read necessarily by an expert.
Of course. I would suggest the book Seventy-Eight Degrees of Wisdom. To me, that’s the best tarot reference book. But most tarot decks even come with a little pamphlet that is like, “this is what this card means.”
I would start with the rider deck, because most tarot decks are based on it. But the imagery is very powerful. You know, I’ve been using tarot cards for years, and I still don’t feel like I completely understand each card, but when I pull one and just look at it, it will usually come to me what it means. And each of them represents different archetypes that I find are kind of snapshots of human experience that everyone can relate to.
You can use them kind of like a fortune telling device but I don’t think that’s completely accurate. And that’s certainly not what it was created for, actually. For me, it’s far more, again, like a tool of reflection and meditation and insight than a Magic 8-Ball.
Sophie is also pretty passionate about revenge. In Sex Witch she wrote, “The desire for revenge or justice is an animal instict experienced by all humans, just like sex.” She added that while hexes on homophobes, rapists and racists are on the table without shame, when it comes to personal attacks on an ex, revenge is all about living well.
There’s kind of like a very light and fluffy expression that is the best revenge is living well. That is true. Another thing I write about is beauty. I’m the astrologer for Allure and I write about them for other things. And I love beauty, I love makeup, I love fashion, I love piercings and tattoos and body modification.
And so when I was with that shit head and wanted to get lip fillers and he was so mean about it, you know, when we finally broke up and I went and got them and posted like sexy selfies, to me, that was revenge. It wasn’t about him; it was about me.
And I also think just doing well professionally is amazing revenge. I am all for showing off and being proud of your accomplishments. I know that the world will make you feel shitty enough and bring you down enough. So you certainly shouldn’t do it to yourself. Post breakup revenge is all about looking fabulous and doing the things you want and succeeding.
[a few bars of upbeat, acoustic music]
She told me that she’s a little bummed that Sex Witch released during COVID, because she had a lauch party with a ritualistic orgy of sorts planned. And while that couldn’t safely happen, she said that people on the internet have been really nice. If you read the book or try any of the spells, I’m sure she would love to hear from you.
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