Ariel Kusby’s forthcoming children’s book, The Little Witch’s Book of Spells, harnesses magic and the imagination to help little witches feel powerful, tap into creative energy, and practice self-love. We caught up with Ariel to find out all about her new book, her magical background, and her journey to creating a resource for budding witchlings.
Q: Witchcraft seems to be growing in popularity everywhere you look, but resources for young witches can be hard to come by. Why did you decide to write a book specifically tailored for witches 8-12?
AK: Up until the Covid pandemic began, I worked in the children’s room at Powell’s Bookstore in Portland, OR. Every week I had little witches coming in asking me for children’s spellbook recommendations. There weren’t many options to give them, so I decided to go ahead and write my own! Kids are interested in witchcraft because they are reading books and watching movies depicting magic, and so they naturally want to learn to do it on their own. Most introductory witchcraft books feature topics that aren’t necessarily appropriate or accessible for young children and pre-teens, or they require hard-to-acquire materials, so I wanted to write a book that witches of any age can use, no matter where they live or what supplies they may have.
Q: Can you tell us about your own magical training and background, and how that brought you to your current path?
AK: Though as a child I did not call myself a witch, I have a lot of vivid memories of childhood magical play. I think that is why it felt so natural for me to write a spellbook for kids, because my witchcraft practice is so intertwined with inner child work. SInce my teens, I’ve devoured witchcraft books and cultivated a private practice. My very first introductory book was Scott Cunningham’s Earth, Air, Fire, & Water, which was fundamental to my passion for working with the elements. I was always a self-trained solitary practitioner until this year, when I enrolled in the Blue Iris Mystery School here in Portland and have since found a wonderful community of other local witches.
Q: What makes this book extra special for you? Was any of it informed by your own experiences with magic?
AK: This is the book I would have wanted as a kid. I wrote it for my inner child, which is a particularly magical kind of healing. It is so special because I get to share it with others who might really need it right now! It’s all been informed by my own experiences with magic – everything I’ve found to be most successful, fun, accessible, and powerful has made its way into this book, in one way or another.
Q: Have you ever had a magical mentor, or other teacher that was especially impactful for you?
AK: My elementary school librarian. Because of her, the library became my favorite place to hang out, which opened up a lot of magical doors to the imaginative book worlds that left huge lasting impressions on me.
Q: We are obviously a bit book-obsessed here at Witch With Books, and would love to know – who is your favorite witchy author, and what is your favorite witchy book of all time?
AK: As a former children’s bookseller who specialized in witchy fiction, I am book-obsessed too! I am also an indecisive Libra, so this is a hard one, but if I had to pick one favorite witchy author, I’d choose Alice Hoffman – she writes incredible magical fiction for children, teens, and adults. Choose any of her books blindfolded and you cannot go wrong. And because I am a big poetry lover, I want to mention Dorothea Lasky, whose writing reveals the deep connection between poetry and witchcraft. My favorite witchy book of all time is probably The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare, which is slightly ironic because none of the characters in it are literal witches, but it introduces the archetype so beautifully – witches are strong, independent, complex, curious women rather than evil baby-eaters. It lyrically conveys the traumatic history witches have endured, while also celebrating the deep power of a word that is now so rightfully being reclaimed by magical folks of all genders.
Q: What advice would you give for parents who are interested in introducing their little witchlings to your book?
AK: Follow their lead. Because intuition is so important to witchcraft, let them decide where they want to start. This may be at the beginning of the book or the end, with solo spells or group magic, with simple imagination-based play or with more in-depth spells that require certain materials. Encourage creativity and adaptation – these spells are meant to be customized to every witchling’s individual needs. Feed their magical interests by giving them witchy books to read, especially ones that feature witches in a positive light. Perhaps develop a ritual together, where you perform a spell together every full and new moon, or to commemorate every major pagan holiday.
Q: What is on the horizon for you? Any exciting projects in the works that you can share (no spoilers, of course!)?
AK: I am launching a new project called Little Witchery, a magical community for children and adults. I’ll be offering classes, videos, blog posts, and one-on-one magical consultations and coaching sessions. It’ll also have an apothecary shop component, where I will sell “Little Witch Starter Kits,” flower essences, baths, tinctures, and other magical items. As far as my writing goes, all I’ll say now is that I’m working on a new full-length project based around kitchen witchery.
Q: Do you have any advice you’d like to share with new witches (of any age)?
AK: There are a lot of messages in our culture that pressure us to question our own magical power. We’re taught to prioritize logical thinking over intuition, to value facts over mystery, to dismiss the powers of our daydreams and nightdreams. We don’t have to live this way. We don’t have to choose between being magical and being grounded. Witchcraft is practical. It really works. By choosing to unlearn these limiting messages, we can live a more fulfilling and mystical life. We can daydream and manifest our desires into reality by tapping into the imaginative powers we’ve possessed since we were kids playing “pretend.” It all starts with how you reframe your daily life. Don’t forget that anything you do can be inherently magical.
Thank you, Ariel!
Ariel Kusby is a writer and witch based in Portland, Oregon. She is the author of The Little Witch’s Book of Spells (Chronicle Books, August 2020), a magical handbook for children 8 to 12 years old. She lives and writes in an old house with an enchanted garden, where she practices practical, play-based witchery and folk herbalism.