Supermarket Magic Review Part 2: Ableism Boogaloo

Welcome back to my review of Supermarket Magic!

After suffering through multiple transient ischemic attacks while reading the Ethics chapter, I happily moved on to the meat of the book — the good stuff.

He starts this part of the book with an intro that includes his main reasoning for writing the book — basically, he wanted to write something that made witchcraft more accessible.

Hahahahaha. You’ll hear more of my opinion on that later.

The intro also includes how-to instructions on how to make magical oils, potions (brews — basically teas), magical powders, and magic vinegars. This is all useful stuff, and I’ll be using these instructions.

He then starts the chapters with the recipes, and they’re divided up by purpose, which I find useful. The first chapter is on Clearing/Cleansing because, quote, “it is very true that if your life and home are too cluttered, nothing else can get done very well.”

I mean, for some people, sure, but others live just fine amid heaps of clutter. Look at my husband.

The clearing/cleansing chapter has one of my favourite recipes: Four Thieves Vinegar. It’s not the exact one I’ve used before, but it’s close. However, his instructions for making it are…way more involved than they need to be. He tells you warm it up in a pot before cooling it and bottling it for four days.

Bruh. You can just put the herbs into a mason jar, cover them with the vinegar, seal the lid, and let them steep for a while. Couple of weeks maybe. Shake them off and on. You don’t need to actually cook it, unless you want a shorter make time.

Having just the “cook it on the stove” way of making it and not giving the alternative? Not super accessible. (But more on that in Part 3.)

Regardless, things were going okay until I hit the chapter on Healing.

An image of Ned Stark from Game of Thrones holding his sword. Text above and below him says "Brace yourselves / Ableism is coming"

Heal Thyself (Of Thine Internalized Ableism)

The chapter on Healing not only contains some more lovely “All witches believe/are taught/blah” but also some good old fashioned ableism and food-shaming. Also some weird stuff about how you need consent to do magic for/on people even if it’s healing, but that “sending general healing energy their way is fine!” Dude. No.

But ok, on to the ableism, which actually comes after the food shaming, but I’ll address it first.

He says that in order to be good/successful magic practitioners, you need to be physically healthy, and that if you’re in a “weakened state” you can’t practice magic effectively.

Ok, fine, to his credit he says “relatively healthy,” but I’m not giving him any slack on this. The idea itself, regardless if it contains that caveat, is a bullshit, ableist one.

What the fuck is “relatively” when talking about health? How do you define it? I can tell you right now, able-bodied people have a way different definition than chronically ill people do.

For me, “relatively” healthy means I’m not in extreme pain at the moment and my stomach isn’t trying to murder me for eating literally anything. I don’t have a headache and I’m sort of awake, though probably still tired. I’m still not very energetic and I’m certainly not able to do any intense activity. That’s a good day for me.

The bottom line is, I’m usually in what someone able-bodied would call a “weakened” state these days. So I’m really tired of able-bodied magic practitioners telling me I’m a failure of a witch because of shit that’s completely out of my control. Walk two moons in my orthopedic shoes, buddy. See how you fucking like it.

I Eat Only Imaginary Food

Before he makes this ableist comment, he talks about food (the comment is in the section about food). I’m not sure I can paraphrase this bullshit effectively, so here’s another direct quote (which might be very upsetting or even triggering if you have a history of disordered eating like I do, so read at your own risk):

“Where would we be without good, real food? My definition of real food is a little different from that of most people: for me, food has to be nutritious and as close to whole as possible in order to qualify. Cake is not real food.”

This was the paragraph that knocked my rating from 2/5 to 1/5, and made me almost throw the book across the room.

This paragraph is food-shaming GARBAGE, and it completely SPITS on the idea of accessibility.

  1. All food is real. IT IS NOT IMAGINARY.
  2. Food sustains life, therefore it is holy. (Credit to Kiya Nicoll for the phrasing.)
  3. Nutrition is completely individualized. Unless you know my exact history, you don’t get to tell me what food is real or not for me!

You know what the greatest irony of the past 8 years has been? Over that period of time, I have developed steadily worse acid reflux. It is now so bad I cannot eat anything without extreme pain unless I take a Nexium every day. Nexium is the strongest drug there is for this problem and I’m on a high dose.

But that’s not the greatest irony. The greatest irony is that the foods that cause the most pain and discomfort for me are the foods that a) I love and b) are what fat-shaming, food-shaming assholes are always yelling at me to eat more of, as if it’s going to magically fix my problems.

Yeah. Salads. Vegetables. Fruits. I love that shit, and it’s the worst for my reflux.

Even with the Nexium, I cannot have more than one small bowl of salad in a day. If I do, I am up all night in agony.

Fruits? They put me on the toilet for hours. Veggies aside from salad ingredients? Need to be cooked if I’m going to survive.

I adore these foods. I really do, and I always have. And I can’t have them in the abundance I would like, because it’s so painful I want to die.

You know what’s NOT painful for me to eat?

Processed foods. Well, ok, not all of them. Some of them are still pretty fucking painful. But for the most part, stuff that’s been processed more is less likely to cause severe agony.

So Mr. Furie, you can take your food shaming garbage and shove it where the sun don’t shine. Maybe then you’ll know the pain of eating whole foods for me.

(Also, dude? Cooking is processing food. In fact, most of the foods you pick up in the supermarket have been processed in some way. Define your terms.)

After the ableism, he gives more of this sanctimonious diet advice, and I think about setting things on fire.

To his credit: the one good thing he does do in this section is warn against starvation diets and cutting calories as a way to lose weight (it’s pretty dangerous in general). He gets a point for that.

Make-up exists but bisexuals and poly people don’t

The next chapter is on Love, Lust, and Beauty Magic. In this chapter he gives you a spell to draw your soulmate to you. It’s written for an opposite sex pairing, and then he gives modifications for if you’re gay or lesbian. There is no easy way to modify it for if you’re bi and want to attract someone of no designated gender to you, it’s pretty gender essentialist, and he doesn’t even seem to realize that bisexuals exist. Or poly people, for that matter.

Maybe it’s that by this point, I’m getting fucking fed-up, but honestly…dude. You could have written a gender-neutral “draw my soulmate to me” spell. ARG.

On the plus side, he does have some make-up magic in this chapter, which was refreshing. So few books even touch on that as a Thing.

~~

It’s getting long again, so I’ll see you in Part 3 (yes, the final part).

~Morag


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