Comment: Heart, Ego or Magic? by Joana Varandas

Joana finds herself in a seemingly fated, somewhat magical, Cornish situation.

I’m struggling as a philosophical imaginative kid. I want there to be magic in the world. I want there to be a lot of things. I want to believe … in a lot of things. I hold an intellectual self in my hand, [the same hand] where I hold my fourteen-year old self all the time. But my older self knows obviously, that … maybe it’s not true, maybe you shouldn’t take this [for granted] … But I’m also humble to the idea that neither myself nor you, or anyone else knows. So, you might as well be open minded. One day we’ll see anyway … If you just make the best out of the time that you have here, it will all be revealed ...
— A Nameless Ghoul from Ghost, in Heavy Demons Radio Show Interview

The process that led me to the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic in Boscastle, Cornwall is a complicated one.

Someone told me the other day that there are only two ways of making a choice: you can either follow your ego, or follow your heart. But now that I am here, sitting in the library of a museum that I have wanted to visit ever since I was a child, (not as a visitor, but as an intern, cataloguing books, artefacts and audio recordings!), I can’t help but wonder: was it magic that brought me here?

The other day I was listening to an interview with Cecil Williamson for cataloguing purposes. But amidst the crackles and sizzles of the old recording, I wasn’t hearing this man say why he had created the Museum. Rather, his words were rearranging themselves into my own thoughts: what were the odds that a woman from Portugal, whose life had been a complete mess, would be listening to that tape, forty or so years into the future?

Museum of Witchcraft and Magic (Boscastle, Cornwall)

Museum of Witchcraft and Magic (Boscastle, Cornwall)

So … choices. I have never had a massive ego, and only lately have I been able to listen to my heart. For ten years, I put off my dream of studying in England; in my loneliest days, I can still hear echoes of what people told me before I came to Falmouth: “why don’t you find an eight-hour job instead”, “why won’t you buy a new car”, or even better: “why don’t you just find some guy and get married”?

One at a time, or all of them put together, these sentences constantly shaped a single image in my mind: me in my death bed, surrounded by people I didn’t even like, just because I had married some guy. “Filled with regret, waiting to die alone.”

Museum of Witchcraft and Magic (Boscastle, Cornwall)

Museum of Witchcraft and Magic (Boscastle, Cornwall)

Now, remember when I said that getting to the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic was a complicated process? Here's that process. Fifteen years ago, girl watches show called Wild West on British comedy Saturday-evening specials. Girl becomes intrigued by characters that live in quiet, secluded coastal town of Cornwall. Girl becomes enamoured with character that works in a Museum of Witchcraft and Magic, and how quirky and weird she seems to be--not unlike the girl herself.

Fast forward into the future: girl finally decides to apply to University, after some life altering circumstances that shall go unmentioned. When asked by the student counsellor where she plans to apply, girl replies: "What universities are there in Cornwall?"

A year later, girl sits in front of computer writing an article for Cornish university website, while doing an internship in the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic, in … you guessed it, Cornwall.

Girl laughs at the dim likelihood of achieving her dreams and ponders: How did I get here? What were the choices that brought me to this wonderful feeling of accomplishment? Did I follow my heart or my ego? Or was it… something else?

If you’ve read the quote at the beginning of this article, you might have suspected that I want to believe in a lot of things. (And that I like the band Ghost.) I spent years trying to find my way out of a place I didn’t feel any connection with at all, failure after failure leading me further astray. Until one day, something clicked. The failures didn’t end of course, because what is life if not a constant process of learning from experiences and transitioning towards a better self?

No; what clicked, and what I want to believe is that magic brought me here. Not ego, or heart, or whatever you want to call it. Magic. And if I make the best out of it, maybe one day, I’ll see anyway. One day, it will all be revealed.

by Joana Varandas