Sharing Knowledge is a Spell: October 2022 Prison Books Program Drive
by Melissa Nierman
Calling all the Witches who revel in the energy of the written word, who have bookshelves full of knowledge and magic, who know deeply the transformative power of finding that perfect book at the perfect time! YOU if anyone understands just how much access to information can completely change a person’s inner reality…
Together as a HausWitch community, we’re gathering our resources in the form of BOOKS to spread the wealth of knowledge to folks who are currently experiencing some of the harshest realities on the planet and the hardest times in their lives: those who are incarcerated in the mind-boggling number of prisons that dot the hidden landscapes of the United States.
Most people who are incarcerated have very limited to no access to books. And getting books into the prison system can be an incredibly challenging puzzle to crack. Thankfully, there are organizations of everyday people (not the government) who have taken it upon themselves to create systems that have a high probability of getting books inside.
The Prison Book Program in Quincy, Massachusetts is one of these grassroot organizations and this is who we’ll be donating our collective bookshelves to. Since 1972, they’ve been mailing completely FREE books to those who are incarcerated across the country. Operating out of the basement of a Unitarian Church, they receive hand-written letters requesting every kind of book you can imagine and volunteers work to fulfill each request based on what’s available in their 100% donated library.
The pleas in these letters are very real - some from folks who are locked in 23-hour solitary confinement in maximum security prisons who just want the “longest” book possible, some from folks who are looking for education around possible career paths for when they’re released, and MANY who are just searching for some kind of self-help, connection to something beyond, and hope for something better. Books on witchcraft, the magical arts, intuition, meditation, trauma, spirituality: these are some of their TOP requests!
Volunteering with prison book programs for most of my adult life, I’ve read countless numbers of these letters and the one throughline I can share is that folks who are locked behind bars feel forgotten by society, left to rot in the shadows, dehumanized by these often violent institutions. And having someone on the outside acknowledge their value as fellow human beings and their universal right to learning means a whole lot.
This is where YOU come in. And at some point in all of our journeys, there comes a time to reflect on how much we’ve grown, what we no longer need ourselves, and to spread the wealth that has aided in our own healing. NOW is that time. Let’s all go through our personal bookshelves and see what we can pass on. Instead of holding onto information we no longer need for ourselves, we can spread it around. Because that book that moved you however long ago that’s just sitting on a shelf, could help shift another person’s reality right in this moment.
This is a collective SPELL to reflect, clear out, give away, and make room for more!
Books can be dropped off at the HausWitch store, 144 Washington Street in Salem, during store hours: 10-6 Thursday-Tuesday. Books must be paperback and in good condition with no liquid stains or other damage. For more guidelines and ways to donate see here.
If you’d like to participate in this collective spell, but don’t live near Salem you can donate to a Books to Prisoners Program near you.
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