Good Thursday witches, and thank you for joining me today. We have a fun topic on tap for today, we’re going to talk about cauldrons. Which is such a stereotypical witch trope, I love it. But in addition to that, it’s also a really useful tool in the craft and we’re going to explore that.

But first, an email from a witch who was very concerned about her friend:


Hello! I hope you are doing well and you and your family are having an amazing summer. 🙂

I have a question for you. Is there a way to tell if someone has been cursed or hexed? I have a dear friend whose string of bad luck seems way more than just that. Every time he makes strides forward, he gets shoved back. He’s gotten into multiple car wrecks, had his business broken into and can’t seem to even keep a pair of glasses intact. He’s at the point of almost hopelessness.

This has been going on for the past couple years.

I want to do a protection jar as well as something to change his luck around, but wondering if there’s something I can detect first so that it clears any negativity that’s clinging to him.

Any thoughts? Thanks, as always, for being you!

Blessed Be

And my response was essentially as follows: the good news is that very few of us are ever properly cursed. If this friend knows some witches who he may have crossed, then it is possible, although kind of unlikely. But if he’s gone through an ugly breakup or divorce, if there’s some ugly family or custody drama, or if he’s feuding with a neighbor or coworker or something like that, they could just be thinking daggers at him so strongly that it is in fact affecting him. And this is a more likely scenario but either way, it can be dealt with.

First, his home needs to be cleansed, either with smoke or with something like florida water in a spray bottle. Open the windows and clear it all out from the back of the house to the front. I’d also use florida water on a fingertip to draw protective symbols on his windows and exterior doors. Then he needs to take a cleansing bath or shower. I advised this witch that she can make some cleansing water for him to use for this process by steeping rosemary, rue, and basil in hot water until it cools. If she can use moon water for this, all the better. Unfortunately I didn’t see this email until the morning after the full moon, which is a bummer, because she could have charged some water just for this purpose. Anyway, he needs to wash from top to bottom.

Alternatively, I did advise this witch that she could offer to wash his feet and then anoint them with oil (something as simple as olive oil is a good choice), but it is a very intimate rite to perform for someone and it can get very emotional. This is a really powerful way to rid someone of negative energy and/or hexes, but as I said, it’s a lot to ask someone who may not be open to it. Once the cleansing of home and person is done, place that protection jar somewhere on his property, preferably buried somewhere it can’t be removed or disturbed.

So I loved this question, because this is the kind of thing that we can easily deal with using witchcraft, and it’s something that we will likely all need to address at some point, whether it’s a curse or just some bad luck. So thank you, Ms J for that question.

And then one more question for the day, this one is a little heavier. But I feel like these complicated family dynamics are something that again, a lot of us can relate to and I wanted to read it.

Hi Eli,

You always welcome questions, so I’m going to ask you a big one. I hope that’s ok!

Alright, so let me preface by saying all medical (medicinal, psychiatric, therapy, etc) is being attended to and I’m doing very well. So no worries on that front. I have a wonderful husband who has loved me for over 20 years and two great teenage kids who truly make the world a better place.

Ok, so here goes… I grew up in a very abusive home (abuse of all sorts both physical and mental). I really don’t know how I did it because my memory is very patchy before the age of 25, but somehow I was fully out of there by the time I turned 19. Although I was on my own I was still in contact with my parents as I was stuck in the dutiful daughter stereotype. My parents remained abusive assholes even from afar. I limited my contact as much as possible, but it wasn’t until I had kids that they started being nicer to me. By “nicer” I mean that they only made me cry about once a year and they were never mean to my kids (but I never gave that an opportunity to happen as I never left them alone with them).

This past year though I went through a MAJOR depression season and I couldn’t figure out why. I’m in my mid 40’s, I live exactly where I want to live, I have a great job and a fantastic husband and kids. Why was I going through this?

And then through therapy I realized that it was because I had been talking to my mom a couple times a week for months. The pandemic made my parents clingy because they lost most of their social network and I was one of the very few people still picking up the phone.

I started gradually pulling away and am now back to low contact, but I really need to be no contact to move on with my life and fully heal. Honestly I feel like some sort of lizard who has shed her way too old skin and has finally grown into herself and am seeing things clearly for the first time.

I don’t want to have a conversation about any of this with them because they’re not capable of understanding why I want them to leave me alone. We’ve been down that road before and it lead to alternating love bombing me with presents they can’t afford and calling me at work to scream at me about how awful I am. I’m not down for this drama. I just want peace and quiet.

So my question is, is there a spell or a ritual I can use to get them to leave me and mine alone? A cord cutting seems too hostile. I don’t want them to be unhappy even though their happiness is NOT my responsibility. I actually want them to have a happy and active life. I just want them to be happy and active without me for a good long while so I can fully move on. I feel like a spell or ritual may be the way to go here, but I haven’t found anything that seems to fully meet my needs. Do you have any ideas?

Thank you so very much for taking the time to read this and for any advice you may have! I truly appreciate it! PS: I listened to your episode about signs this morning. Your timing on that was impeccable for me. What I didn’t say in my narrative is that The Morrigan was heavily involved with this. A long while back I was feeling her pull but I politely declined her because I was afraid of her. Cue 6 months of mental health hell, PTSD nightmares, approximately a million crows, etc, etc. But I pulled through, got the help I needed, and going through that has made me stronger. I feel like the best version of myself and I’m not putting up with any sort of abusive shit anymore. I’m still kind but I am definitely no longer anyone’s doormat. Never. Again.

This witch asked to remain anonymous, but see what I mean by heavy? So I had this to say. First and foremost, I was glad to hear that her psychological and medical needs were being addressed, because I would have suggested starting there anyway, and this witch is fortunate to have an amazing support system, a loving family, and a wonderful life that she can take full credit for building herself.

Now, while I understand that she’s reluctant to do a cord-cutting, I did want to present it as a possibility from a different perspective. The fact is, simply speaking to her mother once a week took an enormous toll on her health. This woman is a literal energy vampire. She is literally feeding off our witch, whether she knows it or not. So when I suggest a cord-cutting, it’s not for the parents, it’s for the witch. It’s to cut off their access to her and her emotional energy, so that even if she does have to speak to them and they start in on their bullshit, trying to push her buttons and get a response, it cannot affect her mental or emotional or physical state. So I do hope she will reconsider.

But, to the actual question, what I recommended was a banishing. It sounds ugly, but it isn’t. She doesn’t want anything bad to befall these parents, she isn’t trying to make them miserable (they really don’t need our help for that, they’re doing it on their own), we just want them to lose interest in contacting our witch. To protect her from the nastiness and the soul-sucking, we are going to work a spell to simply make them fuck off. This work is best supported by the waning moon, and the moon is waning until the 28th, so the timing is right.

For this work, she’ll need a glass jar. Any size will do, but a small one is all you need. Get a candle as well and some salt (any salt works fine) and some vinegar (any vinegar is fine) and a few plant allies. Some common herbs that correspond with this work include basil, garlic, rosemary, cloves, nettle, pepper, thistle, pine, and fern. And I advised her to just use as many of these as she can get hold of. She will also write her parents’ names and birth dates on a small scrap of paper. I loved learning that this witch has been working closely with the Morrigan through all of this, because the Morrigan is an excellent ally for banishing, so it will be beneficial to invoke her in this work.

Then, our witch will spend a little time working on the words she’d like to speak while she’s doing her spell. The verbiage can be as eloquent or as plain-spoken as she likes. A simple phrase like:

Mom and dad’s first and last names,
I am out of your sight, I am out of your mind.
By the power of the Morrigan, you will leave me alone.

Easy as that. We want something that is direct and easy to remember, because she’s going to be repeating it while she assembles her jar, and then completes the spell.

Once all the elements are gathered, light the candle and start putting it all together. I suggest starting this at dusk, as it is the waning of the day and banishing work is best performed as the day and the moon grow darker. First, fold the scrap of paper with mom and dad’s names in half away from you, then turn it once to the left, and fold it away from you again. Drop it in the jar and cover it with a good layer of salt. Next, pour a bit of vinegar over the salt, just a capful or so. Follow the vinegar with a spoonful of each of the herbs that were chosen, one at a time. Screw the lid onto the jar good and tight, and pour a little of the wax from the candle onto the edge of the lid to seal it. We don’t have to completely cover the lid with wax. Several drips around the lid will suffice. Then, I told her, just get in your car and drive it far away from your property and bury it somewhere. Once it’s buried, drive home and don’t look back. The entire time you’re performing this spell, from the time you light your candle until you turn your back on the buried jar, keep repeating your phrase. Whisper it, say it aloud, repeat it in your mind, whatever.

The very last thing she’ll want to do (but not the least important) is to make an offering of thanks to the Morrigan for her part in this work. For supporting our witch and actively communicating with her and taking an interest in her situation. One thing the Morrigan loves to do is get us out of our comfort zones, so it is going to be very interesting indeed to see what happens next.

And that’s that, I mean, you can see why I felt like it was important to read this one out. Again, so many of us have to deal with this kind of thing, and spellwork is just one more tool in the toolbox, after we have exhausted all our other options.

Okay, so on to the topic of the day. Now, cauldrons and witches go together like tigers and stripes. You can be a witch without one, and you can do plenty of great magick without one, but adding it to your arsenal is a really great way to get more mileage out of your craft. And a cauldron is so versatile, there’s no reason not to have one, if you have the means. And that is really the only barrier to having and using a cauldron. They aren’t cheap. And as a witch who is well aware of the state of the economy and the cost of living, I want to come out the gate saying that not being able to afford a proper cauldron is a perfectly valid reason not to buy one. As I said, they’re not necessary.

But if you are so inclined and if you do have the means, they are easy to find at your local occult shop or online. You can get them from Etsy in a pinch. And generally, what you’ll find are these kind of mini cauldrons, they’re maybe 4 inches in diameter, they’ve got feet that will lift them above whatever surface they’re sitting on which is a nice feature, and they’ve got a lid. Now, if you’re really ambitious or just have money to burn, you can certainly get a full-size cauldron, or if you’re like me, you’ll just buy a nice cast iron dutch oven. Home depot has a decent one right now that I just saw this past weekend, it’s 6 quarts and it comes in at just about $40. I have a small one and I have a dutch oven, and they can be used for some of the same applications, but sometimes one is definitely going to be preferable over the other.

But I’ll be really straightforward here: mostly you just need a small one. Anything you might want a larger one for, you can get away with just using a cooking pot. Witches use what they have.

So there are a lot of historical examples of witches using cauldrons, and plenty of pop culture references going all the way back, like… Shakespeare’s witches in Hamlet were stirring a fat cauldron during the double, double, toil and trouble couplet. Fun fact: I was in drama in high school and I played one of those witches in Hamlet. But my personal favorite usage of a cauldron is the Celtic goddess Cerridwen. Cerridwen’s cauldron contained a potion that was brewed nonstop for a year and a day in order to reach its full potency. The first three drops of her potion would grant immense wisdom, and the remainder of the brew was a deadly poison.

One of the coolest aspects of the cauldron, in my opinion, is how easily it can be used for every kind of elemental magick. There is no element that can’t be represented by some kind of cauldron work. So we are gonna go through it, because I really love elemental magick. My first episodes were about different ways to incorporate the elements into spellwork because it’s just too easy to give that work some extra power by aligning the type of spell that it is with the element that will best support it.

So for example, fire magick. As we’ve said many times before, fire magick is great for giving a spell a quick start, a jolt, a kick. It’s also great for lust and sex magick because it’s so representative of passion and sensuality. And because cauldrons are iron, they’re fireproof. So we can put a fire beneath our cauldron to heat up the contents, or we can put a fire right inside the cauldron itself. We can use our cauldron for burning sigils, petition papers, herbs, and so on.

Water magic in the cauldron can be achieved in a couple different ways, one of which is charging moon water. I’ll be totally honest, I don’t personally use my cauldron for this too often because I like to drink my moon water. And charging moon water in the cauldron means I’d have to leave it uncovered and I’m a little sketched out by the idea of floaties getting in there overnight. But it’s a great way to make moon water for other purposes. Moon water to be used in spellwork, or if you’re going to use moon water to draw protective sigils, if you’re going to make a spray with your moon water, these are all great reasons to use your cauldron.

Your cauldron’s energy is constantly being charged and amplified every time you use it for any kind of spellwork, so it is an excellent vessel for creating moon water. Your water is going to get all of the energy from the moon phase but also all of that residual cauldron energy. It is such a powerful boost for your work. Oh, and I do use the cauldron for moon water when I’m making holy water. I’ve mentioned it before, I think, but I am actually a nondenominational ordained minister, so I’m qualified to make holy water, and I do. And I use moon water in that process, and I make that moon water in my cauldron.

Water scrying is also a great way to use your cauldron as well. Water scrying, if you’re not familiar, is like crystal gazing. You can use any dark vessel to hold the water, a dark-colored bowl works just fine, but again your cauldron is going to be able to show you a lot more than any old tupperware because of all that energy that it holds. So scrying is typically done in a darkened room by candlelight, and you’re going to run your fingers through the water to stir it up and make waves and rivulets and you’re going to look deeply into the water and see what shapes, symbols, or messages may come through.

Water scrying is best achieved when you’ve got a question or a concern in mind. Just meditate for a few moments on your issue before you begin, and then see what visual cues you may receive. Sometimes it’s not something you see with your physical eyes, but your spiritual eyes. And practice makes perfect, like all the rest of it. But the cauldron is a great tool for holding the water. It’s got that nice dark iron interior, and again, its energy is so powerful.

And since we are on the topic of using our cauldrons for divination, we can also use our cauldron for air magick divination by smoke scrying. For any spellwork that requires burning something, we can read symbols in the smoke that arises from the cauldron while it does its work. If we get a nice, thick rope of smoke coming from our cauldron, we may interpret that as a sign that our spell is working well and we can expect it to work as intended. Conversely, if there’s not much smoke at all, if it’s very wispy and weak, we may want to temper our expectations, or at least find out if there’s anything that’s going to block our manifestations, or intentions, or goals for the spell.

And of course incense is the gold standard of air magick, and we can not only burn incense in the cauldron, we can also read that smoke as well. We can read it for shapes and symbols and mental images, much like we did with the water scrying. Your results will depend on whatever your issue or question is for your divination work, but again, adding the cauldron into the equation is going to give you even better results than you’ll get from an incense stick. Not that incense sticks aren’t great for smoke reading, because they are.

And finally, using your cauldron for earth magick is going to be very kitchen witch vibes. You may use your cauldron for brewing your potions, for steeping your infused oils, for mixing herbal blends, your homemade florida water, creating a nice simmer pot. Which is definitely earth magick. Anything to do with herbs and plants is earth magick, and this is no exception. And I would also argue that using your cauldron to cook for yourself or for your loved ones is also earth magick. Earth magick is associated with earthly things, such as health and physical wellness, and certainly food falls under that designation.

In fact one of my favorite witchy books for kids, Strega Nona, written by Tomie dePaola and first published in 1975, tells the story of a village witch who had a magical cauldron that made endless spaghetti. I won’t say too much about this story in case you’ve never read it, but the cauldron in this story very much was a tool that was used to provide sustenance to the village, and ultimately brought all the townspeople together in a way. And I think that’s a really good example of earth magick. It’s just a simple children’s story, and of course it spent a good deal of time on several banned book lists for having the gall to present witches and witchcraft in a positive light, but that just adds to its mystique in my opinion.

So there you have it. There are plenty of ways to use your cauldron, and nothing feels quite so witchy as heavy smoke pouring forth while you chant over it, it’s a whole vibe. But it’s also functional, and you really cannot beat that combo. And this is where I leave you for today. Thank you so much for being here, we will talk again next week. My name is Eli Ro, and this has been the Middle-Aged Witch podcast.

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