Hello everyone, and what a lovely day it is indeed. This Saturday, August 12th marks the 2 year anniversary of this podcast, and I am out of my mind with excitement and gratitude and plans for the future, and let me just tell you, I am losing my mind about it. After more than one hundred episodes, more than 400k plays on Spotify alone, I am like, vibrating with excitement.
What began as a side project with delusions of grandeur has evolved and become a beautiful community, and labor of love and I just have to thank you for continuing to click play every week. For coming back for more, for writing in with questions and suggestions and I can’t thank you all enough. I just can’t. So.
Today’s topic comes from a witch called Amanda who thought it would be cool to talk about Death Magick. And I am all for it. If you’re new to this podcast, welcome, first and foremost, but if you’re new I do want to be really transparent about the kinds of subjects we get into. I am not a love and light only kinda witch. I am not above working vengeful magick when I feel that it’s justified. I endeavor to be as kind and as loving and as forgiving as I am reasonably able to be, but I am not a doormat.
And neither are you.
And this is why I sometimes give advice and spell work suggestions for things like bindings, reversals, hexes, and the like. I don’t shy away from darker themes. We have done and will continue to do episodes on baneful magick, which is sometimes called black magick, although I don’t care for that term.
We talk about plenty of light and lovely themes and I am all about manifestation and abundance and positivity, but there has got to be balance. Day is not good and night is not bad just because they are light and dark. We need both to thrive. And so I will always talk about darker aspects of the craft right alongside the lighter aspects, because if we don’t give proper attention and respect to both sides of the spectrum, we invite imbalance.
And so even if you are not the kind of witch who will ever cast a baneful spell, if you are not a witch who will ever practice death magick in any context, it at least bears learning about. Knowledge is power, and the more we understand about the less sparkly and glamorous aspects of the craft, the more powerful we are. A fullness of knowledge of both the lighter and darker parts of the craft makes us more formidable practitioners. And hey, if you are that witch who doesn’t practice the dark arts, it’s perfectly valid. You get to decide what to include and what to exclude in your own practice.
As the bumper sticker says, if I wanted rules, I’d go to church. So with that said, I want to talk a little bit first about what death magick is, what it entails. And one of my favorite things about death magick is that this is what we want to use when we are ready for change. We can call on all kinds of magick when we are trying to enact big changes in our lives, but one thing that we can always count on is death.
Not a literal, physical death, obviously, but a death of the old version of ourselves. A death to the patterns we continue to repeat that no longer serve us. A death of the habits that we know are not healthy or helpful. Evolution and growth are definitely aspects of this kind of work, but when we are ready to shed our old skins and become that more enlightened version of ourselves, someone who is more aligned with the attributes we wish to embody, then we need to be prepared to bury the old version of ourselves.
We need to lay that person to rest. We need to mourn that person, celebrate all the trials and triumphs that person had to overcome in order to be prepared to evolve, and we need to move on.
Likewise, when we are ready to begin a new chapter, or start a new cycle in our lives, we frequently need to let go and lay to rest the old chapter. We must conclude the previous cycle before we can begin a new one, and this is also well-supported by death magick. It can be very cathartic and healing to have a literal or metaphorical wake so that we can feel all our feelings and express everything that’s in our hearts, but this is like any other kind of death.
If we don’t face it and cry it out and go through all those stages of grief, then we’re not really going to move on like we want to. And we aren’t going to get the results of our intentions and our manifestations like we’d hoped. We have to respect the process, we have to respect Death, and we have to stop treating it like it’s something bad or scary or negative.
Now, with all that waxing poetic about death and how beautiful and necessary and natural it is, it also must be said that we can also call upon aspects of death magick in our so-called baneful work. If we are trying to do a cord cutting, we want to bury that toxic relationship. If we want to do a binding, we will kill this person’s ability to harm us or our loved ones. If we are performing a hex or a curse, we may include intentions to bury someone’s reputation or kill their lies and manipulations.
But I would be remiss if I failed to also discuss how death magick is also something we can work with when we are literally dealing with the dead. Our ancestors, our friends and loved ones, our pets who have crossed the rainbow bridge, all of these souls can be accessed and honored with death magick. It’s not just about being goth and edgy, although that’s cool too. Hell, I went to highschool in the 90s, do you have any idea how much black pleather I’ve worn? So much.
I might, I might post a picture on my stories. Just give a little glimpse into those very dark times.
But the point is, performing death magick because it’s cool is totally fine, it’s just that there are a lot of reasons to incorporate aspects of death magick into work that we wouldn’t necessarily think of. So going back to the first intention that we spoke of: change. How can we add aspects of death magick to our spellwork when we are trying to enact big change?
Well, whether we’re doing candle work, or a mojo bag or a poppet, or something else entirely, there are things we can include that absolutely scream death magick. Snake shed, for one. Which makes sense, right? The shedding of skin to allow the newer, shinier version of ourselves to come to light. Beetles, dead ones, are also good additions to this kind of work. We want to incorporate, in a very real and literal way, elements to this work that calls upon death to help us find closure with that former iteration of ourselves.
Morning glories are also good additions, these are really poisonous and we can use any part of the plant although I like to get packets of seeds and just sprinkle a few into the work. This gives us a little one-two punch, because we’ve got this poisonous flower, and the seeds themselves are poisonous too, that will help to end our previous incarnation, and the very fact of including seeds in this work allows for and supports the potential of new growth. And a lot of poisonous flowers and flower seeds are viable here. Belladonna, oleander, foxglove, um, hemlock.
So that’s change, now how can we support cycles. The beginning of a new chapter, a fresh start. Now I like to include a chrysalis, when I can. It’s not easy to find these in the wild, I’ll be honest, but when you do find a spent chrysalis, snap it up and hold onto it. It is an excellent embodiment of the death of one chapter and the beginning of the next. Vultures are protected birds here in the states, so I am not advocating the collecting of vulture feathers, however, the inclusion of vulture imagery in this kind of work is excellent.
Spiders and spiders eggs are also nice death magick elements to include in work dealing with cycles and regeneration and closure and new beginnings. And mushrooms. Any fungus really, represents growth from death.
But what about that baneful work? We aren’t only here to travel the highroad. Let’s talk about a few of the ways we can embrace death magick in those baneful spells. Now, I like to use bones in bindings and in hexes. I add bone powder to candle spells, I use bones to help reveal a person’s true nature and to bury the false persona that they present. I will carve a name or a rune onto a bone and bury it, I’ll add a bone to a poppet or a mojo bag.
I also like ivy and old cobwebs for bindings. What better way to bind someone than to metaphorically wrap them with devil’s ivy? It’s cheap, easy to come by, and it works like a son of a bitch. For general hexes and curses, I like old snail shells, I like to include dead insects, flies, just anything dead and gross. It’s going to create a lot of havoc in your target’s life. So hex ethically and take responsibility for the work you do.
But let’s also talk about death magick in the context of ancestor magick. When we include flowers on our ancestor altars like marigold, irises, yarrow and lilies that have very deep death connotations, this is a way to honor our dead by the gifts themselves, but we are also using flowers that specifically acknowledge their passing. Their existence beyond the veil. This is the same reason we would include skulls or cremated remains on these altars. This is an embracing of death, rather than a vilification of it.
I also like to include vices on my ancestor altar, such as cigarettes, cigars, liquor, tobacco as a way to offer the dead something that I know they enjoyed in life while also making a sort of tongue-in-cheek acknowledgement that their livers and their lungs can’t be harmed anymore. And this is also a demonstration that we still remember them and the things they liked and it shows them that we are happy to go to the trouble of selecting items that are specific to them. We can put any old bread and water on the altar and it’s totally valid. It’s just nice to go the extra mile when we can to show our ancestors that we know they come through for us and we are happy to come through for them.
So you know, I’m just trying to give a little insight, a little info as to how we can just start dipping our toes in. And also just give a little different perspective on an aspect of witchcraft that is really maligned, both outside of witchcraft and even within some collectives under the witchcraft umbrella. It doesn’t always have to be only positivity and love and light and goodness and meekness and gentleness.
Life has ups and downs, and we don’t do ourselves any favors by treating the downs as somehow bad or fearful or negative. There’s a lot of room for nuance. And that’s all I’m saying. So please write to me and tell me how you use death magick in your practice. Let’s get the conversation going. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or find me on social media at @middleagedwitch. Thank you for joining me, have a lovely day, and happy anniversary.
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