Okay, everyone, Mercury goes retrograde officially tomorrow. I hope we are all ready for this one. It’ll be a doozy, I think. But as always, we can take some precautions to mitigate its general fuckery and help us to get through this time more smoothly. We are gonna be retrograde until October 2. So that’s a little over three weeks. Not too long, but still plenty of time to make a mess if we’re not proactive.
First things first, communication and emotional confusion are going to really dog us during this time. And I mean, right out the gate. Tomorrow, there’s going to be a lot of opportunities for miscommunication and argumentation. Give people around you the benefit of the doubt when it comes to communication, because everything we say can get mixed up and misconstrued during this time Same retrograde advice I always give, but it bears repeating: back up any work or assignments, and make sure you give yourself extra time to turn them in because the internet likes to go slow as hell, phone lines like to go down, and apps like to crash during Merc retrograde. And finally, read and then re-read and then get someone else to read any contracts you may be considering entering into. Make sure you know what you’re signing and what is expected of you.
And that’s the general housekeeping. Merc retrograde comes around a few times of year to raise a little hell and to keep us humble, but it doesn’t have to ruin our lives, and it doesn’t have to be something we fear. Which reminds me, I know a lot of folks who caution against performing any kind of magic during Mercury retrograde. There’s a belief amongst some people that it can go badly or something, I don’t really know. All I do know is that you can do your magic whenever the hell it feels right. We should always be mindful of our intentions and the language we use when we cast, so I don’t feel like we need to be afraid of performing spellwork during this time.
I have never had anything close to a bad outcome from doing magic during retrograde. I don’t like baseless fear mongering and I won’t contribute to it. If you have work to do between now and October 2, just do it. We also have the Harvest Moon in Pisces on Saturday, so that’s something to consider. Pisces is a dreamer and Pisces feels things deeply, so go ahead and set some big intentions that align with how you truly feel. Don’t try to play timid, don’t hold back, and don’t try to minimize your true feelings. But that said, don’t let your feelings run amok. The Moon is conjunct Neptune on Saturday, which loves to keep our heads in the clouds. And that is fine as long as we keep our feet on the ground. Dream big, visualize, and then make it happen through action in the real world. Plenty of good things are possible right now.
So before we jump into the topic of the day, I wanted to read an email. This kind of goes along with the idea we’ve talked about a lot, which is the ethics of doing magic to influence other people. This witch has some concerns and she is looking for a magical way to subtly influence someone else.
“You spoke of handmade mojo bags in a couple of episodes and I feel like that would be my best way to go about this. My husband, like many people, has some issues that impact his life. A lot of toxic masculinity thrown at him and childhood traumas that he really needs some professional help with. High functioning depression that he manages well enough, but I can tell it is limiting his potential and in all honesty, his rampant negativity in many areas of life is really draining on my newfound positivity that I have as I continue my own therapy path. I don’t want him to change to suit me, but I know that getting some help will really change a lot for him and I want him to be okay with life and himself.
I want him to be able to gather happiness from within when he needs to. We have had some light discussions on therapy and he is interested, but hesitant. Work and timing has been an absolute block on his ability to get started on it, but I did find out that the clinic I go to has an office close to home and they have therapists that stay until 8 pm a couple days a week. He still made a lot of excuses on why it wouldn’t work out right and I know that’s the pessimist in him throwing up walls.
Therapy and changing yourself is terrifying at first, but I have experienced firsthand how magical it can be over time. I do not want to force him into it or badger him about it, I want it to be his decision, but I feel like if he doesn’t take these steps to better himself, we are going to have problems down the road, more than are already starting. He is really an amazing person and I love him fiercely, he has never done me wrong and has a good strong heart. I just want him to have access to all of the positive sides of life without this cloud of darkness in his head weighing him down.
So, I wanted to make a bag that I can hide underneath his side of the mattress, completely in the spirit of helping him and giving him strength to know that he does not need to let his depression run his life. And ultimately, for him to end up deciding that it is time to start seeing a therapist, that it is okay for him to do. I know we have to be careful with intention, and I want to make sure this revelation does not come to him in the form of some traumatic event that makes him spiral downward or something. Do you have any thoughts on what would be helpful to include in the mojo bag? And what moon phase or time of year would be additionally helpful for spellwork of this kind?”
Now interestingly, the day before I got this email, I got a DM from another witch asking if I could do an episode on mojo bags, which I am going to do. It’s on the roster in a couple weeks. I’m going to cover mojo bags and spell jars in the same episode because they’re really similar in terms of construction and purpose. But for this witch, I didn’t want to put off answering her question until then because I think her concerns are kind of pressing. She is genuinely invested in helping her husband get help. Not because she wants to influence how he thinks and what he thinks, but because she knows a professional can help him develop tools to manage his stress, to understand his thought patterns and behavioral patterns and just improve his quality of life. And another thing about therapy, especially for men, is that a lot of the time, it’s the only place they’ll give themselves permission to talk about these things. To put these fears and feelings into words.
So we are gonna talk about mojo bags in-depth in a few weeks, but in the meantime, I responded to this witch with a couple suggestions. A mojo bag under his bed is a great idea. I’d also include a little candle magic to kick it off and maybe a honey jar to sweeten him to the idea of seeking help as well. In the mojo bag, I’d include personal concerns of his, such as fingernail clippings or hair. And then, into a small bowl, I’d add some flax, lavender and rosemary for mental healing, basil and sage to encourage peace, raspberry for optimism (you can get raspberry leaf tea at the store and just sprinkle one of the tea bags right into the bowl), clove and nettle to help banish negativity, and sunflower to overcome any obstacles he puts in his own way. Sunflower seeds are perfectly valid for this work. Mix all that up and crush it as best you can, and put about 3/4 of the mixture into the mojo bag, along with your husband’s personal concern. Set aside the remainder of the herb mix.
As for the bag itself, a scrap of fabric from an old tee shirt will suffice. It really doesn’t have to be fancy, but you can definitely buy a little fabric bag if you prefer. Blue is a nice color for this work, but honestly, any color will be fine. You can put everything in the center of the fabric scrap, draw up the sides, and tie it closed with a bit of twine or string, or you can sew it closed. Add anything else you want to include in this bag, maybe a business card from the clinic near your home. Sew it all up with the rest of it.
The rest of the herb mix you can use to dress your candle. A blue or white candle will be great. Carve your intention right into the wax (something simple and direct like ‘Husband’s name’ is open to going to a therapist), anoint it with oil (olive oil is great), and then roll it in the remaining herbs. Light it with intention and let it burn down, then place the mojo bag under your husband’s side of the bed and leave it there.
As for the best time to do this work, the waning moon is probably your best bet. I’d wait three days after the full moon to begin, which puts you on September 13 if you start this month. Incidentally, 13 is a very lucky number and is associated with wisdom and moon magic. The 13th is also a Tuesday, a great day for healing and courage. And it takes a great deal of courage to seek therapy. This isn’t fast-acting magic, influencing other people takes time, but it can really help to soften his heart to the idea of seeking help.
Well today, we are going to talk about the goddess Hekate. Even if you aren’t overly familiar with her on a personal level, you will definitely be familiar with her iconography. She is the quintessential triple goddess, maiden, mother, and crone. Hekate is the goddess of crossroads, she is the goddess of magic, especially defensive magic, witchcraft, goddess of the moon and boundaries, knowledge of herbs and poisonous plants. She is the goddess of spirits and necromancy. Hekate is a powerful ally in matters of business, destruction, empowerment and influence, karma, and baneful magic, she is also influential in shamanic or healing work. So we can see why she is such a powerful figure to witches. She’s the Barbra Streisand of goddesses; she does it all.
So let’s kind of look a little more deeply at what these associations mean. Beginning with Hecate as a goddess of the crossroads, and we mean this literally and figuratively. Her likeness was frequently seen in Greece at various crossroads shrines, especially where three roads converge (although a four-way crossroads would also have been likely to bear her image). And this literal association gives way to symbolic association as well, so she is a wonderful ally to have if you’re at a figurative crossroads. If you’re working on leveling up or making a big life change in some way, if you’re furthering your education, if you’re considering leaving an unsatisfying job, or relationship, if you’re about to start a family, or get a new pet, if you’ve recently lost someone, I mean, the list really goes on. Anytime we find ourselves at any sort of crossroads in life, Hekate is there. She can give us strength, and wisdom, and tough love.
As a goddess of boundaries, a household shrine to Hekate was frequently found at a home’s property line, at the gate, or at the doorway of a house. She was known to keep unwanted or unknown spirits and other entities from entering a home. She is associated with borders, city limits, doorways, and therefore by extension, she was known to guard the doorways between the realms of the living and the dead. This makes her an excellent goddess to seek out when we would like to communicate with our ancestors. She is a protector and advocate for the dead, and she is known to walk easily among both the dead and the living.
Hekate is closely associated with plant lore, and the concoction of both medicines and poisons. She was known to give instruction and wisdom to those who would seek the knowledge of these disciplines, in fact she was said to have been the one who taught the goddess Medea how to create and use medicinal plants. Hekate is a shamanic goddess, she is wise in the ways of healing the body and can assist us in learning what we need to do to best heal ourselves.
As a goddess of witchcraft and of the moon, we can approach her to assist or support our work in any of the areas in which she holds sway, and in any of the seasons of our lives. We mentioned that she is a triple goddess, THE triple goddess. She represents the maiden, the mother, and the crone. These three seasons of life. I’ve done entire episodes on the Maiden and the Mother archetypes, I talked about the Maiden in the Imbolc episode, and we talked about how she is the spirit of entrepreneurialism, and optimism, and starting a fresh chapter. And these are the aspects of Hekate that we can call upon when we are doing any kind of spellwork or entering into any kind of brand new phase in life.
I spoke of the Mother in the Imbolc episode, and we talked about how she is the representation of creativity, fertility, both in the literal sense of having children, but also in the fertility of new ideas, plans. The Mother builds, she is a protector, she is who we lean on when we need help setting and maintaining boundaries, when we feel like someone isn’t treating us properly. She is who we need when we require nurture, guidance, tough love, when we aren’t taking care of ourselves and we’re neglecting the commitments we’ve made to ourselves. This is the aspect of Hekate that we can entreat when we are in these phases of life, or when we’re working spells that align with the Mother archetype.
I will speak of the Crone more in the Samhain episode, but she is the aspect of Hekate that we can rely on during times of grief, she is the one who will teach us how to speak with our ancestors. She will show us hidden wisdom, she will teach us how to embrace endings. The end of relationships, of careers, of anything that we need to let go of, and then she will help us find our way to the next phase. The phase that we can’t start until we have let go.
So that’s who the hell Hekate is. Now, we can talk about approaching her. And we aren’t starting from scratch, we’ve talked before on this podcast about approaching deities for assistance with our magic, and with getting to know deities and learning how to develop a relationship with them. And if we want to get to know a particular deity more intimately, we do need to start by introducing ourselves. We cannot just roll up on a deity unannounced, they don’t know us, they do not appreciate some stranger just showing up and asking for favors. No more than we do.
So do some meditation. Speak with her, introduce yourself and ask if she will speak with you. Spend some time just listening to the impressions you get. Ask her if there are certain offerings she would prefer, ask her if there is a sign she will give when she has something to say.
To win her favor, place pearls, moonstone, quartz or sapphire on her altar, feverfew and lavender flowers, and burn myrrh incense. Look for signs such as the numbers 3 or 9, and animal totems like rabbits, owls, and especially dogs. Garlic is sacred to Hecate, and a tribute of garlic on her altar is going to really please her. Ancient Greeks would often leave wreaths, cakes, and an offering of an evening meal once a month during the new moon.
Hekate is frequently depicted holding torches, which she uses in her countless myths to help others find their way in darkness, she is also depicted holding a key which is of course in reference to her role as an underworld goddess and keeper of boundaries, but which also hints at the secret knowledge she keeps, and she is often shown flanked by dogs. In fact, there is a little debate as to whether the dogs are representative of her identity as a mother goddess, as Greeks considered dogs to be sacred to all birth goddesses, or rather they represented her connection to the underworld. In either case, Hecate rules both, so the debate is moot. But we can use these symbols when we call upon her, and we can use them at our altar.
We may keep a shrine or a space on our altar for her, which I do. But I find that when I petition her for any kind of active assistance with spellwork, I feel better going to a crossroads to leave offerings and tributes and to bury my spells.
And any sort of crossroads will do for this, although it’s probably best to find one that’s not too busy. You wouldn’t want anyone seeing you place something there and then immediately going to dig it up or disturb it. The crossroads I like is a convergence of three dirt farm roads. So it gets some traffic, but not a lot, and I’ve never had to deal with anyone seeing me or asking any questions. I like to bury a coin on each corner of the crossroads, and leave my tribute in the northernmost corner.
Hekate is incredibly powerful. If she does decide to help you, you should make sure you’re ready for it. And I suggest that you don’t attempt any work with her that you’re unsure of. I have worked with Hekate to great success, but only a handful of times. I keep a shrine for her on my altar at all times, but I don’t ask her for assistance with any old spellwork. But this is just how I do things. If you decide to approach Hekate, you’re going to have to navigate it in your own way. As with all witchcraft, there is no one right way.
My goal today is just to lay a little groundwork, give a little background for anyone who might feel called to learn more about her. She is so special, and it’s such an honor to work with her and to learn from her. And that’s it for me today. Best of luck to all of us tomorrow as Mercury goes retrograde, and I wish everyone a blessed full moon on Saturday. Next week we are going to talk about the Autumn Equinox, or Mabon, and I’m excited for that. Sabbats are always fun and witches love a good party. Until then, my name is Eli, and this has been the Middle-Aged Witch podcast.