Today is Thursday, August 12. The moon is waxing gibbous in Sagittarius, the weather is warm, the sky is clear, Summer is slowing down but there’s still plenty of warm weather left. Depending on where you live, school has started or is just about to start. I have three kids, two girls, aged 19 and 17, and a boy, aged 15. My oldest starts her sophomore year of college, my younger daughter starts her senior year, and my son starts his sophomore year of high school. My husband and I also have full time jobs and a very energetic bastard of a yellow lab, so yeah. It’s a busy time in the Middle-aged witch household. But let’s get on with it.
The Tarot card of the week is The Magician.
In the Rider Waite tarot deck, the Magician is the number one card. He is associated with Gemini and Virgo, the planet Mercury, the colors indigo, white, violet and yellow. The Magician assists with manifestation, power, action, creativity, skill, wisdom, and willpower.
And this kind of brings me to the topic I wanted to discuss today.
Anytime is a good time for spellwork, but when there is a big event on the horizon, and I think a new school year qualifies as a big event, it can be a great time to do some spellwork. If you’ve got kids in school or if you yourself are a high school or college student, now might be a good time to work some spells over the coming semester.
But let’s begin at the beginning. First and foremost:
What is a spell?
A spell, to my mind, is simply Intention + Action to create a Desired Outcome. This does not always mean some big grand gesture, and I think that’s where spellwork can kind of be intimidating for a lot of new and even some not so new witches. There are a lot of small gestures we all do that qualify as spells under my definition.
One that I like to think of is a thoughtful post-it note on a coworker’s desk or in your partner’s lunch. Maybe your friend or partner or coworker is having a rough week, maybe they’re waiting to hear whether they got a raise or a promotion, maybe they’ve just been on your mind lately. You write a little note, leave a little smiley face, whatever, with the intention that they will know you’re thinking of them and hopefully it will act as a little pick-me-up. That’s a spell.
Of course the first spell we all probably learned was the classic blowing out candles on a birthday cake. Someone prepares the cake and lights the candles, everyone sings the ritual chant, you make the wish, and you blow out the candles. Boom. Spell.
New Year’s resolutions are a kind of spell. There’s generally some kind of a party or a get together, in New York of course they drop the ball. Everyone screams and shouts Happy New Year, maybe you kiss someone, and you make your resolution. A spell.
A nightlight in a child’s room to help them feel brave and safe at night
Recognizing smaller-scale spells in our daily lives makes it easier to know where to begin crafting larger-scale, more far-reaching and longer-lasting spells and it’s just smart to stay practiced. It’s easier to be comfortable and confident in spellmaking when we realize that we are doing it all the time.
Where to begin?
First, identify your intention, and then decide what kind of spell you’re going to cast. I.e. spell jars, mojo bags, sigils, candle magic, etc. Some people are very particular to a type of spell medium. One of my daughters is very partial to sigils, my other daughter is very partial to spell jars and mojo bags. I personally do a lot of candle magic. I also like potions, usually in the form of teas that I mix to my own specifications and for my own purposes. So consider that too, if you’re going to do a spell, there’s nothing wrong at all with revisiting the same kind of spellwork over and over again if it’s something that you’re comfortable with.
Think about what speaks to you when considering your intention. Before you do a google search or consult Llewellyn’s Big Book of Correspondences, ask yourself what comes to your own mind when you think about your intention.
For example, a spell for connecting with ancestors makes me think of passion flowers and peppermint, due to my grandmother always having passion flowers and peppermint in her garden. It isn’t an obvious connection and it won’t be found in Cunningham’s Herbal Encyclopedia, but it is a personal connection for me, and therefore will be a strong addition to my spellmaking.
Always consider what comes to your own mind when you are in the planning and development stages of your spell. If you’re working a spell for health and wellness, perhaps your mother used to make you Campbell’s chicken soup when you were sick and you now associate it with feeling better. Consider crushing some chicken bouillon into your spell jar, or rubbing it onto your candle. Whatever it is that you associate most strongly with your intention is where you should begin when crafting your spell.
Once you’ve exhausted the depths of your own imagination, then move toward other resources for correspondences.
An important note for trying to reproduce spells that you find online or in books: more than almost any other consideration, it is important to understand WHY a spell may call for certain ingredients. If you are trying to work an abundance spell and you find a cool spell online, make sure that you understand the purpose of each ingredient, because then you can substitute and alter a spell to your specifications, needs, and to the ingredients that you have at your own disposal. For example, if your spell calls for something obscure, like, I don’t know, Irish Moss. Well that’s not something that most of us probably have access to. But if we know that one of the properties of Irish Moss is to have good luck, then we can look for some other herb or plant that carries the same properties that’s easier to find. So in this example I would probably go with nutmeg or orange peel, because they’re also associated with good luck and they’re a lot easier to find.
So, the moral of that story is, understand WHY you’re being asked to use certain ingredients, and you’ll be better able to find suitable substitutions without having to spend a lot of money or go out of your way to attain them. Remember: it is NOT about the ingredients, it’s about the work.
Where to source your ingredients?
We do love an aesthetic spell, but social media has made a lot of us feel insecure about our practices because our altars aren’t all artfully dried flower arrangements and vintage glass spell jars and leather bound grimoires. It can be difficult, time consuming and expensive to try and replicate the so-called witchy aesthetic we see on tiktok and Instagram. And sometimes, frankly, it isn’t safe for us to be really open with our practice.
So where to go for spellmaking ingredients that aren’t going to cost too much, be too difficult to get hold of, and too obvious as to their intended purpose?
Obviously, witches have been collecting, repurposing, and saving jars since jars were invented. There is no need to buy a bunch of jars unless you want to and it’s financially feasible for you. Save your pickle jars, your jelly jars, your olive oil jars. Give them a good washing and use them well.
For mojo bags, if that’s your thing, I would say they’re not too hard to find and they’re generally not very pricey at all. You can get favor bags at Michael’s, Target, even the dollar store in their little wedding decoration section. They often come in different colors that you can correspond to your intention, or if nothing else, you can just sew them. Cutting up old clothes, pillow cases, etc and sewing a mojo bag is very powerful and it’s FREE. With each stitch, you are literally creating the vessel to hold your spell. You do not have to be any kind of seamstress to make a simple mojo bag, and it’s going to be a lot more powerful than buying a pretty yet pricey premade mojo bag online.
Every witch knows that there’s literally no difference between purchasing basil from an apothecary and purchasing basil from the spice aisle at Albertson’s. It comes down to what makes the most sense for you. It’s also dead easy to grow most household herbs from seeds, and a great way to get started on your kitchen witch path, if that’s a path that calls to you. And on that note, most grocery stores sell common herb seedlings like basil, rosemary, thyme, and mint in little pots. They’re a couple dollars, you can bring them home and repot them, and now not only can you grow herbs for spellmaking, but also for cooking as well. And this is where I will say that kitchen witchery is some of the easiest and most effective way to incorporate herbs and food magic into your every day life.
Oh, one caveat: as far as growing herbs from seeds, Rosemary is the exception, as they have a really low germination rate, but it still costs about as much to buy a small rosemary plant as it does to buy a small jar of dried rosemary at the grocery store, and you can always propagate it and have more rosemary. Basil, sage, dill, oregano, mint, and lavender are easy herbs to grow, look super cute, and are useful in cooking, tea-making, and witchcraft.
Another source I have found for spell ingredients is in the tea aisle. A lot of herbs that are trickier to come by can be found in the tea aisle, and they’re usually extremely affordable. So for example, Nettle, passionflower, echinacea, lemon balm, chamomile, and raspberry leaf are easy to find and dead useful. Not just as a tea, but if your spell calls for nettle, you can tear open a teabag and now you’ve got your herb.
But before you do ANY of that: Check your yard. Dandelion, plantain, willow bark, pine cones, pine needles, acorns, rose petals are all probably available to you for free in your own neighborhood. Start foraging, you’re a goddamn witch. Get some dirt under your nails and unleash the feral creature inside you.
The last thing I want to touch on in this episode is curses. One thing a lot of newer witches are iffy about is cursing people. Hexes, jinxes, curses, banishing, etc. What we typically think of as being associated with evil. A lot of witches are concerned about the rule of three, others think that if someone crosses you, they deserve what they get. Now, here is my take on that: do what you want, I don’t give a shit.
I am not a Wiccan or a lightworker, and I have and still will cast not so nice spells in situations where I feel like it’s warranted. My only concern for newer witches is this: consider the worst case scenario before you begin to perform that spell. By that I mean, if this spell were to go horribly wrong and blow up in your face, what would that look like. As with all spellwork, but especially with baneful work, be very, VERY specific with your intention and consider the possibilities if your spell goes tits up. Cast protective wards beforehand so that your spell is less likely to rebound on you, and then go on with your bad self.