BY LISA MARIE BASILE
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My magic comes to life in water, and consequently, it flowers by the changing phases of the moon. I see moon and water magic as one, inherently and perfectly entwined.
Water is where I energetically recharge and meditate, whether it be in the sea or in the shower. (I'm also a water sign—#scorpio—so it seems fitting that my mer-qualities would reveal themselves in my practice. I've got my moon in cancer, too, so I'm a double whammy of watery lunar goodness).
Sea spells and seashells🌊 I was born a water sign (#scorpio), and my moon is in cancer 💦🌚As a child, I spent long weekends at the beach with my family. (I absolutely wore my Ariel fin to the shore). This was before poison happened in my family...and those days by the sea came to an end. I soon learned that the water was my symbol for peace, and my memory for purity and togetherness. I have always felt a draw to water as a secular person, for energy recharging, for sea spells, for rituals of cleansing and recalibration. Water is the closest thing to god for me: it’s life, it’s creation. I could swim for a day straight without stopping. 🌊 I keep a Rose of Jericho (resurrection flower) in my bedroom as a symbol of rebirth and adaptation, and it feeds on water to unfold from its dead state into a blossomed thing. I am a Rose of Jericho, we all are. It’s also been 6 months, to this day, since I started using water as therapy and exercise—swimming or cycling or simply doing crazy plyo pool fitness routines. I do it to manage my health condition, but also because every moment I’m in water I connect back to the source. 💦🙏🏽💦
This is how I see it, and what's always been apparent to me: Water is life, literally; it is immensely profound, healing, powerful and dazzling. It is a force to be reckoned with, never giving up its secrets before it is ready; water is resolved, yet fluid. There’s something beautiful there—recognizing our own need, as a species, to adapt and move while also rooting to what gives our lives meaning. Rooting to our choices, resolving to follow our path, our instincts, our dreams. Evolving. As a child, I would play for hours in the sea, following the waves, intuiting their movement and training my body to roll along with each foamy push. It felt comforting and fun, and, in some way I couldn't articulate, it simply felt right.
We can all use these ideas and energies as tools. You don't need to be a mermaid or a water sign to work with water, I promise. And it doesn't matter what path you're on or what your beliefs are either. For the record, I'm secular. I work with nature, since it's what we're all made of and connected to; I don't believe in gods or goddesses or any deity associated with the elements. It’s this simple: water, as a symbol, can be a transformative force in our lives.
I tend to think of water as a divine force that you can find anywhere--via the faucet, in the Mediterranean sea, in a pond in Jakarta, and in your local pool. (I go into this idea more in a podcast I did with Leza Cantoral's Get Lit With Leza). Here are some ways to connect with water and to ritualize and practice with it in mostly informal, DIY and inexpensive ways.
You can, for one, simply bathe, shower (bathing is better, it uses less water and you can take your time in it) or swim, taking care to ground yourself in the water, noticing the way it feels on your skin, letting it hold you in its care, appreciating its gentleness and respecting its power. Many people forget that magic isn't only made in ritual or through spell-work, but by being near or in nature and simply existing with it, consciously.
If you do bathe, you can add shells to the water or to rim of the tub (just be sure to step carefully! You don’t want a seashell slice; I speak from experience and several stitches).
If getting into a body of water is generally not a possibility for you, that's okay. You can submerge your feet or try the hand-cleansing practices I've listed below.
Water Altars & Practices
Beyond swimming or bathing, where you can be submerged in the powers of water, you might want to decorate an altar (or just a chill-out space) with sea shells, candles of blue or turquoise, and a bowl of salt water or sea water (if you're lucky to be near the sea!). I like to put out a sea altar whenever I feel particularly stuck, stagnant, or fearful, as it represents my ability to be fluid, to let go, to connect with something pure and massive and ancient. I’ve collected some shells from countries of my heritage, which I think of as sacred and full of ancestral power. Otherwise, shells from your local beach are absolutely wonderful! Sometimes thrift stores even carry gorgeous shells.
🧜🏽♀️I made 100 magical sachets for my Light Magic for Dark Times editor to bring to a sales conference. Each and every one of these little bags were given tons of love & care, and even Ben stepped in to help when my arthritic witchy fingers got sore (lol). With moon-cleansed seashells and tiny candles and a handwritten sea spell in each bag, they aim to help its reader set an intention, make a wish or find a moment to summon healing or courage. 🧜🏼♀️ ps: I have a few leftover! I may actually make these available at an upcoming @lunalunamag event. #lightmagicdarktimes
During long days or hard weeks, I'll pour water into a large bowl and fill it with essential oils, shells (abalone ones are perfect and gorgeous!), crystals (I love to use Aquamarine or ocean jasper) or flower petals. You may choose to add salt.
I'll wash my own hands in it, imagining the tension and grief dissipating. There is great self-care magic in cleansing yourself in a conscious and symbolic way, and I recommend a bowl of cleansing water after work or after a day when lots of chaotic or not-so-nice energies are stuck to your psyche or space.
You might want to burn a blue or green candle while listening to whale sounds as you doodle or stretch. Easy techniques like these can signal your mind to begin thinking and feeling the power of water, especially if you can't near a sea or body of it. (I've always been a fan of blending DIY magic and self-care as-needed, without too many formal rules or structures; I find it allows me to really tap into my instincts and personal power. Chaos magic, for example, makes a lot of sense to me).
You can also carry a sachet bag with a small shell when you need a boost or a reminder to stay calm and flow. Keep it in your bag or purse or pocket and pull it out when you need it. Remember to energetically cleanse the shell in water, by the light of the moon or with smoke so that it can be replenished.
Working with the Moon
You can also boost your personal power with moon work, particularly during the full and new moon, when vibes are high. Luna is very giving, always there for you, keeping us literally grounded to earth. Hint: Luna Luna's name has a few meanings, but one of them is that there are two sides to the moon (the dark and the light) and that we inhabit both, equally, to our benefit.
The New Moon: The new moon is a great time to set intentions, make wishes, and set out a path for change, increased harmony, creativity, resolution, new beginnings. It can also be used to release energies and break out of patterns.
The Full Moon: The full moon is a good time to do any sort of practice or spell-work, but I think of it as a time to renew what I worked on during the new moon, sew big seeds, do seriously potent work and recharge in big ways.
It's also a great idea to be aware of which sign the moon is in during any given day (it cycles through the zodiac). You can use an almanac or a simple app, like Moon, to easily track it. I suggest finding a book that explains in-depth what the moon in each sign means and begin to ebb and flow with that sign's energy. Just because it's not your sign doesn't mean it can't teach you lesson, imbue you with qualities that are hidden deep down (hey, that sign might be in your chart!), or inspire you. I have recently read Moonology and recommend it! It really clearly goes over the basics of moon magic, and it's a great place to start.
Moon phase-focused spells and rituals can give your practice and self-care routine structure, and because each phase is somewhat different energetically, you can time what spells or practices to those qualities. I often make moon water—water that is charged with the energies of the moon—to power my spell-work, use as a pre-night out face cleansing tonic, cleanse my crystals or power objects and brew tea or elixirs.
How to Make Moon Water
- Pour some water into a bowl or jar. I like to use mason jars because they have a lid, they're pretty and the light can get through the glass.
- Place your jar on a porch, a windowsill, or directly in the path of moonlight. (Definitely cover your water if you're putting it outside).
- Keep it there overnight. Many people pull the water inside before the sun comes up, but others do not. This is a personal choice.
- You can do this for the new before, during and of the moon phase you're working with, but during the day-of is best.
I talk a lot more about this in my upcoming book, Light Magic for Dark Times, which is all about self-care rituals and practices. I cannot WAIT to share it with you. For now, you can follow me on Twitter & Instagram to keep up to date.
Lisa Marie Basile is the founding editor-in-chief and creative director of Luna Luna Magazine and community. She is the author of a few books of poetry, including a full-length collection, Apocryphal. She is also working on her first novella, to be released by Clash Books in 2019. Her first nonfiction book, Light Magic for Dark Times, will be published by Quarto Books in 2018.
Lisa Marie's work has appeared in the New York Times, Narratively, Refinery 29, Greatist, Bust, Bustle, Marie Claire, The Establishment, Hello Giggles, Ravishly, Marie Claire, and more. You can catch her on the podcasts Into the Dark, Essie's Hour of Love, and Get Lit With Leza. She recently received two Pushcart nominations—for her work in Narratively and The Account. She received an MFA from The New School in NYC.