BY TRISTA EDWARDS
Arin Murphy-Hiscock has a truly impressive body of work on spell craft and witchery. Chances are least one of her books is an integral part of your personal library. The Way of the Hedge Witch: Rituals and Spells for Hearth and Home and The Green Witch: Your Complete Guide to the Natural Magic of Herbs, Flowers, Essential Oils, and More not only grace the shelves of many readers but the aesthetically-pleasing covers pop up all over Instagram.
Her books are truly objects of beauty and knowledge.
I recently had the chance to ask Arin a few questions about her most recent book, Protection Spells: Clear Negative Engery, Banish Unhealthy Influences, and Embrace Your Power, the necessary and active role in taking charge of your own magic, and some common misconceptions about spell-casting.
Tell us a little bit about your journey to spellwork. Is there a particular spell that has been passed down to you or a spell that hold a special memory that inspired you to write your latest book on protection?
What moved me to write this book was the relentless onslaught of issues that batter our personal energy. There’s a lot going on in the world, and taking it all in can overwhelm you. Learning how to take control of what impacts your personal energy is one way we can defend ourselves against the tide of negativity, fear, and despair.
The Old English understanding of spell was a “story, saying, tale, history, narrative, fable; discourse, or command.” What do overarching “story” do you hope your latest book Protection Spells portrays?
What I hope people take away from it is a narrative that reframes who is in control of your life. We often react instead of act, constantly responding to something instead of making a conscious choice to act based on personal preference, and original action founded in confidence, self-esteem, and positive initiative. It’s also a narrative where you accept a portion of responsibility for what happens in your sphere. If you accept that you have control over how things go, then you’re also accepting responsibility for how you handle that control. We’re often afraid of responsibility, because it means accepting that we have power and agency, and if we have power then we have to act responsibly. It feels a bit like a cycle, and it is. It’s so much easier to point the finger at others as those responsible, or at a situation and say that you couldn’t do anything about it. It’s scary to step up and say you’re taking control, because it involves the possibility of failure. But it’s worth it.
Do you see protection as being primarily a defensive and preventative act or can it work on the offensive as well? What is our collective responsibility for protecting ourselves and others and how can spellwork add to action?
I think it’s both. It’s active, and it’s also passive.
We absolutely have a collective moral responsibility to protect ourselves as a society, a group of people in a community. There’s the social contract, whereby we all agree to follow certain rules to make things smooth, but if we think of protecting ourselves and others,we can do so much more good. If we look out for each other—and smaller community groups within the larger social community already do this—then the burden is shared. You don’t just take care of yourself; you actively work to make the space around you safer, which benefits everyone. Ideally, the next step is to take care of everyone beyond those smaller communities, crossing social, cultural, and racial barriers to make everyone as safe as possible. It’s a work in progress!
You have written an impressive span of books on witchcraft. One of your first books being Power Spellcraft for Life: The Art of Crafting and Casting for Positive Change. Now with your latest, Protection Spells: Clear Negative Energy, Banish Unhealthy Influences, and Embrace Your Power tell us what you have learned in this journey of writing about spellcraft? How has your perspectives on spellcrafting changed, if at all, since first setting out to write about it for an audience?
It’s been about fourteen years since I wrote Power Spellcraft. I still go back to that book and appreciate what Past Me put into words about spellcrafting. I wanted to prove to people that they were capable of not only working spells, but drafting and shaping them on their own, because so many people believed that they had to use a spell created by an author or an established practitioner. That couldn’t be further from the truth! Your power lies in you; your immediacy and emotion are what tailor the spell and give it energy. You know all the ins and outs of the situation you’re looking to improve or change, after all. Protection Spellsis a themed collection of different kinds of protection information and spells that people can use as inspiration, a sort of shorthand pocket reference book with ideas and examples. I always encourage people to take the basics I’ve outlined and create their own spells or rituals.
When folks come to you seeking advice on spells, whether it be for protection, love, money, health, etc., what is the most common misunderstanding about spellcrafting that you encounter? What are the recipients of the advice or guidance most shocked to learn about the work involved in casting a spell?
Other than the belief that they don’t have to use an existing spell someone wrote, the biggest shock is always that it’s actually work! Spellcraft isn’t an easy way out. It requires a lot of concentration. It’s not a question of just adding a stone to a candle and snapping your fingers. Those are just supportive tools. The real work happens in your heart and mind.
Protection Spells is an inspiring, in-depth collection of thoughtful spells, energy work exercises, references, sample lists for tools, ingredients, and magickal objects—all meticulously organized into helpful chapters for Body and Spirit; House and Home; Family and Friends; and Out and About. Why do you think so many folks are seeking guide books on spell or magickal work for a tradition that is very grounded self-creation and autonomy? In other words, why do you think we are hungry for guidance?
We tend to doubt ourselves a lot. People like to know they’re on the right track, or have examples of how to proceed to refer to. And since self-creation concentrates on the individual, it’s a very solitary practice. Without a teacher, people seek guidance and inspiration in other places. Books are an ideal way to consult how other people approach the topics you’re looking to work on.
Lastly, your forthcoming book this winter, The Witch's Book of Self-Care Magical Ways to Pamper, Soothe, and Care for Your Body and Spirit, is, no doubt, adding to the zeitgeist of witchcraft + self-care as a radical and, some may say, a political act. Can you give us a “sneak peek” at what this book will add to the conversation?
Self-care is a very radical act in today’s society, isn’t it? It’s very much a retaking of control over yourself and your narrative. Women in particular are still reacting against the ingrained social expectations of emotional labour and caring for home and family as well as having a career. Men are struggling against toxic masculinity’s expectations and framing of what is manly versus what is seen as weak or coded as feminine. It’s such as mess. But by taking self-care seriously, you are saying that you matter, that you are worthy of that care, and that classifying your needs as secondary to just about everything else makes you less productive, less efficient, and less happy. Magic focuses on self-betterment; it makes so much sense to pair it with self-care, which focuses on healing, maintenance, and being the best person you can be in order to be as successful as possible in your life.
Arin Murphy-Hiscock is the author of The Way of the Green Witch, The Green Witch, The Way of the Hedge Witch, Pagan Pregnancy, Power Spellcraft for Life, Solitary Wicca for Life, and The Hidden Meaning of Birds: A Spiritual Field Guide. She has been active in the field of alternative spirituality for over twenty years, and lives in Montreal, Canada.
Trista Edwards is an associate editor at Luna Luna Magazine. She is also the curator and editor of the anthology, Till The Tide: An Anthology of Mermaid Poetry (Sundress Publications, 2015). You can read her poems at 32 Poems, Quail Bell Magazine, Moonchild Magazine, The Adroit Journal, The Boiler, Queen Mob's Tea House, Bad Pony, Occulum, and more. She creates magickal candles at her company, Marvel + Moon.