The beauty of witchcraft is that it is inherently personal, and yet there is a community full of resources and inspiration upon which to draw. In that spirit, here are a few more ideas to help manifest your magic day-to-day.Read More
BY LISA MARIE BASILE
If you keep an altar in your home, it may be a place where you naturally gravitate after work to ground yourself and get all that commute-work-capitalism off of you. It might be a place where you do spellwork. Or it might not be an altar for spellcraft at all; it may simply exist as a place where you keep symbols—reminders—of your strength, vision, and creativity, especially if feeling strong or wise or creative or happy isn't always easy (and when is it?).
For me, it's a little bit of each column—a place for me to be surrounded by my personal power objects in order to meditate and cast my intentions, and also a place where I can build a sort of mood board of my self at any given moment. I like to gather pictures of myself, crystals (these are from Myths of Creation) that I use as symbols for love and healing (for example), objects that represent my power—shells, seawater, perfumes—and other elemental bits (stones, flowers) from places that have symbolic power to me (like I always include a stone I got from a fisherman's village in Italy, a trip that was life-defining for me).
At my altar, I always write notes to myself in the present, mostly for things I need or desire or hope for currently. I admit I turn to the altar in moments of desperation (like, say, when I feel particularly troubled, anxious or sick), but I frequently try to do this with each new moon as a way to sort of get all those jumbled thoughts out of my head, down onto paper (a huge part of my craft), and into the universe where they can manifest. This new moon, I asked for strength and clarity in dealing with my chronic illness.
It's also really liberating and fun to create something beautiful made up entirely of your own vision—a creative and cathartic practice that, in itself, is meditative and reflective of your unique selfhood.
Would you like to build an altar? Here's what you'll need:
- Objects that represent you (a book, a piece of your jewelry a piece of fabric sprayed with your perfume)
- A candle to burn as you focus on your intention
- Oils (I use Moon Goddess Magick Apothecary oils). I tend to dab a bit on my wrists and on my power objects)
- Elemental objects to strengthen your intentions (a bowl of water, dirt, sand, shells)
- A note, handwritten, with your intention or goal
- A mirror for self-gazing and reflection
- A photograph of you, if you have one or would like to use one
LISA MARIE BASILE is a poet, essayist and editor living in NYC. She studied English and psychology as an undergraduate at Pace University and received a Masters in writing from NYC’s The New School. She's the founding editor-in- chief of Luna Luna Magazine (an online magazine & community dedicated to literature, witchcraft, the arts, and women). She is the author of a few books of poetry: Apocryphal, war/lock, Triste, and Andalucia. Her book NYMPHOLEPSY (co-authored with Alyssa Morhardt-Goldstein) will be published by Inside the Castle in November 2018 and was a finalist in the 2017 Tarpaulin Sky Book Awards. She is working on her first novella, to be released by Clash Books in 2019. Her poetry can be heard narrating the Into The Veil event video by Atlas Obscura. Her work has been nominated for the Best American Experimental Writing anthology and for several Pushcart Prizes. Her work has appeared in the Cambridge Writers Workshop anthology and in Best Small Fictions 2015, selected by Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Robert Olen Butler. Lisa Marie has been published in or syndicated by Refinery 29, Greatist, Bust, Bustle, Marie Claire, The Establishment, Hello Giggles, The Gloss, Ravishly, The Huffington Post, Cosmopolitan, and more. Work is forthcoming in the New York Times, Narrartively and more. FOLLOW HER ON TWITTER & INSTAGRAM.
"These apples are prepared," she would say. And every time she switched them out, I would watch. Her routine was always the same. The new fruit carefully placed on the small altar under the framed picture of the Virgin of Guadalupe. The bowl of apples, fresh flowers, and a votive placed on a white lacy fabric. Usually the candle had a picture of Jesus or another saint depending on Mom’s mood. She would lovingly decorate her table and spend a few minutes each day praying. Asking the Virgin to protect us, and our home. Maybe if Mom had done some elaborate gesture, voodoo dance, or animal sacrifice it might have helped my skeptical mind to consider believing. Nothing my sixteen-year-old brain could conjure to invoke the kind of power it would take to make the apples work ever happened.Read More
First, gather the supplies: soft fabric, a sharp needle, sturdy thread. Buttons, beads, and bits. Cotton scraps for the stuffing.Read More
Decided the full arsenal was required. Witchcraft. A black magick banishment spell. I would protect my land and bodily autotomy. Even if that meant I made an unholy deal with the Gods, Goddesses and ghosts. I would be as scorched earth forever alone if that would permit me to me survive. When I turned 40 I resolved to be a celibate recluse to preserve sobriety and avoid further rape. Sacrifice was familiar company. I had to salt the earth so no weeds could grow.Read More
Vampira was sex and death all wrapped up in a tight black tattered dress with a slit up the leg. She had soft raven hair, long phallic nails, dark lips, and commanding eyebrows arched just so. And she floated through the night's eerie haze, through the airwaves of the family television and right into the living room to let out a brash, horrifying, yet pleasurable scream. She would look right into the camera, right into your eyes, calm after such a gratifying orgasmic release and say with a coy smile, "Screaming relaxes me so," right before she introduced the nightly flick.Read More
I believe that crystals are part of my healing. They are not responsible for all of the healing though. Since I’ve found crystals, I have carried them in pockets of dresses, in stiff shirts, and in my tote bag with my grade book. I have also taken baths with them and showered with crystal soap. I take all the vibrations they send, absorbing them into the deepest parts of me.Read More
People want to be on display, they want to show off their attire, the care they took in adorning their bodies with costume, often revealing as much of their bodies as they can. The fair becomes a space in which one can feel safe to share their themselves in ways that may not be appreciated or accepted in the “real world” or it can become a space in which who they are in the “real world” is celebrated without opposition.Read More
New Orleans offers limitless exploring, from the many bars and jazz clubs on Frenchmen St. to the hedonistic Bourbon St. The whole attitude of the city is one of living for the day and I am convinced there’s not an unfriendly soul in the city. For witches: the appeal is even greater—see sights like the altar above (at Hex, the Old World Witchery shop) or learn to read tarots and palms.Read More
Magick comes from the power within, but to access that power you must open yourself to nature, to intimate connection, to vulnerability.
BY EMILY NEIE
I was drawn to magick because I believed in myself. The idea that I needed to rely on an ethereal, probably-not-real deity to guide me and plan out my destiny seemed absolutely absurd. I had a good head on my shoulders, I did well in school, I had a clear vision for my life, and I was perfectly capable of making my own decisions.
At church, I felt the most spiritual when I was soul-searching and building my own self-confidence. It's a feeling that a lot of other people interpret as God, or the spirit, or whatever else you'd like to call it, but it's hard for me to see it that way—I believe in me, my humanity, my own consciousness. My vision and drive comes from within, not from a desire to end up in heaven or paradise. I am perfectly happy and motivated to make the most of my life and to put good energy out into the universe before my world fades to black simply because I feel that is the right thing to do, not because there will be a reward in the afterlife.
I often laugh at myself for seeking out magick and witchcraft, because my independence is what most often prevents me from connecting deeply to my magick. Magick is full of paradoxes, and this is probably the biggest one: your magick comes from the power within, but to access that power you must open yourself to nature, to intimate connection, to vulnerability.
Even if you believe your magick comes from a connection to a deity like the Goddess, you have to break down emotional barriers around your soul in order for that power to inhabit you. Those of us who sought out magick because it meant we didn't have to rely on a God or a church find ourselves in an especially sticky predicament: once you strip away the walls of the Church, you're left with the walls inside yourself.
Being a witch is an essentially solitary thing. Even in a coven, you spend a lot of time practicing on your own. You cast spells alone, perform rituals alone, create glamours alone, hunt for treasures and supplies alone. So much of magick demands our undivided attention and separates us from more socially accepted religious circles. At my old youth group, setting a visual example for others was huge. We were constantly in groups, watching how we prayed.
"This girl has her eyes closed and her hands raised in the air...she must be feeling this more than I am" is an ACTUAL thought that crossed my mind. More than once. I can't help but look back and feel that we were acting for each other, trying to use our bodies and words to be the most-holy, aka holier than the rest of you.
It felt good to pray together, in groups, because I'm naturally drawn to community, but my actions and beliefs felt forced. Many religions create community, but magick cuts deeper than the superficial emotional fluff that singing songs around a retreat campfire creates. Witches don't often get the emotional fluff. Witches spend most of our time digging into our own neuroses, our inhibitions, our insecurities, to find substance and fodder for our magick.
I build walls. I am convinced that in a former life I lived somewhere out in the woods, and didn't talk to anything but rabbits for 30 years. I am quite social and happy to be around people, but I often feel like I am simply performing emotions because it's what will best suit the situation and person I am talking to. I get feedback all the time that I come across as perfectly poised, prepared to take on any challenge, and relatively knowledgeable and capable of handling anything that comes my way.
While those traits are excellent for business and career building, they completely stunt my journey to magick. Magick is performed, but not performative. Magick can see through your bullshit, see when you don't really connect with a spell you're casting, see when you're just setting up your altar or reading tarot cards for the aesthetic qualities. I love Instagram. I live for aesthetic. I constantly battle these sides of myself in my journey to know myself and strengthen my practice.
Magick isn't supposed to look a certain way. It doesn't have picture-perfect moments that need to be captured in order to be validated. I am an anxious perfectionist who dreads the moment when people catch my mistakes or shortcomings, and magick bombards me with these things all the time. It is a necessary struggle, and the breaking down of my pretension is what will build me into a truly magickal witch one day.
A couple weeks ago a friend called me "magickal" in a completely serious way, and I cried. It meant so much that I was finally able to inhabit my magick in a way that outwardly presented itself as part of my being. I'll probably always have the right words for most situations, and people may always view me as the responsible, collected Capricorn that I've always been.
My hope is that one day I start hearing people call me "genuine," too. And that I will always access that strength – the strength of the genuine – in my craft.
Emily Neie is a secular witch living and practicing magick in Austin, TX. She survives the demands of corporate professionalism by walking her dog, picking up rocks and feathers, and blogging at her magick blog, The Literateur.
You may have found yourself with a difficult a boss who you feel is trying to force you out. There could be an outside force trying to threaten the strength of a relationship. You may be on the receiving end of some pretty dumb high school hearsay. Verbal attacks. Physical attacks. Character attacks. Creative attacks. Relationship attacks. Whatever your predicament may be, I have configured a list of defensive and protective magic that you can perform at will to aid mental healing.Read More
BY SOPHIE MOSS
When we lose a loved one, many people believe that they are permanently gone: banished to a plane, heaven, or nothingness from where they can no longer hear us. Some people are fierce non-believers, others choose to believe in a nothingness out of fear, or grief. Since childhood, I have always believed in a gateway: a ‘tween through which the living can make contact and the dead can whisper back.
So, the curious child started to write. I would pen letters, hoping to bridge the gap between worlds. I would write notes to dead people I didn’t know, or supernatural characters from books and television shows. I was enthralled by realms that I couldn’t put my hands on and feel, obsessed with doors that wouldn’t open. With age, I learned to understand my curiosity--my spirituality. The occult--particularly witchcraft -- has played an important role in how I define myself as a human, woman, and writer.
I don’t believe that the people we love ever really leave us--not even in death. When we have a problem, we can ask for assistance. When we’re unsure, we can ask for guidance. Indeed, we can use ritual and spellcasting as a means by which to contact lost loved ones and ask them to work with our own spiritual source to demystify our path, nudge us in a certain direction, or send help. To ask them to whisper back.
I have learned a lot over the years about witchcraft, spirituality, and the afterlife from Silver Ravenwolf’s Solitary Witch, and have taken influence from the volume’s spellwork to create a Luna Luna guide to making contact with the ancestral dead through the art of letter writing.
Supplies: a selection of stones (minimum three); a purple candle; paper; pen; envelope; lighter.
1. Choose an outdoor space. I prefer to choose a location that carries a certain resonance, either for myself or the loved one with whom I am seeking to make contact; a place that allows me to feel close, safe, and connected. Ultimately, choose a space that feels as sacred or as neutral as it feels right to you--whether you go to the local park bench on which you and your lost love shared your first kiss, or whether you regard your own back garden as the safest and most comfortable space in which to make contact, the choice is entirely yours. Remember: it is your intent that matters most.
2. Arrange your stones. At this point, it is about doing what feels most comfortable for you--this is not about rigidity. If you prefer to follow the guidelines of Wicca, arrange three stones in the shape of a pyramid (to represent the Witches’ Pyramid), otherwise, collect enough to spell out the initials of the person you will be honouring. Again, this is not about meticulous rule-abiding, but rather honesty and intent. If something doesn’t feel right, play around with it until it does.
3. Light a purple candle. Purple corresponds with expansion of the self: expansion of spiritual power, knowledge, and consciousness. Once lit, ground yourself and focus your energy on the loved one with whom you are seeking contact. Imagine a bright light filling up your body, traveling through cells and organs and out through your fingers into the candle you are holding. At this point, you can intonate prayers for the deceased. I don’t follow a single specific religious path and instead choose to maintain focus and silence, finishing by placing my candle by the stones.
4. Write a letter to one of the people you are honouring, or have honoured in your prayer. It is in the contents of this letter that you will communicate whatever your reason for contacting. Ask for their help. Detail your problem. Thank them for all that they have done. Tell them you miss them. Whatever your reasons, write them all down. Once you have done this, place the letter in the envelope and seal with a final kiss.
5. Burn the letter. Place the envelope on top of the stones, and focus your intent once more. Take the candle and burn the letter, watching the cool ashes escape in the wind as it carries your message to its recipient. Be contented in the knowledge that your questions are being answered. Once finished, leave your stones untouched.
NB: When making the decision to contact the dead, we must take caution. While it can be helpful to ask our deceased for guidance or assistance, it is important that we do not allow them to take the place of our own spiritual source. As with everything in life, it is about maintaining a rightful balance: finding a happy medium between honouring, acknowledging and contacting lost loved ones, and affording the dead a limited place in our lives.
BY SOPHIE MOSS
For most of us, the home is our safe haven. It’s the space in which we sleep, create, cook, nurture relationships, create art, celebrate successes, think our most private thoughts and feel our most deepest feelings, and is a space to be honoured. Just as we respect our homes by dusting away dirt and cleaning up messes, it is also helpful to clean away the energies and vibrations that harbour in our homes over time.
To extend the metaphor, there can be little doubt that an untidy, dirty, cluttered house takes its toll on our happiness and wellbeing, leaving us feeling stagnant, unhappy, and unhealthy. The energies that exist in our home are no different: allowing negative, stagnant energies to manifest in our safe, personal spaces can have a detrimental effect on our professional, personal and creative wellbeing, and it is important that we cleanse these spaces of unwanted energies in order to allow us to fulfill our utmost potential.
There are many ways one can cleanse the home, and these can vary from culture to culture, religion to religion. Using herbs, for instance, has played a major role in magick, religion and divination throughout history, and remains one of the most widely used tools for magick and healing today. In old magickal books, elaborate and strange herbal ingredients were often called upon to create a host of recipes and spells, such as adder’s tongue and the heart of a baboon (which are actually just unusual code names for plantain and oil of lily), and herbs have been historically used for homeopathy, natural medicine, and magickal applications such as health, healing and cleansing.
Below, we have created an easy, cost effective, do-it-yourself guide to using herbal magick to cleanse the home of cosmic nasties and invite health, happiness and prosperity into your household.
The Way of Herbs
There is no easier, cheaper and failsafe method of inviting prosperity into the household (and banishing negativity from it) than to use herbal magick, and I am absolutely fascinated with it. For me, there is something so inexplicably comforting and organic about placing one’s trust in the very Earth itself and, in turn, having this trust rewarded with love and protection.
The great thing about using herbal magick is that a) there are so many ways to use herbs, and b) we can use them for so many different purposes:
When it comes to inciting general positive vibrations into the home, a really easy way to do this is to incorporate herbal magick into your household decor. Buying small pouches or sachets from the store and filling them with different herbs, for example, is an easy way to not only spruce up the come with kitsch decor, but also to incite positive vibrations and a host of positive magical properties.
Hang a sachet filled with chamomile flowers from the doorknob in your bedroom to calm the nerves and promote natural sleep, or place a chestnut in the corner of your bedside table to bring love and peace into the bedroom. Similarly, you can sprinkle cumin seeds into a pouch and hang it from the doorknob of your kitchen cupboard as a general home blessing.
An interesting way to incorporate herbal magick into your household and inspire positive, protective vibrations is via a locket. Sprinkle fennel seeds into a locket and hang from your bedpost, nightstand, or even your jewelry stand to bring protection, purification, healing, passion, courage and strength. Alternatively, wear it around your neck and carry the good energies with you.
Sprinkle allspice in all four corners of the home, or burn it as incense. It is thought to attract success in both personal and business life.
After going through a difficult break up, moving into a new property, or embarking on a new venture, it is important to rebalance and realign the energies in a household, and an efficient way to do this is by performing a sage cleansing ritual. To perform this, purchase a sage smudge stick (I typically buy mine from natural food or new age stores) and set it over a flame-resistant bowl. With every window and door in the house open, light the stick, blow it out and watch as it begins to smoke. Visualising your intention, wave the stick gently and watch as the smoke glides through the room. As the smoke ghosts towards the far corners of the room… along the ceiling… around the windows… up the fireplace… imagine it absorbing the negativity, toxicity and harmful energies from the space, taking any cosmic nasties with it as it dissipates out the open windows. When you have cleansed each room of the house, extinguish the sage smudge stick and discard.
Research the different properties of different herbs, and see which ones are relevant to your needs and requirements, using as necessary. Remember, thorough research is absolutely imperative, as some herbs can be toxic once ignited or ingested.
A Magickal Garden
Indeed, if you are lucky enough to live in an area that affords you garden space (or, even, a window-box on a balcony area), you might want to take advantage of this blessing and plant a garden, grow some herbs, and harvest some plants. However, before jumping right into creating a magickal garden and earning your green thumb status, it is important to keep in mind the general magickal rules for gardening.
In her widely acclaimed book, Solitary Witch: The Ultimate Book of Shadows for the New Generation, magickal practitioner Silver Ravenwolf details a host of astrological rules and considerations for growing a successful magickal garden:
When collecting seeds, for instance, it’s better to do so when the moon is full, or in a fire or air sign — Aries, Sagittarius, Leo, Aquarius, Libra or Gemini.
If you are growing plants that will produce crops above ground (perfect for those of us who live in apartment buildings), it is important that they are sown the day after the new moon and up until the first quarter.
Growing plants that will produce crops below the ground, however, will require plantation during the day after the full moon.
When it comes to harvesting, the smallest harvests and fresh flowers needed for immediate ritual (or recreational! Or culinary!) use should be done in the evening, during which time the plants have maximum food reserves. Herbs and flowers that will be dried and preserved should be cut mid-morning, once the morning dew has cleared. Also, it is better to harvest fruit and vegetables during the waning moon, and when the moon is in the barren (or semi-barren) air or fire signs of Aries, Sagittarius, Leo, Aquarius, Libra or Gemini.
When cutting flowers, always try and cut the stem at a slant. This way, the stem can continue to absorb water and nutrients.
During the Autumn, when the last of the herbs, fruits, and vegetables have been harvested, the last of the dead leaves and plants should be cleared away. It is when the last of the dead plants have been swept that you can perform an Autumn Blessing. To perform this blessing is simple. Firstly, you stand in your garden and ignite a white candle, taking in your surroundings and giving thanks to the year’s harvest. When you feel ready, or when the candle has extinguished, simply bury it somewhere on your property. (Important: please, please take extra care with this if you have animals or small children and bury the candle in a place where children and animals won’t be able to find it. If this isn’t possible, keep it somewhere safe within the household.)
Solitary Witch also contains an incredibly helpful gardening guide to help you with your astrological timings when growing, planting or harvesting, such as being careful to plant beans in the second quarter when the moon is in Taurus, and planting house plants in the first quarter when the moon is in Libra, Cancer, Scorpio or Pisces. Seriously, that book is 590 pages of pure magickal wisdom.