Green living can do more than protect the planet and stave off eco-guilt. The actions we take and the choices we make to minimize damage to the environment can give the witch new power, improve magical ability and offer creative formats for spellwork. If we want to work well with the natural elements and energies we use in magic, we must have a good relationship with those forces, a mutual willingness to cooperate founded on shared experience, trust, caring, and respect. Trashing the earth and then calling on those same forces to help you with your magic is like asking an enemy for a favor. Through choices that ensure our personal Craft has a positive impact on the environment, and through actions that turn everyday green living activities into opportunities for magic, we become nature's true friend, and friendship with nature is the foundation of magical expertise.
We witches tend to be pretty in tune with the environment, yet from the stones and herbs that we use to our fondness for bonfires, the tools and traditions of magic can sometimes actually hurt the world around us. The informed witch can reduce the risk of accidentally damaging her alliance with nature by choosing to avoid those magical products and practices that are not sustainable.
When buying incense, essential oils, or dried herbs, for instance, know what you're getting and where it came from. The global herb trade has a rather dark underbelly. Illegal harvesting and over-harvesting of sandalwood has damaged ecosystems in India and Australia. Many herbal products suppliers spray their crops with toxic chemicals, or add synthetic ingredients to their essential oil blends. Look for natural, pure products that are grown, picked, and processed without causing a lot of environmental damage.
When gathering wild plants, be sparing, and learn to identify native species. Taking more acorns than you need or uprooting an endangered plant in your local forest can threaten biodiversity.
Stones and metals can also come to us with a heavy environmental cost. Most mining operations leave a lasting negative impact, scarring the land and leaching chemicals into the soil and water. Find out where and how stones and metals are produced, and you will be empowered to buy those products that are more eco-friendly and that pack a stronger magical punch. A quartz crystal that you found and carefully collected yourself will naturally contain more magical energy than a quartz crystal that came to you through a mining operation that devastates the earth.
Another staple of the Craft, the outdoor fire, emits large amounts of air pollution. You need not extinguish that sabbat fire completely, though. There are ways to reduce the amount of polluting smoke put out by a fire. First of all, burn only fallen, dry, dead wood. Burning green wood that is still wet, or that has been treated with paints or other chemicals, releases more pollutants into the air. Limit the size and frequency of your fires and follow all regulations.
Witchcraft can also take its toll on the water supply. When you make water-based brews and potions, use only as much water as is necessary for the recipe. Collect and use dew or rainwater for non-ingestible blends. If it's not too soapy, you can even recycle the water from a magical bath, using it to nourish the plants in your garden or to clean and purify ritual tools.
Sustainable witchcraft is not just about greening up your magic, though. It's also a way to work magic through your eco-conscious activities. Try these new methods of modern magic, and you will help yourself as you help the Earth.
Banish the Trash Charm
Magical Preparation Ritual
As you're working on the land, think through the memories that continue to upset you. When you are ready to let go of an old hurt, bury it in the ground. Place your palm firmly on the dirt and say, "Enough!" As you continue to nurture and replenish the land, you will work through your emotions and find closure, peace, and renewal.
Animal Friend Magic
These guidelines, spells, and rituals can enrich your Craft and befriend the Earth. By incorporating magic into your green living, and incorporating green living into your magic, you will enjoy the full benefits of sustainable witchcraft: more power, more methods for spellwork, and a stronger bond between magic, person, and planet.
Excerpted from Llewellyn's 2010 Witches' Companion . For current-year calendars and almanacs, click here.
Melanie Marquis is the founder of the United Witches global coven and the organizer of Denver Pagans. She has written for Circle, Pentacle, and the American Tarot Association. Melanie's books include Llewellyn's Little Book ...