For many years, the supermarket has been the primary supplier for my magical needs. A Cart Full of Magic is a collation of years gathering and substituting energies. Don't get me wrong, I still love my angelica for protection, my lotus for luck, and my vervain for money, but there is nothing more rewarding than knowing that there are similar energies with the same properties that generate a need and bring a dream to fruition.
In August 2016, I visited Llewellyn for the first time since the first White Spells: Magic for Love, Money, and Happiness came out in 2001. I met people for the first time that I'd been dealing with by correspondence and emailing for many years. The Llewellyn staff made me feel at home and a part of the Llewellyn family of authors, a privilege that I will be sure to always hold dear.
While there, my editor, Elysia asked me over a glass of wine while overlooking the Mississippi River, "When are you going to write another book?" I told her my idea about a little supermarket book and the rest is history.
While I visited family in the USA, I made it a part of my holiday to try to visit as many supermarkets in Miami and Dallas as I could, even Maui in early 2017. People looked at me oddly while I took endless photos of the aisles, shelves, and their contents. I photographed everything I could; I needed to make sure that the supermarkets in the USA were structured the same as the Australian ones and stocked the same things that they did. The labels were different, of course, but the contents were certainly the same.
The idea of a supermarket-based magical book came about many years ago when I couldn't get any magical supplies in Australia. There was no Internet in those days; all orders were done by mail and paid by money transfers. The orders could take a few weeks or several months to reach me, not counting the search for the outlets that sold them overseas in the first place.
Australian customs are rigid, and were even more so twenty years ago. Everything that comes into the country gets looked over at least once. I recall having my supplies opened and inspected before I even got them. I believe Australia still monitors aircraft from certain countries, which means that you are not allowed off the plane until it is fumigated with pesticides and disinfected to control predatory bug diseases that could be present in baggage, cargo, containers, and post parcels (particularly those with vegetation, dead or alive).
The process frustrated me. The supplies for my clients were not getting to me as fast as I needed them. I knew I had to do something about it, and quick. I remember my parents having to make do with what they had in Cuba, and that was very little under the regime we once lived under. They became very resourceful at that time, always scavenging for whatever they needed—to the point of using the weed marabu for its various medicinal and protective properties. Today, what was once a simple weed is a source for renewable power and one of Cuba's most valued exports.
In my case, the mother of necessity and invention intertwined and ingenuity kicked in. I began to visit nurseries and garden centres. I must be honest; I don't possess a green thumb. My garden shuns and absolutely hates me when I'm out and about in it. All those beautiful energies wish me gone as soon as they see me, just in case I water them too much or too little.
I was only able to grow basil, rosemary, and other similar herbs, but still, they didn't—and still don't—thrive under my care. So, I dejectedly wished them to grow and thrive whilst asking for nature's forgiveness for my inability to care for them, and feeling like nature's murderer.
Importing seeds like mugwort, rue, or even damiana was totally out of the question; customs would have kept them in quarantine for months or destroyed them. I was only able to get frankincense though the Orthodox Church, but that was it, there was nothing else substantial except for basil, rosemary, and a few others I could use.
I knew I was in a pickle. My own black thumbs were my worst enemies and Australian customs my nemesis. It took a little bit of ingenuity on my part and a lot of questions to my parents, but it was worth it. I read a lot of books on herbal magic and found simple substitutes for spells for the enhancements for peace, harmony, love, and even wealth. I started to compile a list, and the supermarket spice aisle and I became the best of friends.
I learned that I didn't need slippery elm to stop gossip, as I found cloves and pistachio nuts for that. I didn't need angelica for healing, and I began to use thyme with good results. I replaced Irish moss with dill for protection. It came to a point that I had a relatively healthy list full of alternative energies that worked wonders in spells.
As time went on, the supermarkets began to be modernised as Australia's multicultural society grew. They were bringing in a lot of exotic spices and the spice aisle grew to the point that I stopped going to little Indian stores to stock up on cardamom, whole nutmeg, star anise, and saffron because the supermarket now carried them all. Finally, the supermarket became my magical supplier, and Australian customs were now their own nightmare.
Not only was the spice aisle plentiful, but so was the outer aisle with more fresh vegetables than ever before. When I was able to purchase fresh herbs it was the day I sang for joy—I couldn't wait to take them home and prepare my magical baths. It was a feeling like no other. Then there were more flowers. From only having roses and carnations they expanded to lillies, chrysanthemums, and even sunflowers. The flower variety still grows on a daily basis, not as much as I want them to but sufficient enough for my magical needs.
The evolution of the Internet brought the possibility of being able to order and stock up the magical community. It gave us the ability to fill our outlet stores for the first time with the herbs that our customers only read about in books but were now were able to purchase. While I waited for customs to do their thing, I went back to the simplicity of shopping for my magical needs in the supermarket.
After my visit with Llewellyn, I came back to Australia with an enthusiasm I couldn't hide. The first draft was filled with years of knowledge. All those years of giving out spell recipes had not only been from the spice aisle, but it had also expended to practically all the aisles in the actual supermarket. Unless it had preservatives and was in a tin can, I had used just about everything.
It felt good to share what I'd so worked so hard at during many years of trial and error but all with good results. As I've always said, magic does work in mysterious ways. You may do a spell for new employment, but get offered another position within that same company. You may do an attraction spell to find love and end up finding a true friend who would lead you to your soul mate.
I honestly believe and know that spells do manifest. I've seen enough good results in my life not to believe otherwise. It may take you a few months or sometimes a bit longer to realise where that spell has taken you. You will actually be surprised to find out that no matter how twisted you life must have been at one time, the spell has taken you to a better place.
There is always a little bit of this or a little bit of that to enhance your needs by simply putting natural energies together, energies that can simply be found in the supermarket. A simple apple can change the energies in your home and white flowers dedicated to spirit will bring peace and harmony into your home. The best way to combine A Cart Full of Magic to your grocery experience is to make a list just as you would for your weekly shopping. The first thing on your mind should be the energy you wish to bring into your home or the spell you wish to cast. Your list could even have headings like: protection, love, money, and happiness (or even more).
You can, if you wish, do your magical shopping on its own. But there is no need, as you can now do both together. Use A Cart Full of Magic as a reference before you head out to the supermarket. Have a cup of tea or coffee while you flip through the pages; you never know, you may find an energy that you or your home desperately needs.
Look around the house; see how it feels, and what is lacking. Is it love, money, or maybe peace and harmony? Once you've settled on a particular need, the rest is easy. Look up the table of contents or the index for the word that sticks out like a sore thumb that is calling out to you to energise your needs to fruition.
You will be utterly surprised how easy A Cart Full of Magic is to use, and while you walk through the aisles with a smile plastered across your face, no one knows of your secret shopping list and what you are about to do. The knowledge that you can change something within you, something in others, and in the energy in your home just by being aware that the supermarket now has more than you have ever bargained for will change the way you look at your shopping list and your now magical pantry for life.
Ileana Abrev (Queensland, Australia) has been a practicing witch for more than twenty years. With knowledge passed down to her by her father, an esteemed Santero, Ileana guides her clients on a daily basis to solve problems ...