In my book Becoming the Witch: The Art of Magick, I explore how witchcraft brings meaning and purpose because it is a natural, imaginative way of seeing the world. There are many traditions in witchcraft and ways of approaching the art. For me, witchcraft is an innate relationship with nature, an acknowledgement of the divine, and something so deeply personal that every witch has their own unique story.
Am I a Witch?
I am often asked, "How do I know if I am a witch?" I believe if you have asked this question, you already know that you are one. If you are fascinated with the idea of magick, if you know your dreams are important, that animals are your teachers, and if you believe a spirit resides in Nature, then you are a witch. If you are drawn to casting a spell, to the language of symbols and the making of charms, then this is what a witch does. If you know that we are all connected, that the moon holds you in an energetic embrace, and that there is a mystical undercurrent in all things, then you have a bewitching outlook. If you wish to connect with the Goddess, then you are indeed a witch.
Witchcraft is a way of seeing yourself, the world around you, and other realms, so there is no need to feel overwhelmed by "having to do" anything that doesn't feel natural to you. There are potent things you can do in your busy life to imbue it with magick, to bring you back into balance, to bless your life and to give thanks. The most effective energy in magick is naturalness, going with the flow and liberating your imagination. So, create meaning and ease for yourself. Here are some joyful things to consider.
- Create a simple altar. This is where you keep significant tools and magickal objects. It is a place in the home where you can cast a spell, meditate, make an offering or simply look at. I like to change my altar around not only for occasions like the sabbats but just because it is a peaceful, creative activity.
- Connect with Nature. Listen to the songs of morning birds. What message do they bring you? Touch a tree and ask for a message. Allow the message to rise in your imagination.
- Cast a circle around you anytime. What does your circle look like?
- Light a candle every night. As you do this ask that peace and love come into your home.
- Cleanse your home every week with spiritual incense. Ring a bell to "lift" the vibration of love.
- Choose a tarot or playing card every day to see what energy the day will bring.
- Take notice of your dreams. Interpret the messages. Dreams tell us about ourselves, what resides in the subconscious. Our familiars and spirits visit us in dreams, as do our ancestors.
- When a loved one passes (or on their anniversary), light a candle at your altar or place an offering, like an apple, on the altar.
- Speak to your familiar or guiding spirit.
- Learn how to care for the Earth and animals. Every small step counts.
- See others as spiritual beings on a journey of discovery.
- See your life as a spiritual adventure. Even during the hard times.
- Pause a few times during the day. Breathe deeply and allow your mind to rest.
- Look at the night sky and be in awe of its mystery.
- Follow the path of the moon. On the full moon, place a bowl of water outside and anoint your heart with it the next day.
- When you are lost, ask for sacred guidance.
- Play and be imaginative.
The Witch's Cabinet
A part of the witch's art is to cast spells and make charms using mystical tools, herbs, and oils to express intention. In Becoming the Witch: The Art of Magick, I delve into the history of ritual objects and plants and their symbolic significance. In this article, I would like to offer ideas to the witch who may be feeling a little overwhelmed and who is wondering where to begin. So I have suggested a very basic witch's apothecary, alternative witch's tools, and beautiful simple practices to experience.
A candle has a potent magickal force. It is of the fire element, and brings the Light to a spell, but it also holds all the elements within—so it may be the only tool you use. The wax is solid, as is earth; while burning, the candle produces gas, which is of the air element; and it also liquifies, so holds the element of water. A candle is a tool you can anoint, carve, and insert with pins for binding magick. A white candle can substitute candles of all colors in a spell.
Apothecary: Herbs and Oils
Your witch's apothecary can be simple, and you only need to begin with the following plants, resins, and oils.
- Mugwort: This plant has an incredible magickal vibration. It can be used fresh and also dried, in charm pouches, infusions, and for filling poppets. It is also burnt as an incense when dried. The scent of this herb is otherworldly. It is a dream herb, so it is perfect for psychic work and card reading. Mugwort is protective and brings healing. It is easy to grow in the sun and looks very witchy and intriguing in the garden.
- Frankincense Resin:
Frankincense transports you to a spiritual dimension and if you have one incense in your cabinet, I would recommend it be frankincense. The resin is burnt on self-igniting charcoal and is an all-purpose incense. It invokes a strong spiritual vibration and banishes unwanted energy. It protects, and conjures love on a deep level as well as compassion and insight. Frankincense resin and the self-igniting charcoal need to be purchased; however, only one to three pieces need to be burnt at a time, so it lasts through many spells and clearings.
- Lavender, Rose Petals, and Orange Peel. All of these plants can be dried for charms and incense. Lavender is for love, healing, and peace. The scent enhances any incense blend, and it can be used with mugwort in a dream pillow. Rose is a flower of the Goddess, and calls to the powers of love, luck, and inner beauty. Dried orange peel can be added to charms and incense to conjure prosperity. If you have clove, cinnamon, or nutmeg in your kitchen, add a little to the mix.
- Rosemary: This plant can be grown in a pot or your garden and is used fresh or dried. It is an all-purpose plant used to invoke love, protection, and spirituality. Dried rosemary is used as an incense to cleanse a space. Place the fresh herb by your bed for protection or create an anointing infusion or banishing wash by simmering the fresh plant in hot water (don't boil).
- Frankincense and Rose Essential Oil: If I had to choose only two oils for my witch's cabinet, frankincense and rose would be the ones. The scents are very different, one piney and sharp and the other soft and flowery. Frankincense is of the sun, so it invokes illumination and the gods. Rose is of Venus and opens the heart chakra to love as well as connecting you to truth. Most intentions can be expressed through these two enchanting oils.
There is an extensive market selling exquisite wands and other tools that may be out of your reach due to expense. I have seen some amazing handcrafted wands and athames, etched with symbols, carved with faces and embellished with crystals. And even though such tools are artistically inspiring, they will be no more powerful in a spell than any other directional tool. Because the power invested in an object reflects the power within you: the witch.
I found one of my first wands in a florist shop. It was a beautiful twisted stick of wisteria around a yard (120 cm) long and was part of a display. It was suspended from the ceiling by rope at each end and bunches of dried herbs hung from it. If a stick, could be described as "conjuring," this one truly was.
I was very cheeky and asked the shop owner if I could buy it. He was taken aback at first, but for some reason said I could have it without payment. I had finally found a perfect wand. I headed back to my own business, SpellBox, a small workshop in the same street and proudly showed "The Wizard" (the name I had immediately bestowed on my new wand) to one of the other witches. But the story wasn't over.
That afternoon, his business partner came down to our little workshop and said she wanted the "stick" back and that her husband shouldn't have given it away as they used it for displays. Sadly, I had to give it back. It wasn't meant to be; oh well.
Strangely though, the next day she appeared at the workshop holding the stick. She told me that although she didn't believe in anything "magickal or supernatural," she "felt" there was an eerie vibe coming from the stick and she didn't feel comfortable keeping it and that it was meant to be mine. And that's how I acquired my beautiful wand. I gave her a rose quartz necklace to thank her for her generosity. I hope the necklace reminds her that life is indeed mysterious.
Not every magickal acquisition has a story behind it like this, but somehow your tools and witch's accessories will call to you. So consider allowing your witch's tools and altar to evolve and grow as you find things along the way. You can also repurpose items into significant symbolic objects.
For a wand: find an interesting stick or branch. Keep it natural or embellish it with decoration. You can also rub oil (like olive or essential oil) into the wood to soothe the wand's spirit. If you are lucky enough to know someone growing mugwort, ask if you can cut a branch. The plant grows extremely tall and the branches become thick and straight, perfect for a great wand. The wood of mugwort is soft so it is easy to carve and etch symbols into. The darker bark contrasts really well with the white wood underneath, so patterns are easily created on the surface.
For an athame: Traditionally a witch's knife is double-bladed to symbolize duality. However, its purpose is to invoke the element air and to "cut through" illusion, so any dedicated knife may serve this purpose. You may find an interesting knife at a market or thrift shop or you can make one out of self-hardening clay. A simple sword-shaped wooden "athame" with a cross-guard would make a potent tool of the air element. You can paint both clay and wooden athames and draw symbols and other designs to personalize it. I have seen intriguing folk-art objects that vibrate powerful energy even though they are not perfectly crafted. My son carved me a very wonky wooden athame when he was young and I treasure it completely.
For a chalice: Goblets and wine glasses are shaped like chalices and are easy to find in thrift shops and markets. Traditionally the stem of a chalice represents the connection between the physical and the spiritual realm; however, all bowls, jugs, and vessels represent the Goddess and the water element. Ceramic and glass paint is available if you want to transform any drinking vessel, but its original design may be perfect for you. You may even choose to use a family heirloom or something significant from your past to hold the water element. Sometimes large shells can be found in thrift shops. This would be a very significant tool to hold water.
For a pentacle: A coin is a great substitute if you don't wish to purchase a pentacle that is manufactured. It is also very easy to make a pentacle out of self-hardening clay, or simply draw the symbol on paper or cardboard. My husband is an incredible craftsperson and made me a marquetry pentacle with three different colored woods. It was around six inches (around 15 cm) in diameter. After casting a spell with some friends in a park one night I left it behind in the dark. I went back the next day but it was gone. Someone must have found it, and I often wonder who it now belongs to. Whoever they are, the pentacle was meant to be theirs. That same night one of my friends picked up my mugwort wand and, thinking it was a stick, stirred the burning cauldron. It was such an enchanting sight, seeing her holding my wand in the air with a flame burning at one end. The wand now has one charred end, making it more bewitched that ever: as true to its element, it was actually on fire!
Your witch's psychic tools can also be found or bought without spending a lot of money. Explore a second-hand shop to find your scrying mirror. It could be an interesting mirror that speaks to you of magick—or even consider your grandmother's compact. Playing cards are also inexpensive and can be used for readings. Gather a pouch of symbolic items to use in your spells and for charm-casting. Start with a key for opportunity, a button for luck, and a stone for strength.
Create your own fascinating story of witchcraft and weave beauty, truth, and power through your spells, your thoughts, and heart. I invite you to read my book, Becoming the Witch: The Art of Magick, to learn about the origins of the witch and how the art of magick can transform and heal you.