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Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Book Review: Hekate, Goddess of Witches by Courtney Weber

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Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

It's spooky season and that means all things witch! And what better way to start off spooky season than a book on Hekate, the goddess of witches? Hekate, Goddess of Witches by Courtney Weber is an in-depth look into the mythos and magic behind this famous goddess and how to cultivate a meaningful relationship with her. While I myself do not "believe" in deities, at least in the traditional sense, I knew this would be a book that would appeal to many of my readers, and I am certainly glad I decided to read it. By the end of the book, I was left desiring to reach out to Hekate and start building a relationship with her!

Each chapter focuses on a specific aspect of Hekate, including Torchbearer, Goddess of the Crossroads, Keeper of Keys, Mother, and Spirit Intermediary, pulling in historical and modern-day rituals to help the reader better connect with each aspect. This book is full of historical information, all with citations to back it up. The sources are cited within the text, but a comprehensive bibliography is not found until the end of the book. Because the book is so well-referenced and uses valid, accurate sources, it is easy to spot what is the author's thoughts, opinions, and experiences and what isn't. If you are practicing your critical reading skills, this is a great book to start with as the sourced information versus the author's experiences and opinions are clearly distinguishable. This made the book such an easy read and allowed me to let some of my guard down while reading.

Each chapter ends with some spells and rituals, the variety of which leaves something for everyone to use. For example, there are three different ritual options to dedicate yourself to Hekate based on your needs. This makes the text extremely accessible, which is a breath of fresh air in capitalist society. I am a huge supporter of offering multiple spell and ritual options so that everyone can be included. The book concludes with a short grimoire which includes several spells and rituals involving Hekate for various needs. I normally don't intently read through every single spell in a book, but I did this time. They are beautifully written, well-researched, and accessible.

However, what I loved most about this book was how inclusive the author is in her writing. First, Weber mentions how the use of dark and light magic is problematic, and that even baneful magic has its place. The book is very curse positive, which I also fully support. She discusses how curses are growing in popularity because they have long been used by the marginalized and oppressed to defend against injustice and defeat their oppressors. I am 100% on board with this! Furthermore, she clearly states using the terms black and white magic and racist. This is one of very few witchcraft books I have read that have pointed this out. I gave a "Hell yeah!" when I read this part of book because it is so rare. Weber also makes sure to address how Hekate, despite being a mother goddess, is not just for those born with a womb. She makes mention of non-binary, transwomen, and cis men being able to connect and work with Hekate. This inclusivity is something we need more of in the witchcraft community.

Finally, I loved Weber's raw honestly. The book, while full of history, is also the story of Weber's journey with Hekate. She tells multiple stories about how the two of them have worked together, her successes and failures, and how there have been times when she too has questioned her practice. The honesty found in this book is authentic and builds trust with the reader. I love folklore and history, but I love personal stories so much more. Weber provides this authentic storytelling ripe with folklore I crave so much in a book. In her honesty, she makes profound revelations that spoke to my soul. For example, Weber discussed an event that occurred during a ritual she invited an ex-boyfriend to. She felt he was judging her coven's ritual and was ready to jump down his throat by the end, only to find that he was having a profound experience himself, just not in the way she thought he would. She goes on to say, "That night taught me that when I assume someone else is being critical of me, I should stop and ensure it isn't me tearing my own self down which is often the true face of the judgment we assume we're receiving." I am someone who needed to hear this. It brought tears to my eyes reading this portion of her journey with Hekate because it made me realize some of my own faults and face them head-on.

Overall, I loved this book. I have absolutely nothing negative to say other than I felt it was too short! If you are looking to develop a relationship with Hekate or continue growing it, Hekate, Goddess of Witches by Courtney Weber is the book for you. 



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Monday, October 4, 2021

Spellcrafting Series: Perfect Spell Timing

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When it comes to performing spells, spell timing can, and often does, play a significant role. Consider timing just another ingredient in the spell designed to lend its magical energy to boost the spell. With that being said, if a spell is urgent, throw timing out the window and perform the spell when you need it. Performing a spell at the "wrong" time isn't going to destroy the spell or prevent it from working. If I am honest, I pay little attention to when I actually cast spells because I cast them when I need them. If I have a job interview coming up, I'm not going to wait until the next full moon or a Thursday if my interview is before those days. However, performing your spell in correspondence to the 'right' time can significantly improve the effectiveness of your spell and can often give it the nudge it needs to be truly successful.

Moon Phases

When it comes to timing, there are several different factors to look at. The most popular timing is in regards to the moon phases. Each phase of the moon corresponds to different needs. Below you will find a shortlist of the correspondences for each moon phase:

The New Moon, which is the first sliver of the moon after the Dark Moon, is the time to start new projects and to take a fresh look at any and all situations. Consider this a time of new beginnings. As the moon is just starting to reveal itself, the magic of the New Moon is gentle, yet consistent. Seeds you plant now will grow as the moon waxes to full. 
Magical Workings- cleansing and purifying, new projects, job hunting, goal setting, seed planting

The Full Moon occurs when the entire face of the moon is illuminated by the sun.  Most pagans consider the full moon cycle to include both the day before and the day after the actual Full Moon, giving you a couple days to work with the energy of this moon phase. During this time, energy swells and reaches its zenith. This is an extremely powerful time to perform magic, but can also bring upheaval by shining a light on our dark secrets, hidden desires, and subdued emotions. This is a good time to focus on personal growth and spiritual development, divination, manifestation magic, finalizing projects, and fulfilling wishes
Magical Workings- healing, divination, love, knowledge, money, dreams, wishes, growth

The Waxing Moon represents growth. This is the period during which the moon grows from dark to light over roughly two weeks. As this occurs, the strength of the moon grows. This is the time to work “positive” magic—that is magic that draws things to you or increases things in your life, as well as a time to tend to the seeds you planted during the New Moon. What do you need to do to continue watering the seeds to ensure your spell is on the right track?
Magical Workings- prosperity, health, success, courage, luck, protection, wealth, abundance, communication, fertility, blessing

The Waning Moon heralds in closure and the elimination of ideas, projects, and desires that are no longer needed in our lives. Lasting roughly two weeks after the Full Moon, this is the time the moon goes from full to dark. Use this time for “baneful” magic—that is anything that banishes or rids you of things you no longer want/need in your life. This is also the time to cast curses and hexes, unblock energy, and release that which no longer serves you.
Magical Workings- banishing, ridding yourself of illness, magic related to reducing things, curses, hexes, binding, chord cutting, removal spells, cleansing

The Dark Moon occurs when the moon is completely dark in the sky. Like the Full Moon, this occurs over a three-day period, giving you a time of rest. Some witches believe you shouldn't perform magic when the moon is dark, but I disagree. During the Dark Moon, the magic of the moon is greatly subdued, but still present. This is a liminal time, making it perfect for ancestral and spirit work, divination and mediumship, hiding secrets, finding what has been lost, and performing shadow work. It's also the perfect time for cursing and curse breaking, hexing and hex breaking, banishing, and binding.
Magical Workings- ancestral work, spirit communication, divination, hiding, secret-keeping, shadow work, banishing, curses, hexes, binding, removal spells

Because the Waxing and Waning Moons last the longest, it is likely that your spell will be cast during one of these periods. As I mentioned before, sometimes we are in a pinch and need to perform a spell immediately. You may not be able to wait until the Full Moon, but you can certainly tune into the energies of the Waxing or Waning to boost your spell. Let's use getting a new job as an example. During the Waxing moon, you could perform a spell to draw the job, money, and general prosperity toward you. During the Waning moon, the same goal can be reached by banishing poverty, unblocking roadblocks hindering you from getting a new job, and purging your fear and nervousness before going to the interview. During the Waxing Moon, you can draw love to yourself, while banishing loneliness during the Waning Moon. With a little thought, the phases of the moon can easily be incorporated into your spell to aid in your magical endeavors. 

Days of the Week

If working with the Moon phases isn't your thing, you can't figure out how to rework your spell to match the current phase, or you want to add more energy to your spell, you can use the days of the week. Each day has its own correspondences and lends slightly different energy to a spell.

Sunday gets its name from our closet star, the Sun. It's the best day of the week to work magic involving fathers and other authority figures such as your boss, work on questions regarding leadership, money, prosperity, and power. It's also a great time to perform spells regarding courage, advancing your career, and manifesting your dreams.

Monday is dedicated to the moon, from which it gets its name. Its energies are ripe with fertility at the beginning of the week and can be used to increase psychic powers and prophetic dreaming. It is also a good time to work magic focusing on mothers, nurturing, fertility, woman issues, and growth.

Tuesday comes from the Germanic God Tiu. Like the Roman god Mars, Tiu is associated with war. Tuesday is full of masculine energy, but focuses on the more raw nature of the masculine aspect; think courage, success, war, and lust. This is a good time to deal with issues of violence, competition, conflict, endurance, and survival. Cast protection spells, bind an enemy, stimulate energy, and fix ongoing problems.

Wednesday gets its name from Woden's Day. However, Wednesday also belongs to the messenger Mercury or Hermes. This is a great day to work on communication, thought, wisdom, self-expression, and the arts, as well as divination especially runes.

Thursday takes its name from the Norse god Thor, and is also associated with Jupiter and Zeus. This is a great day to work magic regarding growth, expansion, prosperity, business, abundance, and success. This is a great day to work money spells and new job spells.

Friday comes from the Old English name frigedaeg, which comes from the Norse goddess Frigga. Frigga, like Venus and Aphrodite, is associated with love, making this a great day to focus on romance, passion, fertility, friendship, beauty, and trust.

Saturday, which derives its name from the god Saturn, is a great day to use divination and psychic abilities. Furthermore, its energies will aid in magic concerning the elderly, end-of-life issues, death, and binding spells.

Times of the Day

Apart from using each day magically, the different times during the day also lend different energies to a spell.

Morning Magic: Sunrise
The Sun is up and so are you! You may notice first thing in the morning, even if you are a late sleeper, you awake "fresher." Well, so is your energy and that makes it the perfect time to work magic to start something new, especially regarding school and business. This is also a great time to dispel or banish negativity that is lurking around you and yours, including addictions, bad behaviors, bad habits, and bad feelings. If you work magic outside, you may find working during sunrise best. It is cool, the animals are just waking up, and you can use both the energy of the sun and the moon.
Magical Workings- new beginnings, success, banishing, habit breaking, awakening, fertility

Midday Magic: Sunshine
During the middle of the day, the Sun reaches its peak and is therefore is strongest. This is a good time to call upon its strength and work on magic to overcome weaknesses, gain inspiration and insight, or ask for guidance. Feeling tired? Ask the sun to lend you strength.
Magical Workings- inspiration, insight, strength, courage, manifestation, cleansing, abundance, wealth, prosperity, healing

Evening Magic: Crepuscular Light
As the light fades and the evening draws near, we often feel tired and cranky after a long day. I find meditating during this time is best. Focus on breaking up bad routines, banishing bad habits, relaxing, and boosting your willpower.
Magical Workings- banishing, meditation, rest, protection, healing, letting go

Nighttime Magic: Resonating in Tune
Most people perform magic after the Sun has set as they are better able to feel the energy of the Moon. This is a great time for divination, working with psychic energies, and issues involving love, lust, and beauty. It is also a great time to reflect upon the day if you haven't done that already. Night offers a time to gain clarity of the day's events.
Magical Workings- ancestral work, spirit communication, divination, hiding, secret-keeping, shadow work, banishing, curses, hexes, binding, removal spells, prophetic dreaming, love, lust, beauty, reflection, divination

Astrological Signs

Finally, you can use astrological signs to lend energy to your spells. I find this to be the most complicated in regards to spell timing and the one I pay attention to the least. 

Aries (March 21-April 19) is ruled by Mars and Fire, making it the perfect time for courage, new projects, business ventures, personal growth, self-improvement, protection, and any other matters that need a little extra push. Being associated with Mars, this is also a great time to work spells related to war and the military.

Taurus (April 20-May 20) is ruled by Venus and Earth. This is the time to cast spells regarding the arts, stability, security, peace, prosperity, self-improvement, protection, and love spells focused on long-term relationships, marriage, and partnership.

Gemini (May 21-June 20), is ruled by Mercury and Air. Cast spells related to divination, prophecy, wishes, luck, communication, success, and wisdom, especially related to school and learning.

Cancer (June 21-July 22) is ruled by the Moon and Water. Cancer is a gentle, yet emotional time, best used to promote familial love and peace, calm emotional turmoil, heal past traumas and pain caused by family members, bless your home, protect your home, and practice kitchen and garden witchery.

Leo (July 23-August 22) is ruled by the Sun and Fire. This is certainly a firey and explosive time, best used for spells related to lust, passion, sex, success in sports, removing barriers, curbing obsession, and increasing passion for the arts.

Virgo (August 23-September 22) is ruled by Mercury and Earth. This is a great time to purify your home, cleanse and consecrate tools, dedicate a new altar, purchase new items for the home, perform healing spells, get organized, and take care of other home-related matters.

Libra (September 23-October 22) is ruled by Venus and Air. This is the perfect time for spells related to justice, legal matters, marriage, divorces, and to ensure people get what is coming to them. This is also a time to work on strengthening relationships, beauty and glamour spells, and growing friendships. 

Scorpio (October 23-November 21) is ruled by Mars, Pluto, and Water. This is the time to banish, exorcise, perform protection and self-defense magic, increase courage, connect with the dead, and even promote lust, sex, and fertility.

Sagittarius (November 22-December 21) is ruled by Jupiter and Fire. Focus on wisdom, knowledge, success in school or your studies, reading, connecting to spirits and deities, divination, and religious activities.

Capricorn (December 22-January 20) is ruled by Saturn and Earth. This time is deeply associated with masculine energy, male fertility, and fatherhood. Magic related to healing, honoring, or promoting these relationships is best performed during this time. This is also a time for banishment, moving up the corporate ladder, success, and other business-related endeavors. 

Aquarius (January 21-February 18) is ruled by Saturn and Air. This is a time to focus on others. Instead of performing magic for yourself, focus on big picture issues, community, family, friends, and organizations you support. This is also a great time to strengthen friendships, find new friends, make new connections, conduct dreamwork, reveal secrets, and uncover that which as been hidden.

Pisces (February 19-March 20) is ruled by Jupiter, Neptune, and Water. This is the best time for psychic work, divination, dreamwork, personal development, and spiritual development. Focus on growing your own path during this time.

Void of Course
Void of Course occurs when the moon leaves one sign and ends when it enters another. It's basically a time when the moon isn't technically in one of the zodiac signs, acting as a magical void. Best practice dictates that magic should not be performed during this time. The reasoning is still up for debate, but if I am honest, I haven't noticed a difference between days that are void of course and days that are not. I'll leave the decision up to you.

***

There are of course other times to perform spells, such as during a planetary retrograde, during a sabbat, or during a monthly Full Moon. Each of these has slightly different magical correspondences, but I felt adding these to this post would be daunting. Instead, I wanted to provide you with the basics so you can understand how timing a spell can impact the success or failure of said spell. Your task this week is to map out these dates for the next week and see how you could potentially use them to enhance the energy of your spells. If possible, try doing this for an entire month. Pick up a journal and track your mood, health, dreams, and other thoughts and feelings during each of these events to see if you can find a pattern as to how they impact you and your spell work.

Interest in the rest of the series? 

Spellcrafting Series

Perfect Spell Timing
Spell Wording: Be Clear, Be Heard
Raising Energy, Cleansing, Charging, and Centering Prior to Spellcasting
Breaking Your Own Spells
What to do with Spell Remains
Recording Your Spells
Intuitive Spellcasting
Casting Spells from the Otherworld
Troubleshooting Your Spells and Why They Didn't Work

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Monday, September 27, 2021

Herbarium: Magical and Medicinal Uses of Oregano

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Gender: Feminine/Masculine (depending on tradition)
Planet: Venus/Mercury (depending on tradition)
Element: Air
Powers: Health, Joy, Love, Luck, Protection, Psychic Dreams
Magical Uses and History: Oregano, also known as Wild Majoram, has been cultivated for over 3000 years, originating in Egypt and spreading throughout much of the world. Origanum, from which oregano gets its name, was first used by the Greek physician Hippocrates and comes from the Greek oreos meaning "mountains" and ganeos meaning "joy/brightness/beauty." From this, we get the common name "Joy of the Mountains" which is a reference to its beauty and abundance in the Mediterranean mountainsides where it commonly grew. While this post is specifically about oregano or wild marjoram, sweet marjoram has similar correspondences and can be used much the same way. This is partly due to the fact that historical records use oregano and marjoram interchangeably, making it difficult to discern between the two. As such, I will be speaking in general terms here.

In Greek mythology, Aphrodite, the goddess of love, is said to have grown oregano on Mount Olympus as a symbol of joy in her garden (again a reference to its name). The Romans, on the other hand, believed Venus was responsible for oregano, giving its is sweet scent "to remind mortals of her beauty." As such, oregano was commonly used in love spells and rituals and was commonly used during weddings in bouquets and nosegays. In both Rome and Greece, it was common for the bride and groom to wear a crown of oregano during the wedding ceremony to ensure a love-filled marriage. Other folklore suggests oregano would bring divine a woman's future spouse. If a woman placed a sprig of oregano under her bed before sleeping, Aphrodite would appear in her dreams to reveal her future spouse's identity. Oregano was also combined with marigold, thyme, wormwood, honey, and vinegar on St. Luke's Day, the patron saint of many things among which are bachelors, and used to anoint a girl before bed so she may dream of her future husband. Today, oregano can be used in much the same ways. Wear oregano to attract a lover, hang above your marriage bed to ensure a happy, love-filled marriage, use to decorate candles during love spells, or include in sachets and witch balls for love. It can also be added to baths to attract love or slept with to divine a future lover.

Apart from love spells, oregano was also used for protection. Aristotle observed that after eating a snake, tortoises would immediately eat the leaves of an oregano plant. He acquainted this to curing 'poison' believing that oregano could be used as an antidote and thus protect the imbiber. This belief appears throughout history, with monarchs insisting upon the use of oregano in foods to protect them from potential poisoning, although this has not been proven to be effective. Oregano was also believed to protect against evil and was grown outside and around the home, hung above doorways, and carried as a protective amulet for this reason. Furthermore, oregano was thought to protect milk from souring during a thunderstorm (thunder was believed to sour milk) and was combined with thyme and placed near milk pails for this purpose. As such, oregano can be used in protection spells and rituals to prevent unwanted guests, negativity, and ill-wishes from entering the home.

Oregano also has a long history of being used to heal a large number of ailments including stomach problems, aches, swelling, stiff joints, congestion, irregular menstruation, tooth aches, bruises, colds, stings and bites, and poison. According to Culpepper, oregano was "warming" and could be taken internally and externally to treat the aforementioned ailments. Gerard recommended oregano for the same ailments, believing it could also be combined with milk to treat earaches. In China, oregano was commonly used to treat fevers and vomiting. As such, use oregano in healing rituals and spells, or as an herbal remedy to treat cramping, colds, aching muscles, skin sores, and indigestion.

Finally, there is record of oregano being used to predict the happiness of the dead. In Greece, it was believed that if oregano grew on the grave of the deceased, it meant they were sleeping happily and peacefully in the afterlife. It was also believed to help the dead sleep peacefully and was used as such during ancestral rituals. Today, use oregano during Samhain dumb suppers to encourage a happy afterlife for your loved ones, place on ancestral altars to bring them peace, or use during other spirit work to soothe the spirits you are working with.

Oregano can be used in a number of spells including:
    Protection Spells
    Love Spells
    Dream Magic
    Healing Spells
    Ancestral Veneration
    Spirit Work

Medicinal Uses: Oregano is a stimulating diaphoretic, being used most often to treat colds and flu. As an expectorant, it is used to treat coughs and other respiratory infections. Its antiseptic properties make it great for treating mouth sores and throat infections as well as cuts and wounds. Furthermore, oregano oil can be used to treat tension headaches, as well as muscle aches and rheumatic pain. It is a mild emmenagogue, meaning it stimulates menstrual flow, so oregano should be used sparingly if you are pregnant or wishing to become pregnant. 

Preparation and Dosage: For internal use, combine one cup of boiling water with 1 teaspoon of dried oregano and infuse for 10-15 minutes. Drink up to three times a day. To create a mouthwash, pour one pint of boiling water over two tablespoons of oregano and let infuse for 10 minutes. Reheat the mixture each time you plan to use it and gargle up to four times a day as needed. As a tincture, take 1-2 milliliters up to three times a day. Externally, oregano oil can be used to treat minor skin irritations, stings, cuts, bruises, and pain. Fill a small mason jar 3/4 of the way full of dried oregano and cover with a carrier oil of your choice. Infuse in a sunny window for 4-6 weeks before straining. Use the oil up to three times a day. Oregano can also be used in poultices for the same reason.


Want to print a copy of this for your Book of Shadows? Click below for your free copy! 
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Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Mabon/Fall Equinox Altar 2021

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The Fall Equinox, also known as Mabon, is the second harvest festival celebrated sometime between September 20-23. This year, the Fall Equinox falls on September 22nd. Sometimes referred to as Pagan Thanksgiving, this is a time of abundance and celebration. Fruit and vegetables are rapidly ripening in the fields, leaving us with more food than most of us can eat. Grapes, squash, peppers, potatoes, sweet potatoes, figs, carrots, and a host of other fruits and vegetables are ready to be picked and canned for the long winter ahead. This overabundance was something to be celebrated, with the land and Sun being thanked for the bounty our ancestors received. Offerings were often left to the spirits of the fields and agricultural deities in thanks as a bountiful crop now meant our ancestors would be able to eat through the winter months. If the crop failed, so too would the family come winter. Much like Thanksgiving celebrated in the United States and other countries, this is a time to be thankful, count blessings, and give back to those in need. If you are looking for some pagan-friendly charities to support, check out my list here

This year's altar sticks to the general theme of the sabbat, from abundant harvests to general prosperity to the beginning signs of fall. This altar is simple yet effective and is designed to honor the Earth and Sun and ensure the abundance continues for a few more weeks.

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1. Harvest Candleholder with Green Candle- This harvest candleholder has graced my Mabon altar for several years now and for a good reason. It represents the bounty of the season with its pears, apples, grapes, and berries aplenty. The earthen tones and colorful leaves represent the beginning of Fall and the changing of the seasons as the Wheel turns. This year I put a green candle in it to represent abundance, specifically agricultural abundance. It also works to sympathetically encourage the continued growth of the crops lest harvests do not last through the Winter months. Green also represents the Earth and the gracious gifts she bestows upon us during the harvest, for without her nurturing soils, we would not have nutrient-rich foods. (Where did I get it: Goodwill & Dollar Tree; Cost: $3)

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2. Leaf Candle Holder with White Candles- The leaf candle holders are an ode to the season and the changing leaves that herald in Fall. Their orange color represents attraction. In this case, it is used to attract the Sun and keep Him burning bright within the sky for a little while longer so the rest of the crops may ripen. In conjunction with the candles, which represent the Sun who is slowly waning in the sky, they work together as a sympathetic form of magic. Furthermore, having two of them represents balance as during the equinox both day and night are balanced. (Where did I get it: Dollar Tree 2017; Cost: $3, $1 each)

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3. Corn Dolly- The corn dolly/maiden represents the harvest and the spirits of the fields. While traditionally placed on a Lammas altar, I put her on my Mabon altar to represent Mother Earth and the spirit of the Harvest and fields. The effigy is sacrificed the following Spring to ensure a bountiful harvest the following year, but I keep mine year to year to bring abundance into my life. (Where did I get it: House of Rituals Box 2018; Cost: ~$5)

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4. Adventurine and Amber- In the center of the altar are three crystals, two green aventurine and an amber. Green aventurine is a crystal of balance and prosperity, both characteristic of Mabon. By having two, they also represent balance as the equinox is a time of equal day and night. The amber crystal, however, represents the Sun, fire, fertility, and abundance. (Where did I get it: Metaphysical Stores; Cost: ~$4)

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TOTAL COST: ~$15


Like my other altars, most of the items I use are found, made, or purchased for around $1, although if the items must be purchased by you, then the cost will be higher. I hope you find this sort of breakdown helpful, especially for those of you looking to create Instagram-perfect altars on a budget! This particular altar is mostly constructed with items I found in my garden, which brought the cost down this time significantly. The most expensive items are the crystals, which can be found cheaply with imperfections at many online retailers.

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Did you do anything special for Mabon this year? I plan on making one of my favorite pasta dishes tonight for dinner, picking some more peppers from my garden, and enjoying the last of the warm weather, and being thankful I am healthy during these trying times. If anyone is looking for some Thai peppers or habanero peppers I have more than I will ever eat! May your harvests continue to be fruitful, both literally and figuratively. 



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Monday, September 20, 2021

Spellcrafting Series: Correspondences, Substitutions, and How to Write Your Own

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Most spells use multiple ingredients to lend energy to them. This is a great way to boost the energy of the spell and amplify the magic while focusing on your intention without completely draining your own energy. When adding herbs, crystals, candles, and other objects to a spell, you have to consider their correspondences. But what is a correspondence?

Correspondences are the energies associated with specific objects that can be used to enhance your spell's effectiveness and potency while lending extra energy. These energies are based on a number of things, including history, medicinal uses, culinary uses, colors, and nature. If you were to pick up any book on witchcraft, you are likely to find at least one or two lists of correspondences for commonly used objects, especially herbs and crystals. While most correspondence lists are great, there are always those that include questionable correspondences so it is incredibly important to research any correspondences you are unsure about. You don't want to end up using sunflowers in a spell designed to fight insomnia or rosemary in a spell to forget. While I fully support the use of these lists, especially for new practitioners, how do we move away from them, especially those where we are unsure of where the information originated from?

Writing Your Own Correspondences

When determining the correspondence of an object, there are five methods that can be employed:
  • practical use(s) of the object
  • historical use(s) of the object
  • scientific nature of the object
  • your intuition
  • consulting with the spirit of the object

These methods can be used individually, but I have found that a combination of methods creates a more complete profile of the object. These are the same five methods that I use when writing my Herbarium posts or creating crystal infographics.

The easiest way to start writing your own correspondences is to look at the practical uses of the object. How is the object used in your day-to-day life? What is its function in the household? Let's take the broom for example. The practical use of the broom is to remove dirt and debris from the home. As such, brooms can be used for cleansing a space. If you are looking at a plant, is it used in cooking? What does it taste like? What does it bring to the dish? Is it able to thicken, color, or bind the ingredients together? If it is used medicinally, what is it used for? Does it treat pain, soothe rashes, increase attention, aid in sleep, or treat infections? For example, cayenne peppers are spicy, bringing lasting heat to the dish. They are also used medicinally to speed up digestion and boost one's metabolism and relieve pain. Based on these practical uses, cayenne can be used to bring lasting speed to a spell, burn away the competition, or heat up your love life. From these practical uses, we can start to infer some of their elemental correspondences as well. Cayenne peppers being spicy and red are associated with the element Fire, while the broom, which is grounding and cleansing, is associated with Earth.

Once you have gone through the practical uses of an object, you can start digging into its history. Folklore abounds on most objects we use in our day-to-day lives, especially anything found in nature. I suggest looking at folktales, myths, urban legends, medical texts, and other historical texts to begin determining other correspondences for an object. When looking back at the broom, we find a number of texts alluding to witches using brooms to fly, so the broom is therefore associated with astral travel and flight. Other historical texts discuss women using broom handles to masturbate after many countries ban the sale of dildos, so the broom is also seen as a phallic object that can be used in spells for lust and sexuality. This part of determining correspondences is time-consuming and requires critical thinking, but is well worth it.

Next, begin looking at the scientific nature of the object. This is most easily done with objects found in nature, such as plants, rocks, fungi, animals, insects, and other living and non-living things found naturally where you live. Where is the object normally found? What properties or characteristics does it have that are unique to it? What is its purpose within the ecosystem? Does it have any unique behaviors? Take mint for example. Almost all members of the mint family grow quickly and abundantly. They will take over your entire yard if you aren't careful. Their prolific nature associates them with abundance, prosperity, and fertility. Sometimes these scientific correspondences are easy to deduce, while other times you will need to do a little research. The chokecherry in my yard produces toxins to prevent herbivores from decimating this low-growing tree. This makes it perfect for use in protection spells and magic, even cursing if you are looking to poison someone's mind or relationship or get them to stop gossiping as eating the cherries can cause gasping and respiratory failure. Looking at the plant, you'd have no idea it was toxic, but a little bit of research will clue you in.

While the first three methods rely upon logic to determine an object's correspondences, your intuition relies upon your psyche and emotion. Our modern society often diminishes the reliability of one's intuition and downplays its effectiveness, but this is one of the best tools in a witch's arsenal. To use your intuition to determine correspondences, begin by meditating with the object by wrapping your consciousness around it. What is your gut telling you about the object? What thoughts, images, or feelings arise when thinking about the object before you? This is where personal correspondences often develop. For example, I had a really bad experience with basil pesto while sick, so when I think about basil, I get nauseous. Medicinally, basil is used to treat stomach spasms and help relieve vomiting, but it made me extremely ill. When meditating with basil, this memory always comes to mind, so I associate basil with vomiting, despite its logical correspondences. As such, you will find me using basil to get people to spill their guts metaphorically speaking. This isn't a common correspondence and one that I would not include in something like my Herbarium pages as this is personal, but that doesn't make it wrong or ineffective. Quite the contrary. Your personal relationship with an object and the correspondences you develop by using your intuition are incredibly powerful, at least for you. It would make no sense for my best friend to use this same correspondence as she has never had an ill experience with basil. In fact, we talked about this a couple of weeks ago when she ordered pesto as the base for her pizza.

Finally, you can communicate with the spirit of the object to determine its correspondences. Animism is the idea that all objects, both living and non-living, contain a spirit, a spirit we can communicate and develop a relationship with. This is easier said than done and you must be able to discern between your own intuition and mind chatter before attempting this sort of communication. Some witches, especially new witches, will struggle with this method of correspondence determination, and that's okay! This is a great opportunity to practice and grow your spiritual abilities. Just like using your intuition to determine correspondences, begin by grounding and meditating with the object in question. However, instead of reaching your mind into the object, leave yourself open. Try to keep your general mind chatter quiet and focused on the task at hand. Go in with the intention to listen, not speak. I find closing my eyes or looking at the floor helps focus my mind on a single point so that I may listen better. I do the same thing when intently listening to a person speak. Depending on the object, you may hear it speak clear as day, in complete sentences or you may receive nothing more than a flash of color or a feeling. The key here, however, is to go in with no expectations. You are not owed a conversation with the object, so it may not speak to you at all. However, you can enhance the likelihood that the object will speak to you by developing a relationship beforehand. Leave it offerings, talk to it, tend to it, etc. Basically do the same things you would do to make a new friend, but remember, they owe you nothing in return.

These five methods combined will leave you with a powerful sense of how to use the object in your own magical practice. Furthermore, it will strengthen your magical practice as a whole and solidify your relationship with the object, making it a more potent ingredient in your spells. If you are able to connect with the spirit of the object, it will be much more likely to aid you in return.

Finding Substitutions

Sometimes you want to do a spell, but you don't have all the ingredients. This is especially true of spells you may find in books or online. Let's be honest, some of us just can't buy a bunch of obscure ingredients we are unfamiliar with, don't have the money for, or can't find in our area. This is where substitutions come in. Now before I jump into these, I want to make it abundantly clear that the idea that you can use clear quartz and rosemary in place of any crystal and herb in a spell is fundamentally flawed. This idea completely flies in the face of correspondence magic. However, that doesn't mean you can't rely upon the general idea of it. For most spells, you can easily use clear quartz and rosemary as they correspond with most major intentions, but there are always exceptions to the rules.

General Substitutions:
  • White candle for any color candle
  • Clear quartz for any crystal
  • Rosemary for any herb
  • Table salt for any salt
  • Tap water for any water
  • Rose for any flower
  • Apple for any fruit
  • Olive oil for any carrier oil

I use many of these substitutions all the time, especially tap water and table salt. Those are what I have on hand so that is what I use. The reason these items work is because of the sheer number of correspondences they have, but again, that doesn't always mean that can be used in any spell. For example, you aren't going to want to use rosemary in a spell to bring money because rosemary doesn't correspond with money. You don't want to use a white candle to banish or a rose to aid in astral travel.

When looking for a substitution, consult the correspondences you have created. Is there another item you have on hand that will suit your needs? Don't have mugwort for astral travel? Try dandelion. Don't have a chalice? Use a cup. Get a little creative here, but keep the general correspondences of the objects in mind when making substitutions in your spells.

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For this week's exercise, I encourage you to sit down with your favorite plant or crystal and begin developing your own correspondences using the methods outlined above. Write down some possible substitutions for this object as well. Once you've gotten the hang of it with an object you love, pick 3-5 objects you use often in your practice and develop their correspondences and substitutions. Finally, pick 1 object you are unfamiliar with and do it all over again. This may be something you own but haven't used or something you find outside your home. By working your way up to an unfamiliar object, you'll be well-prepared to continue writing your own correspondences, no matter the object! 

Interest in the rest of the series? 

Spellcrafting Series

Correspondences, Substitutions, and How to Write Your Own
Perfect Spell Timing
Spell Wording: Be Clear, Be Heard
Raising Energy, Cleansing, Charging, and Centering Prior to Spellcasting
Breaking Your Own Spells
What to do with Spell Remains
Recording Your Spells
Intuitive Spellcasting
Casting Spells from the Otherworld
Troubleshooting Your Spells and Why They Didn't Work


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