Wednesday, July 29, 2020

August Sturgeon Moon Worksheet

full moon, esbat, ritual, witchcraft, moon magic

August's Full Moon is known as Sturgeon Moon, Green Corn Moon, Barley Moon, Fruit Moon, or Grain Moon. Sturgeon Moon comes from the number of sturgeon present in the Great Lakes at this time, which was a staple food source of the Algonquin tribes in the Midwest. The other names, however, originate from the crops being harvested at this time. Corn, barley, fruits, and grain harvests begin at this time, providing food for the upcoming winter months. As such, this is a time to start preparing for the future, harvesting what you can now in preparation for what is to come. Check on your spiritual and physical health, getting rid of what you no longer need and cultivating what will bring you happiness and prosperity in the future. 

This month's Full Moon worksheet contains the usuals of my past Full Moon worksheets, including a to release and cleanse section, a box for your intuition, and a tarot spread. Unlike past worksheets, however, this one can be used every August, as it is based on the correspondences of the moon itself and not other astrological events. The tarot spread for this month features 5 cards focusing on what you should harvest at this time and where you should go in the future.

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Looking for more free worksheets? Why not get your free copy of my spell/ritual worksheet to write your best spells and rituals yet?

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Lammas Altar 2020

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Lammas or Lughnasadh is the first of the harvest festivals. Corn is quickly ripening in the field, fruits are being plucked at peak ripeness, and farmer's markets are bursting with colorful produce. This is one of my favorite times of year because there is plenty of locally-grown fresh produce just waiting to be enjoyed. Lammas is also a bread holiday, celebrating the harvesting of wheat to be made into bread or stored away for the upcoming winter months. Being the first of the harvest festivals, the Sun is still hanging brightly in the sky, bathing the crops in nourishing sunlight to help bring the harvest to fruition. As such, I have honored the harvest and the Sun in this altar by focusing on some of the major themes of the sabbat.

1. Corn Dolly- Corn dollies are a central theme in harvest folklore across Europe. Traditionally, they were made from the husks of the last corn harvest and remained in the home until the following year where they were plowed into the first furrow of the season. As such, the Spirit of the Harvest would be returned to the soil to ensure a bountiful crop the following year. While I am not planning on burying my corn dolly anytime soon, the sentiment remains and represents the Spirit of the Harvest or the Corn-Maiden. (Where did I get it: Subscription Box; Cost: $2)

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2. Candles in Holders-  The candles in their golden-hued holders represent the Sun who brings life to the harvest and helps ripen the fruits. Without the Sun, our crops would remain unfruitful. Furthermore, the candles act as sympathetic magic to encourage the Sun to remain strong until the last of the harvest has been brought it. (Where did I get it: Dollar Tree 2020; Cost: $3 for candle holders and white candles)

3. Wheat Stalks and Berries- Wheat is harvested and ground into flour to make breads, cakes, and other pastries. Flour was a crucial staple of our ancestors, as it could be easily stored and used throughout the winter months to provide nourishing food. The wheat stalks honor this tradition and encourage a bountiful harvest. Mixed with the wheat stalks are some berries, which are ripening quickly under the heat of the Sun. Blackberries, in particular, are prevalent at this time, providing a sugary treat for all who encounter them. (Where did I get it: Dollar Tree; Cost: $2, $1 each)

Lammas, altar, sabbat, Lughnasdah, August Eve, witchcraft, witchy, hedgewitch, pagan, neopagan, wiccan, wicca

4. Carnelian, Bloodstone, Quartz, and Citrine- The four crystals I picked correspond with the energy of the sabbat. Carnelian represents the Sun, strength, and vitality, the quartz amplifies the power of the altar and represents change, while the bloodstone represents health and vitality. Citrine, also a Sun crystal, represents the soothing, life-giving energies of the Sun that are beginning to wane. I placed them in a crystal grid pattern to give the Sun continued strength through the remainder of the growing season. (Where did I get it: Metaphysical Stores; Cost: ~8)

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5. Sunflowers- The sunflowers, which were also featured on my Litha altar, represent the Sun. Most sunflowers are blooming at this time, and when done, will produce hundreds of oily black seeds which provide valuable food for animals and humans alike. These unique flowers follow the Sun throughout the day, and are thought to lend Him strength. (Where did I get it: Dollar Tree; Cost: $1)

6. Silk Ivy and Grapes- The silk ivy represents wealth, abundance, and fertility while the grapes also represent fertility and abundance as well as gratitude and the harvest. Grapes are just ripening on the vine at Lammas and will later be turned into wines and jams to be enjoyed throughout the year.  (Where did I get it: Dollar Tree; Cost: $2, $1 each)

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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 break down helpful, especially those of you looking to create Instagram perfect altars on a budget!

How did you celebrate Lammas this year?

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Monday, July 27, 2020

Elemental Magic: Fire Spells and Rituals

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I apologize for taking some time to get this post out. My life has drastically changed in the past week and a half and I am still processing said changes. The good news is, this elemental series has seriously allowed me to cope with things better than I could have ever imagined. Such loss and heartbreak would have been met with anger, resentment, and a lot of scream crying, but I have been surprisingly calm and collected thanks to the healing energies of Water and the stable, loving embrace of Earth. However, Fire plays a key role in loss and new beginnings, so today I focus on spells and rituals that use Fire to start over, reignite your passion, and pave the way for a brighter future. 

Cord-cutting rituals are designed to help you cut ties with a person, place, or thing to help you move on with your life. While generally designed to help you separate from a relationship, usually a love interest, it can also be used to help you cut ties with a job or traumatic events. It's important to be specific in this ritual as well as prepared for the consequences. Once cords are cut, it will be extremely difficult to undo so make sure this is what you really want. This particular ritual uses Fire to burn the connection between you and the person, place, or thing you wish to part from. While Fire is destructive, remember it paves the way for new life.

What You'll Need

  • 9-inch black string
  • 1 Candle (white or black)
  • Candleholder
  • Picture of yourself and the other person/place/thing or paper to write names
  • Matches or lighter
  • Dried Yarrow flowers (optional) & anointing oil or olive oil (optional)

What to Do

Begin by dressing the candle with the oil and dried yarrow flowers if you please. Yarrow is not necessary for this spell but will enhance the effects as yarrow is deeply associated with cutting ties and soul bounds as well as setting boundaries. Next, roll up the pictures or the paper with names and tie one end of the string to each. Nine is the number of magic and power, which will enhance the power of the spell significantly. Light the candle and visualize yourself whole, well, and happy, your heart healed of past traumas. When ready, use the candle flame to cut the cord between the two objects, again visualizing yourself whole and happy. Take a deep breath and exhale any final feelings, emotions, or tension you may still have. Allow the candle to burn down while meditating on your future.

When it comes to getting things done, Fire is the element of passion and strength. This simple carnelian Sun charm is the perfect charm to give you the courage and strength needed to move forward, no matter what stands in your way.

What You'll Need

  • Carnelian
  • Jewelry wire

What to Do

When the Sun is highest (around Noon), cleanse and charge the carnelian using sunlight. Do not allow the carnelian to sit in direct sunlight for more than an hour as the stone will begin to fade. Once charged with the power of the Sun, wrap the carnelian in jewelry wire to create a pendant or keychain. As you do so, say "Carnelian, strong and proud, give me the strength to face the future with courage. Bring me the strength to face the unknown and the will to demand change. Help me remove all barriers to bring me happiness and good fortune." Wear or carry the carnelian on your person to bring you strength and courage.

Banishing spells are a great way to remove something or someone from your life that you absolutely do not want to return. Unlike cord-cutting, this removes the person completely, not just severs the tie between you. However, use with caution. Banishing spells are nearly impossible to undo and can backfire if not done properly. You must be absolutely clear in your intent and specific in your wording, otherwise, you could end up removing something you want. This spell uses a purple or black candle to banish an unwanted person or entity. 

What You'll Need

  • Purple or black candle
  • Paper & Pen

What to Do

Begin by writing the name of the person or entity you wish to remove from your life then write your name over their name, effectively crossing it out. You may need to write your name several times to completely obscure the first name. As you do so chant, "I cover you. I cross you. I remove you from my life. I command you; I compel you, get out of my life." Place the paper under the candle and light the candle. Allow it to burn down completely. Dispose of the spell ingredients away from your property, effectively removing them from your life.

Love spells are some of the most misunderstood spells in witchcraft. You cannot force someone to fall in love with you, but you can attract someone to you, usually by making yourself more desirable. This specific spell works to draw a person to you, whether it be romantically or completely plutonic. It can be used to attract a lover or a friendship. Heck, you could probably even use it to attract a new job!

What You'll Need

  • Two strips of paper
  • Pen
  • Fireproof bowl
  • Matches or Lighter
  • Orange Zest or Orange Blossoms
  • Spell bottle
  • Wax

What to Do

Begin by writing the goal of the spell on the first strip of paper. Make sure you are clear in your intent and use positive language. You shouldn't say you don't want something, instead, say what you want. This will be most effective if written as an "I" statement as if you already have the object of your desire. On the second strip of paper, write the object of your desire. You can be as specific or vague as you wish. If you want a specific person or job, use their name, but if you want to attract love or a job in general, write the characteristics of the person you are looking for or a job description. Next, write your name over the object of your desire, thus linking you to the object. Place both strips of paper and the orange zest or blossoms in a fire-safe bowl and burn. Place the ashes in a spell bottle and seal with wax. Place on your altar or store in a safe place. If you no longer desire the object, break the seal on the spell bottle and throw the ashes into the wind.

Sometimes we want to get things done, but something continues to hold us back whether it be fear, doubt, or frustrations. This unblocking spell will help remove those blocks using Fire to burn them away. This spell is best followed up with a bath to help wash away any residual energies.

What You'll Need

  • 1 white candle
  • Whole cloves

What to Do

Hold the white candle in your hands and envision all your fears, frustrations, and doubt transferring from you to the candle. Feel it warm between your hands as you do so. Next, dress the candle with the whole cloves and light the candle. As the candle burns, envision all those fears, frustrations, and doubts vanishing into the thin air, dissipating with the smoke. Finish the spell with a cleansing bath and change into clean clothes, symbolizing your new beginning. 

Many of us struggle with confidence issues, especially after a breakup or great loss. This spell is designed to help boost your self-confidence by focusing on what you are good at, using Fire to ignite that confidence through the use of an orange candle which is associated with confidence.

What You'll Need

  • Orange candle
  • Matches or lighter

What to Do

Light the orange candle and stare into the flames. As you do so, complete the following sentences:
I am proud of...
I am good at...
My greatest asset is...
I feel strong and capable when I...
People love me because I'm...

Complete these sentences using positive affirmations. Repeat them at least three times, feeling their power deep within your soul. Allow the candle to burn down or snuff out when ready.

Spell reversal is an important utility spell, especially for those wishing to reverse a spell cast upon themselves or a spell that has backfired that you didn't build an easy undoing into. There are dozens of ways to reverse spells, but Fire is able to burn away the magical energies of a spell quickly, leaving nothing behind. This particular spell is designed to reverse a spell cast against you by another witch. 

What You'll Need

  • White candle
  • Dried patchouli or oil
  • Dried vetiver or oil
  • Dressing oil (if using dried herbs)

What to Do

Cut the top off the white candle, forming a flat base then flip the candle over and carve the bottom until the wick is exposed. You are reversing the spell by reversing the candle. Dress the candle in patchouli, vetiver, and oil which will reflect the spell back to its source. If you know the source of the spell, carve their name into the candle as well. Light the candle and say, "Candle burning bright and warm; let the evil (or spell) done against me be reversed just as I have reversed you." 


These spells are just some of the many uses of Fire, some of which you can find elsewhere on my blog. Again, I tried to include several spells to help us navigate the current social climate, but there are several spells that can be used whenever you need them. How do you use Fire in your practice? Share your spells and ideas in the comments below!

Interest in the rest of the series? Here's what's to come!

Elemental Magic Series

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Thursday, July 16, 2020

Apothecary At Home Box Review: July 2020

apothecary at home, herbal remedies, subscription box, witchcraft, witchy, herb, herbal, herabrium, green witch, green witchcraft, hedgewitch


A couple of months ago I told you guys about a new subscription box that was coming out called Apothecary At Home. Well, their first box shipped July 1st, and I am so thrilled with it. I cannot believe how many amazing goodies they packed into this awesome box. If you missed my unboxing video on Instagram, you can check it out now. This is one of the coolest boxes I've ever received and totally up my ally. 

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The first box came with information (not pictured) on what to expect from the subscription box as a whole as well as a detailed pamphlet discussing each of the herbs, including their folklore, medicinal, and magical uses, much like my Herbarium posts, and a number of herbal remedy recipes to make with the herbs in the box. Furthermore, there is general information on making herbal remedies and how different herbs interact. This box is truly designed to help you learn how to make herbal remedies, not just give you random recipes to follow with context. The box comes with all the supplies to make your remedies and includes a number of bonus recipes for herbs you have leftover, which I absolutely loved. If you missed their first box or are interested in the reading material, you can purchase the study guide and welcome packet as digital downloads for $4.99 each on their website.

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This month's box was all about mental health, fitting considering the current pandemic has taken a toll on most people's mental health, mine included. As such, it contains chamomile, lemon balm, and passionflower, all of which are known to help ease depression and anxiety, while promoting calmness and joy. The box came with 4 ounces of both chamomile and lemon balm and about 1 ounce of passionflower. I couldn't believe how much of each herb they fit into the box. I still can't figure out how they got the box to close! With these herbs, you have all the ingredients to make a salve and a tincture, but there are a number of bonus recipes you can do with the leftover herbs. But that's not all.

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The box also comes with both lemon balm and chamomile seeds, along with growing instructions, and two beautiful art prints of said herbs created by the creator's mother. They are absolutely beautiful and would be perfect for your BOS or Grimoire, whether you cut them out and paste them or hole-punch them. This month they are printed on glossy paper, but next month I was informed that they would be printed on higher quality, matte paper. Furthermore, these prints and all future prints will be available for standalone purchase in a variety of sizes in the future. I love that they include not only a hefty amount of herbs, but seeds as well so you can continue to grow your practice. I am looking forward to starting my seeds soon and allowing them to take over in my garden. I love the overgrown look and lemon balm grows rapidly. 

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apothecary at home, herbal remedies, subscription box, witchcraft, witchy, herb, herbal, herabrium, green witch, green witchcraft, hedgewitch

This month's box also came with a wonderful surprise: Stress Relief Tea from The Loose Leaf! I freaking love me some tea and was so excited to see tea in this box. This particular tea contains oatstraw, skullcap, kava kava root, ginkgo, ashwagandha, and cloves. It has an earthy, spicy taste that will warm your soul. It reminds me of Yule to be honest. Its warming and calming and leaves you feeling completely relaxed by the end of the cup. It's sure to delight your taste buds and enliven your spirits.

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Overall, I was super impressed with this box. It exceeded my expectations by far. 


  • The box is designed to teach, instead of just providing you with goodies. It includes everything you need to learn how to make herbal remedies and gets you started on the herbalist path.
  • The item quality is great. Every item is worth more than I paid and sometimes you even get some bonus items thrown in!
  • The information packet is informative and explains how to use each of the items in the box. The herb profiles are clearly outlines and recipes are easy to follow.
  • There are vegan and non-vegan options. They offer both beeswax and soy wax for salves, so if you are vegan there is an option available for you.
  • They survey you for allergies. When you sign up for the box, you begin with a survey where you can let them know if you are allergic to anything. I thought this is great because I am allergic to opiates and gogi berries, and while I don't think opiates will end up in the box, gogi berries have a strong possibility of showing up. I'm glad that they take this into account and won't put anything in my box that I am allergic to.
  • They are ecofriendly. The box is recyclable and you have the option to receive the information packets printed or digital. I love how much you can customize this box!
  • They support the BIPOC community. Right now, they are offering boxes to BIPOC who are interested in learning herbalism for free or heavily discounted. If you or someone you know is interested in the details, check out their website. You can also sponsor a box to help provide more boxes!
  • This box is available! They still have some spots available for next month's box, but you best hurry!


  • The box is somewhat expensive. It's currently priced at $39.99 plus $8 shipping within the US. However, if you were to compare this to an online course, this box is significantly cheaper and provides all the supplies needed for a fraction of the price.
  • There is some packaging that is not eco-friendly. The paper and cardboard box can be recycled, but the bubble wrap can not. I believe having eco-friendly packaging as much as possible is extremely important.
OVERALL: 5 out of 5 stars 

Interested in purchasing this box? Check out Apothecary At Home online. Use code WILLOW15 to get 15% off your first order!

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Monday, July 13, 2020

Elemental Magic: Tools of Fire

Elemental magic, fire magic, tools of fire, types of fire, fire witchcraft, fire witch, witchcraft, elements, fire

In today's post, I will discuss some of the many tools associated with Fire and how you can use them in your practice. Many of these tools were hinted at or discussed when I introduced you to some of the folklore surrounding Fire. However, this post is more of a correspondences type list that you can use to quickly plan spells. For your pleasure, I have also included a free 5-page printable for your Grimoire or Book of Shadows. Enjoy!

Balefire/Bonfire: These large, outdoor fires were traditionally were used for cleansing and protection purposes. Bundles of herbs would be thrown into these fires and cattle would be driven in between or people would jump over them for cleansing and protection for the upcoming year. They can also be used for pyromancy, burning spell ingredients, or during large group rituals to encourage people to participate.

Candles can be used for a variety of spell purposes, especially in candle magic. They can be dressed or anointed with oils, herbs, and crystals or carved with sigils to pack a powerful magical punch. Different color candles are used for different purposes, such as green for prosperity, black for banishing, and red of passion. 

Fluorescent Light: This is the most common form of light in homes due to our use of lightbulbs. Use fluorescent lights to "light" the way, illuminate a situation, or bring a soft, steady energy to a spell.

Friction: Friction is the opposite acting force when two objects slide past each other. This rubbing produces heat that can be used to warm objects, such as crystals, with your energy to build a connection. However, friction usually manifests in witchcraft has the opposing force to our spells. The energy from our spell work naturally dissipates over time due to friction slowly the energy until it ultimately "stops." This is why several spells call for working over a 3, 7, 9, or 28 day period or why you should revisit wards and protection spells to reinforce them.

Hearth Fire: Hearth fires were a prominent feature in the homes of our ancestors. These were generally fires in a fireplace or a stove that the family used for cooking and warmth. It was considered the heart of the home, much like a modern kitchen is viewed as the home's heart today. Hearth fires are associated with health, wellness, warmth, wisdom, birth, creativity, and life. To honor your hearth fire, place a bowl of oranges or a lit candle on your stovetop.

Heat: Heat is energy that can be transferred from one object to another. Use heat to transfer energy between objects, especially energy from you to the magical object you are using. You can also use heat to speed up your spells, infuse your spells with your energy (through dancing or other movements), or spice up a relationship. While spicy food technically isn't "hot" in a scientific sense of the word, they can be used to heat up a spell or person in witchcraft.

Lava: Lava is molten rock that has breached the surface, unlike magma that is molten rock beneath the Earth's crust. Lava can be used to burn bridges, invoke a clean slate, clear away the competition, or bring about destruction, just as lava reshapes the landscape around it. Most people believe lava is only a negative, destructive force, but lava brings rich, fertile nutrients up from deep within the Earth, creates new land for life to prosper, and allows for things to begin anew. I advise against attempting to work with actual lava unless you can view the lava from a safe distance. Otherwise, visualizations, pictures, and lava rock work well in spell work.

Lightning: Atmospheric, electrostatic discharge often appears to us as lightning. While destructive in nature, lightning can be used in witchcraft to focus energy. Lightning touched areas are believed to be supercharged and the energy of these areas can be used to enhance spell work, enchant objects, and infuse you with power. Lightning is also often used in storm magic to bring about rapid change.

Magma: Magma is molten rock stored deep within the Earth's surface, unlike lava which is molten rock that has breached the Earth's surface. Tap into this energy source through grounding and use it to warm your soul, recharge, and add long-lasting energy to your spells.

Plasma: Plasma is a state of matter, usually thought of as a subset of gases. We are most familiar with plasma in neon lights. These supercharged particles can be used to electrify a situation, grab attention, and bring quick change.

Rainbow: Rainbows are formed by light passing through a prism, usually water droplets when found naturally. Rainbows have an array of magical symbolism, including hope and joy, and are thought to act as a bridge between our world and that of the Otherworld. Use rainbows to connect with the Otherworld, communicate with the dead, inspire hope, and bring about joy. To read more about rainbow magic, check out A Witch's Guide to Rainbow Magick and Working With Rainbows by Autumn Zenith at Witchcrafed Life.

Sunlight: Sunlight is the main source of Fire energy on Earth. It is the ultimate life-giver, warming our atmosphere, allowing plants to carry out photosynthesis, and providing the energy necessary for most processes on Earth to work. Sunlight can be used to purify, cleanse, charge, and energize you and objects. It is masculine in nature, and while generally good, it can also be used to harm (think sunburn). Sunlight can be used to ignite a situation, burn away our enemies, illuminate situations, and remove negativity.

Amber: Amber, which is fossilized tree sap, is often referred to as "Tears of the Sun" due to its golden hue. Use it for protection, healing, and courage or to create happiness or protection amulets.

Ashes: Ash is the product of burning, usually wood or paper. While some argue ashes lack energetic properties, I completely disagree. Use ashes to symbolize fertility, rebirth, change, and transformation. 

Athame: An athame is a ritual knife used for directing and manipulating energy. Many witches use an athame in a similar way to a wand to cast a magical circle, cut a door in the circle, or direct spell energy.

Basil: Basil is probably one of the most commonly used culinary and magical herbs out there. Carry it in your wallet or purse to bring wealth, burn to divine the future of your relationship, or enhance astral flight and hedge riding. 

Bloodstone: Bloodstone, so named for the red flecks, can be used to heal wounds, soothe menstrual cramps and childbirth, increase immunity to bloodborne illnesses, or in spells to draw money, prosperity, wealth, and win legal battles.

Brass: Like gold, brass is associated with the Sun due to its golden color. However, brass is best for opening doors, resilience, communication, and sound magic.

Candles: Candles can be used for a variety of spell purposes, especially in candle magic. They can be dressed or anointed with oils, herbs, and crystals or carved with sigils to pack a powerful magical punch. Different color candles are used for different purposes, such as green for prosperity, black for banishing, and red of passion. 

Carnelian: Deep red or orange in color, carnelian is a wonderful crystal for honoring the Sun. It can be used for courage, strength, and power, as well as for love and lust. Carnelian is also great for grounding you within our realm during astral travel as well as acting as a beacon to help you return to your body.

Cayenne Pepper: Use cayenne pepper to heat things up in your relationship, encourage lust, or light a fire under someone to get them moving, whether it's off their butt or out of your life. 

Charcoal: Charcoal is the burnt remains of wood and other organic material. It is best for cleansing, purification, and banishing. It is also great for protection and warding. Historically, charcoal was used to create inks and as such can be used to write in your grimoire or Book of Shadows.

Chili Peppers: Chili peppers can be used much the same way as cayenne pepper. However, they are also excellent for protection and burning away curses.

Cinnamon: Cinnamon is a dried, aromatic bark from evergreen trees in the genus Cinnamomum. It can be used for money, wealth, and prosperity magic as well as healing, protection, and love spells. When burned, it can cleanse and consecrate items as well as speed up your spells.

Cloves: Cloves can be used for protection, clarity, halting gossip, banishing evil, as well as invoking love and lust. 

Copper: Copper is a conductive, malleable metal commonly associated with Venus. Therefore, copper can be used in love spells as well as to conduct energy or transfer energy. Furthermore, it is commonly used for currency around the world and therefore perfect for offerings and prosperity magic. 

Fire Agate: Fire agate is grounding and uplifting at the same time, making it the perfect crystal for situations that require tough decisions, courage, and decisiveness. Its red color also invokes passion and love while simultaneously fighting against depression and insecurities. 

Fulgurite: Fulgurite forms when lightning strikes sand or rock, forming a natural glass in the process. Due to its chaotic birth, it's great for chaos magic, as well as invoking rain and storms and communication with higher beings.

Garnet: Garnet can come in a variety of colors, including vivid green or dark red, and, like quartz, can project or receive energy. It can be used to recharge and revitalize, for protection, and to 

Gold: Gold is deeply connected to the Sun and was historically the color used to describe purifying high vibrational energies. It can be used to attract wealth, prosperity, and power. 

Lantern: Lanterns are a great way to symbolize the element Fire on your altar or in spells and are great for illuminating situations and helping you or spirits navigate dark terrain. 

Lava Rock: Lava rocks form when magma cools. Because lava originates as magma deep within the Earth, it can be used for grounding and restraint. However, its fiery nature makes it also associated with energy, assertiveness, and passion.

Lead: Lead is the heaviest of the base metals and blocks out both light, sound, and electricity. While often associated with Fire, lead is also deeply connected to Earth. It can be used for grounding, strength, stability, meditation, and to connect with the Otherworld. It's also perfect for breaking habits and shadow work.

Marigold: Marigolds are strongly associated with the Sun and can, therefore, be used in magic relating to passion, warmth, and creativity. In the Victorian floral language, they mean "pain and grief" or as a way to comfort one who is grieving. Today, marigolds are part of Dia de Los Muertos activities, aiding in spirits finding their way home.

Pumice: Pumice, unlike lava rock, has a greater silica content and floats in water. As such, it is perfect for reminding us to remain positive when we otherwise feel like we are drowning and can be used to banish bad habits and emotions as well as negative energy.

Ruby: The name "ruby" comes from the Latin rubber meaning red. Rubies can protect the wearer or homes from storm damage or be used in spells to bring wealth, passion, energy, and courage.

Sunflower: Sunflowers are one of the few flowers that obviously follow the Sun throughout the day while also being sun-like in appearance. Sunflowers are a symbol of joy, warmth, fertility, and good luck. They can also gift you with faerie sight, especially around the Summer Solstice.

Sunstone: Sunstone, with its milky orange color, is great at boosting your mood, especially if you are depressed or anxious. Use it to soothe depression, lift your mood, assuage fear and doubt, relieve tension, and heal emotional loss.

Tin: Tin is associated with Jupiter whose symbol is lightning. As such, tin can be used to protect against lightning or invoke lightning. Tin items are best charged during a lightning storm, which makes them potent magical items. It can also be used to bring about what you desire most, and is therefore perfect for prosperity and success spells, as well as rejuvenation spells.

Wand: Depending on the tradition, wands are often associated with Fire (swords in other traditions). Use wands much like you would an athame to direct power, cut doors, and transmit and focus energies.

And there you have it. A complete list of types of Fire as well as commonly used tools associated with Fire! Below is a free 5-page printable for your Grimoire or Book of Shadows.

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Interest in the rest of the series? Here's what's to come!

Elemental Magic Series

Looking for more information on the elements? Check out my posts on the topic:

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Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Earth Family Crystals Review

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I was super excited when Earth Family Crystals reached out, asking if I would like to review their products. I love crystals and have been collecting rocks since I was a young child. I mean, I did go to school to dig up dinosaurs after all! So, of course, I jumped on this opportunity to order some new crystals!

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Earth Family Crystals is a family-owned business based out of BC, Canada. Unlike Amazon, some metaphysical shops, and Etsy, all of the crystals are hand-selected for their energetic integrity and aesthetic quality from Fair Trade, eco-friendly, ethically sourced businesses. Furthermore, with each purchase, they donate a portion of the sales to eco-friendly charities and projects. I can get behind a company that continuously gives back. It keeps me coming back as a customer, knowing that I am helping a family business and giving back. However, because they hand-select each crystal and spend time consciously sourcing each one, their prices are higher than you may find in other places. For me, this increased price was well worth it to make sure I getting a quality product with limited damage on the Earth and communities harvesting these crystals for my enjoyment.

They offer an array of products from crystals, to jewelry, smoke-cleansing (which they, unfortunately, call smudging), tees, mugs, crystal grids, and candles. There is a whole array of wonder products so I am sure you will find something you like! All of their candles come from another small business, Energy Wicks, in North Carolina. I absolutely love that they partnered with another fabulous small business!

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So, what did I order? I ended up ordering tourmalated Himalayan quartz, which combines two of my favorite crystals into one, golden brookite Brazilian quartz, and a 4 oz silver tin Anxiety Relief candle. It took a little bit for everything to arrive, but that's to be expected, especially right now with COVID-19 slowing shipping times drastically. However, I am absolutely thrilled with my purchase. Both quartz specimens are absolutely stunning. Honestly, they are some of the clearest, brightest specimens I have seen. I could not be happier! Black tourmaline is my absolute favorite crystal. It's great for grounding, shielding, protection, anxiety and depression relief, and a host of other things. The quartz amplifies the properties of the tourmaline, making it an amazingly powerful protector. It has flecks of green in the tourmaline as well, which is stunning. This too can act as a grounder or even for realistic prosperity. The brookite, on the other hand, is great for astral travel, especially hedge riding, and aids in spirit communication. I am excited to add this to my hedge riding sachet in the future! To top it all off, I got a free gift: a small piece of aventurine!

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As for the anxiety relief candle, it smells soooooo amazing! It is sitting next to me, unlit, and the pineapple and sage aroma is bathing me in a warming embrace. I feel like I am at the beach. This candle also contains calendula for happiness, lavender for peace and serenity, rose petals for self-love, and hematite pieces to calm stress and anxiety. I am so in love with this candle and cannot wait to get another!

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If you would like to order your own crystals or candle or something else from Earth Family Crystals, they are offering 10% off to all my readers! Simply use the promo code willow10 to get your discount and tell them Flying the Hedge sent you! I guarantee you will be thrilled with your purchase!

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Monday, July 6, 2020

Decolonizing Witchcraft: Racism, Whitewashing, and Cultural Appropriation in Witchcraft and How to Decolonize Your Practice

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Updated: July 27, 2022

When it comes to racism, whitewashing, and cultural appropriation, modern witchcraft and paganism are not exempt. It's unfortunate, especially because we generally think of ourselves as more openminded and accepting than that other practices and religions. However, when a reader asked me for suggestions a couple of weeks ago on beginner witchcraft books that were decolonized so they could start off on the right foot, I was at a complete loss of what to suggest. The more I started thinking about it and digging, the more I realized there was a significant lack of resources available to witches wishing to practice in a way that did not include racism, whitewashing, and cultural appropriation. It's time that we not only address these issues (which is being done by a number of witches and pagans), but also offer practical suggestions on how to decolonize your practice.

I'd like to start off by talking a bit about myself. I am a white, heterosexual, cis-woman. I have never hidden this fact or pretended to be anything other than what I am. But because I am a white, heterosexual, cis-woman, this has tremendously influenced my practice and my experiences within witchcraft. I am the "target demographic" for companies, especially publishers, which means that I can easily relate to the information and experiences presented by major leaders within the pagan community and I have access to a variety of sources "catered to my needs." This last part isn't necessarily true, but it's what companies believe. And because I am the "target demographic" I often forget to check myself and my privilege, at least I did in the beginning. 

I have been practicing witchcraft for roughly 16 years. I started with Silver Ravenwolf's Teen Witch and moved on to Scott Cunningham's books. At first, I didn't really question the validity, history, practices, or viewpoints presented by these authors. I was just happy to have something that wasn't Christianity that I felt more connected to. During my 16 years of practicing witchcraft, I started this blog. July 2014 was the beginning of what I thought was just going to be a small blip in the blogging universe. I had no idea that it would grow to be what it is today. Needless to say, I have made a number of mistakes, mistakes that were racist, whitewashed, or appropriated from others. I have called smoke cleansing smudging, and I have encouraged the practice here on Flying the Hedge. I have used the terms black and white magic to describe magical practices that were bad versus good. I have called a person or a thing my "spirit animal." I have used the term g*psy, and I have meditated on my chakras. I am not proud of these things, but I mention them because I want my white readers to know that I have sat where they are sitting now, sometimes angry; sometimes threatened because I couldn't possibly be racist and how dare someone tell me otherwise; sometimes saddened because I didn't realize that I had done something wrong that could potentially be harmful to someone else; sometimes confused and a little fearful because I couldn't relate or didn't know where to start. I mention these mistakes so that my Black, indigenous, and other people of color (BIPOC) readers see that I am recognizing my mistakes and making an effort to do be better. I mention them because I want everyone to hold me accountable, and call me out when I use language or practices that are not intersectional. It's hard to admit when we are wrong, and even harder to change. This is a long, difficult road to travel, but one I am happy to take. So let's put our emotions aside and get started.

Racism in Witchcraft: Black vs White Magic

Unfortunately, racism is alive and well in the witch community, some of it extremely obvious while other forms are more subtle, lurking in otherwise well-meaning practices. The obvious, overt racism has been heavily covered by the witch community and is most commonly presented in the form of white supremacy. The Atlantic wrote a wonderful article on this in 2017 in case you are unfamiliar with this particular issue. As such, this is not the particular type of racism I want to confront because I think we can all agree the obvious racism is easy to spot and confront head-on; its the subtle racism that goes unchecked because it's often hard to spot and even harder to combat. The greatest example of this is black and white magic.

When we talk about magic, we often classify the type of magic by the intent of it. Are we healing and protecting or hexing and cursing? In general, when we say "magic" the "white" is often assumed because that's the norm. It's only when we approach "bad" magic that we place the word "black" in front because the ideas of "black" and "evil" in modern terminology are so closely linked that we just go along with it. But why? Why not use baneful, negative, or harmful instead of black? Historically, this wasn't always the case. In fact, its a combination of imperialism, slavery, and science that initiated the shift.

Modern witchcraft and Wicca derive most of their practices from European occult thought which was heavily influenced by Graeco-Roman and Egyptian magical practices with a bit of Celtic flair. Within these practices, the color of "goodness" and "purity" was originally gold as this was the color of the Sun. Ancient texts confirm that our ancestors viewed the Sun as yellow or gold, and used yellow and gold to symbolize purity, not the color white. But what about black? For the Egyptians black was seen as the color of life and nourishment, as black soils were rich and fertile, bringing forth bountiful crops to feed the peoples. It was actually the color red that was believed to be "bad" as it was associated with the god Seth who ruled over the desert, an unforgiving god in an unforgiving landscape. Some of this connotation continues today, with red being associated with war, anger, and the devil, but even so red is also associated with life, lust, and love. When Europeans, specifically Greek and Roman, began heavily visiting Egypt, Kemetic practices infiltrated Graeco-Roman esoteric thought, reaffirming the association of gold and black with purity and nourishment. For a long time, these color correspondences remained unchallenged. It wasn't until the rise of Christianity and the persecution of occult practices and witchcraft that we begin to see a shift.

With the adoption of Christianity, we see a shift in the relationship between Europeans and Africans and therefore a shift in esoteric thought. As Europeans began invading civilizations around the world and working to convert the "heathens," slavery in Africa was born. It was partially through the slavery of the African peoples that black suddenly became evil, less than, and negative. I'm not going to sit here and explain how Europeans justified slavery based on skin color, but they used every method they could to say that the color of one's skin was a reflection of their worth, intelligence, and inherent goodness. As such, the traditions and religions of the African people became evil as well. By the nineteenth century, Kemetic practices were removed and replaced with the narrative that Greek and Roman civilizations rose to greatness on their own, without outside influence. When this narrative didn't stick, northern Africa, specifically Egypt, was assimilated and reclassified as part of the Mediterranean and the Egyptians were no longer viewed as black. It was during this time that witchcraft too was targetted as being evil and that any individual that believed such "nonsense" was uneducated.

In 1871, we see the first documented English use of "black magic" published in E.B. Tylor's book Primitive Culture where Tylor describes the progress of civilization in terms of spiritual beliefs. Tylor very specifically connects race and progress with the belief in magic versus religion (specifically Christianity) and states that the savages believe in magic while the advanced civilizations combat it. At one point he blames "black magic" for the hardships faced by the Wakhutu and then goes on to say, "In the 13th century, when the spirit of religious persecution had begun to possess all of Europe with a dark and cruel madness, the doctrine of witchcraft revived with all its barbaric vigour...the guilt of this bringing down Europe intellectually and morally to the level of negro Africa lies in the main upon the Roman church.." In other words, practicing witchcraft was equivalent to being as intellectually and morally inferior as being African (black). But it wasn't just inherent racism that led to this shift in color correspondences. Science too played a role, specifically in the classification of light. 

As I mentioned, gold and yellow were long associated with the Sun and light in general. In fact, when we draw light or the Sun today we still use the color yellow to do so. So why is it that we call light white instead of yellow when we perceive the color to be yellow? Because the scientist Robert Boyle, along with Sir Issac Newton, said so. Through a series of experiments, Boyle and Newton discovered that light was "white" meaning it reflected all colors while black absorbed all colors. There is a host of other amazing things these two scientists did in relation to optics and light, but this isn't the place to get into those. I am not, as a scientist, saying that Boyle and Newton were wrong. They aren't, but because of their classification of light as white and the emphasis on white as the "chief" color, we see a shift in how we view light. You don't see very many modern witches and pagans asking you to cleanse yourself with yellow or gold light. There are witches that do; I'm one of them, but most often we pick white because that's what we were told was the color of light and this shift in thought brought a shift in correspondences as well. White was now the color of purity and goodness, of healing and life. Unfortunately, Boyle used his scientific findings to justify slavery and blackness as being bad and devoid. And needless to say, the thought that black was somehow bad, less than, or wrong while white was rational, good, and right infiltrated most, if not all, of esoteric thought.

To set themselves apart from "black" and "evil" magics, The Golden Dawn adopted the term "white magic" to mean good magic. They called themselves The White Brotherhood and labeled those who dissented or practiced "selfish," "negative," or "harmful" magic as Black Brothers. I don't think I need to explain the racist undertones associated with these terms. They weren't necessarily a reference to the color of one's skin, but I can tell you there weren't any BIPOC members in those days. And don't even get me started on the racist man that is Aleister Crowley...But the problem was and is that the idea that black and darkness as bad and white and lightness as good is extremely problematic and has negative effects on BIPOC witches. 

In her article Black Magic, Black Skin: Decolonizing White Witchcraft, Shannon Barber discusses the impact these beliefs and practices had on her own identity and craft, specifically how those bits of Afro-diasporic practices she clung to couldn't be integrated into her practice because of the "rules" laid down by Europeans that darkness was bad. She isn't the only one to feel this way.

I recognize that some of you may scream that white and black magic or light has nothing to do with race, but I implore you to understand the history behind such terminology and the damning evidence that suggests otherwise. These meanings were not created in a vacuum, and while you may not be harmed by their use, it doesn't mean that others aren't. The inherent belief that white is good and black is bad subconsciously affects how we treat others and view their practices. It's work to shift away from these terms and thought processes, but doing so will create a more inclusive practice for everyone. A note: Some cultures, such as Dominican and Haitian voudou, use the terms black and white magic and this is acceptable per their culture. However, my fellow white, European witches, I would steer clear of using this terminology due to the historical connotations of the words.

Whitewashing in Witchcraft: How Colonizers Control the Narrative

Whitewashing is the tendency toward information being presented through a Eurocentric, white lens. This is easiest to spot in situations where there are visuals, such as in movies and TV shows, but it's harder to spot in literature, especially nonfiction.

Now I am not saying there is anything inherently wrong with a Eurocentric viewpoint, but when all information you receive is filtered through this lens, you develop a very narrowminded view of the world that is not shared by the majority of it. Unfortunately, the vast majority of people in the United States, Canada, Europe, New Zealand, and Australia (places where almost all of my readers are from) have a Eurocentric viewpoint, and this view of the world has become institutionalized in the way our schools are run. In history class, we learn about Africa as if its one large country, except for Egypt because they are "white enough." In English, we focus almost entirely on European authors. Guess how many non-white English classes my college offered when I attended. That's right...none. But I could take Brit Lit I, Brit Lit II, Shakespearean Lit, Victorian Lit, Romantic Lit, and I did. We offer AP European History, AP American History, and AP World History, but there is no AP African History. In fact, AP World almost entirely focuses on Europe and the United States. Yeah, they recently added more history on India and cover China and Japan fairly well, but if you look at the content, it's still Eurocentric. But it's not just in our schools that we see this trend, it's in all of the books published in the United States, including books from our top pagan publishers. And unfortunately, our Eurocentric education makes it nearly impossible to spot the flaws because we were taught to have a Eurocentric view.

While working on this post, Fire Lyte beat me to the punch on pagan publishers in their amazing post Yes, This is Our Paganism: Llewellyn, Weiser, and White Supremacy. As such, I am only going to briefly touch on this subject because Fire Lyte did such a good job on what I was already working on, but I want to make something very clear: I support the work these publishers have done for our community overall. They have made witchcraft accessible to everyone through their work and have published books written by amazing people on amazing topics. I want to be published by one of them one day! This isn't to bash them, but to point out flaws in the system and what we can do to overcome them.

The witchcraft narrative is controlled by a few publishers, almost entirely Llewellyn. In fact, if you were to walk into any bookstore right now and pick up a book in the New Age section, you're most likely going to be picking up a book published by Llewellyn. The next largest is Weiser Books, followed by a number of smaller New Age publishers such as Troy Books, Moon Books, and Three Hands Press. If you do any research on these publishers, you will find one thing they all have in common: their editing staff and acquisition departments are almost entirely white. This means that every single potential book on witchcraft and paganism is passed through a white, Eurocentric lens before being published, if the book even gets that far. There are a number of reports that many BIPOC authors have given up trying to publish with large New Age publishers because it's too difficult. This is extremely sad, and honestly, infuriating. To add salt to the wound, Llewellyn and Weiser have books on BIPOC practices such as Santaria, Voudou, Hawaiian spiritualism, Hinduism, and Native American spiritual practices, that are written by white people who are not part of the closed culture. This is obviously problematic and again, filters the practice through a Eurocentric lens. As such, the colonizers aka white people, are controlling the witchcraft narrative. 

In recent years, only a handful of books from Llewellyn and Weiser have been published on topics that are not European witchcraft and Wicca. Now I get it, Wicca sells. European witchcraft sells. These are often the same forms of witchcraft presented in a positive light on TV (this is another loaded topic) so everyone comes running to it, at least at first. If you are BIPOC, this can be extremely frustrating, discouraging, and uninviting, and if you are not, it's hindering your world view of magic and its history.

You see, by filtering these books through mostly white people and writing about Eurocentric witchcraft practices, our books on witchcraft become heavily whitewashed, from the history to the practices themselves. The entire Love and Light movement and the Three-Fold Law are practices started by white people to set their witchcraft apart from the "bad" magics such as Voudou and Santaria. They inherently discredit practices such as cursing, hexing, and animal sacrifice, which were a large part of how the slaves fought back at their white oppressors and how modern BIPOC witches are still fighting against oppression and racism. Furthermore, the history of witchcraft in every beginner book covers the same two major topics: the Witch Trials and Greek/Roman/Celtic spiritualism. There is often no mention of magical practices from other cultures and their influence on modern witchcraft. The colonizers begged, borrowed, and stole a lot of occult practices so many modern witches turn to and we don't even question it. We don't even look at where these practices arose and whether or not we should be doing them. And the biggest reason for this is because we weren't taught otherwise. We were raised in school systems that still teach us what to think not how to think and present everything through that same Eurocentric lens, meaning we don't see the other side. We were the victors, right? So our version has to be correct! Wrong. And unfortunately, this whitewashing has led to another major problem: cultural appropriation.

Cultural Appropriation in Witchcraft: Smudging, Chakras, and Spirit Animals, Oh My!

Cultural appropriation is "taking or using from a culture that is not your own, especially without showing you understand or respect this culture." However, in order for something to be considered cultural appropriation, at least one of three things must occur: the person using from another culture is in a position of power; the appropriation is done without the consent of the culture being appropriated; the appropriation harms the group in some way. Ultimately, cultural appropriation is about picking things from cultures that aren't yours and utilizing them because you can. This is very different from cultural diffusion which is the natural flow of ideas between cultures without one culture exercising dominance over the other. Chinese food in the United States is cultural diffusion. Dressing up as a Native American on Halloween is cultural appropriation.

There are a number of practices in witchcraft that are the result of cultural diffusion, such as the use of crystals for healing and the following the moon phases and cycles of the year. However, there are several practices that have made it into the witchcraft community that are blatant cultural appropriation. I am going to break down each of these, briefly explain why it's cultural appropriation, and suggest alternatives to the practices. One thing must be made clear, however: white people do not get to determine what is cultural appropriation and what isn't. This list is composed of only items that have been designated by those BIPOC cultures as cultural appropriation. At the end of this reading is a list of articles supporting each of these.

Smudging/White Sage
This has been a pretty hot topic in the witch/pagan community, so if you haven't heard it yet I am going to assume you have been living under a rock. Smudging is a Native American ceremony involving very specific rituals and herbs, the likes of which are a secret to those outside the culture. It's not simply lighting up some sage and walking around your house as most witches do. Furthermore, the appropriation of white sage for "smudging" and smoke cleansing has resulted in a depletion of wild white sage. No, white sage is not endangered, but the commercial use of white sage has caused wild white sage, which many tribes rely on, to diminish in a number of areas.

It was illegal for Native Americans to practice their religion/spiritualism until 1978. Prior to 1978, many were jailed or killed for attempting to keep their heritage and practices alive. So you can see where colonizers taking the practices, including spirit animals mentioned below, is a slap in the face to indigenous peoples. It wasn't okay for them to do it, but because we suddenly find it cool, mystical, or witchy, it's okay. That's not how this works, and I am guilty of this one and still have white sage I have been using to cleanse. To be honest, though, I have never bought white sage myself. It has always been given to me as a gift or in subscription boxes. I believe it would be more disrespectful to throw the sage away than to use what has been given to me.

However, this doesn't mean you can't smoke cleanse in other ways. Heck, you don't even need smoke to cleanse a space. Check out my 13 Smoke-Free Ways to Cleanse for some ideas that don't use smoke. If you continue to choose to use smoke to cleanse, try using a different type of sage such as black sage or culinary sage, or another herb such as rosemary, lavender, pine, cedar, juniper, mugwort, or cinnamon, paying attention to the effects on animals if you have pets. Some people argue that the use of cedar also falls under cultural appropriation, but cedar was also used in the British Isles for smoke cleansing so it is generally regarded as safe.

Spirit Animal
This is another super hot topic in the witch community. A spirit animal is another Native American practice of select groups that has been appropriated. In these select indigenous groups that have spirit animals, it is an animal spirit that watches over an individual, family, or entire group. They are not an animal one identifies with and most often they are not discussed openly, as personal spirit animals are sacred.

There are many people that claim the Celts, Vikings, and other groups have spirit animals, but this is not true. Yes, the Celts, Vikings, Finnish, and other cultures around the world have animal spirits that guide them, protect them, or that one associates with. Totemism is found in lots of cultures but is not the same thing as Native American spirit animals. Furthermore, if you are using this argument in favor of using the term "spirit animal" you need to check your privilege. I refer to my guides that take an animal form as my animal guide, but there are a host of other terms you can use including fylgjur (Norse/Germanic), familiar (English), animal companion, or voimaeläin (Finnish). Some people have suggested the Celtic/Irish term fetch, but this historically referred to a spirit double and is usually seen as an omen of death. However, the meanings of words change, and therefore if you wish to use the term fetch, I encourage you to do so over using a term appropriated by indigenous cultures.

Again, this belongs to Native Americans. If you are looking for an alternative, create a nightmare charm or place some amethyst next to your bed or under your pillow. There is some debate about buying them from indigenous peoples, but from what I have seen, even then indigenous peoples are saying you shouldn't. 

Palo Santo
Palo Santo, like white sage, is used by indigenous peoples in Central and South America in purification rituals. The word "palo santo" means "holy" or "sacred," meaning the tree itself is sacred and holy and therefore the smoke as well when the wood is burned. The tree is also used for medicinal and healing purposes, but to get the full benefits, both medicinally and spiritually, the tree must first die naturally and be allowed to rest on the forest floor for four to ten years. The commodification of palo santo has not only taken away this sacred tree from indigenous peoples, but also caused it to become endangered. There are roughly 250 adult palo santo trees left in the wild and its continued use in popular neopagan practices will continue to lead to decreased numbers and the eventual extinction of this sacred tree if we are not careful.

As with white sage, use a smoke-less method or pick a different herb.

Hindu traditions, including deities, chakras, karma, and bindis, are part of closed or semi-closed in that they require initiation. In most cases, initiation also requires cultural heritage, usually through ancestry. Needless to say, these practices are not open to everyone and therefore should not be used. The Westernized version of karma is a bastardization of what karma actually is, which is related to your spiritual transcendence, caste, and reincarnation. It is not a non-Wiccan version of the Three-Fold Law. Yoga is also often argued as cultural appropriation as there is much more to yoga than just mindful movements. How White Yoga Harms Hindu People & Culture is a great article addressing this topic in greater detail. Needless to say, all of these practices marginalize Hindus, treats them as something exotic, and capitalizes monetarily on Hindu practices without giving credit where credit is due.

Stick to deities and practices from open cultures and religions. If you are looking to replace chakras, think about the major centers of the body. I work with my head, third eye, heart, stomach, loins, and feet. These are major areas of the body and the colors I see do not align with traditional chakras. Spend time getting to know your body and where energy centers within you. You will likely notice they have different colors or no color at all. When mine are not functioning correctly, I often see them covered in a thick oil-like goo. I "clean" them by envisioning a golden orb washing away the goo.

This is a closed religion of Afro-Cuban origins that requires ancestry and initiation. Again, avoid closed religions.

These are also closed religions and practices with ties to slavery and require ancestry and invitation. Without the understanding of ancestral slavery, these Western versions of these religions and practices do not hold the same meaning. While there are traditions willing to initiate non-black people, but in general, I would avoid these practices. Many forms of voudou are also still practiced throughout Africa and are not open to people outside the culture.

Again, avoid closed religions and practices. Conjure (not all forms are closed, so use your best judgment), rootwork (again not all are closed, so use your best judgment), voodoo dolls, voodoo/hoodoo bone throwing (different from bone divination used in other cultures), and hoodoo/voodoo spells are off-limits to those outside the culture. There are plenty of alternatives to each of these. Use the alternatives instead.

You may notice there are things I did not discuss in this post that may or may not be cultural appropriation. One of these is Brujeria. After reading and hearing from multiple brujos and brujas addressing this issue, I realized that many of them find it offensive that we think what they are doing is witchcraft or mystical or pagan. For that reason, and because I could not find articles from the Latinx community addressing this issue, I left it off the list. However, you shouldn't appropriate from them either. There are tons of practices that are off-limits to those outside the culture, especially white people. When in doubt, research.

Decolonizing Your Practice

Decolonization is...
"the process of deconstructing colonial ideologies of the superiority and privilege of Western thought and approaches. On the one hand, decolonization involves dismantling structures that perpetuate the status quo and addressing unbalanced power dynamics. On the other hand, decolonization involves valuing and revitalizing Indigenous knowledge and approaches and weeding out settler biases or assumptions that have impacted Indigenous ways of being. For non-Indigenous people, decolonization is the process of examining your beliefs about Indigenous Peoples and culture by learning about yourself in relationship to the communities where you live and the people with whom you interact." (source)
In simpler terms, it is moving away from colonialist language, like black and white magic, and cultural appropriation and returning back to our "roots." For me, that means focusing on my family's heritage and their religious and spiritual practices instead of practices I may like from other religions. I am certainly fascinated by other cultures and talk about them here on my blog, but those practices are not available for me or many of my readers to use. I only mention them to show my readers the diversity of ideas around the world.

So what should we do? 

First, it's time to retire the terms black and white magic, plain and simple. Magic is magic is magic. It has no color and therefore should not be associated with either black or white. It just is. If you must classify good versus bad magic, call them as such. Use the terms positive, negative, baneful, selfish, good, or bad if you absolutely must ascribe morality to the magic being practiced. Otherwise, let's just call it magic. A note: Some cultures, such as Dominican and Haitian voudou, use the terms black and white magic and this is acceptable per their culture. However, my fellow white, European witches, I would steer clear of using this terminology due to the historical connotations of the words.

Second, we need to move away from thinking of darkness as bad and light as good. Neither is better than the other, and we need both to live whole, healthy lives. It is in darkness that our bodies are nourished with rest and healing can begin. It is in darkness that our mind's problem-solve and receive divine messages through dreams. Both black and white light can be used to purify, cleanse, and heal. Of course, golden and yellow can as well. Work toward consciously changing your thoughts and checking yourself when you want to associate darkness with bad.

Read critically. This is the biggest defense against misinformation, one-sided stories, and cultural appropriation. I always gloss over the history in most introductory witchcraft books because its a repeat of the same, often flawed, information. The Burning Times was not a mass witch genocide. Easter is not Ostara. Wicca has not been around for thousands or even hundreds of years. There was not some huge Goddess cult in Europe. Read through spell ingredients and double-check their uses with scientific evidence and whether or not it's safe to bury them, throw them in water, or otherwise leave them in Mother Nature. Marietta, from Witchy Words, has an excellent post on how to read pagan literature critically called 13 Critical Readings Tips for Pagans, Wiccans, and Witches.

Research authors. What is their background? What is their experience? Look them up online and do a little digging. I always dig into the authors of the books I read as I like learning a bit about the person before reading their book. This also gives me some great insights into what to expect from their writing and also gives me some clues about potential problematic language and practices I may need to look out for. I am not condemning my fellow witches for such things as we all make mistakes, but knowing a bit about the authors allows me to check the author's bias.

Avoid using practices from closed cultures or that are harming indigenous peoples and our Earth. You don't need white sage or palo santo. You don't need chakras, voodoo dolls, or spirit animals to be a witch. Find practices from open cultures and "dead" religions to use, such as Greek, Roman, or Mesopotamian. There are so many other options available for us to use that appropriation shouldn't be occurring. Furthermore, the best way to avoid this is to stick to your ancestry. I am Scottish, Irish, and Swedish, with a bit of Viking on my dad's side. I identify heavily with Celtic and Norse traditions, as well as English because this is the religion of my ancestors, which should be pretty evident from this blog. These also feel natural to me. If I tried to practice something different, such as voudou or Santaria, I know I would be forcing it; that I would feel out of place. I don't understand how a white person can feel welcome and natural in such a setting because we don't have the historical trauma to fully comprehend the magic and customs in these cultures. They aren't ours. As India Jaggon so eloquently put it "delve into your own whiteness, backgrounds and histories to find the richness in your own culture..."

Stop calling all magical or occult practices witchcraft. As mentioned earlier, many practices outside of European witchcraft do not believe what they are doing is magical, occult, or pagan. Labeling them as witchcraft is colonial thinking, Eurocentric, and harmful to those communities. Furthermore, even hinting that their practices venture into the realm of witchcraft or magic can result in those people being targeted and potentially murdered as witchcraft and magic are still illegal in many parts of the world. Witchcraft is a term mostly used to describe European magical practices. However, not all modern witches identify with English witchcraft or are Eurocentric in nature. Even still, Europe has always been marked by plurality, meaning witchcraft is not inherently white either. There are many Europeans who are not white and overlooking or dismissing this fact does not accurately represent what witchcraft is. Recognizing and respecting different terminologies, ranges, and ancestral roots is important to decolonizing your practice.

If you are white, recognize that you practice witchcraft from a place of privilege. Yes, witches have historically been persecuted and in some countries, they still are to this day, but by and large, American and European witches experience little to no real persecution because of their spiritual beliefs. Furthermore, as a white person, you are less likely to be harmed for openly practicing your spirituality. The BIPOC community does not have such privilege. A quick glance at BIPOC spiritual representation in modern media is enough to attest to this. Their practices are demonized, bastardized, and otherwise looked down upon, even by white witches, and in some cases stolen, outlawed, or forbidden. This leads me to my next point: cursing, hexing, and animal sacrifice.

Marginalized groups have long used magical means to fight their oppressors through cursing and hexing. Wicca is an extremely privileged and colonized version of magic and occult practices, and they implemented the Three Fold Law in an attempt to make magic and witchcraft more appealing while demonizing the practices of the BIPOC community, especially practices such as Hoodoo and Voodoo. It was white people trying to set themselves apart from "bad" magic to make themselves look better to the general community. This practice has caused lots of harm to the BIPOC community and witches continue to use Wicca's Three Fold Law or even a bastardized version of karma to shame cursing and hexing. This has got to stop. In order to fully decolonize your practice, you have to stop looking at other practices through a white, European lens of morality. This includes changing your views on cursing, hexing, and animal sacrifice. These are not terrible, wrong, or "savage" (a colonial, racially-motivated term used to demean and harm the indigenous community.) practices. They just are.

Finally, colonialism in witchcraft also presents itself as commercialization, consumerism, and overuse of the natural world. These practices are inherently harmful to all of us and our planet. When you are sourcing tools, ingredients, and other resources for your craft, be mindful of the impact that item is having on the planet and its people. Is it ethically sourced? Does the company support hate groups, child labor, sweatshops, or environmental destruction? Is the item harming marginalized groups? Is this item something I can make or source myself? I am abiding by local laws when gathering or harvesting natural resources? I am only taking what I need? Am I paying proper respect to the Earth and the spirit of the resource I am taking? Colonialism has taught us that the land and its resources are for us and us alone, that we are entitled to it. You are not. Just because you can does not mean that you should.

Whew...That was a lot to say and I by no means covered everything or listed all the possible ways to deconstruct and decolonize your practice. As a white. heterosexual, able-bodied witch, it is important that I check my privilege and practices and it's important that I use my platform to elevate the voices of the BIPOC community and other marginalized groups. If you are a member of the BIPOC community and I have missed something you feel is important or misrepresented something, please let me know. Reach out to me in the comments, send me an email, or message me on Facebook or Instagram.

I fully expect this to ruffle some feathers and if you are white, this article should make you uncomfortable. Sit with those uncomfortable feelings and try and figure out where they are coming from. Recognizing your own bias is part of the learning process. In the end, you don't get a say in this. I don't get a say in this. It isn't about my feelings or yours; it's about theirs. End of story.

I hope that at the end of the day this will be a valuable resource to all. I have included a vast number of articles supporting everything here and encourage you to read them as well. This list is by no means complete, but it's pretty comprehensive enough to get you started.

Further Reading:

Racism & Whitewashing in Witchcraft
Are You Afraid of the Dark? by Rashunda Tramble 

Cultural Appropriation 
Saining Not Smudging by Cailleach's Herbarium
Not Your Spirit Animal by Donyae Coles
Totemism by Daniel McCoy
Is There An Inoffensive Way For Non-Natives To Own A Dream Catcher? by How Not To Travel Like A Basic Bitch (ha!)

Decolonization of Witchcraft
My Decolonization by Northwoods Witch

If you or someone you know has been a victim of racism, I strongly encourage you to check out Black Health Matters from Sunshine Behavioral Health. Racism is a public mental health crisis, and by starting the conversation we can reduce the shame and stigma associated with mental illness and mental health treatment.

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