Of all protection talismans, jewelry is by far the most popular. There are many reasons for this: you can carry it anywhere; it’s aesthetically beautiful; and it’s often discreet. From necklaces to bracelets to broaches, protective jewelry has been around for thousands of years, although it has changed forms throughout the centuries.
In this blog post, I want to dive into protection jewelry. What makes a piece of jewelry protective? How can you make one? And where did the folklore come from?
When I googled “protection jewelry,” most posts spoke about crystals and symbols. But I think we need to go back even further, to the metals.
Most jewelry is made out of at least one type of metal. In most cases, it’s an alloy (a combination of two or more metals). In ancient times, most protective jewelry was made from the seven metals of antiquity.
The metals of antiquity are gold, silver, copper, tin, lead, iron, and mercury. These were the first metals that ancient humans learned to work with. And the older the resource, the more folklore it has.
Of these metals, some were not as common in jewelry. Mercury, obviously, is a liquid and was often included in alloys. Iron has not been used in jewelry until recently due to its weight and high melting point. (“Cold iron” was used for talismans to protect against ghosts and other spirits, but these talismans were usually not jewelry.)
Speaking of alloys, many of these metals were (and still are) combined to create jewelry. Gold and silver were often mixed with copper and tin due to scarcity. Pure gold and silver were incredibly valuable, just like today.
In terms of protective metals, gold was considered to be the most valuable. Because it never tarnishes or corrodes, it was considered divine. From ancient Greece to India, gold was associated with deities and higher wisdom. Wearing golden jewelry brought you protection from the Gods, but only higher classes and priests owned them.
Silver is also a highly protective metal, but for different reasons. Its reflective surface was thought to ward off evil spirits. In the Gospel of Matthew, Judas turned Jesus over for 30 silver coins. Silver’s reflection was said to be a reminder of his betrayal to God. In the same vein, evil spirits would see their guilt in the reflection and flee.
Copper was a much more affordable metal for protection jewelry, especially in alloys. As late as the 18th century, copper has been used for protective amulets. These amulets would ward off disease, alleviate arthritic pain, guard the home, and much, much more.
According to the International Gem Society, today’s most popular jewelry metals are silver, gold, and platinum (the latter being more valuable than gold). Stainless steel is a common choice, and as an iron alloy, it is also protective.
Although the jewelry’s metal matters, it is not the be-all, end-all. Overall, the metal matters less than the shape it takes.
The vast majority of protective jewelry includes some sort of protection symbol. If you found this blog post, you’ve likely come across at least one protective symbol. Pentagrams, crosses, the evil eye, runes, and bindrunes (a combination of two or more runes) have all been used in protective jewelry.
Fascinatingly, some of these symbols have been integrated into mainstream jewelry. The cornicello is a great example. This chile-pepper-looking shape is a popular symbol in Italian folklore. Meaning “little horn,” the cornicello guards against the evil eye, or “il malocchio.” Many modern jewelers have used the cornicello, especially since minimalist jewelry has come back in style.
When I searched Etsy for protective jewelry, the most popular and common results were crystals. Although crystals have risen in popularity over the past few decades, they have always been around. Most have hundreds of years’ worth of folklore backing them.
Here are a few crystals that are especially common and/or interesting:
There are many, many more protective crystals that I can list, but that would be an entire book’s worth of information. Try researching the folklore of your favorite crystal; you might be surprised.
Not all protective jewels were crystals. Some were regular stones that were carved or enchanted for protection.
The best example, in my opinion, is the hag stone. Usually found in rivers, a hag stone has at least one hole that pokes through the stone. In British folklore, hag stones were powerful protective talismans. They were hung over doors and windows, tied to ships, and worn as a necklace to ward off evil spirits.
Arrowheads are another example. Although obsidian arrowheads are incredibly popular nowadays, they were made in specific countries that had a high amount of obsidian, such as Mexico. Others were created from different types of stone. Because they were put on arrows and spears, arrowheads have defensive and offensive magical qualities.
You’ll find that a lot of protective jewelry is made from natural stone and sometimes wood. These are not “normal” stones and wood because they have been enchanted by a magician.
Witch Bags and Bottles
In the past few years, I’ve seen a lot of protective jewelry made from tiny glass jars. These glass jars are usually filled with magical herbs and oils and sealed with a cork. They are the modern version of an ancient talisman known as a witch bag.
Witch bags were magical bags filled with magical ingredients and designed for a specific purpose. Cunningfolk, pellars, and shamans have all created and sold magical bags for one reason or another. The ingredients depended on the use and person. Some common ingredients included herbs, graveyard dirt, hair or nails, stones, and drawings of symbols, words, and prayers.
The bag was made by the magician and hung on a string. Oftentimes, people carried witch bags in their pocket or wore them around the neck. Although some people view herb jar necklaces as “New Age-y,” I believe that they harken back to the witch bags that magicians sold in the Americas and the British Isles.
This leads me to the inevitable question: What makes a piece of jewelry magical?
Imbuing Jewelry with Power
Historically speaking, magical jewelry was usually made by a magician. Many were consecrated by priests or shamans, meaning that they were devoted to a deity, saint, or spirit. By devoting the jewelry to a higher power, the magician guaranteed protection from that power.
Another method is enchanting, or filling the item with power. When it comes to magicians such as witches, cunningfolk, and brujerías, folklore says that just touching these objects makes them magical. The magician chose that specific stone or herb, meaning that it must have had something magical that other materials did not.
If these magicians had an enchantment method, it was usually not written down. These were secrets of the trade, after all. Nowadays, you’ll find many different methods of enchanting, such as bathing in incense, charging in a magic circle, or locked away for days, weeks, or months.
I want to note that enchanting is different from cleansing. Cleansing is removing (usually negative) energies; enchanting is filling the object with energy. Some magicians will use both methods, but you need an enchantment, not just cleansing.
I’d be happy to write a separate blog post on enchanting, consecrating, and cleansing. I’ve seen these terms and methods being mixed up plenty of times, which can get confusing for beginners.
Anything I Missed?
Did I miss anything about protective jewelry? Do you have a favorite protection symbol or crystal? What has worked (or not worked) for you? Please leave your insights in the comments below! I'd love to learn what others think.
I often get asked what “intermediate” witches and magicians should study. If you want to improve your Craft but don’t know where to start, I recommend researching folklore. It is the basis of most of the world’s magical practices.
Which folklore should you study and why? That’s what I want to explore in this post. Keep in mind that these are just ideas, and ultimately, you should pursue whatever captures your attention.
What Is Folklore?
Although a lot of people equate folklore with superstitions, it’s much more complicated. According to Wikipedia, folklore is “the body of culture shared by a particular group of people; it encompasses the traditions common to that culture, subculture, or group.” The American Folklore Society expands upon this definition, saying that folklore covers “art, stories, knowledge, and practices of the people.” Folklorists study a wide range of topics, including holidays, oral stories, funerals, dances, and urban legends.
When it comes to witchcraft, practitioners study folklore for its magic, superstitions, and beliefs about spirits. This is what separates a brujería from a pellar. Brujerías pull from Latin American and Afro-Caribbean folklore, while pellars study British magic.
If you have a culture-specific path, you already know which folklore(s) to focus on. But if you have no idea, here are some options.
Why Is Folklore Important in Magic?
Before we continue, I want to argue why folklore is important to the Craft. Frankly, I would say that it’s essential. Folklore is the basis of magic in many cultures, and without it, most modern magical paths–including Wicca and eclectic witchcraft–would not exist.
For many cultures, magic is a way of preserving tradition. Many study folklore to honor their ancestors or connect to their heritage. But that’s not the only reason to choose a folklore (or a few) to study.
Although folklores have many similarities, they also have several differences. In my post Magical Uses for Cemetery Water and Snow, I mentioned that cultures have different beliefs about ghosts and water. In Thailand, Japan, and the Balkans, ghosts can inhabit water. But in Scotland and the American South, ghosts are said to avoid water–so much that people painted their porches blue so that ghosts wouldn’t enter.
(Caves are another common theme in folklore with different associations and magical significance. To read more, click here.)
In addition, cultures use different methods to achieve the same results. Honoring Russian ancestors will look very different from honoring Chinese ancestors. Both are effective and valid but require unique practices.
If you try to follow every culture’s folklore, you’ll end up getting confused and go nowhere. The history of magic, healing remedies, folk charms, and oral superstitions will reveal much about magic that you might not have known.
Which Folklore Is “Right”?
You might be wondering which folklore is the “right one.” That’s like asking which theory about the afterlife is correct; no one truly knows, and the argument gets people nowhere. Personally, I think the better question is, “Which folklore is ideal for my Craft, specifically?”
Some witches are very talented with tarot; others prefer runes. In the same vein, some people get great results from one folklore’s practices and fewer results with another. How do you know which one works best? Practice and personal experience.
If you’re American, you might think that this country has no folklore (except for Native American lore, which is available only to them). But that’s not true. Where cultures go, folklore follows. I truly believe that spirits of that culture will follow as well. American folklore has blended aspects of several immigrant cultures.
Certain spirits and deities will not work with people outside of that culture. I mentioned Native American practices earlier as a good example; so is Hoodoo. These are called “closed cultures,” and they limit initiation to people within those cultures. But many cultures are open or tied to where you live.
With that out of the way, let’s dive into some ideas about which folklore(s) to study.
Your Culture / Ethnicity
To be clear: your magical path and religion do not have to intersect. I know plenty of magicians who pull from Christian ceremonial magic but don’t pray to Jesus outside of the required magical prayers. Why do they do this? Because they find that it brings results.
Some people feel that they cannot disconnect their heritage from religion. Personally, when I research Irish folklore for my ancestor work, I dive into Irish Catholicism as well. Catholicism is so deeply ingrained in my family’s history that I cannot separate them. (I also recommend that you honor your ancestors’ religious preferences as well.) Others prefer to work with ancient Irish Pagan deities instead, and that’s also a good path. It all boils down to how you approach your culture and religion.
Where You Live
Traditional witchcraft and folk magic both rely on one thing: your local area. Practitioners speak to local land spirits, use native plants, and research the history and superstitions of that area.
But you don’t have to be a trad witch to research your local folklore. Depending on where you live, this could yield some fascinating results. It can also help you feel more connected to the land and your area’s history.
You can learn a lot from local museums and landmarks in your area. Researching local plants also tells you a lot. (Don’t go out foraging without proper guidance, though.) Libraries and bookstores often offer books about native herbs, trees, birds, and more.
Pulling from More than One Folklore
Most practitioners I know pull from more than one folklore. How does one juggle two or three folk practices? It depends on the magician and how they practice.
Whenever I work with a Pagan deity, I work within their cultural context. For instance, I wouldn’t give an Egyptian deity Greek offerings. The same goes for ancestors. In order to honor these deities and spirits properly, I have to research their history.
Much of my death witchcraft is guided by these Pagan deities, so I use ancient Pagan sources for necromancy. But I’ll use British sources for ancestor work. When it comes to more general spellwork–such as money spells, home protection, etc.--I have freedom to choose. I try different methods and figure out which is the most effective.
If I had to explain my magical practice, it would look like this:
But that’s just me. You might have a different method. Let me know how folklore impacts your Craft in the comments below.
I’ve always been fascinated with magical word symbols such as the sator square. How did these words become magical? Why are they arranged in a specific shape?
Most of these symbols are magical word squares (as opposed to magic squares that feature numbers–-see Agrippa’s planetary squares). However, some are arranged in different shapes, such as an upside-down triangle or an oval. The word squares are usually associated with British pellars and cunningfolk, as British folk author Gemma Gary recorded many of them.
But while I was researching them, I found that most of these symbols stem from two authors: a second-century Roman physician and an Egyptian Jewish mage from the 14th century. So how did these symbols end up in Britain? That’s what I want to explore in this post.
The Origin of Magical Word Symbols
Many of these magical squares and palindromes were discovered during excavations. The sator square, by far the most well-known of these symbols, was first found in Pompeii. Even some palindromes made with Greek letters were found as far north as Denmark.
However, many can be traced back to the two authors I mentioned earlier. The first is Serenus Sammonicus (birth unknown, died 212 AD), the personal physician to Roman Emperor Caracello Quintus.
Sammonicus practiced many magical remedies that he learned from his mentors and borrowed from earlier occult authors such as Pliny the Elder. His most famous work, Res Reconditae, is a series of five books featuring natural remedies. Most notably, Sammonicus recorded the ABRACADABRA palindrome and ABLANA / ANALBA. I’ll cover both of these later.
The second author is an Egyptian mage named Abraham, or Abramelin (sometimes spelled Abra-Melin). A teacher of Jewish magic, he was said to live from 1362 to 1458, although historians debate whether he actually existed.
Abramelin’s life was documented in the book, The Book of Abramelin. This 17th-century manuscript features 12 parts and hundreds of spells. But it is most well-known for its magical word squares.
Abramelin created these magic squares out of Hebrew words. However, the earliest found version of the book was in German, as he was said to live in Germany. Although the author quotes many Bible verses, he took them from a Roman Catholic version of the Bible, written in Latin Vulgate. To put it simply, these magic squares are made from Hebrew words that have been Latinized.
So how did these end up in Britain? In the 19th century, occultist Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers translated the work into English. Mathers was highly influential. As one of the founders of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, he pioneered modern ceremonial magic.
Mathers’ translation, which he titled The Sacred Book of Abramelin the Mage, skyrocketed in popularity during the late 19th and early 20th century. I believe that is how these magic circles ended up in British folk magic.
Given how complicated the history is (Roman > Egyptian > Europe and beyond), I’m going to divide these symbols into two categories: Greek/Latin and Latinized Hebrew.
Greek / Latin Magical Palindromes
Latin word symbols were usually arranged within a square, while ancient Greek ones came in different shapes.
The Sator Square
Translators believe that Arepo is a name, possibly of Egyptian origin. (Arepo appears nowhere else in Latin literature.) So the palindrome translates to “The farmer Arepo has [as] works wheels.” In other words, Arepo plows with wheels, possibly with difficulty due to the connotations.
What does this meaning have to do with magic? Well…nothing, as far as I can tell. The point is less about the literal meaning and more about how the letters are arranged. The sator square is unique in this aspect; most other magical word symbols have relevant meanings. The Romans also had many other similar palindromes, so I don’t know why the sator square became the most popular.
The sator square has been put on walls, doors, churches, houses, and barns. Although it came from the Mediterranean, it has been seen as far north as France. Folk magicians often wrote it on paper and folded it to put in witch bags. The type of paper and color ink depended on the spell.
Speaking of magic, the sator square is a protective symbol. In folk magic, the sator square has also put out fires, cooled fevers, protected livestock, and removed fatigue from travelers.
The Pater Noster Square A-O
The square has paster noster in a cross shape with the A’s and O’s in the corners. The oldest evidence of the paster noster square comes from the second century; it is one of the earliest examples of Christianity in Britain.
Like the sator square, the pater noster square is a protective symbol. It’s sometimes used for healing as well. Think of it as a shortened version of the Lord’s Prayer, which asks God to keep food on the table, forgive debts, and guard against evil.
ABLANA / ANALBA
So what does the palindrome mean? The most direct translation is, “Iahweh is the bearer of the sacred name, the lion of Re secure in his shrine.” Iahweh is an Egyptian name and possibly refers to a deity. Some believe that this name is a version of God's name.
During the 5th century, Christianity was the official religion of Rome, but Pagan beliefs still thrived despite being outlawed. The IAEW-palindrome is a fascinating example of how these religions mixed in the Roman Empire.
Funnily enough, Polish researcher Joachim Śliwa noted that the scribe made a mistake. The author wrote “P” instead of “V.” Throughout history, most examples of this palindrome include the P, meaning that this spelling mistake turned into a widely-used magic symbol.
The IAEW-palindrome has been found in divinatory kits. The symbol likely connects magicians to the Gods and spirits. Sometimes, it is drawn with an Ouroboros around it.
Latinized Hebrew Magic Squares That Ended up in Britain
Most of these magical word squares were recorded in Gemma Gary’s book The Black Toad: West Country Witchcraft and Magic. I don’t know where Gary got these because she often doesn’t cite her sources. But when I researched the words, all of them came from The Sacred Book of Abramelin the Mage. Gary refers to these as British pellar spells, but they were likely used in Jewish magic as well.
The Book of Abramelin lists dozens, if not hundreds, of these magic squares. So I am not going to list all of them. I’m going to focus on a few from Gemma Gary’s books, since these have risen in popularity since the 2010s.
Unlike the previous palindromes, many of these don’t have official names. Abramelin did not name his spells, so I will reference them by their uses. All photos are from Gary's book.
Square for Love
But what does it mean? According to Abramelin, raiah is a female companion. It’s also a popular Jewish name meaning “queen of power.” Haiah comes from Arabic and means “modest,” although it could also be referencing Nith-Haiah, the angel of wisdom and magic.
Igogi is harder to translate. It might reference the Greek word agoge, which refers to the speed of music. If anyone knows Hebrew and can think of a connection, let me know.
I don’t know the translation for this square; this will be a common trend in this section. The Book of Abramelin does not translate all the words, and some of them have multiple meanings. I’m not going to act like I’m a Hebrew expert and try to translate these, but I will list their magical uses.
For Divination in General
According to The Book of Abramelin, milon comes from the Greek milos, meaning “fruit tree.” It might also come from the Hebrew MLVN, roughly translated to “the diversity of things.” Irago stems from the Greek eira, meaning “inquiry” or “question.” Lamal is “probably from Chaldaic,” and that’s all Abramelin says about it. Ogari possibly stems from the Hebrew OGR, “to swallow” or “swiftly flying thing.” Nolim is from the Hebrew word meaning “hidden or covered things.” I’m not a linguist, so I don’t want to try to translate the whole sentence.
Magicians put this symbol on divination tools or in their hat prior to divination.
For Divination, Mirrors and Crystals
According to The Book of Abramelin, gilionin is a version of the Chaldaic word GLIVNM, meaning “mirrors.”
This symbol is placed beneath or in front of the divination tool. People have used it on crystal balls, seeing glasses, magical mirrors, and more.
These magical words either have unknown meanings or are used in an unusual method. All are fairly popular in folk magic and deserve a discussion.
Magicians often write it on paper, fold it, and include it in healing bags. It is also carved into amulets that one can wear. Coral stones, metal, and birch paper are common materials to write it on.
Despite researching these words for days, I cannot find a translation of the word nalgah. If you have an idea, please let me know. But from what I can find, the word relates to spirit power, specifically the power of the serpent.
This symbol is similar to the sator square, and both symbols are written on either side of a charm for protection. It seems to draw upon the power of spirits as well.
The tetragrammaton is the five-letter Hebrew word for God’s name. As a magic symbol, it is actually three words–-or, rather, the same word written in three different languages. The first line is Phoenician, the second is Paleo-Hebrew, and the third is Hebrew.
I’m not going to include a picture because this symbol is unique to Kabbalah, a closed Jewish practice that requires lengthy study and initiation. Although the tetragrammaton is easy to find, you won’t know how to use it unless you understand Kabbalah. I can find information on how NOT to use it, but that’s about it.
Interestingly, ceremonial and folk practitioners got around this by writing the word tetragrammaton. As many know, the word tetragrammaton means “five-lettered word,” so they’re literally writing “five-lettered word” on top of other Hebrew words, assuming that everyone will know what they’re referring to. Here’s an example from Traditions and Hearthside Stories of West Cornwall:
What Do I Do with this Information?
This post is a general overview of some magical word squares and palindromes. Note that each one needs to be used in a specific way. Don’t assume that one method will work for another one.
I find it intriguing that most authors will list these magical words, but not mention where they came from. In my opinion, that’s a massive oversight. There’s a lot of discourse over the use of Hebrew words in ceremonial and folk magic. Although we will never remove Hebrew from these practices, we should at least give credit where credit is due.
Many have also pointed out that these symbols were probably used before Res Reconditae and The Book of Abramelin. And I’m not disputing that. I believe there is much more associated with these symbols than we currently know. Some words, like abracadabra, may remain undefined forever. Historical evidence for folk magic, especially ancient Pagan magic, is very difficult to find.
Until we discover more, we’ll run with what we know. Those who read Hebrew might have corrections and additions to this post, in which case, please comment! We can always learn more.
Thanks so much for staying with me on this unusually long post. Hope you enjoy!
Proponents argue that meditation has upgraded their Craft or that they cannot imagine magic without it. Opposers claim that meditation doesn’t work for them, and they practice fine without it.
Both sides make valid points. For beginners, this debate is especially confusing, so they often ask content creators for their opinions. I’ve received dozens of messages asking about meditation.
Here’s what I think:
People Are Hyper-Focusing on One Specific Practice Instead of Observing the Bigger Picture.
What do I mean by that?
Meditation is one example of the broader magical practice that I will call trance work. Trance work is intentionally entering a trance to calm the mind and emotions.
Meditation is one method of trance work, and it does not work for everyone. To put this into perspective, imagine if someone argued that every magician must use tarot cards. In doing so, this hypothetical person is ignoring all other methods of divination: scrying, runes, pendulums, osteomancy, etc.
As a community, we would benefit more from discussing trance work instead of arguing about meditation specifically.
What’s the Point of Trance Work?
Trance work intentionally dulls the mind. Emotions will relax and stabilize; intrusive thoughts will occur less frequently. While in a trance, the magician is more susceptible to receiving messages from spirits and deities. Trances are especially important in spirit work. Witches use trances to communicate with spirits, receive visions, and hedgecross (travel to another spiritual domain).
If you’re familiar with psychology, this might remind you of mindfulness. I would say that mindfulness is the halfway point of trance work. Mindfulness practices (including meditation) assuage the body to calm a person’s emotions. Trance work doesn’t just calm people down–it also slows your thoughts.
To be clear, you can still think during a trance. And this state is temporary. But if you’ve ever performed magic and wondered, “Is that my thought, or a message from something?” then you might benefit from trance work.
Magicians use a trance to prevent themselves from interrupting their own experiences. It decelerates anxious thoughts and doubts and allows them to just experience the moment. After the spell/divination/hedgecrossing finishes, they can interpret what happens.
What Methods Can You Use Besides Meditation?
That being said, there are some mild hallucinogens and herbs that can contribute to a trance state. And smoke was not the only method. Let’s explore a few others:
Be VERY careful with essential oils; I’ve heard horror stories of people feeling delusional from soaking in wormwood oil or something similar. Always do your research beforehand.
Returning from a Trance
As long as you’re not using hard drugs, everyone’s trance goes away eventually. But it might take a little bit. Personally, I have found that deep trances for hedgecrossing take longer to end, and I might spend a while “coming back to the room.”
If you want to speed up this process, use a grounding technique. Any method of grounding will work, but here are some ideas.
What Did I Miss?
What do you think about meditation in magic? Is it necessary? Are there other methods of trance work that I forgot about? Please let me know in the comments below!
Related Blog Posts:
I’ve never been keen on astrology. I never knew what a moon sign was before people started asking me about mine on tumblr. Ironically, my Catholic parents are more into it than I am and they often send me horoscopes.
Even so, I incorporate the moon phases into my practice. New moons and full moons are common spell days for me. Even if people don’t practice magic, many like to do something to honor these days, such as taking a bath during the full moon.
When I journal about the moon phases, I often run into blogs that go incredibly in-depth into astrology. Not just what sign we’re in, but where Pluto is, and how close Saturn has come, and which constellation is influencing the season. There is nothing wrong with this practice; plenty of magicians adore complex astrology. It’s just not my cup of tea.
So this post is for people who are not super interested in astrology. You can use the moon phases to your advantage without memorizing the correspondences of each planet. Even if you only work with full moons once in a while, you might benefit from these tips. And since the October full moon lands on the 20th, this is the perfect time to start planning.
What Do People Do during Each Moon Phase?
Before we dive into the tips, let’s discuss what each moon phase means. To be clear, the moon isn’t physically changing; its position to the sun changes, which is what makes it look different from Earth. Most of astrology is based on how planets and natural satellites appear to us. For example, retrogrades occur when a planet appears to move backwards, due to an illusion.
The moon is associated with the subconscious and magic almost universally across folklore. It illuminates aspects of ourselves that we might not otherwise pay attention to. Like the tide, energies ebb and wane with the moon, which is why many people cast spells during certain phases.
I have a moon phase mini-zine with bullet point correspondences for each phase. But here is a more in-depth version of that.
DISCLAIMER: Since this is directed toward people who are not super into astrology, I will not be going into crescent, quarter, and gibbous phases. I don’t personally follow those, and they can get a little too complicated for some people. However, I will discuss waxing and waning phases.
The new moon occurs when the moon looks black or invisible. Many consider this to be the start of the moon phase.
Because of this, new moons are associated with beginnings. If you want to change an aspect of your life, such as wake up earlier or eat healthier, the new moon might be a great time to start.
Magic-wise, new moons will amplify any spell that puts projects in motion. Money and job spells fit well here. So do rituals that will enhance your psychic abilities. For spirit workers, this is the ideal time for banishings and divination.
If you have a long-term spell that you cast over time--for example, one where you have to light a candle every day for a week--perform it on the new moon. It will grow in power with the moon phases.
Remember what I said about the moon and our subconscious? Despite having little light, the new moon illuminates the “darker” aspects of our subconscious, such as emotions and biases that we otherwise do not face. You might want to practice shadow work or journal.
The waxing moon looks like the moon is “growing.” It develops from a new moon into a full moon. When the moon looks like a crescent, it’s called waxing crescent; when it passes the halfway point, it’s waxing gibbous.
The waxing moon expands whatever you started during the new moon. During this stage, many people work on self-improvement, whether that be a work project or a personal goal or passion.
If you casted a long-term spell on the new moon, it will usually finish during the waxing or full moon. Otherwise, money and attraction spells will gain power here.
For spirit workers, you might want to practice your psychic abilities during this period.
The full moon is famous for helping any spell. Why? Because the moon is at full power, which means that many other energies get amplified. Spirits become more active during this period, and your intuition might sharpen.
Full moons are perfect for single-night spells. You can do anything from protection to love spells to cleansing. Personally, I tend to get a lot of success in spirit work and divination during a full moon.
Another aspect of the full moon that many people forget about is self-care. Because the moon is sending you power, this is the perfect time to recharge. Bath and shower spells are especially popular during full moons, or you can relax with an old-fashioned Netflix binge.
If the waxing moon is “growing,” then the waning moon is “shrinking.’ The moon’s power is ebbing during a waning moon, especially the last quarter moon (when it’s half full).
This is the time to cool down from all the magic you might have done during the new and full moons. Waning moons usually occur at the end of the moon, when many students and employees feel exhausted.
I view the waning moon as a spiritual cleaning time. Cleansing, meditating, and other stress-lowering practices can recharge you. Work on removing anything that isn’t helping you, whether it’s an emotion, a habit, or even clutter around your home.
If you have long-term spells that are still going during this period, bring them to a close before the new moon.
Tips to Make the Moon Phases Simpler
This might seem like a lot of information because it is. But I have some tips to make the moon phases feel a lot less overwhelming.
Plan what to do beforehand. For the new and full moons, try to research them beforehand. I usually write about them in my prayer journal a few days before. This time, I started a week before to provide an example for this blog post.
Use this as a brainstorming period. What kind of spells work best during this period? Do you want to cast a spell here, or would you rather practice self-care or do something simpler like make moon water?
Remember that you have wiggle room. Because moon phases change slowly, the full and new moons continue for two to three days. If you forgot about the full moon until the last minute (we’ve all been there), relax--you have time.
Don’t feel pressured to perform rituals at night. Many people cast their spells at night when they can see the moon phase. While this does feel magical, you do not have to practice at 10 p.m. The moon will still be full even if you cast a spell during the day. Personally, I tend to practice magic in the mornings because I’m not a night person.
Look up the full moon’s name. Every month, the full moon has a different name and meaning. Most have multiple names. This October, the upcoming full moon on October 20th is called the Hunter’s Moon, Blue Moon, Dying Grass Moon, and Sanguine Moon.
All of these names came from somewhere. If you understand the meaning behind the name, then you’ll get a better idea of what to do on the day.
If you want to, look up the current astrological season. The current astrological season (for example, we’re in Libra right now) can supply some information about the full moon. You do not have to be an astrology expert to gain information from what is currently happening in the stars.
Are there any retrogrades going on? Any planets you like to focus on? If you want to dive a bit deeper, do so. Everyone approaches astrology differently.
You do not need to work during every moon phase. Did you miss this month’s new moon? Don’t worry about it. You are not a failure if you miss a moon phase or choose not to practice magic on these days. Everyone needs a break, and sometimes life gets in the way.
Although moon phases play a significant role in peoples’ crafts, they are not a requirement. You do not need to follow the moon phases to practice magic. You also do not need to be an astrology expert.
Everyone’s craft is different. If you’re not interested in casting a spell during the day of Mars in the hour of Saturn, don’t. Your spiritual practice should be fun and rewarding. Work to make it that way!
“Types of Witchcraft” lists are one of the most popular witchy articles online. I can see why; many magicians who are just starting out want to learn what to study. Many more benefit from having some type of label.
My issue with these lists is not that they exist--it’s that they are always incomplete. In this post, I’ll explain the most popular controversies with these lists, and how new practitioners can approach them.
This might seem like a long list, but read between the lines. Why is sea witch mentioned but fire and other elements are not? Why is spirit work not mentioned? Hedge magic and divination are methods of spirit work, but spirit work overall seems to have been ignored.
There are also a lot of vague terms on these lists that I don’t understand. Hereditary witch makes sense I guess, but it does not clarify what they practice. It only says that they were taught by a family member, so it’s strange that that is on most lists. I’ve also seen vapid terms like “basic witch” (what does that even mean?)
The most comprehensive list I’ve found is this one on tumblr, which includes 99 types of witchcraft. And I’m sure that some magicians still didn’t find their practice on the list.
So why are these lists so popular, and how did so many types of witchcraft come to be? That’s what I want to explore in this blog post.
The Origin of Witchcraft “Types”
Later, these two words split and began to mean different things. Witchcraft became a secular (albeit still spiritual) practice that many people in Europe and America used to describe any type of magic. This is not true, by the way; magical practices like alchemy, chaos magic, and Hoodoo are not witchcraft. My own magic teacher absolutely refused to call herself a witch!
Despite this, practitioners wanted a way to distinguish their crafts from one another. The earliest form of this I could find is the division between white and black witchcraft/magic. Although these terms have been thrown around for centuries, they skyrocketed in popularity during the ‘80s and ‘90s. Witchcraft authors pushed the term “white witch” to prove that they weren’t evil.
Many people in the community, including myself, do not like these terms because of the obvious racial implications and inherent “we’re better than other practitioners” mentality. So we got more specific. Kitchen and green witchcraft quickly became mainstream. These focused on herbs and plants and had a lot of historical backing due to folk magic and ancient herbal medicine.
With the rise of the internet, people have had an easier time coining terms for their crafts. If they didn’t find a label they liked, they made one themselves. Urban witchcraft, tech witchcraft, pop culture witchcraft, and so on. Personally, I didn’t find the phrase death witchcraft until 2015, and few people were using it.
Controversies with Witchcraft Types
As you might imagine, not everyone in the occult community likes these terms. Specifically, most people in traditional and ceremonial magic communities will not use these labels. Many have brought up valid arguments against these terms that I want to discuss.
Their main argument is that people don’t need a label to practice magic. More accurately, opposers say that new practitioners waste too much time looking for a label when they could just start studying.
This I agree with. Nobody needs a label to practice magic, and newbies should not feel pressured to pick a witchcraft type just to start. However, many people benefit from a label. We want to clarify what we focus on in our craft, and plenty of people feel proud of their witchcraft type.
The other argument is one I’m less keen on. Many claim that witchcraft types “put people in a box.” In other words, if someone pursues sea witchcraft, then they will automatically miss out on other types of magic (like spirit work, divination, etc.) in the process.
This argument makes sense on paper, but not in practice. In my 13 years of practicing, I have never met anyone who clings to one type of magic. Studying magic automatically leads you to different fields. Green witches often end up researching animism and spirit work. Cosmic witches frequently encounter alchemy, which also relies heavily on planetary associations. Crystal magic has deep roots in divination, which guides crystal witches to spirit or deity work.
When I meet someone who says that they’re a water witch, I assume that water magic is their main focus. I do not assume that they only work with water and also, fuck candles.
That said, I believe peoples’ main concern is for beginners. Many worry that beginners will feel limited or pressured to research only one type of witchcraft. This is what I want to address next.
So What Is the Solution?
Do magicians need to be a “type of witch?”
That said, if they want a label to describe their craft, they can use one. You can even use multiple. I’ve met people who practice multiple types.
Are these terms inherently negative?
No. But people can approach these terms in a self-sabotaging way, specifically by limiting their Craft through labels.
How should new practitioners approach these terms?
View them as options. Read them as inspiration. Remember that you do not have to be a “type” of witch. In fact, you don’t have to be a witch at all.
If you want to practice magic, write down a list of topics you want to explore. Are you interested in spirit work? Ancestors? Which element fascinates you the most? Have you always been fascinated in herbal remedies, crystals, or tarot? Do you want to research magic associated with your culture or heritage?
The more you research, the more you’ll learn what you enjoy. After a while, you can take on a label if you want to.
What do you think about witchcraft type lists? Do you like or dislike these terms? Let me know in the comments below!
Since autumn is rapidly approaching, I am refreshing my home protection spells. I do this every year before Samhain, when I perform my most elaborate spirit work.
Protection spells, also called wards, are essential for any magic path, but especially spirit work. Have you ever heard about ouija board sessions gone wrong? Or poltergeist hauntings? Or a long streak of bad luck? Wards prevent those from happening.
If your wards are strong, you won’t have to worry about spirits following you home from a graveyard or hexes reaching your family.
Here are three protection spells that have aided me in the past. As with my post Three Death Witchcraft Spells to Heal the Deceased, I will list the ingredient correspondences at the end of the article. I recommend reading that list; spells always have more power if you understand the purpose of the ingredients.
Note: These are NOT banishing spells. They are not appropriate for someone who is currently being haunted. Wards are specifically performed to prevent attacks, not end them.
Candle Protection Spell
Candle spells are the most common form of wards I see. I believe that candle magic is popular because it is so accessible. Similarly, I have developed one that involves equally accessible ingredients: cooking herbs.
You will need:
Mix equal parts of dried dill, oregano, and parsley. If they are not already in small pieces, use a mortar and pestle to grind them.
Anoint your candle with the protection oil. Lay the dried herbs out on a paper towel, and roll the candle over them while it is still wet with the oil. The oil will stick the herbs to the candle.
Light the candle, and burn it until you can do it no longer. I created my other two protection spells while the candle was burning.
NOTE: Keep a close eye on the flame. As with any herb-covered candle, the fire could spread to the dried herbs and quickly burn out of control. Keep a glass of water nearby.
Protection Oil for Windows and Doors
When I was first learning witchcraft, my magic teacher showed me how she rubbed oils on her window and door frames. This is not a new concept; many cultures, from the ancient Egyptians through the Middle Ages, rubbed oils on doors and windows.
More commonly, people would hang, plant, or scatter herbs near their doors for protection. Oil blends are easier because they are subtle and can work in any home, including college dorms and apartments.
Clean and consecrate your container. I used a vintage perfume container that I found at a thrift store. You can cleanse the vial through many methods, from crystal charging to moon water. Personally, I consecrated it with myrrh incense.
Combine the oils with two parts rose geranium, one part lavender, and one part frankincense. For example, if you use two drops of rose geranium oil, pour one drop of lavender and frankincense oils. I did ten drops of rose geranium and five drops of the other two.
Leave it on your altar overnight to charge. I placed mine on a wooden Goddess symbol. If you perform this spell during a full moon, you may charge it with the moonlight. Do NOT charge it in sunlight; the light will degrade the oils.
The next morning, take your oil vial outside with a cotton ball. Place the oil on a cotton ball and rub it along your door and window frames. If you live on the second floor or above, you may do this inside.
Try to rub the oil on all four corners, if possible. You do not have to cover entire doors in oil. A little bit goes a long way.
Refresh this spell every six months.
Graveyard Dirt Protection Powder
Graveyard dirt has many magical properties, which you can learn more about in the post Magical Uses for Graveyard Dirt. One of its properties is protection, especially when it’s from the grave of a loved one (such as Goofer Dust in Hoodoo).
Use some from a reliable spirit whom you’ve worked with before, such as an ancestor. Think of it this way: which spirit do you want guarding your home?
This is a warding powder made with graveyard dirt.
Ask the spirit’s permission to use their dirt in a protection powder. When you have permission, combine the dirt with black salt (not cooking black salt--witches’ black salt. Learn more in the next section).
Add juniper berries and grind in a mortar and pestle. Pour two to three drops of patchouli essential oil, and mix. Keep this powder in an airtight glass container.
Scatter the powder around your home, especially the front and back doors. If you live above-ground, spread the powder along window sills and balconies.
Why I Chose These Ingredients
For More Protection, Check out These Posts
Which protection spells have you done in the past? How often do you need to refresh them? Have any not worked? Let me know in the comments below!
Since I had just moved to a new state, I had no idea where this grave was. I looked up some cemeteries on Google maps, and I spotted a forested cemetery with a review that said it was “supposed to be haunted.” That seemed like a solid choice.
When I drove to the cemetery, I couldn’t see it from the road. It was concealed by an abandoned chapel; I would not have noticed it had I not researched the cemetery. Shaded by trees, covered in moss, the cemetery was palpable. It was the first time I felt spooked by a graveyard.
Then, I found it. The gravestone belonged to Sarah Odell, and the cemetery was called Odell. This was her cemetery; she wanted me to know where it was.
Scrying can have some fantastic results. There are many methods of scrying and a vast array of visions to experience, which I am going to cover here.
What Is Scrying?
Scrying, sometimes called “seeing,” is a form of divination in which someone peers into a vessel and interprets visions that they see. Scrying does not require one to be a medium or clairvoyant. Like other magical practices, it simply requires the right method.
Although scrying is often associated with future predictions, it can reveal many other things. Insights into yourself, messages from spirits or deities, and sights into other realms are all on the table.
There are many ways to scry. Here, I’ll list a few of the most popular methods.
Types of Scrying:
Preparation: The Most Important Step
I know people usually skip over the “prepare” step (and I do too), but if you do not take time to do this, scrying will not go well.
Scrying doesn’t happen every time someone looks into a vessel. If that were true, everyone would have visions whenever they roasted marshmallows. The power does not lie in the vessel; it is in the magician and how they prime themselves.
Most people scry in a self-induced trance state. Author and blogger Katrina Rasbold phrased it as, “Make your mind as blank as possible.” Scrying works best when the mind is not plagued by impatience, anxiety, or expectations.
I like to smoke an herbal blend before scrying (my favorite is mugwort, damiana, and lemongrass). But you don’t have to use hallucinogens. Meditation clears the mind and can enhance spirit work. Others use music, chants, prayers, visualizations, yoga, and even dance.
You might need to experiment with a few of these methods to learn what works best. If you also practice spirit work, the preparation is similar, in my experience.
Tips for Successful Scrying
Scrying sounds simple: You just stare into a vessel and let visions come to you. But if you’ve ever tried it, you know that it’s not so easy. The mind can get distracted by the reflection, impatiences, or doubting whether your visions are real.
The best scrying advice I ever received was from the old tumblr user ofwoodandbones (oh how I miss them). To paraphrase: “You are not looking at the vessel; you are trying to look through it.” The reflections, lights, and shadows are just the surface. Your visions lie beyond it.
Here are some tips for scrying that I’ve gathered over years of experience:
What Will You See?
As with every form of divination, you should not expect to see something while scrying. Your visions could be anything from spirits reaching out to future predictions to answers for your questions.
The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn describes three levels of scrying, and I believe that these spell out what kind of information you might receive.
The first is “Scrying with the Spirit Vision.” These visions explain something about your inner self. For example, it might be a symbol of a situation you’re struggling with or a message that a deity has for you.
The second is “Traveling in the Spirit Vision.” During this stage, scrying transports you to a different area, whether physical or spiritual. You might see the dead in the afterlife, or you could see a nearby location that you must visit.
The third is “Rising in the Planes.” This is an insight into your spiritual process. Scrying might reveal symbols, spirits, deities, or actions that you should look into to excel in your Craft.
That said, no book or organization can interpret your visions for you. Only you can discern what your divination means and how you can use it.
Scrying requires a “clear mind” and plenty of mental and spiritual preparation. Instead of focusing on the reflection, practitioners must relax their eyes and allow visions to come to them. The more you practice, the better you’ll get.
Have you ever scried before? Has any method worked or not worked for you? Let me know in the comments below.
In the Middle Ages, many grimoires and religious texts were written by monks. Their apprentices would make the inks, and it was a tedious process. Magicians have been creating inks for centuries.
I’ve always been interested in making my own inks, whether it be for my Book of Shadows or protection symbols or prayers. Recently, I finally tried making my own inks, with varying results. I made two: one for spirit work and another for necromancy.
This post is less instructional and more about my own journey. My recipe is not perfect, but it worked well enough in the end. If you are interested in making magical inks, read on.
My Universal Ink Recipe
When I researched ink recipes online, I found a variety of different recipes with different ingredients and methods. But after trying a few and tinkering with them, I came up with this:
Before you start, here are some other tools that you’ll need:
What Is Gum Arabic, and Do I Need It?
I made my inks for dip pens. These are pens that I dip into ink and draw with. Because of this, I needed thicker ink, hence the four teaspoons of gum arabic. If you are making ink for fountain pens, you should use less gum arabic, around ½ to one teaspoon. Use too much, and your pen could clog.
Also--If you can find liquid gum arabic, get it! I bought it powdered, and it’s hard to stir in. The powder immediately starts thickening the second it touches liquid, and it takes a while to dissolve it. I have not tried the resin, but I imagine that it is not much easier.
It took a few tries for me to find a suitable gum arabic ratio for my ink. The same might happen for you. If you find a different recipe, let me know in the comments below!
Which Ingredients Color the Ink?
Finding the right ingredients to color your ink could be a challenge. As a general rule, if a food, flower, herb, or liquid stains your fingers when you pick it up, it’s good for ink. Here are some examples that I did not include in the recipes below:
If you steep a certain herb or flower, and it creates a specific color, it will also work for ink. Examples include chamomile, peonies, hibiscus, rose, lavender, lily of the valley, and daffodils.
But what about magical associations? After all, the entire point of making magical inks is to make them magical. Here is how I made my own ink recipes:
If you cannot decide which color to choose, check out this post about color magic and correspondence lists.
If you want your ink to have more magic, consider adding incense, graveyard dirt, moon water, tea bags, or herbs. I’ll provide some examples of how I made my own magical inks below.
Red Ink for Spirit Work
My first ink was designed to enhance spirit work. I want to use it to draw protection symbols and summoning circles, and I made it red.
First, I wrote down a list of ingredients that could make ink red: raspberries, turmeric, marigolds, red onion skins, and rooibos tea were some contenders. In the end, I settled on these ingredients:
Specifically, I added one cup of chopped beets, two tablespoons of dried rose petals, and two cones of dragon’s blood incense.
To say that this mixture smelled weird while simmering was an understatement. But it made a deep, purplish red color close to blood, which is what I wanted. After following the recipe I detailed above, here is how it turned out.
It is a light, purplish red color. I have to shake it before using, similar to other inks. If you want to make it more red, perhaps you can add more rose petals than I did.
Black Ink for Necromancy
My next ink was black, and I wanted to gear it toward death witchcraft, specifically. I’m going to use it for necromancy symbols, decorating bones, and writing prayers to my ancestors.
Although there are many ingredients that can create black ink, I settled on charcoal. It is essentially ash and appears dark enough (or so I thought).
After examining many different ingredients, I came up with this list:
As soon as the charcoal blocks hit the water, they disintegrated. Charcoal does not dissolve, but it does “melt” into the water. I only had myrrh incense sticks, so I scraped off the incense into the water. I added two tablespoons of coffee and a tiny bit of graveyard dirt.
The mixture smelled like myrrh, moreso than coffee. To remove most of the charcoal powder, I had to strain the ink a few times. The coffee seemed to dissolve right into the water.
Unfortunately, this ink turned out more brown than black. If I were to do this again, I would use more charcoal. I only used two blocks for this recipe, so in the future, I’ll use four or five. Like the previous ink, I also need to shake it before using.
Would You Create Magical Ink?
What do you think about these magical ink recipes? Do you want to make your own, and if so, for what purpose? Do you have a better recipe than me? This was my first time making inks, and I have a long way to go. Let me know what you think in the comments below.
On the 2021 spring equinox, my husband and I were standing in line (six feet apart from everyone) in the Long Beach Sun. We were behind two friends with very distinct laughs, across the street from a university’s florist department, and next to an ice cream seller in a tux ringing a bell. Eventually, we got into the Long Beach Antique Market.
This market had around 500 sellers of thrift items and antiques. With $200 in $20s, I was specifically looking for altar and witchcraft items. And I was not let down. I got everything from dried plants to altar decor to animal bones.
Many people ask me about witchcraft on a budget. If you’re reading this, then you probably know how expensive some magic tools and metaphysical shops are. But everyone can practice magic with little to no money. To prove it, I’ve made a list of witchcraft and Pagan supplies that you can buy at thrift shops, antique stores, and flea markets.
These items are divided into four categories: spell ingredients, witchcraft tools, altar items, and storage. You’ll find some crossover; for instance, the vials that I mention in Storage are also decorating my altar. At the end, I’ll show you how much you can decorate an altar with thrifted supplies.
These are items that you can potentially use in spells.
These include divination tools, books, and other items that you might use for spells, but not in them.
Whether you are religious or not, you can put some of these items on your altar.
These include jars, shelves, and other materials to store your magic supplies when not using them.
Building Altars with Thrifted Items
When I got back from the Long Beach Antique Market, I challenged myself to decorate my altars using mainly thrifted supplies. It was easier than I expected; at least 70% of each altar was bought secondhand.
If this looks like a lot of supplies, remember that I’ve been practicing for over ten years. I’ve visited a lot of antique stores and gathered supplies over time. Not all of these were from the Antique Market.
I have three altars, all on my dresser. I will name all of the items on each that were thrifted.
Altar #1: Wiccan Altar
Thrifted items: the Goddess statue, teapot, both pink bowls, amethyst grapes, opal apple, books, white vase, dried eucalyptus, air plant and its holder.
Altar #2: Death Witchcraft Altar
Thrifted items: coyote skull, glass vial (holding cemetery water), perfume bottle (holding spirit oil), pink container (holding graveyard dirt), black offering bowl.
Altar #3: Hades Altar
Thrifted Items: mythology book, glass jar with bone, black frame, coyote skull, green glass bottles, dried plants, amber medicine bottle.
Did I Miss Anything?
Do you go thrift shopping for magic supplies? What have you bought? Did I miss any items? Let me know in the comments below!