While browsing through witchcraft blogs, I see a lot of posts about building altars on a budget. Those are wonderful, but I want to approach altars from a different angle. How can you make a functional altar that’s also beautiful?
Today, I’m going to write a fun post as a break from all the chaos. I’m going to redecorate my Hades altar and guide you through the process. If you redo your altar after this, post it on Instagram and tag me @death.witch.envy!
Determine Your Altar’s Function
Many posts about altars discuss the “purpose.” For instance, you may build an altar for a specific deity. Perhaps you want to practice your craft at your altar. Will your space focus on nature, ancestors, or something else?
But I want to take this a step further. What will you do at your altar? Or rather, what do you want to do? Perhaps you want to practice spirit work there. Perhaps you plan to create more jar spells at your altar, or you want to journal more.
Thinking about your altar’s function will determine the setup. For example, if you want to write in your grimoire at your altar, you’ll need enough space for your notebook. If you want to practice more fire magic, include a jar of candles and matches.
Write down everything you’d like to do at your altar. This will determine which tools you include and how much space you’ll need. If you need a lot of space (like I do), stack all of your decorations and tools in the back. Leave the front open for your work.
Sort through What You Already Have
While setting up your altar, focus on the stuff you already have. Don’t wait for a specific crystal that you want to buy in the future. Appreciate what you have--and get creative! Decorative boxes, bags, jars, sculptures, and rocks can make great altar accessories.
Lay out all of your materials so that you can see them. If you’d like, pinpoint what color palettes you have. In my pile, I have a lot of blacks, tans, blues, purples, and pinks. I decided to use blacks, tans, and purples for my Hades altar. Of course, you don’t have to make a color palette. But it can be fun to explore what combinations you can make.
Decide What You Need and What You Go Without
When deciding what to put on your altar, aim for the absolute minimum. Divide your stuff into three piles: must-haves, maybes, and no’s.
Your must-haves are tools that you WILL use on the altar. Don’t include tools that you might use; add ones that you know you’ll use. Remember, you can always add more tools later.
However, your must-haves can also be sentimental items. Is there a statue that improves your prayer? Or a family heirloom that makes you happy? Perhaps you have a crystal or candle that gets you in the “witchy” mindset. If you can’t imagine your altar without it, then it’s a must-have.
Keep out your maybe pile and put away your no’s. When you set up your altar, focus on the must-haves first, and add the maybe’s if you have room.
Related: Offerings for Deities: The Basics
If You Include Containers, Fill Them Wisely
Adding boxes to your altar can save space and look elegant. But if you’re going to include storage, fill the containers with stuff that you frequently use. If your box holds old letters or crystals that you never take out, it’ll only gather dust.
Before decorating my altar, I filled my favorite containers with tools that I need. The basket holds graveyard dirt, bones, and wands. The box stores my favorite crystals and candles with candle holders. My coffin containers have more bones and bone candles for my Hades worship.
Now, for the set up!
Establishing symmetry will always make your altar look put-together. If you have a long table like I do, placing items on both ends will signal where the altar begins and stops.
For my Hades altar, I have two candles that I use for death work. I also have two skeleton statues. Although these pairs don’t match perfectly, they still look symmetrical. They’re similar in height and appearance, so they frame both sides wonderfully.
Create Different Heights
If you want your altar to look aesthetically pleasing, vary the object heights. Include some tall candles next to short candles, or a short teacup next to a tall statue. It’ll entertain the eye.
To create height, stack boxes or books and place objects on top. For my Hades altar, I stacked a Konstantinos book and my old Greek mythology book. Both match my color palette and provide a platform for the rest of my tools. Plus, they were both influential for my Hades worship and death work.
Related: On Worshipping Hades
Arrange the Biggest Objects First
This step will make your decorating a lot easier. If you have a large statue, candle, or crystal tower, place that on your altar first. The smaller objects can surround the big objects. Plus, including large items will automatically create height variance.
On my altar, the biggest object was my obsidian scrying mirror. I placed it on top of the books as a centerpiece. The rest of my tiny objects can go around the mirror.
Have Fun with Smaller Decorations
After your large items are set up, your smaller decorations and tools go on. Experiment with different arrangements and colors. Remember, must-haves go on the altar first, and maybes can be added if there’s room.
First, I placed two bones that I commonly use in my practice. Then, I added a jar of graveyard dirt. Those are some of my must-haves because I work with them frequently. Another must-have was a purple Cerberus sculpture that my friend made for me. (Visit her Etsy at IntotheCaveCreations!)
The rest were maybes. A tiny Greek jar filled with coins and a black candle skull fit perfectly. In front of everything, I included an offering bowl for Hades. The altar is pretty, functional, and contains plenty of space for my death witchcraft.
Decorate Shelves Similarly
If you have shelves of witchcraft supplies, you can decorate them similarly. Place the largest containers first, and stack books and boxes of different heights. I’m lucky enough to have a bookshelf as my altar, so I keep all of my supplies underneath my altars.
If you’re closeted, store items in discreet boxes. That London box in my bookshelf has hid my witchcraft supplies for years. If it weren’t underneath my altars, nobody would guess that it’s witchy.
Related: My Death Witch Travel Altar
If It Can Go on the Wall, Hang It
If you want to save space, use the wall. Hang decorations that can’t fit on your altar. Install shelving to contain more of your supplies that you can easily reach.
I created a magnetic herb container out of an old advent calendar from Starbucks. I painted the container lids to label every herb. Then, I hung the advent calendar over my altars. Whenever I need some dried herbs, I can easily grab them. Plus, it makes a wonderful decoration.
Did this guide help? Have you redecorated your altar during quarantine? Let me know in the comments below!
I used to sleep with the lights on. My crippling fear told me that when I slept, I couldn’t fit to stay alive. I had this vision of someone breaking into my apartment and killing me in my sleep. Months of sleepless nights finally prompted me to tackle my fear of death.
This fear manifests in different ways, but everyone has it. It’s in our DNA. If this fear has interrupted your life--caused you to dissociate, created an existential crisis, or robbed you of sleep--it’s time to attack the emotion. If you need therapy for this, please seek out a professional.
I’m not a psychologist, and I can’t cure your fear of death. But I will provide the techniques that helped me. Remember that this is a journey, not a destination. Some days I feel fine, while others I stay up at night. We have to consistently work on this fear throughout our lives, especially as death witches.
Acknowledge the Purpose of the Fear
In my experience, many people treat the fear of death as a weakness. I used to say that I didn’t fear death because I thought it made me appear braver. But this emotion serves an important purpose. If we didn’t fear death, we’d drive 100 mph down the LA freeway during rush hour. We’d smell sour milk, and drink it anyway. No one would work towards their dreams, because if there’s no end, there’s no rush.
The fear of death keeps us alive. As unpleasant as this emotion feels, it makes us value life, and there is no shame in that. Perhaps author Lisl Goodman said it best:
“Our very essence rests on the knowledge of mortality From the building of permanent shelters to the invention of means of transportation to ever more distant places...all this is founded on our knowledge of death. If there were always tomorrow--if we didn’t know that our future was limited--our only goal would be the satisfaction of immediate, parochial needs, as we witness it on an animal level.”
The trick is to make this fear work for you, not against you. Thinking “life ends, so nothing matters,” will only worsen your life. The following tips will attempt to flip that mindset.
Define What You Think Happens After Death
What do you think happens after death? Take some time to write down, in detail, what your theories are. Do you believe in an afterlife? Are the afterlives separate for different religions? Do you believe in reincarnation? Or that you’ll enter a deep sleep?
Although this may seem arbitrary, it’s essential for the rest of the process. Some people find comfort in the idea of an afterlife and reuniting with Gods. Others feel terror at the idea of a conscious end. The next tips will provide support for all views, whether religious or otherwise.
When you are writing your ideas, remember: THERE IS NO “TRUE” ANSWER. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve heard something like “consciousness just disappears, and that’s a fact.” We DON’T KNOW what happens after death. Scientists don’t know, religion doesn’t know--no one knows. Treating your theories as a fact could lock you into a box of existential dread that you don’t need to be in. Be nicer to yourself.
Pinpoint What about Death Scares You
The fear of death is more complicated than many people assume. Everyone worries about a different aspect of death. If you want to tackle your emotions, you need to determine what they are.
According to psychologists, here are the most common fears surrounding death:
You may have more than one reason why death scares you. Write down your reasons, and remember that all of these fears are valid. There’s a logic behind them, even if the emotion itself feels irrational.
This is a technique that psychologists use to test what they call “emotion myths.” These myths are assumptions that we treat as truth, when they may actually be flawed. In short, you write down arguments against your fear.
Here are some examples for the fears I listed above.
These “myth busters” won’t erase your fear immediately. But they may create cracks in your logic. They help people realize that there may not be as weight to their emotion as they once thought there were. As a thought experiment, come up with arguments against your fear.
Write Your Own Obituary
Instead of discussing another person’s death, write about your own. Create an obituary for yourself, or write a speech that a loved one will give at your funeral. This exercise clarifies what we want from life, because it forces us to explore the impact we can have on others.
Try not to invent worst case scenarios in this exercise. Brainstorm your ideal funerary speech. Imagine that you’ve accomplished everything you wanted to; this will illuminate what you want to do in life. It will also frame death in a positive way, proving that your life will make a lasting impression on others. I still remember feeling inspired by speeches at my relatives’ funerals.
This is by far the hardest technique on the list.
“Cope ahead” is a therapy skill designed to relieve anxiety around a situation. In short, you imagine yourself undergoing the experience that you most fear. If you’re scared of dying painfully, imagine it. If you worry about dying unexpectedly early, picture what will happen afterward.
The idea is to brainstorm how you’ll cope with these situations. For instance, will you get medical support that alleviates the pain? Will you write a will that tells your family to publish your manuscript if you die early? “Coping” may help you realize that you can handle the situation, even if it feels like you can’t.
Some authors have added physical exercises to this mental experience. For instance, witchcraft writer Konstantinos recommended lying on the cold floor to picture your body in a coffin or at a funeral. Although it may sound silly, your posture influences your thoughts whether you realize it or not.
IF YOU’RE GOING TO TRY THIS EXERCISE, READ THIS. You must schedule “cool down” time. Coping ahead is an emotionally draining experience, and you’ll want some self care afterward so you don’t carry your strong emotions throughout the day. I didn’t do this the first time I tried it, and it messed me up. So remember to watch a fun movie, take a bath, or spend time with loved ones to recover from the exercise.
Also, try coping ahead in ten-minute intervals. Again, this exercise is draining, and you don’t want to spend all day imagining your own death. Right now, you are living. Enjoy life and make the most of it.
Before I Go, Let’s Talk about Shadow Work
Whenever I see metaphysical writers talk about the fear of death, shadow is the number one recommendation. The psychology theory comes from Carl Jung, who argued that the conscious ego ignores or shuns emotions that we don’t want to experience. By tending to this “dark side,” we can make peace with it, Jung said.
One could argue that the exercises I mentioned above are forms of shadow work. But that’s not what Jung would say. He asserted that the “shadow” appears in dreams, as it is subconscious. Acknowledging your shadow and identifying or “assimilating” with it is the ultimate goal of this practice.
I’m here to discuss the downside that a lot of other writers ignore. Some experts don’t agree with this philosophy. It isn’t practiced in modern psychology, and it doesn’t work for everyone. I’m not telling you to avoid shadow work. I’m saying that, before you dive in, you should assess whether or not this practice will work for you.
I’ll list some pros and cons for you to consider.
Have you felt too sluggish to practice your craft during quarantine? Me too. In this article, I’ll discuss why that’s okay, and how you can perform simple rituals to improve your socially isolated life.
If You’re Feeling Unmotivated, You’re Not Alone
It has rained all week. Every time I peeled back the blinds, I saw grey and downpour. Although I could easily walk in rain, it felt like another physical barrier between me and the outside world. Yet another thing holding me back from a fifteen-minute walk.
My logical brain has treated quarantine like a time advantage. “Since I’ll be home all the time, I should practice more. I should perform those rituals that I’ve been planning. And I need to plan for the next full moon.”
Instead, I oversleep one or two hours, and I don’t practice. I work all day and don’t practice. I call my parents, ignoring my craft. And then I stay up until 2:00 a.m. playing Animal Crossing--and don’t practice.
If you’ve been in the same sluggish, unmotivated boat, you’re not alone. We’re not robots. All this extra time could benefit us IF we weren’t stressing about a pandemic, separated from our friends and family, and bombarded with apocalyptic news.
We’re not “supposed” to act any way during this once-in-a-lifetime pandemic. This situation is new, hard, and unpredictable. When I finally stopped beating myself up for not following my “should” statements, I finally considered how witchcraft could benefit me.
How Witchcraft Can Help without Bogging Us Down
Don’t be surprised that you have to change up your rituals and routine. When you’re feeling unmotivated, focus on magic that tackles the problems you have now. Abandon the rituals you performed before this all started.
Magic uplifts our lives when we’re at a disadvantage. When we need a job, it gets us one. When we want a new romance, it sends suitors our way. And it’ll do the same during this pandemic.
To be clear, I’m NOT claiming that magic will cure COVID-19. But it can make our daily lives more manageable.
Determine WHY you're feeling unmotivated. What about this time is preventing you from practice? Is your emotional weight stress, concern for safety, or something else? After you determine the cause, you can use magic to tackle it.
Throughout the week, I considered my main problems brought about by quarantine. I landed on these issues:
The following are rituals that can assuage these problems. Perform them as you wish--remember, there is no timeline that you have to follow during social isolation.
For Health Protection
Magic has warded illness for centuries. In many cultures, magicians would seek the help of spirits or deities to keep disease away (which many believed were caused by evil spirits). Ancestors, health deities, chthonic deities, and nature spirits may aid you. Give them offerings and ask for help to keep you and your family healthy.
Folklore also references protection and luck charms. For instance, the Celts would place Brigid’s cross in their homes to ward off sickness for a year. The evil eye, Gorgon’s head, and horseshoes were worn or hung to keep misfortune away.
Other magicians would aim to redirect the disease. They would carve images out of clay, which was designed to attract the disease. Then, they would bury it far away.
There are far too many health and protection spells to list here. If you’re interested in more info, check out the Encyclopedia of Superstitions, Folklore, and the Occult Sciences of the World: Volume One by Cora Lynn Daniels or The New Encyclopedia of the Occult by John Michael Greer.
For Feeling Trapped
We stay at home all day--no one can blame people for feeling stir crazy. Although you can’t head outside (except for essential needs), you can create an “away place.” By redesigning your spiritual place, you’ll feel less trapped in the same boring house all the time.
Now is the time to revamp your altar. Sort through your magic tools, and throw out anything you don’t use. Hang different art on the walls. If you can, construct a blanket fort in the corner of your room that will offer a small “away place.” Obviously, this doesn’t replace going outside. But it can spark that desire to practice your craft.
For Negative Energy
For those who feel more down than usual, you may want to cleanse more often. The most popular method is smoke cleansing with rosemary, sage, lavender, or palo santo. But I’ll teach you a couple of different methods too.
One uses oil instead of smoke. In my experience, rose geranium oil works well, but you can use rose oil or rose water instead. When in doubt, infuse cleansing herbs in a carrier oil or water.
Take the oil and rub it on your window sills and doors. You only need a little bit; dab the four corners if you can. If a specific area feels congested, such as a desk, cleanse that too. If you have an infused water, put it in a spray bottle and mist your home.
Next is a banishing spell in case these cleansing rituals aren’t strong enough. Take a black stick candle and place it in a shallow bowl. (You may anoint or carve the candle for extra strength.) Fill the bowl with one inch of water.
Light the candle. Focus on the negativity leaving, and repeat the intention to yourself. Chant, sing, whisper--invent your ancestors or other spirits if you need help. Keep the energy high until the candle flame extinguishes in the water.
For Lack of Direction or Guidance
If your day’s schedule gets thrown off, or if you have no idea what to do with your craft, perform divination. Whenever magicians have questions, divination offers answers. It exists to guide people.
Even a single rune drawing or five-minute pendulum session can lend you more clarity. I highly recommend journaling about your divination results. In the past, I’ve received answers that I didn’t understand until I wrote about it.
For Blocked Emotions
“Blocked emotions” may need some explaining. Recently, my subconscious has prevented me from really feeling my emotions. I’d experience bouts of anxiety before it vanished seconds later. I’d try to reflect on my recent stress, only for my mind to go blank. When we don’t experience our emotions, they continue to build until they overflow. If you’re also struggling with blocked feelings, try these techniques.
First, consider meditating. Although meditation isn’t inherently magical, many practitioners do it before or during ritual. It slows down thoughts, soothes us, and prevents the mind from interrupting your experience.
Even an occasional five-minute meditation can make a difference. If you can’t focus on the breath, consider listening to a guided meditation. There are plenty on YouTube and the free app Insight Timer.
The second technique is self-cleansing. I’ll admit that, for a long time, I doubted that self-cleansing would make a difference. But after trying it, I found an unexpected benefit. It kept me in touch with my body. While cleansing, I detected energy stalls and blocked chakras that I didn’t know about before.
My favorite methods of self-cleansing involve smoke and crystals. Use a smoke cleansing stick or small crystal to move around your body. You don’t have to touch the skin; hover right above it. Drag the smoke or crystal across your head, neck, shoulders, arms--your entire body. Notice what you feel and where, then journal about it later.
There is no "right way" to handle quarantine. If you're feeling unmotivated or struggle to pracitce your craft, that's okay and valid. Consider why you're feeling uninspired. Is it a trapped feeling? Worrying about health? Or another issue? After you discover why you're not practicing, use witchcraft to tackle it. Just one ritual could make your experience better.
What have you done with your craft during quarantine? Comment below and let me know how you're doing! We'll get through this together.
Most Pagans begin their journey by studying Wicca, and then they may convert to a different Pagan religion. I was the opposite. I started my spiritual journey by studying Hellenic Polytheism, because I felt a close affinity to Gods such as Zephyrus.
When I was 12, my family lost our house in the recession of ‘07. We moved in with my grandparents, and I entered a long depression. All I could do was wait until we moved back home. For some reason, I felt a strong affinity to Zephyrus, the God of the West wind. In my mind, He represented a favorable change and would sweep me back home soon.
I didn’t connect to Zephyrus again for another dozen years. Now, during social isolation, I’m feeling the same way I did back then. I can only wait for change to happen. Once again, I feel drawn to Zephyrus. But this time, I want to actively worship Him with the knowledge of Paganism I’ve gathered over the years.
Worshipping a lesser deity is hard. Resources on the God/dess are sparse, and few blogs and books even mention Them. If you want to work with a minor deity, you landed on a good article. Here’s how I found information on the worship of Zephyrus.
Find Your Sources
Because few people worship minor deities, you likely won’t find offerings lists or worship guides online. So what do you do? Now, you have to go to the source. Read ancient texts and authors who wrote about this deity.
Search the deity’s name through Google Scholar, which will display verified texts from universities and researchers. You can also scour databases such as theoi.com. If you find an author who wrote about the deity, pull up a PDF of the work (if possible) and search the keyword. On my computer, I can type Control + F to search the deity’s name.
I’m sure this goes without saying, but only trust resources from the culture that worshipped the deity. Looking up ancient Norse guides for Sumerian deities will result in inaccurate information.
If you’re stumped, shake up your keywords. Since googling “Zephyrus” got me little, I switched my terms to “ancient greek wind worship” and “Anemoi.” Those brought up more results and authors that I didn’t find before.
Search for Symbols
In deity worship, symbols matter. They can become objects on an altar, prayers, devotional artwork, or offerings. Write down how your deity is depicted, even (especially) in ancient art.
For instance, Zephyrus is often depicted with wings, so we can assume that wings (or possibly birds) are an appropriate symbol. On at least one occasion, He was portrayed with scattered flowers across His mantle. Now we know that flowers could make a decent offering.
Write notes on any food, animal, epithet, or physical description of the deity. Although modern art can help, it stems from the artist’s perspective and may not reflect how the ancients worshipped the deity.
Read between the Lines
Chances are, the minor deity won’t have correspondence lists of offerings, symbols, herbs, etc. Most ancient texts don’t have those details in list format, either. Some records will outright tell you what an appropriate offering is (i.e., Orphic Hymn #81 attributes “fumigation of Frankincense” to Zephyrus). But if you can’t find these, you’ll have to read in between the lines.
For instance, a story in the Iliad details how Patroclus’s pyre wouldn’t light. To spur the flames, Achilles poured offerings to Boreas and Zephyrus. We now know that some of Zephyrus’s offerings were poured, but what could the liquids be? In ancient Greece, libations were usually wine, water, oil, honey, or milk. So we can assume that any of these liquids are appropriate for Zephyrus.
Even the “Weird” Facts Count
Never discount unexpected or weird facts. Mythology had several writers and a hundred different story versions. Many deities have several different representations, some of which may seem out of character.
When researching Zephyrus, I found that Oppian credited Him as the father of tigers. Not what I expected, but I keep it in mind. I also remember that only one author cited this (that we know of), so I don’t have to go overboard associating Zephyrus with tigers.
Take Your Tools and Worship
After research, you can move on to worship. If you haven’t interacted with this deity before, introduce yourself to Them. Speak or write a prayer, and express that you’d like to work with Them. Give an offering based on what information you’ve dug up.
I often receive questions about how to approach a deity for the first time. People want to know whether to speak formally or informally, what to offer, or what to say. They are (understandably) scared of doing something “offensive” or “wrong.” And I can’t give you an answer on what’s “right.”
Every God/dess is different. When first working with a new deity, be receptive to how They respond. For instance, while praying to Zephyrus, I sensed that He doesn’t enjoy flattery like my other deities do. I praised Him, sensed that He didn’t like it, and stopped. I didn’t get punished or ruin my relationship with Him; most Gods are more caring than that.
Your deity may enjoy informal speaking or praises; They may not. You’ll have to figure that out on your own. Before contacting Them, ground yourself, and remove all expectations. Give yourself permission to feel a bit awkward and possibly screw up. It’s all part of the worshipping process. As long as you remain respectful, you’ll be fine.
There’s also a possibility that the deity doesn’t want to interact. If this happens one time, try again. If it keeps happening, you may want to respect Their wishes. Not every deity/human relationship will work out.
Don’t Expect There to Be a “Right” Way
Everyone worships differently--even with well-known Gods who have millions of followers. If mainstream deities don’t have one-way worship, why should minor deities?
You will receive little information on your deity. Expect that. Know that you may have to improvise your prayers, offerings, and rituals. And that’s okay. Although research is crucial, working with your deity will give you all the knowledge you need.
Because resources on minor deities are scarce, you’ll have to work harder to gain this information. Follow these steps for the most reliable results.
Now that many people are stuck at home due to their virus, their daily routines have disintegrated. We have to invent, schedule, and stick to new habits. For Pagans and magic practitioners, this re-surfaces the topic of consistency. Many of us want to practice every day, but we struggle to do so.If you ever hear someone say that “all you need is motivation,” they know nothing about habits. If that were true, researchers wouldn’t conduct studies or write books about habit formation. No one would need advice from psychologists, because we’d all be “motivated” already.
So if motivation isn’t the key to a consistent practice, what is? Everything relies on how you go about practicing. Have you decided on what to do and why? Did you set out your tools? Schedule in your meditation session? All of these add up to keep you in touch with your deities or magical practice.
In this post, I’ll outline what steps you can take towards practicing your craft or religion every day. Many of these tips come from James Clear’s book Atomic Habits. I’ll list more recommended books at the end of this article.
Schedule When, Where, and What
In 2017, a psychologist asked participants to plan their goals either by thinking or writing them down. Participants who wrote down a plan were 42% more likely to achieve their goals, according to the study. Jotting down your schedule can force you to stick to it.
To schedule your magic/worship time, follow the three W’s: when, where, and what. The “when” is a specific time of the day, and for how long. “Where” is the location you’ll do it, and “what” is the activities that you plan on doing.
James Clear also recommends a method called “habit-stacking.” Essentially, you plan a new habit after a pre-established one. For example, After I brush my teeth [current habit], I’ll meditate for five minutes [new habit].
Using these tactics, I’ll plan my own routine as an example. Around 7:15 a.m., I’ll make my morning coffee. After that, I will practice my craft. I will cleanse the living room, and then I will perform a rune reading/scrying session at my desk. It’ll take 10 to 15 minutes.
Make It Quick and Easy
When we encounter something we don’t want to do, our brains make up several excuses. “I’m too tired,” “I don’t have time,” and “I’ll do it later” are common ones. The more you plan to do, the more excuses your brain will invent. Assume that when the time comes, you really won’t want to practice your craft. How can you get around this? By making it easy.
First, don’t make your habit too long in the beginning. I recommend only ten minutes a day (read more about that here). James Clear suggests an even shorter amount of time: two minutes. Whether you do two or ten minutes, it isn’t long enough to dampen your day. Anyone can do something for two minutes.
Don’t make your session too complex, either. Shorten it to one tarot reading, protection spell, or smoke cleansing. You can add on more once the habit is established. For now, you just want to get used to doing something witchy at the same time every day.
Determine Your “Why”
Remember back to the first time you practice witchcraft or Paganism, when you felt motivated and got a lot done. Back then, you had a “why” that was clear and decisive. It may have been as simple as “I want to know more” or “I enjoy this.” But it was enough to encourage you to work.
Without a foundation, we won’t feel the need to get out of bed early or turn off the TV. We need a clear reason for why we want to practice more, and we should remind ourselves of that reason consistently.
Perhaps you want to grow closer to a deity. Maybe you’ve always wanted to get better at geomancy. Or perhaps practicing every day gives you a sense of calm that lasts hours afterward. Whatever your “why” is, write it down and place the note in a spot that you frequently visit.
Put Everything out Where You Can See It
The phrase “out of sight, out of mind” matters when creating a consistent practice. For months, I tried to perform divination every day, and I couldn’t stick to it. I eventually realized that my desk setup was hiding all my divination tools. Instead of placing my rune set in a spot where I can easily grab it, I tucked it inside a pencil case at the back of my desk.
Your craft will become unavoidable if you make it obvious. Keep your tarot deck out in the open. Place a crystal in your bathroom where you’ll see it first thing in the morning. Our brains are lazy, and we’ll be less likely to practice if we have to unpack all of our tools first.
If you’re closeted, you may not be able to leave your tools out in the open. I recommend writing a note to yourself. It can be discreet; the word “practice” will kickstart your memory enough. Place it in a spot where you’re guaranteed to see it.
I recently transferred all my tools into open boxes and set them on my work desk, which is by the kitchen. I can easily see and grab any tool I need in the morning.
Don’t Try to Change Other Habits at the Same Time
Learn from my mistakes; don’t work on more than one habit at a time. For years, I couldn’t establish a consistent practice because I tried to do too many things at once. I would go on a self-motivation kick and overbook myself. “Well, if I’m connecting with my ancestors daily, I might as well go to the gym every afternoon. And cook all meals at home. Oh, and I need to go to bed earlier, too.”
Take it from me: when you work on one habit, the rest will follow. When I wake up early to practice my craft, I often make breakfast at home. I work out later because I have more time. I feel more productive after a round of spirit work, so I write a blog post. Focus on changing your craft now, and the rest of your goals will manifest without you even thinking about them.
Record Your Streaks
The more often we practice our craft, the prouder we feel. For this reason, I highly recommend recording your streaks. When you finish your daily cleansing, mark it on a calendar. If you do it the next day, you’ll have a streak. These trails of success make us less likely to take a day off.
If you need to take a day off, however, follow the “two day rule.” The idea is that you should never take two days off in a row. If you’re too busy to write a prayer for your deity, give yourself a day off, and do it tomorrow. YouTuber Matt D’Avella has a great video on the two day rule if you’re interested.
I track my habits using the free app Habitica. It’s an RPG that gives you a customizable character. As you complete real-world habits, your character levels up, and you can upgrade it. In my experience, apps that reward me for streaks are more motivating than ones that punish me for missing a day.
Have Someone Keep You Accountable
This is a tip that I’ve heard for years but never took seriously until recently. To phrase the tip briefly, have others keep you accountable for your habit. Checking in with another person will peer pressure yourself into achieving your goal.
I never did this because of social anxiety, and I have missed out. Recently, I teamed up with the Pastel Priestess (who runs a podcast on Hellenic Polytheism) so we could keep each other accountable. We told each other our goals and checked in every day to reveal what we did.
There are less personal ways to hold yourself accountable. You can tell everyone your goal on a blog, like I’m doing, which will hopefully work. Hopefully. Otherwise, you can download habit-tracking apps that connect you with friends so that you can both see each other’s streaks. Some apps (like Flora) will have you donate a small amount to charity if you don’t keep it up.
In short, here are the techniques that I used to develop a consistent magic practice:
These books aren’t necessarily witchcraft or Pagan-focused, but they can help you determine what takes priority and how to practice every day.
If you’ve been following me, you may know that my grandfather died quite recently. It was my second familial death in four months, with the first being my great aunt. Although these deaths were hard, I’m no stranger to experiencing the loss of a loved one. If you’re reading this, chances are that you’re familiar with it, too.
I receive a lot of questions about what to do, magic-wise, when a loved one dies. Many of these messages sound urgent--people are eager to communicate with their loved one, especially if they pass away unexpectedly. In this post, I hope to answer some questions on what you can do after someone you know dies.
The Mundane Comes First
This probably goes without saying, but the funeral and your family always, always come first. If you were close to this loved one, you’re probably involved in their funeral and honoring their will. These projects take time, but they’re essential for both the deceased soul and the people grieving.
The funeral helps the deceased to wrap up any loose ends they had in life. Many people receive signs from their loved one during this period, such as messages in dreams or specific picture frames falling off the shelves.
If you haven’t received any of these signs, don’t worry. You aren’t doing anything wrong. It’s actually quite common for souls to not contact the living right after dying. Why? Keep reading.
Don’t Expect to Communicate with the Dead Right Away
“Is it too early to contact my dead loved one?” is one of the most common questions I receive. I’ve also seen a lot of practitioners fearfully warn against communicating with the soul soon after death, as if something bad will happen if you do.
Technically speaking, you can communicate with your loved one soon after death. Some older occult works advise that necromancers perform a ritual within a week of the death. In their eyes, the soul will remain close to the body within this time, which makes for an ideal communication session.
However, in my experience, most souls do not contact the living soon after death. I’ve read message upon message asking why a loved one won’t respond, and what the practitioner is doing wrong. Chances are, you’re not doing anything wrong. Most souls prefer not to communicate within weeks, months, or even years after their death.
Think about death as a major life transition (despite how that sounds like an oxymoron). If you moved to a different country, you’d likely take a while to adjust. You’d have to learn a new routine, a new home, and possibly a new language. That major transition could consume your life for a while after the move.
Death is the same way. Your loved one may take a while to adjust to their new state. They may want to wrap things up in their life before they respond to magicians. Some may never respond to magicians--that is entirely their choice.
As a death witch, you should honor your loved one’s choices in death. Be patient. Don’t keep bugging them to respond if they’re not ready yet. As a general rule, most necromancers don’t contact a soul for around six months to a year after death. Although there are some exceptions, expect to receive few messages in between that time.
So What CAN You Do?
Being unable to contact your loved one can hurt. You’re grieving, after all. You may want to help your loved one feel safe and happy, or you may fumble with your own emotions. Fortunately, death witchcraft isn’t only about talking to the dead. It’s about helping, honoring, and caring for the dead, even if you don’t receive any message from them in return. Here are some things that you can do to support your loved one beyond the veil.
Erect an Altar
In my opinion, building an altar for your loved one is one of the most important steps that a death witch can take. The altar continues the soul’s memory just by existing. It contains any tools or memorabilia you need to contact the soul, and it’s where you can perform most of your rituals.
If you already have an altar for the dead or your ancestors, give your loved one a special spot. You can provide a picture of the person or an object that represents them, such as their old jewelry or even their funeral pamphlet. These objects will serve as a taglock to connect you with your loved one during rituals.
What else can you put on the altar? Anything that represents your loved one or furthers your magic. If you have their graveyard dirt or ashes, keep them in a container at the altar. If you write a letter or make a candle for your loved one, you may keep it on the altar. Include a space to give offerings. Appropriate magic tools, such as an obsidian scrying mirror or tarot deck, may also be stored there.
If your loved one was religious, include some items to represent their faith, not your own. For instance, my great aunt Mary was a nun, a sister of Saint Joseph. So I included a Saint Joseph votive and a rosary on my ancestor altar. Even if you don’t agree with your loved one’s religious views, it’s important to honor them. Although I’m Wiccan, I give my ancestors Catholic offerings because I love them and want to make them happy.
Speaking of Offerings…
Never underestimate the importance of offerings. They not only nourish the soul, but also prove that you are thinking of your loved one. Offerings establish a connection between the two of you, even if you can’t receive their messages quite yet.
As I mentioned before, make sure that the offerings for your loved ones honor their religious beliefs. Rose quartz wouldn’t be an appropriate offering for my grandfather since he never believed in crystal healing. But lighting my Saint Joseph candle and offering red wine--which he drank every night--would be appropriate offerings.
When in doubt, here are religion-neutral offerings that you can give: water, bread, wine, honey, milk, and rocks (not crystals). I will write in-depth about offerings in a future post.
Personalized offerings, such as writing a letter or providing their favorite food, also work. If you’d put the object on their grave, it’ll likely make an appropriate offering.
These gifts will relax your loved one in death. It’ll calm them, help them pass on, and remind them that you won’t forget their legacy. Offerings can also help you sort through your grief.
What to Do If These Things Aren’t Enough
If you’re a magician, you’re probably a “doer.” Sticking to prayers and belief isn’t enough for us; we want to push the forces of nature with our own hands. Offerings may scratch this itch for some time, but after a while, you’ll want to perform a ritual.
Although I recommended waiting to contact the dead, nothing is stopping you from trying. You can always try divination to see if your loved one is willing to talk. But don’t beat yourself up if it doesn’t work; they just aren’t ready yet.
If you want to be more proactive in helping your deceased loved one, I recommend a love spell. No, not a spell to make them fall in love with you--a spell to send healing and love to your loved one in death.
When I performed this spell in February, it encouraged communication between me and my lost loved ones. Even my great aunt Mary responded to my ritual, which is highly unusual given that she died in November.
You will need:
Here’s what you do:
This ritual is just an idea. You can change it to suit your practice if you wish.
Although most people can’t communicate with their deceased loved one soon after death, they can connect in other ways. You can build an altar, give offerings, and perform a spell for the newly deceased soul. Remain patient and focus on mundane tasks first, such as attending the funeral and tending to your living loved ones. If you give the soul time, you’ll be able to communicate eventually.
I’ve received a lot of questions from new Pagans asking how to pray. In response, I think it’s natural for many Pagans--myself included--to Shia LaBeouf it and say, “just do it,” without any detail. That makes sense, right? Just talk or think or write to your Gods.
But for many new Pagans, prayer is not natural. We all come from different backgrounds; some aren’t used to praying without a holy text, while others have never prayed at all. To top it off, no one wants to feel dumb by talking to nothing. Practitioners want to ensure that the Gods will hear them and that they don’t say anything wrong.
To (hopefully) make up for all the times I answered “just do it,” I’m giving you all a comprehensive discussion about Pagan prayer. Newbies may use this post as a guide, while experienced Pagans might find some new ideas here.
The First Time Will Always Be Awkward
If you feel uncomfortable praying, you’re not alone. When starting out, prayer always feels awkward. Beginner Pagans may experience waves of doubt about whether they’re actually speaking to Gods or not.
Know that almost every Pagan, whether new or experienced, has felt this way. If others can overcome it, you can too. Here are some tips to relieve the awkward feeling.
First, use a method that feels most comfortable. If you feel nervous when talking out loud, don’t do it. There are plenty of other methods for prayer that I’ll dive into soon.
Second, create an anxiety-free setting. To do this, you’ll need to identify what you’re worried about. Do you doubt whether the Gods will hear you? If so, start with an offering; They’ll definitely pay attention then. Do you not want to look like an insane person by talking to nothing that’s visible? Ensure that you’re alone, and play music to cover up your talking.
My final tip is a reminder: prayer relies on faith. None of us began praying knowing that the Gods will respond, or even that They’ll listen. We had to believe that They would. In a sense, beginning to pray is a test of your faith. Trust that the Gods will deliver.
Talk, Write, or Think?
Before we consider what to say, I want to cover some methods of prayer. When many people think of praying, they may picture worshippers speaking, chanting, or singing out loud. You may certainly use these methods if you’re comfortable with them.
But you never have to chant loudly to be heard, You can mutter, whisper, or even mouth the words. The Gods are everywhere, and in a sense, They are within us. We don’t have to yell or sing as if They live on the floor above us.
Similarly, thinking prayers is quite common. By sending prayers through your thoughts and energy, you can contact the Gods in any situation, no matter who is nearby. This doesn’t mean that deities are constantly reading your mind; rather, you mentally ask that They listen by thinking “Hey, [deity]” or “My Gods, please listen to me.”
My personal favorite prayer method is writing. It’s more proactive than just thinking, and you don’t have to struggle with the awkwardness of speaking. Writing leavings a physical offering, almost like a divine letter. You can create a trail of letters to reference later by making a prayer journal.
How to Remain Respectful
When I receive questions about prayer, many people wonder what to say. Pagans don’t have a Bible to spell out worship for them, and this could spark some anxiety in those who don’t want to say something “wrong.” On that note, it’s very difficult to pray “wrong.” The Gods rarely get offended, and if They do, you can always assuage Their disappointment through an apology and offerings. Deities only ask for respect. If you worry about remaining respectful, then you’re already respectful enough to not offend your Gods.
Another common prayer topic is how to speak. Do you recite ye olde texts? Do you remain formal, as if conducting a job interview? Or can you remain casual and admit, “things suck right now”?
At the start of my worship, I only recited written prayers--ritual chants recorded by authors like Cunningham and Valiente, designed to formally evoke the Gods. While those provided some memorable rituals, I stopped repeating them quickly. Once I realized that I could talk to the Gods casually and without consequence, I never turned back.
There are some perks to speaking informally. One is that it encourages people to remain honest. When we talk formally, we may sugar-coat certain topics or avoid them altogether. Trust me; honesty gets you far with the Gods. In my experience, deities view honesty as a sign of faith and humility.
Another perk is that you can feel more “you” with the Gods. You don’t have to monitor or second-guess what you say all the time. In this sense, you may grow closer to your deity and feel less awkward.
However, informal speaking relies on improv. You may not have a structure or plan while praying, and some worshippers may not like this. If this is you, I recommend reciting written prayers. You can find Pagan prayers on any social media and through many historical texts. For instance, Hellenic polytheists may want to read Delphic Maxims, and Wiccans may reference Doreen Valiente’s poems through the Doreen Valiente Organization.
One more thing. Many people have asked if it’s appropriate to give the Gods nicknames or titles like “Mom” or “Dad.” Personally, I think it depends on the deity. Some are fine with it; others prefer a more formal tone. As long as you’re being respectful, it’s alright. You’ll know when you cross a deity’s line.
What Do You Say?
The short answer: anything. You can say whatever you want as long as you’re not insulting, bribing, or disrespecting the Gods. In my experience, when most people ask about what to say, they’re usually wondering how to begin the conversation.
The hardest part of prayer is starting it. No matter which tone you take, no matter which written chant you have on hand, starting off can be nerve-wracking. I’ll give you some recommendations for beginning your prayer. Of course, you don’t have to pick one of these; they’re simply examples to get you thinking about how you want to open your prayer.
Again, beginning a prayer is the hard part. Afterward, you can tell the Gods whatever you want. Thank Them for things; ask for help; or simply tell Them about your day. Never bribe or try to guilt-trip the Gods. They are greater than you, after all.
Tips to Pray Consistently
As with most religions, prayer is an essential aspect of Paganism. Establishing a regular prayer routine will build your relationships with the Gods and help you feel more grateful and supported throughout life. Here are some tips to make regular prayer easy.
You can pray through speaking, singing, whispering, writing, or even thinking. As long as you remain respectful, it doesn’t matter what you talk about or how you choose to do it.
Have faith that the Gods will hear you. Try to make prayer a regular routine. As long as you love your Gods, good things will come.
Of all the questions I receive from readers, this one is by far the most common: is it a sign?
By “sign,” I don’t mean stock market predictions or an indicator of disease. We’re talking about religious signs--messages that deities send when They’re reaching out to someone. Signs could be a dream, or a vision, or a suggestion brought up through divination.
Before we continue, I want to define what “sign” means in a religious sense.
What Is A Sign?
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, a sign is an object, quality, or event whose presence or occurrence indicates the probable presence or occurrence of something else. Or, it could be a miracle regarded as evidence of a supernatural power.
When I receive questions about signs, they don’t usually indicate a miracle in the biblical sense. Most of them are, at first glance, everyday occurrences. A person could be followed by a certain animal, encounter a myth about the deity, or hear a song that reminds them of the God/dess.
I’m not trying to suggest that these are “wrong” interpretations. In modern religions, many believe that deities don’t have to miraculously heal people or turn water into wine to prove that They exist. And I agree. When Gods send a sign, They usually aren’t trying to prove Their existence. They’re attempting to reach out to someone personally, which leads into my next point.
I can’t confirm or deny your signs for two reasons. First, signs are inherently personal to the individual. A dream could have profound significance to you, but when you relay it to someone else, they don’t understand the impact because they haven’t had your experiences. Second, “casual” signs--ones that aren’t miracles or otherwise unexplainable--are far too easy to debunk. Seeing a raven on your porch could be a message from The Morrigan, or it could be that a raven decided to land on your porch.
It's Okay to Doubt
In the Pagan sphere, many say that “If you doubt it, it’s not a sign.” I heavily disagree.
I would never, under any circumstances, discourage doubt. Especially in religion, doubt is healthy. It forces you to double-check your experience and ensure that this religion/deity is for you. New practitioners, in particular, don’t know what to look for when it comes to deities. Who could blame them for remaining a bit skeptical?
In my mind, a sign will remain a sign whether or not you doubt it. If you aren’t sure whether your experience is a sign, keep reading. We’ll figure it out together.
Strategically Doubting the Sign
Let’s return to the original question: is it a sign? While I can’t answer this question for you, I will give you techniques to decide for yourself.
Contrary to popular belief, if you want to confirm the sign, you need to doubt it. You’ll have to test it. When deities reach out, They tend to be obvious and persistent. They’ve been doing this for thousands of years, after all. They know how to grab someone’s attention.
My strategies can be broken down into two questions:
To illustrate what I mean, I’ll include examples of my signs from Ninhursag (Sumerian Goddess) back in November 2019.
Is It Specific?
“I’ve been running into dogs multiple times a day for the past week. Is this a sign from Hades?” This is an example of a generic occurrence, not a specific one. Why? For one, it’s common. A lot of people own dogs, and it’s likely that people encounter dogs every day without realizing it.
More importantly, this isn’t specific to Hades. Yes, dogs are one of Hades’ symbols. But they’re also a symbol of Ares, Bau, The Morrigan, Set, and Fenrir. If it is a sign, how do you know that it’s Hades? Why wouldn’t it be any of these other deities?
In my early years, I may have defended this by saying it’s the worshipper’s intuition. Yes, intuition plays a strong role in deity contact. But during my path, I’ve mistaken my strong emotions for intuition. I interpreted common animals and flowers as signs from a God because I wanted them to be signs. That’s not intuition; that’s confirmation bias. Our desire to work with deities and connect with Them could cloud our judgement.
As you begin to work with a deity, you’ll understand Their language. You may pick up on signs that you missed before after you know how They communicate. Usually, deities send multiple signs to a worshipper They really want to work with. That’s why it’s okay to wait--or even ask for--a specific sign.
Here’s an example of specificity. During a scrying session, I saw my spirit guide take the form of a fox. My spirit guide is not a fox, so this is unusual. The fox ran through a marshland of reeds, which is a vision I had seen before with this spirit guide. It represented the Sumerian underworld.
Afterward, I researched any connection between a fox and the Sumerian afterlife. In one myth, Ninhursag’s lover, Enki, lay dying. Their child asked a fox to fetch Ninhursag and bring Her to Enki. This story connected death, the fox, and Ninhursag in such a specific way that I thought it had to be Her delivering a message or my spirit guide leading me to Her.
Can It Be Repeated?
At this point, I wouldn’t blame some readers for thinking that I’m treating this more like a science experiment than faith. This step is where faith comes into play. To confirm a sign, you have to trust that a deity can repeat the sign--and will repeat it if you ask Them to.
Why do deities send signs in the first place? It’s to catch a person’s attention. If you wanted to talk to someone, would you shoot them a text, or would you place a specific plant along their route to work? Probably the former. Unless you knew someone really well and established the whole plant code beforehand, they probably wouldn’t pick up on the randomly-placed hydrangeas.
Although deities don’t text, They’re usually just as obvious while trying to gain someone’s attention. With some exceptions, most won’t drop one sign and say “take it or leave it.” They want you to notice. They want you to reach out to Them. That’s why signs can be duplicated.
Here are two methods to do so.
If you’ve ever wondered why divination is so prevalent in the Pagan community--this is why. Divination is designed to answer your questions. If you experienced what might be a sign, confirm it through divination. If you received a possible sign through one form of divination, use another method.
Once your sign is repeated through divination, it’s a fairly safe bet. This is especially true if you use more than one method to back up your experience.
After my scrying experience, I tested Ninhursag’s message with my rune set. I received the rune algiz (sometimes called elhaz) that looks like someone stretching their arms upward. Algiz portrays Yggdrasil, a tree that connects the divine to worshippers in Norse mythology, and it mirrors how priests called down the Gods. Those were both convincing symbols to reach out to Ninhursag.
If you have a divination tool, use it. Ask if X deity is reaching out to you. Ask if your sign was divine. Ask if you have any other responses from said deity. If nothing else, having another source confirm your experience will be reassuring.
Respectfully Asking for More
“Have you tried talking to the God/dess?” is something I’ve written a surprising number of times. If you have little experience in speaking to Pagan Gods, this probably isn’t your first instinct. Throughout the community, we hear so many stories about Gods “choosing” people or calling to them through dreams and symbols. But those stories aren’t’ rules. You don’t have to be “chosen” or receive a grand vision to have a fulfilling relationship with the Gods.
Think of it this way: If a God wants to talk, They’ll be pleased that you responded. If you texted a friend, would you ignore their answer once they responded? Probably not! Trust that the Gods want to communicate. This is what faith is all about.
So how do you politely ask for more? Begin by opening up about your struggle. Perhaps you want Them to choose you, but you want to be absolutely sure. Perhaps you never considered this deity before and want more clarity for why They sent signs. If you’re respectful, I doubt the Gods will be disappointed about your honesty.
Afterward, you may politely ask for another sign. Make it something reasonable and specific. For instance, you may ask for a similar dream to the one you had before. Maybe you’ll ask for a certain song to come on the radio or something to come up in your research. Just something that’ll say that the deity heard you.
Also, give the Gods a time limit. My recommendation is a couple of weeks. It’ll alleviate anxiety on your part.
Here’s an example with Ninhursag. After my scrying and rune reading, I asked Her for another sign. I requested that someone would bring a non-breakfast pastry into work by Thanksgiving. Since the holiday was coming up, few people would want to bring pastries into work because they’d be busy cooking for their families. It was possible, specific, and give Her a reasonable time frame.
I asked this on November 24th. On the 29th, my coworker brought in cookies. I had forgotten about it in the meantime, but when I saw those cookies come in two days before Thanksgiving, I knew it was Ninhursag.
What happens if the deity doesn’t follow through? It’s not the end of the world. Review your request; was it too specific? Did you have the right deity? Did you allow for a wide enough time frame? Was that deity disappointed? Remember: a deity’s disappointment is not the end of the world. You can always right a wrong by putting more care into your practice.
I hope this article has helped you. Have you ever received a sign from a deity? If so, what was it? Tell me your experience in the comments below! I’d love to read them!
When I first began studying Wicca in my high school bedroom/attached laundry room, I immediately ran into tea magic. And I felt psyched! I worked at a spice and tea store and was hired for my knowledge of teas. I had tried every flavor from green pineapple tea to caramel blueberry pie white tea, and to think that I could drink a cup as a spell...Well, it sounds too good to be true.
I’m sure that others have had a similar experience. Tea magic is everywhere from YouTube videos to blog posts to social media. That’s why I must painfully admit that it is faulty.
Looking back a few years, I don’t resent myself for writing about tea magic on Tumblr. I love tea. I love the idea of tea magic. The simple solution of (1) brew a cup, (2) stir in your intention, and (3) drink is like a life hack.
But eventually, someone told me something that made my heart fall into my stomach: How come most people drink tea and receive no magical results?
“It’s the intention,” was my kneejerk reasoning. But is it? I can’t count how many times I sat with a cup of raspberry oolong and thought, “I want this paper to be gone.” I used to brood over Irish breakfast tea and wish that I would move to a different town. Is that really different from intention? It’s the same method: brew, stir, imagine your goal. And yet nothing happened. I wasn’t actually doing anything to change the tea.
Brewing tea isn’t inherently magical because people already do it all the time.
Non-witches don’t get a new job offer every time they drink a cup of Earl Grey. (If they did, they’d probably stop drinking Earl Grey.) If tea magic really works--which I believed that it did--it wouldn’t produce fantastic results through the brew-intention-drink method. And why would we practice magic if not for fantastic results?
I remember resisting this idea at first. I felt like I was being robbed of a quick, easy magical ritual. But in reality, I was on my way to learn more effective tea magic that I will now share with you.
What's Wrong With Most Other Methods
Whenever I read a blog post about tea magic, I often see the word “meditation” or “meditative” thrown around. Because that’s ultimately what their tea rituals are: meditation. You brew the tea, sit with it quietly, taste it, smell it, and let your mind rest. It’s a wonderful mindfulness practice. But is it magic?
Before I continue, I won’t discount meditation in magic. It’s an important tool to clear your mind and prepare you for rituals. It has can important place in magical ritual. But just meditating isn’t casting a spell. Meditating won’t give you a significant other or keep robbers out of your home. It just won’t.
So how does throwing tea into the mix change that?
Unless you charm it--unless you make the tea magical--it’s no different than a non-spiritual person meditating with tea. The same goes for tossing tea into a bath or adding it to a recipe.
If you benefit from meditating with tea every day, do it. I would never discourage a legitimate self-care routine that improves peoples' days. But let’s not kid ourselves, either. Meditation and mindfulness are research-backed, scientific skills. They’re not the same as magic which, by definition, cannot be scientifically explained.
Please view this post as an opportunity to enhance your current tea magic. I’m not saying “get rid of it;” I’m asking you to reconsider, to make your tea rituals more powerful and less reliant on chance.
Tea in Magical Folklore
It’s no secret that tea has been used for centuries, having first been recorded in China around 350 A.D. Since then, the lines between medicinal use and folklore have blended together. For instance, the ancient Chinese would drink tea as an antidote for poison. This is likely because tea flushes out the toxins of nicotine quickly. When people felt soothed and heightened awareness while drinking tea, they likely experienced a meditative moment or great social interaction.
I’m not discarding tea’s symbolism, though. Tea culture appears in several countries across the world and is used to pay respect or come together. For instance, in Tibet, tea-drinkers would receive barley wine as well. They would dip their finger in the wine and then flick it away three times before drinking the tea. This symbol of restraint served as an offering to Buddha, Sangha, and Dharma.
Ancient Egyptian papyri, including the Ebers papyrus, listed the medicinal uses of herbs in tea. These doctors were usually priests who believed that spirits blocked channels in the human body. They accompanied tea with rituals to heal their patients.
While examining historical accounts, I divided tea into three uses: divination, offering, and what I call "spell support." I’ll explain the last term when I get there.
You’ve probably heard about tea leaf reading before. Also called tasseography, the practice tells your fortune through wine sediments, coffee grounds, or of course, tea leaves. Tea leaf divination first appeared in Scotland and the United Kingdom after the Dutch brought tea from China.
In the Encyclopedia of Occultism & Parapsychology, J. Gordon Melton details that the diviner pours the tea without using a strainer. Whoever’s fortune needs to be told will drink the tea, but not all of it. After swirling the cup around, the diviner will read the shapes in the tea leaves. This is either done through a fortune telling cup or, traditionally, by reading the shapes from the outside in. The outer rim depicts the near future, while the middle illustrates the far future.
In my opinion, tea is one of the best drinks to use as an offering. It is highly customizable, and I’ve found that certain deities and spirits enjoy different teas. However, don’t be surprised if an entity doesn’t accept tea and prefers a glass of wine.
Still, you may choose your offering tea based on the folklore and correspondences that are associated with each. I will list all of these below.
If you want to learn how to give tea as an offering, read this blog post.
“Spell support” is a term I use to describe using tea in magic. In essence, the tea itself doesn’t do much. But when you combine it with ritual, it will produce results. Hence, the tea acts more like a spell tool than a spell within itself.
So how do you transform regular tea into magical tea that produces results? Essentially, you need to combine ingredients to make your own tea. Usually, magicians use this enchanted tea to enhance divination, spirit work, or another larger ritual.
Recipes for magical teas are the best tip I’ve seen so far. The problem is that most magical tea recipes look like this:
Notice that there are no correspondences, so you have no idea why each ingredient was chosen. There are also no instructions. From this guide, we can imagine that the magician just throws each herb in and brews it. But how is that different from the average Joe making a custom cup? How is it magical?
If we really want to create a magical tea, we need to charm each ingredient. Herbs are just herbs until you infuse them with energy; then, they combine to lend you power for your future endeavors.
Here’s how you do it. First, acquire your ingredients (a guide is below) and understand why you’re using each one. Grab a sachet or tea strainer to put the ingredients in. Before you place it in, hold it, and infuse it with energy.
There are several ways to do this. One is to chant: repeat your intention over and over, and don’t be afraid to whisper, yell, or laugh. For examples of this kind of magic, read Magic Rituals without Tools.
You may also breath quickly for ten seconds (don't hyperventilate) before releasing a long, slow, laughing breath onto the ingredient. This is called the Breath of Fire. You can learn more about breath in magic through this post.
Do this with each ingredient before steeping. As the tea steeps, continue. Talk into it. Dance around. Enter a trance state that will throw energy everywhere to fully charge the drink.
Yes, this is more complicated than just steeping a cup of tea quietly. But it should lend you better results.
As a disclaimer, this method will likely not work for bigger results such as relieving your debt, changing the weather, etc. For grand spells, you’ll need a stronger method and more energy. But this may work to increase your divination effectiveness, lend you better spirit communication, give you better luck, heal you faster--the possibilities are truly endless.
Legends And Correspondences For Different Kinds Of Tea
Luck - Faith - Strength - Clairvoyance - Protection - Energy
Chinese folklore tells many versions for the creation of black tea. Almost all stories tell of a tea farmer whose tea leaves became ripe when soldiers raided. The tea was left to oxidize longer, and the farmer decided to sell it anyway. Out of pure luck, tea drinkers and traders loved it. Read the full myth here.
Because black tea has a long oxidation period, it may be used in spells requiring patience, luck, faith, or low-working magic. Its high caffeine amount (47 mg on average, still less than coffee) makes it ideal for increased alertness for divination. With its high antioxidants, black tea protects against numerous diseases, which is why I listed it for strength and protection.
Examples: Breakfast tea, Earl Grey, Assam, Ceylon, Darjeeling, many Chais sold in the West
Healing - Clairvoyance - Divination - Happiness - Awareness - Protection - Offense
Green tea is believed to originate in Xing Yang Mao Jian, China, which is where its legend originates. According to the tale, the residents of the area fell to a strange disease. A girl sought treatment from an elderly man, who gave her a healing tree and told her to bring it back within 10 days. When the girl became too weak to travel, the spirit of the tree transformed her into a bird, and she delivered green tea to cure her people.
Green tea’s healing effects have been backed by science. According to studies, green tea lowers the risk of several diseases, including cancer, diabetes, and heart illness. It also aids neurotransmitters to help people concentrate and improve their mood. Plus, the antioxidants in green tea protect your brain and body from future diseases.
Green tea has less caffeine than black tea, except for Matcha, which has significantly more.
Examples: Matcha, Sencha, Jasmine, Gunpowder, Dragonwell, Genmaicha, Hojicha
Love - Divine Intervention - Mercy - Protection - Healing - Strength
Since oolong is partially oxidized, I often call it a mix between green and black tea. The legend of oolong teas surrounds a temple of Guanyin, the Goddess of Mercy. This temple fell into disrepair, and a poor farmer noticed it everyday on his way to the fields. Despite having little resources or money, the farmer took his broom and incense to the temple and cleaned it. That night, Guanyin visited the farm in a dream and directed him to a cave. There, the farmer found an oolong tree, a treasure which he sold to his neighbors.
Oolong is clinically proven to promote tooth and bone health. It also aids the brain, heart, and skin--even relieving eczema in some studies. Don’t be surprised if oolong teas contain more caffeine than you’d expect.
Examples: Milk Oolongs, Formosa, Wulongs
Immortality - Healing - Benevolence
The legend of white tea mirrors green tea’s in some ways. In the Fuding county, near Taimu Mountain, a woman named Langu searched for a way to cure her neighbors. While taking refuge in a cave, she found a silvery tree in bloom. She made white tea from these leaves to cure the epidemic. On top of that, Langua received immortality for her kind-heartedness, and she is now looked upon as a Goddess.
Before the buds and leaves of this tree fully open, they are plucked.
White tea gets its name from the plant’s silvery-white hairs. As with many teas, white tea’s antioxidants may guard the body against diseases. As the myth predicted, studies show that white tea may prevent skin aging. It may also fight against Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, insulin resistance, and osteoporosis.
Examples: White teas come in many flavors and are usually labeled as such. If you like bold, fruity or floral teas, this kind is for you. It contains some caffeine.
Herbal tea is made from herbs and flowers which have not been fermented or oxidized. Hence, there is no one legend for this kind of tea; you’ll have to look up the folklore behind the herbs used.
Most herbal teas have no caffeine with the exception of Yerba Mate (which has an interesting history--I recommend looking it up). I will not give you correspondences, because I want to encourage you to research herbal folklore yourself.
Examples: Chamomile, Peppermint, many “Bedtime” teas, Eastern Chais, Rooibos, Hibiscus
For more legends about tea, read this amazing article!
Tea magic is far more complicated than stirring and thinking about your intent. It requires the careful research of folklore and infusing the tea with energy. This can be done through magical breath or spiritual aid. Teas are also not recommended for strong, long-time spells such as relieving debt. Remember, the more you wish to gain, the more work you’ll have to put into a spell.
What are your thoughts on tea magic? Do you agree with my assessment? Please comment below.
I'm not fond of the term "spirit guides" because it implies some special status that every magician needs. Depending on how you define the term "guide," every spirit can guide you in some way. Here, I define a spirit guide as a soul who can lead you to answers, messages, or pathways you were previously unable to reach. Although some people assume that they can only have one spirit guide, rest assured that most spirit workers contact multiple. Here's how spirit guides help you in death witchcraft.
Although spirit guides are often over-emphasized in generic spirit work books, they're frequently overlooked in necromancy. In death magic, spirit guides can lead you to the afterlife, connect you to other souls, and deliver messages from other entities. They may aid you in certain divination techniques such as scrying, or they may appear in your dreams to point you in the right direction.
Finding your spirit guides takes time. Although many authors write rituals to summon your spirit guide, I personally don't like these. I think that calling out "who's my spirit guide?" to the void is a perfect opportunity for spirits to take advantage of people, especially new practitioners. Don't force it. Guides always come as you expand your craft.
If you are interested in death witchcraft or necromancy, start how most of us did: by contacting souls through divination, graveyard dirt, or bones. Over time, you'll find a soul who is willing (often eager) to show you secrets and paths you never dreamed of. You don't require a spirit guide to practice; you just need yourself.
How do you know if a spirit is your guide? Figure it out yourself. Is the entity reliable? Have they answered your questions correctly? (Asking them something you already know is a good way to verify divination.) Do you have good reason to trust them? Have you worked with them before? Often, a spirit becomes your guide before you even think to apply the label. As with all things spirit work, let this happen organically. Your death will flourish from it.