In my book Becoming the Witch: The Art of Magick, I explore how witchcraft brings meaning and purpose because it is a natural, imaginative way of seeing the world. There are many traditions in witchcraft and ways of approaching the art. For me, witchcraft is an innate relationship with nature, an acknowledgement of the divine, and something so deeply personal that every witch has their own unique story.
Am I a Witch?
I am often asked, "How do I know if I am a witch?" I believe if you have asked this question, you already know that you are one. If you are fascinated with the idea of magick, if you know your dreams are important, that animals are your teachers, and if you believe a spirit resides in Nature, then you are a witch. If you are drawn to casting a spell, to the language of symbols and the making of charms, then this is what a witch does. If you know that we are all connected, that the moon holds you in an energetic embrace, and that there is a mystical undercurrent in all things, then you have a bewitching outlook. If you wish to connect with the Goddess, then you are indeed a witch.
Witchcraft is a way of seeing yourself, the world around you, and other realms, so there is no need to feel overwhelmed by "having to do" anything that doesn't feel natural to you. There are potent things you can do in your busy life to imbue it with magick, to bring you back into balance, to bless your life and to give thanks. The most effective energy in magick is naturalness, going with the flow and liberating your imagination. So, create meaning and ease for yourself. Here are some joyful things to consider.
The Witch's Cabinet
A part of the witch's art is to cast spells and make charms using mystical tools, herbs, and oils to express intention. In Becoming the Witch: The Art of Magick, I delve into the history of ritual objects and plants and their symbolic significance. In this article, I would like to offer ideas to the witch who may be feeling a little overwhelmed and who is wondering where to begin. So I have suggested a very basic witch's apothecary, alternative witch's tools, and beautiful simple practices to experience.
A candle has a potent magickal force. It is of the fire element, and brings the Light to a spell, but it also holds all the elements within—so it may be the only tool you use. The wax is solid, as is earth; while burning, the candle produces gas, which is of the air element; and it also liquifies, so holds the element of water. A candle is a tool you can anoint, carve, and insert with pins for binding magick. A white candle can substitute candles of all colors in a spell.
Apothecary: Herbs and Oils
Your witch's apothecary can be simple, and you only need to begin with the following plants, resins, and oils.
There is an extensive market selling exquisite wands and other tools that may be out of your reach due to expense. I have seen some amazing handcrafted wands and athames, etched with symbols, carved with faces and embellished with crystals. And even though such tools are artistically inspiring, they will be no more powerful in a spell than any other directional tool. Because the power invested in an object reflects the power within you: the witch.
I found one of my first wands in a florist shop. It was a beautiful twisted stick of wisteria around a yard (120 cm) long and was part of a display. It was suspended from the ceiling by rope at each end and bunches of dried herbs hung from it. If a stick, could be described as "conjuring," this one truly was.
I was very cheeky and asked the shop owner if I could buy it. He was taken aback at first, but for some reason said I could have it without payment. I had finally found a perfect wand. I headed back to my own business, SpellBox, a small workshop in the same street and proudly showed "The Wizard" (the name I had immediately bestowed on my new wand) to one of the other witches. But the story wasn't over.
That afternoon, his business partner came down to our little workshop and said she wanted the "stick" back and that her husband shouldn't have given it away as they used it for displays. Sadly, I had to give it back. It wasn't meant to be; oh well.
Strangely though, the next day she appeared at the workshop holding the stick. She told me that although she didn't believe in anything "magickal or supernatural," she "felt" there was an eerie vibe coming from the stick and she didn't feel comfortable keeping it and that it was meant to be mine. And that's how I acquired my beautiful wand. I gave her a rose quartz necklace to thank her for her generosity. I hope the necklace reminds her that life is indeed mysterious.
Not every magickal acquisition has a story behind it like this, but somehow your tools and witch's accessories will call to you. So consider allowing your witch's tools and altar to evolve and grow as you find things along the way. You can also repurpose items into significant symbolic objects.
For a wand: find an interesting stick or branch. Keep it natural or embellish it with decoration. You can also rub oil (like olive or essential oil) into the wood to soothe the wand's spirit. If you are lucky enough to know someone growing mugwort, ask if you can cut a branch. The plant grows extremely tall and the branches become thick and straight, perfect for a great wand. The wood of mugwort is soft so it is easy to carve and etch symbols into. The darker bark contrasts really well with the white wood underneath, so patterns are easily created on the surface.
For an athame: Traditionally a witch's knife is double-bladed to symbolize duality. However, its purpose is to invoke the element air and to "cut through" illusion, so any dedicated knife may serve this purpose. You may find an interesting knife at a market or thrift shop or you can make one out of self-hardening clay. A simple sword-shaped wooden "athame" with a cross-guard would make a potent tool of the air element. You can paint both clay and wooden athames and draw symbols and other designs to personalize it. I have seen intriguing folk-art objects that vibrate powerful energy even though they are not perfectly crafted. My son carved me a very wonky wooden athame when he was young and I treasure it completely.
For a chalice: Goblets and wine glasses are shaped like chalices and are easy to find in thrift shops and markets. Traditionally the stem of a chalice represents the connection between the physical and the spiritual realm; however, all bowls, jugs, and vessels represent the Goddess and the water element. Ceramic and glass paint is available if you want to transform any drinking vessel, but its original design may be perfect for you. You may even choose to use a family heirloom or something significant from your past to hold the water element. Sometimes large shells can be found in thrift shops. This would be a very significant tool to hold water.
For a pentacle: A coin is a great substitute if you don't wish to purchase a pentacle that is manufactured. It is also very easy to make a pentacle out of self-hardening clay, or simply draw the symbol on paper or cardboard. My husband is an incredible craftsperson and made me a marquetry pentacle with three different colored woods. It was around six inches (around 15 cm) in diameter. After casting a spell with some friends in a park one night I left it behind in the dark. I went back the next day but it was gone. Someone must have found it, and I often wonder who it now belongs to. Whoever they are, the pentacle was meant to be theirs. That same night one of my friends picked up my mugwort wand and, thinking it was a stick, stirred the burning cauldron. It was such an enchanting sight, seeing her holding my wand in the air with a flame burning at one end. The wand now has one charred end, making it more bewitched that ever: as true to its element, it was actually on fire!
Your witch's psychic tools can also be found or bought without spending a lot of money. Explore a second-hand shop to find your scrying mirror. It could be an interesting mirror that speaks to you of magick—or even consider your grandmother's compact. Playing cards are also inexpensive and can be used for readings. Gather a pouch of symbolic items to use in your spells and for charm-casting. Start with a key for opportunity, a button for luck, and a stone for strength.
Create your own fascinating story of witchcraft and weave beauty, truth, and power through your spells, your thoughts, and heart. I invite you to read my book, Becoming the Witch: The Art of Magick, to learn about the origins of the witch and how the art of magick can transform and heal you.