Should You Adapt Spells or Use Spells Word-For-Word?

So you found a spell you like, but it’s not perfect. Maybe it uses an ingredient that’s rare or expensive in your neck of the woods. Maybe it asks you to go out and stand in the moonlight and there’s been nothing but snow and rain for weeks. Or, maybe, it’s just not fully clicking for you.

There’s lots of reasons why a person might adapt a spell or ritual. It’s usually for ingredient based reasons, but just as often it could be due to timing or personal practice choices.

But adapting a spell is a fine line. If you adapt something too much, it’s not the same spell. If you swap out an ingredient, you may change the way the spell works. Analyzing spells is something you figure out how to do as you gain experience and knowledge with spell casting. It’s hard to adapt a spell when you might not have the basic knowledge to do that. An experienced witch probably will make changes on the fly, using what’s in their cupboards and their knowledge from research and experience. Others might have to pause to double check something or they might even skip a few ingredients by double up the purpose of an ingredient.

In short, adapting spells can be really easy – but it can be a challenge too. It’s okay if it’s a challenging or daunting task for you! It really is. Because spell casting is a lot like cooking and baking.

If you think of a spell like a recipe, then it may take some of the pressure away from having to “get it right”. Cooking and baking is relatively subjective – things need to turn out a certain way to be properly edible and taste good, but not everything is going to taste great to the same people. Spells are a lot like that. You may learn that you just don’t click with herb based spells or anything that asks you to start a fire is a no-go. And that’s okay! Know your strengths and boundaries. It’s a good idea to push those boundaries and strengths sometimes, but you don’t need to do it all the time.

It’s okay to hold back from adapting a spell or even doing a spell, because you’re not sure of the changes that need to be made. I’m in the camp that says try your adaptations anyway. Take notes on what you changed.

Of course, there’s always some folks out there that say a spell should be used exactly as written. There’s certainly a reason for that. Spells are written with specific intentions in mind and omitting an ingredient or altering a process may change the entire intention of the original spell – even if the person adapting it doesn’t know that. The more complicated the spell – or the more often it deals with spirits – the more likely it is that the process and ingredients are very intentionally chosen. Adaptations and substitutions may cause the spell to fail or not work as intended.

I’ve written spells that have very clear instructions to them because the process, while simple on the surface, was written very intentionally as part of the ritual. The steps aren’t there for the end goal, they are part of the end goal. It’s like a recipe – you need to prep the vegetables properly to really get the flavor you want out of the dish in the end.

I’m still, by far, in the camp of adapting your spells. If a verse in a spell doesn’t seem natural or comfortable, I’ll change it. If I’m doing a complicated ritual, I’ll either take it apart to see exactly how it works or I’ll try it as written and make adaptations for future usages.

It depends on how much experimentation you do with your magic. If you’re looking for a simple grab-and-go spell (and absolutely no judgements here, if that’s your jam), then use what’s written or adapt on the fly. It’s your magic, your practice, and your results. Do what works best for you.


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Do You Need A Cauldron?

When new witchlings come around, I almost always get asked this. And it’s a super fair question. Do you need a cauldron? What purpose does a modern cauldron serve? It is just aesthetic or is it actually useful?

I’m not going to dig into the actual history of the cauldron like I normally would. There’s been numerous books written on the subject, easily found via your local internet search engine, online marketplace, bookstore, or library. Plus, the Great Wise Man Google can always lend a helping hand with your research.

I’m going to tackle the actual everyday usage of such an item.

A cauldron is a cooking pot, often with a half moon handle. Sometimes it has a lid and feet on the bottom. It was often set directly on the fire or on a hook suspended over a fire to cook in. Styles vary depending on age, region, and manufacturers. It’s essentially a cooking pot or stock pot, the same kind you use to make soup in.

There’s a similar looking cooking vessel known as a Dutch oven that’s primarily used to bake in these days. It’s used as a casserole dish. Historically, it was used to do everything a cauldron can do. The shape is very similar and you could easily confuse the two in some designs. Other similar cooking pots are potjie (which looks very similar to a cauldron), a testunabe, a chugunok, a sač, and the variety of Korean sots, to name a few. 

I own several traditional cast iron cauldrons. Some very small and fit in my palm. Others larger, about the size of a medium soup pot, I suppose. I’ve been on the look out for one of those really big ones, but they’re hard to come by. The one time I found one, it was quite expensive and I was traveling. The expensive wasn’t as big of deal as the travel was. I wasn’t going to haul a seventy pound cauldron half the size of me through Boston, onto a train for the hour commute home, then into my car for the half an hour drive home. I just didn’t have that in me that day and, honestly, I don’t regret not buying it. 

Anyway, cast iron is great – if you can properly take care of it. Every few months I have to go in and mess with my cauldron’s cast iron coating because many of them are antiques and thus neglected. I have one cauldron I’ve been trying to remove rust on for over ten years. I do, actually, know how to properly care for cast iron. I use cast iron in my everyday cooking and it’s like having a pet. You have to take care of it properly to keep the seasoning in pristine shape, making the cast iron itself easy to use.

But cast iron is great because it retains heat very well, making it lovely for burning things like incense, herbs, and candles. Because of the typically porous nature of a cast iron’s coating, some modern witches use it to grind herbs in. (Unless, of course, your cast iron seasoning is so good it’s smooth) It’s also heavy which means it’s not likely to get knocked over easily. And it looks so witchy and great.

It’s also heavy, hard to clean, and often difficult to store due to the weight and sometimes greasy coating it may have due to being poorly maintained. Smaller cast iron cauldrons are much easier to store and are actually pretty great to keep around. Plus, they are not subtle if that’s something you’re aiming for. Acids, such as fruit and citrus, can also immediately ruin a cast iron’s seasoning, even returning it to the base metal.

Of course, not all cauldrons these days are cast iron. Many are aluminum or metal alloy. That isn’t to say these are necessarily bad, just that they’re different. You’re not working with cast iron, so clean up and heat conductivity may be different. Also, it’s not iron, so magically it is different. Be aware of this when choosing cauldrons.

I like dutch ovens and stock pots for actual witchy related cooking in the house. I usually aim for steel, glass, ceramic, or enamel coating cooking vessels when I’m doing witchy stuff and even then it depends on what I’m doing. I choose a more modern equivalent of a cauldron, even though I have direct access to open flame cooking (fire pit, grill, stovetop) to use my traditional cauldron, because they’re often easier to clean and save time. Plus they usually fit on the stovetop better.

So, if you’re going to use a cauldron for actual cooking, I’d recommend going with a more modern option for ease of use. Don’t make your life harder than it needs to be. You can also use a rice cooker, or slow cooker instead of a dutch oven.

I’d like to throw in here that there are definitely ritual and religious reasons to have a cauldron for some people. I’m definitely not knocking that or saying that you should sub out your religious item for a more modern version. I’m talking about the more secular usages and everyday functionality in this post.

If you are using a cauldron for ritual or religious purposes, then you need to weigh your decisions on whether to actually get a cauldron on a personal level. Is it symbolic? Is it a vessel of a deity? Is it what is being asked for? Is it described specifically in texts? Does it need to be functional? Is there a better or more historical option that the cauldron itself has been substituted for by modern practitioners because it’s something they probably already have? Make sure you break down your usage and figure out if you need a cauldron specifically or if any type of bowl will do.

If you’re using it to burn incense or candles and so on. It’s actually a really good choice. As said, it retains heat well, making it not great if you’re in a rush to put stuff away quickly, but otherwise it’ll keep incense going for a decently long time. That being said, you can same the same thing about a thick ceramic bowl or glass casserole dish. 

But the real question is this: do you NEED a cauldron?

I say no. Unless you’re using it for specific religious reasons, there are plenty of other vessels out there that will do the job just fine. A mortar and pestle or herb grinder can grind herbs better than a cauldron (I bring this up because I see a lot of people grind herbs in their mini cauldrons) . Any number of cooking vessels are more functional in a modern kitchen than a traditional cauldron, especially for actual food and drink prep. If you already use what you got, you might not need to store yet another item, which is good if you’re short on space.

Of course, if you want one, get one! I have a habit of always picking up cauldrons when I see them, but I really don’t think modern magical practitioners NEED one, unless it’s specifically called for in a religious sense. Use what you got and see what happens.

If you’re a newbie starting out, I’d say hold off on the cast iron cauldron unless you find one at the flea market and instead head on over to your local secondhand store and pick up a pretty casserole dish or cooking pot. You can always upgrade later. Unless, of course, you’re using it for specific religious purposes. Then it’s up to you to determine how necessary a cauldron it for your religion.

Favorite Foods + Drinks Before a Ritual

I’m very much a spontaneous kind of spell caster. I rarely plan out full rituals, but when I do, prep is an important step.

One of the steps that’s easy to forget to do is eating before the ritual. Truthfully, if you’re going to be using your own energy for a ritual (rather than channeling fully from elsewhere) you should be eating something both before and after the ritual. So you have a lot of energy to start with and to restore the energy you consumed during the ritual.

So an hour or so before the ritual, these are what I reach for:

  • Fresh fruit, such as strawberries, apples, oranges, bananas, raspberries, blueberries, pomegranates, and grapes
  • Fresh vegetables, such as cucumbers, tomatoes (yes, yes technically a fruit), carrots, broccoli, radishes, and celery.
  • Fresh salad, usually with lots of variation but not as much salad dressing, cheese, meat, or croutons as I might normally like.
  • Seeds and nuts, like sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, honeyed peanuts. I try to keep the amount I eat on the smaller side here, as sometimes too many nuts and seeds can feel heavy.
  • A small sandwich or wrap, heavily on the vegetables and flavors. Think afternoon tea sandwich size.
  • Yogurt
  • Smoothies
  • Tea
  • Water
  • Fruit juice, often watered down
  • Sweet alcohol, fruit-based alcohol
  • Wine or harsher spirits. I usually go with this when I need to jump directly into some sort of alternative stage of consciousness or drop inhibitions (ie feeling self-conscious) as quickly as possible.

As you can see, I tend to reach for fresh foods before a ritual, usually light on meat and bread. I’m not particular when it comes to my diet – the only thing I really steer away from is organ meat and diary – but I like to go with a light meal usually paired with tea or sweet alcohol before a ritual.

I find this helps keep the energy up and still allows me to move freely during a ritual – very important with how I tend to cast rituals – and not weigh me down. They also can usually be consumed while I go over my ritual notes or do other prep work before the ritual.

This isn’t to say that you MUST eat one of these foods before a ritual. It really does depend on a person and their personal taste. Let your body guide you to the best choices for you.

It should be noted that, for some rituals, I will intentionally skip this step. I won’t eat before vigils for example where I need to do a lot of spirit work and often do trances during that time. I will often skip food beforehand when I perform oracles or medium work. I personally find that I work better that way, but it’s not something I recommend without knowing exactly how to fast safely.

That being said, I do recommend to try and ensure that you’re taking care of yourself before your rituals as much as afterwards and consider trying different food combinations to see what gives you the best results with your magical and spiritual work.


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Moving? Magical “First Ins” – What to Bring Into Your New Home First

Moving? Magical "First Ins" - What you need to bring into you new home first for it's best magical start | thiscrookedcrown.com
Moving? Magical “First Ins” – What you need to bring into you new home first for it’s best magical start | thiscrookedcrown.com

There’s a common tradition that the first things you bring into your new home should be representative of what you want the home to generate and hold, as well as good luck and abundance.

I love this tradition and have used it each time I’ve moved or entered a newly renovated space. I don’t move often, but when I do, I make sure to do this.

However, it’s a bit more tricky than the folklore sounds. The reality is that you might go in and out of your future home half a dozen times before you “move in”. If you’re buying a house there’s open houses, showings, house inspections, house appraisals, and final walkthroughs. Never mind any times where you have the keys but haven’t moved in yet so you can clean or whatever. So the first time through the door might not actually be the first time. 

When to move in varies too. Thursdays on the waxing moon is considered ideal, but a new moon is also good. (However, Thursday is considered to be a more expensive day to move, especially if hiring movers.) Some people say Fridays and Saturdays are terrible days to move because you won’t settle in the home, but others say it’s auspicious. Rainy days are an absolute no-go, but as someone who’s moved in heat waves and snow, all I can say is avoid extreme weather conditions if possible. Finally, you should finish moving before sunset for the best of luck (and also for safety reasons, I imagine.)

For me, I do this moving ritual in stages. Here’s my routine:

Phase One – Cleanse and Clean

Before I move in, I take a few hours to walk through the home and energetically cleanse it. I do it with sounds, energy, incense, magic powders, and enchanted water.

Then I clean the space, even if it’s been cleaned previously. Kitchen, bathroom, floors, doorknobs, light switches, keys get washed.

Now, obviously I have to bring in stuff to do all that with. Plus, I’ll haul in my purse, water, probably some sort of chair, snacks, etc. This phase takes a while and I might not be the only one there.

If I have to do any work on the place in question, this is the time to do it. Painting, changing door locks, new light fixtures or appliances should be done now. 

Tasks I consider at this time are:

Light a fire in any fireplaces to drive out the darkness and warm the home (check the flue first!)

Fennel stuffed into keyholes keeps out malicious witches and other maliciousness beings. You can also hang the fennel over the door.

Paint the ceiling of the porch pale blue to ward off spirits

Air out all closed / contained spaces, such as crawl spaces, basements, closets, cupboards, etc. Even better, make sure light enters each of these spaces.

Open an east facing window to help light, air, sunrise, and energy move. Close it at sunset.

Ring bells to clear the air and shift energy

Scattering rice and coins across the floor comes from specific cultural traditions (Philippines). Sprinkle blessing powder or moon water or some other type of positive energy bringing across the floor and in each corner of the house.

Go out the same door you came in through.

Basic warding spells to keep everything out if you’re going to come back another day before officially moving in.

Phase Two – First Ins

I take the time to be the first one in. This might mean I go to the new place early and bring the stuff in or I might immediately do it right after cleansing and cleaning. What I bring in first varies entirely on what I feel like the space needs. The more permanent the stay, the more stuff I bring.

  • Bread
  • Rice
  • Water
  • Salt
  • Sugar
  • Books
  • Honey
  • Candles
  • Wine or chosen alcohol
  • New broom
  • Handful of coins and money (not debit or credit card)
  • Citrus fruit and/or any fruit (a citrus or fruit plant works too). I like bringing oranges and strawberries, but depending on what you want to introduce to your home, pick accordingly.
  • Basil plant or some other sort of kitchen herby plant associated with luck and money
  • Fresh cut flowers
  • Icons of luck such as clovers, fish, other animals, horseshoes, stars, acorns, turtles, 
  • Crystals and stones
  • Letting a cat walk through the door first should bring good fortune – and the cat may become the target of any ill will.  (Pets should be introduced to a new environment slowly anyway, so when I bring my cat with me while I’m working in the new home and then put her where ever she’s going to be for the furniture moving bit.)

Things to NOT bring with you the first time you’re ritually entering the home.

Bring these in a bit later. You probably have a car load of stuff to carry in anyway, so bring this stuff in the next time or whatever.)

  • Your old broom or stick mop (should be left at old place or tossed out)
  • Ritual brooms (doesn’t count to the throw away rule unless you feel like they do)
  • Your mail
  • Credit cards or anything with debt attached to it. 
  • Vacuums, roombas, swiffer style mops, and similar devices (especially if they haven’t been both ritually and mundanely cleaned.)
  • Mattresses or pillows (especially if they haven’t been ritually cleaned)

In your second load of stuff to bring in, I’d recommend:

  • Toilet paper
  • Cleaning supplies (all purpose cleaner, glass cleaner, scrub brushes, etc)
  • Disinfectant 
  • Paper towels or kitchen towels
  • Dish sponge or cloths
  • Trash bags 
  • Dust pan for the broom (after it’s been cleaned and cleanse)
  • Duster
  • Vacuums, roombas, etc.
  • Hand soap
  • Laundry detergent and dryer sheets
  • Air fresheners of some kind
  • Step ladder
  • Light bulbs
  • Measuring tape
  • First aid kit including disinfectant and bandages
  • Phone charger
  • Pen and paper and permanent marker
  • Tool kit
  • Scissors
  • Shower liner
  • Duct tape
  • Flashlight / lantern
  • Bucket
  • Snacks and drinks that don’t require utensils or dishes
  • Your paperwork and any documents or items that you didn’t bring in before (ie, credit cards)
  • Some sort of pain management for the soreness or headache that you almost certainly will have

Your third load is recommended to be these items, especially if you’re spending the night at the new place.

  • Spare clothes
  • Pajamas
  • Clothes for the next day
  • Toiletries
  • Bedding
  • Air mattress or similar (if furniture is not in place)
  • Bath towels
  • Something to do if the internet isn’t in place (board game, movie on laptop or TV, book, etc)
  • Coffee maker, mugs, coffee items
  • Pet food and accessories
  • Cups, plates, and utensils (one set for each person)
  • Folding table and chairs
  • Food for breakfast or a solid plan for getting food in the morning
  • Take out menus for dinner or solid plans for dinner
  • Bottle of wine or appropriate beverage with a bottle opener
  • Pot to cook in

Tasks to do at this time:

  • Open an east facing window and keep it open for the duration of the move, especially if you’re using movers. Close it when everyone but the household residents have left
  • Pick a single room and designate it as the dumping ground for random boxes. Ideally, this should be a room that is out of the way and doesn’t have a lot of large furniture in it or that furniture should go in first.
  • Place large furniture pieces first and worry about the smaller stuff that doesn’t require two people to lift and move later. 
  • Pour a libation or make an offering to the spirits of the land, the house, or your deities are appropriate. It don’t need to be fancy, it just needs to be.

Phase Three – Settling In

First things first, do a light cleansing to clear out any negative emotions that rose during the move.

  • Put away your kitchen and bathroom stuff first, then work on the bedrooms. Don’t try to fully unpack. Instead, get stuff in place that needs to be in place to feel like more comfortable. Then go room by room.
  • Keep a running list on the fridge on tasks that need to be done. A loose doorknob, a window that doesn’t open or close right, a piece of furniture that got damaged in the move, etc. This helps you remember to do those tasks when you get a chance as you unpack.
  • Put a box aside to put random things you’re going to donate. You always find stuff that you don’t really want, need, or like while unpacking and having a box set up just for that kind of thing is extremely helpful.
  • Invoke a guardian spirit or servitor to protect your new home. Start working with the local land spirits and the spirit of the home itself.
  • A housewarming party is a great way of bringing life, laughter, and abundance into the home. That might not be on the docket right now, given the pandemic, but it’s something to consider for the future.

This is something that will be individualized to your needs and specific move. I was still moving around kitchen drawers and unpacking boxes three months after moving into our new house. It happens. Just go with the flow as much as possible while keeping up a positive attitude. It can do wonders.

Book Review: The Divination Handbook by Liz Dean – 4.5/5

A no muss, no fuss divination book. It covers the most common forms of divination (tarot, scrying crystal balls, tea leaf reading, and so on) and does it in a easy to understand and thorough way. I knocked it down from a 5 to a 4.5 because I question the inclusion of a chakra pendulum chart. Like, I can see it’s usage, but it’s literally the only inclusion of this sort of thing in the book.

This book is small but mighty.

Filled with images, it’s something akin to a quick starter guide you get when you buy some sort of new electronic. If you already know what you’re doing, then this info won’t be a revelation. If you’re new, it’ll give you all the information to get started and clue you in to what you might want to research next.

Each section covers a new form of divination with all the info you need to get started and includes basic spreads or charts for each divination form.

The book covers crystal tossing (as in tossing crystals on a mat and determing meaning depending on the stone, the nearby stones, and position on a mat). This book includes basic divination meanings for commonly used stones, which is very helpful if you’re just getting started. It doesn’t cover crystal grids, which I kind of expected it too, since it mentioned them in the opening pages, but I’m ok with that info not being present.

Pendulum’s are also covered. I’ve don’t remember seeing a pendulum chart using chakra before and I’m very meh about it. Like, I could see the usage for it, especially if you’re very into Western chakra work or maybe helpful even in Eastern chakra work, but… eh. I have feels about it that are a tangent for another time. Anyway, color coding or simply having the meanings written on the chart wouldn’t have changed much, but maybe I’m just being too picky.

Runes, specifically the Elder Futhark, are also covered. I have personal spiritual history with runes that kept me from using them for the last 20 or so years, so my knowledge is from the first five or so years where that connection wasn’t present. (Maybe one day I’ll tell that story, but not today.)

Anyway, the book covers the three aetts (sets) and then goes into the runes individual meanings (including inverted). I am not a fan of inversion with any kind of divination, traditional or not, unless under specific circumstances and conditions, but to each their own. The book does have a note about inversion and not using them if you choose, which is always nice to see.

The instructions for tea leaf reading are simple (a little elaborate compared to how I do it, but you do you). Honestly, reading tea leaves (or coffee grounds) doesn’t need to be complicated. The little dictionary of symbols is more elaborate than other divination books like this.

I know some things about a palmistry, but not enough to put together a reading, so I paid attention to this chapter. This gives you enough information to get started. It even discusses the difference between chirognomy (the shape of the hand) versus chiromancy (the lines on the palm). It’s a good beginner’s primer. It’s one of the larger chapters in the book.

Chapter six is about tarot cards. Like the rest of the book, it’s a great guide for those who want to try their hand at it. It includes a few basic spreads then the usual card descriptions with both the upright and the reversed. The card descriptions also include images of the card, which is handy for beginners, The cleansing methods for the deck are unusual ones that I’m actually a fan of. It’s another longer chapter, about thirty pages.

Numerology is not my thing – I’ve a learning disorder involving math. I’m aware of sacred numbers and how to calculate various personal numbers and so on. But since math isn’t my thing, it’s been decades since I really dug deep into numerology.

This numerology chapter is actually pretty good (from what I can tell) including auspicious numbers, compatibility, and a breakdown for each basic number and talks a bit about the master numbers.

Scrying with crystals was the first type of divination I taught myself. It’s my jam. This final chapter talks about recording and planning your scrying sessions. How to connect to the scrying crystal and how to choose a crystal. This chapter refers to a crystal ball, but I’ve used raw pieces of crystals and it works just fine. It’s unusual to run into crystals like amethyst in basic scrying divination instructions, but I’m totally cool with this. Of course it goes into how to scry and variations thereof. It also talks about the symbols and colors that might appear during a scrying session, which is always nice.

And that’s the end of the book. It’s a good little book for someone who wants to get into divination, but they’re not sure what kind and they want just one pretty book on the subject on their self.

Would I recommend it? Yes. It’s not going to be show anything new to people who’ve been divining for a long time, but beginners will enjoy the book. Would I buy it for my own library? Yes. I like having various divination books to compare and contrast. Plus, it’s a good little book.

Magical Gardening Tips for Complete Beginners

Witches and plants go hand in hand. (Generally, of course. I’m not the boss of your craft, but, you know, it’s generally a thing.)

But gardening is expensive. So expensive. You wouldn’t think nature, the thing we live on, in, around, and with would be difficult to acquire, but it is. You can easily drop hundreds if not thousands of dollars a year on gardening – just indoor gardening. Never mind external gardens.

And witchy plants? SO MUCH MORE EXPENSIVE. Either you need to safely wildcraft them (and some of those plants shouldn’t be removed from their environment if you aren’t 1000% sure you can handle them, because the plants need all the propagation opportunities possible) or you buy those plants. Buying seeds can be a few bucks here and a few bucks there, but there’s always a good chance that your plant won’t grow. Then you’re out a few bucks and all you have is a jar of failed dirt. Buying live plants is a better middle ground, but plants do experience trauma so you still have a risk of them dying.

Aside from the expense of the actual plants, you may need to purchase soil, soil additives (because soil is not the same everywhere and some plants are unhappy without certain soil), pots and planters, plant trays and moving wheeled platforms for larger pots, plant food, and possibly plant lights or a water system. That’s for indoor plants. Outdoors? That’s a whole different expensive level. 

So, here’s some witchy truths and tips for indoor gardens.

True Facts

  • You will fail. Plants will die. You may feel like a murderer. It happens to us all.
  • Google plant care for your plant. It may just save your plant’s life.
  • Ask fellow gardeners and witches for advice. This is something all of us do in regards to plants so many are quite happy to talk about it.
  • It’s better to have one healthy plant than six unhealthy plants.
  • Plants do not always smell good. Some plants smell like ass and others will smell like death, piss, or onions. The prize may outweigh the cost, but not always. 
  • You will have bugs. Even indoors, there will be bugs.
  • Sometimes the organic or better quality stuff isn’t best. Think before you buy stuff for your garden. You organic soil may sprout mushrooms that kill your plants (true story) and you may find that a clear vase of water with a handful of rocks is better for a plant than a specific growing pot. Trial and error helps here, but don’t sink a ton of money on something without trying to more common stuff first.
  • Many, many, many plants are invasive. Mugwort, mullein, chamomile, and mint are common invasive plants used in witchcraft. I recommend googling before purchasing or at least googling before planting in the ground for all plants. Some plants spread like crazy and will destroy your garden if giving the chance. 
  • Annual means that it grows for less than two years and will need to be replaced, most lasting a single season. Perennial means it comes back again and again. Some perennials self-sow so you may get a perennial plant to come back, just not the same plant as before.
  • Keep an eye on how warm your plants can get. Too much heat will kill them, but so will too much cold. It may be best to put a plant on a table near a window than in a cold window sill, even if the window gets better light. 
  • Not all plants are pet-friendly. Google may tell you if a plant is toxic to animals, but a better bet is to just keep them out of a pet’s range.
  • Plants do weird shit. Expect to be surprised.

Where to get your plants

  • Grow from seeds
  • Get a cutting or live plant from a friend
  • Grow them from kitchen scraps
  • Buy a live plant at a store or nursery (online or local)
  • Wildcraft one (so long as the population of said plant is super stable)
  • Check the clearance section of a store or nursery 

I’ll be honest. I normally search the clearance section of stores first for plants to rescue. Normally these are plants that are growing weirdly, need transplanting desperately, or simply look unhealthy. And they may be all of that! But they’re usually really cheap so I tend to rescue them first and foremost.

I can, have, and do grow plants from seeds. I usually keep my plant purchases to a minimum from seeds, merely because I don’t have space to give lots of plants a head-start indoors. (Most of my growing space is a single large window where all the indoor plants live during the cooler months). I normally harvest seeds from foods I’ve consumed (like avocado or lemons), but I also buy seeds from Baker’s Creek (rareseeds.com). They sell heirloom vegetables seeds as well as flower and herb seeds.

My favorite (and cheapest) suggestion is to grow plants from fruits and vegetables you already have purchased. I’ve gotten ginger, scallions (green onions), potatoes, sweet potatoes, celery, garlic, and pineapples from kitchen scraps. Root vegetables and plants with bases like celery are easier to re-grow, in my opinion. A quick google search of ‘food you can re-grow from kitchen scraps’ will yield good results. 

Some of my best plants I get from nurseries. Yup, they’re more expensive (but not much more, to be honest, then home improvement stores), but they’re way happier plants. And you can get some beautiful selections you might not get elsewhere. Plus, you’re supporting a local small business, which is always a good thing to do. Two years ago, my household scored black petunias (actually a very dark purple) at a nursery whereas we had never seen them before. My preferred nursery is owned and operated by a single woman and conveniently is a few houses down from my preferred farmer’s market. I just have to remember to grab some bug spray before going and I’m a happy witch.

I rarely get plants in other ways. I sometimes will transplant a wild plant to save it from becoming someone’s lawn clippings (like I did with my bittersweet nightshade) and I’ve gotten plants from other people, but largely, I acquire my plants in the above ways right now.

Planting and grow your plants

Following your plant’s care recommendations, provided by google, is best. Seriously. Each plant will require a learning curve. 

My favorite pots for growing are a large clear glass jar and some cheap clay pots. I do have plastic ones, but I tend to only use them for very, very large plants. Ceramic pots are great too and I use them often. I skip concrete planters – they’re very heavy and I’ve had them crack in the New England cold winters. Who knew? Most of the time though, you’ll find a lot of my water-based plants growing in recycled olive or jam jars. I love the eclectic look of the different pots and jars, but if you like things more streamline and uniform, pick something that’s netural and available widely in a variety of sizes.

You can also use a double pot system. Plant your plant in something that might not be pretty, but you can place inside something that is pretty. I do this with plants that haven’t outgrown the pots they come in. Grow pots are cheap plastic and aren’t great, but sometimes moving a plant isn’t the best idea. I often just leave plants alone until they need some attention. I’ve done best at keeping things alive when I work in this manner.

I use decent but not stellar soil for my indoor plants (and I skip the organic stuff after a mushroom episode). I use dollar stone china plates for the bottom of my planters when I can’t find a real one to fit. Driveway gravel is great for draining rocks for the bottom of my planters, but it can be a bit sharp for some delicate rooted plants.. I dig using my hands and end up with dirt everywhere. I water as needed (unless the plants are liars) and feed them as often as I dare.

Working outdoors is a whole different game. There I have shovels, trowels, work gloves, clippers, shears, scissors, ladders, and every other thing under the sun. I use decent soil to bolster the land as needed or dive for gardening tomes to help balance the PH in the soil. I use mulch and large brim hats and consider the merits of growing compost and curse my yard’s poor dirt.

How I set up my pots generally follows like this:

  1. I pick a pot about slightly less than twice the size of the pot the plant currently is in. If it’s a seed, then I use a very small pot about six inches tall and three inches wide. If the plant is very root bound (as in the roots are all tangled together inside the pot), I’ll upgrade to a larger pot.
  2. I put a small layer of driveway gravel at the bottom of the pot. This is so the water doesn’t sit on the roots or soak the soil too much. If your pot has holes at the bottom (and you have a plant liner tray) then you can skip this step, but I generally always use the gravel. The gravel is somewhat pointy so be aware that it may damage very tender roots, so handle with care. I add more gravel if I’m planting something that needs drier soil, like a succulent or cactus. Some water plants are anchored by gravel and use smaller rocks for additional root assistance.
  3. Then I put a little soil in, just enough to cover the rocks (or more if the plant is short but deep roots or it’s a seed)
  4. I pull the plant out of the pot it’s already in, shaking some of the soil from the roots. If the plant is a seed, just plop it in the soil and plant according to recommendations. If it’s very root bound, you may end up spending several minutes loosening up the soil between the roots so the plant can have more room to grow. Be careful not to break the roots or any stems when handling the plant. Be gentle.
  5. Then I pad the sides of the plant with soil, layering on more and more until the roots are completely covered and the plant is well secured.
  6. Sometimes I add rocks at the top, but that’s largely depending on how much I want or need to protect the plant from soil erosion by water. 
  7. Then I drizzle water on the plant until the soil is wet. Finally, the plant can be placed happily in where I want it to go. I’ll add watering and feeding times to my calendar, as suggested by plant growing guides, and call it a day. 

Planting Outside

I won’t cover planting outside right now, because it’s a super large topic and the advice will vary depending on soil type, weather, climate, sun/shade ratios, wind, what’s already growing, wildlife, and how much time you have to devote to it all.

My general advice for outdoor gardeners is to do a soil test, then you’ll have a general idea how much work you’ll need to do to adjust to plants. That being said, it may be easier for you to simply grow in containers than in the ground, especially if there’s a lot of trees, roots, shade, or something buried in the ground, like a septic tank.

Take photos and notes of the areas you want to grow in for at least a week at various times of the day. I just leave a little notebook in the window closest to that area and take notes and a photo every time I walk by. This will help you determine how much sun, wind, and shade that area gets at various times of the day. It also may tell you what wildlife is nearby.

Armed with that information, you can start planning a garden. Again, this is a huge topic, but I typically suggest raised beds, because they’re just so much easier to take care of and work with.

Now, if you have specific plants you want to grow in a specific area, then do a test. I plant my desired plant in a container and place it in a spot where I’d like to plant it in the ground in the future. It helps determine whether or not the plant will survive there. There’s no guarantee even if all this is done. Some plants just don’t do well in certain soils. You’ll have to risk failure to succeed.

You’ll also want to keep in mind how much a plant will grow and how invasive it’ll be. Mint, for example, grows easily in containers, but shouldn’t be planted in the ground or it’ll take over the whole yard. Ground cover can be useful, but sometimes it’s impossible to get rid of later and becomes a nightmare. Do your research before you plant something with a reputation of being invasive in this manner.

Adding some magic

Magic can be added to any part of the routine.

When selecting plants, I seek out the ones that are calling for help or seem to want me specifically. I listen to what the plant wants and that’s how I get many of my plants to do well. This is an animist’s point of view, of course, but I find that it really works well.

You can plant by the phases of the moon and some people do really well with it. I have a theory that if you have a lot of water on the property, planting by the moon works better, but I don’t have near enough data to really propose this seriously right now.

Water can be enchanted with the power of the sun or moon. You can also used infused water, like a tea or water from making pasta to water plants with. This will largely depend on the plant itself. For example, I use nothing but clear, clean filtered or purified water for my indoor bamboo. If I use anything else at all, it dies rapidly and it very difficult to save. Google will, yet again, be your friend.

What you fertilize your plants with can also be enchanted. Rose, according to some gardeners, like calcium so planting a hank of your hair alongside your roses is good for them. I’ve tried eggshells, but I didn’t notice any changes with my rose bush, but I think that’s largely due to the location rather than the plant itself. Once you figure out what weird things you can fertilize your plants with, the magical connections should come quickly after that.

Of course, you can additionally enchant the soil you plant in with enchanted water, carefully made compost, or enchanted draining rocks with sigils painted on them in environmentally friendly paint.

Pots are probably the easiest to enchant. You can draw or paint with environmentally safe paint on the outside and inside of the plant to encourage grow and health in the plant. This can be as simple as a sigil or written word or as complicated as an intricate painting. The choice is yours.

Placing decorations inside the pot is also useful. This can be done by placing a tiny statue in the pot with the plant in a manner where the plant won’t be crowded. I’m plotting to turn the soil around my palm plant into a tiny fairy cottage, lacing each item I acquire or make with spells for prosperity, abundance, and household happiness and health.

There are many other ways to enchant your gardening too. Garden tools can be enchanted for strength and to be rust-proof. Gloves can be enchanting to keep the hands safe. Support for plants can be soaked in enchanted water.

Don’t forget that you can simply verbalize spells by talking to your plants. There’s some research to support that plants like being talked to nicely and sweetly and that backs up my experience nicely. (The only plant I ever struggle with is a climbing rose I’ve named Diva and she’s the most prickly thing I’ve ever met. She gets me every time, no matter what I’m doing.) I like to hum or sing-song to my plants as I work on them, if I’m not just straight-out having a one-sided conversation with them. I get some strange looks, especially from my brother, but I don’t mind.

Those are some basic tips! Hope it helps!


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Witchcraft 101: Adapting Spells

It’s a rare magical practitioner that hasn’t had to adapt a spell at one time or another. Usually it’s for personal practice reasons or ingredient reasons, but it can simply be that it’s too cold to walk outside or they just don’t like the spell’s steps or wording.

Adapting spells can be really easy – but it can be a challenge too. It’s okay if it’s a challenging or daunting task for you! It really is. Spell casting is a lot like cooking and baking; for some people, it’s easy to moderately okay and for others, it’s a daunting task.

Cooking and baking are relatively subjective. Things need to turn out a certain way to be properly edible and taste good, but not everything is going to taste great to the same people. Spells are a lot like that. There are some things that just won’t work quite as well for you as for others and some ingredients (like some foods) that you just don’t want to work with.

Like a recipe, there’s a way of approaching a spell that you need to adapt. Here’s how.

Step One: Read & Analyze

Read through the spell completely, including any notes the author or other practitioners may have made. Take notes yourself as needed, marking what things you’d need to purchase or procure in some manner. Also know any timing events that need to be marked on your calendar (such as the next full moon).

If you plan on making any adaptations, write it down clearly. You’re swapping this ingredient for that. If you don’t know what ingredient to swap something for, then you need to really sit down and analyze that spell. What purpose does that ingredient serve in the spell? If you can’t see an obvious reason, it’s probably best to assume it’s there for a correspondence reason. To help with that, check out correspondence charts.

How this compares to a recipe: When you make a new dish, it’s always a good idea to read through the recipe. It may need a special pan you don’t have or an ingredient that’s not listed in the ingredient list above. It may need the butter or eggs to be room temperature or it could be the baking is thrown off on cold days. There may be a reason that ingredient is specific to the recipe – without it, the puff pastry won’t rise or the chemical reaction you need for the yum factor doesn’t happen. Research helps mitigate this before you’re elbows deep in ingredients and realize you’re up a creek without a paddle and a storm is brewing on the horizon.

Step Two: Double check that you have everything

There’s little reason to try a spell or recipe when you’re missing half the stuff – it’s not the same thing at that point. You may be able to create something wonderful, but it’s a brand new spell or recipe. Not the same thing. That’s not a bad thing! Just make sure you write it down. But if you’re intention is to cast a specific spell, be cautious of exchanging too many ingredients or you’ll wind up with something different than the original intention.

That being said, I’m firmly in the camp of winging it. If you want to try and spell and need to adapt it, do it. Take notes on what you’ve changed (in case it works better than the original spell or goes terribly wrong), but try it anyway.

Step Three: Make your changes

Now’s the time for the adaptations. You’ve taken your notes and you have a good idea of what you want to do. Now to make the changes.

The first stop in adaptations is to a correspondence chart or list of some kind. I have one available here, which is sourced and ever-growing.

Sometimes swapping an item can be easy. You need something to represent luck, well, here’s four other herbs that do exactly that. When things have symbolic meanings or magical correspondences, they can often be easily swapped.

But not always. If you really want to be diligent, a quick google search with the ingredient plus something like “folklore” or “magical correspondence” can lead you to why that ingredient is considered lucky. This may be critical at times. Sure, an herb might be lucky, but only for gamblers. That isn’t going to help too much when you want luck taking an exam.

You also have to be aware of herbal associations. Some spells, especially the edible kind, have herbal combinations meant to do something actually physical to the body. It’s not symbolic in meaning, but science. So you can’t just swap in something with a magical correspondence when the concoction is herbal medicine in nature. Plus, herbs can be dangerous – they can counter to one another, they can react with medication or current medical conditions, and they can be toxic. So you have to be very careful when doing something that’s meant to be consumed.

Now for some people, they stay away from herbalism and stick with magical correspondences only. That’s perfectly okay! But be aware that many herbal connections come from herbalism. Even the weird ones. So knowing why something has that association may be important.

And none of that may matter at all. People can work intuitively with ingredients and make up their own correspondences and associations. That’s a great way to go about it too.

You also have to consider the purpose of the item in the spell. Swapping a red candle for a white one is easy since white is seen as a universal color or something of a blank slate. But when you start thinking, “well, I don’t think this makes a good candle spell. What if I skip the candle?” And for some spells, you can absolutely do that. The candle is superficial or is being used as a focus object (ie, something to look at and hold) For others, the candle is being used as a conduit (ie, the spell verse might have “as this candle burns”) or the candle has a practical purpose (ie, burning a piece of paper with writing on it). It’s harder to swap out items that are practical or are a conduit.

In short, there can be more to adaptations than just “this is the ingredient on the list that I have”.

Step Four: Do the spell

Go for it. Just try the spell. When you’re casting, you may need to change things up on the fly. Maybe the candle won’t stay lit or your neighbor is being nosy. Maybe the dog starts barking because she needs to pee or your phone goes off non-stop with notifications. Sometimes the wording is just plain weird and doesn’t work for you.

Adapting on the fly happens. Finish the spell. Even if you lose momentum or the build up of energy. Even if you feel rushed, judged, or things get weird. Finish your spell. Not finishing it can lead to weirdness and energy drains, at the least.

Use the words that work best clearly for you. Yeah, that old timey wording looks great, but if you’re not feeling it, use your plain ol’ normal words instead. Speak or think honestly and clearly when you need to make wording changes.

Step Five: Record

You’ve been taking notes all along. Now record what happened. How’d the spell casting go? Over the next few days and weeks, you’ll probably begin to see results. What are they? How do they meet your expectations? Do you think your adaptations changed how the spell worked?

As you progress with your practice, you may find that you don’t want to, need to, or like to write things down. I’ll be honest, as someone who spends a LOT of my time writing, I rarely write down the spells I routinely do or do off the cuff unless it’s really good. Mostly, I write down stuff I’m tinkering with. That’s my personal preference. You don’t need to have meticulous records, but they very much help.

I know a lot of this advice sounds like “just write it down!” and, honestly, keeping notes as a beginner can be really key. I am well-known for winging it in just about all my personal spells, but I take notes for myself on spells I’m working on. It can really help, especially when you’re doing an important working or you’re making adaptations.

Hope that helps! Happy casting!


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6 Tips for New Witches

Starting as a new witch is always hard, but the internet can make it really hard. Who do you trust? What should you focus on? Do you really need that $50 cauldron or those 80 herbs?

The truth is that no one’s going to have exactly the same experience. What your interests and passions are, who you are, and what you connect with on a personal and spiritual level all alter how you perceive even basic witchcraft information and that alters your path. You’re unique and so will be your magical practice. And that’s a good thing!

Still, it can be hard to get a good foundation and know where to begin. So here’s my top six tips for new witches.

01 Research Can Be Key – But It’s Not Everything

Spending time researching and reading various occult topics is really important as a new practitioner. Not only is there probably a lot to learn, but you can discover your new path and new opinions that way.

I find a lot of unique and interesting things about my own practices comes from research (and later experimentation). Research can show you new areas to explore and new things to learn. It can help you create a path that will stay with you for a lifetime. It can lead you to friends, coven members, or even life partners. It all starts with research.

That being said, research isn’t everything. Sometimes, you just have to close your eyes and follow your intuition. Sometimes you just have to take that instinctual leap. Sometimes, you just have to push up your sleeves and just try a spell.

Following your intuition and giving something a try can lead to wonderful, magical moments. It can make you really believe in magic.

It can also teach you a lot too. You may quickly learn that you dislike divination or verbal spells. Maybe you’ll go back to study those later, but for now, that dislike’s important information! It means that you should shift your focus away to something you do like for now. Come back to those dislikes later. Maybe the knowledge you’ll have learned since then will help you understand why you disliked it in the first place or maybe you’ll find that you still dislike it. Shelf it and come back later.

TL; DR: Read everything, but don’t forget to follow your intuition and passions. And use your public library!

02 You Don’t Need Everything

You know those lists of stuff you have that so-and-so blogger says are a must have or whats-their-face author swears you need? Yeah, skip it. At least at first.

If you’re getting into witchcraft I recommend just five things:

  1. White tealight candles + lighter
  2. A stoneware cereal bowl (plain black, plain white, or clear preferred)
  3. A jar with tight closing lid (jam jars are great)
  4. Thread or ribbon (your color preference)
  5. Plain paper + smooth rolling pen

With all of that, you can do just about any spell. Seriously. And those items can be cheaply gathered from what you have in your house already or purchased cheaply.

Bonus tip: Don’t rush out to buy herbs. Use what’s in your kitchen first. Add slowly and in small amounts. An ounce seems really small, but it’ll probably last you for a year for most herbs. You usually just need a bit for a spell.

03 Write Down Your Experiences

I am weirdly awful at recording stuff for myself. I always recommend it for others, but I almost never do it for myself. But! There are many times I’ve made a spell at a drop of the hat and wished I wrote it down because it worked great but I have no idea what I did so I can’t replicate it.

Even something as simple as a notebook with “I did X, Y, and Z” could help. Use a journaling app, post about it, or email it to yourself.

For those looking for more elaborate set-ups, there are lots of spell recording layouts out there. Just google or spend some time on pinterest.

04 Someone Else’s Practice Is Not Better Than Yours

There are a lot of people out there practicing spiritual or magical paths. And many of them post about it. Those altar pictures might be beautiful and they may have had a great experience with the deity your worship. Maybe they just have a gorgeous spell casting area or a meditation corner.

The thing is this: you can absolutely admire their practice. You can say “wow, it’s great that they’re having those experiences”. But those practices might not be yours to have. Cultural appropriate weighs in here heavily, but you also have to consider this: are you really going to change your whole practice and what drew you to practicing to begin with because someone has beautiful instagram photos?

There’s also no guarantee that what that person is post about is all that practice is. Sure, maybe the water goblet is used as a water element representative, but it might have another purpose that’s special to that person. You may be missing the point behind the prettiness of the scene.

And, real talk, they may be just taking pretty pictures. They might have spent hours to get the altar to look pretty just for those photos and spent five minutes lighting a candle and saying “hey, thanks”. Or they are lying about the experiences they have. People do lie within the community about their experiences, mostly for attention reasons. I have a policy: I believe people are experiencing what they say they are experiencing. I don’t doubt them. But I also know that those experiences aren’t any less valid or any less true than anything I’ve experienced. This policy allows me to live and let live, essentially.

You can want that beauty and experiences for yourself. Be a little jealous or sad that your practice isn’t as pretty or you’ve having great experiences. But let those things drive you to do better for your practice. Ask yourself if you’re changing things because they have meaning to you or if it’s just because you really want it to be beautiful. You can have beautiful things in your practice and they can be there for just the pretty factor. Just make sure that you aren’t altering things to having all beauty and no substance.

05 It’s Okay To Not Like The Popular Thing

So you tried that awesome tarot deck that everyone loves… and you didn’t like it. The art’s too dark or the devil card scared you or you just don’t like tarot card reading. That’s okay!

Sometimes we get stuff because we fall into the hype or we thought we’d use it and we didn’t. Or our practices changes and we don’t need it. When that happens, it’s okay to grieve a little that it didn’t work like you wanted it to. Then let it go. Give it away, sell it, donate it, etc.

You don’t need to hold onto things because everyone’s loving how deep and meaningful it is. If it doesn’t work for you, then it doesn’t work.

We change as people change. And so do our practices. It happens, sometimes very slowly over months and years. Sometimes it happens quickly because of events, trauma, or revelations.

Don’t be afraid to let your practice grow organically. If something’s working, then keep doing it. But don’t be afraid to set aside practices that no longer work for you.

06 Use Your Local Library

Your local library is a literal lifesaver, especially when you’re just starting out. I have bought books because I loved reading it. I have not bought books because they weren’t as good as I was hoping or the subject wasn’t covered as well as I’d like. I’ve been able to research a lot of stuff that would cost hundreds of dollars to research without it. I’ve sometimes saved that much by borrowing a single rare book alone. (Yes, seriously)

Not only can it save you a lot of money, it can also spare you from buying books that you won’t use or don’t like. Maybe you’ll find out that you really don’t like that popular author. Or that you’re not a fan of how this mythology book writes about goddesses. Just because something’s published, doesn’t mean it’s good. And not every book out there is something that you’ll want to re-read. Borrow the book, read it, and return it. And many times you can request a book from another library through the intra-loan system and have it delivered to your local library.

Many libraries also have a digital library where you can borrow e-books to read. Many times you can find the e-book, but not the physical book in your local library. Not only does this mean you can read it on the go, but no one sees when you borrow a book. It’s on your library record, but that’s all.

What else can your library do? A LOT. Here’s my local library as an example:

  • Free wifi with tables and chairs in various spots for privacy
  • Borrow movies – some even digitally – for free. Some libraries allow you to borrow music.
  • Public computers, free to use.
  • Print and fax machines, with a low fee.
  • Public notary
  • Meeting rooms for community events. Some libraries may allow these for private clubs or groups.
  • Free to borrow passes to museums, zoos, aquariums, and more.
  • Hosts free talks, lectures, and classes on many different subjects, including local wildlife, gardening, cooking, art, night sky viewing, crystals, reiki, history, and more. This month had geocaching, making a corded bracelet, a fairy house, outdoor photography, instant pot demo, vision board making, making a journal from scratch, bullet journal 101, four cooking classes, how to properly use a telescope, and basic info on Iceland and traveling there.
  • Free indoor and outdoor concerts from local musicians and well-known folk musicians.
  • Free art exhibits from local artists.
  • Free events such as passport processing, public paper shredding, movie showings, and similar.
  • Free trivia nights, including Harry Potter specific trivia nights.
  • Weekly clubs for teenagers and adults, including writing, journalling, knitting & crochet, quilting, and book clubs.
  • Weekly classes, including adult art class and children’s coding classes
  • Weekly English as a second language classes, including the requirements for citizenship
  • Weekly homework help or tutoring
  • Weekly computer and technology help, including help for using things like apps
  • Seasonal weekly farmer’s market with outdoor concerts and events.
  • Access to academic journals, digital magazines, online computer websites such as genealogy websites.
  • Online classes, including foreign language classes.
  • Locally published books found no where else on local areas (Key for local superstitions and folklore).
  • Public 3D printer
  • Private recording studio (you just need to book an appointment)
  • I can borrow a telescope to take home for a week
  • I can sign up a raised garden bed in the community garden

And that’s just the adult and teen stuff. For kids, there’s twice as many classes and events, including giant lego blocks, storytime, reading to animals, and more. Some libraries will even deliver books to you in a homebound program, allowing the elderly and disabled to use the library fully.

Given, my city is a small-to-medium sized city with only two libraries and a learning center. My friend lives a few towns over and their library has a mini museum, a full outdoor playground, borrows cake pans and fishing poles, and the elderly can request books or audio tapes and get them delivered at the nursing home. Each library is different, so check and see what your library is doing.

Also, I’ve never been to a library where I need to flash my library card to get in the door. You can probably walk into any town’s library and read their books. You just can’t borrow those books.

Use your library. I can’t stress it enough. The more you use it, the better for everyone.

That’s it! I know some of these seem kind of basic, but really, it’s okay just to take things slow and let them happen as they happen.


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Hidden Altars & Supply Storage

I don’t keep an altar. I don’t need one in my practice. But I like the beauty of altars and shrines and most people do have them. But not everyone can leave things out, whether because they’re not public with their craft or they have children, pets, or share space with other people.

I do, however, have a work-space. Over the years, it’s varied. It’s been a desk, other times a floor. Right now it’s usually (but not always) my kitchen counter since I keep most of my herbal ingredients there and it’s a large surface.

A work-space is different from an altar in that a work-space is secular. It serves the same function as the altar you probably have, but it’s pretty much a table you do your spellcasting and research on.

How’s that different from an altar? Ideally an altar is a religious space. You use it to make sacrifices and/or offerings. It can also be used to cast spells or rituals in the name or honor of those worshiped there or used to invoke those entities. It doesn’t have to be to a deity either – an elemental altar is quite nice.

As a side note, a shrine is also different from an altar. An altar is the surface where rituals and offerings are performed. It’s a space in a temple or holy space. A shrine doesn’t necessarily have an altar. It’s a space where religious idols are placed and honored. Offerings can and are made there, but there may not be an actual altar space.

Not that the terminology is super important. Most people use ‘altar’ rather than another word because that’s exactly what they have. Others use it because it’s a word that people understand without going into specifics. Or they use it because that’s what they’ve been taught to use via mentor or texts. In the ’90s it was unheard of to not have an altar, even if the work was secular in nature and that was the word everyone used. The bad terminology continues simply because that’s what’s written about or used. . what they’ve been using and/or what the text they’ve read write about. It doesn’t really matter what you call your space. Owning it is enough.

Of course, owning that space, whether altar or work-space, is difficult on the best of days. How to you decorate for seasons? How useable is the actual space? Will you start a fire by a misplaced trailing sleeve or knocking something over? Is it comfortable to sit at? Is it pretty? Is it secret or safe? For those who don’t share their practice, it can be difficult to have a shrine, altar, or even a work-space without giving something away.

Finding creative solutions for those problems can be difficult, especially when you’re concerned about decor or safety. And most solutions found can be very expensive. I’m a fan of DIY so I’ll offer a DIY post whenever I find it but remember to do some number crunching before you break out the tools. Sometimes it’s simply cheaper to buy something over making it!

One last thing before we start. If you haven’t popped over to my pinterest lately, then you may wish to. I have a board dedicated to altars and work-space inspiration.

So here’s some ideas for beautiful altars that are low key and still be practical.

Glass or acrylic tables and cases

These are tables that are, by and large boxes or rectangles with glass tops or sides. This is probably one of my favorite ways to display something and still have it safe from grabby hands. As a bonus, you can do rituals or offerings on top of the table, allowing for some really inventive set ups. Just make sure that if you work with hot materials, like candles or incense, to have some sort of heat-proof plate under it in case of melting. (This includes incense ashes. Trust me on this.)

Examples:

  • IKEA’s LIATORP coffee table fits the bill here nicely. Four compartments in a slide out drawer means you can devote each compartment to an element and still have that table top to work on plus the shelf underneath to store a basket of stuff in. Stuff as ordinary as remote controls or a blanket for the couch or a pile of candles.
  • Shadow box tables are also a great option. There’s lots of of versions of this from large to small. Some have lots of tiny cubby holes to fill and others have a wife space instead. Here’s a variety of different versions, some with DIY options with things like old windows and printer’s trays. DIY versions are DIY Display Shadow Box Coffee Table from This Old House, Storage Coffee Table with Acrylic Top from A Beautiful Mess, and Glass Top Shadow Box Coffee Table from Instructables
  • Make up boxes such as this one is a great idea. Throw some crystals, pretty shells, feathers, and whatever else inside and make it like a curio cabinet, all while keeping everything safe. On top, you can light a candle on a heat-proof candle plate.
  • This acrylic trunk or this one are perfect options for displaying those giant crystals the size of a baby. Keep them clear of grabby paws and gravity. As a bonus, you can use make crystal grids right on top or even use it as a coffee table. A handmade version is here for those willing to drop the coin.
  • Terrarium Side Table DIY from A Beautiful Mess is another clever idea. I’m not sure how totally feasible it is for the plants inside of it, but I could see for something like cactus or even a rock garden. An aquarium version could be used for moss balls like kokedama.

Hidden Storage Furniture

These might not be showcasing your beautiful stash of stuff, but they are probably the most useful and low-key of anything else on this list. They’re also something of a super obvious option in some cases, but they are probably some of the most accessible. WIth all of these, various quality exists and you’ll want to consider the weight of what you’re storing inside and whether it needs to support weight on top as well (ie, will it be used for extra seating).

Beds with storage are pretty easy to find. So is shelving designed for baskets or boxes as storage. These furniture pieces are easy to source (or even DIY with a little googling) but they also are well-known. These drawers and baskets can be filled with anything and people won’t tend to question what’s in them. Hidden in plain sight, plus the stuff’s out of the way and can be mixed with mundane stuff. However, they can be easily accessed by people and might be prone to peeking.

Storage ottomans allow you to have an ottoman that also has storage. Usually, people use these ottomans to store remotes, extra blankets, or so on. I’ve used mine to store tarot cards, books, exercise equipment, and a number of other things. Buy here or here. DIY here or here.

Benches and chairs have also been turned into storage. Buyer and DIYer beware however. Thinly seats may break, which is not only embarrassing for the person sitting there, but may also damage the stuff inside. Buy here or here for benches. Buy storage chairs here or here (with a desk). DIY bench here and DIY chair here (although this design also has been sold online as a “sewing chair”). I’ve also seen DIY versions of storage chairs where the seat was a drawer but I can’t find a link to share. Another bench version is to have drawers that pull out on the side rather than flipping the seat up. A super version of a bench would be to place a shelf where baskets can be placed and put storage behind that, essentially stacking two storage shelves one behind the other, re-reinforcing the sides with wood and using the sides as the seat of the bench. This style is seen in daybed or twin bed version as well, like here.

Trunks are actually great because they can be portable, especially if it’s a trunk with wheels. But people know trunks = treasure so it might not be as stealthy as you would like, especially if you’re surrounded by nosy people.

There’s also an assortment of tables ranging from coffee table to dining room that have tops that lift up or move in some way, revealing storage underneath. In living room or bedroom set ups, they’re used to store things like remotes or sexy stuff away away from prying eyes without revealing that there’s storage there at all. In dining room tables, they’re usually used for game storage for table top gamers or for silverware storage. DIY versions here or here. Lots of different versions out there to buy from, so use your google-fu.

Shelves

For some people this is an obvious and useful solution but for some people, well, it might be a joke. I’ve lived with thin, fragile walls for over dozen years so putting anything on the wall has always been something of a laughable situation. If you’re a renter, it’s even more hilarious because who wants to patch dozens of holes?

But it’s totally useful. It’s one of the greatest ways to get something off the floor and out of the range of pets and children and still showcase off things. You can also just put your altar or offerings on the shelf so it’s something of an exception to the rest of the items on the list in that way.

What shelves you put up will vary on your style and space but you can go as thin as photo ledges and as large as built in bookcase style. They’re a lot of options available so get creative.

There’s also the option of bookshelves with drawers in them. Or even secret compartments like this one.

I really love hanging shelves and small tables from the ceilings. This has the added bonus of being easily removed when nosy folks are around, but you’ll have to have a strong support on the ceiling.

Herb Tables or Trough Tables

Originally designed as a drink well for picnic tables, these tables have expanded in usage. It could be a really clever way of having the elements available IN your altar surface but it can also be used as a herb garden.

Honestly, this is probably the least useful item on the list. Unless the tray is removable, cleaning the tray will be as much fun as cleaning window sills or gutters. It only only has minimum usages. As much fun as it would be to image a tray with four sections filled with whatever representatives you want to have for the elements, by and large, it’s probably not going to be a good solution for most people.

But it is fun, isn’t it? Here’s a DIY version: Herb Garden Coffee Table by A Beautiful Mess and here. You can buy a version here.

These are just some of the ideas out there. Pretty much anything that’s got a secret compartment could be used. Try storage solutions for tiny homes or RVs as well – those tend to be great sources of never-seen-before storage and that means less people can guess where you’ve stashed your stuff.

For some people, taking some of these measures might seem extreme, but if you’re not open about your practice (for whatever reason), knowing your options can be very important.


January 2020 Round Up

Things that are still endlessly weird: Writing 2020.

This month we kicked off with a post greeting 2020 into the world. It also covers this year’s wishes and goals plus an introduction. It also also includes a self-dedication spell for your new year’s resolutions at the bottom of the post. (Anyone fall off the wagon on those yet? It’s okay if you do! Just keep trying!)

We also reviewed The Witch’s Book of Self-Care by Arin Murphy-Hiscock which earned a 5/5 stars. (Also, a weird world intersect happened on twitter when a twitch streamer I follow (Kesselruns) apparently tattooed this author. Small world.)

We dove into some magical theory with handwriting as sympathetic magic. The post talks about how your handwriting and signature is as good as a poppet or hair in a spell. Also gives tips on how to disguise your handwriting / signature from this very thing.

Then there were the spells:

A self-dedication new year’s resolution spell (located at the bottom of the post)

Prosperity Bowl – a long term spell for prosperity and abundance

“I Want to Go There” – a travel spell

Just Peachy Health Spell – a health and longevity boosting spell, especially useful for the chronically ill.

Lucky Hands Soap Spell – a daily spell for boosting your general luck

Finally, I’ve decided to extend my 2020 New Year’s Ritual until mid February.

What is it? A series of spells and rituals cast in your name by me (a professional witch) for 2020. It’s designed to be relatively secular and integrate with your own magic and spells. The spells are meant to clear out the old from 2019 and bring in new energy. If you’ve done your 2020 prep and think you need a bit more of a push, this is a good choice.

The package includes the following:

  • Sigil made just for you
  • Energy cleansing of the home and body
  • Invoking purifying elements and energy
  • Banish negative elements, such as bad luck and negativity
  • Invoking protection, abundance, prosperity, good health, and good luck.
  • Blessings of the sun, moon, stars, and elements (earth, air, fire, water).
  • Handmade cleansing and protection herbal salt.
  • Handmade herbal charm to encourage abundance, protection, luck, and health.
  • Handmade blessed and enchanted unscented jar candle with light herbal elements.
  • Written detailed account of how the spells went when casting and what you might expect to see as a result.

If interested, snap up your spot today. There’s a limited number of slots available for this package.

Also, if you’re looking to find someone special for Valentine’s next month, consider the Beckon Me A Lover spell. A combo love attracting spell and ego-boosting confidence spell, the spell’s intended to draw a lover towards you.

To buy, you’ll need to drop me an email here. You can read more about the spells available for purchase or request a custom made spell here.

Patreon

If you haven’t popped over to the Patreon recently, you might want to. I’ve launched the first chapter of my Patreon exclusive novel Artifice. It’s a LGBTQA+ fantasy novel about magic, alchemy, court political games, and love. You can read a bit of it here.

Patreon members get access to short stories, novels, and the inner workings of This Crooked Crown. You’ll also get monthly exclusive spells, articles, energy castings, and divination readings.

Your support means I can spend days researching new topics and spells to give all of my wonderful followers and it’s always very appreciated.

That’s it for this month! I hope the start of your 2020 was wonderful. Don’t give up if things haven’t worked perfectly throughout the month. You can always start again! Best wishes and safe journeys! See you in February!