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.


What Makes a Crossroads a Crossroads?

What Makes a Crossroads a Crossroads

Have you ever looked at a spell and it says something like “leave the object at a crossroads”? Many, many spells end this way and for good reason. Leaving an item at a crossroads magically and energetically disperses the energy. It’s good when you’re leaving a general offering for spirits. It’s great when you’re trying to cast a non-targeted spell.

Leaving spell work in specific places is usually because you don’t want it around. As said, sometimes it’s for safety’s sake (ie curses or spirits), but other times it’s for things like healing spells.

If you used a rock to remove a disease from somebody while healing them, you don’t want to keep that disease-ridden rock. So put it at a crossroad where it’s away from you.

Some witches leave things at the crossroads so others can pick it up and a curse can be passed that way. And some witches use it to bless those in the same manner.

It’s also commonly used in getting rid of spirits and curses. Capture a spirit and release it in a crossroads far away from your home. Toss the remains of the curse you’ve casted or the dregs of whatever uncrossing spell you’ve done to rid yourself of a curse. Both instances ask you to visit a crossroads far away from you home.

A third usage is an energy reset. This usually is used by a practitioner that does a lot of land-based or local magic or works with a lot of spirits. Sometimes, you just need to cleanse the energy lines and the space.

 

All of those things can be done at a crossroads. But what makes a crossroads a crossroads? What are the unspoken rules about crossroads? And why are there unspoken rules at all?

View this post on Instagram

Scenes from Gettysburg

A post shared by Samantha Davidson (@thiscrookedcrown) on

First, let’s establish what a crossroads is.

It’s an intersection. Or, rather, a crossroad is where two or more streets intersect or cross one another.

Properly, it should be any intersection where four streets meet and none of the roads are a dead end or cul-de-sac. However, train-tracks and roads, bridges, and so are are also crossroads and can be used, even if they are literal streets.

Plus, dead ends and cul-de-sacs can be useful in crossroad including spells – want to stop energy from spreading? Want to make a boundary within your neighborhood? Those kinds of spells could benefit from streets that end abruptly.

Similarly, a corpse road is a road that traditionally refers to the pathways or roads the dead were carried on from the church to the graveyards. Often, corpse roads were separate paths with gateways because of fear that the dead linger on such roads. Now-a-days, any road used to carry the dead from one place to another could be considered a corpse road.

I like to combine the two. My home, the Crossroads House, sits between two crossroads (literally two intersections) and is behind a funeral home. So my crossroads are corpse roads. However, if you don’t work with spirits, perhaps selecting crossroads that are not corpse roads is more beneficial to you. Weigh your choices carefully.

View this post on Instagram

Alleyway near Jackson Square

A post shared by Samantha Davidson (@thiscrookedcrown) on

When it comes to symology and magical purposes, crossroads are well-known world-wide. I’ll quote from The Complete Dictionary of Symbols edited by Jack Tressider (pg 128-129):

The unknown – hazard, choice, destiny, supernatural powers. The important attached to intersecting ways in most ancient cultures is remarkable. The fact that they were natural stops for wayfarers only partially accounts for the number of shrines, altars, standing stones, chapels, or Calvaries sited there. In Peru and elsewhere pyramids were sometimes built up over years by travellers adding votive stones as they passed through crossroads. Spirits were thought to haunt them, hence they were sites for divination and sacrifice – and, by extension, places of the execution or burial or people or things of which society wished to be rid. Many African tribes dumped rubbish things there so that any residual harm might be adsorbed. Roman crossroads in the time of Augustus were protected by two lares campitales (tutelary deities of place). Offerings were made to them or to the god Janus and other protective divinities, who could look in all directions, such as Hermes, to whom three-headed statues were placed at Greek crossroads. Hekate, as a death goddess, was a more sinister presence, as was the supreme Toltec god, Tezcatlipoca, who challenged warriors at crossroads. Some version of the Oedipus myth placed his faithful encounters with his unknown father, and the Sphinx at crossroads – an analogy for destiny. Jung saw the crossroads as a maternal symbol of the union of opposites. More often, they seem an image of human fears and hopes at a moment of choice.

That’s a lot of words so I’ll break it down.

Crossroads have and will always be a symbol of choice. In the past (and even today) travel by the roads is pretty much the only way to go. In the past it was safer because other travelers can band together to protect one another. Today, property laws say you can’t trespass making roads pretty much the only way to travel.

Because people traveled on them shrines, altars, and holy places were erected at intersections. Sometimes even notes were left by signs. It was also a great place to meet people coming and going.

It was and is also a place where spirits dwell. Part of that is from the shrines, others is because of the executions. I see crossroads a bit like a spiritual water cooler. Spirits seem to collect there because of all the different energies coming from different directions (and be carried by different people and things).

Additionally, if you believe that energy travels via roads (whether naturally or through people passing on those roads), then crossroads are very magically powerful.

View this post on Instagram

Protective tree entrance to historical cemetery.

A post shared by Samantha Davidson (@thiscrookedcrown) on

Because of the spiritual symbolism behind them, especially in regards to actual spirits, there’s a lot of unspoken rules about crossroads. Here’s a few of them.

Never use the same route home

This means if you came up the eastern road, you should use the western, southern, or northern route home. Don’t use the eastern. This is because a spirit or energy could follow you home through the circuit you’ve made. Instead, take a different way home, which should spiritually or energetically get them of your trail.

Never respond to voices at the crossroads

Sometimes, you’re at a crossroads and you may here people talking. Logically, this is because crossroads tend to be open spaces and voices travel. However, it may also be spirits or faeries. In any case, don’t respond to the voices you’ve heard. Just go about your business and be on your way.

Do not make deals at the crossroads

This follows the above rule a bit further. If you go to the crossroads and see another person there, then keep on going. Don’t stop to talk with them, don’t stop to do your work, and don’t turn around and go back the way you came. Don’t meet their eyes and, above all, do not make deals. Simply put, there’s a strong belief that if you meet another person at the crossroads, it’s probably going to be a faerie, spirit, demon, or even the Devil, depending on who you ask. It’s Bad News. Skip the drama and don’t even stop.

Never leave items with your address or name at the crossroads

This is not only for spiritual safety, but your physical safety. Someone could simply google you and cause all sorts of problems. Spiritually, offering your real name to spirits, other practitioners, etc is often questionable. Your name is a piece of you. Guard it.

Try to leave environmentally safe items at the crossroads

This isn’t a rule, but it should be. Often times, we leave leftovers of spell work and other things at the crossroads. Typically speaking, it gets cleaned up when the city comes by or neighbors. But animals and the less fortunate also use or consume what they find at the crossroads. So if you’re going to leave an item that is not for consumption (like sugary bread baked with glass for a curse) then bury it at the crossroads. You may need to search for a crossroads that you can discreetly dig at, but it’s worth the trouble to keep animals or people from consuming unsafe things. This is also true for jar spells. Consider, does it really need to be in a glass jar?

 

View this post on Instagram

Walk along the water with me?

A post shared by Samantha Davidson (@thiscrookedcrown) on

I use crossroads fairly extensively in my craft, when it calls for it. But I’ve been asked what a crossroad is about a dozen times a year, so it was time to type up my thoughts about it.

Crossroads certainly have their place in magical practices. It has it’s place in folklore. It’s certainly a symbolic feature and we use it often in media to describe being torn or in many places. Remembering this folklore and symbolism is important, but you’ll also want to take into account your own practices to see if crossroads fit your practice.

 


Post includes an original tumblr post.

Pop Culture Spells Are Real Spells

I’m sure you’ve heard it before. “That’s not a real spell” or “You can’t use that spell from Charmed” or my personal favorite “You need to use a spell from a real spell book not one that you made up or stole from TV.”

Some of my followers are laughing. You should be. The sad part is I’ve actually been told these things by other witches. I’ve heard them from actual people actually saying and believing this.

So I’m going to say this straight: this kind of thinking is illogical, infuriating, and bullshit.

Candle Smoke

Someone had to write those spells. Even in your precious “real spell book” (whatever that means because what separates a spell book from other books except intent and instructions?). I’m not even going to touch the fact that some actually people believe you shouldn’t write your own spells (or that you need a particular skill level or talent for it). Nope, I’m not going there. But I will go to that place where I can rant about the other stuff.

I’ve used spells from all sorts of places. TV shows, movies, books, poetry, video games, songs, instrumental music, even humming. I’ve used it all. None of the spells have failed because they were written for a video game. None. If they failed it was because a) Turning into a dragon is a bit out of reach at the moment (but who knows in the future?) b) I didn’t actually put effort into the spell and/or was just fooling around c) I didn’t power or empower the spell properly (look, unicorn horn and dragon teeth are kind of hard to come by, OK?) d) spells sometimes fail.

Let me give some examples of the cool shit I’ve done with spells from media forms:

  • Hair support spell – TV, slightly altered to turn from a curse into something more useable on myself
  • Attraction spell – a mix up of two songs with selected and slightly altered verses.
  • Short-term construct (created familiar) – song, verbatim
  • Mirror scrying spell – children’s book
  • Curse – based on a curse from a spell book, re-adapted for my novel, then re-adapted to be less vicious and used in real life.
  • Protection spells – general idea used by thousands of media forms AND witches
  • Harvesting spell – humming
  • Blessing for the dead – movie
  • Water boiling – a play
  • Annual festival ritual opening – poems
  • Annual festival ritual closing – anime / manga
  • Healing spell – Disney movie
  • Faerie conversation opener / spell – video game

All of these, by the way, worked as they were intended to. All of these were used in the same year.

Spell and Herb Candle by This Crooked Crown

Why is a spell written for a video game is less… whatever than one written by a magical practitioner from a hundred years ago? Why are words of a dead person considered more valid? They aren’t casting the damn spell. You are. So it doesn’t really matter where the spell came from because you’re casting it. You. You can turn anything into a spell. Even humming.

(The only exception I’ll make is if the spell itself is a living spell that gains power the more you use it. But that’s the only exception and I’ve never actually seen a spell like that in any books or ever used as an argument so we’ll put that exception aside.)

I really don’t understand the logic of a person who says “that’s not a real spell”. When they are asked to explain why that example isn’t a real spell they never say “because there’s no vocalizations, so it’s really just a working” (which, in my opinion, would be a valid argument and then the word choices would change for the rest of the discussion appropriately). They never say that. They just say “you can’t use a spell from Final Fantasy! You just can’t.” When asked to further explain, they’ll simply keep saying “Because it’s not a real spell.” It’s a circle of fallacy.

What people mean when they say something’s not a real spell is that it was not written by a practitioner for a practitioner to be used as a spell. That’s what they’re saying. And that’s bullshit. It’s also poisonous thinking.

No spell is valid until you do the spell and verify it for yourself. I don’t care that Sparkly Pony Butt the Greatest Witch There Is says the spell works. You. Didn’t. Do. The. Spell. If you didn’t test it, then there’s no it’ll work just because Sparkly Pony Butt says so. If you do the spell and it does work? Great! Even if the spell doesn’t work, that doesn’t mean the spell still isn’t valid just because it didn’t work for you. You are one person. You can’t invalidate an entire body of work just because it didn’t work for you. You might not like Game of Thrones but that doesn’t mean it isn’t valid entertainment to other people, right?

For All Sorts of Money Powder by This Crooked Crown

On that idea, you can’t invalidate a spell from some media form just because it was written for a character. The character used it, didn’t they? The spell most likely worked for them too. So… why can’t it work for you? What? Because magic is different from their fictional world? The results might be less flashy and different but you’ll probably still get results. Using media forms for spells is brilliant. I’ll give you some example:

You broke up with your now ex-lover. You really still hate that asshole. They cheated on you, kicked your dog, shit in your cornflakes, called your art ugly, whatever. You want to curse them. Your ex-lover once charmed you by reading their favorite poem to you. Use that poem against them. Curse them by turning that poem into a weapon. Don’t change the words, change the intent of the words. Make it so every time that ex-lover utters a line from that poem they become entangled further in the curse. Make it so their shoelaces are never tied, their bread will always spoil, they’ll develop an uncontrollable bladder, or they’ll feel your heartbreak every time they read that poem. Every. Time.

Another example: You ran across an amazing healing spell in a video game. It is literally the most beautiful thing you’ve read and it strikes you in ways you can’t quite articulate. Use it. You feel a connection to it. That person you’re healing doesn’t care where you’re getting that spell from. All they care about is their flu going elsewhere.

Example Three: You’re watching Doctor Who and the Doctor said something that struck a cord. After thinking about it a little, you realize you can make it a spell. You’re excited and tell your Whovian friend who says you can’t use it (the the snarkiest way possible). The Doctor doesn’t believe in magic and blah blah blah. Now you’re a little heartbroken. Re-watch a couple of your favorite episodes (I’d avoid Doomsday) and do it anyway. Also yes, your Sonic Screwdriver can be your wand. Ignore anyone who says otherwise.

Example Four: Harry Potter. Use it. Love it. Ignore assholes who make snide comments. They aren’t on the Quidditch team and they’re just jealous. Seriously though, Harry Potter is often cited as an inspiration for many. Some of you probably came to magical practices from Harry Potter. Why shouldn’t a spell from the series be used as well? You might not be able to make something float as well as Hermoine, but you could probably use Wingardium Leviosa to lighten a heavy bag or box.

Pop Culture Spells Are REAL Spells by This Crooked Crown

Words are just words until they are given meaning. Given intent. We are the ones that ascribe emotional meaning and intent to words. Because words are just words, you can give them any intent you want. Turn that blessing into a curse, if you want to. It doesn’t matter what others say. Your spells are valid for you. They don’t need to work for anyone else. They just need to work for you. Tweak that song verse to fit your desires. Make it your own. And use it.

You’re a witch. Manipulating shit to our wishes is what we do.


Adapted from my original tumblr post here.

7 Tips to Get Your Life Under Control So You Can Get Back to the Magic

We’re all busy, right? We’ve all got a ton of things on our minds and it gets to be so hard to keep track of stuff. It’s even harder to fit in spiritual practices and make time for witchcraft.

I recently experienced this myself. I took on a lot of projects for This Crooked Crown on top of some personal projects for my own practice. Then Life reared its head. Family needed medical procedures or were sick (everyone’s OK! No worries), birthdays kept on coming, and the upcoming spring’s always a busy time with the ongoing Secret Future Plan project we’ve got going. Plus there’s the regular stuff to do too – readings, writing posts, taking photos, answering questions, and so on. There’s just a lot of stuff happening. I couldn’t keep up. It happens. Who’s got energy to cast a spell when you’ve been go-go-go all day?

I started going to bed with stress headaches and woke up with them too. That’s when I decided enough was enough and I was going to start managing my shit better. Here’s what I did.

7 Tips to Get Your Life Under Control So You Can Get Back to the Magic

01 Write down everything you’ve got going on 

This is absolutely the number one thing I recommend. It really drives home how busy you are and lets you see what’s happening so you can start prioritizing better. You may even decide to put something on hold for a while until some other project or situation can be finalized before taking up the reins again.

I wrote down everything I was thinking, doing, and feeling. It included little stuff like a mobile game I super enjoy playing daily to big years long projects that move slowly but surely. I also included stuff like stress about politics, birthdays, and personal worries or frustrations.

Then I numbered them three times. The first time, I numbered how important they were to me. This is kind of eye opening. You’ll really begin to see what’s important to you right now. Then I numbered them according to due dates – what needs to be done when – so bills or shop orders. The final time, I numbered them in order of priority to me or others I actually care about – a friend’s birthday, for example, might be more important to me than some due date for a thing I don’t really want to do.

Now do a comparison of the numbers. You can get as mathy as you’d like with this and figure out averages or whatever. I kind of just looked for similar numbers. If I listed a lack of spiritual connectivity as personal importance to as five but on the priority/due dates they were eleven or twelve, then that’s an area I need to focus on temporarily to feel personally satisfied but not dive into a major project for. So I might do a longer meditation session to help balance that out and get some more immediate results.

Make sure you look at how important stuff is to you and how you rate it as a priority. It might be that you’re ignoring your health or self-care in order to get shit done. it could also be that you want to accomplish something because you’re excited about it but it’s not actually all that important. Could your attention and energy be spent elsewhere or do you want to follow that excitement and allocate whatever time and energy you have left after you do that?

Also look at what numbers keep coming up or coincide with those items, especially if you’re into numerology. See if there’s a correlation with your divination readings in what cards keep coming up or if there’s some numerical importance attached to those numbers. Look at numbers that have huge discrepancies – or items you forgot to number. Those things may need some attention.

Now go through that list one last time and number how you want to proceed, taking in all that data. Using those numbers, write out a to do list with at least one actionable step you can take to start on that immediately. So if a birthday is your number one concern, write something like “research birthday gift” or “go out on Tuesday and buy present”.

It’s kind of a pain but this process can be really eye opening, especially if you remember to include things that aren’t just your daily to do or mundane but spiritual stuff as well. Maybe replacing that broken altar bowl doesn’t seem important but it might be weighing on your mind more than you know.

How to make this magic: Honestly, this technique is pretty eye-opening. I would use magical ink or paper or a language to write the list one last time in order of how you want to proceed, like a to do list, to ensure that you can accomplish what you want to accomplish.

 

02 Turned off the electronics early

I’ll be honest. I’m definitely one of those “turn off tablet/phone/computer/TV, roll over, go to sleep” kind of people. I don’t necessarily want to be. In a dream world and life, I wouldn’t even have a TV or computer in my bedroom. But since this isn’t a dream world, I have a ton of electronics in my sleeping area. And it’s a bummer.

Once I started going to bed with stress headaches – and waking up with them, I immediately stopped using electronics actively before going to sleep. Instead, I turned everything off but my tablet and read an fiction-based e-book until I found a physical book I wanted to read. I still woke up with stress headaches but I felt immediately less stressed and slept better.

There’s some scientific data to back this up but I know personally that turning my brain off from TV and instead letting my brain imagine stories before going to bed is better for me personally. Also look into blue light filters. I noticed my eyes hurt far less when I use blue light filters at nighttime.

It’s hard, I know. But give turning off your electronics ten minutes before you go to sleep a try.

How to make this magic: Putting sigils on your phone case for energy boosting is a great idea during the day to give both you and the phone a helping hand. Removing that phone from your hand at night allows you to have less energy and, thus, sleep much easier.

Aroma stimulation may also be useful. For example, I know it’s “no electronics time” and/or bedtime when I use lavender scented products. For me, lavender is used for quiet time. You might have a different scent that triggers this so do a little research to figure your own “shut off” scent.

 

03 Changed your rooms’ atmosphere and energy

Our rooms have their own atmospheres and energy. Right now, I’ve stacks and stacks of books everywhere for research projects. It reminds me of my college days where I was super stressed and sick all the time. Once I identified that as a contributing factor, I swapped out some things to shift the room’s energy – and my associations – to something else.

I picked fire, wind, and light as an energy to focus on. I used citrus scents, made sure to work in brightly lite rooms, and put on wind and bell soundscapes. My stressful associations shifted away and I felt far more productive and accomplished.

I also changed out my bedding, picked up lightly about the room, and rotated some decorative pillows and throw blankets to give a subtle change. I also throw open a window for a little while to air the place out.

As a bonus, changing up the lighting, scents, and sounds can immediately affect your mood.

How to make this magic: Color symbolism helps here, but so do scents and so on. Magical correspondences are your friend here. Ringing a bell can also dissipate clustered energies.

 

04 Dressed to boost your mood

Ten years ago, I scoffed at wearing sweats and casual tees on a daily basis. Now it’s my go-to when I’m in a time crunch and spending the day typing on a computer.

It makes sense. Ten years ago I was super active and busy – places to go, things to do, out before the sun rises and home at the witching hour. So I had to dress appropriately for those things. Since I work from home and my only co-worker is a cat, wearing sweats and a worn tee isn’t going to make a difference in what I do.

Except it kind of does. I started to put on non-lounge clothes in the mornings. It helped, most of the time, and kept me from glancing longingly at my video game consoles. Did it make me more productive? I don’t think so, but I felt more productive and put together. I felt more of a person and less like a cat pretending to be a person, so it has to count for something.

How to make this magic: Color symbolism and recognizing what outfits make you feel good about yourself is a huge bonus here so keep an eye on that. You can also individually enchant your clothing or other items for magical boosts as well.

 

05 Started work before you’re actually awake

The first thing I usually do in the morning depends on whether or not I woke up with or without an alarm. If I work up with an alarm, the first thing I’m doing is turning off that alarm on my phone which inevitably means I’ll check my notifications. If I woke up without an alarm, I’ll meditation for a few minutes, do some light yoga, and grab some breakfast.

But when I’m in a crunch, the first thing I do is crawl over to my desk and start typing. Usually, this happens when I have a reading queue a mile long and a post needing to be published in three hours. If I start working the moment I’m conscious but not yet awake, then I’m less likely to get distracted before half finishing whatever I needed to do.

When I do get distracted, I’m way more likely to want to finish whatever I was doing because, well, it’s probably almost done anyway.

Don’t get me wrong – this is a terrible thing to do routinely to yourself. It may start you associating work with lack of sleep (even if it’s true) and get you thinking bitter, dark thoughts against your work. It also doesn’t guarantee good work, especially with less intuitive projects. Remember to edit and review before you hit that send button if you work in this state. A metaphor that made sense at five a.m. might not make sense at eleven a.m.

How to make this magic: Cast a magnetic-style charm to one of your desk items, like your computer mouse or a sticker on your laptop. This allows you to feel “drawn” to use an item, even subconsciously.

 

06 White noise generators or instrumental music

I love white noise generators. I use them ALL. THE. TIME. Literally, all the time.

White noise is a great way to get your brain to productive mode without dealing with silence or hearing too much conversation and becoming distracted. I found that if I changed out what kind of sounds I listened to, I could get shit down. When I want to work, I put on video game instrumental soundtracks (no joke! Try the Skyrim soundtrack next time you’re knocking out a boring typing project).

White noise is not a one-size fits all kind of thing. Once you get into it you realize different people find different white noise better than others. For example “brown noise” rather than “white noise” is more comforting to me – think thunder rolling over the roaring ocean rather than rain. So if you’ve tried white noise generators before, try it again but try different tones and pitches to see what works best for you.

I highly recommend the free website mynoise.net. I’m not an affiliate of the website. I just really, really love it. I also use a playlist on Spotify (I have a premium membership I share with other folks so no ads) and the app Insight Timer which is a meditation app with a community who offer white noise meditation tracks for free.

How to make this magic: Use the sounds to your advantage. I’m spiritually attached to the ocean and water in general. So my go-to sounds are all water based. If you’re attracted to the wind, they have generators and soundscapes like that too. Fire? Done.  Earth? Yup, that can be handled too (forest sounds, cave sounds, farmland sounds, etc). More urban? Crowded cafe sounds are really popular. Use what makes you feel rooted and at home.

 

07 Meditation

When I was younger, I never meditated. It just wasn’t me and not something I wanted or needed to do. I knew what I wanted to do and I usually had a schedule of things to do in my head. As an adult, I have a ton of stuff going on too but now I’m often pulled in so many directions I can fail to prioritize what’s actually important to me. Meditation helps me ease that.

Meditation is also my go to when I have a super long to do list and I want to figure out what I actually want to do that day. My to do list might be twenty items long but meditation gives me a moment to breath and think “OK. What’s actually important here? What can I do now for others, now that I’ve done something for myself?”

Guided meditation can be really helpful for folks who have brains that don’t like to shut up or want to achieve a particular goal. Others may do better with simple quiet meditation. It’s a personal taste sort of thing. Even a few minutes helps.

How to make this magic: Meditation is often used in magical practices but there’s a lot of guided meditations out there that can be used to achieve particular goals or help you release a lot of negative emotions. Try out some and see what proves to be helpful to you.

 

So that’s what I did to get my to do list down to a minimal amount. They’re simple techniques, to be sure, and you’ve probably heard them all before. That’s kind of the point. They’re stuff you’ve heard before because they work. Don’t knock them until you try them.

I know January was really hard for a lot of people. I saw a lot of people struggling with some drama and nonsense during all of that time. It can be really difficult to dig yourself out of a hole spiritually in order to really get back on track so early on in the year. Just remember that each day is a chance to start fresh. Each month is a new beginning. You can always start again. Don’t give up and remember to give yourself a chance to breathe!

How to Create a Deity (Pop Culture Paganism)

How to Create a Deity by This Crooked Crown

 

A few years ago there was quite a kerfuffle about pop culture paganism. Okay, I’m totally downplaying it. It was pretty much a knock-out drag-down fight where people from all over were weighing in on their private blogs and tumblrs. It was a thing for at least a week.

It’s a weird thing to debate to me because I’ve always been using pop culture and non-magical media as inspiration for my magic. I developed my system of energy manipulation through a children’s fantasy book when I was ten. I taught myself scrying from an adult fantasy book not long after that. There is a book series that I’m fairly confident I wouldn’t have survived high school or college without. I read it daily and it helped shaped me in troubled times. I always had a few copies of the books on me, and it got to the point where a friend had copies in her bag in case I forgot mine.

People find hope and faith in all sorts of places. It seems really weird to me that people would disparage anything that others find faith in. Who cares who or what someone else worships? Their worship doesn’t disgrace your deity or deities. If you feel that it does, then it’s something that’s off in your thinking, not the other way around. I mean, there are plenty of faiths that want to have one deity above them all but… uh, that deity’s existence doesn’t necessarily mean other deities don’t exist?

Plus, historically, there are a lot of deities we recognize now that were sort of adapted or merged from other deities. Some of this is due to our historical understanding and some of it was due to regionalism. This is basic, Wikipedia-level knowledge.

Creating deities isn’t new. And worshiping non-deities isn’t new either. It just isn’t. After all, some traditions invoke the elements into their circles, and they aren’t typically considered deities. Sacred, yes, but not deities. Ancestor worship is a world-wide phenomenon and those ancestors aren’t considered gods. Pop culture paganism isn’t just interested in pop culture based pantheons but all aspects of paganism. So pop culture based spells, sacred entities, and so on.

And why not now? Why not now when there’s so much else in the world then there was back then? Who cares if someone you know online worships a god of coffee or a goddess of procrastination? Who cares if they are following the Outsider from Dishonored or are serious about the Elven pantheon from Dragon Age? Who cares if Link and the Legend of Zelda is their source material? What difference does it make if they live by the Jedi codes? So what if they have a shrine to the deity of quantum mechanics? That entity gives them hope, faith, courage, and strength. It makes them stronger. It’s one of the major reasons why people become involved in religions to begin with.

Anyway, there is no proper list of requirements or a checkbox one must fill in to become a deity. There is no list. There is absolutely no such thing as a proper deity because any deity is a proper deity. This is a personal thing. You’re going to have to make up your rules or what is and isn’t a deity yourself.

I could tell you each deity needs attributes or associations, but that’s not strictly true. What each deity usually has is a sphere of influence.

A sphere of influence is the things the deity influences around them. Let’s take Hermes. Hermes is the god of boundaries and thresholds; doorways. This means he crosses between worlds. In fact, except for a few rare occasions, he’s the only deity that can cross between the realm of the dead (as he’s conductor of the dead and an emissary), the mortal realm, and the realm of the gods. This means he has influence in all three locations. Let’s go further. He’s a god of traveling, of journeys (since he’s a god of doorways). He’s also a god of transition, movement: again, traveling, change, etc. This means he’s key and ideal for anyone who’s livelihood relies on traveling. He’s a messenger, right? An emissary. He passes knowledge and information onto others, especially the masses. This means he’s key for any knowledge, wisdom, speechcrafting, or works of art or literature. He’s passing that information on, giving up that culture to others. He’s even a bit of a trickster in some myths, which plays well with his cleverness and previously discussed influences. These are the things he is: we know this because of the source material, the literature we have on him.

So, Hermes is a god of herdsman (travelers), heraldry (messenger), omens (messenger), trade (travelers, messengers and bringing things to the home), travel, luck (because you’d bloody well need it with traveling and hoping someone doesn’t kill the messenger), the dead (again, emissary of the dead), thievery (literally within his mythos), language, education, the arts, literature (again, communication via messenger), athletics (you do that much traveling and you’d be in shape too), and finally the home.

Now the home is interesting here isn’t it? He’s a god of travel but he’s also a god of doorways. Your doorways. To your home. Why the hell wouldn’t you ask such a god to guard your doorways from trespassers? Why wouldn’t you ask for luck and grace as you pass under his doorway each and everyday? You return the same way as well.

That’s all in his sphere of influence. And it goes further. Hermes is associated with rams, due to mythology. So rams are in his sphere of influence. So are certain types of trees, symbols (winged hat, shoes, and staff anyone?). Hermai are a specific symbol that appear over doorways, crossroads, and regular roads as a mini shrine to Hermes himself. And that’s just off the top of my head. I’m sure someone out there has a whole huge list of what he’s associated with, all information gathered through mythology and historical, cultural research.

That’s his sphere of influence. Now, how does this relate?

Hearth by This Crooked Crown

Each deity there is can be broken into spheres of influence. Anything from the smallest fae to the greatest deity. All can be broken down into their associations, into their spheres of influence. As a creator of your own deities, you have to create your own mythology and spheres of influence for each of your deities. How detailed they are is up to you. You’ll find it’ll grow through associations humans make with objects.

I’ll take an example from one of my fictional novels-in-progress.

Deandr is a god of death, luck, intoxicants, war, and madness. He shares madness with two other godesses, the goddess of love and passion and the goddess of music, tricksters, and inspiration. Because Deandr’s a god of death and war, he’s worshiped by warriors. He’s a god of fighting (see: death)  and intoxicants so he’d be popular among brawlers and drunkards. He’s a god of luck so gamblers and thieves would find him irresistible. He’s also a god of madness – madness from drinking, from the throes of winning and losing, of adrenaline, blood lust, grief, despair, death, etc. He’s a god of a lot of things. Carrion birds, flesh-eating animals, animals used in combat (like horses), animals considered lucky (rare animals, like albinos, or two headed snakes) would all be part of his sphere of influence. Any plan used to make alcohol or intoxicants would be in his sphere of influence. Lesser attached but still considered would be children born of illicit drunken affairs, prizes from war, money and commerce, crafting, brewing, games. These are things that are attached to him simply by association, even if they strictly aren’t in his sphere of influence.

Now, obviously, spheres of influence can overlap with deities – this is true of all mythology, again, using Hermes as an example, he shares his status as a god of messengers with Iris and he shares his status as a god of the home with Hera and Hestia, depending on the home.

Spell and Herb Candle by This Crooked Crown

 

So the answer is there is no list. You have to decide what each god is in control of and from there let the associations grow. What does that god influence?

I’ll use a pop culture example. Let’s go with Cecil from Welcome to Night Vale. He’s the Voice of Night Vale – so speaking is his thing. But he’s also a messenger of news and plays music residents might not otherwise hear. So he’s the the bringing of new things, changes. He’s ruler of words, carefully crafted. But it goes deeper than that. He’s charismatic. He has influence and can dominate over people. He can sway public opinion, for good or bad. It goes, again, further. He’d also be great at self-deception, love at first sight, and living or creating his own world. He’s a big part of his community and clearly loves it so he’d be great for worship within a community.

For our purposes, this means he’s skilled with all chants and word spells, he’s mesmerizing so he’d be great with influencing and dominating others. As a radio host he’d had a radio personality – meaning he’s partially an illusion. He’d definitely be the entity you’d want to call upon if you had to make a public speech, need to convince someone to do something for you, or send a secret message. Associations would be music, words, voice recordings, any type of broadcasting equipment, broadcasting towers, cats, Carlos, and various other things he’s mentioned as a personal interest. All that from a character who’s physical appearance and off-radio personality we don’t even know.

Bonfire by This Crooked Crown

 

So when you create your deities, sit and really think about them. If they’re a god of water then what does water effect? Well, there’s animals living within it, there’s atmospheres of the sea, there’s darkness and light. There’s stillness and movement. It creates life and can kill. It’s literally a whole world. It can partially suspend gravity (as shit can float on water). And that’s just the beginning. That doesn’t even get into the composition of the water itself or how humans use it. It doesn’t get into that we’re made up of water. Water comes from the sky as well, can be both solid, semi-solid, and liquid (transforming much?). And it goes a ton further than that.

All of that before you get to the setting up of the altar, shrines, or holy spaces. All of that before offerings, rituals, and invocations. Can you skip those steps, sure. But you’ll find that you’ll connect much easier on a rational level when you have things laid out. You’ll find people will take you more seriously (and you’ll take yourself more seriously) when you have it all laid out.

This is a long-term, deeply personal project for each person. It will require quite a lot of thinking and researching the source material. It’ll require you to decide which source materials to follow when you have conflicting information. It’ll require you to think and really connect with this entity as you develop your practice. No two people approach the same entity in the same way – that’s true in any religion. It’s true in pop culture paganism too.

Good luck to those starting this endeavor. I hope this helps provide some thoughts on your path. I’m happy to be a sounding board to bounce ideas off of, if you’re stuck! Just drop me an email. Best wishes!

[Updated and adapted from my original post here.]

Elemental Combinations

I don’t really use elements in your traditional ritual set up. I do sometimes use them but it’s often in a more alchemical way than an earth-air-fire-water way.

One of my favorite ways to use elements is to combine them. A good example is an air plant. An air plant largely lives on air (with the occasional misting of water) but it’s still a plant so it’s an earth element. That’s three associations to deal with for one tiny little plant!

But elemental combinations are actually a really smart way to help set up an altar or a spell on the go. You can just roll with it. Instead of packing a ton of ritual items, you can just pack one or two herbs and that can suffice. It helps if you travel a lot, do a lot of on-the-go rituals, or need to be low-key.

Elemental combinations also have the benefit of being dual purpose so you can bring two different energies into a spell at the same time. Need both fire and water? A dried water plan may be the best way to go – just burn it with a candle.

Of course, the thing with element associations is that they are NOT universal. Every practitioner will need to rely on their cultural or traditional folklore in addition to their own personal associations.

 

However, correspondence charts are super helpful, especially when they’re well-researched. To that end, I’m happy to announce that I’m releasing online correspondence charts for free to you all.

These are heavily researched with sources. As in, you can look up where each correspondence comes from right down to the page. Right now, we’re starting with herbal correspondences because I have hundreds readily available but stones, metals, and other correspondences will come along in time.

I’m super happy to finally be sharing this with you. Keep an eye on the correspondence charts because they will constantly be updated. I will eventually create a downloadable PDF with all the correspondences but for now, it’s online only. Enjoy!

Money in the Spirit World – Astral Currency & Trade

Money in the Spirit World

 

Here’s some real talk: shit costs money. This is true with your spirit dealings as well.

Historically, money has been used in multiple cultures as offerings to spirits. (Also, historically paying the people who dealt with spirits, such as practitioners, was and still is a thing.)

However, it’s not always about the amount of cash you can put out. Trading expensive goods is also something that’s often used. Are you giving that expensive alcohol as a gift – or a bribe? Or is it really for services rendered on your behalf?

Offerings are made for a lot of reasons. They can be made from a place of love or fear. As a perfunctory action to something you’re excited to share. There’s lots of reasons to give offerings. It’s not necessarily part of a commerce-based action. You can simply do it to please the spirit or deity you’re with.

But, what about commerce? What about actions made that are not an offering? How do you trade with spirits? How does money work in the astral? To be honest, it’s not that much different with how money works here.

 

View this post on Instagram

My payment for services rendered today. Iron and brass.

A post shared by Samantha Davidson (@thiscrookedcrown) on

 

Commerce isn’t always going to be based on coins or paper money. In fact, most of the time, it isn’t. If you’re operating in a territory controlled by a specific ruler, that territory may offer currency, like any country would. But that currency will probably be worthless outside of that territory.

Trading services or items is probably one of the easiest ways to get something. Can you draw? Suggest that. Can you cast a spell or create a magical item? Did you find a pretty astral stone or grow a particular herb in your astral home’s garden? Try that as a means of trade.

Of course, you can always trade information. Information is, almost always, the most appreciated sort of currency. Tell someone where to a particular river, give directions to someone, mention where you last saw a particular spirit. Even gossip and rumors have their own weight and merit. Best of all, you can use the same information gained with different people and some people will pay very highly for information. The more desperate they are for that information, the more you can charge. It’s a very good idea to keep an eye on what kind of information you have to share and how much that’s worth to some people.

 

Another option is to get a job. This probably is the least liked option but is certainly going to get you what you want. If you do take on a job for someone, be sure that your terms are agreed upon in a very plain fashion. You will do X for Y and that’s it. Courier is a very popular job for dreamers and spirit walkers like us.  You can also be a freelancer of any skill you’re good at or even a mercenary. The tie-less kind of jobs are quite suitable for us as we aren’t consistently able to access the astral.

 

 

If you have you own territory or home, you can grow, make, rent, or create something there to sustain yourself. Maybe you’ll grow herbs or you have the only water for miles. You could be the only person in the area that can heal or has light or a safe place to sleep at night. Trade for these commodities and go from there.

You can also see if a local spirit has work for you to do. Working under the service of a spirit ruler or any spirit will be like working in you regular day job. The only exception is the work will probably be different and there probably isn’t a lot of rules in place. Make sure that you know your rights and how to get out of the job if you no longer want it. You can even make agreements to when your job ends if you don’t want it with the person that hires you right off the bat. Help yourself and make these demands and agreements at the start so you don’t have to worry about it later.

You can also make agreements to do something in the physical realm for the spirit. This works very well for us and it’s utterly unique to use dreamers and spirit walkers. Spirits can’t do this for one another usually so it gives us a unique advantage. However, I’ve found that the more you pay attention to a spirit while in this realm, the more control they have over this realm. For example, if a spirit asks you to make them a shrine in the woods and some kids find that shrine, it may give that spirit more power here because more people believe in them. It’s hit or miss as some spirits don’t work in the manner.

There’s pros and cons to each of these methods. You’ll have to talk to people and have a good grasp of people in order to trade information. Working under a spirit ruler may gain you some enemies because of your association but you’ll probably also be under their protection. Grow herbs to sell and you’ll have to actually, you know, grow them. Weigh your options before you decide what to do.

 

 

As a rule of thumb, it’s best to make trades and arrangements in front of a third neutral party. There are even mediator spirits you can hire for this specific purpose. But, anyone can serve as a third part. These third parties will verify the agreement of the trade (or whatever) and if one side of it is broken, then actions can be taken.

There are also spirits that work like money lenders or even currency exchange. These spirits will vary wildly in temperament so you might wind up dealing with a very nasty spirit or someone who is a complete sweetheart. Currency exchange will usually have a direct price – you bring 8 X and get 5 Y. The spirit making the exchange will take a small percentage of the trade for their own payment.

Keep in mind that breaking promises or agreements is considered extremely bad. Note, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use a loophole to your advantage. Faeries are really the experts at this – they won’t do something outright against the agreement but they will find every loophole ever and use it instead.

Theft is an additional problem to remember. Items, even those in the astral, have energy and some people – even some practitioners – can track that energy like a bloodhound. So if you steal something and someone is skilled in tracking energy, they could hunt you down.

 

 

Not everything you can trade or do will be useful so cultivating many skills or keeping items around like some pack-rat RPG hero can help you figure out exactly what to offer at the time.

It’s tricky to get the hang of so don’t be surprised if you get up getting proverbially robbed during a deal. It happens. Live and learn. Like in real life, it takes time and practice to develop a good system of deal-making.

Why should you jump through all these hoops? Well, not everyone can create everything in the astral. And some items require knowledge to create that you don’t have. It also fosters relationships within the community. Plus, some things are just easier to buy than make.

The astral is a truly fantastic place and spirits of all kinds exist there. Some will have wildly different ideas of what’s useful or worth currency. Ask questions politely and you’ll probably do just fine.

Enchanting Objects for Second Sight

If you’ve hung around fairy tales long enough, you’ve run into the concept of using objects to achieve second sight.

Second sight is the ability to see things that are beyond normal perception such as spirits or energy. Some people are naturally gifted at this and others train themselves to use it. It sits firmly on the line between psychic ability and intuition.

Enchanting Objects for Second Sight by This Crooked Crown

Let’s be clear on one thing – just because someone has the second sight does not mean that they’re seeing spirits all the time. It doesn’t mean that they’re able to see all spirits. It doesn’t mean that they are always seeing spirits with their physical eyes. Spiritual beings aren’t always able to be perceive with physical eyes. It’s far more minute than “can you see that ghost?” even if it doesn’t seem like it.

There’s lots of folk information on how to achieve this. Looking through a hagstone or enchanting object are just one of the ways. You can use sandalwood, wisteria, wild thyme, and a number of other herbs to see what’s beyond normal vision. Trance inducers like flying ointments also work in this manner.

Look through a hagstone or doorway is another way to see these things. It’s about threshold crossing which is known to allow one to step between the worlds. (Hence the word “hedge-crossing”). Using this method, you’ll look through a hagstone (a stone with a natural hole in the center but shells with holes in the center work well too) and see what there is to see. Threshold crossing can be any kind of threshold. Stepping between two poles could be a threshold. Crossing between a wall and a hedge could be a threshold. There’s tons of ways to cross like that.

Weirdly, enchanting objects to allow you to see things is common in folk stories and fairy tales but not a common technique shared in modern day. I have no idea why this is.

In order to enchant an object to see what’s beyond normal sight, you’ll first need to pick an object that can be held up to your eye. Eyeglasses and sunglasses are absolutely the easiest and more available for this. A camera could also be used. You may want to pick a necklace you can hold up to your eye. This will be a constant spell so it’ll always be working.

That could actually be a problem. Anyone who has the second sight can tell you that it can be really distracting to see stuff that isn’t there. I’ve braked suddenly while driving thinking I was going to run over a dog that wasn’t there. I nearly jumped out a chair just last night because I thought something ran across the wall directly next to me – but nothing was there. If you’re not use to seeing these beings, you can absolutely end up looking a bit weird. It’s not a consistent thing but at least once a week I end up being startle by some spirit shenanigans that I wasn’t expecting and no one else can see.

You could also pick an object that you wear in order to give you second sight. This gives you more control over the ability. A pair of earrings is a good choice but a necklace or even an article of clothing can be a good choice too.

View this post on Instagram

Mushroom, mushroom

A post shared by Samantha Davidson (@thiscrookedcrown) on

The technique is very simple but gathering the ingredients can be very complex. It can take up two or three months to set this up if you don’t have any of the materials on hand. For best results, it could take years because you should collect the water and plants on the first of May and then cast the enchantment then as well – which could be difficult if the moon’s not working with you. You could, alternatively also or exchange May Day for October 31st or some other spirit important holiday. I don’t bother because that’s a lot of hurry up and wait for me but to each their own.

First gather water from an old water source – an old river, well, the ocean, etc. I specifically mention old as a pond newly made in a golf course isn’t going to have the same kind of results we want.

Gather the first morning dew for about seven days. You can do this by placing a jar outside overnight and picking it up as the sun rises the next morning. It probably won’t amount to much but that’s OK.

Create full moon water and new moon water by placing jars of water in window sills under the moonlight (or lack of moonlight).

Pour water from each of these sources into a bowl and place any of the following into it: calendula petals, wisteria leaves, powdered sandalwood, mugwort, ash leaves, violets, wild thyme, lavender, or woodworm. Pick as many or as few as you’d like. Let this sit under the full moon for a full night but remove it from sight before the sun rises. You can strain this water now, if you want.

Cleanse the object you intend to enchant. Wash the object with each water source. Make sure that you concentrate on the surfaces of the object. For a pair of glasses, you’ll trace the water along the eyeglass frame then wash the lenses on both sides. Repeat once more with the herb infused water.

Sleep with the object at your side on the night that you wash it. Then it’s ready to use. To use it, concentrate on what’s before you with your mind to see if there’s anything there for you to see. This should allow you to see spirits and energy far more frequently than before. As stated above, you may not physically see things with your eyes all the time but you should be able to sense things and see glimpses more easily.

View this post on Instagram

Autumn evening walks

A post shared by Samantha Davidson (@thiscrookedcrown) on

In addition to the problem mentioned above with reacting to things as if they’re physically in front of you, there’s another thing to be aware of. When spirits begin to notice that you’re able to see them, then they start paying attention to you. This can be fun for some people and terrifying for others. It depends on the beings you end up meeting and how you interact with them. If you’re not thinking about spirit work, then you might want to consider against this entirely. In the end, that’s a choice you’ll have to make.

It can be difficult to see spirits. Sometimes they simply don’t want to be seen or the circumstances aren’t right. Or maybe they don’t even have a physical form for you to see. You may need to just roll with whatever they give you. Good luck!

Secular Witchcraft Defined

Secular witchcraft is a rising star in the witchcraft scene but it’s also one that is heavily misunderstood.

Secular Witchcraft Defined by This Crooked Crown

As a secular witch, I practice a style of witchcraft that is separate from my spirituality.  The word separate is absolutely key. What this means that I may have spiritual or religious beliefs but they do not touch upon my witchcraft. The witchcraft practice and the spiritual/religious practice are not used in conjunction. They’re two separate things in my life, just like how your witchcraft may not touch your work life or family life.

It’s important to note the separation rather than the absence of spiritual connection. Much of the misconception is centered around this confusion. On the surface, absence and separation may appear to be the same thing but they’re not. If you combine oil and water in a glass, they separate but not disappear. Or you might think of your spirituality as a box and a separate box holds your witchcraft. Just because they’re apart doesn’t mean they don’t exist.

For example, as said I’m a secular witch but I’m also a hard polytheist that’s loosely tied to one god on a family level and another on a personal level (and maybe a third merely because the other two are around). I never use those deities in my witchcraft. They’re simply not a part of it. I don’t need or want them involved in the witchcraft portion of my life

 

View this post on Instagram

Quartz

A post shared by Samantha Davidson (@thiscrookedcrown) on

 

Witchcraft itself is the art, science, and skill of a witch. Witchcraft is not and cannot be inherently secular. This is another misconception that has been made. By saying that witchcraft is inherently secular denies the existence of spiritually connected paths and systems. It denies witchcraft religions such as Wicca. It denies the idea that magic can be pulled, derived, or invoked through sacred or divine means. It denies quite a lot of historical magical practices too. So let’s cut the crap now – your practice may personally be inherently or originally secular but witchcraft as a whole cannot be.

The tricky part with secularism is where to draw the line between spirituality and secularism. What portions of your life count as witchcraft? What acts are religious to you? How to separate them will entirely depend on you. Secularism requires an ability to separate intimate parts of your life and for some people that’s difficult or undesirable.

For me, my witchcraft is spell casting and manipulating the world with magic. That’s how I define my personal practice. My spirituality is more of convoluted and difficult to describe but it doesn’t include using magic or spells to change things. Spirit walking and divination are separate skills from either of these two. While I do use spirits in both my spirituality and my witchcraft I don’t enact a spell while doing a spiritual ritual at the same time. And divination is used in neither except for very rare occasions.

This means that I can be having a spiritual crisis and still be able to perform readings, cast spells, or deal with spirits. Or I could be feeling super disconnected to my witchcraft or spirit work but still be able to read tarot or feel spiritually connected.

 

View this post on Instagram

Autumn evening walks

A post shared by Samantha Davidson (@thiscrookedcrown) on

 

It’s extremely difficult to decide what believes are secular and where to draw the line. What makes up how you view the world? How do you define magic? How do you define spirituality or religion? What things are spiritual or sacred to you? Do they hold a place in your witchcraft practice? Can you cast a spell without using divine or sacred things in it? Ask these questions and see where your answers lie.

Many witches may call themselves secular when in actuality, they’re loosely religious. That’s not the same thing. You can’t sprinkle religion on top of secularism – it breaks the secularism, by definition.

Similarly, you can be an atheist and be a witch. Again, that belief of atheism should still be separate from witchcraft in order to be defined as secular witchcraft. Otherwise it’s simply atheistic witchcraft.

 

View this post on Instagram

Simple spell set up 🕯

A post shared by Samantha Davidson (@thiscrookedcrown) on

 

Many secular witches try the secular thing and eventually go away from it. Or they come to secularism from a religious or atheistic place. Which is perfectly normal. Our practices grow and change as to match how we as people grow and change. If your practices doesn’t suit the person you are or want to be, then it’s probably not anything more than a hindrance.

Secularism witchcraft isn’t for everyone and that’s perfectly normal. There’s no singular one size fits all for witchcraft. It’s perfectly OK to try secularism witchcraft and say “Nope! Not for me!” To each their own.

Knot Your Garter

A while ago I was researching love divination superstitions when I came across an interestingly little charm from the 1696.

To know whom one shall marry. You must lie in another county, and knit the left garter about the right legged stocking.. and as you rehearse these following verses, at each comma, knot a knot.

‘This knot I knit,

To know the thing,

I know not yet,

That I may see,

The man (woman) that shall my husband (wife) be,

How he goes, and what he wears,

And what he does, all days, and years’

Accordingly in your dream you will see him: if a musician, with a lute or other instrument; if a scholar, with a book or papers.(1)

Now this is particular charm evolves so the more common usage of it is as written in 1899 “To induce favourable dreams, nine knots are tied on a garter.” (2) There are other regional variations of this as well that are interesting to look at but we’re going to deal primarily with these two variations.

Now, I am a folklorist at heart. I majored in it at college so I love to watch superstitions evolve in this manner (and then dissect why they evolved in this manner).

 

Wrist Bells

 

More importantly, this is interesting from a witchcraft perspective. Here, the practitioner is sleeping somewhere different away from home. While there, they knit their left garter around their right stocking and say the verses. In their dreams, they’ll get a vision of their future spouse. (Remember that around this time, garters more unisex than they are now.)

There’s a couple ways to break down this superstition into an actual practice and it would widely depend on how the garter was constructed and the usage of the word “knit”. I don’t knit personally (I’m a crochet girl) but theoretically, you’d have to pull stitches out in order to restitch the stitches for this charm or you’d end up adding length to the garter and defeating the purpose of the garter entirely. Or, you’d add length to the garter ties, making them longer than used (garters were tied at this time, not elastic as now).

But garters are still a close, personal thing. They’re kept close to the skin and were incredibly individual yet ubiquitous items. There’s also a level of propriety to be addressed with garters. Garter kept your clothing where you wanted it to be, it kept you properly dressed. Typically speaking, you were rarely improperly dressed except around wardrobe-related servants or your spouse. So there’s something of a “revealing the self” aspect to this charm, subconscious though it made me.

As pre-made clothing became more popular, people made less and less of their own garters. Garters eventually became less used as clothing designs changed. The origins of the charm became older and less known. It simplified, due to clothing changes and time itself. It became more of a “knot nine times to reveal your future spouse in a dream” sort of deal.

 

 

Either (and any) variation of this charm has legs to stand on so the actual change isn’t the problem we face when looking to use this spell. Instead, what we need to address in how to adapt this spell to modern times.

Few people regularly wear garters. Many people end up with garters for their wedding clothing and that’s about it. It’s a special occasion thing, usually, so not a lot of people would consider this specifically important. Of course, some people still regularly use garters for costuming, tall socks, or they wear them for work-related clothing.

We need to look at what’s important here. Is the garter itself important? Or is what the garter represented more important? If the garter itself was important, then you would have to use a garter to cast this spell. If the garter isn’t important, then what could be used in place of a garter? Would making nine tiny knots with a piece of sting in the hem of your underwear work in lieu of a garter? Shoelaces? Hair? Hair ribbon? Suit tie? What could be used when it comes to modern clothing?

At it’s heart, this superstition is a knot spell to induce dreams of love. That’s what it’s suppose to do. So… would any knot do? Could you make something and then knot it?

Could you make a garter specifically for this purpose and use the charm for it? Either by knitting, sewing, or even braiding some thread together and tying it to your leg. The steps would probably be creating the garter to your left leg measurements, then tie it to your right leg, saying the charm, then go to bed.

 

 

If you wanted to adapt this to modern usage you’d have to answer these critical questions:

What’s the purpose of the garter? What does it stand for? Does that meaning still stand today for me? Is there an equivalent I can use instead?

How can I knot the garter or garter substitute? Will sewing stitches be representative? Or does it have to be knitted?

In the end, any of these variations would work. I don’t have a “here’s exactly how you adapt this” because there’s so many ways you could go with this. Personally, I’d crochet a garter (because knitting seems to escape me) with my left leg measurements and say the charm as I made each stitch. I’d make it long enough to tie on and knot the tying portion nine times. Then I’d tie it to my right leg nine times, repeating the verses, before heading to bed.

But, that’s me. How would you adapt this classic superstition? Does it sound similar to an old superstition you’ve heard of before?


  1. Oxford Dictionary of Superstitions, editors Iona Opie and Moira Tatem. 2005 Edition, Oxford Press. Page 221-222
  2. Ibid.