One of the things that is often an area of disagreement among practitioners of almost any path, is that of doing things the “right” way. In general, people seem to be pretty okay with the idea of doing what works for you and the “rules” actually being more like guidelines. Yet, there are those who say you HAVE to do it this way for it to work. There are those who believe you are doing it wrong if you don’t do it to the letter with the exact ingredients and components as given in the “original” spell or working. And some of these people will rant and verbally attack anyone who does things differently declaring that “your spell won’t work that way, and you’re insulting the path to even try. You’re a poser”. Well I hate to break it to you but, if that were true, that would also mean that everyone of those people whose work you’re following is also a “poser”. Because unless you believe some deity came down to that person and told them how to do a particular thing and to only do it that way, then you have to admit that they too did what they thought would work for them. Not only that, but all those “correspondences” that people are so particular about, also vary from one culture or practice to another. You can use sugar for sweetening. But there were also times and places in the past where sugar was used for prosperity because it was a rather expensive nicety that not everyone had easy access to. You can use pink or red candles for matters of romance. But love spells have been done since long before candles were household items, and way before they came in a variety of colors. Someone somewhere had to say “I bet this will work” and give it a try. Now, yes, it is true that following the “tried and true” methods as close as you can is helpful and often does make them work better. But, that doesn’t mean that other methods won’t work or that you can’t have just as strong results with the right amount of thought, intent and energy. So, for this entry, I want to share a few of those things I’ve come across or “thought I’d try” over the years. Some are general substitutions, some are just modern versions of older things. So let’s get it to it.
Herbs: Growing up with no metaphysical shops within 40 miles and being the only witch in both my family and the whole town, I had to make do with what I could. So I found out rather quickly that the joke about “Store bought is fine” is actually true. You can find a lot of herbs commonly used in magik on your local grocery store spice rack. Allspice, cinnamon, basil, rosemary, cayenne, sage, the list goes on. These from the grocer will work if that’s what you have available. Cinnamon is cinnamon no matter where you buy it. Yes, there are benefits to using those herbs from magikal supply shops. They are often packaged lovingly with spiritual work in mind, they are usually grown and distributed in an eco-friendly way, and in many cases you are helping a small business owner and your local economy. However, some people don’t have that option, or don’t have time and money to wait for delivery from ordering online. So there is no shame at all in using what you get at the store. You may even have a lot of these already in your cabinet and just not thinking about it outside of cooking. Go have a look.
Divination: There are many forms of divination out there and many tools one can make or buy for that purpose. There are Tarot and oracle cards, pendulums, scrying mirrors, scrying bowls, rune sets, i-ching, you name it. These too can be made, tweaked, or you can create your own method. You can draw your own designs for cards and sigils on sticks, stones, or even index cards and put energy into them to charge them for your divination needs. You can flip a coin for yes/no questions. For pendulums you can use almost any dangling object. I have used necklaces I have a special connection to. I’ve used a stick on a string. And of course there is the old-fashioned way of putting a ring on a string or chain.
One quick divination I found is tossing a feather. For this I lay the feather flat in my palm without curving my hand or gripping it. Then I ask a yes or no question (or a two choices question) and ask “if the answer is no (or choice A) flip away from me, if the answer is yes (or choice B)- flip towards me”. Then focus on the question and lightly blow above your hand but not actually on the feather and see which way the wind flips it. You can also do the same thing but assign each side (smooth or rough) an answer and instead of blowing over it, simply move your hand and let it drop on its own and see how it lands.
Another thing people often struggle with doing their own way is scrying. One of the most popular versions of this is using a black mirror. Second to this, is a scrying bowl which is also usually a dark color. The most common method for these is to let the light from a candle or from the moon, shine or glow over/in the water or mirror surface and see the images that come to you or appear on the surface. But, as with everything else, most common doesn’t mean it’s the only way. You can use almost any reflective surface. Though dark surfaces are more common and easier to see images in, they don’t have to be dark (most crystal balls are pretty clear, yes?). You can practice scrying in a bowl of water from your kitchen. You can do scrying in a slow still stream or rain puddle. There are two methods I use that I stumbled upon by accident. The first was a cup of coffee. I was drinking a cup of black coffee one night while sitting outside. It happened to be a full moon that night, and I noticed the reflection in my cup. The reflection bent a little when I moved my leg and that gave me an idea. So, I tried it, and it worked. The second one (which I still use quite a bit) is a lot like a black mirror in appearance. Have you ever looked at your phone screen when it’s off and noticed how shiny it is? There you go. It’s reflective and black. Black mirror.
Food: Food has been charmed with magik for practically as long as humans have been cooking. We know we can add certain ingredients for certain purposes and charge the food with the intent. But you don’t have to have specific ingredients either. Many times the act of charging in itself will do. The next time you want to bring something into your life, try pushing that intent into your food before eating it. Thereby bringing that desire into you.
People have also done this and added the step of cutting, or shaping, breads and the like with runes and symbols that correspond to the intent. But you can also do that with icing, or spreadable toppings. When I was 18 and trying to get my first actual job as an adult, I tried the oddest thing. And it worked. The morning of my interview, I got a toaster pastry for breakfast and drew a dollar sign on it with the icing pack that came with it. Then I ate the pastry while focusing on getting the job. Two hours later, even though I had no experience in that area and very few hours I was available to work, I got the job. I’ve done similar in other cases with “easy-cheese” and crackers. It doesn’t have to be hard. It doesn’t have to be fancy. It doesn’t have to be “just right”. It has to trigger your psyche and focus that intent. That’s the biggest part. The same is true with those ingredients mentioned earlier. If there is an ingredient that you associate with a specific feeling or idea, use that. It’s your food, and your magik, so do it your way.
These are just a few of the things that can be tweaked or adjusted in spell work and divining. Again, doing what has been tried and practiced as written is absolutely great. But, that’s not always feasible for everyone. And sometimes it just doesn’t vibe right with your style and energy. That’s all great too. So, play with it. See what other ideas you can come up with. Have fun with it. That’s all for now. Feel free to comment or email your thoughts and questions. See you soon.