I don’t know about you, but I would love to have that dream Witch Aesthetic™. I’m talking apothecary jars, ancient tomes, wooden carved everything, foraged and home grown food. But unless you have an abundance of time, energy and money, that isn’t the reality for most witches. However in recent months I’ve definitely got closer to the goal and there’s a couple of ways around whole time, energy and money issue.
- Recycle :
Glass jars from sauces are ideal for herbs. To sterilize them and get rid of any smells give them a wash then add bicarbonate of soda and boiling water. Leave them to cool down, give them a shake and rinse out before putting them in the oven at about 100 degrees C until they are completely dry.
My altar is an upcycled make-up box. Again, this can take a bit of time but it’s pretty cheap and easy to do – it can be as complicated or simple as your artistic skills and time allows. Just sand it down and paint it with whatever you like.
When your candles have burned down too low to use, melting down the stumps and pouring them into molds with wicks will make you even more. They’re really easy to spruce up with glitter as well!
This is actually a lot easier than it sounds. Even in an urban environment, herbs like plantain and pineapple weed grow just about everywhere. You don’t need a lot of expertise to start – obviously double check that what you’re foraging is safe, but this is fairly easy to do with access to the internet.
I’ve found the best place for drying herbs is by the boiler – warm and dry, it’s the perfect environment to dry herbs quickly and it keeps them out of the way.
Failing this, a great shop to buy spices is Tiger. I’ve got full bags of cinnamon sticks, juniper berries, thyme, rosemary, lavender, even Himalayan salt for £2, and they last a long time.
- Cheap sourcing:
Shopping online for basic materials and books has saved me so much money. I got a huge roll of muslin cloth for a few pounds that has last me all year and is looking like it’ll last another year! I use it to strain herbs when I’m making syrups, cordials, and extracts, and I’ve made bath teas with it. Don’t be worried to be a cheapskate when it comes to the basics.
For more elaborate things like altar tools, second hand shops are your best friend. My athame is second hand, my Goddess incense burner is second hand, my chalice is second hand… and they are all beautiful. With second-hand things I like to cleanse them in salt water to get rid of any old energies lingering, and they’ve served me very well. My local Moot also does a swap at many meetings which is ideal if your craft is evolving as it means your old stuff isn’t clogging up your space.
This is all pretty basic advice, but often the issue is where to start. Hopefully this has given any newbie witches a helping hand!
Blessed Be )O(
Believing in the power of the energy that we put out into the world is a pretty standard belief to find in most neo-pagan/New Age practices. As a Wiccan, I believe in the Rule of Three and that – as well as just not being a shitty person – directs me to try to be kind and generous. On the surface, you’d think believing in these sorts of principles (the Rule of Three, karma, like drawing to like, whatever you want to call it) is the most harmless thing in the world. However in New Age circles I think it has lead to a kind of ‘sunshine and rainbows’ mentality that shuts down any kind of criticism. And this can really hinder conversations about social justice and how New Age and pagan communities can be more inclusive.
The pre-occupation with being positive all the time and not releasing any negative energy into the world lest it come back on you has meant that justified anger from minorities is shamed and ignored. I’ve been banned from a facebook group because someone had posted something racist (talking about feeling scared because a ‘group of coloured youths’ were near her car) and when she was called out for it apologized. I wasn’t even involved in the original post but commented on her second one: this was my comment.
This was about a year ago; back when I had a lot more patience for things like this. But even back in my baby-activist days when, I had to point out the ‘I wasn’t meaning to be racist so therefore it wasn’t racist’ defence doesn’t really fly. But I tried to be gentle with my criticism, thinking that would be it. I wasn’t expecting responses. Boy, was I wrong.
So that was in the space of about half an hour, if that. And it went on for a lot longer – I’m talking about three hours. These are the only screenshots I got before I was banned from the group, along with the two others who were agreeing with me from the start. This has happened another couple of times; a memorable one being when I suggested doing a protection charm for those who felt unsafe after Trump’s election (with an addendum saying that if the post was too political I would understand if the admins chose to delete it) and was similarly jumped on for spreading negativity and division. I don’t have screenshots of that as I was removed yet again. I wasn’t abusive in any of these situations, but being faced with uncomfortable truths apparently is enough to get people very riled up. But they’re riled up because I’m being negative. They wouldn’t ever be caught thinking like that themselves, of course.
This is my issue with the ‘nothing but positivity’ attitude; if your idea of positivity is to ignore injustice and silence those who speak up about it, then who exactly benefits? Considering pagans had to – and still do have to – fight to have our religions recognised and get rid of the stigma around our practices, so many are exclusive and even abusive of those doing the same thing for social justice nowadays. It’s the same as the issue many left-wing people have with liberals; just a heads up, this blog runs firmly on the belief that punching neo-Nazis and the like does NOT make you ‘as bad as them’. Yes, I believe in doing no harm and the Rule of Three. But I also believe that evil prospers when good people do nothing. In the context of social justice activism, doing nothing actively causes harm. Systematic oppression operates on people ignoring it – even more so when they are ignoring the uncomfortable truth that we perpetuate it.
I’m hoping this post will be a bit of a wake-up call for people in the New-Age and/or pagan communities, especially online where it is so much easier to argue with people. I don’t believe that this kind of silencing is done maliciously, but intentions don’t make it any less harmful. Sometimes being positive means confrontation; and it’s up to us as individuals to judge when that is necessary.
Blessed Be )O(