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The Big Book of Practical Spells: Everyday Magic That Works

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Practical, inspirational, and comprehensive, The Big Book of Practical Spells is a useful tool and resource for beginners and experienced devotees of the magical arts. Here in one majestic volume is a basic introduction to magic; a psychic glossary; a primer on the four elements, colors, and magical supplies (including minerals and botanicals); and a compendium of spells for any situation you may face.

With Judika Illes as your guide, you will learn how to enhance your psychic power, cleanse your aura, protect yourself from malevolent powers, and create and use a wide variety of spells. There are spells for marriage, fertility, pregnancy prevention, babies and children, money, healing, and transitioning to the next life. These are spells that will help make life easier, more productive, and stress free.
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Praise for Pure Magic

“What a fascinating book! Judika Illes’ Pure Magic does for magickal practice what I attempted to do for general Wizardry with the Grimoire for the Apprentice Wizard. You don't have to already be a trained practitioner to learn from and work with the functional materials she presents here. She covers the foundations in a clear and straightforward manner, and builds on them to provide a complete Grimoire for effective spellcasting and personal magickal empowerment. From theory to practice, it's all here. And most important, the information and teachings are scrupulously accurate. I particularly appreciate Judika's encyclopedic approach to concepts and definitions. This book will be a treasured addition to any magickal library; I know I will be making considerable use of it in my own practice. Great Work, Judika!”

—Oberon Zell-Ravenheart, Headmaster, Grey School of Wizardry

“Pure Magic is exactly that. Judika Illes underscores the fact that magic is (i) real and (ii) available to everyone. She proves it in this delightful book filled with spells, charms, recipes, magical exercises and down-to-earth instruction. As she says: ‘Magic is your birthright.’ And there is no negative magic included—nothing harmful to you or anyone else. Now you have no excuse not to use it!”

—Raymond Buckland, author of Buckland's Complete Book of Witchcraft

“I have always adored Judika Illes' work. Both her books and her classes are filled with sound advice and solid research. In Pure Magic, Judika has given us another treasure filled with practical wisdom for the beginner, intermediate, and advanced practitioner of magic.”

—Christopher Penczak, Author of Instant Magick and

The Temple of Shamanic Witchcraft

This edition first published in 2016 by Weiser Books, an imprint of

Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC

With offices at:

65 Parker Street, Suite 7

Newburyport, MA 01950

Copyright © 2016 by Judika Illes

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transm; itted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC. Reviewers may quote brief passages. Previously published as Earth Mother Magic in 2001 by Fair Winds Press, ISBN: 1-9311412-65-0 and as Pure Magic in 2007 by Weiser Books, ISBN: 978-1-57863-391-3.

ISBN: 978-1-57863-597-9

Library of Congress Control Number: 2016933096

Cover design by Jim Warner

Cover Illustration from ‘Insects of Surinam’, 1726 (hand-coloured engraving), Merian, Maria Sibylla Graff (1647-1717) / Natural History Museum, London, UK / Bridgeman Images

Interior by Debby Dutton

Typeset in Berkeley Book, Bernhard Modern, and Futura

Printed in Canada


10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

In loving memory of

Zoltan, Herta, and Irma Illes




PART ONE: magic 101

Earth Mother Magic

Communicating with Earth

What You Won't Find in This Book

A Psychic Glossary: Some Magic Vocabulary Words

The Four Elements

earth • air • water • fire



The Most Important Ingredient • The Enchanted Grocery List • Amulets

PART TWO: other powers: your magic allies

Tools • Allies

Animal Allies or Totems

Animal Totems: What Do I Do with Them? • Threshold Animals • Familiar Animals

Spirit Land

The Yoruba Model for Practical Spiritual Interaction •

Why Do Spirits Help Us? • Altars as Vehicles of Communication •

Ancestors • Spirit Sponsors of Magic

Minerals and Metals

Crystals • Metals


True Oils • Essential Oils • Flower Essences • Incense • Potpourri •

Whole Plants • The Magic Garden • Fragrant Night Garden


Remembering Your Dreams • Having the Dreams You Desire

PART THREE: spells

The Magic Calendar • Where to Practice Magic • Words of Power •

Let's Get Real: Realistic Expectations of Magic

Aura-Cleansing Spells

Florida Water

Protection Spells

A Magic Garden of Protection • The Body

Psychic Enhancement Spells

Magical Exercises

Divination Spells


Lucky Wish Spells

Beauty Spells

Love Magic

Aphrodite's Bower of Love • Love Sachets and Bags

Aphrodisiac Spells

Love Beads

Marriage Spells

The Celestial Spirit of Marriage • An Enchanted Wedding •

Magical Wedding Gifts • The Wedding's Over and the Party's Begun!

Fertility Spells

Spirit Allies

Antifertility Spells

Pregnancy Protection and Enhancement Spells


Protection for Infants and Children

Henna for the Baby • The Baby's Pillow

Money Magic

Animal Allies • A Money Garden • Spirits of Financial Prosperity • New Orleans Money Magic

Enchantment to Heal Body and Soul

Animal Allies • A Healing Garden • Spirits of Healing •

Candle Healing • Crystals

Dying, Death, and Funerals

Baron Samedi Altar • Aids to Transition • A Bower of Comfort and Grief • Animal Allies


Botanical Classifications





I revisit certain books over and over again; Mikhail Bulgakov's novel, The Master and Margarita, for instance, a book I first read in childhood. Every few years, I read it again. Every time I read it, I see something that I missed in previous readings or something that, over the years, I've gained the capacity to comprehend in a different way than before. Through experience, over time, our inner eyes open and we are able to “see” what once we couldn't.

For an author, though, re-reading your own work is a totally different experience: it's a form of time travel. Memories of where you were and who you were and what life was like while you were writing flood back to you as you read.

When I wrote the initial manuscript of The Big Book of Practical Spells, I was living in Los Angeles, my children were small, and my parents were alive. The Twin Towers still stood. Social media did not yet exist.

The Big Book of Practical Spells is the third incarnation of what was my first published book. The opportunity to write it was a beam of sunlight during a particularly bleak period of my life. The manuscript sprouted from my still-unpublished book devoted to fertility. A publisher rejected that book, but liked the chapter I had written on magic spells intended to counteract infertility and asked me to expand it into a book on magic and spell-casting to be called Earth Mother Magic. The title was given to me, as was a deadline, and I was set loose to write.

I desperately wanted to write this book. I had been learning, studying, and practicing the magical arts since my earliest childhood and so I was not being asked to do anything particularly difficult for me. I don't exaggerate when I say ‘earliest childhood’—my mother taught herself English by teaching me to read when I was three. There was no censorship in our household. My mother was not a practitioner, but she was a mystic and she never prevented me from exploring and developing my own magical path. We had metaphysical books on our family bookshelves—astrology, numerology, palmistry, and more—and I consumed them all voraciously.

However, although I didn't tell the publisher, I secretly hated the title. Earth Mother Magic seemed hypocritical to me. How was I to write a book that implicitly praised the sacred powers of Earth and natural magic, while, simultaneously being very aware of how many trees are cut down to make paper? I agonized about this for a bit. The only solution, I determined, was to write a book that attempted to be worthy of the sacrifice of the trees, a book of honest, true, experiential magic in clear, comprehensible language, the book that you now hold in your hands.

At the time I was writing that initial manuscript, the phenomena that was Harry Potter was in full swing. The first couple of books had already been published. My children were in that first generation to read them or, more accurately, to hear them: we read each book aloud. We'd go to parks, playdates, and classes, and Harry Potter was on everyone's lips, not just the children's, but the parents' as well.

Magically-speaking, I was very isolated when I lived in Los Angeles. I had left compadres and coven sisters behind in New York City. In Los Angeles, I became a solitary practitioner, not necessarily by choice, or at least not initially. This was, as I said, before social media and so the concept of the ‘virtual community’ did not yet exist.

I was solitary and I was discreet. I did not reveal my metaphysical interests to very many people. (It would be the publication of my first book that thrust me from the broom closet.) However, listening to those parents discuss Harry Potter, I was struck by the longing expressed by so many, most of whom had never previously had a serious discussion about witchcraft or the existence of magic power.

What I heard from these Muggle mothers was their hunger for magic. Occasionally, someone would whisper a story to me about some unusual experience, typically with anticipation that I would respond with mockery. When I didn't—when I instead shared a mystical experience of my own—the floodgates would open. I witnessed how hungry so many were for true magic, not fantasies, but the real deal that I knew existed. They yearned to be reconnected with their own personal power. I realized then how blessed and lucky I was to have made this connection so early in life. And so, faced with my challenging title, I determined to write a book that would ring true to those who were already experienced in the ways of magic, but which would also provide a bridge and a clear, easy-to-follow path for those embarking on their first magical journeys.

I wasn't sure if I'd ever publish another book, so I put a lot of myself in the pages, probably more than in any of my subsequent publications. I didn't want to blow a chance to share what I love: not just the more obvious aspects of witchcraft and magic, but also blues music, the city of New Orleans, and henna. With the rise of the internet and social media, these topics, once obscure, are now celebrated and embraced, as they deserve. Conversely, the brick-and-mortar witch shops and botanicas where I learned so much—once so common that there was literally a botanica on every other corner in some New York City neighborhoods—are now endangered species.

Dear reader, this book is intended to serve as a road map for your own personal magical journey, to provide signposts to mark the way. Finally, there is an accurate title: The Big Book of Practical Spells, with emphasis on the word ‘practical.’ Adept or novice, if you have questions or doubts regarding how to do something during the spell-casting process, this book will show you how. May it bring you every good fortune.

Judika Illes

Samhain, 2015


When I was a little girl, Bewitched was among my favorite TV shows. Samantha was my role model and who could blame me? Who wouldn't want to be Samantha? She was beautiful, poised, charming yet sensible, extremely intelligent and articulate, completely at home in everyday society but also secretly filled with magical powers. Her magic appeared effortless. A wiggle of her nose and she could do anything. Ironically, while so many watched rapt with envy, the central theme of the show was how badly Samantha wished to be just like us regular folks. It was the one feat she couldn't accomplish. No matter how hard she tried to live our mundane, tedious lives, washing dishes by hand rather than by wiggling her nose, she couldn't help it. Samantha was innately magical.

Jeannie, star of I Dream of Jeannie, found herself in much the same boat. Her magical powers, which, of course, all the viewers longed to share, were a burden to her and a source of embarrassment to her true love. While everyone but the object of her desire looked on enviously, Jeannie only wished to be an ordinary woman so that Tony would truly love and accept her.

Television shows like Bewitched, I Dream of Jeannie and more recently, Sabrina, the Teenage Witch, have delivered hours of entertainment but have also been a source of frustration. The magical powers that so delight us are clearly completely unattainable to mere mortals. The powers depicted are very special and very unique. Typically, they are hereditary; passed down through bloodlines, an accident of birth. Jeannie, Samantha, Sabrina: the girls can't help it.

The girls aren't alone. The best-selling books in the Harry Potter series also deliver this message. Although Harry and friends are shown studying diligently to perfect their skills, ultimately those skills are innate. Once again, some are magically gifted and some, unfortunately, simply aren't. Just as the “magical” people can't help their powers, so the nonmagical are left permanently outside the enchanted circle. Some protest that these books and television programs tempt children (and adults!) by glorifying “dark arts.” The protest seems pointless: they're missing the message. The underlying theme of these works is that if you're not born a member of a witchly family, there is no sense in trying. Your longings cannot be fulfilled. Harry Potter, like Baby Tabitha, was born with his power. The rest of us humans can only stand apart wishing wistfully, consoling ourselves with the notion that magic isn't real. By dangling the possibility of a special separate magical world before us, a supernatural existence, the ultimate insinuation is that it is all only a lovely fantasy. Magic doesn't exist. Enjoy the fantasy for half an hour and then get back to real life.

I don't mean any disrespect. I would still love to be Samantha. I love Bewitched as much as ever. I love Harry Potter, too. I Married a Witch starring Veronica Lake is one of my favorite movies. Stick a fantasy witch into a movie or television show and I'll watch it, Bell, Book and Candle, you name it. At heart, these entertainments acknowledge our deep and frustrated longing for magic. They are wonderful fantasies but fantasies are truly what they are because their implicit message is incorrect. There is magic. Real magic. You can do it and I can do it. Magic is not unique or elitist, or reserved for those with special mystical blood. Magic is as common as dirt.

Part of our problem involves limitations of language. Languages function as more than just communication tools. They also reveal much about their cultures of origin. In the same way that English is limited to only one word for snow versus the twenty-seven-odd words in the Inuit tongue, we have only one word, magic, to express so many different concepts. That word, magic, is used to delineate tricks, sleight-of-hand, sorcery and television fantasies, as well as the timeless Earth knowledge that helps us connect to the energy of our Earth Mother, fulfill our desires and destinies, and protect ourselves and our loved ones from harm.

Regarding real magic, real practical, functional, down-to-Earth magic, I have good news and bad news for you. Bad news first. As far as I know—although believe me, I would love to be the one to tell you different—there is no effective spell for redecorating your entire home in a quarter of an instant just by wiggling your nose. Get away from the mirror, girls. Practicing the Jeannie nod doesn't help. Our longing for this sort of television magic prevents us from seeing the real magic at our own fingertips.

The good news? Magic is your birthright. It is open to all. Yes, Harry Potter is not alone, nor is he unique. The aptitude to practice pure Earth magic is present in all humans at birth. It is not culturally specific nor is it dependent upon your IQ. The ability exists for both genders. Are some more magically gifted than others? Sure, but we're not all great dancers, either. Talent is but one factor; effort and desire play major roles, too. You already possess the building blocks to create the magic that is right for you. What's stopping you? Challenges to your magical gifts tend to be insidious ones, but with a little awareness and effort can be overcome. Beyond false expectations of magic, and the defeatism that this fosters, the major obstacles for most are our severed connections with Earth.

What is magic anyway? What is this Pure Magic?

Real magic, the magic of the Earth, is Pure Magic. Magic in its purest form consists of a dialogue between Earth and yourself, a dialogue whereby you are able to express your desires, receive and recognize a response and are then able to make your wishes and desires come true. Earth's gift to her children, it is the simplest, most basic and most ancient magical art, open to all. Expenses are minimal. No specialized metaphysical training is required. You don't even need to understand what metaphysical means. What is required is an awareness of the natural rhythms, energies, powers and patterns of Earth and her diverse inhabitants. These rhythms and powers are then manipulated in a harmonious and conscious manner to help manifest your goals. In simple language, Pure Magic encourages you to take your dreams and desires and translate them into concrete reality.

The bottom line is that magic is communication: communication between yourself, Earth and all the other life forms with whom we share our Earth Mother. Easier said than done? Well, unfortunately, unlike fantasy magic, real magic is not completely effortless but, on the other hand, it is completely attainable. Your own goals and desires will determine the level of effort that you need to fulfill your birthright and become a magical practitioner.

The first step is simple. Buy a cauldron? Find a familiar? No. Just be kind to yourself. This is real life, not television or literature. Forgive yourself for being unable to master unattainable and unrealistic goals and start afresh. (Magic and reality? Oh, yes. More about that later.)

There are so many reasons that people assume that they can never become a magician, witch, wizard, warlock, practitioner, adept, whatever word you prefer. Perhaps you feel that it is hopeless because you've never been able to master the nose wiggle, let alone do anything with it. Or perhaps you work as an accountant, and what kind of magic is that? Or maybe once you tried a candle spell and it didn't work. Maybe once you tried a Ouija board and you think maybe it did work and you got scared and threw it away, so how magical are you? Maybe you tried to read someone's cards and your predictions were completely off the mark. That's all old baggage. Throw it away. None of it prevents you from achieving your full potential now.

There is one aspect of magic that all of these TV shows and novels did get right: those actively practicing magic do have more fun. Magic will put a sparkle in your eyes. It will put a lift in your walk. You will begin to see things in ways that you have never seen before. Loneliness and boredom will be banished. You will feel stronger and radiant with energy. You will not feel purposeless but competent to fulfill your own destiny.

No, I can't teach you how to turn your mean boss into one of the less attractive mammals, but magic does provide some invaluable gifts. Magic can get you out of trouble. No, not everyone comes up with winning lottery numbers but magic can ensure financial well-being. You can achieve peace in your family and gain the love that you've always wanted. Magic can provide spiritual and romantic fulfillment, not to mention improving your sex life. It can also improve your appearance, bolster health and vitality, and help you become the person you've always secretly known you could be.


magic 101

By definition, magic is mysterious and effective. The effective part is crucial: magic is a practical art. There are spells that have lasted for millennia. If they absolutely didn't work ever for anyone, they wouldn't be remembered. The converse is also true: no one thing works for everyone. This goes for conventional medicine, traditional medicine, educational theories and magic, too. Because your headache defied that aspirin, doesn't mean that aspirin never works. It just wasn't the right tool for you at that moment. “But that's real life,” you protest, “not magic!” Well, magic is real life, too.

There is a power that radiates from all living beings in varying degrees of force and clarity. Different languages have different words to identify this power. The Polynesians refer to it as mana. Among the Yoruba, a prominent language group of Western Africa, it is known as axé. In Morocco, this power is called baraka and in other areas of the Islamic world some variation on that word way be used.

I offer you words from different languages because English has no specific word for this concept. I can describe this concept for you in English but I can't name it. The closest approximation is force or power but these are imprecise because there are so many types of forces or powers. One could say spiritual force but that, too, is imprecise. It is a spiritual force but this force also expresses itself in very physical ways. The spiritual aspect cannot be separated from the physical. This force is a holistic power. It does not acknowledge the splits between spirit and matter that humans may perceive but transcends these divisions.

This concept lurks in the English language, perhaps for safety's sake, demonstrating our cultural ambivalence to magic and reflecting the reality that for centuries, those who openly and effectively practiced Earth magic were persecuted and suppressed. Interestingly, the cultures that do possess an explicit and specific term to identify this force rarely possess just one generic word for magic. Their languages may instead contain something more like those twenty-seven Inuit words for snow, assorted various, specific words that describe specific acts, intents and practices that would in English all be lumped together under the category, magic. There is no one blanket word to distinguish magic from real life because in these cultures, magic is incorporated into real life. It isn't super-natural but a part of the way natural works. One is encouraged to be aware of the various forces because contact with them strengthens, protects and improves quality of life.

Just because we lack a specific English name for it doesn't mean that this concept isn't at home in America. It just doesn't reside out in the open. You will most likely encounter it outside the cultural mainstream, most easily in ethnic enclaves. The most publicly accessible place to find acknowledgement of these forces is within blues music, if you know what to listen for. When the great Chicago blues singer, Muddy Waters, boasts of “all the powers in his hand,” this, not merely his physical prowess, is what he is singing about.

Although anything may contain a spark of this power, the quantity and quality varies. Certain species of plants and animals contain greater quantities than others. A human science that analyzes and studies these powers has developed over the ages, although cultural perceptions vary. Universally, horses are recognized as possessing tremendous quantities of baraka. How each individual horse measures up to the standard of potential varies but the potential always exists. In Polynesia, the ti plant also possesses the potential for vast quantities of power. It is placed near the front door to bring protection to the house and its inhabitants. No one anticipates that in the event of a burglary, the plant will transform into an armed response guard. Instead, inherent in the ti plant is a radiant force that magnetically attracts good fortune and spiritual protection. The tulsi plant, holy basil, is used similarly in India.

In North America, when sage is referred to as a power plant, when it is burned so that its smoke cleanses and purifies an area, this is the concept that we are trying to express. The concept may be expressed with a certain awkwardness, but this is on account of the inadequacy of language, not some failure of the power itself. There are no traditional cultures that did not recognize that there were plants that were especially powerful and that provided an immediate link to the sacred. In fact, wherever sage has been in contact with people, it has been recognized as being extremely powerful and used for similar purposes, not only in North America but also throughout North Africa, Asia and Europe.

Baraka, this force, this power, possesses a sacred aspect. It is defined as a positive power, a benevolent force. This power can be transmitted. It is contagious. It can be expanded. It can also be lost. (Traditional Hawaiians believed that misuse of mana, manipulating it for selfish, unethical purposes caused one's own personal power to decrease.)

The closest image that I can give to you, although it is a negative image, is radioactive radiation. Like that type of radiation, this power is formless, has no scent or sound but is absorbed and stored just the same. You will witness its absorption by its effects upon you. If you consistently feel drained or frustrated, if things just don't ever work for you, if life lacks a spark of joy, you very likely suffer from a deficiency of this power. You can attain and balance this power by selecting, arranging and manipulating the powers that surround you.

Although certain species inherently contain specific powers, the actual quantity and quality varies according to the individual. In other words, a sage plant growing wild and free in pristine wilderness contains immense power. A sage plant cultivated in a garden with love, consideration, respect, reasonably clean water and sunshine also contains immense power. Whose power is greater is a toss-up. The wild sage's power may technically be greater, however, the cultivated sage may have developed a relationship with a specific human. Working together as a pair, they may be a formidably powerful unit. A sage plant growing along the roadside, processing toxic fumes daily is using its power for its own survival; it doesn't have any to share with you.

People, too, contain this power, some more than others. Sometimes this power is innate; sometimes it's learned or acquired. Different cultures maintain varying views on exactly which individuals are most likely to be extra blessed. Blues music, for instance, extols the wonders of the seventh son, whose order of birth assures extra power. (And the seventh son of a seventh son! Wow! That power should radiate right through the roof!)

You can recognize this power in another person: having been in their presence, you emerge feeling strengthened and empowered. Sometimes an individual's power is so strong, it doesn't terminate at death but can still be accessed by others in need. To this day, people travel to Voodoo-Queen Marie Laveau's grave in New Orleans to beg her assistance and leave testimonials to the miracles she still accomplishes.

Every year, thousands venture to Marie Laveau's grave at St. Louis Cemetery Number One, New Orleans' oldest cemetery, to beseech the self-proclaimed Pope of Voodoo for favors, especially those related to money, health and legal matters. Attempts to contact her are made by knocking three times on the front of her tomb (marked Marie Glapion, her married name) or by drawing three X's in chalk or red brick on the stone. Offerings of petition and gratitude are also left: traditionally salt water, seven dimes or her favorite, red anisette.

In some areas of Earth, power of this magnitude, extending beyond the grave, is the chief, intrinsic requirement for sainthood. The behavior of these saints may not always be exemplary, however it is expected that they will use their powers to benefit others. Although in the United States, the word saint is tied somewhat exclusively to Roman Catholicism, this broader concept of sainthood exists in many cultures, including African Diaspora, Buddhist, Jewish and Muslim traditions. The power of these saints can be so immense that it permeates the very ground in which they are buried. It is the desire to access this power, usually for healing or good fortune, that stimulates pilgrimages to holy people and their shrines. In Morocco, the dirt surrounding a saint's tomb is sprinkled upon newly created fabrics and textiles to imbue them with added baraka. This is because not only the works of nature contain this power but also the creations of people. The intent of many tribal artisans is not merely to create something beautiful or functional but also to infuse it with as much positive force as possible.

Transmission of this power is constant. Transmission occurs independent of your mind and control. You can choose to be aware of these forces and manipulate them for your benefit and that of your loved ones. Because you don't acknowledge them doesn't mean that they do not affect you, any more than not acknowledging the flu guarantees that you won't get sick. Awareness of these forces shouldn't make you feel passive or hopeless but energized. The healthy presence of this power on Earth can only be good for us. There is an infinite quantity. Because someone else has a lot doesn't mean you get less.

These powers are not generic. Because a horse has power and a camel has power doesn't mean that they have identical or interchangeable powers. The beauty of this power, the beauty and power of magic, comes in the details. Your power is unique and by expressing that power positively, you are a valuable asset to Earth. No two powers are exactly identical, although many share characteristics and the most powerful, whether belonging to humans, plants, animals or spirit beings, are amazingly versatile. The key to magic is recognizing the existence of these powers, determining which ones are most beneficial for you and manipulating them in a positive fashion to achieve happiness and success.

You already possess the ability to recognize those powers and to distinguish between them. Consider, for example, the rose. Since ancient times, roses have played a major function in healing, cosmetics and spirituality. Roses were associated with some of the grandest female divinities: Aphrodite, Cybele and Juno. Sufi poets used the rose to represent the highest spiritual ideals. In medieval Europe, roses were considered so powerful that one was expected to beg permission from the plant before daring to pluck a blossom. The rose was picked neither haphazardly nor carelessly but with respect. Indeed, roses do not give themselves easily. The family of roses is characterized by visual beauty, heavenly fragrance and thorns. Those who have only received florists' roses, all thorns carefully removed, have not experienced the full power of a rose.

This power is holistic. Roses have something to give humans on every possible level. Their therapeutic oil preserves and protects aging or delicate skin. As used in modern aromatherapy, essential oil of rose is indicated for a wide range of physical ills. Rose's spiritual and emotional effects are equally profound. The scent of rose assuages grief. The worst, most painful grief, grief beyond the realm of language, can be soothed by the healing fragrance of roses. This doesn't mean that just smelling or beholding roses will instantly make everything fine and whole again. Those are the false expectations that lead to inertia. Healing, like magical aptitude, is accomplished in increments, step-by-step. A walk through a fragrant rose garden or the scent of rose attar serves as an elevator, uplifting the spirit at least one level from wherever it was, for most individuals. (Remember, nothing works for everyone!)

You may or may not have been aware of the technical properties of roses or their spiritual history before you read them here but I guarantee that you do not need anyone to tell you this: a bouquet of roses is not the same as any old bouquet of flowers. Roses indicate love, romance, desire. How do you increase the power? By number. Whether you receive five, seven or eight roses may be immaterial but make that number a dozen and a powerful message is sent. Alternatively, one single rose speaks very loudly of love and admiration. A desperate, yet often successful bid to win back a lost love is to fill an entire room with roses. In fact, roses are invaluable components of love spells from all over Earth.

In the metaphysical science of numbers, twelve signals completeness, totality.

Let's consider another plant now, one that's also probably very familiar to you and which is also universally prized for the strength of its power. This plant, too, communicates with you via your olfactory senses, although this plant is far more modest in cost and appearance than the luxurious rose. It's garlic.

One question: knowing nothing else, would you use garlic as a chief component within a spell for romance? If you couldn't afford roses, would garlic be your substitution of choice? I think not. You don't need anyone to tell you that, in fact, garlic is rarely, if ever, a component of romantic spells.

Garlic's chief magical role is as a protective device. Hmong householders use the number four to enhance that power, hanging four heads of garlic at the door for protection. Other communities prefer braids—often of twelve garlic heads rather than just any random quantity.

Interestingly, while garlic is not used for romantic spells, it is often a prime component in sexually oriented ones. Whereas roses can help you capture your true love and assure them of your devotion, it's that humble head of garlic that can help you keep those home fires burning bright. In situations where love and romance are not an issue but sex is problematic, garlic has proven beneficial, especially for couples of long-standing where the existence of love and commitment is beyond doubt but the male partner is overworked, physically tired and/or emotionally drained.

Garlic is famed for reviving men's vitality and stamina and revitalizing their sexual energy. Records show that the workers who built Egypt's great pyramids were fed a daily ration of garlic to increase productivity. Pharaoh's rations of garlic may have kept construction of the pyramids on schedule; it also helped give him a plethora of baby Israelites to worry about.

Visualize your personal reaction to receiving a dozen beautiful, fragrant roses from the individual of your choice. Visualize also your reaction to sharing a single plate of a warm, delicious, garlic-redolent meal with someone whom you love, desire and, of course, with whom you feel completely comfortable. They're not identical feelings but both bring a glow of happiness and the sense that you are where you are intended to be.

Can you substitute plastic roses for that bouquet? Will handing your beloved a garlic tablet, carefully engineered to remove all trace of taste and smell, achieve the same ends? You knew those answers before you read the questions. So many have been trained to respect only the wisdom that comes through accredited formal education. You already possess the ability to recognize those magic powers in your bones. Learning to access and manipulate these powers is a sensuous intuitive process akin to cooking and, in fact, many of the most powerful magical practitioners are wonderful chefs as well. Not for nothing are witches so often depicted stirring a cauldron! Putting together an effective magical spell is a little like planning a great meal: determining which powers best complement which others in order to produce your desired effect. Are you creating a meal to impress future in-laws, ingratiate yourself to a boss or seduce a lover? You need to understand your intent and the power inherent in your tools. This is the basic theory of magic.

Garlic and roses can both be characterized as friendly, gregarious powers. They don't withhold information, it doesn't have to be coaxed out of them, they communicate loud and clear. Not every power is like that. The good news is that you don't have to discover each one for yourself. A vast library of traditional knowledge exists from which you can avail yourself of desired information.

earth mother magic

Some fifteen hundred years ago, the Teuton tribes of Northern Europe held an annual ceremony. At night, under the rays of the moon, a veiled statue of their preeminent female divinity was placed in a wagon. Her sacred cows were hitched to this wagon, which was pulled through the fields, as people assembled to greet and salute them. While this ceremony itself has obviously not been performed in centuries, vestigial memories of Herta or Eartha, as her name is sometimes spelled, remain. Her name resonates in our language as the name given to our planet, Earth.

We can't presume to understand all that this specific ritual meant to the Teutons nor precisely what their expectations might have been. Much of what we know about Teutonic ritual comes to us via descriptions written by Romans, themselves outsiders to the culture. The Romans tell us that this was a joyous time for the Teutons. Destruction and warfare were consciously and deliberately ceased, placed on hold, at least for the duration of the ritual. What we can recognize from our current distance is their attempt to unify and harmonize all the components of nature, all Earth's children, including plants, animals, spirits and people.

The Teutons did not confuse Herta with Earth. They were agricultural: they could distinguish between a spiritual entity and the dirt beneath their feet. Nor was she merely a personification of Earth. Rather, Herta served as an intermediary, a broker between Earth, humans and all Earth's other inhabitants, seeing to it that everyone's needs were met. Neither did the Teutons, or other early people, confuse the statue with the spiritual entity. They understood that humans created the statue. If the statue was damaged or destroyed, they realized that it did not destroy or damage the spirit. Rather this damage might indicate something significant about the relationship between people and spirit, perhaps one reason why conquerors destroy the representations of their enemies' spiritual allies with such force and glee.

Attitudes toward Herta changed over the centuries. From a benevolent intermediary, Herta evolved into a Queen of Witches, a spiritual entity to be feared and avoided. Earth's image evolved as well. No longer a she but an it, Earth became something to be conquered, mastered and controlled. No longer perceived as beneficially linked guides, providers and protectors, Earth and Herta became instead a source of danger and temptation. This was paralleled in changing attitudes towards Earth's other children, the plants and animals. Animals became witches' familiars rather than potential friends and allies of all. As the witch craze overtook Europe, plants that had given healing and pleasure became illicit objects of fear. People became increasingly afraid to communicate with these forces that had served them so well for so long, although the true danger, in the form of torture, repression and murder, came not from plants or animals, but from other humans.

Attitudes towards women were shifting, too. Once considered a repository of holy fertility power, the ultimate magic, women's bodies became a source of shame, danger and sin. Jumping forward to the present day, the effects of these attitudes are palpable. Earth is badly damaged. Many species of plants and animals are extinct or endangered. Creatures who remain on Earth are having difficulty reproducing. Sperm counts among many species, including our own, have fallen drastically. Earth, abused and caged to the point where she cannot provide for her children, may be practicing her own birth control.

The damage to humanity transcends the physical. In the United States, as elsewhere on the globe, to be human now in the 21st century typically means to be lonely and disconnected. Modern child-rearing practices are wary of the influence and power of the mother. From the first breath, the infant is encouraged to separate from its mother, and vice versa. Attempting to foster independence, we have fostered isolation instead.

The Lakota people, whose ancestral territory covered a large swath of the North American plains, possess a spiritual concept encapsulated in their phrase Mitakuye Oyasin. This translates into English as “all my relations.” Implicit in this phrase is an affirmation that all creation is connected. The two-leggeds, the four-leggeds, snakes with no legs, birds, fish, plants, rocks, minerals, spirits: we are all relations.

Tribal peoples, and that counts for all our ancestors, some just a little farther back than others, recognized that in addition to a specific human mother, we all share a common mother. Earth, the planet, is the ultimate mother. Just as the child is separated from the human mother, we have camouflaged our Earth Mother with concrete and fences. However, just as the weeds continuously break through the concrete, so Earth continues to reach for us in the manner of the good mother who never stops trying to reunite with her missing children.

Although we have limited information about pre-Christian Teutonic society, we do know of another ceremony they possessed, a childbirth ritual. This was a ritual of immense simplicity. Immediately following birth, the cord having been cut, the baby was taken and laid upon the ground. The intent was to formally introduce the child to his or her own other mother, Earth, the mother whom we all share.

There are practitioners of herbal medicine who believe that Earth provides solutions and remedies for all our ills, if only we can discover them and understand how to apply them. Would-be magicians will find the same to be true: Whatever you require is already available within you or has been provided by Earth. Recognizing our tools and learning to use them are the true challenges.

communicating with earth

If pure magic involves a dialogue between you and Earth, the most obvious question is how do we speak to her? How do we make ourselves heard? How do we receive our answers? How do we know that anything really transpired?

Although you may certainly speak to Earth, or any part of creation, in English or any other human language, it may not be the most efficient way, nor should you necessarily expect your response to come in that manner. There are various methods of shared communications that are far more effective:

You can communicate through fragrance. Fragrance is the most primal, elemental form of communication, the one shared by plants, animals, humans and spirit beings. Smell remains the most mysterious of our senses, defying scientific explanations. The olfactory system, the part of your brain that processes scent, is lodged near the most ancient part of the brain. Fragrance stimulates the limbic system, which integrates mind, body, emotions and memory. This most mysterious of our senses is also the last to leave us, remaining active until the last breath. Humans communicate with each other through scent, signaling our romantic intentions through scents that we no longer have the aptitude to consciously smell with our noses, the pheromones. Fragrance transcends language. It bypasses the language filter; the message arrives directly in our hearts, bones and brains. The part of your brain that processes smells is intimately connected with the part that catalogs memories. Some find fragrance to be the key that opens hidden past life memories.

You can communicate through dreams. The dream state refuses to be stifled and bound by the rigid literal confines we have imposed upon the rest of our existence. Dreams transcend language although dreams also delight in word games. Dreams are the threshold between concrete and psychic reality. Dreams are where spirits most willingly reveal themselves. Dreams are where you are most likely to receive communiqués from the Earth Mother and the relatives. You've very likely been receiving signals all your life, whether or not you consistently understood them, whether or not you sent back the response that you would have liked to. Remember, lack of response is a response, too.

You can communicate through symbols. Symbols are the language you need for dreams and for two-way communication with the spirit realm and with those living beings among us who lack speech but still have something significant to say. Symbolic language transcends speech. You understand it as a reverberation in your brain, a knowing in your bones. It is fluid and simultaneously multilayered, rather than precise and rigid. You have the aptitude to relearn this language. I say relearn because once upon a time, all our ancestors possessed this capacity and somewhere, deep in your genetic code, the ability remains, waiting to be tapped.

Scientific studies indicate that literacy, beyond just teaching the ability to read, encourages the brain to function in different ways. Different areas of the brain are accessed and exercised while others are left to lie fallow. Both forms of thinking, linear literate and fluid symbolic, are necessary. Humans need access to both in order to be whole. We need essentially to be bilingual. You need literate thinking while you're driving. That traffic signal isn't a true symbol, it's shorthand, developed by literate minds, as well it should be. Imagine the disaster if that traffic signal meant something unique to everyone. Strictly literate thinking, however, limits your dreaming and magical capacity.

Symbols come in minute details and often use repetition as a means of showing emphasis. Magic doesn't accept the concept of coincidence, although every single repetition doesn't have equal significance. Symbols are not about what is but what could be.

To think symbolically is to read one's environment as carefully as a road map. Is that rabbit you suddenly see just a bunny? Well, yes it is, but maybe it's also the harbinger of fertility that you've been waiting for, the message from Earth that your body is ready, go home and make love. Perhaps that rabbit is an omen of good luck: rabbits have strong associations with gambling. If that rabbit is lying dead in the road, maybe this isn't the weekend for that Las Vegas trip. Is that rabbit a messenger from the Siberian spirit Kaltes come to tell you that your petition has been received? Perhaps it's Kaltes herself coming to see you, in the form of her sacred animal. You don't have to look very hard for these signs. Once you get a dialogue going, they'll come to you.

Harming none includes not harming yourself. No matter what kind of a human mother you may have had, your Earth Mother wants you to fulfill your potential, be healthy, comfortable and happy and be a source of pride to her and all your relations.

Even if you feel unable to express yourself through symbols, you should at least be able to recognize symbolic language because this is likely how Earth will talk to you. Perhaps she's been speaking to you for years but you haven't been able to pick up the messages. If you've previously attempted some magic and found yourself unsuccessful, this is a common cause. If you are putting out requests, but then seemingly ignore the reply, ultimately the reply stops. It is important that you realize that you are not inconsequential, that you're worthy of two-way dialogue with Earth and all her powers. Every power has its place in the cosmos, including yours.

Sometimes symbols embody our hopes and dreams. Imagine the woman who wants to lose weight and has taped a picture of a very skimpy bathing suit onto her refrigerator door. That symbol is more than just a reminder. Gazed upon, it may have the power to prevent the dieter from opening the freezer door and eating that ice cream. The symbol translates the dream into concrete form and can help make the dream a reality.

what you won't find in this book

Magic is practiced all over Earth in many different ways. There are, however, a few basic tenets shared by all schools. The most famous is encapsulated in the old Wiccan rede, “Do what you will, but harm none.” There are no spells included in this book that intentionally set out to harm others. There are no revenge spells, no “getting back at people who've hurt you” spells. If you're looking for those spells, there are plenty of other places to find them. They are published in many books but, frankly, save your money: with only a little magic under your belt, you'll fast find that knowledge within yourself.

Resist the impulse. The most powerful magicians have always been characterized by self-restraint and for good reason. Another universal magical tenet is that magical energy possesses something of a boomerang effect. Whatever sort of energy you put out into the atmosphere comes straight back to you, multiplied several times over. Imagine, once you really get powerful, the force of your magical returns. Wouldn't you really prefer to have positive energy bombarding you rather than the opposite?

Habitually sending forth destructive energy ultimately has dangerous and unpredictable repercussions for you and yours. So, even if you can, desist. If you fear malevolent energy has been invoked against you, there are good, effective methods for simply blocking the hex and returning-to-sender that will not incur any further damage to you. Check this book's section on Protection Spells.

The other spells that have been deliberately excluded are spells that involve sacrificing animals or that use their body parts as materials. It's not necessary to point the finger at specific cultures: more cultures than not share in this tradition. Nor is this the moment to discuss whether these spells even work. Their effectiveness or lack thereof is not the point. That discussion veers dangerously close to the rationale frequently presented about how awful it is that the tiger may soon be extinct because poachers kill them for primitive medicines that don't work. Would it be any less tragic if these items did work? Isn't the loss of the tiger's presence enough? Whether those items or products or spells work or not is irrelevant; they will no longer work for us. The damage to Earth and the damage that humans have caused other species has wreaked havoc upon a sacred balance. The potential for long-term harm, for you as well as the animal, is greater than any short-term success.

a psychic glossary: some magic vocabulary words

Alive: In the hospital, heartbeat, pulse, breath and EKG measure life, the quality of being alive. In magic, when something is referred to as alive or living, that isn't necessarily what is meant. While water is “living,” no one is suggesting that you search for a literal pulse. The magical definition is broader:

If something occurs naturally on Earth, whether plant, animal, human, element, stone or metal, that something is considered alive.

If something radiates any degree of magical force or energy (baraka), that being is considered alive.

Anything that is alive is unique, has a potential for power and cannot be totally predicted.

If something can be recreated so that there are identical, indistinguishable specimens, and if that something is completely predictable, it is not alive, it lacks life. Lacking life, it contains no power, no innate magic.

Aphrodisiac: Something (usually food or fragrance) with the power to stimulate and enhance sexual desire and/or performance. Don't confuse these with love potions or fertility brews: Aphrodisiacs are about sex, pure and simple. Anything else is just an added bonus.

The concept of the aphrodisiac is named in honor of Aphrodite. Aphrodisiacs were considered to be her gifts to people. The finest are considered to share something of her essence, her power and her energy.

There is also such a thing as an anaphrodisiac, which has the opposite effect. Anaphrodisiacs reduce sexual interest, thoughts and sometimes ability. Anaphrodisiacs may be beneficial to those walking a celibate path, temporarily or not, voluntarily or not.

Some substances can go either way. Lavender, for instance, has a reputation as both an aphrodisiac and its opposite. Some schools of thought claim that men find the scent of lavender irresistible, while others recommend that lavender be used when you wish to discourage someone's attentions. The truth is that aphrodisiacs, like so much magic, are highly specific and individualized. Chemical interactions are highly personal and so you will find individuals to vouch for either affect.

The only way to discover the effect of a specific aphrodisiac upon you or your intended is to try it out for yourself. Have fun playing. Personal tastes and experiences influence which aphrodisiacs are best for you. If the object of your affections has allergies to seafood, forget about oysters.

Some Famous Aphrodisiacs!

Caviar Henna Mint Saffron

Champagne Hibiscus Onions Shellfish

Chocolate Honey Radishes Sushi

Garlic Jasmine Roses Vanilla

Botanica: Latin-American stores offering a variety of spiritual, herbal and magical supplies. Often a good source for herbs, oils and candles. Not long ago, botanicas were confined to immigrant enclaves, but it's now difficult to find an urban area without at least one. Botanicas have become sufficiently mainstream that in many communities they have their own category in the phone book. To some extent, botanicas now fill the marketing void left by the demise of the once-thriving hoodoo mail-order industry.

Evil Eye: Oh, that Evil Eye! Is there such a thing? Well, if there isn't, an awful lot of energy is exerted worldwide trying to avoid and repel it. The Evil Eye is the name that embodies the generic evils and dangers that threaten humans on Earth. It doesn't necessarily have anything to do with eyes literally. The Evil Eye is jealousy and malice, a destructive, negative force. Sometimes it originates in spirit sources; however often humans are to blame. The Evil Eye isn't necessarily meant malevolently: those who cast it may do so inadvertently and unwillingly.

There are two paths to avoiding the Evil Eye.

Avoid bragging and boasting about one's good fortune so as not to attract dangerous attention.

The best defense is a good offense: a powerful, deflecting amulet. Wear, hang or carry as needed.

Fertility: In industrialized Western societies, much emphasis is placed on women not getting pregnant at the wrong time. Historically, and even today in much of the world, the emphasis is otherwise: this is reflected in the multitude of magical spells and rituals whose goal is to allow women to conceive more-or-less when they choose. Fertility spells are not limited to literal pregnancy, however: use them to remove any creative block or achieve any creative goal.

Infusion: The process by which one medium is encouraged to permeate another, usually herbs in water or oil. The most famous infusion of all is your basic cup of tea and if you can make a cup of tea with leaves rather than a tea bag, then you already know a good deal about making an infusion. Infusions allow you to insert true botanical powers into your magic potions, enchanted bath or floor wash.

The standard recipe for a water infusion is one teaspoon of dried herb or one-and-one-half teaspoons of fresh herb to every cup of boiling water. Maintain that same proportion even if using a combination of herbs, unless otherwise advised. Put the herbs into a nonreactive pot or container, pour the water over the botanical material and leave it to brew for a period of time, usually between five and fifteen minutes. Following the brewing period, the herbs are usually strained from the water.

The process of creating infused oils is slightly more complicated but still easily adaptable to your kitchen. The standard proportion suggests that for every cup of oil, you will need one ounce of fresh herbs or one half ounce of dried. Unless otherwise advised, do not exceed that proportion, even if using a combination of herbs, as a balance needs to be maintained.

Pour the oil over the herbs into a stainless steel bowl.

Heat over simmering water, either in a true double boiler or an improvised water bath, a saucepan one-quarter filled with water. The bowl with the herbs must not sit on the bottom of the pot but float in the water. The process needs constant supervision for safety. Keep the oil covered. Stir once in a while and simmer gently for thirty minutes. Make sure the oil doesn't get too hot because if it smokes, bubbles or burns, an acrid fragrance can develop, spoiling your infusion.

Allow the oil to cool and then strain out the herbal material through four layers of cheesecloth or another fine nonmetal strainer. Strain twice if necessary: all herbal material must be removed to prevent the oil from turning rancid.

If an infusion-spell includes essential oils or flower essences for enhancement, they should be added at the end, when the oil has been strained and is cool.

A crockpot can be used instead of the water bath. Maintain the same proportions and leave on low heat for two hours. Strain as above.

If you can depend upon some consistently warm, sunny weather, you can go real low-tech but high power and create an infusion through solar power. Place the herbs in a jar with a tight-fitting lid and pour the oil over them. The herbs must be completely covered. Add one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar. Leave the jar to sit in the warm sun all day and in a warm cupboard at night for two weeks. Strain as above.

Psychic Shield Infused Oil*

Rub this oil into your body or add it to your bath, to bestow psychic protection before embarking on any magical work and also to replenish psychic energy or to repair a damaged aura.

¼ ounce dried St. John's Wort

¼ ounce dried yarrow

(if using fresh herbs, increase proportion to ½ ounce of each herb)

1 cup sunflower oil

6 drops essential oil of rosemary

4 drops angelica flower essence (FES, Green Hope, Pegasus)

Use any of the three methods above (water bath, crockpot or solar) to create an infused oil. Strain the botanicals well. If St. John's Wort blossoms (rather than just the dried leaves) have been used, your oil may display a pretty, red hue. Pour the infused oil into a bottle. Add up to six drops of essential oil of rosemary as well as the flower essence. Close the bottle and roll gently to blend.

If you are making large quantities of infused oils that you wish to store, it's best to add a natural preservative. One-quarter teaspoon simple tincture of benzoin, available from many pharmacies, can be added per cup of infused oil. Benzoin is prepared from the gum of the styrax, an Indonesian tree, considered to have sacred properties and often burnt as cleansing incense. (Make sure that you have simple tincture of benzoin, not compound tincture, also known as Friar's Balsam.)

Occult: Occult means “hidden” or “secret.” Occult usually refers to some magical or spiritual knowledge that may not be well-known. It is a neutral term, neither positive nor negative and certainly not a synonym for “evil.”

Oracle: Oracle means “answer,” the ability to receive needed information about the future right now in the present. There are spiritual entities who possess this power and can provide direction and answers. Some are also able to bestow this ability upon a person. In the most famous case, Apollo gave this gift to the Trojan princess Cassandra, with the proviso that no one would ever believe her impeccably accurate predictions.

The simplest oracle of all comes courtesy of the Greek divine spirit, Hermes, a ruler of communication. Centuries ago, people would enter his shrine, make an offering, carefully phrase a question, then stop up their ears and leave. At some point, shortly after, they would open their ears and the first words they heard were considered the oracle's response. Hermes no longer has active public shrines but you can still utter a petition or make him a small gift. A pyramid of stones calls him. Give yourself a cue for when to open your ears. Count to 100, for instance, and then open your ears or look for a visual cue. When you see the color red or see a bird fly, that could be your signal that the oracle is ready. Words uttered by children are considered extra powerful and prophetic.

Prosperity: A common goal of magical spells, prosperity doesn't mean that you're guaranteed to win millions of dollars and do nothing but what pleases you for the rest of your life. Prosperity indicates that you have enough to fulfill your needs, beyond bare-bones needs, enough to feel comfortable and relaxed even if you're not rich beyond your wildest dreams. Prosperity doesn't have to mean cash; there are spells for when you specifically need money. Prosperity indicates a level of material comfort and independence. Prosperity has always been considered a reasonable and realistic magical goal.

Root Magic: Different spells use different parts of plants, but roots, which lie buried in Earth, are considered particularly magical. The most powerful plants have the most powerful roots and some are extremely potent indeed. Different roots are used for different purposes. Adam and Eve root, for instance, which resembles its namesake, is used to draw love, while Angelica root, also known as Archangel root because knowledge of its use was a gift from the Archangel Michael, bestows healing and protection to all, as well as extra power for women. You'll find some other roots, the Devil's Shoestrings and High John the Conqueror, discussed in greater detail in the Spells part of the book.

Root magic is tremendously ancient. The Jewish Bible records Leah and Rachel's squabble over possession of a prized mandrake root, said to draw both love and fertility. (The Bible incidentally records mandrake as a success story, attesting to its power.)

Today many magical root plants are terribly endangered. Because it's easier to destroy the plant to obtain the root, indiscriminate harvesting has decimated many of these species. In addition, many spells require roots to be chopped into small pieces. In this form they are fairly unrecognizable. Dishonest merchants prey on people's desires by substituting other plants. If you've purchased what is marketed as mandrake in the United States, it's most likely you've actually bought mayapple, also a plant used in enchantments but not the same thing, not as rare and certainly not worthy of mandrake prices. Even worse, artificial and/or petroleum products are frequent substitutes.

The best way to be confident that your roots are genuine is to be familiar with its aroma and appearance. What should it look like, what should it smell like? Lucky Hand Root (Dactylorhiza orchids), for instance, looks like a tiny human hand with too many fingers. Those extra fingers are believed to help you catch whatever it is that you need. For complete security and power, cultivate your own root plants or purchase roots only from reputable vendors.

Shaman: Don't be confused by the last three letters of the word. Shaman names a function, not a gender and the earliest shamans were women. A shaman is not synonymous with witch or fortune-teller although some individuals may be all, or some, of the above. The magical abilities possessed by a shaman are among the most profound. A shaman can soul-travel to different dimensions, the spirit land, the realm of the dead. Through this ability, which may take years to master, they can perform healings and soul retrievals, receive and deliver messages and, very importantly, return safely.

Threshold: A threshold is a border area where one force, power or element meets another. There are borders and thresholds everywhere. The seashore is the most prominent example, the transitional area where ocean meets land. There are thresholds in your home: the windows and doors, for instance. There are thresholds in time: New Year's Eve, your birthday, midnight. Twilight and dawn are thresholds: you can feel the energy of the incoming power but the old power hasn't departed yet. There are thresholds on your body: your mouth is the threshold between thought and speech.

Women's Thresholds

In many cultures, the time immediately preceding menstruation is considered a powerful threshold. Rather than negative associations of “PMS,” traditional cultures perceived the premenstrual period as a time of great psychic potential. A young girl's first period, as well as the entry into menopause, are also considered powerful, yet vulnerable, thresholds, a time to expand one's power but also to nourish one's well-being. The Warundi people from East Africa have a ceremony that celebrates a girl's first surge of female power: upon the occasion of her first menstruation, the girl's grandmother leads her through their home so that she may touch every object in order to imbue it with the special holiness now upon her.

Thresholds are simultaneously areas of great power and extreme vulnerability. A tremendous percentage of amulets and rituals are created specifically to protect thresholds.

Totem: Most frequently used to describe an animal ally, a totem is a creature bearing personal spiritual significance. Thus, if my animal ally is a wolf, then I might describe a wolf as being my “totem.” The implication is one of veneration, alliance and spiritual connection. Totems may also be shared by families, clans and communities: the bald eagle is the totem bird of the United States. Plants and crystals may also be considered totems. Spiritual entities are not referred to as totems; however their sacred animals may be referred to as such. In other words, if I venerate Artemis, and her sacred creature is a deer, then I might perhaps include deer among my totems. Totem poles refer to the traditional carved pillars of the Pacific Northwest that depict a clan, moiety or tribe's sacred animal allies.

Wicca: Deriving from the same source as wisdom, wise and witch, “Wicca” refers to the modern Earth-centered spiritual traditions based upon ancient Celtic roots, and focused upon enhancing personal power through harmonious existence with all of nature.

Vodoun, Voodoo, Hoodoo: Confused? Well, although some people do use these words synonymously, no, they're not the same. Vodoun literally means “spirit” in the Fon language of West Africa but the word is now commonly used to name the spiritual traditions of the descendents of the Fon people who were enslaved in Haiti. Because their faith has been ridiculed, vilified and stereotyped by outsiders and because the word Voodoo is often used pejoratively, some practitioners prefer the spelling “Vodoun” to “Voodoo.” Voodoo, however is also used to distinguish the specific traditions that emerged in New Orleans following the emigration in the nineteenth century of many Haitian refugees and the word has been used in that sense within this book.

Hoodoo, on the other hand, is American magic. Based largely on African practices, Hoodoo evolved in America's melting pot. Enslaved African magicians, healers and shamans unable to access their old materials, learned a whole new botanical repertoire from Native Americans. Eventually, elements of Freemasonry, Kabbalah and Spiritism were incorporated, too.

The first half of the twentieth century saw the rise of Hoodoo as a business enterprise. Although rural populations may have easy access to botanical materials, urban dwellers typically do not. In response to massive urban migration, commercial manufacturing and marketing of Hoodoo magic products developed. Specific, generic formulas developed: “Boss Fix” if you were having trouble at work, for instance, or “Kiss Me Now!” for those feeling lonely. Formulas were available as oils, soaps, powders and floor wash, in much the same way as if you were to go to a perfume counter, a fragrance might be available as perfume, cologne, dusting powder or soap.

Floor washes are botanical infusions, which are strained and then added to a bucket of rinse water along with some vinegar for cleaning your floor. Different recipes serve different purposes: cleansing, protection or romance, for example. Check among the spells for some samples. If you're only looking to freshen the atmosphere a bit, you can allow someone else to clean your floor, but if you need real magical energy, you must do it yourself.

Many of the old formulas are still available, although they are often sold as novelty products, complete with lurid packaging. Because the creators may not take the product seriously, there's no telling exactly what's in those cute little vials. If you really want the stuff to work as intended, buy from a reputable dealer (some sources are listed in the Appendix) or go back to the roots and mix up your own. Formulas are easily concocted at home. You'll find variations of some of the most popular among this book's spells.

* Not recommended for pregnant and nursing women or those who are actively trying to conceive.

the four elements

In the West, Earth's power is traditionally broken down into four components known as the elements: air, earth, fire and water. (Okay, in China they count five elements, including metal, but let's not worry about that yet.) Air and fire are usually considered masculine energies while earth and water are most typically perceived as feminine. Life springs from earth and water, but air and fire are necessary to spark the process and to provide health and vitality. From a magical standpoint, the power of each element is unique, specific and alive.

Each element, separately or in combination, can serve as a vehicle for spiritual and physical healing. Power comes in the interplay of the elements. Power is enhanced when the elements intermingle and form a threshold: air and fire, fire and water, earth and water. Thus steam, emerging from the marriage of fire and water, is a particularly potent vehicle of healing energy.


Earth is the battery, the generator. She provides stability, security, a grounding influence and the capacity for growth. In a wide selection of multicultural traditions, Earth is the material from which humans are created. Unfortunately, in English, there is confusion between the dirt that is “dirty,” unclean, a must to avoid, and the dirt that we trod upon. Avoiding Earth depletes our energy, as Earth is a cleansing force that revitalizes and purifies.

Simply being in physical contact with Earth can be healing and grounding. There are also many traditions of packing an ailing individual into hot dirt or sand for spiritual and physical healing. Mud packs can do more than improve the complexion. Although not yet as popular as aromatherapy or hydrotherapy, the ancient use of clay as a therapeutic material is currently undergoing a revival.

Anything alive is unique and distinct. Just as each person is an individual, Earth's dirt is not generic and identical: Dead Sea mud is used to soothe aching joints, moor mud for cleansing toxins from the body, whereas bentonite clay is used to soothe assorted skin ailments. Dirt can be pure magic, too: Thousands of pilgrims flock annually to New Mexico's Shrine of Chimayo to gather small quantities of the miraculous earth found there whose healing powers are reputed to fix everything from broken bodies to broken spirits and even, on occasion, broken computers.

Plants and botanicals contain the concentrated essence of Earth Magic. Create magical gardens outside on Earth or inside in pots to further your magical goals.


Air serves as a transmitter and messenger. Air affects health, creativity and the capacity for hope. Magical philosophy (and some schools of upper physics, too!) asserts that nothing truly disappears, so the phrase “vanish into thin air” is meant somewhat literally. When you burn a candle, thin air is where the energy goes; your wish enters the atmosphere with the smoke.

Fragrance is the language of air. Direct inhalation of essential oils or the smoke from botanical materials is the simplest method of using air to heal. The smoke of a smudge stick cleanses the aura and soothes an uneasy mind. Fueled by water and fire, saunas, steam baths and sweat lodges nourish the soul as well as healing the body.

Use fragrance via oils and incense to send smoke signals to your magical allies.


Water is where life originates, not just as an abstract concept but literally for each of our individual lives. We first emerge into consciousness in our mothers' wombs, floating in water and salt. Our first experience of sound is filtered through amniotic fluids. Our first familiar motion, ideally indicative of safety and security, consists of rolling waves of water. Babies carried on their mother's hips or backs transition gently to solid Earth.

Fairy tales recount adventures searching for the “water of life.” Many of Earth's most ancient shrines have been located near sacred springs, the mineral content of the water providing therapeutic benefits while the element itself nurtures body and soul. Hydrotherapy, healing through water, is a universally ancient practice currently in revival. Each source of healing water is distinct and unique, nor do they all serve the same function. Celtic water shrines were once famed throughout Europe for healing eye diseases. The Moulay-Yacoub shrine, at the foot of the Rif Mountains of Morocco, is now updated with modern medical facilities, to take advantage of its venerable reputation for healing gynecological disorders. On the other hand, a stay at the cold springs of Jesenik in the Czech Republic is prescribed for soothing neuroses, psychoses and psychic disorders. You may have your own favorite wishing well, proven to grant your secret desires.

Water magic is performed in your bathtub and by creating magical floor washes and room sprays.


Fire, too, purifies but in a very different manner. Fire heals and energizes and is profoundly independent. Fire defies human illusions of control. Fire possesses a transformative energy and must always be treated with respect. Fire can be a beneficial, helpful, healing element but the potential for danger always exists. The fact that you're engaged in magic doesn't mean you can ignore standard safety rules.

When you are smudged with burning herbs and you can actually see, hear and smell the fire, not to mention feel the occasional spark, it is not only the botanicals that are performing the healing. Fire, too, revives and recharges us, albeit from a greater distance than the other elements.

Create enchanted candles to further your magical goals.

Though the human body is composed largely of water, your psychic nature may be linked to any of the elements. Ultimately each individual's chemistry is unique. As you are inspired to do magic, you may find yourself pulled towards working with specific elements. You will be drawn to your allies. For many, magic is candlework, while others can only envision enchantments performed in the tub. Some call their desires through fragrant smoke signals while still others are drawn to Earth, creating patches of transformative, healing energy. The elements that you are drawn to indicate something significant about your own power.


Repeat after me: There are no bad colors. There are no inherently negative or positive, good or bad colors. Each radiates with its own power and energy. There may be colors that you prefer over others. There may be colors that resonate most deeply for you. There may be colors that are more or less beneficial for you personally, but colors themselves are neutral in value. Each has its place in the cosmos. Each has its place in magic. It's important that you have an understanding of the powers that radiate from each color, so that you'll know which to choose for your own personal spells. All colors have a protective aspect, although each may be most effective protecting different areas. Each color also serves as a magnet for different gifts. Need to burn a money candle? You need a green candle, right? But what about a justice candle? Choose colors for candles but also for color-baths, crystals, gemstones, clothing, surroundings and amulets.

A specific color may mean something special to you. A color may have associations that resonate only for you. It's your magic: allow your instincts and intuition free reign.

Black: Comfort. Associated Element: Earth.

Black indicates fertility, the promise of the richest, most powerfully fertile Earth. Black is the color of regeneration and life eternal, indicating potential for future growth. The Egyptians painted statues black to indicate the immortality of the subject. Black absorbs and blocks pain and evil, providing a protective cloak of comfort and safety.

Harness the power of the color black for fertility spells and for petitions to heal those who are chronically ill. Black candles are considered the most beneficial for repelling evil intentions while black crystals create psychic shields.

Blue: Protection. Associated Elements: Air and Water.

Blue protects, heals and relaxes. Blue provides peace and tranquility. Blue soothes psychic and emotional pain, in particular, traumatic stress. Blue is not only for boys; traditionally it's the color associated with the power of the Great Mother, from Mary's cloak to Yemaya's beads.

Blue is traditionally the most important protective color, particularly in regard to thresholds. A blue bead worn at your throat protects you from saying “the wrong thing.”

Borrow a household custom familiar from the Himalayas to Native North America, the Middle East to the Mediterranean: Paint your doors, window frames and/or ceilings blue for spiritual protection.

Blue assists in breaking the chains of bad habits. Burn blue candles to reinforce your commitment to terminate a detrimental addiction.

Brown: Stability. Associated Element: Earth.

Earth comes in an endless palette of colors, from pure black to red to pink to yellow to pure white. However, Earth most typically appears in some variation of brown as does skin, bark and fur. Brown is a color of tremendous force and potency. Brown is the color of stability and gravity, the literal kind, the kind that keeps you attached to Earth. Brown is the color that embodies hard reality; it's an essential color for those who practice extensive psychic or intellectual work because it keeps you grounded. Brown heals, nurtures, empowers and is the color of creative potential.

Surround yourself with brown energy to preserve and reinforce your personal power in the midst of long, draining projects.

Brown is the color of justice. Brown candles are traditionally burned for assistance during legal procedures.

Green: Growth. Associated Elements: Earth and Water.

Green indicates fertility, prosperity and growth. Green also has the power to heal. It has close associations with blue and there are many ambiguous shades, such as teal or aquamarine that blend their energies. However, while blue is used to soothe psychic and emotional trauma, green is resolutely physical. Its power is often invoked for healing serious physical ailments including cancer.

Use green candles, baths and crystals in spells for employment, to get cash and, in general, for anything that you wish to increase in your life.

Purple: Power. Associated Element: Fire.

Purple is the color of royalty and spiritual authority. Long ago, natural purple dye was painstakingly coaxed from murex snail shells along the Mediterranean coast. Rare and expensive, the color purple was reserved for royalty or for those held in the highest esteem, the high priestess of a spiritual cult, for instance. Today, anyone can wear purple to bolster and enhance psychic energy.

Purple is also associated with sexual pleasure. If you can't decide what color silk sheets to buy, you might consider purple. Purple candles are used in the most amorous of love spells.

Different colors are associated with specific spiritual entities. Here are a few examples:

BLACK: Baron Samedi (Haiti), Kali (India), Lono (Hawaii), Min (Egypt)

BLUE: Tanit (Berber), Yemaya (Yoruba)

BROWN: Babalu-Ayé (West Africa), Ochossi (Yoruba)

GREEN: The Green Man (England), Neith (Egypt), Wadjet (Egypt)

PURPLE: Dionysus (Eurasia), Maman Brigitte (Haiti), Oya (Yoruba)

RED: Pele (Hawaii), Set (Egypt), Shango (Yoruba)

WHITE: Artemis (Greece), Ix Chel (Maya), Mami Waters (West/Central Africa), Obatala (Yoruba), Poliahu (Hawaii)

YELLOW: Amaterasu (Japan), Aine (Ireland), Laka (Hawaii), Lakshmi (India), Oshun (Yoruba)

Red: Luck. Associated Elements: Fire and Earth.

Many consider red to be the most profound magical color. Certainly, it's the color most associated with luck. Red is the color of birth and death. In Western culture, red is often associated with men and with violent imagery: blood indicating injury and death. Yet red belongs to the female principle most of all as the color of blossoming life. Red is the color of primal female power, of menstrual blood, whose arrival indicates that the gates of fertility are open. Babies arrive amidst blood, although no injury exists. Red indicates strength, vitality, health, passion, courage and sex. Red beseeches the blessings of the Earth Mother as well as your personal ancestral spirits. Red is a defiant color, proclaiming survival and demanding attention.

Harness the power of red to enhance your personal power, your vitality and to protect as you transition over thresholds, particularly those having to do with marriage, birth and children.

Pink demonstrates red's gentler aspects. Pink is especially beneficial for spells involving children and new romance.

White: Creativity. Associated Elements: Air and Fire.

White is a color, not the absence of color, in magical terms. White is, in fact, a very intense color, the color of bone, the color of extended exposure to the hot sun as well as the color of ice, snow and intense cold. Just as a white piece of paper beckons your creative instincts, white offers you the power of a blank slate upon which to project your desires and dreams.

White is especially beneficial for candles and spells to initiate new projects. Keep a healthy stock of white candles on hand for spontaneous spells, as white may also be used for any purpose in candlework, substituted for any other color, if necessary. If you don't have the time to run out and get a purple candle, for instance, use a white one.

White is traditionally the color of the moon. Use white crystals, candles and clothes when you wish to draw down some moon magic.

Yellow: Romance. Associated Elements: Earth and Fire.

Yellow is the color of the sun. It's a joyous, happy color indicative of growth, communication and intellect, a color of wealth and spiritual harmony. In ancient China, the color yellow was reserved solely for the emperor. The yellow dye obtained from saffron is used to indicate spiritual maturity in Asia.

Yellow is associated with romance as it's the color most frequently associated with the most powerful spirits of love. Harness the power of yellow for romantic enchantments. A yellow candle will kindle new love. A yellow color bath can help you learn to love yourself.


What are you likely to find in a well-stocked magical pantry? What's really on a witch's grocery list? Now that you know you can do magic, do you need to buy anything? Probably not! Odds are, almost everything that you need is already on your shelves.

This doesn't mean that you shouldn't travel to all ends of Earth, searching out rare and precious treasures. If you have the means and the time and desire for some adventures, pack up the caravan and hit the road! However, don't ever feel that your inability to do this presents roadblocks to your magical career.

Magic is intended to improve your finances, relieve your stress and make you happier with yourself and your life, not create any of the opposite reactions. If you can spend a lot of money on your magic, feel free. There's a lot of fun, powerful stuff you can buy. It's very tempting to spend a fortune on flowers and oils. There are precious gems whose price is well beyond the range of most, but potent magic can still be made from what are to us the most mundane of materials. Don't ever let the assumption that you need rare and expensive ingredients and accoutrements prevent you from accessing your magic power.

There are sources that will advise you that in order to truly perform magic, you will need special equipment. You may need a special cape, a special knife, a cauldron or a special type of broomstick. If this suits you, fine. If this information resonates for you, collect whatever supplies you need but be aware that this represents only one of Earth's many magical traditions. There is no one right way to practice magic. Every culture on Earth has developed valid and powerful magical techniques. What these techniques have in common are a way of seeing, a way of perceiving and benefiting from Earth's energies. What things they use, what ingredients they possess, depend upon a lot of circumstances.

There are sources that will tell you that it is imperative that you have specially consecrated tools only to be used for magical purposes. There are sources that will tell you that it's vital that you have specially consecrated space only to be accessed for magical work. These sources may be in possession of some very powerful magic but I'm not sure which planet it's from. It's certainly not from Earth where an urban witch may share a small apartment with her family, where economics may necessitate that one tool serve many purposes. That sort of magic also encourages the false view that magic is somehow not part of real life, but separate, apart and distinct.

The reality is that there is no traditional culture on Earth, the cultures that have preserved so much Earth Magic, that bestows as much private space as we in the industrialized West already possess. So don't worry: whatever privacy and space you already possess will be sufficient for your magic.

As for special magical tools, well, there may be times when you need them, but in general, consider that any magical work that you do imbues your daily tools with a sanctity that will spread into any other area where you use them. The magical knowledge of the nomadic Wodaabe people is renowned throughout Western Africa. There are no U-Hauls for the Wodaabe. All the possessions of even the wealthiest Wodaabe tribesman must fit on the back of a couple of camels or donkeys with room left for the kids to ride.

Don't worry too much about finding space for your work. I have seen beautiful altars squeezed onto bathroom counters and onto car dashboards, too. The majority of your work will likely be accomplished in either the kitchen or the bathroom. A corner of any other room can work, too.

Not only do we have more space and privacy than ever before, we also have greater access to a wider variety of rare and magical ingredients than ever before. We have powerfully charged items right under our noses. The trick is in recognizing them. Part of the problem is that our concept of the exotic has become distorted. Many of the magical items that once were found only at the ends of Earth are now so readily available that they seem downright ordinary. Shopping for magical ingredients has become easy. Once upon a time, salt was an exotic item. True honey was obtained only at great physical risk. Columbus sailed the ocean blue looking for a better way to obtain spices. Today, even frankincense and myrrh, once the world's most precious substances, can be purchased in most good health food stores.

Magic is not compatible with multitasking. If you perform your spells while simultaneously walking on the treadmill, talking on the cell phone and keeping an ear cocked for the fax machine, it may not be the quality of the materials that prevents your spell from succeeding. This is the reason emergency spells work so well: your intense desire, focus and fear turn the key to success. Ideally, you can train yourself to harness that intensity of focus without requiring an emergency to spark your fire.

Most of the power objects that you need are already in front of you. You may handle them daily without recognizing them for what they are. There are very few magical necessities that cannot be purchased from a reasonably well-stocked supermarket or toy store. What can't be bought often can be grown. Seed catalogs offer us a variety of plants previously available only to royalty.

The Most Important Ingredient

There is only one ingredient in your magical work that brooks no substitutions and that is you, your energy, your presence. You are the most vital component of any enchantment. What you bring to magic are your own desires and focus and no price can be placed upon them. Your energy and power are unique. No one else can substitute for you. The more you give of yourself, the greater your success will be.

Following is a list of the basics that you are most likely to use in your magical practice.

Don't let the lack of any one article or item create a hurdle for you. You can almost always make substitutions. Improvise. Your own goals determine what you really need versus what would be kind of fun to have. For instance, those wishing to work extensively with plant allies may need some gardening tools. If that path isn't for you, then neither are the tools.

The most crucial magical tools of all are your hands. They transmit your personal energy and receive it from others. They can't do this if you keep them at a distance from your materials. Wherever it's possible and safe, touch your materials, handle them, let your hands do the mixing and sorting, rather than resorting to other tools.


For many, magic is candle work. Candles range from tiny tea lights to large 7-Days (their name reflects how long it's anticipated they'll stay lit). They come in a variety of colors and a variety of shapes. Occult supply stores sell candles for specific intents: reversible candles to return an evil spell, candles shaped like men, women, couples or cats for assorted enchantments. The ubiquitous skull candles you see aren't meant for any evil purpose: they're intended to “get inside someone's head” when you need to implant an idea or you need them to hear your side of a story.

Some prefer to take their magic from the ground floor up and make their own candles, for a list of good reasons:

Candles are reasonably simple and inexpensive to make.

You can control the contents of your candle.

Figure candles may be used if their image resonates for you. Use female candles to represent women, male candles for men. You'll also find joined couple candles for love spells and when your magical goal involves two of you as a unit. Candles in the shape of witches and cats are also very popular. Traditionally, witches enhance any magic while cats bring good luck, but use them in whatever way your inspiration guides. Any shape candle can serve a magical purpose.

You can imbue the candle with your intent right from the start.

You are not limited to the shapes that are commercially available.

Candle-making is fun, creative and relaxing.

If you enjoy crafts, you can indulge your passions with candle-making. Many cookie cutters and old-fashioned chocolate molds can be used to personalize the shapes. Another option is beeswax. Beeswax candles are easy and quick to make. You can get sheets of pure beeswax in various colors from craft stores as well as from candle-making supply houses. The sheets should not lack fragrance but be redolent of bees and honey. You can leave the fragrance as is (the scent of beeswax is considered propitious), or before you shape the candle, place some fragrance oil onto your palms and smooth it onto the wax. Line up a cotton wick and then just roll sheets into the desired shape: tapers are easiest, but you can also make pyramids and squares fairly simply. To make them thicker, just add more sheets of wax. You can also use cookie cutters to cut shapes from one sheet to attach to a larger rolled candle.

There is one exceptionally good reason for not making your own candles and that, of course, is that making candles is time-consuming and few people consistently have that kind of time. No need to content yourself with a generic candle, however. A store-bought candle can easily be doctored to imbue it with your own energy and intent. In magical parlance, this is knows as “dressing a candle.”

Carve initials, birthdays, prayers, astrological symbols and incantations into the soft wax.

Add fragrance by rubbing scented oil onto the candle.

Decorate and personalize your candles. Enhance the power by adding small shells, glitter, herbs, pinecones or any sort of small treasure, just always keep fire safety in mind!

It was once customary for 7-Day candles to slide out of their glass sleeves for easy dressing. It's getting harder to find these, but don't despair. If you can't remove the candle, drill holes into the top of the wax and insert your fragrance. After the candle has burned out, reserve the glass sleeve to create future candles.

Choosing Your Candle: Before you choose a candle, determine what you wish to do with it.

If you want to carve an entire incantation, you will need a candle of appropriate size.

If you need to watch the whole candle burn without extinguishing it, use a tea light or small votive.

Tapers are notoriously hard to carve, they tend to split in half, although they are easily rubbed with fragrance. Rub tapers with a romance-drawing oil for a seductive candlelit dinner. (Check in the Spells section for some examples.)

Match the color of your candle to your magical goal. Check back a few pages to the Color section if your memory needs refreshing. Remember, a white candle suits any goal.

Tips for Successful Candle Magic:

Make the goal of each candle as specific as possible.

Remain focused on your desired intent while dressing your candle.

Hold the candle in your hands to transmit your energy. Make your wish with the candle in your hands before lighting it.

Use common sense around candles. Because you're doing spiritual work doesn't mean that the laws of nature don't apply. Never leave candles unattended. In most cases, it's perfectly fine to extinguish a candle before it's finished, before you fall asleep, for instance, or if you have to leave your home.

Repeat your wish and intensify your concentration every time you relight the candle.

If a spell requires that a candle burn out entirely by itself, wait until you have sufficient time for initiating that spell.

Candles, children and animals are a volatile mix. When faced with any combination, use extra caution.


If you do candle work, you will need something with a sharp point to cut into the wax. Every rule has an exception and here's mine. This is the one area where it is beneficial to keep separate tools. Candle work often expresses your most secret, private wishes. Your tool can be as luxurious or inexpensive as you choose. Some witches use intricate knives but others use metal skewers. You could use a craft knife, a sharp pointed pen or even a pointy twig. Rose thorns are traditional carving tools. The edge of a key works well, too.


You'll need these if you'll be burning herbs or incense. Unless you're doing really big rituals outside, you won't need the large bags of charcoal that are used for barbecuing. The charcoal of choice is small and round and has an indented surface where you can sprinkle the incense. These are usually sold in packs of ten in occult supply stores and in botanicas.


One pair of wooden chopsticks is versatile, finds many magical uses, and lasts quite a long time. They are excellent mixing tools, particularly for salts, herbs and oils where metal tools should be avoided. Chopsticks can also be used to retrieve fallen matches from the bottom of 7-Day candles and unclog your drains should you neglect to strain the herbs from your bath infusion.

Boxes are easily transformed into magical containers. The very shape of the box embodies the concept of reproduction and what is magic, after all, but creating something new from existing energy? Use whatever sort of box resonates most for you. Magic boxes may be made from wood, stone or metal. They can be of any size, from a walnut or matchbox to a steamer trunk. Store your prized amulets and tools in a special box for protection and place herbs and crystals inside to enhance their power. For extra enhancement: use henna or decoupage to adorn the outside or glue shells and feathers to surfaces.


What you need depends upon what you wish to store. Most likely you'll need glass containers or containers of some other nonreactive material. Salt and essential oils interact poorly with plastic. Darker glass protects oils and herbs and extends their shelf life. Seashells and coconut shells add their own power to whatever they hold. They're especially good for things that don't need to be enclosed.

You can also use boxes more actively by creating a spell box. Spell boxes are enclosed altars, miniature wishing tableaux. Fill your box with the power items that will assist you to achieve your goal: money, a new job, romance, good health. Keep the box shut except when actively performing rituals or visualizations to ensure the success of that specific goal. (Make as many boxes as you need but use only one for each purpose.)


A mortar and pestle is ideal. It is an ancient instrument and is readily available in a multitude of materials: stone, clay, metal or glass. Because this incorporates a physical process, you are actually grinding your intent and desire into the materials, this is a particularly beneficial tool. In addition, the mortar and pestle is designed to echo male and female energies and the procreative act, hearkening back to the most ancient magical ritual of all. A molcajete, the Mexican stone mortar, works great, too.

If you don't have a mortar and pestle, a small food processor can provide what you need, although because just pushing a button doesn't allow you to contribute as much of your personal energy as the older instrument, you should compensate with extra strong visualizations. Spice and coffee grinders can also be used but be aware that the flavor of whatever you are grinding may infiltrate your coffee grinder forever.


Paper is a common canvas upon which to create enchantments. The magical uses of paper are virtually unlimited. Paper can be enhanced and preserved: it can be folded, pasted upon or somehow made to resemble another object. Paper can be drawn upon or written upon. Charms and amulets are commonly made from paper.

Some spells require that paper be destroyed for the magic to be released; typically a wish or secret desire is written upon the paper. Following a ritual or just some plain intense concentration, the paper is then burned or dissolved in water. For maximum efficacy, when burning paper for spells, make sure every tiny bit, every last letter, is reduced to smoke and ashes.

Sometimes magic is on the paper but at other times, magic is in the paper.

The quality and quantity of your paper is up to you. If the paper will be preserved whole, the content of the paper itself may not be too important.

Spirit Mail

China is the ancestral home of burnt-paper magic. The theory behind this practice is that by burning special paper, messages are reliably sent to the spirit realm. Thousands of varieties of mystical paper (known as joss, fu, paper horse or spirit money paper, among other names) exist. Spirit money, which resembles cash bills, is relatively easy to find in stores that cater to traditional Asian clientele (or to tourists in Chinatown); finding other varieties is like searching for treasure. You never quite know what gems will turn up. This practice also extends to other areas. Special magic wishing paper, often beautifully handcrafted, comes from Nepal. Write a wish and burn.

However, if you're burning paper, you need to be aware that you are releasing the paper's chemical components into the air side-by-side with your expressed desires. Releasing toxic chemicals may distract the powers-that-be from paying attention to your spell—or it may attract the wrong kind of powers! One way around this is to make your own paper. You can control the color and reinforce its power with flowers and fragrance. If you're unfamiliar with the process, craft stores and toy stores sell simple kits. Otherwise, try to buy unbleached paper, as chemical-free as possible. Typically, for a spell, only a small square is needed.


Finally, here's your cauldron! The fairy tale image of the witch stirring her magic cauldron isn't far from the truth. In the language of symbols, pots represent the womb of creation, women's primal power. None of this symbolism means that the pot as a tool is restricted to women's use. In West Africa, an iron pot is among the accoutrements of Ogun, the very male spirit of metal, tools, agriculture and war, who remains today's active patron of soldiers, surgeons and taxi drivers. An iron pot is one of his symbols; inside that pot you would find carefully cultivated red rust as recognition that even when representing this most male of entities, the pot still echoes the creative female womb.

You can use any pot or pan that you already own, however, be aware that the concept of completely nonreactive cookware is an illusion. Every item contributes, at the very least, its energy and probably a lot more than that. A cast-iron pot or pan is ideal. Iron has traditional associations with magic. Cast iron is durable, improves with age and puts you in touch with the healing powers of metal. A plain 10″ or smaller cast-iron pa