Grovedaughter Witchery

Practical Magic

An important part of any magical working is the ability to think practically about one's tools, supplies, and methods. This includes seeking mundane solutions to the issue at hand before performing magic that might not be necessary after all. A thoughtful witch should make it a point to examine all possible options before taking action.

Here are some notes I've made on the practical elements of witchcraft. The larger articles are linked up top, with miscellaneous shorter topics below.

Practical Magic Series

On consecrated water:

You can make consecrated water out of melted snow, ice, icicles, rainwater, tap water, pretty much whatever water you can find can be consecrated. I have found that elemental water (rain, snow, etc.) tends to have a little bit more of a kick, but tap water is just as effective if you can’t get your hands on anything falling from the sky.

If you’re going to collect elemental water, be sure to strain out any particles, twigs, salt, or dirt as best you can before storage. These things can damage the container you keep the water in and encourage the growth of mold and algae. For the latter reason, it’s also a good idea to keep elemental holy water out of direct sunlight. The best method that I'd found is cheesecloth or a simple folded paper towel in a funnel.

If you use tap water, you’re far less likely to have these problems.If you’re going to “charge” your consecrated water with sunlight, you might be better off using tap water. Either tap or elemental works fine for charging under the moon, since moonlight does not bring on photosynthesis.

In any case, be sure to use a strong container with a tight lid. I have an unbreakable plastic jar that was a gift from a friend, with one of those flip-top latching lids. Very sturdy.

With elemental or tap water, it’s important to check on your holy water periodically. If you notice the growth of dark spots or green stuff floating in the water, dump it out, wash the container thoroughly, and refill at your earliest convenience. If the water has been kept for more than six months, you might want to dump and refill just to keep things clean.

On healing and medical magic:

I get a lot of questions regarding magical cures for various illnesses and physical complaints. My answer is always the same: “Try mundane medicine first.”

While magic can be a powerful intercessory when one wants to influence chance or create opportunity, it is not always as effective when one wants to achieve physical healing. Much in the same way that it’s not practical to try and pray away your head cold, healing magic will likely need mundane medical assistance in order to have the desired effect.

This is not to say that magic is always the same thing as prayer; it’s not. But modern medicine is there for a reason, and if you or your near and dear are injured or happen to fall ill, you would be wise to put it to use before or in addition to spellcraft.

On anti-theft and anti-intruder charms:

Be careful how you word your anti-theft and anti-break-in spells.

I locked my keys in my car once and two guys with slim jims, one guy with a coat hanger, and the police officer who came out with a proper tool all failed to get the door open. The guy from the dealership succeeded after three tries, then discovered that rather that the previous tries popping up the lock mechanism like they were supposed to, the latch for the door to open had come apart, rather than unlock the door.

While everyone was scratching their heads, I was mentally rewriting my vehicle wards.

On kitchen witchery:

If you can’t get into the kitchen to cook very often, you can always practice by working with the herbs you find in the spice cabinet. You can also research and expand your knowledge base in between instances of practical crafting.

Kitchen witchery involves a lot of cooking, so you might also look into developing your culinary skills when you’re able.

On sigils:

You can draw a sigil pretty much wherever you want. That’s the nice thing about sigils; they’re very versatile!

And yes, you can use a pen, pencil, marker, paintbrush, heck even a crayon. Pretty much whatever writing or drawing utensil you have handy. You can even use the tip of your finger if you don’t want the sigil to be visible. Incidentally, drawing a sign or symbol with your finger in the air or on an object works fine too, if you don’t have a writing utensil or don’t want to leave a mark.

On burying curse jars and other things in graveyards:

Burial of spell material will work with any burial plot, be it public, private, or pet. It will also work if you bury it at a crossroads, since it’s often hard to bury something in a graveyard…if you’re not there with a coffin. Some cemeteries and churchyards also have restrictions on such things and you can be fined if you're caught, so be prudent! In addition, you can bury these items in planter pots, or use biodegradable materials so that the glass jar isn't sitting there for years and years, or simply discard it with your garbage.

On magic for college dorms:

The first and most important thing is dealing with your roommate. If you know the person beforehand, I strongly urge you to sit down with them and have an open and honest discussion about your beliefs and theirs. Put everyone’s cards on the table and see where you both stand. Hopefully, you’ll be able to come to a consensus. If not, see if you’re able to find another roommate, because that’s a fight you don’t want to have to have in your room.

Now, as to the tools of your trade, there are plenty of substitutions you can make that work just as well, even if they aren’t as much fun to use.

  • Knives/Blades - If it’s a ceremonial blade that you use purely for symbolism, you can make a “knife” with your dominant hand, by holding it up with all four fingers and thumb straight together and rigid. If you’re using it to carve something, pins or toothpicks will do that job. For cutting purposes, substitute a pair of scissors.
  • Incense & Candles - Depending on your roommate’s sensitivity to certain smells, you could get a reed diffuser for scented oil or a plug-in air freshener. For the light of the candles, you can get battery-powered tealights or decorative electric candles or string lights (available as holiday decorations).

Additionally, if your practice includes burnt or scattered offerings, you can put the materials in a bowl and leave them on your altar space from dawn until dusk or vice versa. Then, take the offering and dispose of it, as appropriate, in one of the following ways:

  • Into your room trash or an outdoor trash receptacle
  • Down the sink drain or toilet (ONLY if liquid or fully water soluble)
  • Scattered on open ground (if small non-littering particles like herbs)
  • Consume it yourself (if food or drink and safe to do so)

Please keep in mind if you choose to scatter an herb offering, DO NOT scatter salt on grass or in a garden, as it will harm the plants and make the soil alkaline and unable to grow anything.

On the term “Book of Shadows”:

Book of Shadows is indeed a Wiccan/Neo-Wiccan term, but it’s kind of wormed its’ way into the popular lexicon.

If you’re not comfortable using the term, you can always call it a witchbook. That’s what I do.

I should mention the word “grimoire” since that often comes up in similar context. The difference between a witchbook or Book of Shadows and a grimoire is that grimoires are collections of notes and knowledge and spells and such, whereas witchbooks and Books of Shadow tend to have more intimate observations about a witch’s studies and personal journey in learning the craft.

To pare it down, grimoires are to witchbooks as textbooks are to journals. There can be some overlap, depending on who wrote the books, and you can certainly create your own grimoire as a repository of important notes, correspondences, and particulars that are relevant to your practice.

The views expressed on this website are the Unshared Personal Gnosis of the witch known as Bree NicGarran. They are not intended to be taken as absolute truth, nor are they intended to invalidate the religious views of the reader. They are meant only as a suggestion and are limited by the knowledge of the writer. Please always be sure to double-check your sources, refer to medical texts, and read critically before using any information in your own practice.
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