There are tons of reasons why a witch might not be able to go get the tools that they need for a spell. Currently, large portions of the world are in lockdown. Stores have shut down, people are staying home, and even getting supplies shipped to you can be difficult because of the changes brought about by the pandemic. This has caused problems for a lot of witches.
How are you supposed to do magic if you can’t access the magical tools and supplies that your spells call for? Is it better to just hang up your witch’s hat and wait until things go back to normal or is there some way that you can work your magic without needing to access store-bought supplies?
Regardless of whether you want to work magic without store-bought supplies because of necessity or because of a desire to become less dependent on external resources for your magic, there are tons of ways for you to adjust your craft and work powerful magic without the store-bought tools and supplies. Today we are going to be taking a look at how you might adjust your craft to be less dependent on purchased supplies.
You Don’t Need To Buy Anything
First, it’s important that you recognize that witchcraft is not designed to be dependent upon external means. Witchcraft, all forms of magic, are developed out of a sense of powerlessness and the need to regain control over the circumstances of one’s life. Witchcraft is born out of necessity. It is practiced by the poor, by the enslaved, by those that society rejects and subjugates. It is not and has never been solely the domain of the wealthy or the privileged. Given that, why would it be necessary to use money and privilege to practice witchcraft?
Throughout history, witches have turned to whatever they had on hand to work magic. There is a reason that magical practices are so regional. It’s because individuals and groups of witches and other types of magicians work with whatever they can find easily in their environments. This means that witches will work with the local plants, the local spirits of the land, and the domestic tools and supplies that they have on hand already. This is how regional witchcraft comes into being. It is created by witches using what they have to create magic and find solutions.
We should not be beholden to the constraints of a capitalist world in our witchcraft. The idea that you need to purchase supplies, tools, specialty herbs, crystals, or any other witchcraft tool is, in many cases, simply a marketing ploy. The popularity that witchcraft has gained in recent years means that opportunistic people have taken to trying to exploit this market for personal gain. In some ways, this is not a bad thing. It does mean that access to tools and supplies is higher than it ever has been before.
On the other hand, it has led to the spread of misinformation about how witchcraft actually functions on an individual basis. It’s easier to tell new witches that they absolutely must have some long list of tools and ingredients than it is to tell new witches that the tools and ingredients they use should be personalized to their own needs and environment. It’s easier to sell a clean, prepackaged, one-size-fits-all version of witchcraft than it is to make a profit off of witchcraft that empowers the witch to work in a way that is independent of an outside supplier.
I won’t lie to you, it is more work to learn how to do witchcraft in this way. It is more work to learn about your local environment than it is to simply use a cookie-cutter recipe for a spell. But ask yourself this, if you are not living in Western Europe why would you be using the plants and methods that Western European witches use? would these spells and supplies even work the same for you as they would for a witch who lives in the region that those plants are native to? In my opinion, this kind of magic works but it will never work as well as magic that is done when you are in touch with the land around you and the magic that lives in your local environment. And you will never have the kind of flexibility and freedom to create magic that you can attain by working with materials that you have to have shipped from halfway across the world.
Working With What You Have
Do not think that just because you are living in the modern age that this ability to work with what you have on hand goes out the window. Now, more than ever, modern witches need to learn how to source magical tools and supplies from their local environment and from what they have on hand already.
Everybody has plants growing near them. Everybody has spirits of place and land near them. Even if you do nothing else, learning about these two aspects of your local environment can revolutionize the way that you interact with your magic and with the world around you. Even if you live in a concrete jungle, I guarantee that you have plants around you that you can work with. Things like dandelions, nettles, and bindweed will grow in the most unlikely and inhospitable environments, poking out from cracks in the pavement and growing in tiny plots of dirt in between highrises.
A lot of people have this idea in their heads that if their local environment isn’t some kind of fantasy nature preserve that it is stripped of its magic. This could not be further from the truth! All land, all places, have inherent magic. I don’t care how industrialized, how “unnatural”, how man-made your environment might be, it still has a spiritual essence and a genius loci. These spirits will need to be worked with in a very different way from the spirit of a pristine meadow in a forest somewhere in Norway. That does not mean that the spirit of a warehouse district is any less potent or magical than that meadow. If you are not a creature of some fantasy nature environment then why would you expect your magic to be the magic of that natural environment? Urban magic can be just as potent as magic done way out in the middle of nowhere.
The key is to learn to work with what you have.
If what you have are weeds that grow up out of the sidewalk and low light plants that you can grow on the windowsill of your tiny apartment, then that is what you use to work magic. These plants are just as powerful as anything you could find in the practice of a witch who lives in a cabin in the middle of nowhere. What determines how effectively you can work with these plants is how well you can learn to communicate with and build a relationship with the plants and the places that you actually have.
If you’re new to the concepts of place and plants having spirits, then I recommend you go check out my article on animism and how it is used in witchcraft. This concept is vital to effectively working with any material in your craft, local or otherwise.
Common Tools That You Have Already
Okay, now that we’ve established that you can work with what you have in your local environment and that you don’t need fancy supplies that you get from stores, let’s talk about the supplies and tools that you can find in your local environment.
Herbal magic is a huge topic and one that varies wildly from place to place. I could not possibly tell you what plant species grow well where you live. Even just here in the US where I live, the incredible array of biomes and diversity in the land is staggering.
The best way for you to learn about the plants that live near you is to go out and get to know them face to face. See what plants grow in your yard, go on walks in your neighborhood, and figure out what plants grow near you. What plants do you have growing in your house? What trees grow around you? If you don’t know how to identify plants I highly recommend the Seek app by iNaturalist. It’s a great place to get started identifying the plants around you so that you can find resources on those individual plants.
After you have identified these plants, it’s time to start getting to know them. Pick one or two that appeal to you to start with. Take these plants offerings and talk to them. You could give offerings of water, appropriate fertilizers, honey to attract insects, your breath, or anything else that you think would help the plant. Learn about the plants’ medicinal uses, any folklore that may exist about the plant, and the planetary alignment of the plant. As you gather information about this plant and as you speak to this plant and get to know it as an individual you will find yourself developing a sense of the plants’ personality and how it might be used within your craft. This plant can become an incredibly strong ally in your magic with just a bit of effort to get to know it.
Don’t forget that there’s more to plants than simply using dried herbs in your spells. There are plants that make excellent wands. There are plants that you can work with as a whole living being without harvesting any part of it. There are plants that you can use medicinally or as food. Keep an open mind and try to look at the individual plants that you’re learning about from as many angles as possible.
2. Home Thrifting
Another excellent way to work magic without having to go buy anything from a store is “thrifting” your own house. Go through your junk drawer, those old storage closets, your attic, your garage, and see what kinds of things you can find that you might be able to use in your craft. You might find yarn to do knot magic. You might find fabric to make spell bags with. You might find art supplies to create visual magic. You might find old books that you can use for bibliomancy. You might find notebooks, photographs, or other heirlooms that you could use in ancestor work. Even odds and ends like needles, magnets, and random hardware can find a use in the craft.
See how creative you can get and try to find ways to use even the most mundane items in your witchcraft. Hoodoo practitioners even use cleaning agents like ammonia and bluing powder in their magic. Just about anything can be turned into a magical tool if you are willing to think outside the box.
3. Paper & Pen
This is one of the simplest ways to work magic. You can do so much magic with just a paper and a pen. From sigil work to written spells, there are an infinite number of ways that you can apply magic to your life with just a pen and paper. If you do nothing else, you can sit down and learn how to use sigils or the written word to create magic.
Petition slips are a very common way to work magic and they’re dead simple. An easy petition slip spell might involve no more than lighting a candle and placing it on top of a slip of paper that you have written your intention on and dabbed a bit of consecrated oil onto.
You can also do more long-form written magic. Just sit down and start writing about what you want to happen. Keep going until you run out of things to say, I find that I get the best results from this kind of magic when I slip into a kind of trance state that tends to occur at around the one and a half or two-page mark. Just keep writing until the words start to flow out of you in a seemingly effortless manner and then keep it up until you run out of things to say. For people who are linguistically inclined, this can be a game-changer and feel just as powerful and yield equally good results as a more involved spell.
4. Barter & Trade
Just because stores are closed does not mean that you cannot go to outside sources for your magical supplies. If you desperately need something that you cannot get, check in with your local witchcraft friends and the greater community. Often, people will be willing to trade or barter for supplies. If you’re still social distancing, this can even be achieved in a no-contact way by simply doing front door drop-offs where the items you are picking up are left on someone’s front stoop and you in return leave whatever you have traded in the same spot.
If you get a little creative, there is no reason why you shouldn’t be able to practice powerful, effective witchcraft without having to worry about not being able to purchase your supplies. Your environment, your home, and your local community are a wealth of resources just waiting for you to tap into them. Remember that you are the real power behind your witchcraft. You are powerfully magical all on your own. You do not need anyone else’s permission or approval for your witchcraft. If it works for you and it gets results, then it is effective witchcraft, regardless of whether you use the “right” tools and supplies or not.