budget

ThriftCrafting: Witching on a Budget

August, 2016

Book Review: Witchcraft on a Shoestring

Thriftcrafting

Merry meet.

If this column has been of interest to you, then Deborah Blakes book, Witchcraft on a Shoestring: Practicing the Craft Without Breaking Your Budget,is worth a read. The 200-page paperback published in 2010 by Llewellyn Publications offers inexpensive suggestions for everything from altars to wands.

There are chapters on a variety of craft mediums to make a variety of items including clay (pentacle plaque), fabric (protection charm for the home), wood (a speaking stick) and glass (scrying mirror). There are directions for making rune stones and parchment spell paper, and recipes for feast foods for each of the Sabbats as well as cakes and ale options for full moons.

From decorations to tarot cards, she suggests thrifty alternatives that dont compromise practicing the Craft.

Witchcraft on a shoestring is as much an attitude as it is a way to save money,Blake writes in the introduction, explaining that she and her friends in Blue Moon Circle coven spend as little money as possible.

[The] only two things you truly need to practice Witchcraft [are] your heart and your mind,she explains at the start.

Just because a book says, Take a pink candle and a cup of rose petals,for instance, doesnt mean that those are the only possible items to use for that particular spell. If you dont want to spend the money on rose petals, for example, you could use a less expensive flower, a single rose, or even a picture of a rose. If you are given flowers (or buy them for yourself), you can get in the habit of saving the petals from any that have magical uses, and drying them for later use,she wrote.

Her tone is relaxed and friendly as she shares her favorite finds (essential oils by Natures Alchemy) and gives tips based on experience (use the smaller mozzarella balls that come in a tub rather than the prepackaged kind made for lasagna). Youll find the instructions clear and simple.

One of the last chapters lists 50 ways to practice witchcraft for little or no money, from walking in the rain and communing with an animal to keeping a journal and taking a bath.

Even if you have to buy it at the cover price of $15.95, its worth it.

Blake is also the author of Circle, Coven and Grove: A Year of Magickal Practice(2007),

Everyday Witch A to Z: An Amusing, Inspiring & Informative Guide to the Wonderful World of Witchcraft(2008),

The Goddess is in the Details: Wisdom for the Everyday Witch(2009)

and Everyday Witch A to Z Spellbook(2010)

Merry part.

And merry meet again.

Thriftcrafting: Witching on a Budget

December, 2015

Stars

Merry meet.

My Yule tree is decorated largely with natural objects such as shells and pinecones, and replicas of such things as moons, suns and stars.

Some of my favorite stars are rustic made from twigs or, in this case, cinnamon sticks.

thrift

Find five cinnamon sticks that are approximately the same length and thickness. Twigs or wooden chopsticks would also work. While I used threads separated from burlap twine to bind them, yarn, ribbon, wire and hot glue will also work.

Thrift1

Place the pieces in the shape of a star so you can see the angle formed by each point. Begin tying the sticks together until youve worked your way around the star. If it is unstable, tie off where pieces cross one another.

Leaving extra string to form a loop will make it easy to hang not just on a tree, but anywhere you want a bit of nature any time of year.

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They can be painted, decorated with flowers or feathers, or wrapped with yarn.

Merry part.

And merry meet again.

Thriftcrafting: Witching on a Budget

May, 2015

Dollar Store Delights

Merry Meet.
Magical stores are few and far between, but dollar stores are everywhere and they have a wealth of items for altars, rituals and sabbats. With Beltane in mind, I snapped these photos as examples of items you can find for $1.

 

flowersivy
The world beings to turn green and bloom at Beltane, and you can find flowers and ivy at the dollar store.

 

Foamwreath
They can be stuck into the florist foam to make a wreath that goes on the door or around the base of a candle. The ivy and the flowers can also be woven into grapevine wreaths (hot glue will keep the decorations in place). This wreath just happens to also be the perfect size for a crown of flowers.

ribbon
The Maypole is a symbol of Beltane, decorated with colorful ribbons woven in the dance. Ribbons can also be tied to branches stuck in a vase on your altar or woven into a crown of flowers. Wrap them around your broom or a candle. Pin them in your hair.

fairies
This could be a stretch, but Green Man (the God of vegetation and plant life) is a major character of Beltane, and the Brain Dead Zombies are green and they are men. They also glow in the dark. The Maiden Goddess could be represented by the pink Moon Fairies, or the pink Moon Fairies can be a reminder that Beltane is sacred to the fae in some cultures. Leave them as they are, or grow them with water.

Moonpieale
For cakes and ale, check out the little bottles of sparking grape juice and the mini Moon Pies.
Keep in mind that if you see something at the dollar store today, it could be gone tomorrow.
What’s your best dollar store find?
Merry part. And merry meet again.

Thriftcrafting: Witching on a Budget

January, 2015

Let it Rain

waters

Merry Meet!

There’s an old Led Zeppelin song that ends with the words, “Upon us all a little rain my fall.” I want to show you how that rain can be used in ritual.

One of the directions I turn to each day is west as I honor the element of water. It comes in many forms: tears, sweat, blood, rain, snow, ice, streams, rivers, oceans, wells.

I remember early on my path, there was freezing rain on Yule, forcing the cancelation of an event I’ve come to think of as the Sacred Circle of Deep Dark Silence. I was pouty because I was missing out on the energy and wisdom it brought, which had sustained me through the previous winter. At some point that night, I realized the world outside was beautiful, all black and shiny. The freezing rain was like crystals shattering on the sidewalk, tree branches, windows and roofs. It was a gift – a gift that could be saved with the help of a bowl.

I have come to collect the rain, snow and sleet that falls on full moons, blue moons, dark moons, sabbats and other occasions such as birthday snows, vacation thunderstorms, pagan festival rain and water from a river water during a worldwide ritual. The water is poured through a coffee filter and saved in labeled jars.

I have used melted snow water from Imbolc to water seeds at Ostara. I have mixed water collected from a waterfall at sunrise on the summer solstice with salt when casting my Yule circle. Doing things like this remind me that the wheel is ever turning.

On one of Hecate’s feast days, I placed a bowl of lake water under the almost-full moon. I recharged it on other full moons while honoring Hecate at the crossroads. I keep it in a spray bottle and use it when I want to invoke her wisdom, protection, power or magic.

You can buy tiny flasks of water from the Chalice Well in Glastonbury, England for $4.69 and you can purchase 250 ml of water from the Jordan River for $14.95, and 1.5 ounces of water from the Miraculous Spring of Our Lady Apparitions Grotto in Lourdes, France sells for $12.50 – not counting shipping and handling.

There are times the energy of waters such as these might be desired, but I work with what I’ve gathered for free. When someone travels, I always ask them to bring me back a small bottle of water. I’ll even provide the bottle. I’ve gotten water from the Suez Canal, the Jordan River and the White Spring in Glastonbury, England.

I’ve been blessed to become friends with another witch who does the same, and who had amassed even more bottles and jars than had I. One day this past summer, she and I combined our waters, carefully recording their sources. We then filled every small spice jar, canning jar and olive jar we managed to collect. At a pagan gathering, on behalf of our coven, we distributed the bottles along with slips of paper that read: “These waters have been collected from lakes, streams, rivers and oceans, waters of the world, dark moon rains, hurricanes, full moon rains, snow and sleet.There are drops of water from sacred wells. Take courage and stand for the health of all the waters. Speak your own thoughtful healing words. Form your intent and pour the water into running water. Let if flow toward the ocean. The ocean is the beginning of the earth. We all come from the sea. Please do not drink this.”

For a full moon in Cancer, coven members each brought some water to mix together in a container. We infused it with our energy and that of the moon. Stored in bottles, the idea was to use the water for healing.

Consider dripping some on the top of your head and saying: “With this water I heal myself of all the intolerance, resentment, anger, condemnation and frustration I direct at myself and others. I bathe myself in gentleness, acceptance, gratitude, enlightenment, generosity, abundance, peace, self-acceptance and love. As I say, so mote it be.”

I hope you’ll share ways in which you’ve incorporated water into your craft.

Merry part. And merry meet again. 

Thriftcrafting: Witching on a Budget

September, 2014

flowers

 

Field, Forest and farm
Merry meet! 
Mabon is the second of three harvest festivals of the year – the witch’s Thanksgiving – and one I find among the easiest for which to decorate.
Walks in fields, forests and farms provide everything a well-dressed altar could need.
apples1
Apples, for instance. There’s a wild apple tree growing by the lower parking lot at my office. Apples can be turned into candle holders for tapers, tea lights or votives. Sliced into thin horizontal circles, dipped in lemon juice and dried in the oven, apples can be strung to make garlands and wreaths. 
Peeled, carved and dried, they make shrunken crone faces for dolls or other crafts, or can be floated in a cauldron of mulled cider. 
Mabon is also known as the wine harvest. Wild grapes grow between a nearby school and park, as well as along the side of a street – all within a half mile of my condo. I collect the vines to drape on or about the altar. I’ll twist them into crowns and wheels of the year and let them dry. I’ve also wound them into small wreaths that later hung on my Yule tree. 
The flowers of the Jerusalem artichoke that grows wild in no man’s land at the back of the community garden have decorated my Mabon altar for free every year since I first found them. For me, they have come to symbolize the last warmth from the sun before it begins its journey into the dark half of the year.  
While it is a despised, invasive plant, bittersweet offers its bright berries at Mabon. There is some fighting for territory with the wild grapes, making it available for free. 
Acorns – a symbol for strength and power – are plentiful this time of year. I gather them freely beneath a tree at the office and from a sidewalk in the neighborhood where I walk. 
They can be put in a glass bowl with a candle, glued onto a wreath frame and used in crafts such as acorn fairies. 
Before working with them, though, they must be inspected for visible signs of bugs, also sorting out those showing signs of rot so that your finished product will not become moldy or infested with insects. After washing them, rub with a towel or brush to remove insect larvae and leaves, then bake the acorns in a single layer in a 225-degree oven for an hour and a half or two, turning every half hour or so to assure they dry. I like leaving the oven door a crack open to allow moisture to escape during the process. If after they are completely cool you would like to seal them, matte acrylic spray can be used.
When the caps become separated as they most often do, they can be glued back on, or they can be turned into miniature candles by lining them up between the wires on a cooling rack and pouring in a small amount of melted wax. For a wick, stick in half of a small birthday candle. The same method can be used to make floating candles out of walnut shells. 
When harvesting from the wild, be respectful and never take the majority of something. Leaving a token of thanks is always appropriate. Consider placing one of everything you’ve gathered outside as a small shrine to thank the nature spirits for the bounty they helped provide. 
Merry part.
And merry meet again.

Thriftcrafting: Witching on a budget

April, 2014

Dressing up

GoodWillDress

Merry Meet.

In last month’s column, I talked about how you don’t need props, tools or symbols to practice the Craft – that you needed only yourself.

This month, I’m going to begin talking about various ways of acquiring some of those props, tools and symbols that you don’t need, but might enjoy – all on a budget.

Ritual wear, for one.

One of the things that gets me out of the mundane world and ready for entering sacred space is my “witch costume.” On dark moons and Samhain, that tends to be a long black skirt and a black top. For full moons and festivals, I tend go with something more colorful.

Because these clothes are only worn for ritual, and not for work or play, taking them out of the closet and putting them on signals something different is about to happen. It helps me shift gears and focus. Part of my purification process is to shed the outer world by shedding my everyday clothes. The items I reserve for ritual – if I am not choosing to worship skyclad – are garments I like very much and because I like them very much, they make me feel special. When I feel special, it is easier to know that I am Goddess or the Goddess resides in me.

Over 10 years, I have collected a variety of ritual wear. Some pieces have come and gone. I paid full price for only one – a sleeveless rayon dress I got at emisia Botanicals the first time I went to Salem. All the rest were found at thrift stores, consignment shops and tag sales – along with the occasional gift.

OK, so what you find at Goodwill, Savers, a church rummage sale or the flea market are not what you see sold in The Pyramid Collection catalog or on the Holy Clothing website, but that doesn’t mean they’re not beautiful and special and appropriate for sacred space.

Three of my best finds were surprises that just about jumped into my arms.

The first was a floor-length purple velvet hooded cape. It had been hanging on a rack at the consignment shop for more than six weeks and so had been marked down to something like $14. The next great find was the cotton wrap dress in the photo. It was new with tags. Someone had tried it on and left it hanging outside the fitting room at the Goodwill. It was about $10. A green wool cloak for about $12 off season was another wonderful find.

A half dozen skirts, black velvet pieces, wraps, a dress with sunflowers on it and a purple tiered skirt that happened to match perfectly a top from a different maker in a different fabric have all become ritual wear.

In addition, colorful sarongs, large scarves and a two-yard piece of fabric – all from tag sales, thrift stores or, in the case of fabric, purchased on sale or with a discount coupon – get worn. Many also double as altar cloths.

Some garments have found their way to me with no expense.

I once gave a long jacket I may have worn twice to a friend I

knew loved it and would wear it more often. She gifted me a wrap cotton skirt with circles all over it that I wear much more than I ever did the jacket. And my sister recently gave me a beautiful large vintage purple fringed shawl she had worn in high school that just happens to matches that purple skirt and top I mentioned.

While some people might be concerned about unwanted energy from used items, I consider reusing or repurposing something already made rather than contributing to consumerism an offering to Earth Mother. I feel comfortable washing it and, if possible, hanging it sunlight or moonlight, as I’m moved. And along the way, I began to consecrate the clothing, much as I would a tool.

If you would rather wear jeans, you might consider a pair worn only for ritual. Perhaps you’d like to adorn them with magical symbols using embroidery thread, patches, fabric paint or a Sharpie. Some traditions call for kilts or hooded robes. You could begin your own tradition of putting on a special shawl or scarf.

A friend who sews is drawn to capes, and has made several for various seasons and celebrations. The energy and intent put forth while buying the material, cutting it out and sewing it adds something to each piece. I treasure the full-length cape she made me using a spider web material to honor a totem animal that has been with me for a decade now.

I know of a woman who dons a braided belt as her ritual wear. Another pins on a piece of jewelry. Wrapping yourself in a special blanket or slipping on a long sweater vest would also serve the same purpose. Mostly it should be comfortable and pleasing.

Thank you for reading.

Now it’s your turn to tell us about your ritual wear.

Merry part.

And merry meet again.

ThriftCrafting: Witching on a Budget

March, 2014

Introduction

 

Merry Meet.

In this first column about witching on a budget, I wanted to explain my belief that you don’t need any thing to practice the Craft except yourself.

You don’t need ritual garb. In fact, you don’t need garb at all; it’s not uncommon to practice rites skyclad (“clad only with the sky” or nude). Some old texts insist this is the only way to do ritual, based on the belief that only in this way are you truly free. While this is my preferred method in solitary practice, it has never been appropriate for the public or group rituals I have attended, and it’s not something my coven chooses to do. In fact, I find that few people are comfortable skyclad, and I believe it’s important to be comfortable.

Some witches turn to robes, long skirts, Renaissance dresses, kilts and other costumes not worn any time other than ritual as a way to differentiate the mundane world from the magical realm. But magic is not less powerful because you are wearing the jeans and shirt you wore all day. In the next column, we’ll talk more about ritual garb, but for now, know that it is not necessary.

There are so many tools of the Craft, but the only one that matters is you. You are the most magical tool of all. It’s your intentions and the energy you put into them that determines the results. Some witches never use a tool other than their own bodies, thoughts and will.

You don’t need an athame or a wand to cast a circle. You can do it with your finger.

You don’t need a bell, broom, cauldron, chalice, staff or sword. Magic does not require you to burn incense, light candles or place offerings before a statue.

There is a smudge fan I fell in love with on Etsy last year – an artist’s personal one that was not for sale. My guess is that if it had been, it would cost at least $70. I still sigh when I see the picture of it that I saved, with its variety of feathers, white deer skin and gemstones. There was another one incorporating feathers and an antler I saw at a pow wow that cost double that. If money were no object, I probably would own them both. They’re nice, but by no means necessary. I use the turkey feathers bound with leather and horse hair a fire witch friend gave me and I am blessed with her energy each time I hold them, but even they are not necessary to move smoke; using a hand or simply moving the smoking sage or incense also works in most situations.

Another tool often seen is an altar pentacle, typically as a focal point of concentration or to consecrate other tools. Back to the theme we need only ourselves, our body forms a pentagram when legs are apart and arms are outstretched, so that when you connect those four points plus your head, you have a pentacle. Staying centered keeps you focused.

When it comes to the elements used in witchcraft, our breath is all we need for air; passion serves as fire; tears, spit or other bodily fluids are water, and our body itself is the earth. If you think of your body as a vessel, it can be equated to a a chalice, which is the tool connected to the element of water.

So, now that I’ve explained that nothing is needed to practice the Craft, let me say I am by no means adverse to working with tools. There are so many beautiful and meaningful objects that are a pleasure to own and use. Over the years, I have amassed my fair share of them.

In the coming months, we’ll talk about about tools, garb, supplies, altars, decorations, holidays, methods of divination, and anything else you’d like to suggest – all with a budget in mind.

You’ll come to see you, too, can have these things without spending a lot of money.

Merry part.

And merry meet again.