Archive for July, 2009


Different types of dirt have very powerful energy and very specific energies for aiding in magical works. There are some standards in traditional witchcraft–and many crossovers into African traditions as well. There are more than just the three main dirts: graveyard, foot print and crossroads. For example the dirt of your homeland, special dirts from places you visit or natural events like the ash from a volcano. However, the classic dirts have a special place in folk magic:

photo by Angelina:)

photo by Angelina:)

40.gif Graveyard Dirt:

Graveyard dirt magic appears in many cultures, just about anywhere that uses graves, and those that don’t will use the cremated ashes of a deceased. There are three major approaches to the graveyard dirt collection.
*Just getting any dirt from a cemetery.
*Selecting specific dirt from a suitable grave depending on the need. For contacting ancestors, then family members graves, for cursing perhaps the dirt from a murderers grave, or a famous witch’s grave and so on.
*Using herbs that are nicknamed graveyard dirt or dust like patchouli, mullein, and valerian.

To obtain graveyard dirt and to leave a proper thanks offering at the same time, you don’t have to sneak into the cemetery late at night and hope no one sees you and asks you what the bloody hell you are up to.

*You can instead take a potted plant and dig a hole for it at the plant and put the collected dirt back into the empty pot to take home.
*You can mix graveyard dirt herbs like patchouli or valerian into regular dirt to make it into graveyard dirt.
*You can just discretely grab a handful of dirt from somewhere tucked away in the cemetery and put it into your pocket or a little baggy.

Graveyard dirt protection spells work on the idea that the spirit of the deceased will personally protect you. You can choose a likely candidate, a loved one or a stranger that is known to be strong like a soldier or such.

Graveyard dirt is the prime component in a voodoo hexing powder called goofer dust.

footprint by zen

footprint by zen

Foot Print Dirt:

Foot track magic is mentioned in Greek, Hebrew and African sources. There are two main ways to use foot prints:

*To do something to the footprint found in the ground, to hex or curse the person who left it.
*Gather dirt from the footprint to use in a magical working.

One can use someones footprint to banish them from returning or to instead encourage them to return. Perhaps a lover has left a little to hastily, might you want to lace their footprint with aphrodisiacs so they might return to you soon?

Your house has been broken into, you find the intruders foot prints, you can hex or curse them. But beware, a friend posted a story describing her plan to do such a spell, when she intuitively stopped, and did not complete the magic. Her son was embarrassed that he had lost his key yet again and was worried about punishment and so hid that he was the one breaking in.

Of utmost importance with any foot print spell is getting the right foot print. You don’t want do do sex magic on the postman or your father, and you don’t want to banish your daughter when you meant to keep the Avon sales lady away.

crossroads by marceline

crossroads by marceline

Crossroads Dirt:

Crossroads symbolize a convergence of energies and open possibilities, destiny and transformation.

There are two types of crossroads three way and four way intersections.
*Hecate rules over three way crossroads
*Hermes rules over four way crossroads

Obtaining crossroads dirt is difficult, and some spells require the use of abandoned crossroads because the spirits roam there more than they do in busy highways.

If you are searching for disused crossroads, consider going to ghost towns, abandoned housing complexes with roads, old logging roads, and country paths.

If you are trying to gather dirt or work at an active crossroads, don’t walk into the middle without using the crosswalk, you don’t want to get run over. Offerings to the crossroads and the gathering of crossroads dirt should be done on the side of the intersection (like at the sidewalk) and not in the middle.


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my familiar cat

my familiar cat

There are many types of familiars, and one is the witch’s pet.  Within the witch community there is argument whether the witch’s familiar was a regular animal like a magical pet or if it is only something in the otherworld or created by the witch.  The folklore I have read and studied suggests to me that actual pets and animals were considered familiars.  I read a wonderful story about a minister that went to check out the rumors of a woman who kept a toad.  He “proved” that witches weren’t real by proving her familiar was a real toad and not a demon.  Toads are a common witch familiar, but the most famous of course of witch familiars is the cat.  In Irish lore, the demon cat gray malkin is witch’s familiar.

However really almost any animal can be a witch familiar, it just matters that the animal displays a magical connection to the practitioner.  Not all witches pets are familiars, but I think that when your pet displays special interests or talents you will know it.  It can’t be forced. I have had many pets in my life, but so far only one familiar, my cat.

My Cat came to my life from a box in a friends basement, although there were seven in her litter, from the first time I visited her box, she just stared up at me purred and ignored everything else, all her brothers and sisters writhing around, her mother, everything but me was not there for Cat.  I kept visiting Cat from 2 weeks to seven weeks every few days until I could wean her and take her home with me.  We brought one of her brothers along too, and he was a good cat, but not as magical as her.  My familiar displayed an interest in my magical objects right away, and always had to inspect them.  Cat will sit on top of any novel I am reading, but she just rubs her cheek on magical books.  When I started astrally traveling, I was surprised that Cat joined me right away and started showing me places and things.  Cat can do all sorts of amazing things like sprout wings in the otherworld.  My Cat is talented at charming birds, she sings to the crows and they watch her from the neighbors roof curiously.   I am so blessed with such a skilled and loving familiar.

Often it seems as though a familiar chooses you.  Many a familiar were the runt of the litter that won the witch’s heart, a stray or wild animal that came into the home and joined the household.  And of course some familiars were chosen special from a pet shop and a special ritual was done to cement the magical relationship.

The next sign that the animal is a familiar is that it displays unusual abilities, or shows an interest in participating respectfully in your witchery.  A dog might help with warding by barking or growling while the ward is being cast.  A cat might charm birds.  A familiar can usually can keep bad spirits away or at least mark their presence.

Some familiars will join you while you cross the hedge and others will invite you to see through their eyes or ride them.  Legends tell of witches who traveled to Sabbats by turning into animals or by riding their familiars there.  If your pet communicates that it wants you to try seeing things from its point of view you might be very surprised at the new world you are opened up too.  Your familiar might have you actually ride its consciousness or it might just show you new perspectives to take.

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Witch’s Ball

Lore about protecting your home from witches is very rich.  It comes from a time when Christian citizens feared a specter of satan worshiping men and women who would revenge themselves and do the devils work by cursing cattle and making people sick.  Was there an actual threat?  Were there such witches?  I believe the answer is yes.  This may be an unpopular answer, but I do think that there are people out there who wish

other people ill.

Witch Ball photo by Jikido-san

Witch Ball photo by Jikido-san

In my explorations of witchcraft on the internet I have met some characters who hex people who irritate them or insult them.  My research into the cunning folk tradition further supports the idea that magic users did and do use their craft to blight other people.  Were all curses and hexes of the mystical sort only?  No, some had the added benefit of working psychologically and physically.  A witch had the herbal lore to make poisons and the frightening charisma to worry someone to distraction.

On the other hand, prevention is the best cure.  Not all witches and magic users were hateful or curse at the drop of the hat.  So protection from witch tools like the witch’s ball came into the popular mind.  These balls were usually shiny and attractive with webs of string around them and a number of objects inside them.  The various ideas about the weaknesses of the witches liken them to fairies or spirits.  The witch could not continue in the room without counting the objects inside the ball, or the witch might get tangled in the strings, or the witch might become fascinated with the shiny and stop.  Presumably someone in the house would wake or dawn would come before the witch could make any mischief.

Nowadays the majority of witches either a) do not curse or hex at all, or b) only curse and hex in self defense and against violent persons or deeds.  There are a rare few witches who curse and hex whenever they are angry and against people who annoy them.  Witches in general are not hateful people, usually witches find themselves in harmony with their surroundings and focus on knowing themselves and making a good life.  Witches of this sort might hex in self defense, or bind someone from creating further harm, but they won’t just curse the local missionaries for visiting their house too much or anything like that.

However, within the witch community the traditions of protective amulets continues.  Many objects that were once meant to drive away witches,

Spirits Craft Witchball

Spirits Craft Witchball

are now the collectibles of modern day witches.  In many ways the modern day witch is more like a midwife or a cunning person in connotation.  Witch was chosen as descriptor, but it doesn’t fit well with what it used to mean.  Some folks say that the Christians demonized good pagan people who were worshiping a horned god and just slandered him as the devil.  And that may be true to a point, but for the most part, magic users would not have called themselves witches and though their practices might match modern day witches closely, they would want to call us something else like wise folk or cunning folk.

The word witch has been reclaimed, in very old days words similar to witch were used to describe the more community appreciated type of magic practitioner.  Now witch balls are re-purposed to protect the home of a witch from bad energy, theft, and perhaps from curses.  I find that tying knots with little shells, feathers and rocks into them makes the witch’s ball an amulet for all different sorts of magic.  With the right addition of power objects and natural elements, a witch’s ball can encourage good things, protect the home, and keep meddlesome energy away.

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As a child, I had a few favorite Witch books. I look back at these today and I still enjoy them.

Humbug Witch

Humbug Witch

Witch’s Handbook by Macolm Bird. This book is the real deal. Grown up witches can get a lot out of this book, but of course it is intended for children 9-10. The book is out of print and not cheap, but if you run across it at the library or in a used book store, snatch it up!  I read this one a lot as a kid, and I made most of the recipes in it with my little brother.
This book is truly about the traditional craft. It has an herbal, old wives tales, delicious spooky recipes–I love the kneebones! fashion guides, and horoscopes. All the witches in this book are ugly and grumpy, be warned it doesn’t paint a pretty picture of us!

Humbug Witch by Lorna Balian. This book is for the younger set, perhaps preschool age? It is a darling book about a little witch making potions and wearing cute witch clothes and masks.  I still have my copy of this book from when I was a little girl.  Such a great book and there are tons of cheap copies online.

Mrs Piggle Wiggle by Betty McDonald is a series is about a woman who lives in an upside down house and who cures all the children in her neighborhood of their bad habits with magic potions. These are chapter books and a little longer, better for 10-12 year-olds.  I read the whole series out of the library when I was a kid, it should still be in most libraries.  Worth looking at in my memory.

Eyewitness Witches and Magic Makers by Douglas Hill. I picked this one up very recently at the library. This series of kids books had hundreds of pictures and short descriptions about artifacts, history, and culture. My little brother read a lot of Eyewitness books as a kid so I grabbed this one up. This book is also good for adult witches because it covers a lot of different cultures witchcrafts in a really different and survey fashion. It isn’t like the standard books written for pagans, this has different information. Again, this book paints an ugly picture of witches with warty noses and gross claws. To balance things out it has a really nice section on Wiccans. But that aside this is a fun book for 8-12 year olds.

Where to Park Your Broomstick by Lauren Manoy. This is a great intro to a variety of witchcraft traditions for a teen witch. Much much better than the other books for teens out there. This book has a chapter just for parents to read to introduce the subject, its very mature in dealing with the reality of exploring alternative religions as a teenager under your parents roof. She even wisely points out that if witchcraft is not okay with your parents, then just practice it in your head while looking at the leaves fall in autumn and energy work–leave the candles and spells until you are on your own. Also Manoy practiced as a teen and has quotes from teens interspersed in the book.

Please leave some comments about your favorite witchy books for kids (kid books that grown ups might like are even better!)  What did you grow up reading witches?

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Sara Star has been spiritcrafting for 5 years now. She is in a coven with three amazing ladies. Sara is an U.S. American with Irish ancestry. Sara is a witch and a pagan.

Sara Star on Beltane

Sara Star on Beltane

Witchcraft has been in me a very long time. When I was a little girl, my mother was unable to console me for hours after I saw the witch melt in the Wizard of Oz. The poor thing! I still have a wand from when I was a child and I use it in some of my workings. A connection through ones whole life like that is worth holding onto. My mother and father were generally new age and taught me energy protection and simple spells as I was growing up. Some of my most powerful spells are the ones my mother taught me to do.

Our heritage is predominately Irish, however there is also some Germanic blood in us. For some folks heritage isn’t a big deal, but its always been a part of my life. My mother especially was very proud of being descended from Irish. When I was a teenager my family joined an Irish Heritage group and in college I focused my Cultural Studies degree in Celtic Studies. I am out of the closet to my family and friends, though I tend to keep it under my shirt at work. Our family has always believed the greatest church is the wilderness–and I am keeping truer to that lately than I have in a few years of overworking myself at day jobs.

There are blogs to educate, blogs to follow the daily life of, and blogs to see the exploration of an individual through a particular life path. Mine would be a mix of all three, with a focus on the life path. I usually read blogs to learn about how other folks live, sometimes folks that are alike to me and other times folks who are very different than me. I love to consume information! If you stop by this blog and like it, please give me a comment or drop me an email about what struck you.

my email address is sara at spiritscraft dot com

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I updated my page a bit and added a blogroll.  I read a lot of pagan blogs, but these are the ones that I get very excited to read when I see a new post is up.

19 Candles

19 Candles

Magical Muse: this blog is written by the priestess of my coven.  She always has interesting content about her art, our celebrations, and raising her family the country pagan way.  Magical Muse makes beautiful paintings, collages and photographs.  I love her children and every week when I go to coven they are a highlight of my visit.

Sea Priestess: writes from the UK about her traditional style of heathen witchcraft.  Her articles are scholarly and well researched.  I highly admire her opinions and devotion to education.  In addition she has a great youtube channel princessannikki that is updated almost everyday.  In addition she writes amazing poetry and has a soul for the craft.

Therioshamanism: one of my friends locally, Lupa, writes a blog about her experiences creating a new nature shamanism focused around working with animal spirits.  Lupa has a room full of animal pelts and skins she has collected through resale and she creates dance costumes for otherworld crossing and channelling animal spirits.

Wild Hunt: News relevant to pagans, witches and women’s spirituality with commentry.  Updated nearly everyday Jason watches out for news that is about witches and pagans or will affect witches and pagans.  Jason is also on the board of the Cherry Hill seminary for pagans and has an excellent radio podcast, a darker shade of pagan.

Witch of Forest Grove: Sarah writes from British Columbia, Canada–which is a few hours North of my home.  Sarah is a practicing traditional witch and her blog is very inspiring to me.  Sarah is an artist, wildcrafter, and mead maker.  The Pacific Northwest is a beautiful and spiritual place.  Sarah works closely with the land around her and it is encouraging to follow another practioner on a similar path’s journey through pictures and prose.

If you have a pagan, art, or witchcraft blog you want me to check out let me know.  I am always adding new stuff to my rss feeds on my google reader, and if I read your blog for a long time and get attached to it, I might add it to my blogroll.

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