In "Ask a Witch," Gabriela Herstik answers your questions about channeling ancient wisdom in the modern age. From spellcraft to finding your path, explore what it means to be a millennial witch.
Hello witchies, welcome back to this column. As always I have some magick to share with you, and this month is a bit of a mixed bag! But these are the subjects that are inspiring me, and I hope that by talking about them I will help you tap into your own magick as well. It’s a bewitching world out there, and we’re all trying to navigate it together. So strap in and let’s talk about morning practices, deities, and self-love.
Question: I’d like to know more about your morning routine. How do you prepare yourself spiritually, emotionally, etc.?
Answer: If you follow me on Instagram (where I post a lot of witchiness!), you may have noticed that I’ve been sharing more and more of my morning practice. I’m going to be honest: I love sleep, and being a freelancer means I can sometimes be lazy since I don’t HAVE to get up at a certain time. That's why having a morning practice helps me get up with excitement, by giving me structure. Although it doesn’t always look the same, and though I don’t do it every day, I make an effort to stick with my routine consistently and at least do a couple of these things daily if I can’t squeeze it all in.
Here’s my typical morning practice:
Wake up around 8:30am or 9am and say, “GOOD MORNING GODDESS” at the Venus print that hangs in front of my bed.
Wash face, brush teeth, put moisturizer on.
Twenty minutes of yoga. I usually do a few sun salutations and then a lot of hip openers since I carry a lot of my stress and tension in my hips. I’ll also do some twists, folds, and whatever else my body needs. The key with any morning practice (and magick) is to listen to your body. Sometimes you’ll need a heart opener, sometimes you’ll need some warrior poses, sometimes you’ll need to do some twists. Depending on how I’m feeling and how much time I have, I may also add some core exercises to the mix.
Ten minutes of meditation. I use the app Insight Timer and put on a guided meditation, or some singing bowl music on Spotify (I love Sonic Yogi), and meditate. Sometimes I’ll meditate with mala beads and a mantra; it just depends on my intention for the week and how I’m feeling. I like to meditate laying down with crystals on me. I find this feels really delicious and is another way to add some crystal healing to my work.
Journaling my intentions and gratitude. Usually when I journal I have to do a brain dump and get whatever is in my head out of my head (it's an Air sign thing). Then I’ll set my intention for the week or day. I like having a theme that I can carry with me throughout the week. So, last week, it was keeping my heart open; the week before it was receiving. I’ll journal about this intention and then write down everything I’m grateful for. The key to this? To write what you already have that you’re grateful for, and to write what you want to have as if you already have it—and like you’re grateful for it, too!
Drink tea or green juice; depending on how I’m feeling, I’ll either make some herbal tea (ginger turmeric, dandelion, and chamomile or rooibos) or a green smoothie (coconut milk, kale, banana, mango, coconut oil, almond butter).
Tarot cards: I pull two to three tarot cards each morning to see what I can expect from my day. I’ll often write this down in my journal or grimoire and reflect on it later in the day or week. Sometimes I’ll also use my tarot cards for outfit or makeup inspiration as well.
I don’t always have time to do all of this, sometimes it’s just five minutes of meditation and tarot. But having a consistent spiritual practice I can come back to is so important. I notice that I feel more centered and aware and grounded after my morning routine. But, again, what works for me may not work for you! Maybe you do breathing techniques instead of yoga, or work with astrology instead of tarot. Maybe you do 20 minutes of meditation and no journaling. Think of how you can have bite-sized pieces of your practices in the morning and then create your own routine. The goal is to feel embodied in your power, centered and grounded in your energy, and ready to take on whatever the day holds.
Question: How do you safely begin a relationship with a deity you’d like to work with? If I were to begin a relationship with a deity to later realize I no longer want to be in a relationship with that deity, how do I end it safely and with integrity?
Answer: First things first: Like humans, deities are all different. They all have their own agendas and their own rules and ideas. So there’s not a one-size-fits-all answer to this, although I will do my best to answer this as holistically as I can! Oftentimes when we’re drawn to a deity, it’s because they want us to work with them. My first tip is research! Learn about the mythology of the god/dess, what they rule over, what offerings or correspondences to leave them. Feel your body when you read about them. Do you feel like you have a spiritual connection to this god/dess? Learn about the culture from which they come, how they may have been honored in the past.
The idea is to really make sure you vibe with this being before you begin a practice with them. Once you’ve done your research, my suggestion is to set up an altar in this being's honor, or to at least get a photo or statue of them. Talk to them! Tell them about your connection, how excited you are to begin working with them, and also about any fears or worries. The key word with a deity is "relationship." You can also try communicating with this being in meditation. You can find a guided meditation online or in a book, or simply ask to meet your chosen deity in an environment you know they’re usually in. You can ask them any questions or just talk to them. Make sure to thank your deity before leaving them, or after talking to them.
Leaving a deity you’re working with offerings is also really important! This is an energy exchange, so leaving honey, sweet bread, wine, tobacco, liquor, or something specific to the being with whom you're working is a really powerful and important gesture. I love to have an altar set up for the god/dess I’m working with, and I love to leave offerings here. Having a four- or five-day candle for your deity that you light every day is also a powerful way to continue this relationship and have some consistency. Work with this being in magick, invite them to ritual, write to them, make art in their honor; your relationship is YOURS and as always, do what feels right while remembering that a god/dess has their own agenda as well, and that it’s important to be respectful of this and them!
As far as ending a relationship with a deity, my suggestion is not to dedicate yourself to a god/dess and not to say that you’ll be working with them for a set period of time if you’re not going to follow through. It’s okay to work with different deities over time, but you don’t want to lie to them or tell them something and then change your mind. You can create these relationships and then after a few months feel like your work is finished—and that’s okay! My suggestion is to go back into meditation and speak to the deity about your feelings and ask if your work is meant to be finished. They’ll often tell you what to do—though, not necessarily in words. Finish burning whatever candle is on the altar, tell the deity that this isn’t an end of the relationship just a transition. Again, each being will have their own energy, and as long as you are respectful and haven’t lied to them, you should be okay when it comes time to end.
Leave a final offering, thank them for their knowledge, and take some time to feel into the transition.
Question: Should all love spells be transmuted with self-love?
Answer: YES! I love this question, and at first, I wasn’t sure how to answer it, but I’m just going to go ahead and say YES. The thing is, if we’re doing love spells and looking outside of ourselves for love and validation, we’re always going to be separate from the love we’re drawing in. If we transmute this through self-love (like we’re simultaneously casting a love spell toward ourselves and whatever our desire is), we’re embodying this magick as much as we’re casting it.
So instead of doing a love spell to attract love from outside of ourselves, transmuting this through self-love means we’re allowing our magick to move through us, allowing ourselves to embody the love we want others to give us. We treat ourselves the way we want others to treat us. The thing is, it’s not always easy to love ourselves! We gotta fake it till we make it sometimes. But when we’re casting love spells, the strongest way to do this is all through how we feel. And when we allow ourselves to see the vibrant, beautiful, strong, and bold spirit that we possess, and when we own that with love and compassion, there’s no way the love we’re calling in won’t be changed because of that.