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.
Cycles are a beautiful, albeit bittersweet thing. Just as after each end there's a new beginning, so, too, must all new things eventually end. Those of us who identify as witches know the power of cycles more intimately than most. We practice our magick by the wax and wane of the moon, by the rhythm of the seasons and by the shifting of the zodiac. We watch our energy ebb and flow as the cosmos and earth do. We recognize the power of death, of things ending, of the importance of decay and decomposition to usher in new life and new beginnings. We work alongside — and not against — the cycles we move through spiritually, emotionally, and physically. And that's why after three amazing, magical, life-changing years heading this Ask A Witch column, I am retiring her.
This column has been such an integral part of my journey with witchcraft, and it has been one of my favorite things to write. Over the past three years, I've shared advice and bewitching wisdom on everything from how to work with tarot,sex magick, and shadow work to how to bind toxic exes, establish your own magical practice, and use magick to communicate more confidently. We've talked about working with the phases of the moon, how to cope with being scared of your own power, and how to work with witchcraft as a path to self-love; and that's not even the half of it. Knowing I am leaving this column behind with an abundance of articles and advice makes it easier; but don't worry, later on, I will also be sharing where to go from here to further deepen your personal relationship with witchcraft.
But before I answer a couple more questions and guide you back into your own spiral path, I would like to say thank you. Thank you to every one of you who has read this column, asked me a question, and supported my writing. Ask A Witch helped me land my first book deal (Inner Witch), which led to my second book deal (Bewitching the Elements) and me writing for even more magazines, sharing magick with even more of you. Magick mystifies and beautifies our life, and it weaves us more deeply into connection with all living beings on this planet, especially with one another. Witchcraft is love, and with witchcraft, we will change the world. So thank you for being here and helping me usher in this new paradigm, for the highest good of all involved. To close this column with a bang, I talk glamour magick, broke witch tricks, and where to go from here.
Do you have any rituals for the changing of the seasons that aren't related to a specific sabbat, i.e. fall and winter glamour spells?
I love this question! Specifically, because I love glamour, and I'm personally not ready for the nights to continue getting longer as we move even deeper into the waning year, which peaks with the longest night of the year on the Winter Solstice on December 21. We're spending more and more time in the darkness, at home with our shadows, and it can be more difficult than usual to keep our spirits up. But thankfully, glamour can be a wonderfully potent tool to help us do just that. If you're crafty and like to knit, you can turn this into a spell by setting an intention (i.e. for warmth, protection, and support throughout the fall and winter) for whatever you're creating. As you knit, or crochet, or sew, you focus on this intention and weave the spell into the article of clothing. Then whenever you wear the piece, it cloaks you with the spell.
You can also bless any piece of clothing you have with an intention as well; try outerwear like a scarf, hat, or jacket for the season. You can write out an intention and create a sigil, or charged magick symbol, out of this by crossing out the repeating letters and using the leftover ones to create a symbol. Charge this symbol by raising energy through dancing, chanting, or masturbation and at the peak of this energy raising, direct it to your intention. Write the sigil on the tag of the clothing to transfer this energy to it. Or try leaving your clothing on your altar to charge, with crystals associated with your intention on top of it, and then cleansing this with sacred smoke. You can also say a prayer over your clothing for your specific intention.
You can also bless a talisman or a crystal to help you move through the change of the season with confidence and support. Try a warming red, orange, or yellow stone, associated with the root, sacral chakra, and solar plexus chakras respectively, to help keep you supported, confident, and inspired through the rest of the waning year. You can wear or carry a stone like jasper, carnelian, citrine, or blood onyx as a personal sun to warm you through the cold and dark days.
And let's not forget makeup, glamour, and color magick! If you want to lean into the darkness of the season, think of the colors of late autumn and fall — deep auburn, burnt orange, mossy green, charcoal gray, black, deep purple, and pearlescent white. Try wearing these colors in your wardrobe and makeup, whether it's through lipstick, nail polish, a scarf, shirt, or whole outfit. Blending into the environment through glamour may help you feel more at peace with the cycles of the season. Or, if you're sensitive to the changing of the seasons, counteract this by wearing bold and bright colors. Think orange, yellow, magenta, red, gold, silver, and white. Counteract the darkness by beaming your own inner light. This past year, I have embraced wearing magenta and decorating with pink and red, and it has been so powerful and beneficial. Don't doubt the power of a pop of color, or of a full-fledged monochrome glamour, when it comes to keeping you bright and cheery during the shifts of the season. Color magick is powerful stuff, and I always recommend incorporating this into your glamour practice. Also, turning to the tarot (and cards like the Sun) for inspiration for glamour is a powerful spell in itself as well. Pick a card that resonates with how you want to feel and use the symbols, colors, and visuals to help inspire your look for the day. Carry the card with you or make it your phone background so you see it throughout the day.
Short list of important tools for broke-ass beginners?
Witchcraft can be expensive, and rightfully so. Spiritual products should be made with care, and we should compensate all involved fairly. Those witches offering their services should be paid a fair rate. And yet, those who don't have the big bucks to spend should also be able to practice witchcraft freely! So here's some advice on tools you can use on a budget.
Salt: Buy non-iodized salt from the drugstore or dollar store. You can use this to cleanse your space by sprinkling it in corners, making circles out of it, or by creating a line of it in front of doors for protection. You can also put pinches of it in water, stir clockwise, and create holy water that you can sprinkle through your sacred space and anoint yourself with to cleanse and banish negative energy. You can also buy Epsom salt and take baths with this to cleanse your aura, ground your energy, and banish anything that's not serving you.
Sacred herbs to burn: You can buy herbs like bay leaves and mint at most grocery stores or Spanish groceries or botanicas. Buy the fresh herbs and then dry them on a paper towel at home. Bay leaves are great for protection and banishing, and mint is wonderful for abundance and calling in wealth. You can also buy cinnamon sticks and burn these to welcome in passion and abundance and help protect and cleanse your space. Other herbs like mugwort, rose, and lavender are also easy to find and great for helping you connect to your intuition, to your heart, and to a sense of calm and healing, respectively. Try working with teas featuring herbs you want to connect with as an easy ritual.
Rocks and stones: Instead of spending money on crystals, why not find your own? Set the intention to find stone allies to work with in the wild, and then go on a walk and see what you find. Yes, crystals are sacred, but so are all rocks! Collect your own and work with them in meditation and place them on your altar to charge. Make sure to say "thank you" to the earth whenever you find a stone, and leave an offering of sweets, food, alcohol, or seeds.
Your mind and body: The best part about witchcraft is that you don't need a damn thing to practice it. You don't need anything but your mind to meditate, visualize, and raise power. If you really want to see your witchcraft evolve, create a consistent meditation and ritual practice for yourself. Raise energy with your own body, by dancing or singing or chanting or masturbating. Write your own incantations and invocations to the cosmos, to the divine feminine or masculine, to the forces that be, to love, to yourself — and say them regularly. Work with the cycles of the moon. Use your artistic practice to create in the name of something bigger than yourself. Cast your circles with nothing but your body, honor your ancestors with nothing but your voice, work with your intuition to divine the future or to see if something feels "right." There's no such thing as "too broke to be a witch," so don't worry.
Where to go from here….
So, as we end the saga of Ask A Witch, I couldn't help but wonder… now what? Well, I have a book out Inner Witch: A Modern Guide to the Ancient Craft that is meant to lead you in creating your own practice with witchcraft, tailored to your life, needs, and beliefs. My next book Bewitching the Elements: A Guide to Empowering Yourself Through Earth, Air, Fire, Water and Spirit comes out in April and is meant to lead you even deeper into your own practice by working with the divine feminine and elements through meditation, ritual, crystals, embodiment practices, and astrology. There are plenty of wonderful podcasts out there exploring the archetype of the witch as well; I love Pam Grossman's The Witch Wave and her book Waking the Witch: Reflections on Women, Magick and Power. If you're looking for magical support during this difficult political climate, Theresa Reed and Shaheen Miro's Tarot For Troubled Times: Confront Your Shadow, Heal Your Self and Transform the World and Lisa Marie Basile's Light Magick for Dark Times: 100 Spells, Rituals and Practices for Coping In A Crisisare potent and powerful resources. If you want some sex witchery, Kristen Sollee's Witches, Sluts, Feminists: Conjuring the Sex Positive is a staple in exploring witchcraft from a feminist and sex-positive lens. If you want to work with cannabis and magick, I have a whole column dedicated to that called "The High Priestess" with High Times. If you're looking to dive into an online course to help keep your learning structured and on track, then check out sights like Plant Coven and Insight Timer's courses. Visiting your local metaphysical and witchy stores is also another way to connect with your community and invest more deeply in your magical learning.
More than anything, follow your own inner guidance. Wander around the occult section of your local new and used bookstores, spend time outside in nature, use the internet to connect with more witches, and always follow your intuition. Thank you so much for the past three years of spellbinding magick, support, and love. If you want to keep up with my latest bylines, mantras, musings, and magick, make sure to follow me on Twitter and Instagram.
Blessed be to all of you, and Rest in Power Ask a Witch.