Ask A Witch
This is Ask A Witch, NYLON’s column with Indigenous healer and herbalist Napaquetzalli Martinez that answers your questions on the esoteric, the spiritual, and so much more.
Protection magic is anything done with the intention to banish negative energy and strengthen inner power. It’s the reminders from our grandmothers, their small rituals and superstitions. We all have our ways of feeling safe and of warding off the adverse influences of the outside world. We are living through an unfathomably violent and chaotic time in human history, plagued with inequality across the scale. These turbulent cycles have occurred before, but now with the prevalence of social media, we are inundated with heartbreaking and overwhelming imagery nearly constantly. Our nervous system — and our souls — can only process and experience so much. Anxiety and worry can create a life of their own, overtaking our psyches and manifesting even more negativity around us. Staying embodied and centered during uncertain times can be difficult, but necessary. Right now, we are being called to increase our prayers, create networks of safety amongst our communities, and implement all our strongest protective tools. Find the simple tools protecting yourself, your home, and your loved ones, below.
When we experience traumatic events, or sudden life transitions, our spirits can become disconnected from our bodies from the shock. For example, folks who’ve experienced a horrible accident might have an out of body experience, or someone suffering from depression might dissociate. The simplest way to reset our energy is through water, in any form. Water contains the essence of life and instantly purifies the aura and clears the mind. Whether you just take a hot shower, dip into the ocean, or cleanse yourself in a river, all forms of water are grounding and healing.
Visit your favorite body of water and imagine the water washing away any stagnant energy you’re holding. Sea salt or epsom salt specifically help draw out tension and trauma held in the body. Add herbs to your bath to amplify the cleansing properties of your ritual. The most simple protection bath ingredients you can purchase at any grocery store or corner market: fresh rosemary, fresh mint, and lemons. Cut and chop all ingredients in a large bowl or bucket of room temperature water, and pray over the mixture, speaking your intentions for physical or energetic protection. Pour the mixture over your head and imagine all of the plant matter absorbing and releasing any malevolent energy. Discard all plant matter and dress in light colored clothing afterwards.
Every culture has plants traditionally used to ward off evil. Whether the plants are used as incense, or eaten as food,engaging with them helps us absorb their magical qualities. Our immune systems protect the body from both negative energy and unwanted pathogens, making nourishment key to our overall wellness. Food is one of our greatest medicines and a first line of defense. And luckily, our kitchens are already stocked with healing and protective medicinal herbs.
A simple fire cider can be made to protect the immune system and fight off any pathogens, both physical and energetic. Mix chopped fresh herbs and vegetables like oregano, sage, thyme, garlic, onion, ginger, chilies, turmeric, and pack in a jar with apple cider vinegar, making sure the vinegar covers the plant material. Store in a cool dark place for 2-4 weeks and then strain — now you have a potent fire cider! Take a shot of your fire cider potion regularly, especially during cold and flu seasons. Many of these pungent herbs contain antimicrobial and antiviral properties, helping us fight off illness, as well as malefic energy. There’s a reason these herbs have been used historically to avert everything from vampires to plagues.
Jewelry is a great way to wear your power talismans on you throughout the day. Try wearing protective crystals like obsidian, turquoise, or carnelian or balancing metals like copper or gold. Find pieces that resonate with you and make you feel powerful. Evil eye charms can be worn as bracelets or other jewelry, or hung anywhere in the car or home. The evil eye symbol protects us from negative energy, and especially the unintentioned gaze of others.
Clothing and fashion is another way to express protective barriers. The clothes we choose to wear carry their own energetic significance. If you’re experiencing a lot of stagnant emotions or depression, try wearing white or light colored clothing to uplift some of that energy. White is a purifying color that stops us from picking up any outside influences. If you’re suffering from anxious thought patterns, try covering your head with a bandana or hat to block some of that energetic interference. The color red symbolizes protection and empowerment, and can be worn to create a strong energetic shield.
Burning incense is another ancient technique used to clear energy and call in protective spirits. Try using an incense that relates to your ancestral spiritual practices (if you don’t immediately know which plants to use, this is a fun research topic) and steer clear of any commercially available white sage or products that contain it. With the rising interest in ritual practices, white sage has become synonymous with the idea of “cleansing” negative energy or “smudging” and is sometimes viewed as the only plant that can be used for such reasons. Nothing could be further from the truth, as each plant and herb contains their own potent magic, and no one plant is better than another. Herbs used worldwide for cleansing energy include: frankincense, pine, cedar, rosemary, and different types of sage. Find the sacred incense that resonates with you or is plentiful in your local landscape.
Our homes are an extension and reflection of ourselves, and therefore of our energy fields. Chaos and clutter within the home can be reflected in many ways, and can create energetic blockages in our lives. Research principles of feng shui to see if there are ways to create more energetic alignment in your physical spaces. Also, any act of cleaning is in itself a cleansing ritual. When we clean our home, we remove stagnant vibrations. As you sweep or clean, imagine negative energy being released back into the universe. Mirrors can also be placed throughout the home to deflect unwanted spirits and energies from entering your space. Pay special attention to your doors and windows; those are important places to cleanse with incense, and place protective talismans near those entrances and exits.
Protection magic overview
Protection magic is an ancient practice, and can be found in the customs, superstitions, and rituals practiced by cultures worldwide. You may be performing many of these already, as they are largely instinctive and inherited. Coming back to these roots is where the most potent magic lies. What small daily rituals do you or your family practice? What makes you feel safe, or grounded in your body? Delving into the practices of your direct ancestors or lineages, and engaging with the practices of others with respect and awareness, can enrich and expand the practices you already maintain.
Stand empowered in your own magic and share your gifts with your friends and families, and with children and youth especially. We are responsible for protecting our own energy, and safeguarding future generations. Listen to your intuition. Keep your shields up. Stay healthy, protected, and blessed. As they say, your grandmother’s prayers are still protecting you.