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.
Welcome back, dear witches. The sun is shining, Halloween teases just around the bend, and it feels like our powers are rising. After having stepped into our power during Leo season, it now feels appropriate that this month's column focuses on how we can be the best version of ourselves. The version of ourselves that's assured and confident in their voice, body, and sexuality. The version of ourselves who's not afraid to claim what we mean. And, sometimes this can take work! Magick, though very fun, is also very effective. And we can use our craft to help us step more comfortably into these new cycles that call for growth. We're being called to foster this next stage of the fool's journey, whether we're in literal school or the school of life. Whether you're a college witch who's looking to make the most of what your new campus has to offer, or you're a sex demoness looking for more reaffirming sexual experiences, this column has some answers for everyone.
Question: As the new semester approaches, I can't help but be nervous. Any tips for college witches?
Answer: Virgo season means back-to-school season with fall lingering not far behind. Double, double, toil and trouble—it's nearly the season of the witch. Although I graduated college in May 2016, this time of year still makes me nostalgic. I spent college at the University of South Carolina as an out witch, and although this wasn't the easiest thing in the world, it gave me thick skin like nothing else. I learned a lot from my experiences, and there are a few main lessons I want to share! The first thing is to honor your practice by creating an altar of some kind. When I was in a dorm room, I had mine on a bookshelf next to my lofted bunk bed. I had some tarot cards, crystals, herbs, and talismans on here, and then I kept a box with all of my supplies. If you can't have a visible altar, opt for a portable one in a wooden or plastic box or a trunk. Keep supplies here; like, room spray (with herbs like cedar or sweetgrass), crystals, a grimoire, a chalice, tarot cards, icon, an altar cloth. Keep this under your bed or in your closet and take it out when you perform rituals.
My other piece of advice is to commit to your craft, and schedule it in! Set yourself up for success like you're taking a class; mark the dates for the full and new moon and wheel of the year in your agenda; schedule in rituals if you need! Go on a walk around your campus or neighborhood and search for gardens, parks and hidden nooks and crannies where you could perform simple rituals or spend time communing in nature. See if there are any pagan or spiritual groups on campus that you want to be involved with if you don't want to practice in solitude. Research local metaphysical shops and see if they have classes, rituals, or groups that practice. If you want to practice in a group setting, try using social media and word of mouth to see if there are any other people in your dorm or class that would want to practice rituals together. Even meeting for the full or new moon and sharing some food and energy can be so healing, especially if you're stressed about school and feeling isolated.
Also, don't be afraid to work with ritual and magick to help. Work with citrine, green aventurine, and pyrite for confidence and luck before exams, and put on some rosemary oil for aiding in memory and recall. Make sure you're taking care of yourself; take advantage of your school's health care system and gym if they have it! Look into therapy or yoga classes, or other offerings they might have to make sure you're mentally and physically honoring your body. If you're in a dorm without a bathtub and want to spruce it up, try hanging some eucalyptus in the shower. (If you are in a communal bathroom, you'll have to make sure this is okay!)
Also, another big piece is to practice rituals of self-care, restoration, and healing, creating rituals for yourself that you can come back to. Can you pull a tarot card each morning before class? Maybe you have time to meditate, journal, or practice gratitude and affirmations for five minutes between classes, or make a DIY face mask you dedicate to a Goddess of love. Maybe do some breathwork as you wait for your lecture to begin, or you take a walk with your phone on silent as you connect to the elements.
My biggest piece of advice for incorporating witchcraft into your life is always to pick a ritual you can practice consistently and to bring intention into your day. Magick should fit into your life, so don't force it. See where you can bring moments of mindfulness through your day and commit to that! You're doing great, sweetie.
Question: How would you manifest better sexual experiences in a relationship?
Answer: I really love this question because this is something I've been actively working on since 2018, when I was going through a period of celibacy and also starting to explore kink. I had so many experiences I wanted to try, but what was important to me was finding a safe container to do this in. I wanted to manifest sexual experiences that were reaffirming, not vanilla, and also safe. I knew that I wanted to create rituals for myself that not only affirmed these feelings but helped draw them to me. And, like any magical working, I knew that before performing this ritual, I had to get crystal clear about my intention and what I was calling in.
I spent a lot of time with myself and my own pleasure, figuring out what it is I was looking for and what I wanted to try. You may wish to try this same tactic! What does "better" mean for you? What kind of experiences are you looking to draw in? What are you looking to have reaffirmed? If something comes up, like if this brushes against trauma and there's a lot of healing that needs to happen beneath the surface, my suggestion would be to see a therapist IRL or online (like on Talkspace), so you can heal. Practicing rituals of healing and self-care—like working with sacred smoke, taking ritual baths, stretching and moving your body, dancing, and meditating—are all alchemical ways to heal and balance your sacral chakra and sexual energy as well.
Sex magick, besides being fun and a potent-ass way to raise energy, is also incredibly healing and validating. And the great part is we can use our orgasms to manifest nearly anything! But using sex magick to manifest better sexual experiences? Well, that's an especially powerful route to take. Just keep in mind, while you could perform a single spell for this work, practicing this over and over, turning it into a consistent ritual and not just a single spell, is going to amplify this ritual even more.
The trick with this work is that you're going to be giving yourself the experiences you want as a way to call in more of this. Once you're clear on the kinds of sexual experiences you want to draw into the relationship, ask yourself how you can incorporate this into a ritual. If you want more loving, communicative sex, maybe you practice affirmations in the mirror as you masturbate. If you want to explore kink, maybe you play with impact (like spanking or flogging), sensory deprivation (like a blindfold), or temperature play (like using ice cubes or a body-safe candle) while you have solo sex. Maybe you want more romance, so you burn rose incense and feed yourself strawberries in lingerie as foreplay. Magick, like sex itself, is best when it's a creative act! If you're in need of some inspiration, smoking or working with cannabis can also help.
You deserve to be well fucked and to have amazing sexual experiences. Part of that is learning to ask for what you want! Communication is an important part of sex, so don't forget to claim what makes you feel good. If you're embarrassed by this, or if you're anxious about doing things the "wrong" way, practice talking dirty by yourself and asking for what you want. If you really wanna freak yourself out in a good way, look at your non-dominant eye in the mirror as you do this. And if you're anxious about being rejected for what you want, remember that you're literally losing nothing by asking.
Question: Do you have a ritual of self-confidence for better communication with others?
Answer: While I am more than happy to share a magical ritual for this, my biggest piece of advice is to simply start saying yes when you mean yes, no when you mean no, and to stop apologizing for what you're not sorry for. Honoring your own feelings and knowing that your words hold truth and value is the foundation for your magick. You're the secret ingredient, and your words are the wands you use to cast a spell.
This talisman charging ritual, however, can help you carry a piece of confidence with you, that you can access whenever you need.
You'll need: Paper and a pen, lapis lazuli, citrine or carnelian or a talisman (like jewelry or something small and easy to transport and hold).
Perform this ritual on a Wednesday, ruled by Mercury, the god and planet of communication, if you can. During this ritual, you can call upon deities like Mercury, Hermes (the Greek version of Mercury), Thoth (the Egyptian god of writing, magick, and the equivalent of Hermes). Or you may wish to call upon your higher self, your benevolent ancestors, teachers, beloved literary figures, and expert communicators for their guidance.
Before you begin, you'll want to gather your supplies and set up your space. Turn your phone on silent, dim the lights, play some binaural beats or some ambient music. Light some incense and some candles. Gather your supplies. Make sure you're comfortable. Perform a grounding visualization, meditating on the imagery of roots moving from the base of your spine, into the earth beneath you. Feel these roots feeding you warm healing light that releases any worries or anxieties you have about being your best self and communicating with ease. As you feel ready, call in any deities, beings, or ancestors you're working with. Ask for their guidance and compassion, and call upon your higher self, the infinitely wise part of your soul that you always have access to. As you're ready, open your eyes and grab your pen and paper.
Ask yourself, What are my goals with communication? What do I want to feel? What sort of experiences am I looking for? Write these down as key phrases! Maybe you want to feel empowered, sexy, capable, listened to. Brainstorm, and once you have a good list, turn your favorites into some mantras. Some examples:
- I share my voice and communicate with confidence and ease
- People want to hear what I have to say and I share with strength and conviction
- I am confident, I am seen, I am heard, I am appreciated
- I share my voice and my point of view with compassion and clarity
You are going to be charging a crystal, or an object you want to turn into a talisman, with your mantra and intention, sending this through the energy center of your right palm (which is the active energy center versus your left palm which is receptive) to where you'll be holding your object of choice. Carnelian is a stone of confidence, one that can help us find grounding in the present while still inspiring us with action. Lapis Lazuli is a high vibration stone that assists in clearing the throat chakra and helping us express ourselves and communicate with clarity and compassion. Citrine is associated with the solar plexus chakra and helps us with confidence and abundance. You can also pick an object or piece of jewelry that has meaning to you that you can use as a talisman.
When you're clear on your mantra, and what energy and intention you want to send, grab your crystal or talisman and hold it in your right hand and gently close your eyes. Visualize yourself in a situation where you're communicating with poise and self-assuredness, really owning whatever this experience looks like. Feel this vibrating throughout your whole being as you start repeating your mantra to yourself, raising this energy more and more. Then you'll begin sending this energy into the object in your right palm, infusing your talisman with light and confidence. You may also visualize a glowing yellow light at your solar plexus growing brighter and brighter, enveloping you and infusing your talisman with this assured, solar, assertive power. Practice doing this for as long as you need.
When you feel like the work is done, take the time to breathe back into your body. With your eyes still closed, thank any deities you worked with, any ancestors or beings or higher selves you called in. Thank them for their wisdom and guidance. Thank yourself. Proclaim this confidence as something you can carry. Rely on these affirmations to help you reprogram limiting beliefs. As you feel ready, start visualizing the roots moving from the base of your spine into the earth. Feel this feeding your healing energy once again, and then feel these roots move back into your body, dissolving into your aura. Then, slowly open your eyes. You may wish to take a child's pose, pressing your forehead into the floor and exhaling any energy through your third eye back into the earth beneath you.
Carry your stones and talismans with you, holding them in your left palm and repeating your mantras to yourself whenever you need. Practice using your voice, asking for what you want and knowing your worth. You deserve to be seen, heard and truly listened to. Drink some water, move your body, and never forget your magick! It is done!