Updated: Feb 12
Author: Michael Erwin
Traditional magickal practices- 'witchcraft', 'cunningfolk', 'shamanism' and numerous other folk traditions were localized and dependent on the natural environment around them. Everything a practitioner needed for their spiritual work could be found within the wild areas in which they lived. Today, our modern magick books are filled with spells, rituals and other practices that require certain items in order for the act to be successful. This certainly wasn't historically accurate- people from all over the world practiced magick with only what could be gleaned from the areas around them, usually what could be found within a few days walk. So, why do we today feel the need that our magickal acts will only produce good results if we have rare herbs and objects from distant places? Do we really need that obscure flower from the Europe, that particular oil from across the globe or that moss from a certain swamp in the south? Is our spell going to fail because we couldn't find that one certain item that seems unobtainable? If so, that tells us that the ' magickal' power is in the objects and not within us. Natural items from foreign places such as crystals and plants that are often used in magick certainly carry their own vibration, or 'energy' that we like to infuse into our work, but the same energy can be found within local plants, rocks and more. We often overlook something in our own backyard for that expensive imported item instead- simply because the book, TV show, movie or Youtube told us to. Magick is very personal work and our intent (backed with study and practice) can produce amazing results, particularly with items we find right near our homes.
When we take things from our natural areas we must do so legally and ethically. Many native plants are endangered and some require a permit to harvest. It is advisable to bring some spring water with you as an offering to any plant that you are harvesting. Be aware that the desert if full of venomous animals and poisonous plants, always use caution when harvesting in the desert and take lots of water.
Let's look at just a few things we can use from our beautiful desert landscape to boost our magickal acts:
1. Thorns- excellent for protection magick. Look for thorns from imported or naturalized plants first, such as Rose bushes and Citrus.
2. Flowers- an amazing tool for working love magick. Again look for imported or naturalized plants first before harvesting native plants.
3. Dirt from an active anthill- useful for making entities or people so uncomfortable they move on (a side note- often the large fire ants are pulling garnet out of the ground which is excellent for personal power and confidence).
4. Quartz- the most abundant mineral on earth. The desert is rich with it and it is a perfect choice for amplifying your intention. Make sure it legal to take.
5. Citrus- although not native to Arizona, it is abundant and the leaves, flowers and fruits are useful in many types of success magick and making your own cleansing waters and perfumes like Florida Water.
6. Chaparral- this native plants is what gives us that distinct smell when it rains. Carefully, respectfully and legally collect some new growth branches to make a cleansing shower bundle and for any magick to rid yourself of anything that bugs you.
7. Feathers- some fallen feathers can be collected, keeping in mind you cannot legally even touch any feather from protected species (unless as an individual of certifiable American Indian ancestry enrolled in a federally recognized tribe). These feathers can be used to commune with the divine, find spirit animals and bring the element of Air into any work.
8. Prickly Pear Cactus- this abundant native cactus is an amazing choice for kitchen witchery as the pads and fruits on most species can be consumed. These drought tolerant plants are perfect for magickal acts involving endurance, strength and longevity.
9. Aloe Vera- this plant is plentiful in gardens around town and is best suited for physical and magical healing. It carries a vibration of tranquility and can sooth one in a difficult transition.
10. Palo Verde- this stunning tree has a multitude of uses. Traditionally the seed pods were ground into a flour and used to make baked goods as well as wine. The flowers and seed pods are excellent for magick involving beauty and positive thinking.
These are just a few ideas to get you started. We hope to put together a series of Desert Witchcraft workshops for those who want to think outside of the books and online sites for a more traditional and localized practice, one that connects us to this beautiful place we've chosen as our home. Brightest Blessings.