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.
We’re back witches! It’s FALL, can you believe? A new season—one I would argue is the witchiest—means it’s time to clear, cleanse, and get ready for a new cycle. Moving and need some inspiration? Want to connect to the elements and natural world? Want to get back into a practice but don’t know where to start? Good, because we got you covered! And in case you have any other questions, you can check out my book Inner Witch: A Modern Guide to the Ancient Craft for more bewitching ways to add a dose of magick to your life.
Question: What are your rituals for moving into a new home?
Answer: It’s officially “new lease” season. Many of us, like the seasons themselves, are in a state of transition right now, and witches are certainly no exception. Moving into a new home can be liberating, overwhelming, scary, worrisome, exciting—often many of these feelings at the same time. When it comes to a ritual to honor this transition, my first suggestion is to cleanse, cleanse, cleanse. If you can before you move in, open the windows and use the smoke of sweetgrass, mugwort, ethically harvested sage (like this from The Hoodwitch), ethically harvested palo santo (like this from Mountain Rose Herbs), cedar, frankincense, or other herbs to clear the space. Start at the front door and use your hands to waft the sacred smoke around the entrance. Move through your house or space, asking for anything not working in 100 percent alignment of your highest good to move toward the light. Get the corners, anywhere you feel stagnant energy, backdoors, closets, etc.
If you want extra protection and clearing from your house, or if you can’t burn herbs because of the smoke, try sprinkling salt in the corners of each room and putting some Florida water in a spray bottle and spraying that the same way you’d use the smoke to cleanse. I would also suggest cleansing in this same manner once everything is moved in as well. If you can only do this cleansing after you’re moved in, that’s fine, too.
Once you’re settled, I also suggest creating an altar. You can put this in a living room, bedroom, windowsill… anywhere that speaks to you! It can be for a certain intention like for protection or abundance, or just a space to honor yourself and your ancestors. Place crystals, candles, photos, offerings, art, talismans, and trinkets here to create an energetic focal point for your space.
If you feel like your new space has a lot of dense or low vibrational energy, you may wish to charge a black crystal like tourmaline, obsidian, or onyx to absorb any negativity and protect you. Hold the stone in your non-dominant hand and then breathe into your heart space, imagining a glowing gold orb growing until it encompasses your whole body, including the stone. Inspire your stone with the intention by asking it what you want it to do. Once the meditation is over, place this stone in the front door of your space, under an entrance mat, on a table, or near the back door of your space. You can also charge other stones in this same way and place them around your house.
Use whatever is already in your practice to create a ritual. Cleanse, protect, charge; do whatever you need. Ask whatever guides/beings/angels you work with for protection. Use the banishing pentagram (starting and ending the pentagram at the bottom left or right) to create energetic seals for harm not to befall you; get creative and get witchy!
Question: How can I work with individual elements?
Answer: I love this! The elements represent the different aspects of ourselves—our thoughts, emotions, and passions. What keeps us grounded and protected, what inspires us. When we work with the elements, we’re able to tap into our own nature as well, and to remember that we’re not separate from nature but a part of it. Here are some ways to connect with each element:
- Earth: Earth is represented by the pentacles in the tarot deck. You can meditate on the pentacles and whatever card speaks to you and create an altar in honor of this. SPEND TIME IN NATURE! Press your bare feet into the earth, spend time gardening, buy yourself flowers. Sit under a tree and ask to learn its language and wisdom. Burn sacred herbs like mugwort, lavender, copal, cedar, sweetgrass. Work with food and herbs (aka kitchen witchery) as part of your practice. Move your body; the element of earth is also connected to ourselves, to how we physically move through the world. Stretch, get a massage, play with an animal you love, spend time under the sun and moon. Dance ecstatically; do whatever is going to make you feel grounded and connected. Work with crystals like labradorite, obsidian, and smoky quartz.
- Air: Air is represented by the sword in the tarot deck. It represents our mind, our intellect, our thoughts. You can work with this element by reading, journaling, taking a class, learning something new and doing other activities that inspire your intellect. Go running, bike riding, spend time with the windows down in your car; feel the wind on your face—this is all air in action! Meditate, create rituals, and work with this element doing whatever it means to slow your mind down and bring yourself to the present. Wear beautiful perfume, light incense that smells nice, spray essential oils and Florida water in your space. Air is also music, so sing, listen to music, go to a concert, whatever inspires you. Work with crystals like angelite, clear quartz, and fluorite to channel this energy.
- Fire: Fire is represented by the wands in the tarot deck. Fire is our passions, our inspiration, what turns us on, and gets us excited to live. You can work with this element by meditating on what brings you warmth and sustenance and passion. You can also meditate by gazing at the flame of a burning candle, breathing in and feeling its warmth as you do so. You can channel the energy of fire through sex, masturbation, going on a Tinder date, communicating your likes and dislikes clearly, wearing red, and wearing something that makes you feel vibrant and sexy. You can write yourself (or someone you like) a love poem, you can write something you want to release and then burn it, you can meditate on the energy of the phoenix rising from the ashes. Have a bonfire, spend time under the sun at its peak under high noon, watch the sunrise or sunset. Remember that you don’t have to apologize to anyone for owning your power. Fire clears away what’s no longer serving it, and fortifies what does. You can meditate upon this and work with crystals like citrine, carnelian, and garnet to harness this energy.
- Water: Water represents our emotions, our caring energy, and our spiritual self. Represented by the chalice in the tarot deck, you can meditate upon water by spending time in it or visualizing yourself being held by it. Leave bowls of Florida water out as offerings to your ancestors, collect water from the ocean or rivers (especially under the full moon), and leave this on your altar to use in honoring this element. You can work with this element by taking a bath (add some salt, herbs, and oils for extra oomph,) spending time under the moon, exploring your subconscious through art, poetry, music, dancing and other forms of self-expression. Use Florida water, rose water, or holy water to clean surfaces in your space and spray to cleanse and clear. Leave rose of jericho in bowls around your space to remind you of how strong and resilient you are. Work with stones like blue lace agate, amethyst, and rose quartz to channel this energy.
- Spirit: Spirit is the last of the elements, what connects us to our higher self and realm. It’s the element that connects all the other elements, represented by the top point in the pentagram. Connect to spirit by prayer, reading a holy text, connecting to the universe and the divine through sex, magick, ritual, movement, and breath. You also connect to spirit by working with the moon and creating a ritual you can do regularly. Work with crystals like selenite and lumerian quartz. Create an altar to a goddess, angel, or ancestor. Meditate. Work with sacred plant medicine. Honor the cycles and seasons of the year, cleanse your space, wear gold jewelry. Spirit is personal; there’s no one way to connect to it, but when it feels right you know.
Question: How do you get back into it after having a huge break? Do you ever feel out of it?
Answer: Um, YES. Hate to break it to you, but we’re human in this life. That means we have to have periods of rest and recharge before a new cycle of growth. Just like a heartbeat or a wave, there are crests and falls, it’s not always up, up, up. When we get into cycles of not having a practice, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed, like we did something wrong, or like we’re failures. This just isn’t true!! Be compassionate to yourself; remember that you’re doing enough by existing and being yourself. Your magick will always be there, even when you don’t nurture it as much. My suggestion to get back into the swing of things is to do things slowly. How can you do one thing a day? Taking five deep breaths in the morning, or lighting a five-day candle each night, is enough. Do things little by little. Start to learn what sign the moon is, or what holiday it is. Take a few minutes in the morning to breathe. Set up an altar. Pull a single tarot card each day. Journal for 10 minutes. Meditate a little each day. Pick one thing that you can do and let that be your guide. Pray. Talk to whatever beings or deities or angels you believe in. Take baby steps, read about things that vibe with you. Give yourself time; the practice will always be here, ready for you whenever you are.