RITUAL TALK: Xenia Viray

 Xenia Viray's  Intuitive Medicine Box

I took some time to speak to one of my favorite small business owners, Xenia Viray. She owns the Brooklyn-based Myths of Creations, which you can follow on instagram. Look out for her Intuitive Medicine Box and seek out her sliding scale healing, which is a combo of tarot, reiki, and talking work.

What does 'ritual' mean to you, personally?

For me, ritual is simply a container for meaningful action.  I am really big on erasing any lines between that which is "sacred" and that which is "practical." I think that dichotomy is the effect of colonization + capitalism and it’s just disempowering.  When you look back at indigenous and ancient traditions, often what was sacred was also in alignment in what people needed to survive. That is why the natural world is so often worshipped in ritual.  You would have a harvest festival to celebrate the natural world and also because you were cultivating the land; that which was “productive” was also sacred. There was no fracturing of the two.

After the industrial revolution, mass media, and what is now a pervasive digital culture, we are more vulnerable to receiving subconscious messaging than our ancestors were: Maybe back then, the ritual of growing your own food, slowly cooking it communally and sitting around a fire or a table was one that was just called eating dinner. With all the messaging we have received, maybe it’s just called “wasting time” or “downtime” now. I think that language is harmful.

Here and now, in 2018 in New York, we have to go out of our way to get back in touch with the feeling of being in tune with seasons, in tune with the planet, in tune with our bodies. 

 So maybe what our ancestors did by nature is the exact same thing we are trying to choreograph and “bring back” now, but the current iteration is just so over-the-top and planned out because we aren’t doing it by nature. It’s like a purposeful culture shift to combat the cultural shifts dictated by capitalism. 

To be honest, at the shop I think a lot about how to reverse this process. I look at the protocols for doing different tasks and see where I can imbue them with meaning and connection.  I make counting the cash box a moving meditation.  When I open the shop I always try to fill my own cup with water before I begin my opening duties to make sure that I am taking care of myself all day long, because if I don’t do it in the first five minutes of arriving, I set my tone for the day.  

Ritual is whatever closes the gaps between your values and your actions. It's what gives you pause before your automatic scripts start running. 

How do you incorporate ritual into your everyday life—especially as it pertains to wellness?

I have learned a lot this year about how health on every level connected.

For example, maybe an herbalist tells you roses are good for self love, and then you start to examine what other disciplines have to say about that belief and see if you can find any correlations.  Maybe what they do in herbalism is linked to how they are used  in witchcraft. Maybe the fact that rosewater is a natural astringent in homeopathic beauty can link up to your observations about the rose that are purely aesthetic.  

Half of the way I practice ritual is making a practice of asking these questions and making the space for learning. The other half is pulling that ritual into my skincare routine, my nighttime routine (every night for self-love I drink cacao nibs, rooibos, rose + honeybush tea.) I use rosewater in all of my products because it reminds me to love my skin and my face. 

In the more straightforward realm, Twice a week I try to find a yoga class that will address both my physical and emotional needs. I love any class Megan Trieber teaches especially her gentle flow. (She talks about opening up meridian lines and the chakras.) I also can't live without my dance classes at 305 fitness especially if Maria Macsay is teaching. It's a hip-hop cardio class but Maria is Reiki II attuned, and you better believe you can feel it. In that sense, I feel like healing my chakras and my energy is the same thing as when I think I’m carrying too much protective weight and I am trying to shed some. It’s all one motion of the same principles.

I also often put intentions into my food. Like if I am cooking, I'll thank the vegetables and the eggs and whatever is in the food. Sometimes I just look at a vegetable and acknowledge the sort of absurd miracle of this thing coming out of the ground because of the sun and the soil and the water.

Taking salt baths is part of what I do when I feel like my heart is way too heavy or I have just been holding on to too much. I like to make the bath super hot so that my muscles can just melt, and fill the bath with salt because that cleanses the aura. And when I am really taking care of myself, frozen banana smoothies, CBD supplements and either 20 minutes of writing or meditation. Oh and I do tarot almost every day, talk to my guides like every hour and clean out the energy in my shop every single night and every single morning because I have a tendency to feel overly responsible for other people’s feelings and wellbeing so I like to use copal resin to completely energetically clear the space.

How would you describe your inner magic? What inspires it and makes it come to life?

My inner magic is definitely the practice of perceiving in a continuously different way, making connections, getting underneath things. I feel really drawn to the mysteries of personality and always want to learn more and go deeper and get a little farther underneath and this manifests in a couple of ways: i am really good at connecting people (my moon is in Gemini, which is the ultimate connector, so it's an instinct for me.)

The other thing I noticed is that when I have the capacity to hold space for people, and often this is customers, they open up to me and feel really safe to listen and share. This makes connections in my life that are really deep. I would say people feel seen and heard when they need to. My other inner magic is constantly creating. I am an Aries and so I cannot leave things alone. I have a new idea every half hour. It's really overwhelming and part of the reason I give so many of my ideas away. 

Do you have a go-to simple ritual when times get rough?

I like to leave the space. Abraham Hicks calls this changing your vibration. Some people get outside just so they can get some fresh air.  I really live in the mental field so if I can just reconnect to my body and even look at the room from a different part of the room, I’m already feeling different, and different is often better for me. 

Bonus: Favorite witch movie ever?

Don’t kill me but after The Craft I gave up a bit on Witch movies. I want to cheat and say the 100 Years of Solitude or reading any Magical Realism is really where it’s at. 

(I agree—especially Isabel Allende's The House of the Spirits. Best book ever).

Ritual Talk: Darley Stewart

darley stewart

For this round of Ritual Talk, I chatted with the wildly talented and ever-compassionate Darley Stewart, a writer, voice of light in the community, and creator of the brilliant panel series Strong Women Project.

Darley Stewart is a Scottish-Korean fiction writer based in Brooklyn. She is at work on her first novel. Her work has appeared in Tin House, Joyland Magazine, Funhouse Magazine (UK, digital), The Ocean State Review, Flapperhouse, The Brooklyn Rail, The Battersea Review, Electric Literature, and elsewhere. Darley Stewart is the recipient of a 2016 Fiction International Fellowship from Seoul Art Space and 2015 Ocean State Fiction Scholarship from The University of Rhode Island. An alumnus of Brandeis University and The University of Edinburgh, she gives regular readings in New York City –most recently at Les Bleus Salon, KGB, and Manhattanville Reading Series – and has completed a residency at Seoul Art Space.

What does 'ritual' mean to you, personally? 

Rituals are so important to me. They're more conscious than routine and based either on personal pleasure or an area of my lifestyle that I'd like to develop, quite often both. It's a choice to elevate the patterns in our lives, so that they serve us.

How do you incorporate ritual into your everyday life — especially as it pertains to wellness? 

My wellness rituals are what keep me together. They make me better at my job and a fun, relaxed person to be around. Every morning, I make a conscious choice not to engage in social media or the news right away. I'm pretty new at meditating and have just started taking regular meditation classes, but I've been praying since I was five years old. I like to do both, and I see so much harmony between the two approaches. In prayer, I work within a specific religious tradition, but it is similar to what I do in meditation – I ask for attention and help with areas that need healing in my life. I both pray and meditate for the wellness and healing of others I love (and those I'm less fond of) and of larger communities.

Wellness, to me, starts with clarity of mind and purity of intention. The rituals of prayer and meditation make it possible for me to transform hateful feelings into understanding, generosity and, if not love, at least suspension of judgment. They concentrate my intentions, so that I am more likely to take action, take charge, show up for people, and make the wiser choice transcending the particulars of a sour, difficult moment in my day. I like to light a candle and sometimes I work with crystals and stones to increase my energy. I love the aventurine crystal and tiger's eye.

In terms of wellness rituals specifically for the body, I believe that the body is abused by life and that we have to consciously take care of the body with tremendous compassion. To keep my body happy, I am ritualistically committed to Swedish massage (twice a month), herbal readings with a trained herbalist (once every four months), and enjoying a wide range of physical activity (three times per week).

I drink Korean schisandra berry tea when I start to feel like I'm coming down with a cold. The rituals I've created for myself are numerous, and I look forward to creating more in the future. It's just a much more fun way to live, as opposed to harshly disciplining or depriving the body.

How would you describe your inner magic?

What inspires it and makes it come to life? My inner magic is the color light blue, my maternal grandmother's favorite color. She loved the sky and the earth and she was a simple, beautiful, grounded woman. Whenever I think of her, I want to live a more authentic life, one that is connected to nature, to people who are suffering and need help, and to my own fears and dreams.

Do you have a go-to simple ritual when times get rough? 

My ritual is to take a long bath with eucalyptus bath salts, and cry as long as I need to. Crying is an excellent release. I've only really recently discovered its benefits and wonder why I don't set aside time to cry more. It seems so logical to me, and yet it doesn't come naturally at all. I also carry comforting objects with me if I'm intimidated by a situation – I have no qualms carrying a cute stuffed tiger toy in my bag if I need a little extra comfort!

And let's not forget the objects in my home. I have a framed hawk feather – one of my most prized possessions – on my wall above the headboard of my bed, which I look at whenever I'm upset. My father caught this feather when it fell from the sky on my 32nd birthday. It symbolized the healing of our father-daughter relationship and just made me endlessly girlishly happy. I don't why. But I had it framed in museum conservation glass. To have this wild, deliriously beautiful feather in my life always makes me feel better, and I like to imagine the hawk it belonged to – that fierce, majestic bird. 

Bonus: Favorite witchy movie ever? 

El Topo. I love Jodorowsky's movies. It's been awhile since I've watched them, but just thinking about Paula Romo's Woman in Black inspires me all over again.

Ritual Talk: Trista Edwards

trista edwards

In this interview, I chatted with Trista Edwards, who is a splendid writer and creator of my favorite candle and magical goodie shop—Marvel + Moon. She's an associate editor at Luna Luna (lucky us) and has been an incredibly supportive and kind friend. 

She is also the curator and editor of the anthology, Till The Tide: An Anthology of Mermaid Poetry (Sundress Publications, 2015). You can read her poems at 32 Poems, Quail Bell Magazine, Moonchild Magazine, The Adroit Journal, The Boiler, Queen Mob's Tea House, Bad Pony, and more. She creates magickal candles at her company, Marvel + Moon.

What does 'ritual' mean to you, personally?

To me, ritual means commitment. It means ceremony, from minimal to the extravagant. It means transforming the mundane to the magical. It means slowing down and observing the rhythms of your own body and the world around you. It means reflection.

How do you incorporate ritual into your everyday life —especially as it pertains to wellness?

I incorporate ritual into my life in simple, meaningful ways. I have dealt with anxiety and depression since I was a teen. It is difficult for me to maintain a commitment to my own wellness consistently at times, but I do have a few daily rituals that ground me and relax my mind and body in addition to professional mental health care.

I draw a daily tarot card. This provides me with the opportunity to reflect and write first thing in the morning. If I am feeling particularly anxious, sometimes a daily pull can offer a new perspective or suggest an action to take.

In addition to that, I feel most of my daily rituals revolve around scent. In preparing for the day, I apply one of my many perfumes. Scent has a way of transforming and transporting. It wraps me in a sacred calm…even if only temporarily. I feel confident and sensuous. I fill powered by the memory of place—perhaps the place the scent reminds me of, a time, a person. Maybe that’s somebody else, maybe that’s who I was in a different time and place. It’s a warm feeling that settles me.

I have a small candle business that allows me to further incorporate scent ritual into my daily practice. I concoct new fragrances, a mix essential oils for candles and body oils. I follow the rhythms of the moon to consecrate the herbs and stones and crystal I integrate into my candles.

I light a candle every time I sit down to perform housework, cook, write, read, bathe, do seemingly trivial things like watch television with my husband and my dogs. The scent, the burning glow, the crafted aesthetic and ambiance tend to help replace my inner turbulence with notions of a centering hearth.

Although it has been around for quite some time. I think the word “self-care” is thrown around a lot these days. Often as a marketing tool, often to poke fun at Millennial narcissism and self-indulgence. It often feels misunderstood by the mainstream talking heads.

Self-care is a medical concept. It is political. It is taking care of yourself, your body and your mental health. It is exercising healthy habits. I may perform and engage with rituals that may seem derisory or trendy to some—bath bombs, candles, essential oils, tarot—but as somebody who, at times, experiences difficulty in performing simple tasks—brushing my teeth, getting dressed, getting out of bed—due to anxiety and depression, the rituals I perform MEAN something to me and my well-being. These rituals are not the WHOLE of my self-care, but they are part of it and anything that helps replace the darkness that sometimes resides in me is powerful.

How would you describe your inner magic? What inspires it and makes it come to life?

I feel my inner magic can best be described as the never-ending need and desire to perform defamiliarization. As a poet, I am constantly seeking to present language in a new and strange way. As a candle maker, I seek change everyday spaces into altered, magical realms through creating beautiful, transformative objects. With ritual and magic, I seek the same desire to reshape the mundane and see my personal actions/practices or intimate spaces in a new light. This magic helps me gain new perspective, sharpens my ability to experience wonder and awe, reminds me to slow down and observe the enchanted nature of life that I can so easily gloss over. I feel particularly invigorated and inspired through traveling, reading, and experiencing the art of others. I seek out communities—it online, in print, or in person—that share in these same values. I feed off the enthusiasm, creativity, and magic of others.

Do you have a go-to simple ritual when times get rough?

Esther Greenwood lamented in Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar: “There must be quite a few things a hot bath won’t cure, but I don’t know many of them. Whenever I’m sad I’m going to die, or so nervous I can’t sleep, or in love with somebody I won’t be seeing for a week, I slump down so far and then I say: ‘I’ll go take a hot bath.” I do empathize and agree with Esther on her attitudes toward a warm bath. Unarguably a young woman tormented by her own demons, Esther at least took momentary solace in the healing powers of water and a sacred bath.

A ritual bath, for me, is also setting a space—candles, flowers, salts, wine, music, herbs, poetry, oils, lighting. I craft an altar of peace and beauty to submerge myself into. It is healing. It is sometimes allowing myself to sob and release. Sometimes it is creating this space in the middle of the day when my mental beasties are rambling around in my head. It is quieting. It at once restores and enlivens me. It is a space for me to appreciate my body (another challenge for me) and listen to its physical and mental needs. This is a ritual, more than another other, that allows me to connect with myself.

Favorite witchy movie ever?

Sooooo hard to pick just one. I will always feel a nostalgic whimsy for childhood favorites like Hocus Pocus, The Worst Witch, and Bedknobs and Broomsticks; a pull towards The Craft and Practical Magic when reminiscing about my high school and young adult years; a thirst for the feminism of The VVitch and The Love Witch in my current “mature” 30s; but I had to pick a film that I think about the most it would be The Crucible. Although I have a love for the supernatural witchcraft of the other films, The Crucible instills me with real fear and proves the real (and terrifying) power of patriarchal control. It is not a joyful film, but its narrative occupies my headspace quiet often mostly because in many ways it portrays a world that still exists.

 

Ritual Talk : Leza Cantoral

leza cantoral

I got to interview Leza Cantoral, who I've worked closely with on a few writing projcts—and who inspired one of the rituals in my book. She's a talented visionary editor and writer with an eye on the bizarre, dark, and magical.

Leza the editor of the CLASH Books anthology, Tragedy Queens: Stories Inspired by Lana Del Rey & Sylvia Plath & the author of Cartoons in the Suicide Forest. Her writings appear in Luna Luna Magazine, Philosophical Idiot, Entropy, Bizarrocentral, Breadcrumbs Magazine, The Storymaker’s Association, Ladyblog & CLASH Media. You can find her on Twitter, Instagram, & Facebook @lezacantoral @clashbooks @yesclash and on YouTube as Trash Panda Poetry.

What does 'ritual' mean to you, personally?

Ritual is about creating a sacred space using clear markers differentiating a space/moment/act from your everyday life. It can involve something as simple as lighting a candle with intention to create a sacred space. Ritual is a powerful tool, not just for the mind itself, but for interacting with the chaosphere through symbolic language.

How do you incorporate ritual into your everyday life -- especially as it pertains to wellness?

I do yoga in the morning to get centered. It enables me to start my day with clear goals & intentions. I drink green & peppermint tea which help with alertness. When I am able, I go for a walk in the woods to meditate & gather firewood. Communing with the trees always centers & grounds me. I do Tarot readings for myself when I need extra guidance or am brainstorming a new story I am writing. I light a candle on my altar when I do yoga, dance, give offerings, or read cards.

How would you describe your inner magic? What inspires it and makes it come to life?

My inner magic is my instinct, my sense of myself. When my body is awake, so are my higher senses. It is my inner logic, it is how I connect the dots. Danger wakes it up. The moon wakes it up. Fire wakes it up. Water wakes it up. Sex wakes it up. Art wakes it up. Lucid dreams wake it up. Sometimes it is a word or a sound & something flashes inside me saying I need to pay attention. When I get visions, I focus on them. I write them down, I work them into stories, I let them talk to me. When I get those flashes, I know that something important & connected to something bigger is leading me to an idea, a person, an opportunity, an experience I need to have. I am always looking for signs & synchronicities.

Do you have a go-to simple ritual when times get rough?

Repeating an empowering mantra that arises organically from my mind & walking in circles with increasing speed. This is an instant auric reboot for when I feel damaged, scared, or lost.

Bonus: Favorite witchy movie ever?

I Married a Witch, starring Veronica Lake.


 

 

 

This is How I Found Magic

There is a young girl named Jolene.

She’s got violent blonde hair and eyes too clear to be trusted. Pretty and vicious by 12, Jolene trained a whole pack of followers to move 10 paces behind her, their mouths open and drooling.

Jolene and her pets are sitting behind me in gym class kicking my lower back, which is covered in a soft spill of dark Mediterranean hair. [Lovers today call it beautiful.] I’m so quiet I barely exist. I’m wearing cheap sneakers my grandmother picked up at the church flea market she sells nail polish at on weekends.

My sneakers are white and goofy and too heavy; I look like a twig in them, the tongue heaving over my tiny ankles. I’m supposed to be wearing the Filas everyone else has. I’m supposed to be everyone else.

From where I sit or hide or cower, it seems like everyone else has dinner at home at 6. Has school photos. Has all of the other accouterments of a teenage palace of cruelty. Popularity is my Queen but I won't sit on my knees at her ugly throne. I am daggers. I am full of poverty and mouths sewn shut. I am instead the town seer. I see the mediocrity of youth that will bleed into adulthood. Sometimes I still want to be mediocre. I want to be loved.

By 6 I’m at home alone with my brother, half my age, wondering where my mother is. Sometimes we walk a mile to my grandmother’s senior citizen center where she says those girls are just jealous. I say, but grandma—they’re pretty. You’re pretty, she says. Pretty girls are jealous of pretty girls.

I am raised in a land where pretty is economy. Where being a young girl means fitting into easy sentences and rules. I put on the FM radio in the bathroom and Nair my lower back. Which only makes Jolene siphon more of me, more of my weakness. I remove my body, my hair; I remove myself.

I want to be like Jolene and her pack but I’m not like them. On my head, I have black hair that gives no fucks. When it rains my hair grows fangs. I’m poor and my clothes smell like the local laundromat. Gin and dust and metallic-something—something like something I’m not supposed to smell like.

Jolene says it’s old people I smell like. I laugh stupidly and awkwardly, boldly, in her face, but I know it. I sleep at my grandmother’s tiny apartment a lot. I cry often into her shoulder; between us, there is a silent question blooming; why is her daughter—my mother—not coming home? She braids my hair, paints my nails, goes to bed early.

I sit up alone for hours perched at the window waiting for my mother to come home. To bide the time, I pull out two books: a 1970s pictorial on covens and sex magic and a book of spells, it’s Wiccan, made for teens, I think—I’ve wrapped both in the dust cover of other books, although I know my mother wouldn’t care if she caught me, but I was raised Catholic and am embedded with a certain fear of the devil consuming my soul for all eternity—and I read them quietly to myself, believing in my whole wide heart that magic was swirling out there, ready to be captured, pocketed, possibly brought to middle school.

I want to wear the capes. I want to draw a Pentagram. I want to understand what I’m reading and become all-powerful. At first, sadness drives me toward ritual, but then I take flight on my own.

Behind my grandmother’s house, behind three huge dumpsters, there is a very, very green sort of open space. Fences surround it and separate it from neighboring backyards and they’re covered in ivy. This green leads down to the local river—Rahway River in New Jersey—which is filled with tiny, people-sized islands and moves through the town, circling through neighborhoods where people have given up on themselves. My whole town is broken. Everyone either dies or is dying or hooked on drugs, and all of us kids have either taken on one of two protective stances: be the bully or be bullied. It depends on your heart; sometimes I hate my heart.

Even if some of us come from decent homes, there is always something rotten in this town. Always a secret. A disguise. An animal searching through the wood. No one is untouched.

I tiptoe to the edge of the river and look down into the rocks. My feet get muddy, I smell the earth; copper, moss, summer water. Across from me—at this point the river is hallow, trickling, maybe 100 feet across, dotted by a shower of flat stones—is the back of three stores: a glass shop, a small pub, a dilapidated house. No one can see me, so I step further toward the water and sit at the edge. I wonder what they would think of they catch me.

My book says I need to look for the mushrooms—that’s where the faeries live. I could maybe befriend them but don’t expect them to be kind, exactly. I could maybe ask them to be my friends.

My book talks about drawing down the moon. I stand in the middle of the green, at times glimpsing behind me hoping my grandmother won’t come out and see me, and call on the sky. I open my palms and stand quietly, feeling the power of the earth rise up through and into me. I look into the shadows of my life and find peace knowing I always have myself, these green places, this water.  

I have nothing to distract me. No phone, no real friends, no curfew, no Internet. I only have the earth and the sound of water pulsating. If I close my eyes I can hear my own heartbeat.

I whisper into the blue air, "Please protect my mother." The wind moves; she takes my request.

***

By twenty-five I struggle with my beliefs. It’s not that I don’t believe in anything, it’s that nothing makes sense. Something is out there, I think. I call myself a staunch atheist; I mostly am. 

I won’t meet my lovers or my mother in the afterlife. I won’t be consumed by fire. I won’t reincarnate, I think. But I might just evaporate into the mist of the cosmos, become starlight or a patch of bugambilias. My dying body will be the universe exhaling; it’s exhaled a million times today. The world gets bigger, smaller, bigger, smaller. And it means everything and nothing at all.

I find the word "witch" again and again. She follows me in and out of my life. I find myself always standing at the riverbank or wading through the sea, piling aside my sorrow. I find myself washing my hands in blessed rose water. I find myself in dark rooms, in a circle, pulling something out from my chest and putting it into existence. I create rituals I don’t talk about, fearing I’ll be misunderstood.

If I am seen as a witch, I am seen as other. Rebel, dreamer, enchantress, want-er of things bigger. Want-er of more. Maker of light. Purveyor of shadow.

If I am seen as a witch, I’ll be classified, boxed-up, differentiated. 

If I am seen as a witch, I won’t get a job or be taken seriously. I won’t be seen as rational. I won’t be seen as me.

And yet, if I am seen as a witch, I’ll be seen for what I am. I’ll be seen as someone who respects nature, respects myself, respects my body. I’ll be seen as someone who resists the complacency of the status quo. I’ll be seen as someone who resists acts of warfare against other humans. I’ll be seen as someone who questions simple answers and seeks something deeper. I’ll be seen as someone who wants to create a life of intention and autonomy. I’ll be seen as someone who, when the palace of night washes over my life, will be able to strike a match in the dark. I do dream. I do rebel. I do exist as a natural thing. I am not separate from the earth. I am not a cog. I am not a mime. I am tending to a careful garden where, throughout time, others have come and gone, tinkering in the magic of self.

A witch is born of trauma. A witch is born of solitude. A witch is born of watching. A witch is born of listening. A witch is born of light. 


Lisa Marie Basile is a poet-witch and founding creative director of Luna Luna Magazine—a digital diary of literature, magical living and idea. She is the author of "Light Magic for Dark Times," a modern grimoire of inspired rituals and daily practices. She's also the author of a few poetry collections, including the forthcoming "Nympholepsy." Her work encounters the intersection of ritual and wellness, chronic illness, magic, overcoming trauma, and creativity, and she has written for The New York Times, Narratively, Grimoire Magazine, Venefica, The Establishment, Refinery 29, Bust, Hello Giggles, and more. She earned a Masters degree in Writing from The New School and studied literature and psychology as an undergraduate at Pace University.

Water Ritual & Moon Magic

My magic comes to life in water, and consequently, it flowers by the changing phases of the moon. I see moon and water magic as one, inherently and perfectly entwined. 

Water is where I energetically recharge and meditate, whether it be in the sea or in the shower. (I'm also a water sign—#scorpio—so it seems fitting that my mer-qualities would reveal themselves in my practice. I've got my moon in cancer, too, so I'm a double whammy of watery lunar goodness). 

This is how I see it, and what's always been apparent to me: Water is life, literally; it is immensely profound, healing, powerful and dazzling. It is a force to be reckoned with, never giving up its secrets before it is ready; water is resolved, yet fluid. There’s something beautiful there—recognizing our own need, as a species, to adapt and move while also rooting to what gives our lives meaning. Rooting to our choices, resolving to follow our path, our instincts, our dreams. Evolving. As a child, I would play for hours in the sea, following the waves, intuiting their movement and training my body to roll along with each foamy push. It felt comforting and fun, and, in some way I couldn't articulate, it simply felt right. 

We can all use these ideas and energies as tools. You don't need to be a mermaid or a water sign to work with water, I promise. And it doesn't matter what path you're on or what your beliefs are either. For the record, I'm secular. I work with nature, since it's what we're all made of and connected to; I don't believe in gods or goddesses or any deity associated with the elements. It’s this simple: water, as a symbol, can be a transformative force in our lives. 

I tend to think of water as a divine force that you can find anywhere--via the faucet, in the Mediterranean sea, in a pond in Jakarta, and in your local pool. (I go into this idea more in a podcast I did with Leza Cantoral's Get Lit With Leza). Here are some ways to connect with water and to ritualize and practice with it in mostly informal, DIY and inexpensive ways. 

IMMERSING YOURSELF

You can, for one, simply bathe, shower (bathing is better, it uses less water and you can take your time in it) or swim, taking care to ground yourself in the water, noticing the way it feels on your skin, letting it hold you in its care, appreciating its gentleness and respecting its power. Many people forget that magic isn't only made in ritual or through spell-work, but by being near or in nature and simply existing with it, consciously. 

If you do bathe, you can add shells to the water or to rim of the tub (just be sure to step carefully! You don’t want a seashell slice; I speak from experience and several stitches). 

If getting into a body of water is generally not a possibility for you, that's okay. You can submerge your feet or try the hand-cleansing practices I've listed below. 

WATER ALTARS & PRACTICES

Beyond swimming or bathing, where you can be submerged in the powers of water, you might want to decorate an altar (or just a chill-out space) with sea shells, candles of blue or turquoise, and a bowl of salt water or sea water (if you're lucky to be near the sea!). I like to put out a sea altar whenever I feel particularly stuck, stagnant, or fearful, as it represents my ability to be fluid, to let go, to connect with something pure and massive and ancient. I’ve collected some shells from countries of my heritage, which I think of as sacred and full of ancestral power. Otherwise, shells from your local beach are absolutely wonderful! Sometimes thrift stores even carry gorgeous shells. 

During long days or hard weeks, I'll pour water into a large bowl and fill it with essential oils, shells (abalone ones are perfect and gorgeous!), crystals (I love to use Aquamarine or ocean jasper) or flower petals. You may choose to add salt.

I'll wash my own hands in it, imagining the tension and grief dissipating. There is great self-care magic in cleansing yourself in a conscious and symbolic way, and I recommend a bowl of cleansing water after work or after a day when lots of chaotic or not-so-nice energies are stuck to your psyche or space. 

You might want to burn a blue or green candle while listening to whale sounds as you doodle or stretch. Easy techniques like these can signal your mind to begin thinking and feeling the power of water, especially if you can't near a sea or body of it. (I've always been a fan of blending DIY magic and self-care as-needed, without too many formal rules or structures; I find it allows me to really tap into my instincts and personal power. Chaos magic, for example, makes a lot of sense to me). 

You can also carry a sachet bag with a small shell when you need a boost or a reminder to stay calm and flow. Keep it in your bag or purse or pocket and pull it out when you need it. Remember to energetically cleanse the shell in water, by the light of the moon or with smoke so that it can be replenished. 

WORKING WITH THE MOON

You can also boost your personal power with moon work, particularly during the full and new moon, when vibes are high. Luna is very giving, always there for you, keeping us literally grounded to earth. Hint: Luna Luna's name has a few meanings, but one of them is that there are two sides to the moon (the dark and the light) and that we inhabit both, equally, to our benefit. 

The New Moon: The new moon is a great time to set intentions, make wishes, and set out a path for change, increased harmony, creativity, resolution, new beginnings. It can also be used to release energies and break out of patterns. 

The Full Moon: The full moon is a good time to do any sort of practice or spell-work, but I think of it as a time to renew what I worked on during the new moon, sew big seeds, do seriously potent work and recharge in big ways. 

It's also a great idea to be aware of which sign the moon is in during any given day (it cycles through the zodiac). You can use an almanac or a simple app, like Moon, to easily track it. I suggest finding a book that explains in-depth what the moon in each sign means and begin to ebb and flow with that sign's energy. Just because it's not your sign doesn't mean it can't teach you lesson, imbue you with qualities that are hidden deep down (hey, that sign might be in your chart!), or inspire you. I have recently read Moonology and recommend it! It really clearly goes over the basics of moon magic, and it's a great place to start.

Moon phase-focused spells and rituals can give your practice and self-care routine structure, and because each phase is somewhat different energetically, you can time what spells or practices to those qualities. I often make moon water—water that is charged with the energies of the moon—to power my spell-work, use as a pre-night out face cleansing tonic, cleanse my crystals or power objects and brew tea or elixirs.  

HOW TO MAKE MOON WATER

  • Pour some water into a bowl or jar. I like to use mason jars because they have a lid, they're pretty and the light can get through the glass. 
  • Place your jar on a porch, a windowsill, or directly in the path of moonlight. (Definitely cover your water if you're putting it outside). 
  • Keep it there overnight. Many people pull the water inside before the sun comes up, but others do not. This is a personal choice.
  • You can do this for the new before, during and of the moon phase you're working with, but during the day-of is best.

For plenty more water rituals and moon magic, pick up a copy of Light Magic for Dark Times: More than 100 Spells, Rituals, and Practices for Coping in a Crisis

Create an altar of self

 Via  Instagram

by Lisa Marie Basile

If you keep an altar in your home, it may be a place where you naturally gravitate after work to ground yourself and get all that commute-work-capitalism off of you. It might be a place where you do spellwork. Or it might not be an altar for spellcraft at all; it may simply exist as a place where you keep symbols—reminders—of your strength, vision, and creativity, especially if feeling strong or wise or creative or happy isn't always easy (and when is it?).

Create an alter of Self; look into it, know it, craft it. This is a goofy picture of me at my 32nd birthday party. I am asking that my 32nd year be stronger and wiser than my 31st. We can't change the fact that life doles out miseries and pain and endings. But we can resolve to handle these darknesses in ways that bolster or enrich or teach us rather than destroy us. 

For me, it's a little bit of each column—a place for me to be surrounded by my personal power objects in order to meditate and cast my intentions, and also a place where I can build a sort of mood board of my self at any given moment. I like to gather pictures of myself, crystals (these are from Myths of Creation) that I use as symbols for love and healing (for example), objects that represent my power—shells, seawater, perfumes—and other elemental bits (stones, flowers) from places that have symbolic power to me (like I always include a stone I got from a fisherman's village in Italy, a trip that was life-defining for me). 

 

At my altar, I always write notes to myself in the present, mostly for things I need or desire or hope for currently. I admit I turn to the altar in moments of desperation (like, say, when I feel particularly troubled, anxious or sick), but I frequently try to do this with each new moon as a way to sort of get all those jumbled thoughts out of my head, down onto paper (a huge part of my craft), and into the universe where they can manifest. This new moon, I asked for strength and clarity in dealing with my chronic illness. 

It's also really liberating and fun to create something beautiful made up entirely of your own vision—a creative and cathartic practice that, in itself, is meditative and reflective of your unique selfhood. 

Here's What You'll Need

  • Objects that represent you (a book, a piece of your jewelry a piece of fabric sprayed with your perfume)
  • A candle to burn as you focus on your intention
  • Oils (I use Moon Goddess Magick Apothecary oils). I tend to dab a bit on my wrists and on my power objects)
  • Elemental objects—especially those you feel connected to—to strengthen your intentions (a bowl of water, dirt, sand, shells)
  • A note, handwritten, with your intention or goal
  • A mirror for self-gazing and reflection
  • A photograph of yourself, for right in the center