I am very much a “consecrate all the things” type of magician. I consecrate altars, ritual tools, divinatory tools, fetiches, talismans, charms, idols, candles, holy water, and even herbal preparations. To consecrate simply means “to hallow or to make sacred.” To me, it means to cleanse and bless something and charge it with a purpose. A skull is just a skull, but when consecrated it becomes a spirit house. A statue of Odin is just a statue until you consecrate it to be a vessel for deity. A candle is just a candle until it is anointed with oil and its purpose for a spell stated aloud. A stick is just a stick, but if you carve it, sand it, oil it, sprinkle holy water on it, smudge it with smoke, name it’s purpose as your wand of art, and imbue it with the desired powers of blasting, protection, and blessing then it becomes a potent tool of magic. To further the process of consecration, the more the object is actively used for its named purpose, the more power it will wield and the more it will simply “be” that sacred tool. There are as many ways to consecrate as there are witches. The following are my own practices and thoughts.
BASIC CONSECRATION GUIDELINES
This can be as simple or complex as you want it to be. It can take five minutes, or it can take an hour. You can do it at midnight on a full moon on your altar with candles lit, incense burning, and chants sung while your loosed long hair cascades over your bared breasts glowing in the candlelight… or you can do it in the morning on your kitchen table with some water, salt, and olive oil and be back to watching Ellen before your blueberry bagel pops out of the toaster.
Step 1: Cleansing
Clean physically if possible with soap, water, and purification herbs (lemon, evergreens, rue, hyssop, mugwort). Then clean spiritually with incense smoke or smudge. If the object cannot be washed, sprinkle it with holy water then smudge with smoke. Move the object around in your hands so the smoke touches every nook and cranny. While cleansing the object think cleansing thoughts, or say out loud “I cleanse you”, or sing a purification or washing chant or song (pagan or from the top 40, it doesn’t matter).
Step 2: Anointing
Oil all the things. You don’t need to have a fancy oil as olive or sunflower oil will do just fine. Essential oils work great too, just dilute them a bit with olive, almond, sunflower, or jojoba oil first. You can use fairy or flying ointments to anoint with too, depending on what you are consecrating and to which purpose. Dip your index finger in oil and from the centre of the object swipe your finger up once. Go back to the centre and swipe your finger down once. You can use an equal armed cross instead. Ta da! Anointed! This works well with candles, jewelry, skulls, bottles, boxes, wands, staffs, statues, chalices, candle holders, etc.
Step 3: Rebirthing
Get a black cloth or piece of leather and wrap up the object. This will serve as tomb and womb. Your ritual goody is about to go through a magical initiation (I got this idea from Nigel Pennick who is awesome). Its old self will die so its new self as your ritual tool or fetish can start. Unwrap the cloth and welcome the object as a new born. Sprinkle earth on it, sprinkle holy water on it, pass it over a candle flame and through a plume of incense smoke –blessing it with the elements of earth, water, fire, and air.
Step 4: Charging
Now you name the object and charge it with its intended purpose. It is best to make it up so it can be completely customized to your needs and the particular purpose of the object. A protective ring and a tarot deck aren’t going to have the same purpose. “I charge you ring with the purpose of protecting my body, mind, and spirit from harm whenever I wear you, that I may be invisible and impenetrable when my enemy sends forth an attack, that I am safe when travelling in this world or in others, and that you send me warning when I am in danger by sending an itch to the finger you sit upon. I charge you to do my will. Let it be so!”
Don’t feel the need to do anything so elaborate for a candle, a bottle of sabbat wine, or a herbal sachet? No worries, keep it simple. Sprinkle water on it, anoint it with oil, or just blow on it. Then whisper a prayer of intent so the breath from your prayer touches it. Done. I consecrate my holy water with just a holey stone, a silver ring and then I blow on it three times “by silver and stane may the water be sained”. Boom, it’s instantly ready for me to sprinkle on people who forgot to take their glasses off. I consecrate new altar candles of beeswax by just rubbing some olive oil on them and lighting them while I say: “I consecrate thee in the Devil’s name, by oil and by flame may the candle be sained.” With the new candles quickly in place, I can get down to the business of a rite or a tarot reading.
Well after your sacred objects are consecrated and used for their purposes, you should still clean them now and then. Make a gentle magical wash for items that can get wet and give them a bath – this works well for talismanic jewelry, skulls, swords, knives, stangs, staffs, statuary, and some divinatory tools. Things build up dust and grime over time. About once a year I will wash my altar and everything on it, shaking dust out of animal hides and off of feathers, and cleaning up any candle wax buildup and guck in the incense censer.
Wooden ritual tools that aren’t varnished will need some love throughout the year; altar patens, wands, staffs, stangs, carved statues, cups, boxes, etc. Wipe them down with a damp cloth, let them dry and then oil them with linseed oil or Danish oil. You can also rub them down with some beeswax or a wood balm like Clapham’s beeswax polish. Have any leather goods? Same deal only use a leather dressing or saddle balm after wiping an item down and massage it into the leather like you would with lotion on your skin – this will not work with synthetic leather. For wood or leather, let the oil or balm dry overnight before putting your ritual tool back on your altar or back to use.
For hides, furs, rugs, etc sprinkle a dusting of baking soda over them, let it sit for 15 minutes and then shake out and/or vacuum. This will both clean and deodorize the item. You can mix essential oils into the baking soda before use to make them smell lovely too as well as adding magical cleansing properties from oils like lemon and lavender.
For tarot decks or wooden runes a good smudge of smoke works well. I energetically cleanse mine by pulling out the energies from past divinings and letting it absorb slowly and naturally into the earth. Others place crystals on them and let them rest and charge for a week or a month. Others may even bury them or dig them back up.
Once or twice a year, replace sachets, charms, and talismans that are meant to be temporary. Brighid’s crosses are meant to be burned every year at Imbolc and a new one made and hung up for blessing and protection. Spirit traps can only take so much and are meant to be burned and made anew as well. Keep this in mind when making charms of protection or blessing for a room, house, or person. Don’t make them too nice or elaborate, as you’re going to have to dispose of them and craft another.
A Note of Caution Regarding Spirit Fetiches
I’ve quoted the German proverb “raise no more devils than you can lay down” before, but it also applies to “create no more fetishes than you can responsibly look after.” Fetiches should be kept clean, fed offerings, go with you when you travel away from home, and be honoured and worked with often. One ancestral fetiche plus seven animal familiar fetiches plus four plant familiar fetiches later and suddenly you have a dozen spirit houses to look after and take everywhere with you. It all escalated rather quickly. You might want to create one medicine bundle with a token for each spirit that is not fetishized instead. Or you could create one for ancestors, one for animals, and one for plants. Keep the tokens small, keep the container small and you’re good to go. Hold the token in your hand when you want to call and work with that particular spirit – this way it acts as an aid in spirit alignment rather than creating a permanent spirit house that will take up a lot of your space and time.
Consecration is pretty common knowledge. Most of us have our ways. But what do you do when you need to get rid of a fetish, a ritual tool, or a sacred item that has broken or needs to be thrown out? You’ve probably guessed right, the garbage can isn’t really an option. Your sacred items deserve ritual desecration as much as they deserved being consecrated in the first place. Again, there are many ways to accomplish desecration, here are some traditional methods and ones that I was taught.
Salt, Moon and Earth
This method I learned from my first teacher who I’ve not-so-affectionately nicknamed Baba Yaga. To undo an unwanted consecration or a spell on an object that is not a curse: place it in a canning jar full of sea salt. Screw on the lid. Let it sit on a windowsill and soak up the light of one full cycle of the moon. Or, bury it in the ground for one full cycle of the moon. This is best for objects you do not wish to destroy, but either repurpose or undo someone’s good or not so good intentions. I’ve done this for a tarot deck that was gifted me with a love spell put on it. It also works for fetiches of skulls, bones, claws etc. which you no longer want to use as spirit houses. It’s also perfect to use for spelled jewelry, keys, or crystals and stones. Maybe you got a better one, maybe you want to use the item for something else, or maybe you want to gift the item to someone else.
Break, Burn and Bury
This is the classic method of desecration and coincidentally of how to leave votive offerings. Prechristian European and Mediterranean cultures believed if you broke and burned an object (including the cremation of the dead), it would go to the otherworld or the underworld. The Chinese still burn all their offerings today believing this sends them to their beloved dead. So, consequently, if you smash and burn a fetiche or spirit house it both destroys the object and sets free the spirit associated with it. Smash the spirit bottle, the spirit trap, the statue… snap in half the wand, the staff, the stang… take apart the knife, the necklace, the herb sachet. “I unmake thee, I unname thee, I set thee free. Bear no ill will against me and be released.” Throw it in a fire and let it burn up. Don’t have access to a fireplace, fire pit, or even a barbeque grill? Try an incense charcoal placed in a large stainless steel bowl which is resting on bare earth or cement. Add some sticks and newspaper to get a flame and then add the object of your desecration. It’s okay if some bits don’t burn up. Glass and metal aren’t going to turn to ash. Simple gather up any remnants as well as the ashes and then bury them –by a crossroad, by a stream or river, in a hollow tree, under a bramble patch where no one will disturb the grave. Are you an animist? Ask the place permission first before you bury your remnants. Ask for a sign that will signal a yes like a crow’s caw or a robin’s whistle.
Go Away / Get Lost Box
This method I found mentioned by Ray T. Marlborough, but haven’t found info on it anywhere else except some folklore of trapping evil spirits in boxes. If you have a ritual tool, talisman, or fetiche you don’t want to destroy or can’t destroy, you can make a go away box. Find any box that will fit the item and on each of the six sides draw a protective talisman. You can make them up, use ones out of old grimoires, or simply draw an equal armed cross on each side. I prefer to use red paint as it protects from spirits or magical interference, but black, blue, and yellow are suitable as well. Consecrate the box on your altar to its purpose: to seal in your ritual tool or fetiche so it no longer has any power and no being can use its power. That when the box starts to decay, so too will the object decay and lose its power. Wrap the item to be desecrated in a natural fabric like silk, linen, cotton, or wool and place it in the box. Seal the lid of the box with wax dripped from a candle (again, red is best) and then wrap thread (also a natural fibre) around and around the box and knot it up tight. Now bury the box by a crossroad, a stream or river, or somewhere it won’t be disturbed (farmlands and development sites are a bad idea).
After you perform a desecration rite you should cleanse yourself. Take a bath with sea salt and oils, smudge yourself with smoke, or spritz Florida water on your self and your hands and also clean your altar or work area with it where the rite was performed. Lemon water with salt consecrated as holy water will do in a pinch if you don’t have access to Florida water.
- Bone Collecting: Cleansing & Consecration
- Crafting Spell Candles
- How to Make Pagan Holy Water
- Magical Ink Making
- Witchcraft on the Day of Saturn
Text and images © 2015 Sarah Anne Lawless. Do not copy or use without the express permission of the author, but sharing the link is very welcome.