Category Archives: Spirit Work

Everything You Need to Know About Animism

By | Animism, Ecological Consciousness, Folk Magic, Spirit Work | 23 Comments

“There is no environment ‘out there’ separate from us. The environment is embedded in us. We are as much a part of our surroundings as as the trees and birds and fish, the sky, water and rocks.” ~ David Suzuki What is Animism? The Latin animus means “the rational soul, intelligence, consciousness, and mental powers” and the feminine anima means “soul, living being, mind, and breath”. If you collect all the words for soul from all the languages around the world, almost all of their roots simply mean “breath”, insinuating that the soul and spirits in general are invisible and intangible. In the 1670s, the term anima mundi, meaning “soul of the world”, was used to describe the teachings of ancient Greek philosophers Pythagoras and Plato who believed the world and the universe itself was infused with an animate soul. In 1866, English anthropologist Sir Edward Burnett Taylor popularized the already existing term animism from the Latin anima combined with the suffix -ism (attached to words associated with practices, beliefs, doctrines, worship, etc).  He defined animism as the “theory of the universal animation of nature.” Animism became the go-to term for anthropologists to describe and define the beliefs of non-Christian and prehistoric indigenous…

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Six Herbs for Spirit Work

By | Folk Magic, Herbalism, Spirit Work | 13 Comments

These herbs are easy to find for most and can be bought, foraged, or grown. Maybe you are trying to learn ways to work with spirits or maybe you are looking to incorporate plants into the spirit work you’re already a badass at. We all have our own favourite go-to herbs for specific purposes, here is my top six list of botanicals to aid in spirit work– not including ones specifically for working with the ancestors (which would need another list!). There are other herbs that work just as well, but with these lovelies I can just walk outside my front door and harvest, minus the tobacco which I can get from a local farmer or from the nearby Pikwakanagan reserve. 1. Dandelion Taraxacum officinale The forager’s friend, but also the witch’s friend, dandelion is used in folk magic to summon spirits. Although most would use it to summon the spirits of the dead, I believe it can be used to call all number of spirits. Use the root to summon chthonic spirits, the leaves to summon nature spirits and spirits of the middle realm, and the flowers and seeds to summon gods, spirits of the sky, and the heavens. Make a…

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Catching and Binding Spirits

By | Spirit Work, Witchcraft & Magic | 14 Comments

“Black spirits and white, red spirits and grey, come ye and come ye, come ye that may! Around and around, throughout and about, the good come in and the ill keep out.” ~ Doreen Valiente (based on Shakespeare’s Macbeth) here are many ways to catch a spirit and many different styles of traps to do it with. What is a spirit trap? It is a device used to trick a spirit into ensnaring itself much like a mouse trap baited with cheese or peanut butter. The idea behind a basic spirit trap is fascination. The trap is meant to distract the spirit from its mischievous or malevolent purpose by tempting them with something they cannot resist. In the folklore of many cultures, it is believed spirits cannot resist or are compelled to follow a thread from one end to the other with some believing that spirits have to travel in a straight line. This belief results in spirit traps intricately woven with colourful thread such as the ojos de dios or “God’s eyes” of Central America, the elaborate ghost and demon traps of Tibet incorporating ram skulls, the cross charms of Rowan and red thread from Scotland, the spirit traps mimicking spider webs used by…

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Banishing, Depossessing, and Devouring

By | Spirit Work, Witchcraft & Magic | 16 Comments

“Raise no more devils than you can lay down.” – German Proverb Let us be honest. There are endless ways, spells, and rituals to summon spirits, gods, and demons but when it comes to safeguards or banishing one when things go sour, our collective knowledge as modern witches and pagans is quite lacking. What do you do when a haunting, an escaped spirit, or a possession is out of your ability to handle? When so many of us barely believe any of this is real, it leaves us poorly equipped to help ourselves let alone other people when something wicked this way comes. Let’s get serious. Let’s assume the supernatural is natural, real, palpable. Let’s admit to ourselves that most spirits, aside from our familiars, do not have our best interest in mind and the intent of most is to deceive or harm us. You’d better believe I’m including deities in there too. “Yes puny human, give me all the offerings and do my bidding without question.” Not such a good idea. You read Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, didn’t you? No? Time to head to the library. Pick up some Russian and German fairy tales while you’re there too –…

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The Girl Who Found a Feather

By | Animism, Bones & Blood, Charms and Talismans, Spirit Work, Storytelling, Witchcraft & Magic | 8 Comments

A Journey into the Magic of Birds and Feathers Originally published in issue 25 of Witches & Pagans Magazine, September 2012. he story of Raven stealing the sun was always my favourite as a child. The idea of that great black bird creating humans and stealing fire and light for us humans made perfect sense to my little head stuck in a book of Native folktales from the Pacific Northwest. There’s no proof, but I would highly suspect my early love of fairy and folk tales may be what led to me becoming an animist, worshipping nature and all its creatures with awe and wonder. That and my earthy backwoods parents who like to live away from cities and talk to plants and animals I’m sure.  Along with folktales, I fell in love with birds at a young age and quickly claimed my mother’s field guide to North American birds as my own. I remember memorizing their names and the colours and patterns of their feathers. I loved to watch them from my window and out in nature and listen to all their songs from the beautiful ones of robins to the cacophonous croaking of crows and ravens. Birds are…

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