Search This Blog

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Simple Magic, Butter and Salt

There was a time when my magical practices were fairly complicated, and I suppose sometimes they still can be. I won't deny that I like my fancy candles and herbs as much as most witches do, and I am fond of a variety of woods and natural materials. There is something visceral and satisfying in working with these tangible things, in - for example - making my own incense and watching a variety of herbs beings ground slowly into one united purpose. Its fun to have a range of tools in the metaphysical tool kit to draw on.

But I can also appreciate a more simple approach. There are times when simple isn't just more convenient but also more powerful. You aren't being distracted by the need for a long or complex process, or trying to focus on something that may be involved or detailed. There's a purity in minimalism that can add instead of detract. For a while I forgot this.

 When I was first starting out in witchcraft I was very young and so very limited in what I had access to for supplies. Some generic incense. Inexpensive candles. Yarn. Salt. Cornmeal for offerings. And yet with these basic things I was able to practice my spirituality and magic just fine; I never felt as if my humble tools limited my ability or success. To give you an example at one point when I was in high school one of my uncles who I was very fond of had a heart attack and I wanted to do a healing spell for him. Since I had nothing to work with I used a piece of notebook paper and cut out a poppet from that, believing that it was the image itself that mattered for the spell not the quality of the material used. The old witches after all used what they had on hand.

But like many people as my means increased so did my desire for fancier and more elaborate things. The books I was reading in the 90's and early 00's tended to leave me with the impression that fancier was better, with spells often including a list of exotic ingredients, from herbs and oils to crystals and manufactured tools. I'm not criticizing those things of course - they work and they work well. But eventually I realized that so do the plants growing in my yard and the stones I can find in the earth and streams around me, provided I know what they are and how to use them.

As time has gone on I've noticed both in myself and in some other people a refining of the go-to magical tools. In some cases as I mentioned above its a turning back to more locally sourced supplies. In other cases it may include that but also go even further, a refining to the simplest approaches, of something for blessing and something for banishing. For some people these tools refine down to fire and water, or perhaps earth and light. For me its salt and butter. I've found that in almost any circumstance one or the other can be used, either salt for banishing, protection, or cleansing, or butter for offering, blessing, and healing. I always carry a bit of salt and butter on me as a kind of emergency magical kit and I have found it extremely useful under a variety of unexpected circumstances.

Magic can be complicated and many magical processes and spells can also be complex. Yet magic can also be straightforward, especially folk magic. Singing a chant. Speaking a blessing over an object or person. Offering butter to spirits. Salting a boundary. Gathering herbs from your yard. Hanging up a hag stone. Simple actions, yet when done with intention and focus, they can be very powerful.


  1. Good post---I have always thought the simpler, and even spontaneous, acts of magic can be the most effective.

  2. I was on a tour once and we visited the clootie tree at Modron's Well. I had no prior knowledge of what to do here, and so had no ribbon or anything of the sort with me. I pulled out some hair from my head, tied it to the tree and asked to find a mate who would be best for me and I for him. Six months later, I had my first date with the man I have been with for 20 years. Simple works.

  3. I admit to never hearing of using butter as a protection tool, as I generally use salt and spring water however, perhaps if the intention is well served almost anything will work.
    May I draw your attention to