How to practice visualization for magic

Almost every magical text written in the last century describes “visualization” as the key to success. But what if you have trouble forming mental pictures?

Visualization exercises are everywhere in magic. Whether we’re talking about “seeing” yourself in a new car, or “scrying” into the Astral Plane, this idea of mental imagery is a near constant. It’s also something many people struggle with when they’re first getting into magic.


I was one of those people.

Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve had exceptionally vivid dreams. I also read constantly, with horror stories being among my favorite, and could get lost in a book for hours. These worlds I visited, either in dreams or books, all seemed incredibly real to me. And yet, the first time I tried a visualization exercise I saw described in a how-to-magic book, I failed miserably.

The second time was a failure, too. And the tenth. And the hundredth.

I started studying magic when I was twelve years old. It wasn’t until I was sixteen, four years after I started practicing, that I finally got visualization. Now, at the ripe old age of grumble mumble something, it’s second nature to me.

In this post, I’d like to give you an “exercise routine” to help you practice visualization. If you’re struggling, maybe this will save you a few years.

Not everyone can do visualization

Believe it or not, some people are simply incapable of visualization–at least as it’s described in the books. In this section, I’ll discuss some of the reasons why, and try to give you some advice where I can.

Vision impairment

First, let’s talk about people who are vision impaired. When the impairment is the result of an illness or injury experienced after a person was born, they usually have no more trouble visualizing things than people without vision impairment. If this describes you, I’ll say that the first exercise in this post requires sight, but you might be able to adapt it and the rest this post to suit your needs.

If someone has been totally blind since birth, that’s a different story. There is evidence that the brains of such people still experience vision-related electrical activity, but they’re certainly not “seeing” in the “conventional” sense of the word. If this describes you, this post might not be of much help to you.

This post also won’t be of much help to those people who experience aphantasia.


Aphantasia is the inability to voluntarily form mental pictures. It was first noted back in 1880, but no one actually began to study it until 2005! As such, there’s not a whole lot of data on aphantasia. Based on the studies we do have, though, it seems that about four percent of the population experiences some form of it.

Ever since aphantasia gained wider awareness, I’ve seen a lot of people claim to have it. And by “a lot” of people, I mean way more than four percent.

Almost always, these are people who are relatively new to magic.

Now, it’s certainly possible (even probable!) that the prevalence of aphantasia has been wildly understated. It hasn’t been studied for that long, and there’s a lot we don’t know about it. If you think you might have aphantasia, I strongly encourage you to seek out a medical professional in your area and speak with them. You might not only be able to help deepen our knowledge of this condition, there’s evidence that it could be linked to dementia later on in life.

BUT…visualization is also a skill, and it takes time and effort to learn. Remember up top when I said it took me four years to get it right? Don’t expect to be an overnight success with this. I think this post can help speed the process, but it’s not going to do the work for you. Even if you get absolutely no success, try as you might, please give it some time before self-diagnosing a neurological condition.

With that out of the way, let’s get visualizing.

Visualization #1

So, we want to see something in our mind’s eye. That’s the goal, here, right? We want to be able to close our eyes and picture something, anything we want, in detail. How do we start? We start simply.

I’m going to give you a basic shape, you’re going to stare at it for thirty seconds (trying not to blink too much), then you’re going to close your eyes. When you close your eyes, you’ll see an “after image” of the shape. Your mission in this exercise is to hold on to that image. You want to keep that image for as long as you can. If you have a timer you can start without having to look at it, it’ll help you track your progress. You’ll be doing this exercise more than once.

Ready for the shape? Here it is…

A red, equilateral triangle for visualization.

Simple, right. It’s just a red, equilateral triangle. (There’s a reason I chose this for your first shape. It was the first one that I used back in the day!)

Click on the triangle to make it big, and keep your eyes on it for thirty seconds. Just count one Mississippi, two Mississippi, etc. Then close your eyes and hold onto the triangle you “see” there. Fun fact, the triangle you see behind your eyes will be blue! (Assuming you don’t have certain forms color vision deficiency.)

Go on, try it. I’ll wait.


You’re back? Great! How’d you do? Did you “see” the triangle? Was it blue? How long were you able to keep it there?

If staring at the image above hurt your eyes at all, or you’d like to be able to do this exercise away from a screen, that’s fine. Just get a piece of white paper, and either draw the triangle on it, or use some red construction paper and paste it on with a glue stick. It’ll work the same way.

Do this exercise three times a day for three days, but give yourself a break in between attempts. Your break should be no less than twenty minutes, but an hour is better. Give your eyes and your mind a chance to relax and reset. Once you’ve taken a break, try it again. See if you go a little longer this time.

After three days of practice, take day four off before moving on to the next exercise.

While you’re doing this, though…

Bet you didn’t know this first exercise was a two-parter. Yup. You’re going to do this on the same days you’re staring at the triangle. It’s okay, though. You don’t need a computer screen or a craft project for this. All you need is a towel.

Well, that and a table and chair. And about ten minutes.

Clear a couple of square feet off the table, pull the chair up, and lay the towel down to your right if you’re right-handed, your left if you’re left-handed. You want to be able to comfortably sit, reach out with your dominant hand, and lay it flat on the bare table without touching the towel. You also want to be able to lay it flat on the towel without touching the bare table. Got it? Good.

Towels and tables

Now, sit (if you’re not already), put your hand on the bare table, and close your eyes. You want to sit like this for one minute. While you’re doing that, really try to feel the table under your hand. Don’t massage it or anything, keep your hand still. Just feel it. Is it cold? Warm? Rough? Smooth? Really sink yourself into the feeling.

Once the minute is up, open your eyes, move your hand to the towel, and close your eyes again. You’re going to spend one minute feeling the towel. As before, keep your hand still. Just feel what you feel. Is it fuzzy? Is it rough? Should you maybe switch fabric softeners? Again, try to feel the towel as intensely as you can. And yes, I’m aware of how that sounds. Just go with it.

After you’ve spent a minute feeling the towel, open your eyes, move your hand to the table, and do this whole thing again. One minute of table, one minute of towel. You want to spend a total of six minutes doing this–three minutes for each, one minute at a time. At the end of six minutes, your hand should be on the towel.

Do you know where your towel is?

This is the fun part. Don’t open your eyes, and don’t move your hand. Instead, imagine moving your hand to the table. Keep your “real” hand where it is, but “see” your “imaginary” hand move to the table and “feel” the table under it. Really try to see your hand move, really try to feel the table. Don’t worry if this doesn’t seem to be working, just keep at it.

After one minute, keep your eyes closed, move your “imaginary” hand back to the towel, and “feel” the towel. This should be easier, right? I mean, your “real” hand is actually on the towel.

A minute later, open your eyes, actually move your hand to the table, then close your eyes again. You guessed it, you’re feeling the table for another minute. After that, you’re going to keep your eyes closed and imagine your hand moving to the towel. Feel it under your hand? Try to focus as hard as you can on what the towel feels like for one solid minute.

Then you’re done! See, I told you it would take about ten minutes.

How’d you do? Are you wondering what the point of this was? I’ll tell you in the next exercise! In the meantime, do this towel trick once a day for three days, then take the fourth day off. On the fifth day, move on to the next exercise.

Visualization #2

Visualization is about “seeing” things, sure. But seeing is just one way of perceiving. The visual part of the first exercise is specifically about seeing. The towel part of the exercise was partly about seeing, but it was mainly about feeling. We’re working two senses, sight and touch, at the same time. Why?

Because what we’re really trying to do is to get your mind to perceive something which “isn’t really there.” By working double-duty, you’re going to get to where you want to be a lot faster.

Anyway, it’s day five (if you’ve been following the schedule I suggested) so it’s time for another exercise. And this one you can do pretty much anywhere, so long as you aren’t driving or operating heavy machinery or something.

During day five, and as often as you can during day five, you want to take a minute to close your eyes and see the triangle from the first exercise. That’s right, we’re trying unassisted visualization now. Try to see that blue triangle behind your eyes.

You can do this on the bus, or while sitting in the bathroom, or waiting for your order at the café–wherever and whenever you can give it a shot safely, go for it. Don’t do this for more than about a minute at a time, though, and give yourself at least a five-minute break before trying it again.


Here’s where you might be in for a surprise. Some people start seeing success at this point! Not a lot of people, and certainly not most, but some do. The triangle is usually quite dim and “flickery,” but you’ll know if it’s there or not. It’ll probably go a little lop-sided, or it might stretch or shrink. The triangle–if you see it–will seem to do everything but stand still.

If, by the end of day five, this describes you, then congratulations! You’re visualizing!

However, if you just don’t get any sort of triangle at all during the whole day, it’s back to the first exercise for you. And that’s okay! Most people don’t get this on the first pass. Go back, do three days of triangles and towels, take the fourth day off, and try this exercise again.

Keep at it until you can get the triangle at least somewhat reliably without the visual aid.


Ongoing Practice

Once you can see the triangle without using a visual aid, keep doing the towel and table trick every other day or so. You want to aim for three times a week, with a day or two off in between. It really will help speed your progress.

I mentioned that the triangle you first visualize is probably going to be dim, flickering, and it will almost constantly shift around. This is normal when you first begin, but it’s not where we want to end up. This section is going to give you an ongoing program which will help you not only make the triangle behave, it will also lead to you visualizing whatever you want.

This practice should take no more than fifteen to twenty minutes. If you can do it every day, great, but don’t try it more than once a day. I also wouldn’t try it if you’re feeling tired, or just ate a large meal. You want to be at your best, otherwise you’ll just be spinning your wheels and frustrating yourself.


You want to set aside about twenty minutes or so, and find a comfortable place to sit where it’s quiet and you won’t be disturbed. We’re going to be doing some meditation, so make your space as amiable to relaxation and concentration as possible.

Sit and breathe

Sit in your space, take a deep breath, and slowly release it while you let your eyes gently close. Don’t try to visualize anything yet, just breathe. You don’t have to breathe in any particular way, except that you do want to completely fill, then empty your lungs. This is sometimes called “belly breathing.” If you’re reading this blog, you probably already know what I’m talking about.

Take a few minutes to just “check in” with your body. Feel your limbs, let your thoughts do whatever, then slowly bring your attention to your breath. Again, don’t try to time it or control it. Just let yourself breathe naturally and fully, inhaling, then exhaling.

Keep your attention on your breath for a few minutes. If you feel your mind start to wander, bring it gently back to your breath. Inhale. Exhale. Relax.

Triangle time

Once you feel relaxed and focused on your breath, call up the triangle and shift your attention to it. You’re about to begin the hard part. You want to hold the triangle in your mind and keep it still.

The goal is to maintain the triangle at a constant size, and keep it’s shape and orientation the same. If it starts to grow or shrink, gently reset it to its proper size. Do the same if it moves or tries to change its proportions. The keyword here is “gently.” Don’t get angry or frustrated. This is really hard to do, and it takes a lot of practice to do it well.

When you first begin, if you’re able to keep the triangle still for even ten seconds that’s a serious accomplishment.

Simple shapes

After you have reached the point where you can hold the triangle still for at least thirty seconds, you’re ready to try another shape. Getting to this point will likely take you a few weeks of consistent practice. That’s right. Weeks. Again, don’t be discouraged. Be patient.

What shape should you use next? Dealer’s choice. I suggest trying a square, a circle, or a five-pointed star, but it’s really up to you. Just keep it simple, and don’t make a visual aid for it like we did with the triangle. By now, you should be able to call up one of these simple shapes on your own.

As to color? You can stick with the blue you’ve been seeing, but you can try another primary color as you wish. When you can hold any simple shape of any color in your mind for a full minute, without any noticeable movement, you’re golden.

Three-dimensional solids

At that point, try any simple, unmoving, three-dimensional object. It may seem more challenging at first, but if you’ve come this far it shouldn’t take you more than about a week to start seeing some progress. Start with a cube if you can’t think of anything else.

Once you can hold a 3D object for a minute, then you can try making it move. For instance, if you’re using a cube, make it slowly rotate. Have it rotate along one axis at first, in one direction then in the other. When you have the hang of that, make it rotate along two axis. Sooner than you think, you’ll be able to make the cube tumble through space, in any direction at all, exactly according to your desire.

Multiple objects

By now, you’re so far along that you really don’t need any more guidance. I’ll throw this last bit out there just in case, though.

Move on to two simple solids. Hold them still at first, then have them move and rotate. Even have them bump off of each other. Then you can move on to three, four, and even five objects. Make them all the same, or make them all different.

Try complex objects that you’re familiar with, such as your favorite chair, or the lamp on your desk.

If you can manage to do that, congratulations! You should be able to visualize anything you need or want to.

Next steps?

I assume you read this post and went through all of the work above because you had a goal, a reason for wanting to get good at visualization. Well, whatever that goal is, your next step is obviously to go and do it. Most people practice visualization as a prelude to Astral Travel, or what I usually call “Journeying.” If that’s you, then you’ll have no trouble beginning that practice now.

Beyond that, the only thing I can do is remind you that visualization is a skill. Not only does it take time and effort to learn, but it can also get “rusty” if you don’t use it regularly. You can probably stop with the towel and table routine, but you’d do well to keep meditating and building those concentration muscles.

Anyway, I hope this post helped!

If you have any tips or thoughts on visualization, feel free to drop them in the comments below. I’d love to read them and I’m sure other people would too.

Have a blessed day!

How to create and activate magic sigils

Magic sigils are one of the simplest, yet most powerful methods of practical enchantment. In this post, I’ll tell you what they are, and how to use them.

Virtually every internet wizard has a blog post (or a whole book) dedicated to the subject of sigils, so why am I writing this one? A couple of reasons.

First, I used to hate sigils. Back in the 90s–when I was an edgy teenager first learning magic–I thought sigils were silly. They didn’t feel like “real” magic. No circle on the floor, no calling out barbarous names, no skulls. Boring.

Second, when I did try to use magic sigils, they just didn’t seem to work. So, not only were they boring, they were useless.

Suffice it to say, in the thirty-ish years between then and now, my opinion of sigils is wildly different. Not only do I think they’re anything but boring and useless, they’ve become an indispensable part of my magical toolbox.

I do have other methods I use in my magical practice, and sigils aren’t my first choice for most things, but they’ve helped me get a lot of stuff done.

So let’s talk about what magic sigils are, how to create them, and how to get them working.

What are magic sigils?

The term “magic sigil” has been used since the middle ages to describe all sorts of signs and symbols. Most were used as “seals” for certain kinds of spirits, and were inscribed in order to summon or control them. In modern usage, particularly since chaos magic became a thing back in the 1970s and 1980s, the term usually refers to a symbol which the magician constructs to represent an intention.

I’ll be talking about the modern sort of magic sigil in this post.

We’re going to decide on an intention or goal we wish to manifest, then we’ll create a glyph or drawing to represent it symbolically. After we’ve created the glyph, we’re going to activate or “charge” it. And then? Well, “and then” nothing. We’re done!

As I wrote up above, this is simple, simple stuff. Minus a few easy-to-follow rules or guidelines, the previous paragraph is nearly everything you need to know about magic sigils.


If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know what I’m going to say next. Before you do any magic, you should perform some sort of divination on the matter, or consult with someone who can do the divination for you. I’ve never seen magic sigils manifest in undesirable ways, but you should still get the “lay of the land” before intervening.

Crafting intentions

For most people, the hardest part of creating a magic sigil is coming up with the right intention for it. This is the “what for” of the sigil itself, so if this step isn’t done well, the rest of your efforts will be all for naught. Don’t worry, though, because even this step isn’t all that hard once you get the hang of it, and you know what kind of “intention” we’re looking for.

An “intention,” in this case, is a statement. A short, simple, affirmative statement which exactly captures what you want the sigil to do. The keywords here are “short,” “simple,” and “affirmative.”

The intention you craft for your sigil should be something you can express in no more than ten words, though fewer is better. You should also use the simplest, clearest vocabulary possible. Furthermore, it’s best if your intention is expressed as a fact which is already true, and not as a wish for the future.

Another thing I should point out is that sigils tend to work on their own schedule. I’ve seen some ways in which other magicians have tried to “speed up” their sigils. I’ve tried pretty much all of these techniques, but I haven’t seen them make much of a difference.

Sigils, for me at least, tend to work very well for medium to medium-long-term goals. That is, they generally manifest anywhere from three weeks to a year out. If you need something done today, sigils aren’t the way to go. So, when you’re crafting your intentions, make sure you give them some room to work.

Lastly, this is magic we’re talking about, so don’t be afraid to “shoot for the Moon,” so to speak. You’ll see what I mean by this in the following example.

An intention example

Let’s say you’re struggling financially, and are afraid you won’t be able to make your credit card’s minimum payment next month. So, you decide to do some magic about that.

“I want to be able to pay my credit card bill next month,” is not a good intention for a magic sigil. First, it’s too long. Second, it’s phrased as a desire. We don’t want wishes, here, we want facts.

“I will be able to pay my credit card bill next month,” is only slightly better. It’s the same length as the last one, but at least it’s an affirmative statement of fact.

“I pay my credit card bill next month,” is getting there. It’s shorter, and it has that “air of confidence” about it which seems to work really well for sigils.

“My credit cards are paid in full,” is a good intention. Even shorter than the last, but now we’ve made it into a bold statement about the present. No more “wishful thinking,” we’re talking facts. Also, note how we’re not limiting ourselves to one credit card anymore. This is magic we’re doing–so why not go big, or go home?

“I am debt-free,” is an excellent intention for a sigil. Short, simple, affirmative–and we’re not holding back on what we really want to see happen.

See, when I call this “crafting” an intention, I really do mean crafting. A really good intention takes time and effort. Don’t be surprised if you have to write, write, and re-write in order to get it right. In fact, if you’re not doing that, you’re probably doing it wrong.

Creating the symbol

It’s time to turn your intention into a symbol or glyph. For this stage, I recommend that you use a sketchbook and a pencil.

At the top of a blank page, write out your intention in all capital letters, without any punctuation. Then, cross out all of the vowels. Finally, cross out any repeating consonants, leaving only the first instance of each letter in place. After you’ve done this, all you should have left is a list of unique consonants.

Now comes the fun part: trying to draw a single symbol which uses these letters as its components.

Trust me, this really is quite fun, and even if you have zero drawing ability (like me!), it’s not as hard as it sounds. You can stretch the letters, shrink them, bend them–feel free to distort them however you like. There are only three “rules” here: use all of the letters; try to “hide” them; and make the symbol look “magical.”

What does a “magical” symbol look like? That’s up to you.

A symbol example

Let’s stick with our intention example and turn it into a proper magic sigil. First, we write the phrase out in all capitals across the top of the page.


Next, we’ll take out the vowels.


That leaves us with only consonants.


Since we have no repeating consonants here, we’re ready to create our symbol. To be clear, if we had, say, two or more R’s in our list, we’d want to cross out all but one of them.

The process of twisting and folding the letters into shape might take a while, or it could happen almost instantly. Don’t try to rush it, just let it take the time it takes.

Here’s what I came up with using the letters above…

Magic sigils don't have to be complicated.

I don’t think I did too badly! All of the letters are there, I don’t think they’re terribly obvious, and it certainly seems like a magic sigil to me. Take a good look at the symbol and compare it to the letters. See if you can work out what I did here. Even better? See what you can make of those letters on your own.

I drew this out in my sketchbook, then–because this is just and example for this post–I re-drew it on the computer. For actual sigils I plan on using, I keep everything on paper, for reasons that will be obvious in the next section.

The hardest part of this stage is knowing when a sigil is “done.” I wish I could tell you there was a simple way to know this, but there really isn’t. It’s done when it feel done. You’ll be sitting there drawing, erasing, re-drawing and then…BOOM! There it is!

You’ll just know.

Activating magic sigils

There are many different ways to activate a magic sigil. I’m going to give you the “Cliff’s Notes” version of how I activate mine, but feel free to experiment. Read up on how other magical practitioners do things and figure out what works for you.


The first thing I do is transfer the sigil from my sketchbook to a nice piece of cardstock. Usually, I use white cardstock, but use any type or color of paper which works for you. The main things to consider are the size of the paper, and whether it will provide a good contrast to the color you’ll use for the sigil itself.

I prefer my sigils to be about four inches square. Why? It just feels right to me. At that size, I can fit in all the detail I need, and I can see the whole thing without my eyes needing to move around too much.

The next question to ask is what are you going to draw the sigil with? A black “Sharpie” marker works pretty well, in my experience. Lately, though, I’ve been using a calligraphy set for almost everything.

What can I say, dip pens hit different. You also have a lot more options when it comes to ink, which I’ll talk about later.

I like to do this transfer just before I activate the sigil. Ideally, I do it right at my altar as the start of the ritual, but my altar is pretty packed nowadays.

Regardless, once you’ve transferred your sigil, bring it to your altar or some other quiet place. You need to be able to sit and concentrate for several minutes without being disturbed.


I place the sigil face-up on the altar, and bring over a chair. The goal is to be able to sit comfortably while also being able to see the sigil clearly. I have two large altar candles which I light, then I burn some frankincense, and settle into a brief meditation to clear my thoughts.

When I’m relaxed and ready, I look at the sigil and let my eyes sort of…drift. This is the part which is hardest to explain. I’ll do my best, but experience is really the best teacher here.

After a while of concentrating on the sigil, keeping my attention on it, and allowing my eyes to see through it and past it, the sigil…moves. It will come to life and float off the paper. This is my experience of the process, but it’s pretty much universally how I’ve heard other magicians describe it.

I continue to sit there, watching the sigil move, letting it “dance,” until it eventually settles down. Sometimes it seems to collapse into the card abruptly, other times it smoothly merges into it. Either way, once the sigil looks like a inert doodle again, that’s when I know the activation is complete, and the magic sigil is now working its sigil magic.

Follow up

I usually give myself a minute or two to “come down” from the activation, then I extinguish the candles.

What do I do with the sigil now? I usually hang it up on my wall for a while. How long is a “while?” Eh, however long. I have about twenty of them on my wall now. Whenever I put up any new sigils, I take a few of the old ones down, and stick them in the back of a binder which I keep in my altar.

About once a year, I take the sigils out of my binder and burn them.

Some people burn their sigils right after activation, others carry them around for a while like a talisman. What should you do? You guessed it–whatever feels right.

Is that all there is to magic sigils?

What I’ve written above is more than enough to help you get started with sigil magic. Beyond these basics, there really isn’t a lot to cover. There are a few other things you can do or experiment with, though, should you be the curious type.

Material correspondences

According to some magical traditions, certain colors and materials correspond to certain kinds of magical forces or work. For instance, some people associate the color green with money, or the color blue with healing. The same goes for certain minerals or herbs.

This is one of the reasons why I love having a set of dip pens around. If you know how to mix your own ink, you can use that knowledge to enhance your sigil work.

The same can be said if you know how to craft your own paper.

Of course, who said you have to use pen and paper at all? Paint is a thing. So is clay. Hmm…

Multiple sigils

Another thing to try is activating multiple sigils at once. This is something I do all the time. If I have a set of related intentions, I’ll create a sigil for each one, lay them out on the altar, and activate them all in the same sitting.

Beyond keeping the sigils at least somewhat related to each other, my only other “rule” is that I never try to activate more than five at once. Why? It usually takes me about ten or so minutes to activate one sigil. An hour at my altar is about the most time I can spend at my altar comfortably without feeling fatigued.

Look to other magicians

Way back at the beginning of this post, I told you that every magician on the internet seems to have a take on magic sigils. This is only my take, and my advice. What I wrote above is what works for me, and what seemed suitable for a basic introduction.

So go on, explore! See what other people have to say on the subject.

And if you learn anything exciting, let me know in comments below.

Have a blessed day!

How to magically cleanse an object

Sometimes, things we bring into our home come with unwanted energy or uninvited guests. In this post, I’ll tell you how and when to magically cleanse an object.

A while ago, I wrote a post on magical house clearing. How to get “uninvited guests” out of one’s home is one of the more common questions I get. Another one is how to magically cleanse objects or items. So, let’s talk about that today.

When should you magically cleanse an object?

Why magically cleanse this when you can just not buy it?

If you read my post on house clearing, you just know I’m going to start this post by asking the question: “Should you magically cleanse objects?”

The short answer is: “It depends.”

In general, there are two cases where I’ll cleanse an object: if I plan to use it specifically and only for magical purposes; or if it’s actively causing “trouble.”

Magical tools

I’ve said before that my magical practice is very “spirit-focused.” This means I experience everything around me as “haunted” in one way or another. When I’m performing a ritual, both myself and the work I’m doing are intertwined with the tools I employ, and the spirits within them.

Candle holders, statues, offering plates–they’ll probably get a cleansing before getting plonked down on my altar. The same holds true for tarot decks, pendulums, and scrying mirrors. Anything I plan to bring into ceremony with me usually gets a once-over. I used to be somewhat lax in this practice, but I’ve had enough…challenging experiences to make this almost a hard and fast rule.

Why “almost,” you ask? We’ll get to that.

“Mundane” objects

As for other things I bring into my home? I don’t give them much of a thought unless they act up in disruptive ways. I don’t feel a particular need to magically cleanse every book I order, or every roll of paper towels I buy.

The same holds true even for things like antiques. Just because something is old, or it was owned by someone else, doesn’t mean I have to magically cleanse it. Besides, if I bought an antique, it’s probably because I liked the energy coming off it. Why would I want to mess with that?

If I bring something home and immediately begin experiencing disruptions or unwanted weirdness? That’s when I get to work.

Talk before you cleanse

Before I magically cleanse anything, I talk to it. As I said, I’m spirit-focused, and I treat spirits as persons deserving of respect and consideration. Even if something seems to be acting up, I’ll sit with it, and try to get a read on what’s going on. Sometimes that means journeying and meeting it on the “Astral Plane,” sometimes that means throwing some tarot cards. Either way, I “diagnose” before I attempt to “cure.”

This is especially true if it’s an object I plan to work magic with.

I read a ritual once for “consecrating a magical blade.” The gist of it was that you buy a knife, and bring it outside. You point it at the sky and say some words, then point it toward each of the four directions saying some other words. Finally, you stab it into the ground “up to the hilt.”

I wonder how many people have done this ritual. I also wonder how many of these people ever bothered to ask the knife how it would feel about that. Or how many people even took the time to explain to the knife what was going to happen.

This might sound silly to some people, but establishing a relationship with the items I bring into ceremony is pretty important to me. And relationships start with communication.

Be nice

Incense is a great way to magically cleanse an object.

If I decide to magically cleanse an object, I first explain to it what I’m going to do, and why I’m going to do it. Then I do the least invasive “cleansing” I can. I first burn some palo santo and make sure all sides of the object are touched by the smoke. This works really well for “mellowing” spirits and energies. In my experience, it doesn’t exorcise things, it just makes them “chill.” And if they don’t want to chill, they usually leave of their own accord.

Once I’ve done this, I then burn some frankincense, and do the same with it as I did with the palo santo. Frankincense “elevates,” and it’s my go-to incense for when I want to “raise the vibrations” in a space, or in an object. Again, it doesn’t drive things away. Or, rather, it won’t drive things away unless those things aren’t comfortable in a positive environment.

Finally, I take a while–sometimes a few days–to just be nice to the object. I talk to it, explain how I’d like to work and play with it, and be as “good vibes only” toward it as I can.

In almost every case, with only one or two exceptions in all of my experience, this is enough to magically cleanse an object.

Are you sure it’s meant to be?

So, what if you take the “nice” approach and things still just don’t feel right? Is it time to break out the “big guns?” Maybe.

Then again, maybe the object just isn’t that into you.

There’s something a bit audacious in thinking that every magical tool or item should be thrilled to be in our presence, and if something acts up, it must be because there’s something wrong with it.

I’ve purchased or been given many items, magical and otherwise, which I just never connected with. Usually, they seem “inert,” for lack of a better word. They cause me grief, but they don’t do anything, either. Rarely, they’ll be pretty adamant that our relationship isn’t going to work out.

How do I know when an object and I aren’t a good fit? It comes back to that whole talking and treating them with respect and dignity thing. And when I find I have such an object in my possession, I send it on its way. Sometimes this means gifting it someone my intuition says might be a better companion for it, sometimes it means taking it somewhere out in the world and leaving it there to be found.

Before you go all “nuclear” on an object, try to get your ego out of the game, and really ask if a relationship is something you both want.

Being not-so-nice

If you're going to magically cleanse something, it's often a good idea to do it outside.

Alright, so you’ve tried to be nice, you’re certain that you and this object are “meant to be,” but it’s still not behaving itself. What do you do?

Get ready to break out the asafoetida resin!

Asafoetida is a dried gum or resin which is not only incredibly potent for banishing, it also has a very pungent smell that some describe as “like the devil’s own butthole.”

Needless to say, if you’re going to magically cleanse with it, you’ll want to take it outside.

Grab the object, an incense burner, charcoal, some asafoetida, and some Florida water. Go outside where you won’t be disturbed and won’t disturb the neighbor. Light the charcoal, toss on a chunk of asafoetida, and move the object through the smoke. Thoroughly engulf it in the smoke.

While you’re doing this, firmly and as vulgarly as you can, tell whatever energy or spirit is messing with the object to get the hell out and go away. After a while, you should feel a definite sense of success. It’s hard to describe, but you’ll know it when you experience it. Usually it only takes a minute or two for that feeling to come, but give it ten or fifteen minutes if you can.

When you feel successful, put a couple of dabs of Florida water on the object, then do the “nice” steps I described above before taking it back into your house.

Did you magically cleanse it?

If the not-so-nice approach doesn’t work, and you think the object still has “issues,” toss it. Throw it away, burn it, or bury it somewhere that’s not on your property. Unless you know someone who specifically works with “haunted” or “cursed” items, just get rid of it, and don’t hand it off to someone else.

Honestly, though? I’ve never, ever had to go to this extreme. Like I wrote above, in almost every case, the nice approach was more than sufficient. And in almost every case it wasn’t, it turned out that the object wasn’t the problem–the relationship just wasn’t going to happen.

That’s my experience, anyway. What’s yours? If you’ve had an object that gave you grief, drop a comment down below. I’d love to hear what happened and how you handled it.

Have a blessed day!

Learning how to use the Celtic Cross

No other tarot spread is more well-known or widely-used than the Celtic Cross. In this post, I’ll tell you how it works, when to use it, and when not to.

What is the origin of the Celtic Cross tarot spread?

In 1909, British poet and occultist Arthur Edward Waite published what would become the most popular tarot deck of all time. Illustrated by the artist Pamela Coleman Smith, the Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot Deck came bundled with a thin book written by Waite himself. Called The Key to the Tarot, this book discussed the meanings of each card, and described how to use them for divination. He revised and re-released this book a year later as The Pictorial Key to the Tarot.

Near the back of this book, we get a description of the Celtic Cross spread. Waite refers to it as “An Ancient Celtic Method of Divination.” If you know your tarot history, this claim is a bit far-fetched to say the least.

In truth, Waite appears to be the first person to describe this spread. There are no printed references to it prior to 1909, at least that I can find anyway. It’s unclear whether the Celtic Cross was Waite’s own invention, or if he learned of it from someone else. Either way, since instructions for its use have come bundled with nearly every tarot deck sold over the last century, it’s almost certainly the most-used tarot spread today.

How do you use the Celtic Cross?

Waite’s instructions for using the Celtic Cross spread are fairly straight-forward. The instructions below are mostly his, although I’ve added my own thoughts based on thirty years of working with it.

Setting Up

Waite begins by telling the tarot reader to select a card to be the “significator,” which symbolizes either the person asking the question, or the subject being asked about. Here’s a quote:

“The Diviner first selects a card to represent the person or, matter about which inquiry is made. This card is called the Significator. Should he wish to ascertain something in connexion with himself he takes the one which corresponds to his personal description. A Knight should be chosen as the Significator if the subject of inquiry is a man of forty years old and upward; a King should be chosen for any male who is under that age a Queen for a woman who is over forty years and a Page for any female of less age.”

The Pictorial Key to the Tarot

We’re then told to put this card face up on the table before proceeding.

Personally? I don’t do this. And that’s for a couple of reasons.

First, I don’t find the Court Cards connect with people in the way Waite describes. I wrote an article about this, titled Understanding the Court Cards, if you’re interested.

Second, I think it’s better to leave all of the cards in the deck until we start dealing them out. If a so-called “significator” card is actually relevant to the situation, I trust that it’ll show up without my having to pull it out in advance.

Anyway, at this point, we (or the querent) shuffles the cards while thinking of the question. Then we (or, again, the querent) cuts the deck, and the tarot reader lays out the cards in the following pattern…

The Celtic Cross tarot spread.

What are the meanings of the card positions?

As with most tarot spreads, each card position in the Celtic Cross has a certain meaning. When we interpret the cards, we take this positional meaning into account. I’ve provided a keyword or title for each position in the diagram above for easy reference. In this section, you’ll find the full explanation for each position.

The Subject

This card represents the major influence or situation which the question refers to. It’s the “nutshell” version of the matter at hand, or the central theme of the situation.

The Crossing

This card usually represents the main or central obstacle which is blocking or opposing the Subject. I say “usually,” because if this card is very good, or its nature is very harmonious with the Subject, it may not represent an obstacle at all. It could be a “stepping stone” which can actually be a source of help or assistance. This is especially likely to be the case if it’s also of a similar nature to either the Self or Environment card.

The Basis

This card is sometimes called the “Foundation.” It represents something which has not only already happened, but is likely the main reason for asking the question in the first place.

When I conduct a tarot reading for someone using the Celtic Cross, these three cards almost always relate to the question or circumstance in a very obvious way. For example, in a question about a troubled love affair, I’d expect to see the Two of Cups, the Lovers, or the Three of Swords in some or all of these positions.

When I don’t see any connection between these three cards and the question, I proceed with considerable caution. I also explain to the client that I may not be getting an accurate read on the matter. Fortunately, at least in my experience, this is rarely the case.

The Past

This card represents something in the past which relates to the matter at hand, sometimes in an unexpected way. Many of the situations we find ourselves in today are connected to older events or patterns we’ve experienced before. This card usually shows us the most pertinent bit of history which has led to the current situation.

The Possibility

This is one of the two “outcome” cards in the Celtic Cross spread (the other being outright titled “The Outcome”). It typically shows us the “best case scenario,” or else what the client can hope for if they put their energy and focus toward achieving it.

I wrote “typically” above, because we need to compare and contrast this card with the Outcome card in order to be sure of its role. This is particularly true when the Possibility card appears to be much more negative than the Outcome. I’ll write a bit more about this later on when I discuss the final card in the spread.

The Future

This is an event or influence which will come into play in the immediate or very near future. In many cases, it gives us a good indication of the client’s next, best opportunity to alter the outcome of events. It’s something to keep an eye out for, and to either avoid or take advantage of. Which route we should take depends on the context, and the rest of the spread.

The Self

I also call this card the “Toolbox.” It tells us what the querent themselves is bringing to the situation. Often, this card represents a strength, or a source of aid. Other times, though, it represents an obstacle, or “baggage” the client is carrying with them. Just like the Future card, we need to look at the Big Picture to decide whether the Self is helping or hindering the client.

The Environment

This card is much like the Self, only instead of showing us what the querent is bringing to the party, it shows us outside influences. Again, these may be constructive or destructive to the querent’s objectives or goals. Only careful thought and experience will tell us which.

The Hopes or Fears

The second-to-last card in the spread tells us something about what the client wants to happen, or what they’re afraid might happen.

To be perfectly blunt, I hardly ever find this card useful. Like the first three cards, it can serve as a kind of “check” to make sure we’re getting an accurate read on the matter. Otherwise? The client probably knows what their hopes or fears are, so this card doesn’t give us much in the way of practical aid.

The Outcome

Like the Possibility card, this one shows us one way the situation can turn out. In general, the Outcome is what will come to pass if the situation is allowed to proceed without further interference. Contrast this with the Possibility–that which will come to pass if the querent puts in the effort and work.

When the Outcome card looks much more favorable than the Possibility, it’s a sign that the client should let things unfold naturally. When the Possibility looks better? That’s when it’s time for the client to push for what they want.

When should you use this spread?

Given the Celtic Cross is the most popular spread in the world, you might think it’s a one-size-fits-all solution. Me? I disagree. I think there are times when it’s a good one to use, but there are other times when it’s…less so.

It’s excellent when you want to get a detailed look at a situation, including all of the most important surrounding context. For example, it’s my go-to spread when I’m about to do some serious magic to influence a situation.

I wrote an article awhile ago about how I think it’s extremely important to divine before you enchant. My thoughts on the matter haven’t changed one wink, and the Celtic Cross is usually the spread I use before dusting off my altar and getting down to business.

It’s also a good spread to use when you’re faced with situations or circumstances which seem particularly chaotic or confusing. If you’re job hunting, and can’t seem to get your foot in the door anywhere, throw the cards and ask: “What’s up with my job search?” You’ll usually see multiple factors at work, and get a good idea of how to proceed.

When should you not to use this spread?

The biggest advantage to the Celtic Cross is that it uses ten cards, and you get a lot of context. This is also its biggest disadvantage.

Ten cards is a lot of cards. And, in my personal opinion, ten cards is too many for most questions and situations. With so many cards on the table, we can get overwhelmed with information, and that might actually prevent us from getting a useful answer.

I maybe use the Celtic Cross for one out of fifteen or twenty readings. Let’s face it, most questions people ask the tarot are actually quite simple. “Will I get the job?” “Will Sophie go out with me?” “Should I take a gap year or stay in school until I finish my degree?”

For questions like these, simpler spreads with fewer cards work just fine, and usually provide much clearer answers than the Celtic Cross.

Then again, that’s just my opinion. If you have a different one, I’d love to hear it.

Have a blessed day!

How important is it to keep a magical diary?

A magical diary is the single most important tool for any sort of magical practitioner. No matter which magical tradition you’re coming from, no matter how long you’ve been practicing, there’s just nothing else that even comes close.

When I consult with clients, whether for a tarot reading or a natal astrology reading, I’m amazed at how few people keep any sort of diary at all. But if you’re a magician? I honestly don’t know how you can get by without one.

If you’ve never kept a magical diary before, let me explain both why it’s so important. I’ll also give you some advice on how to begin a diary, and how to stick with it.

Why keep a magical diary?

An inexpensive notebook and pen are all you need to start a magical diary.

A diary in general is a record of your life and the events and circumstances you experience. Ideally, you write at least one entry for each date describing the highlights and lowlights of the day. Even this minimal sort of work-a-day diary can be extremely useful–particularly if you’re a student of astrology.

I’ve written before about keeping a journal to track planetary transits, but a point from that post bears repeating here. There is no better way of knowing how astrological events affect you than looking back on specific dates to see what happened. For example, let’s say you’re about to experience your Saturn return. One way to receive a hint about which areas of your life are likely to be affected most by this transit is to go back and look at the events surrounding your Saturn opposition.

You can’t do that if you never wrote anything down!

In the broader sense, though, keeping a magical diary is even more important if you’re actually doing magic. In fact, your diary will often be the only “proof” you have that your magic is working at all.

Want an example? Here’s one from my own direct, personal experience…

Several years ago, someone close to me was having a lot of difficulties in school. Every day they were faced with confusing assignments, unsympathetic teachers, and bullying peers. They were trying their best, and going through all of the proper, “mundane” channels to address their issues, but nothing seemed to help.

So why not try a little magic?

I did an in-depth tarot reading on their situation, came up with a list of about a half dozen enchantment goals, and performed a ritual to assist them. Some of these goals were things like “This person’s teachers are understanding and patient,” and “This person feels safe and secure in their learning environment.”

Fast forward a year later, and I was reading over my magical diary and found the entry describing this ritual. For a moment, I was discouraged. None of the goals seemed to have ever “come off.”

Then, with something of a shock, I realized that they had. All of them! Every single one of the magical targets had been absolutely, 100% fulfilled within about two months of performing the ritual.

How so? The person’s parents had taken them out of public school and began homeschooling them.

If it wasn’t for the fact that I keep a magical diary, I might not ever have noticed this. Nor would I have noticed the countless tarot readings I’ve performed where I was left a bit confused by the cards, but my predictions ultimately proved to be accurate down to the smallest detail.

Sometimes–a lot of the time, actually–magic is slow. It can take weeks or months for results to appear. The best way not to lose track of what you’re doing and why? Write it down.

How to start?

Starting a magical diary is as simple as writing down today’s date, followed by whatever’s on your mind. Before we get into more specifics, let’s talk first about formats: digital or hand-written?

Some people prefer to keep their journal or diary on their computer. This might mean using a word processing program, or it could be a dedicated journaling or diary app. Other people handwrite their magical diaries in actual, physical books.

Me? I fall into the latter category. I have tried keeping my diary on a computer, but I never seemed to keep them updated for very long. Maybe I’m just old, but I really do prefer putting pen to paper. At the very least, it makes me feel more “wizardly.”

Whichever format you decide to start with, try to stick with it for a couple of months before trying to switch over to something else. Getting started with a magical diary is often the hardest part, so any format is going to feel like a challenge in the beginning. Build up the habit of writing first, and only switch it up if you’re sure your chosen format isn’t going to work out.

That said, I’m going to assume you’re using a physical book for your magical diary for the rest of this post. Don’t worry, though. The advice all works out much the same if you’re using a computer.

On the first blank page of the diary, I write my name and the date on which I’m starting it. (Once I’ve filled the book completely, I’ll go back to this page and write the date of the last entry.)

I leave the next page or two blank, then start writing my daily record.

The first thing I write each day is the date, along with the day of the week. I record the day of the week because I do a lot of work with astrology and planetary magic. Being able to tell which planetary day it is at a glance is pretty important to me.

Then, because I tend to write several entries each day, I write the time of the entry, followed by my thoughts.

A sample diary entry.

February 5, 2023 — Sunday

4:15am – Got up around 3:30am. No dreams to note. Seem to have slept alright and feel rested.

5:00am – Two cups of coffee. Maybe not as rested as I thought. Received email reply from J.R. regarding tarot consult. Very happy with result. Beginning astro consult for F.G.

9:00am – Report sent to F.G. Meditation now, then lunch.

9:35am – Twenty minute meditation. Very hard to keep my mind from wandering. Feel relaxed, but frustrated. Really need to make meditation a daily habit again.

While I didn’t take the above from my magical diary verbatim, it’s a good example of the sort of record that I keep for myself. Yours doesn’t have to look like this at all. It can be more or less detailed, more narrative in structure, or whatever you want.

The main point is that you want to record whatever magical work you do (I include consultations in this category), as well as any surrounding context which might be relevant. For instance, maybe those two cups of coffee had something to do with my meditation difficulties.

(Incidentally, I learned how to keep a magical diary way back in my teenage years when I was reading a lot of Crowley. As a result, my record-keeping looks quite a bit like what you’ll find in one of his diaries, published as John St. John, which you can find freely-available here. If you’re looking for another, albeit dense example of a magical diary, you could do worse than check it out.)

Anyway, so that’s what a typical entry in my magical diary looks like. Now, why did I leave a page or two at the beginning of the book blank? Because if I perform a major ritual or experience an even or situation of incredible significance, I’ll go back to those pages and write down the date, and a one-sentence description of the event.

In effect, this allows the first couple of pages to serve as a kind of table of contents for the most important things included in the book. This isn’t to say the rest of my magical diary is unimportant, just that some events are particularly noteworthy and I’ll likely want to refer back to them in the future.

One last thing I want to mention about getting started is actually a repetition of something I wrote above. Getting started is absolutely the hardest part of keeping a magical diary. Just getting into the habit of cracking the book open every day and writing something down seems like the most challenging thing ever if you aren’t used to it.

The best advice I can give you here is this: when you first begin your diary, make a commitment to yourself to write in it every single day for two weeks. Even if all you write is the date followed by the sentence “I don’t want to write today,” that’s enough.

I’ll have some more tips for keeping your diary going in the next section.

What are some tips for sticking with it?

In the interest of full disclosure, I’m just an ordinary sinner. As much as I insist on writing in your magical diary every say, I frequently go days, weeks, or even sometimes months without even touching mine. Why? Just ’cause.

Maybe I’m particularly busy or stressed. Maybe I’ve let my magical practice slip. Or maybe I just can’t be asked to sit down and scribble out “watched Netflix, ate half a pizza, played video games.”

Whatever the reason, I don’t really sweat it. Yes, ideally, I’m writing every day and you should, too. But you know what? Don’t beat yourself up if you slack off. Just recognize when you do, then make a concerted effort to pick up the practice again. That’s the first tip: be kind to yourself and just do your best.

Another tip for keeping your magical diary up to date is to write at a set time each day. Try putting aside ten minutes just before you go to bed. Again, even if you write “did nothing today” or “meditated” that’s enough. Sure, a more detailed entry will probably be more useful to you later on, but just getting on with the practice is sometimes all you can hope for.

One tip I learned from a friend of mine is really helpful for keeping track of when noteworthy events happen during the day and you don’t have your magical diary with you. Whenever something significant happens while you’re at work, school, or out and about on errands, send yourself a text message, or a short email–just a sentence or two will suffice to jog your memory later when you sit down to write. And, as a bonus, your message to yourself will have a timestamp!

The last tip I want to share about keeping a magical diary is to not be afraid to get “crafty” with it if that’s your thing. This might mean including small sketches or doodles, or it could mean turning your magical diary into a full-blown scrap book. For whatever reason, I’ve known many people who have a hard time motivating themselves to write, but they absolutely love to draw or do some sort of paper crafting. So, that’s their “way in.” They’ll crack open their diary, do a small watercolor, then find themselves writing a few sentences.

Whatever helps you open the book and keep it going.

Do you have any tips to share on keeping a magical diary? If so, leave a comment down below. I’d love to hear them.

In the meantime, have a blessed day!

Daily Connections

There’s a common bit of advice floating around the Western esoteric community which goes like this…

You need to establish and maintain a daily magical practice.

The theory here is that if you don’t do magic every day, you’ll never get good at it. Most of the people offering this advice don’t come right out and say this, but it’s obviously implicit given the way they harp on the point.

As for me? The theory doesn’t match my experience.

I’ve gone weeks, or even months, without so much as lighting a candle or meditating, and when I eventually did get around to doing some magic, it worked the same as it always has.

If someone like me can slack off this much and not get rusty, I figure most everyone else can as well.

Once you’ve learned magic, it’s like riding a bike. You never really forget. At most, you’ll wobble for a few rotations of the pedals, then be on your way. Sure, daily discipline helps, especially when you’re first starting out, but is it a hard requirement for “getting good” and staying that way? Nah.

So, no, I don’t need to maintain a daily magical practice. But you know what? I am happier when I do.

My magical practice is very spirit-based, and it involves a lot of prayer, communication, and communion with what we might as well call “unseen forces.” On a typical day, this means I wake up, get some coffee in me, then I sit in prayer and reflection for a while.

What does “a while” mean, for me? Ten or fifteen minutes.

At night, I do much the same. I spend ten to fifteen minutes reflecting on the day’s events, saying a few prayers, then I turn out the lights and go to sleep.

I fit in other practices here and there, as needed or as I’m moved to do so, but mainly what I wrote above is what I do, day in and day out. It’s a simple, simple practice. In fact, I don’t even really think of it as a “practice” so much as it is connecting—either with the spirits, or with the “Otherworld” in a more general way.

When I’m making these daily connections, they absolutely, positively, wonderfully improve my mental and spiritual health.

There have been many, many times in my life where I’ve stepped away from any sort of magical practice—even abandoning this simple routine—and I quickly found myself feeling down. I lost energy, motivation, and focus. I felt unmoved, apathetic, and disconnected—not just from the spirits, but from everyone and everything.

On the flipside, those times where I’m keeping up with these connections, “touching base” with my spiritual path for even just a few minutes each day, I feel great! I’m happier, healthier, and energized. I’m more patient, friendly, and loving. The difference is really striking.

What’s the point of this post? Well, I’ve got two of them to make:

  1. Don’t set your watch by anyone else’s clock but your own. If you’ve only got time for a quick prayer before breakfast, or five-minutes of intentional breathing during your lunch break, let that be good enough. You don’t need to do three hours of ritual each day to be a good magician.
  2. You should try to do something every day to connect with your practice and your path, if for no other reason than you’ll probably feel better if you do.

As a final thought, I’ll share a bit of advice that I like to think about when my day looks like it’s about to run away from me, and I’m worried I won’t have time to make even a quick, simple connection with my magical practice.

In my opinion, every single thing you do, even the most mundane-seeming activity, can be seen as an act of magic. So, why not Do The Thing mindfully and with intention?

For instance, when you make your bed, try saying this…

Let these sheets and blankets clean

Keep me from unhappy dreams

Or, you know, words to that effect. I’m not a very good poet.

Have a blessed day!

Which method of divination should you learn?

I’ve written before about how important I believe divination is to successful magic, but what I haven’t done is to write about which divination method one should use. This is because the answer to that question is: it’s up to you.

In my experience, which system of divination someone uses is a deeply personal choice. Yes, accuracy should be the most important factor in selecting a method of divination, but there’s also the question of feel. When you’re looking for guidance, answers, or knowledge of the future, whichever system or method you’re using should be something you resonate with.

It’s also important to understand that some methods of divination are better suited to certain kinds of questions.

That’s kind of what I want to unpack in this post: which sorts of questions you’re most likely to ask, and which systems of divination might be most suited to answering them.

Asking questions, getting answers

To be clear, regardless of which method of divination we’re looking at, the purpose of them all is more or less the same. You ask questions, you get answers. These questions might be specific, such as: “Should I go to the party tonight?”

Other times, we’re looking for a more “general read” on a situation, such as: “What does the next month hold in store for me?”

The most important thing to remember about any system of divination is that it’s only really useful if it gives you meaningful, actionable answers to the questions you ask. The more well-suited a method of divination is to the question, the better your chances of getting actionable information.

This is why I’ve studied and practiced many different methods of divination over the years. While I do have my favorites, I’m not opposed to reaching for whichever method is best suited for the kind of question I need answered.

With that said, let’s get into it. We’ll look at the kinds of questions we usually want to answer. As you’re experimenting with different systems, consider each of these broad “classes” of questions, and try to sort out which systems are best for answering each.

Yes or no?

One common sort of question we’d like to get an answer to are “yes-or-no” questions. Should I go to the party? Will I get a raise? Should I start looking for a new apartment? These are all questions where we’re looking for a direct “yes” or “no” response.

Unfortunately, many of the more popular methods of divination seem to be almost comically bad at answering direct, yes-or-no questions. For instance, I know relatively few Tarot readers who will even try to get their decks to cut to the chase and answer these questions directly.

In my experience, horary astrology is the best method for getting a yes or no answer to a question.

In horary astrology, you cast a chart for the moment you ask a question, then you follow a set of interpretive rules to determine the answer. You’ll almost always get a definite positive or negative response, along with a fair bit of other, relevant information.

For example, let’s say you were to ask: “Will I get a raise?” You’ll get a “yes” or a “no.” Let’s say it’s a “yes.” You’ll probably get a sense of how large or small the raise will be, as well as a pretty good idea of the time when you’ll get the raise. If it’s a “no” response, you can probably sort out why you won’t get it by looking at other factors in the chart.

The one real drawback to horary astrology (and astrology in general) is that it’s a pretty complicated subject with a lot of nuance. It can take months or even years to get even halfway good at reading a chart.

This might be why the most common divination tool I see used for getting a simple yes-or-no response is the pendulum.

Do a Google search for pendulum divination and you’ll find hundreds of articles and videos on its use, but the main idea is quite simple. Hold the pendulum by its cord and let it hang straight down in front of you. Make sure you start off with the pendulum still, then ask: “Show me yes.” Watch what the pendulum does. After a little while, steady the pendulum again and ask: “Show me no.”

Repeat this a few times until you’ve “calibrated” the pendulum, then ask the questions you want answered.

I don’t do a lot of work with pendulums myself, but according to those who do, it usually only takes a few sessions before you start getting consistently good results.

Either or? Should I?

Another very common kind of question is the “either-or” question. In fact, many “yes-or-no” questions can be re-phrased as an “either-or” one, particularly if you are asking a question that begins with the words: “Should I…”

For example, consider the question: “Should I go to the party tonight?”

That could probably be better expressed as: “Should I go to the party tonight, or should I stay home?”

In a case like this, I find the Tarot to be exceptional. My go-to way of answering such a question is to perform a “three-versus-three” reading.

I throw down six cards. The first three are to answer the question “What if I go to the party tonight?” The second three are for “What if I stay home tonight?” I look carefully at both situations, and choose whether or not to go based on which set of cards looks the best.

Most “either-or” questions tend to be rooted in this idea of “should I.” These are tricky sorts of questions to answer with most of the divination methods I’m familiar with. Horary astrology doesn’t do well with “shoulds,” unless you can honestly re-phrase the question to be a direct yes-or-no.

For example, let’s say you ask: “Should I invest in my friend’s business, or should I hold onto my money?”

Assuming your main interest in asking this question is growing your wealth, the question you’re really asking is: “Will I make a profit if I invest in my friend’s business?”

Horary astrology can answer that question quite easily.

Natal astrology can also help us a bit with “should” questions, although in a more roundabout way. By looking at your birth chart, and taking into account the current and upcoming transits to it, you can get a reasonable picture of which areas of your life are likely to be easier, and which are likely to be more challenging.

For out investment question above, let’s say that you look at your chart and upcoming transits and see what looks like a pretty hairy period of financial difficulties in your near future. You might want to set that “extra” money aside.


Questions involving the timing of events can be among the most frustrating.

“When will I get married?”

“When will I find a job?”

“How long will it take for my business to take off?”

I already mentioned that horary astrology can usually give you a good idea of when events are likely to occur, but using other divination methods to get answers to a “when” question can be tricky.

In my experience, there are two broad approaches to answering these questions, and both come with drawbacks.

The first method involves trying to get a specific time or date, or at least a very narrow range (down to a few days or hours, depending on the nature of the question). This really is a question horary astrology. To be perfectly honest, I’ve never gotten a reliable, specific time with anything else.

Another method you could try is to use Lenormand cards. This is an oracle deck, as opposed to the Tarot, and some people I know have had good success in getting precise timing out of it. Myself? I only use Lenormand on rare occasions, and when I’ve tried to get a time, it just doesn’t pan out. Things might be different if I really took the time to “master” the deck, but I just haven’t.

The second method of getting a time involves choosing a reasonable one as a starting point, and then asking whether the event will happen before the chosen time, or after it. You can then try for a yes-or-no answer, or try to ask a more general question with an eye toward that time.

For example, let’s say you’re unemployed and running out of money. You’ve put in for a number of jobs, have some good prospects. You want to know when to expect a job offer. Let’s pick a time—say, two weeks.

You could simply ask “Will I get a job within two weeks?” Assuming you have a good system for answering yes-or-no questions, you should get the information you’re looking for.

Taking the more general approach, you could ask “Show me what my work situation will be like in two weeks.” This tends to be the approach I take when using the Tarot.

One more thing I should point out is that, when using a system other than horary astrology for “when” questions, I usually get better results when I use “natural” events for timing. What I mean by this is, instead of asking if something will happen before “next Thursday,” I’ll ask if it will happen before “the next full Moon,” or “in the summer.”

Try it both ways and see what happens.


Sometimes you’ll want to know either where something will happen or where something is. These questions both involve the word “where,” but they’re very different, and they usually benefit from different approaches.

To be clear, “where should I move to,” is one kind of question. “Where are my car keys,” is another one entirely.

For the first kind of “where” question, you can usually sort out the answer doing variations on “either-or.” There are also some specific forms of divination which are tailored toward finding places, such as locational astrology.

When you’re trying to find a lost object (or a person, or a pet), again, horary astrology is a pretty decent choice. It can sometimes be a little tricky to find things using horary, because the methods involved usually give you a list of possibilities which don’t always narrow things down satisfactorily. For instance, if you’re looking for your missing cat, you might get an answer that it’s “a short distance to the north of your house, inside or under something.”

Well, that’s certainly a start, but it’s not exactly “sleeping under your neighbor’s car.”

Despite not using it very often, I’ve actually had a surprising amount of success with the Lenormand deck for “where” questions.

For example, maybe I’ve misplaced my keys. Well, there’s a “Key” card in the Lendormand deck. I’ll take out my Lenormand cards, shuffle them, and then look through the deck for the “Key.” If I find it between the “Book” and the “Letter” cards, I’ll go search my desk. If I find it between “Garden” and “Lillies,” I’ll go outside and check my flower beds.

It doesn’t always work, but sometimes the answers you get from Lenormand really can be that literal.

Getting a general “read” on a situation

We’ve covered several different types of “specific” questions, but in my mind, it’s the “general” sort of question or reading that’s the most useful. I find getting my head around a situation as a whole to be more helpful (and easier) than attempting a “surgical strike” for only the specific answer I might be interested in right then.

The answer to “will I get the promotion,” is less valuable to me than “show me my work situation for the spring.”

Astrology is an excellent tool for this, particularly natal astrology. I can pull up a birth chart, check the current and upcoming transits, and get a good sense of how things are going to go. This is especially true when I want to see which areas of a person’s life are likely to go well in the near future, which areas might be more challenging, and how these areas will affect and influence each other.

And, yes, the Tarot is my very next choice. I usually stick with a five-card spread when doing this sort of reading, but for particularly complex or confusing situations, I’ll use a full Celtic Cross.

Another method of divination which can be used similarly (and which I haven’t touched on yet) is geomancy. Put very simply, geomancy involves creating a series of figures using lines or points either drawn on paper or in sand, then arranging those figures into a kind of “astrologically-themed” chart. You then read this chart according to a set of fairly simple rules.

This is far from an adequate description of geomancy, and I encourage you to look into it yourself, especially if you don’t find yourself drawn to the Tarot. Geomancy was one of the most common forms of divination during the Middle Ages and Renaissance, prior to the rise of the Tarot and cartomancy in general.

Finding what works for you

In case it isn’t obvious, even in this long post I haven’t covered all of the types of questions you’re likely to encounter. For instance, I didn’t even touch upon “who” or “how” or “why.” Whenever you’re experimenting with a system, you’ll want to throw all of these kinds of questions (and more) against the wall and see what “sticks.”

As I wrote way back at the beginning of this overly-long post, don’t go looking for one system which will fit every situation. In my opinion, such a system just doesn’t exist.

Instead, you should study and experiment with several different methods of divination, and learn not only how each of them works, but also which kinds of questions or situations they’re best suited to. You should also consider whether or not you personally resonate with a system.

Some people just don’t like the Tarot. Other people find astrology too complex and confusing. These methods work very well for me, but they’re not for everyone.

Good luck on your search!

Magical house clearing steps and tips

One question I’m often asked is how someone might go about cleansing or clearing their home of “uninvited guests” or “unpleasant energies.” Sometimes people ask me how to clear a home they’ve just purchased or rented. At other times, the person is asking because they feel that their home has suddenly become unwelcoming or even outright haunted.

Since winter is on its way out in my neck of the woods, and many folks are starting to think about spring cleaning, I figured it was a good time to write a post about this.

How do you clean and prepare a new home when you move in? How do you maintain that home while you live there? How do you “evict” unwanted entities or energies?

Step right up, and I’ll try to answer these questions!

Don’t clear a house unless you have to

Right off the bat, I should share with you that my first rule for house clearing is…don’t.

In almost every home cleansing situation I’ve been asked about, I advise a gentle, nice approach to the spirits and energy of the home. I don’t recommend aggressive, “nuke the site from orbit” methods of home clearing unless there is a real and present danger of harm to the people living there.

This is because a large part of my magical and spiritual practice is working with spirits, and seeing them as persons not much different from myself or other living humans. I treat them with respect, understanding, and patience whenever possible.

Because I approach spirits with this attitude, I usually see unruly entities for what they typically are: confused and frustrated. If I can connect with the spirit, and “settle them down,” there’s no reason to evict them. And let’s face it, evicting someone from their home without good cause is just plain rude.

Shopping for a new home

I’m going to start from the very beginning of your home-owning/apartment-renting journey. What things should you look for (and look out for) when shopping for a new home, and what should you bring along for the walk-through?

Keep the rain off your head

First, let’s talk preparation. I never leave my house without wearing a hat. In many, many magical and spiritual traditions, the act of covering one’s head is a protective one. It’s like wearing a hard hat to a construction site. It’s just good practice overall, in my opinion, and it’s a fairly good way to keep “stuff” off of you when going through a strange house or apartment.

Unfortunately, some people (particular among the older generations) consider wearing a hat or other head covering indoors to be rude. If that’s the case, you can forgo the headgear in favor of cleaning yourself off after you leave.

Dust yourself off

I use Florida water in my practice quite a bit. It’s a kind of universal solvent or cleaner which is excellent for clearing away unwanted energy and getting “hitchhikers” off of you. It’s employed by many people in many different traditions for just this purpose. Also? I like the smell.

You can either use a little bit straight from the bottle, or you can mix it with water and put it in a small spritzer or old hand sanitizer bottle. Either way, when you leave an unfamiliar home or apartment, rub a little on your hands, a bit on the back of your neck, and wave your hands about your head (or “through your aura”) to clear away anything that might have stuck to you.

Your first walk-through

Now that you’re equipped, and you’ve shown up to view your prospective home, what should you look for?

Mainly, just trust your instincts. Look through the place just as anyone would. Does it have enough room? Does it get enough light? Is it clean? Is it within your budget.

If the house or apartment seems like a good fit from a purely mundane perspective, odds are pretty good that you won’t get much in the way of paranormal problems. Just be sure to use all of your five, “natural” senses when exploring the place, especially your senses of smell and touch.

If the house has an odd “funk” to it, or smells “off,” that’s usually a sign to be a little more cautious. Similarly, if certain rooms or walls feel especially cold, or seem to have a “clamminess,” that should be another red flag. Neither of these are deal breakers, per se, but they are things to keep in mind.

Overall, though, what you’re looking for is how does the house feel to you? Does it seem welcoming? Can you easily see yourself living there a long time? If you’re planning to move into this place with others, such as your family, do they all feel the same way?

Now, if you’re reading this post, it’s probably fair to assume that you have an interest in magic, and may have done some work on cultivating clairvoyance or other, similar senses. In general, I recommend doing your best to subdue such senses when you’re first checking out a possible new home. Give your “mundane” senses some time to work, and only open yourself up once they seem to give the “all clear.”

The bottom line is this: if a house or apartment doesn’t seem right to you, trust your intuition, and keep shopping.

Do your homework

This should probably go without saying, but always, always do your homework when looking for a new place to live. Ask the realtor (or building manager, or previous owner) about the place’s history. Do web searches for the address. If it’s an older building, take a trip to the town’s historical society and see if someone can’t fill you in on the location’s past.

Depending on where you live, certain information must be disclosed to you as a matter of law. For instance, in most places, if someone was murdered in a house, the real estate agent and/or previous owner are required to tell you this.

That said, not every “bad thing” which can happen in a home falls under such laws. As with almost any purchase, follow the advice of “buyer beware” and get all of the facts you can before committing to a sale or rental agreement.

Moving day

Okay, assuming your house-hunting/apartment-hunting experience went well, and you’re about to move into a new place, what now?

Your right to bear arms

I’m going to let you in on what seems to be a “big secret.” I’m not sure why it’s a secret, but here goes. When you close on a house sale, or you’re accepted and cleared to move into an apartment, you receive two phenomenally powerful magical items.

You receive a deed or lease, and you receive a key.

The deed or lease is a written document which details your rights and responsibilities regarding the property, and it should include one or more signatures. In magical terms, this is a contract or pact. It provides you with not only legal proof that you belong there, and have possession of the place, but also metaphysical or magical proof of the same.

As for the key, it is literally an object which permits you to pass through the place’s “defenses” (the locked door), but also gives you the ability to setup or activate said defenses.

You can look at these two items like the crown and scepter of a king or queen, the tools or regalia of someone who is the rightful regent of the land that is your new home. No amount of incense, chanting, or “positive vibes” will come even close to equaling the power held in these two objects. Walk softly, but carry these big sticks.

And by carry them, I mean walk through your new home with these in hand and introduce yourself.

Explain yourself

I mentioned above that my magical practice is spirit-focused. This means that I spend most of my day interacting with entities which are either formerly-living humans or other-than-human. Take that as you will, but for our purposes here I want to stress to you a fact that most people either aren’t aware of, or don’t give enough credit to: your house is a spirit.

Let me share a personal story with you.

Many years ago, my daughter and I moved back into my parents’ house. This was partly because the economics made sense, but also because my parents were growing older and I wanted to be close to them and support them.

One morning, in October of 2018, I was using the bathroom when my daughter started banging on the door. “Nana fell down!” she shouted.

As it turned out, my mother had suffered a massive stroke.

Paramedics arrived, a helicopter got involved, and after three weeks in the hospital my mother passed on. It was hard for all of us, but we pulled through.

Two years ago, I was sitting in meditation and “journeying” about the house. That is to say, I was exploring my home with what some might call my “astral” or “ethereal” form. Everything seemed more or less fine until I got to my parents’ bedroom, where I perceived an odd shadow lingering by my mother’s side of the bed.

This shadow didn’t seem particularly hostile or dangerous, but I’m not exactly keen on unexplained entities loitering about my home. So, I reached out to it.

A brief conversation ensued, and I realized that this “shadow” was actually the spirit of the house. Why was it concentrated there, looking so dark and negative?

It missed “the nice old lady” who took “such good care” of it, and it didn’t know why she hadn’t been back.

Very few spirit contacts have floored me as much as this one.

My mother was a fastidious housekeeper, and always made sure our home was both spotless and in good repair. She loved this house, took pride in making it our home, and as it turned out, the house noticed and appreciated this, too.

No one, not even me, had taken the time to explain to the house what had happened when my mother was called away.

I sat with the spirit of my house for quite some time after this. I explained what had happened, how my mother would not be returning, and both of us grieved for her loss.

This is what I mean by “explain yourself.” The house or apartment you are moving into might not have any idea what is happening to it. People were living there, those people went away, and now you’re there. Take some time to sit with the spirit of the house and tell it your story. Why are you there? What happened to the people who were there before? What do you intend to do with the place?

If you can connect with and befriend the spirit of the house or building or apartment, you’ll have a much easier time not only living there, but dealing with any “unwelcome guests.”

I spoke above about the power of the deed and the key. These are symbols of responsibility and obligation. Show them to the house, make your introductions, then commit yourself to looking after your new home in exchange for it looking after you.

Deep cleaning

Before your move anything into a new house or apartment, give it a proper cleaning.

The usual rule with such cleanings is that you start from the highest point of the house, then clean from top to bottom and back to front. Break out the broom and really go to town. Maybe the house is spotless when you move in, but even if so, give it a once-over yourself.

Top floor to ground floor, basement to ground floor, back to front. Get all of the debris, dust, and detritus out of the place and outside. You might make a “floor wash” using some water with a dash of Florida water mixed in, but I usually reserve this for when things are becoming “challenging” (see below). Regardless, clean the place and while you’re doing so keep speaking to the house spirit.

“Oh, I’m cleaning you out. Doesn’t that smell nice? Let’s get all of this dust out of you. You’re such a beautiful home!”

It might seem silly to speak out loud to your house this way, but trust me—it works. Do everything you can to show the house (or apartment) that you mean to take good care of it, and to love it, and it will return the favor.

Once you have cleaned the whole place, it’s time to break out the incense.

Good vibes only

I could write an entire blog post (or even a full magical course) on the use of incense. Suffice it to say, after you’ve swept and mopped your new home, you’d do well to burn a little frankincense. This is a good, non-offensive, “elevating” incense.

When you burn Frankincense, the goal isn’t to dispel or drive anything away. Rather, the goal is to “raise the vibrations” of the place you’re in, so to speak. That is to say, you’re making the environment around you exceptionally positive, and in doing so, most anything negative is going to want to leave, and to leave quickly.

Whether you’re using a stick, cone, or a bit of resin on a charcoal disk, it doesn’t matter. Light up some frankincense and walk it from room to room, expressing (out loud) a desire to elevate the space and make everyone and everything within happy, positive, and vibrant if they mean no harm.

And here, with that caveat “if they mean no harm,” we get to our first bit of “filtration.” We’re wishing “good vibes” upon everything in the space, so long as they wish good vibes upon us.

Embrace the mellow

For the first week or two, and ideally the first full Lunar cycle, do your best to give off “good vibes only” in your new home. Do what you can to limit yelling, arguing, or fighting within your new place’s walls.

The goal is for you and the other occupants of the home to continue “raising the vibrations” of the place through your actions. Moving to a new place can be stressful, so this part of the process might be a little challenging, so just do your best.

One thing you can do to help ease the strain on your relationships, and cultivate a peaceful atmosphere, is to sprinkle a small amount of dried basil in the corners of each room. Basil is a remarkable plant ally which works at the level of relationships: it helps to create and maintain peaceful and warm interactions.

Another thing you could add to the mix is a bit of lavender. Lavender is used in many traditions as a way to mellow out an environment, to the point where the scent of lavender is known to be a wonderful and natural sleep aid. Small bouquets of the fresh herb are best, but lavender essential oil also works well.

Some people use essential oil diffusers, but I find that one or two drops of the oil on a folded washcloth placed on a shelf in the bedroom to be just as effective. Start with just one drop, though, and see how potent the scent is. The first time I used lavender oil in this way, I used five or six drops and the smell was rather overpowering.

Regular maintenance

Now that you’re all settled into your new home, what’s next? Assuming everything seems fine, the vibe is good, and you’re not experiencing any disturbing or unwanted activity, things are pretty easy.

Keep the house clean

There’s a rather bad habit among magically-inclined folks in the “West” to consciously (or even unconsciously) separate the “magical” from the “mundane.” That is to say, magical rituals are things which only happen in special circles or rooms, or at special times, or require special tools.

If you look at all of the various magical and spiritual practices found throughout the world, you’ll find that this is not the most common view. Rather, most people and cultures see very little if any separation between magic and the mundane tasks they undertake throughout their daily lives.

This is the view that I take myself, and it’s why I see the “simple” act of cleaning one’s house to be an important magical ritual. You are literally cleansing and clearing your home of unwanted detritus! Ritualize the act if you must, but every time you clean your home, understand that you are cleaning it magically just as you are cleaning it physically.

More importantly, though, if you aren’t keeping your house clean, debris and dirt of all kinds could start to creep in.

Fix things when or before they break

Household maintenance also includes putting oil on that squeaky door, or fixing the faucet when it starts to leak. Remember, your house has (or is) a spirit, and you can think of the walls, floors, and fixtures as its body. You shouldn’t let these little “injuries” pile up, any more than you should let your own body fall into disrepair.

Not attending to these problems in a timely manner puts you and your home at risk of infection.

Protective objects

Up until this point, everything I’ve suggested is in line with the idea that you have moved into a new place, are trying to build a good relationship with the spirit of the house, and are doing your best to peacefully co-exist with any other spirits which might happen to be there.

In my opinion, this is the best way to inhabit a place. It acknowledges that these other spirits are also persons deserving of love and respect just as you are.

Now we come to the first bit of “potentially-disruptive” magic: the use of protective objects.

Any magically-protective object or amulet has the potential to be viewed as a “challenge.” Whether we are talking about horseshoes over the front door, hands of Fatima, Evil Eye amulets, God’s Eyes, or labyrinths hung by the entryway, sometimes spirits can see these items as “lines in the sand.” And, very rarely, you’ll encounter spirits that try to step over these lines just to see if they can.

I say very rarely, because I have almost never encountered such spirits directly. In fact, there’s only one account that I’m personally aware of where someone hung an item in their home for protection (in this case, a labyrinth painted on a mirror that they’d purchased at a garage sale) and began to suffer some ill effects—and these effects were quite minor. They started misplacing small items, like their car keys or pens, and everyone in the house began to experience a bit of “brain fog,” where they hadn’t had any before.

Even in this case, though, I don’t think the act of putting up a protective object caused the issue. Rather, I think it’s more likely that the labyrinth itself came with an uninvited guest or unwanted energy. Once they got rid of it, everything went back to normal.

That said, just be aware of the extremely outside possibility that decorating your home with protective items could stir things up.

If you do decide to go this route, which sorts of items can you use? I listed several above you could look into, although some of them have cultural connections you may want to investigate before trying them on for size. If none of the ones I wrote of seem a good fit, a Google search or two will almost certainly give you a dozen more ideas.

Use what you feel is best, and what seems to be most in line with your own magical practice.

The house as protective object

I should also point out here that, of all the spirits in the house, the spirit of the house can be seen as sort of “king of the hill.” In other words, if you have a good relationship with the house spirit, and you keep the house clean and in good order, it is itself a powerful protective “object.”

You can think of it a bit like a fortress, guarded by a very formidable ally.

Just be sure to keep talking with it, especially if you’re planning on making any big changes to it. I can’t even count the number of people who have began a remodeling project and suddenly started experiencing disturbing paranormal phenomena.

“Oh, you decided to take out two walls and tear out the old fireplace? Did you ask the house how it felt about that?”

I’m not saying that you have to get the house spirit’s permission for every little change you make, but I mean come on! If someone started randomly cutting your hair without warning, and without your permission, I’m pretty sure you’d consider that rude.

Before you embark on a remodeling project, or hanging up wallpaper, or painting, or whatever, talk to the house. Let the house know what you’re planning on doing, why you’re planning to do it, and at least get an idea of what it thinks about it.

And you know what? Involving the house in such decisions is really, really rewarding. Not sure what color to paint the dining room? Grab your swatches, sit on the floor of that room, and ask the house for its help. Treat the swatches like an oracle deck, or use a pendulum to ask the house yes or no.

Maybe you and the house have a favorite color in common.

In case of emergency

Apart from the slim chance that something might take offense at the amulet above your door, everything we’ve discussed up until now has almost no possibility of causing problems where there weren’t any.

Here, we start to cross that line.

Spooky phenomena

Let’s get something straight: unexpected spirit contact is almost always disturbing for people who aren’t used to it. You’re home alone and hear footsteps walking down the hall? Odds are pretty good that’s going to freak you out. Ditto goes for waking up in the middle of the night because you feel something watching you from the corner of your bedroom.

In the immortal words taken from the front cover of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: don’t panic.

If things start to feel a little “spooky” in your home, unless it’s immediately violent or obviously malevolent, don’t automatically assume that it means a hostile spirit or destructive energy has moved in. Spirits come and go for all sorts of reasons. Remember, they are persons. They could just be passing through. Or they could be curious. Or maybe they sense someone in the house is “magically-operant” and either want to say “hello” or are looking to establish a relationship.

The best emotion you can embrace when you sense things getting “weird” is curiosity.

Make contact

Try talking with whatever it is that’s decided to show up. Maybe this means literally speaking out loud to it and trying to hear or feel out its response. Maybe this means throwing some Tarot cards and asking who it is and why it’s there. Or maybe you prefer to work with a pendulum.

Whatever your chosen form of divination or spirit communication, use it to try to engage with whatever is making its presence known.

As part of this process, it’s a good idea to establish and communicate some healthy boundaries. What kind of communication are you open to? What sort of behavior will you permit? What do you not want to see or experience?

A good rule or guideline to follow here is to be polite but also firm. Again, this is your home, they are a guest, and like any guest they should be expected to observe some reasonable etiquette. Keep in mind what I wrote above, though: all spirit contact can feel “spooky.”

There’s not much a discorporate entity can do about that sort of thing.

In my experience, it’s relatively rare to get a clear and unambiguous conversation out of a spirit on your first, second, or even fifth try. However, after a session or two, you should have a pretty good idea of the spirit’s intentions and, more importantly, whether or not you are okay with it hanging around.

If you’re more or less fine with it staying, clearly set the same expectations you did when you first moved into the place. They can remain if they “cause no harm,” etc., etc.

Also? Don’t forget to consult with the spirit of the house, too. Remember, the house itself has a significant say over what happens and who (or what) gets to be within its walls. See what it has to say, and ask it look after (and keep an eye on) your new guest.

Mellowing them out

If the activity in your house starts to become a bit more intense than you’d like, or becomes too disturbing for your taste, the next thing I suggest is trying to mellow it out. Again, I’m a fan of “live and let live” whenever possible. So unless things are getting violent or overtly malevolent, start gently.

Burn frankincense in each of the rooms, and follow this up with lavender. Play some peaceful, uplifting, and happy music. Bring in some fresh flowers. Speak with your housemates and institute another temporary “good vibes only” policy for a few days.

The idea here, once again, is to create an extremely positive and peaceful environment.

In nine out of ten situations, this is enough to either make the spirit calm down and behave, or else make it decide to move on of its own volition.

Polite house clearing

If you can’t calm the spirit down, and it doesn’t seem to want to leave on its own, it might be time to send it on its way.

Clean your house just as you did when you first moved in, and this time add a “floor wash” to the mix. You’ll find a ton of recipes online for this, but honestly all you need is a little Florida water in a bucket of water. Wipe down your woodwork and baseboards with this mixture after dusting, sweeping, and vacuuming.

While you’re cleaning, speak directly to the spirit almost like you would a person you’re breaking up with. “Sorry, it’s just not working out. It’s time for you to go. Depart in peace.” Whatever words seem right. Also, talk to the spirit of the house and make sure it understands that your guest needs to be checking out.

As the very last step of the cleaning, take the trash (including whatever’s in your vacuum cleaner) outside through the front door. When you do this, politely but firmly say goodbye to the unwelcome guest and bid it farewell.

Then, follow the process I wrote above for “mellowing them out.” Reset the space with as much positive energy as you can.

The “nuclear” option

I have only ever recommended this approach to house clearing once, and even then I wasn’t convinced that it was strictly necessary. If you follow all of the advice I wrote above, you should almost never have a need to do even the “polite house clearing.” And in almost every case, that polite approach is more than enough to get whatever is causing trouble out the door.

However, if you’re experiencing violent or clearly malevolent activity and need it to be done with once and for all, this method is what I recommend to others.

You will need: a stoneware or other heavy-duty ceramic bowl which can handle heat (and you are willing to throw away); self-lighting charcoal you can burn incense on; sea salt; rosemary; asafoetida; dragon’s blood; and a bottle of water. You’ll also want to be carrying your house key and your deed or lease.

You’ll be using the bowl, filled with sea salt, as a safe way to hold and burn the charcoal and incense as you carry it around with you. You’ll be throwing it away after using it for this ritual. Do not keep it around.

Rosemary is a common herb which can be burned to drive away malevolent spirits, particularly the dead. It’s perfectly fine to grab this from your cupboard, or the baking aisle of your grocery market.

Asafoetida is another herb which is also traditionally burned to drive away malevolent spirits, particularly those of a demonic nature. You might be able to find it in the “Asian” food aisle of your grocery store, but it can be found online if needed.

Dragon’s blood is a type of plant resin which is one of the most powerful incenses for exorcising or cleansing a space. Most “new age” or “metaphysical” stores carry it, but online ordering is also a possibility.

Mix these three substances together in roughly equal parts. You won’t need a ton of this mixture, but you will need enough to burn some in every room.

Now, for the ritual.

First, if you live with other people (or pets), have them leave the house for the duration of this process.

Next, go through the “polite house clearing” as described above, though hold off on doing the “mellowing them out” bit. You’ll do that after the process below. Not only does this help set the stage for the “big show” to follow, but it gives the unruly spirit one last chance to leave before things get serious.

Next, open all of the windows and doors in your home. There are two reasons for this. First, the incense is very pungent (it really, really stinks). Second, you’re giving anything stuck or trapped in the house a chance to flee.

Tell the spirit of the house that you are about to drive away the entity causing all the trouble, and ask the house for its help. If you’ve been cultivating a strong, positive relationship with the house, it should be more the willing to help you evict the troublemaker.

Fill the bowl with the sea salt, which will help to insulate your hands from the heat of the charcoal. Light the charcoal, then burn some of the incense in each of the rooms. Make sure to fill the house with the smoke, but not to do it so much that you’re setting off fire alarms or making yourself or others sick.

While fumigating the house, firmly and loudly tell the unwanted spirit to get out, using as much “colorful” and “vulgar” language as you like.

Seriously. At this stage, you are past the point of politeness. If you’ve followed my advice so far, you gave the entity multiple chances to behave, or to leave on good terms. Now it’s time to throw the thing out on its ass.

Once you’ve gone through the whole house with the incense, and your best “I’m tired of your crap” attitude, bring the bowl outside, douse it well with the water, and throw the whole mess in the trash, preferably well away from your property.

After this, return to your house and do all of the “mellowing out” steps again. Good vibes only, etc. etc.

It’s also a good idea to do whatever personal cleansing ritual you have, such as taking a spiritual bath or even just using a bit of Florida water on yourself like I wrote about above.

Final thoughts

If I have only one rule to share when it comes to relating with the spirits in your home, it’s this: “Be nice, until it’s time to not be nice.” And yes, that’s a quote from the movie Roadhouse.

I work and play with spirits all the time. Some I get along with, some I don’t, and all of them are persons. I do my absolute best to treat them all with love, respect, and a desire to mutually co-exist and flourish.

In my experience, this is the best way to not only handle “troublesome” spirits, it’s also the best way to prevent spirits from becoming “troublesome” in the first place.

(Re)establishing relationships

For me, this week has been about re-establishing relationships. In particular, that has meant reconnecting with spirits and practices which I’ve let “slide” over the last few months. Yesterday, Mercury’s Day, that involved me setting up the altar to Saint Expedite, which had once (and once again) lived on my sewing machine.

It’s simple, but them I’m a simple guy.

I’d write up a detailed description of Saint Expedite, including how I set up my altar and how to work with him, but honestly? Just read this post over at Sphere + Sundry for the low-down. I couldn’t do a better job of explaining it, so I won’t try to.

I will explain, though, why I work with him.

Most of the practical enchantment work I do for myself or others falls under the category of “Protection and Long-Term Goal Attainment.” It’s about establishing a solid foundation for the present, and slowly building toward the future. The key word there is slowly. The approach I take is one of gentle nudges and careful moves. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and all that.

Unfortunately, sometimes Stuff Happens, or needs to happen, quickly. For example, you’re getting kicked out of your apartment and need a place to stay. Or your car just fell apart and you need to find a new one.

That’s where Saint Expedite comes in. It’s kind of his whole thing to not only make Stuff Happen, but to make it happen in record time.

To be sure, there are other ways to go about making magic “go fast,” and I often throw them at the problem, too, but Saint Expedite has a knack for getting things done with the sort of haste I still find kind of unbelievable.

He’s a good friend to have around, because even if you don’t presently need his services, who knows what tomorrow will bring.

Two Wizards

When I was about twelve years old, my parents dragged me off to a used book store we liked to visit, and I was in a mood.

I don’t remember why, but for some reason I’d decided to be a sulking little brat that day, and had zero interest in going anywhere. That’s kind of weird, when I think about it. I loved that store. The shelves strained under the weight of books piles on books, and every corner of the place had at least two tall stacks of tomes leaning precariously.

I’m sure if a fire marshal had ever visited the place, it would have been shut down in an instant. Then again, maybe they were a book lover, too.

Anyway, my parents insisted I come along for the trip I didn’t want to take, and I made various unhappy “harumphing” sounds in the back seat the whole way there. Once we’d arrived, I dove out of the car, probably slammed the door, and went inside to find the deepest corner of the store in which to hide and pout.

As it turned out, the deepest corner of the store was home to the occult section. And just about five minutes after stepping into it, my life changed forever.

I know that’s a cliche, but honestly there’s no other way to describe it. I walked into the aisle crammed with esoterica, found myself drawn to a mustard-colored paperback, and pulled it off the shelf.

It was a book on the Tarot.

I don’t remember thumbing through it in the store, though I must have. I do remember that it was two dollars. I took the book, went in search of my mother, and sheepishly asked if I could have it. She glanced at the cover, then said “sure” without even blinking.

There’s no real way to explain how remarkable her unremarkable reaction was. First, since I’d been so miserable on the trip, it was somewhat of a miracle that my mother let me have anything that day. Second, while I’d never heard her disapprove of the Tarot or other “occult-type” things, she’d never glowingly endorsed them either. The fact she didn’t even question my interest was a little odd.

Also? She didn’t even ask the price. She just said yes.

On the car ride back, I didn’t sulk. I was too busy reading the book I’d just acquired. And once we’d gotten home, I dove out of the car again and spent the rest of the day in my room, reading the whole thing by that evening.

The next morning, I asked my mother if I could get a deck of Tarot cards. Once again, she replied with a “sure,” and asked no questions. That afternoon, I had a copy of the Rider-Waite-Smith deck, and started re-reading the book.

Over the next thirty-plus years, the Tarot has come in and out of my life. I’ve set it aside, picked it up, and put it down again. Over time, the cycles grew shorter—I spent more time with the Tarot than without it.

Now, I’m forty-four, and the Tarot is as interwoven into my life as anything else. It’s my go-to tool for divination, and central to my magical practice.

And, if I’m being perfectly honest, it’s pretty much the whole reason I began to study magic in the first place.

I’ve spent thousands of hours in the occult sections of various bookstores since that first day, and even more thousands of hours learning and practicing every form or approach to magic I’ve been exposed to.

To be fair, I was never very disciplined about my studies. It was only about seven or eight years ago that I began to seriously and consistently practice magic, and it was only about five years ago that I decided to make magic my “full-time job.”

In some respects, at some points in my life, I’ve thought of this as a bit of a waste. If I’d been more “mature” or less “lazy,” I’d be able to straight-facedly claim an additional twenty years of experience and study. I like how that sounds, of course, but more importantly the idea has me looking ahead, staring down the “back nine” of my life, and wondering if I have time enough to learn everything I want.

The answer is “no,” of course. Magic is infinite, and no one can ever learn it all, in one human lifetime or a hundred.

Anyway, I was thinking these thoughts the other day, while trying to ignore my to-do list, and I found myself considering the “Magician” of the Tarot.

In the ever-popular Rider-Waite-Smith deck, the Magician is modeled closely after the ceremonial magicians familiar to anyone who’s come upon the “Western Magical Tradition.” They’re a serious-looking character, with their wand upraised as they stand before an altar bearing the traditional four “weapons” associated with each of the four elements.

The Magician here definitely never skipped classes or blew off their homework. You can easily imagine that their house resembles a library more than it resembles a home, and I suspect they can rattle off “correspondences” from dawn to dusk.

Then, there’s “Le Bateleur.” This is the “Magician” as represented in the earlier Tarot de Marseilles. We can clearly see some similarities here, which point to the evolution of the card, but there are enough differences to be intriguing.

First, the name of the card, “Le Bateleur.” This is a French term which means a street performer, tumbler, or juggler depending on who and when you’re asking. “Juggler” is interesting, as it’s a term that was sometimes used to describe magicians, and the term “jugglery” is usually defined as “manipulation or trickery, especially to achieve a desired end.”

Suffice it to say, magicians haven’t always been held in high regard by mainstream society. And there’s a casual, almost carefree air to the Bateleur that we don’t see in the Magician.

Not only is it hard to imagine the Bateleur as a hard-working student of Super Serious Esoteric Mysteries with a house full of books, they might very well be homeless. A drifter, roaming from town to town, plying their trade—at least until the fine, upstanding citizens of the town drive them off.

When I first came upon the Tarot de Marseilles about six years ago, the appearance of the Bateleur (and its contrast to the Magician of the RWS deck) was what struck me the most. Here was a wizard I could relate to.

I don’t mean to say that I consider myself a shiftless drifter to be driven out of the country (although I do like the idea of living the “van life” someday). Rather, I mean that if you look back at old stories about magicians, wizards, and witches, you’ll find that, yes, they often liked their magical tomes and had great power, but they were also apt to be tricksters—and maybe even a little bit mad.

Look into the literary history of Merlin, if you don’t believe me.

The point of all this is to say that as I’ve been working myself to exhaustion these last few weeks, more and more I’ve come to appreciate my own evolution as a wizard. A slow, wandering drift from Magician to Bateleur. A leaving behind of memorized correspondences and fixed rituals, for the more expressive lands of spirit communication and celebratory performance.

So while I’m by no means some huckster, shining folks on until the torches and pitchforks say it’s time to leave, I am taking myself less seriously than did years ago, and I’m having much more fun doing it.

Incidentally, you can get both the Magician and the Bateuler on a t-shirt from my Spring store.

Just sayin’.

I hope you have an excellent week.