Regional Witchcraft Challenge

When I first posted the #regionalwitchcraftchallenge on Instagram, I had no idea that it would take off into such a unique phenomenon.  The idea was for people to show me what the magical toolbox of their own region looks like.  I wanted to see how magic is shaped by where we live and where we came from, and for us to share those experiences.  When I posted it, I was knee deep in Puget Sound story-telling lore for a project, and was just hoping to connect to a few people about their own bioregional animism.  

But then, something happened; the connection was made and an explosion followed.  Magicians, brujos, sorcieres, charmers, witches, healers, sorcerers and magical folk from all over the world posted a picture of the tools that best represent the craft in their region. From France and Germany, from Italy and Denmark, from Scotland and South Wales, from Australia and South Africa, from New England and Alaska; witches the world over-- over 145 people so far, jumped on this hashtag (or a related one) and shared their tools.  Lo behold- we really are a very distinct spiritual group.

Horseshoes, rusted nails, shells, twisted branches and animal skulls it would appear that every folk witch in the world has their own use for red thread and woven magics.  It has been incredibly connecting, and affirming, this realization that no matter the denominations of magic we practice, we share a common spiritual center, a common animistic thread that tells each of us to collect from the land and bind what we find together to make a practice that is whole and good.  The familiarity was fascinating; if you take a look at the pictures posted, you will see a definite trend in what folk witches the world over need to do their works, and it would appear we are riding similar waves in our practices.

What we share in common in our practices, far outweighs our cultural and religious differences, and binds us together in the common faith of spirit and magic.  I want to thank every single one who participated and made the Regional Witchcraft Challenge a huge success. May the red thread that binds us magical folk never unravel.  

I'd like us all to come together after vaccination and restrictions lift, and meet at some place, some camp or resort, to host our Goblin Markets and share our magical humor.  I picture witchy movie night, ancient board-games, trading skills, karaoke, mischief in the forest, general hell raising.  I want to gather round the fire at a crossroads in the woods and hail to the father and mother of witches, play some banjo and cat's cradle...  I'm picturing a whole lot of sea-shanties and a whole lot of food.

I encourage you so join in, share your regional toolkit and bond with those fascinating humans from all over the world who understand where we're coming from.  I think bringing awareness to diversity/similarity is important-- it's part of the way I was raised and has brought me a lot of good friends and family to share this life with.  Highlighting our beautiful variety and bonding over that shared experience, is an affirming thing, and I'd love to learn more about each and every one of you.  Folk-witches of the world, unite and take over.

My Puget Witchery

It started with a simple picture, of my Puget Sound Magic, the toolkit of a witch who lives along the river, in the shadow of Rainier.  The Puget Sound region is water and earth and sky energy in such perfect balance, so much life hidden in shadows. We are quiet people in a way, often introverted and socially calm, so often we miss each other.   If you are a Puget Sound animistic practitioner of magic, seek me out, we should congregate as the rivers do.  I look forward to reaching out to the other Pacific Northwest Witches-- and those around the world, to meet up, to share. The land of mountains and rivers is home to everything a witch could need to work their will. There are whispers in those dark woods and swamps, there are ghosts and monsters in these lakes.

It smells like cedar here, and damp, and that cloyingly sweet scent of tree resins baking in the sun.  It's a land of ghosts, woodland devils, ogres, sea-kingdoms and witches, a good place to be.  Our magic is riparian, our mountains are gods, our forests are haunted and witches are devourers.  There are many demons to dance with in the wood, and underworlds to fly to. Baskets and stones, reeds and bones, there's a lot to love here in the Evergreen woods, and in the whole of the world.

In My Toolbox...

Clay Babies- Famously found on Fox (and McNeil) Island in the Sound and surrounded by a wealth of local lore, these incredible, strange curiosities of geology are the children of the maiden of the sea, and tokens of sadness, sea-divinity, gift giving and messages.  The ones found on the private beaches are now protected from being gathered, but they were free-game not that long ago and still occasionally find their way places.  At this point, most people seem to receive them as gifts from old rock-hounds, like the one I was given by a deceased local, or they gather them from some of the rivers and estuaries in the State that occasionally find themselves populated with these little water-messengers.  They aren't always found on private islands or preserves but that's usually the places they get the most attention; either way, they are children of earth and water and time.  Clay babies from this particular region house water-spirits, small folk imbued with life over the long stretch of time by the sea gods.  Layer after layer, building itself by combination of water and earth over (often) an organic material (such as a worm).  One source claims that they are related to the souls of infants, others claim they are tokens of affection from the sea.  They can represent the spirits of the water and should be kept carefully, and kindly cradled.

St. Helen's Ash-  when the mountain blew her top, her tears went EVERYWHERE.  As far north as Canada, as far south as who knows where, this ash accumulated all over the Pacific Northwest, with all the fury and destructive magic of the mountain.  A little bit of this in any averting dust brings a sense of finality to the charm.

Poplar Fluff- Also known as the Summer Snow, the fluff from the poplar trees smell heavenly but they accumulate everywhere the wind blows and can irritate allergies like crazy.  But watching them dance in the stillness, capturing the light of the sun, rolling along in great piles as you ride by on your bike... it's incredible.  The fluff is an excellent poppet stuffing, but frankly, I like to keep a small pile of the fresh stuff for my spirit to fly with.

Sound Salt-  Some people like to evaporate their waters for the salt, but I prefer to imbue.  I bought some salt on Bainbridge from a local and placed it in a jar with a large sprig of algae from the beach.  Over the months, the salt took up the moisture and scent of the sea from the red algae and now the salt, years later, is perfectly sea-worthy, and cleanses everything it touches, leeching impurities as moisture was leeched from the algae.

Geoduck Shells- when geoduck season comes you'll see a great deal of people out on the beach clamming, it's a Northwest tradition.  Geoducks are symbolically sexual creatures, with a history of use as an Aphrodisiac outside of the USA.  They are swift, sexual, powerful and (apparently) delicious?  Their shells make a good offering bowl to the amorous spirits.

Decayed Cedar- is perhaps one of the most useful incense bases that can be found all over the place-- even in the more lush and wild backyards with a rotting stump out in the fringes.  Cedar is god.  Cedar has every kind of use and is about as close to a world-tree here as one will get.  When decayed, the red bark becomes a sweet, spicy-scented powder that fills the room with the food of the spirits.  From the death of some of these trees comes a new life, found in the flames.  When sprinkled in foot-tracks, the powder conjures spirits (for me at least).

Pitch- from pine and spruce, a tool of dark witching indeed, associated with the magic baskets of the ogresses and snake and snail witches who haunt the woods and waters.  The pitch is perfect for woodwife torches (wood, sticky pitch and dried moss/lichen).

River Clay- the grey mud along the banks of certain creeks and brooks is soft and murky and easily filtered and poured into molds, and the rock clay dries quickly outside the shelf of the riverside away from all the moisture, and when powdered can become some of the most beautiful brown pottery.  There's a lot of death in the clay, those spirits must be appeased and respected and placated before granting consent to be taken.

Spring Water-  The closest to me is the Lynnwood Well and it was pretty sweet, tasty, refreshing and easy.  But the best come from the springs near the mountains further South.  There's just so much more magical UMPH to it, you know?  Those woods are full of demons, snail witches and ogre tribes; whispering wetlands and malefic meadows, and the waters that come from those places hold the spirit of that dark and mysterious medicine.  Spring water is a go-to base for all kinds of potions and notions. 

Glacial Sediment and Silt- as a magical dust.  The glacial sediments give lakes like Diablo their pristine colors, their clarity and coldness.  A tiny pinch of these kinds of dust make an excellent addition to offering sands to the jay spirit, among other gifts.

Cascade Crystals- the devil haunted mountains are a forge operated by old gods and dark spirits, and from the heat and fire of the volcanic ark, one might stumble across a quarry of raw crystal with orange and red sediment impurities within them.  Beautiful, full of the magic of death and fire and forge.  My grandpa would take my sister and cousins and I with him rock hounding up North in the quarries; we'd come back with small handfuls of only the most beautiful little crystals we could dig out by our own hand.  I'd share when with friends at parties and talk all about my cool hippy Scandinavian grandpa and his traveling spirit.  I feel his spirit in the crystals, and every time I pass by the mountains.

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