Natural vs Purchased Magical Items

Pagan Perspective is a decade-long YouTube channel made up of different contributors that give their own perspectives on questions sent to them. I love how this channel isn’t definitive but personal, and provokes so much reflection. 

Question (paraphrased): What do you think about using man-made and mass-produced items in craftwork and ritual versus naturally occurring?

Ouf, this is a subject I’ve personally struggled with. There are definitely practices I’ve learned where I’ve been told to purchase something new… For example, I’ve had the thought:

 “I’m sure witches of old couldn’t just buy a new mirror for $12! Witches of very old would have gazed upon the reflection on water, Witches of kind-of-old may have reused mirrors, or inherited them… Why do I need to buy a mirror??”

I actually have an answer for me-from-8-years-ago… and would give the same instruction to students that I had received. (“New” means “clean” and “fresh” in the unconscious of most people, there’s a safer bet here. I’ve also encountered more magically charged objects and mirrors since then… While now I take more risks in my own practice, I will encourage new practitioners to be more conservative.) 

That said:

Most of my ceremonial items have been gifts. I cannot tell you how it feels to gaze upon an altar of tools imbued not only with the power that comes from purification, consecration and use, but also loving memories. 

Some of my tools have been made for me. One close friend and advisor told me he thinks this a bad idea, that people should go through the challenge of making their own tools. I agree with him – the creation of tools is more than just making an object, but a transformative process within yourself that manifests in that tool, and remains accessible through that tool. Made out of love and effort, they are your children. 

And yet, I am specifically grateful for a number of Golden Dawn tools that were made for me. We all need help sometimes – I am very bad at asking for it. Group work sometimes means doing things before we feel ready. He didn’t push me, and the gift of space to have my own process and reactions while also remaining a part of magical group momentum is indeed precious. 

 You can actually see some of Faunus’ work for sale at The Hermetic Arts Learning Centre.)

Some of my ceremonial items have been purchased. 

There are simply many things that require skills I do not have. 

I learned with a formal group, and I needed a certain number of things at a deadline with limited notice.  This taught me that magic doesn’t actually rely upon the perfect object, that objects can be changed, and that is no acceptable excuse not to find what you need to get something done. 

Some of my tools I have made for myself. 

Most of my tools have been made with mass-produced items – paint, pre-finished woods, fabric, glue etc. It’s helped me achieve a precision and quality of appearance that mattered to me, and matched those of the people I practiced with.

I often don’t like my own handiwork and so I’ve had to accept some limitations, including skillful help from others and tools that are not very glamorous or natural, like fine point Sharpies.

Some of my items I have been damn hard-headed about.

I am stubborn. I like what I like. There are things I have put off for years because I have a specific idea and meaning I’d like to manifest. For the non-essential things, people are going to have to deal with my attitude on this… I am also reminded that I need to keep working on that attitude.

The best were the ones that I gave away

I have made and purchased some things expressly for others. I have kept “extras” on hand, planning to give them away. This always surprises people, catches them off guard and creates very special, magical moments.

A few of my tools are “natural”. 

“Natural” is a bit of a trigger word for me, as I feel its a word used to make some people feel superior to others. A few of my tools would be considered natural and I do enjoy them differently, and a different kind of quality they seem to possess – a more primal feeling. The acquiring of them has required time and patience, sometimes serendipitous, sometimes expensive. 

I have a lovely, plain beeswax patten that I poured myself; A large scrying glass of translucent black agate. I always prefer the Stang be as raw as possible, and over the years, I have been collecting things for making a traditional broom – ash, willow and birch…   

What I’ve learned about myself through my magical items:

  • Less is more. When it comes to my personal practice, my focus is better when there is less stuff and decoration. I prefer my items to have simpler symbolism. 
  • I don’t love a ton of colours. The use of colour is extraordinary powerful in magic, and yet, I don’t prefer it in my personal aesthetic. What is your opinion on this?
  • Once I have something, I prefer to keep using it. I don’t really like rotating and changing my tools. 
  • Having a more decorated space, and more books, has been better at inspiring others. I actually have a decorated room for this reason more than anything. 

Final Thoughts:

You should appreciate and feel connected to the tools you have

You should really understand what they mean, and how they serve you. 

You should feel that they have inherent value to you. Some people might be okay with dollar store items or rudimentary natural items, some may not. This is part of Knowing Yourself. 

Once you have them, use them. If you got caught up in aesthetics and acquirement and then never used them, realise you fell into a learning trap. 

Do natural crystals work “better” than artificially created ones? I don’t know. Does an artificially inseminated or modified human work better than a “natural” one? Perhaps every object, every thing is different it’s personality and flavour. 

Do plants you grown and dried work “better” than dried herbs you’ve purchased? I think that prior work in developing a relationship with something will absolutely affect your magic. Loving and nurturing a plant – or any item – will make a difference in that you are nop longer “using it” but “working with them” and “learning from them”.

This is ultimately the best attitude towards our tools and sacred items, and our attitude is more important than where they came from.  

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