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“Burn all the books,

They’ve got too many names and psychoses.”

-Alanis Morrissette, ‘UR’

 In a thread on Walking The Hedge I got a few replies from Juniper that got me thinking about myself (well, I think about myself pretty often…whachagonna do ‘bout it?). I had asked about herbs to burn during a funerary rite for some skulls I’ve bought recently (I’ll post about that later), because I had been looking for an appropriate blend that would help to release any negativity or spirits that needed to go, but wouldn’t rip the spirits out of their skulls should they decide to stay.

She suggested a few, and after I looked into them, I still felt I had to take pause. “But in Cunningham’s book, he says that herb is for exorcism! Wouldn’t that be exactly what I was trying to avoid?”, I asked. Juniper replied with an analogy and if there is anything I love, it’s a good analogy! I had pointed out that, yes, while juniper berries and pine are protective herbs, and ones that may be familiar to the animals I would be working with, they were also banishing and exorcising herbs. Was I going to be able to use them, accessing one trait without using another? Juniper replied:

“You burn/use the plant with intent, you ask it’s spirit to give up the last of itself to your specific purpose and honour it in doing so. 

Think of it this way: Each plant has it’s own “talents” and “abilities”, there are some things it is better suited for. You can use your ability to sing while not using your ability to play guitar.”

It may not seem like anything uniquely profound, but it definitely gave me reason to reflect. I felt kind of silly; not for questioning what she said. If anything, I think most intelligent witches appreciate people who will politely question them for the sake of learning, even if it is to get their thoughts on something as mainstream as their opinion on Cunningham’s suggestions. No, what I felt silly for was not having thought of this on my own; I’ve been practicing for years, read plenty of books, researched for countless hours, taken classes, and even gotten off my butt and cast a few spells. And what is the one thing more important than anything I read in these books and blogs? Intention.

In all my academia about something as ecstatic as Paganism, I had forgotten the importance of intent.

I told Juniper…

“But I suppose that my problem isn’t uncommon, and is the impetus for sites like this one; I have been practicing Wicca/witchcraft in some form or another for over a decade, but always of the ‘101’ variety. I have always followed the structures given to me by Cunningham or even Silver, and always made sure that everything I did fit perfectly into the forms they gave me. I made selections of tools and ingredients for spells as precisely as possible, and while that is still important, I made things so air-tight and fool-proof that I had no room in which to think…I was kind of leaving out the ‘intent’ part of my work. 

In hopes of making a precise spell, crafted with the perfect ingredients, I would forget the importance of focus and intent; I got caught up a bit in the idea that the ingredients were doing the work for me. And, well, I don’t craft spells very often, so it’s easy to fall back into those bad habits! “

So I have taken this realization and made a note of it. I have said to myself ‘Stop thinking of doing it, and DO it! Stop thinking of how it should work, and make it work yourself!’ I originally turned to a Pagan path because I admired the concept that, while Deity is the higher power, I had so much control over my own life. But in relying so heavily on herbs, stones, or other tools (especially books), I had taken the power back out of my hands and put it in the hands of my tools!

So now, when crafting a spell, I will choose my herbs and my tools with my intent. I will empower them with my ambition. And, I will be the source of ignition!

Keep the power in your own hands, people. Don’t give it away to a book, or a tool, or a person.

Craft with intention and passion, not only research and analysis.


To anyone who finds themselves in the same situation, Juniper has a great article describing how to figure out correspondences on your own. She’s very insightful and she is one of my favourite bloggers!

Check out her article here.