Practical Magic: Glamoury and Tealight Hearths

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[Back to Basics] Cleansing/Shielding

I Can Take Care of Myself.  I've Been Using the Bowflex.

Most occultists/witches have really elaborate shielding systems.  I just . . .real talk here.  I can't be bothered.

Jow has compared this to constantly eating an egg salad sandwich out of a bus station bathroom vending machine, a la Futurama.  It totally squicks out every magical person I know.  Just the idea of all of that foreign flora and fauna blossoming into strange malevolence inside me sends a shudder down their collective spines.  And I'm a girl who prefers not to swim in public pools and doesn't like to put her hands in things.

Is it because I think I'm so bad ass that I don't need to shield?  No, if anything I think most people couldn't be bothered to want to jinx me.  Most people are just trying to get through their days without the blood of their children or coworkers on their hands.

The thing is, when you're used to a stream of low level junk coming through your system like leaves or bugs through a pool's filter, you tend to notice when it's a dead bird and not a leaf.

Like, say, the evil eye.

Hell Is A Teenaged Girl.

The evil eye is a good example of a low level malefica that most people will have to deal with.  Social media doesn't help this.  Most of us use social media to project an idealized version of our lives and leave the tedium of the day to day, like around 3p where you think about stabbing yourself in the hand with a pencil just to make sure you can still feel feelings or the stupid nothing fights you get into with your SO about role playing books even though neither of you have played a role playing game in the last five years or the fact that you still haven't started redoing your Spare Oom and you may need to use a shovel to straighten your house.  Or, you know, whatever tedious junk you have in your life.

So when you're not talking about all the stupid crap in your life that you have to slog through and you get to be a certain age where many friends and acquaintances now only see Your Best Party Self as either a carefully made up guest who is triumphant that you managed to get to the store and bring a bottle of wine or when your house looks like it's not exploding with craft supplies, laundry and dishes and you can manage to set a nice table and your hair is not a frizzy mess.

You don't often take pictures of the awful parts of your day so all these people (which also sometimes includes family and coworkers) have to go by are the best parts.  Which makes them think about their lives which include their worst parts and makes them compare themselves to you which leads to either purposefully trying to hate you to death with their minds (something non magical people and magical people are equally skilled with) or trying to tell themselves that they are a good person and then simply subconsciously try to hate you to death with their minds.

Maybe 25% of the people you know are self aware enough to realize that comparing themselves to you is both futile and dumb and only 10% of them will be consistent about it.

Boo.  Cross Out Jennifer.

So, how do you know someone is giving you the evil eye?

1. Sometimes you feel it.  I feel it like a dart to my back, right where my bra strap hooks.  It usually comes to your back.  When you feel it, yank it out.  I usually use a literal yanking motion to take it out.  It physically hurts for me.  To prevent this, wear a hamsa so that it drapes over your back.

2. Are you involved in what I call Tranch Warfare?  In other words, are you in a Frienemy War?  If you don't know what that is, start by watching Mean Girls.

Tranch Warfare can be occasionally productive if you limit it to holding up the traits you admire about the other person (which is ironically why you're mad), acknowledge you're jealous of it and admire it and then figure out how to use that energy to make yourself faster, smarter, stronger.

Most of the time however it degenerates down to, "OMFG I HATE THAT BITCH!  WHO DOES HE THINK HE IS!  HE IS NOT BETTER THAN ME!  I AM BETTER THAN HIM!  I WANT TO TEAR HIS FACE OFF!"  and you're too consumed with toxic energy and getting yourself trapped in a revenge cycle to use it productively.

Be honest with yourself and where you are with it.  You are probably giving that person the evil eye and that person is probably giving you the evil eye right back and you're both practically building shrines to each other because you're so consumed with each other and working each other up to a honey badger level of psychosis.

The only way to fix that is to fix yourself by disengaging.  Admit what you admire, work to bring it into your life.  Let it go, Elsa.  Let.  It.  Go.

3. Are you projecting an image of perfection?  Don't be a target.  Be sure to "let slip" some imperfect aspects of your life sometimes.  If people see you more as a whole person instead of a Ms. Martha level of perfection, they are less likely to target you with their negative energy.  Because . . .let's be honest.  We all liked Martha more after her prison bid.

4.  Are you attending an event that has a high "woo" ratio?  It's not always just at "Occult/Pagan" events.  Lots of alterna events including cons and renaissance fairs have a lot of witchy folks there.  You get a lot of us in a room and one of two things happen: a. The pre-existing tranch warfare issues boil over into a mess of wooj/crazy/evil eye/intentional hexing or b. just having all of us in a room together when we don't already know each other and don't know how to combine energies combines our collective energies into a oogie boogie egregore and things still get weird and gross because. . .welcome to being magic.

This is where you need to be especially defensive, more so than in your day to day.  Wear a scarf over your head to protect your crown chakra, if it's outside wear sunglasses (your eyes are the windows to your soul but don't wear sunglasses inside unless you need to for medical reasons, don't be That Guy) or limit direct eye contact, wear protective jewelry, draw protective sigils on yourself with intent using hand sanitizer and ask for your goddesses' and spirits' protection and consider wearing gloves if you can do it in a way that doesn't look obvious or awkward.

5. Now you can recognize the evil eye and defend yourself. There's also another option in dealing with this kind of thing.  Don't be afraid to give that energy right back to the person who gave it to you.  You could feel it as an energy push inside yourself, you could hold a mirror up to their picture (or to the actual person if you can be slick about it) or you could picture handing that person the ball of energy they slimed onto you.  Just because it may have been subconscious doesn't mean you have to accept that negative energy or be nice about it.   

I Am Scrumptious!

Regular cleansing is also important to make sure your magical filter doesn't get clogged too much.  Ideally, at least once a week.  You wouldn't go months without physically bathing, you shouldn't go months without cleansing.  

You could smudge yourself with sage, you could take a bath with cleansing herbs, you could take a shower with a salt scrub and visualize the negative energy going down the drain or you could do a cleansing meditation such as the two power meditation, you could also go to a sauna and sweat out the negativity.  The Russian Turkish Baths in NYC is great for this.

Self awareness is the most important aspect, however.  You know when you're about to get a cold.  Your head feels stuffy, you're sneezing, you're sniffling, you're coughing and you feel run down.  You should be able to tell when your filters are getting clogged, too.  For me I feel more run down, less energetic, more depressed, more tired and disinterested in things that usually interest me. When I feel like that, I start by cleansing to see if it's a filter issue or a depression issue.  If I cleanse and I feel better for several days, it's a filter issue.  If I cleanse and don't feel better, it's a depression issue that I need to address through my depression coping routine.  

Even if you feel like you're not a very energetically aware person, you can become more aware of other people's energy and your own through practice.  My stumbling block when I started is that most people describe energy very visually.  I see energy in words and feelings.  Once I realized that, I could tell if someone felt "off" to me by the way their energy felt.  Now I also ask my more wooji friends for validation ("Does this person seem .  . .not right?"  "Yes!  OMG!  I'm glad you said something!  I thought so too!")

Be gentle with yourself and let yourself learn and grow in your own way.  Eventually, it will be like second nature.  Be sure to trust your instincts if something (or someone) doesn't feel right to you.  It's better to politely (or not so politely) back away and find you were wrong than to have not backed away and found that you were right and in a bad situation.  


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Deborah Castellano's book, Glamour Magic: The Witchcraft Revolution to Get What You Want (Llewellyn, 2017) is available: . She is a frequent contributor to Occult/Pagan sources such as the Llewellyn almanacs, Witchvox, PaganSquare and Witches & Pagans magazine. She writes about Charms, Hexes, Weeknight Dinner Recipes, Glamoury and Unsolicited Opinions on Morals and Magic at Charmed, I'm Sure. Her craft shop, The Mermaid and The Crow ( specializes in goddess & god vigil candles, hand blended ritual oils, airy hand dyed scarves, handspun yarn and other goodies. She resides in New Jersey with her husband, Jow and their two cats. She has a terrible reality television habit she can't shake and likes St. Germain liquor, record players and typewriters.


  • Elizabeth Kleine
    Elizabeth Kleine Saturday, 15 November 2014

    Amazing article. I recognized the Jennifer's Body quotes and did a little happy dance :D

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