Long before modern medicine existed, it was common practice for people to look to spiritual guides to remedy their ailments, both physical and mental. Pagan witches, despite their nefarious reputations, were a particularly powerful source of healing. "For as long as we know, witches have been healers, midwives, and spiritual forces in their communities," explains Skye Alexander, a practicing witch for more than 20 years and the author of 13 books about witchcraft, including The Modern Guide to Witchcraft ($14) and The Modern Witchcraft Spell Book ($14). "They understood … how to use herbal remedies to aid everything from a broken bone to a broken heart. … Following a Wiccan path helps us connect with our own power, which can ease depression and anxiety."
Of course, you don't have to be a full-on Pagan to benefit from alternative rituals or "spells." Just take it from Reshena Johnson, an integrated energy therapy practitioner known as The Homegirl Healer in Washington, D.C. "When you think about ritual, it is very spiritual, but it is also very orderly," she says. "When the steps of a ritual are provided to you, it allows you to focus your energy and thinking. This … can give you a reprieve from the thoughts and emotions that can trap us." Certainly, balance is important, and seeking help from a traditional doctor for mental health concerns is sometimes very necessary. Even witches know that. Their point is not to do away with contemporary medicine—instead, it's to encourage us to approach our mental health with a sense of mindfulness and self-possession. "While the science of modern medicine is an important part of managing things like depression, anxiety, and mood disorders, nature's medicine fortifies our healing process," Johnson explains. "Our current knowledge of spiritual healing is simply a modernized version of what our ancestors knew all along: Nature heals."
With that in mind, we consulted our trio of witches to put together this list of mood-boosting spells. From mind-clearing baths to energizing crystal therapy, here are six magical rituals to make you a very happy witch.
Smudge Your Space
Smudging is an ancient practice that energetically cleanses a space using the power of herbs and smoke. "The spaces that we occupy are sponges for all kinds of energy, some good and some that we would rather not have around us," Johnson explains. "Smudging is a great way to energetically clear and reset our space and ourselves."
Sage is often the go-to herb for smudging because it works to clear out old, stagnant energy. But it's so powerful that it also clears out positive any energy too, so after smudging, you'll need to replenish the space with good vibes, using materials like palo santo or sweetgrass. According to Dr. Sanam Hafeez, there is specific preliminary support for the use of sage in that of mood and memory. "A 2005 study showed that common sage improved memory and cognition (thinking ability)," she reports. "In addition, increased dosages were related to improvements in mood, and feeling alert, calm, and content," she says.
Check out Johnson's two-part smudging spell below:
- White sage (either loose or bundled)
- Palo Santo stick and/or a Sweetgrass braid
Light the sage and guide it in clockwise, circular motions around whichever space you wish to smudge, starting from the back of the room and working toward the front. "You will need to make sure that you clear each corner, shadow spaces, and door and window sills," Johnson says. Then light your palo santo stick or sweetgrass and repeat the same steps.
Put on your favorite uplifting Spotify playlist after smudging to further infuse your space with positive energy.
Take a Mind-Clearing Bath
For witches in training who want to replace feelings of stress and confusion with tranquility and clarity, this spiritual bath is an easy yet transformative ritual. The bath potion, courtesy of Jona Genova, spiritual healer and self-care expert, is "easy to make, packed with benefits, all natural, kind to the environment, and cruelty-free." According to Hafeez, "Anxiety relieving agents have long included some mention or use of lavender oil, and some studies have shown an anxiolytic response, including a calming effect without sedation, as well as a lack of dependence, tolerance, or withdrawal."
- 1 cup Epsom salts
- 1/2 cup coarse Himalayan pink salt
- 20 drops of your favorite essential oils (Genova recommends eight drops lavender, six drops rosemary, three drops geranium, and three drops rose, a special illuminating blend she calls Speak Your Truth)
Instructions: Mix your potion in an upcycled glass jar; then, it's time to infuse it with positivity. To do this, simply hold your hands over the open jar of salts and, at Genova's word, "imagine that love is flowing from an infinite supply within your heart, down your arms, through your hands, and into the salts."
Whip Up This Energy Elixir
Feeling lethargic? "When you need a quick pick-me-up that's all-natural and caffeine- and sugar-free, drink this magick Energy Elixir to boost your mood and clear your mind," says Alexander.
- A clear glass bottle with a cap or stopper
- A small piece of rutilated quartz crystal
- Spring water
- A few drops of the following essential oils: peppermint or spearmint, lemon, and sweet orange
- The Strength card from a tarot deck
After assembling your materials, wash the glass bottle and the quartz crystal with mild soap and water, and let them dry. Next, cast a circle around the area where you want to do your spell (here's a little tutorial on how to cast a basic magic circle).
Fill the bottle with spring water, add your essential oils, and then add the crystal. Cap the bottle and shake it three times to charge it. Next, place the Strength card face up on a table or altar. Set the bottle on top of the card and leave it there for at least 10 minutes, long enough for the water to absorb the energy of the card. Finally, remove the crystal from the bottle, open your circle up, and sip this "supercharged elixir" for a serious energy boost.
Cast a Musical Spell
Don't worry, you don't have to sing. Instead, this spell makes use of a drumming motion, which stimulates acupressure and reflexology points on your hands to produce mood-elevating benefits. "Because the beats harmonize with the beating of your own heart, drumming makes you feel joyful and alive," says Alexander.
- Sandalwood incense
- An incense burner
- Matches or a lighter
- Brightly colored ribbons
- A hand drum (for instance, a djembe, dumbek, or conga)
- The Sun card from a tarot deck you don't use for readings
Start by lighting your incense. Then tie as many ribbons around the drum as you like and affix The Sun card to the drum (you could probably slip it under one of its strings) with the image facing out.
Begin tapping on the drum with both hands. "Don't worry about how you sound or whether you're doing it right. Just play," Alexander advises. "Feel the drum's vibrations resonating through your hands, arms, and body. Feel it breaking up the dense, depressing energy around you." If you feel the urge to close your eyes, mix up your beat, or even play along to a track of lively music, that's cool—just keep your mind focused on the drumming. "You may hear singing or sense the presence of nonphysical beings near you—for drumming attracts fun-loving spirits," says Alexander. "Repeat this spell whenever you start feeling blue to quickly shift your emotions to a higher vibration."
Try This Stress-Busting Ritual
If anxiety is your Achilles heel, this relaxing ritual will be your defense. As Alexander says, "This relaxing ritual helps you release stress, stay calm, and ease emotional upsets in the presence of everyday annoyances."
- Soothing music (new age or classical is best, either instrumental or chanting, without a catchy rhythm or lyrics)
- A tumbled chunk of amethyst
- A tumbled chunk of rose quartz
- A blue candle
- A candleholder
- A ballpoint pen
- Essential oil of lavender, vanilla, sweet orange, or ylang-ylang
- Matches or a lighter
Collect your materials, wash the stones with mild soap and water, and then pat them dry. Hit play on your music, and then cast a circle around your spell area. Write the word "peace" on the candle with your ballpoint pen. Then "dress" the candle by rubbing it with your essential oils (though not on the wick), and light it.
Hold one gemstone in each hand, sit in a comfortable place, and close your eyes. "Begin breathing slowly and deeply," Alexander instructs. "Inhale the soothing scent and allow it to calm your mind. Rub the smooth stones with your fingers. Feel the stones neutralize stress, irritability, and anxiety. Focus on your breathing. If your mind starts to wander, gently bring it back and say or think the word 'peace.'"
Devote at least 10 minutes to this practice. When you feel ready, open your eyes, blow out the candle, and open the circle.
Build a Crystal Grid
Crystals each carry their own vibrational frequency and have been used in myriad healing practices for hundreds of years. "There is literally a crystal that can provide energetic support for practically any issue or ailment that you can think of," says Johnson, who recommends harnessing the power of crystals by building your own "crystal grid," an arrangement of crystals suited to your particular wants and needs. Never built one before? Not to worry: Here is a beginner's crystal grid format that Johnson says is perfect for promoting happiness and positivity.
- 1 clear quartz stone (a clear quartz point is preferable, but any shape of clear quartz will work)
- 4 rose quartz stones
- 4 citrine stones
Identify a place in your home where your grid can remain unperturbed. Start by smudging the space (you can also smudge each crystal); then, you'll need to "program" your crystals to align them with the intention of the grid. To do this, simply hold each crystal between your hands while concentrating for a minute or two on the intention you wish to set, then thanking the crystal for helping you on your way.
Now you will construct your grid. Start by placing the clear quartz crystal in the center. Next, place the rose quartz stones north, south, east, and west of the center stone. Finally, place the citrine stones between each of the rose stones. Using the small piece of paper, write down your intention or goal and place it under the center stone. Now your grid is finished and ready to aid you.
Per Johnson's advice, try to spend a few minutes with your crystal grid each day meditating on its purpose and expressing gratitude for its powers. "This experience can also be enhanced by playing uplifting or meditative music, chanting, or by burning incense that you love," Johnson says.