The Domestic Garden Witch: I Sea What Ye Did There!
So maybe you’re a college witch with limited space and money, limited to the one window in your dorm. Or, maybe you’re a witch without extensive backyard space who wants to start up a magical garden. Perhaps you’re a kitchen witch who wants the freshest herbs right at her fingertips.
For many witches, having a garden seems to be a bit of a no-brainer. After all, plants and magic go hand-in-hand. Plus, when thinking of a witch, it’s hard not to think of a cottage in the woods with a little vegetable garden out front. Unfortunately for the majority of us, our cottage in the woods is a tiny flat, and our garden out front is a windowsill with limited space.
This is when it comes time to embrace your craftiness and bring your garden indoors! Not only does it place your garden in a convenient location, it also allows you to freshen the air, recycle what would otherwise harm the earth, and embrace your witchy green thumb!
Where The Garden Meets The Sea
This is a little garden idea that might not be accessible for everyone. However, I live very close to the ocean, and as the days begin to get longer and the weather warmer, the beach becomes more and more of a destination (yes, even when you live right there, you still wind up wanting to go down and sunbathe, swim, explore tide pools, and spend the rest of the day cleaning sand out of places you didn’t know you had). It makes sense, then, to look at sea shells as an option for incorporating into garden witchery.
Most often, I’ve seen seashells used as no more than decorative additions to gardens, carefully placed among flower beds and succulent gardens as accents, or incorporated into the container either by having been cemented or glued in. But very rarely do I ever see shells be used as the container for a plant.
Ideally, you may have to use small succulents for this project, as their shallow root systems and limited size allow them to grow with very little trouble, depending upon what shell you’re using. Take a reasonably sized seashell (conches like the one pictured above work, but here on California’s Central Coast, I feel abalone is much more appropriate) and check to see if it has any breathing holes (some species have holes in the shells to facilitate the movement of water into and out of the creature’s gills without having to be exposed to predators - this is particularly noticeable in abalone). If it does not, carefully drill small holes into the bottom of the shell to promote drainage.
Using a fine gravel (aquarium gravel works well), place a drainage layer into the shell before adding your potting mix and plants. Water them and make sure they get plenty of sunlight!
This is an excellent way of bringing a bit of both the sea and the garden into a dorm room, windowsill, or even into a well-lit bathroom!
How Can I Witch This?
Continuing with last week’s theme of focusing on the material of the container rather than the decorations that can be added to it, seashells are an exceptional addition to a practice if you have a bit of a connection with the element of water.
Seashells have long been used for various reasons ranging from divination tools to eating utensils to decorative and fashionable trinkets, and even as currency (as is the case with cowry and abalone).
When working with shells, consider the creature they come from, and how they may play a role in your practice. For instance, abalone (I know I mention it quite a bit, but it’s one of my favorites and is strongly linked to local history) is a form of sea snail that was often caught for food. Not only is it therefore linked with prosperity and health in addition to water, it is also linked to well-being and financial stability - both the meat and the shells were often traded between Native American tribes in the area. The inside of an abalone shell is lined with Mother of Pearl, a beautiful substance that can be linked with money, protection, and feminine beauty. All of these aspects come to play in the way that I use abalone shells in my practice, and this is a great example of how to approach using seashells in your work.
Try to use shells that correspond with the plants that you’re using to enhance those properties, and you could even treat the shells much like you would stones if you make multiple gardens, creating garden grids that further enhance the energies you’re trying to bring into your life!
Using a seashell as a gardening container is a potent symbol for life-giving energies. Though the earth is most often associated with motherhood, so too is water linked with life, and the sea nearly always connected with feminine qualities in some way or another. As such, a shell garden like this could make for a beautiful and potent charm for expectant mothers or couples who are trying to have a child. If you’re a male witch trying to get in touch with your femininity, this is a great form of spellwork for such a purpose, as well.
So next time you walk along the beach and find an abandoned shell, consider whether such a gift is meant for such a beautiful union with the earth!
May all your harvests be bountiful! Blessed Be! )O(