Note: This is about modern, real alchemy, not anything fictional.
What is alchemy?
Alchemy is simply a process of transformation, creation, or combination. During the Middle Ages, it was a very popular endeavor of attempting to transmute common things like iron into pure gold. It combined science and witchcraft, and was the forerunner for modern chemistry.
What this post is about, however, is the more metaphysical form of alchemy: using physical materials or symbols to manipulate energy, like modern witchcraft.
The three symbols in the top-left are called the Three Principles: sulfur, salt, and mercury. The five symbols in the top-right are the symbols of the elements: fire, air, water, earth, and a symbol that represents them all*. Medieval alchemists believed that the Three Principles and the Four Elements were what everything is made of. This can also be applied to the astral realm and the different energies that it consists of.
Sulfur energy is hot, fiery, and energetic.
Salt energy is cleansing, absorbing, and somewhat neutral.
Mercury energy is calm but quick, and is a communication energy.
*When all four element symbols are overlayed, they form what looks like a David’s Star. It represents unity and the astral realm, whereas the plus sign symbol just represents the elements.
The lower symbols represent the planets and metals. (Pluto and Uranus are excluded because it wasn’t known that they even existed at the time)
The Philosopher’s Stone
(NO, NOT HARRY POTTER) The Philosopher’s Stone was a substance that could allegedly transmute common, base materials into gold. The energetic equivalent is an energy that turns negative energy into positive energy. Use the symbol of the Philosopher's Stone to avoid the effects of curses, or to bless an area.
These symbols and physical things can be used to represent energies for spells. For example, copper could be used to correspond with Venus energy, sulfur can be used for curses, and so on.
Alchemical symbols can be used as/in sigils. The metals they correspond with can be used to correspond with astrological energies.
This post was a little ramble-y, but I hope it was informative! This is what I’ve gleaned and interpreted from lots of research, so if you disagree with anything, that’s fine, but please don’t get salty. Have a lovely day <3
There are initially four different ways to use the Bestow Curse spell in D&D 5e. Those are as follows:
Disadvantage on ability checks and saves for one ability score
Disadvantage on attacks against you
WIS save or do nothing during a given round
+1d8 necrotic damage when you damage them
The spell normally lasts for a minute, but if cast with a 9th level slot, it lasts until dispelled, which is worth noting because the best curses last until dispelled. if cast with a 4th level slot, it lasts for 10 minutes. A 5th level slot is 8 hours. A 7th level slot is 24 hours. These all have their uses for creative players, but the best part of the spell by far is the encouragement to invent your own curses, which many players and DMs have taken as a challenge for their own creativity. So while it is certainly not new, it’s my turn to take a crack at it!
* - A curse marked with an asterisk is a 9th-level only curse due to its powerful detriment or long-lasting nature. But who is to stop you from enchanting an innocuous item with such a curse?
Hair Growth/Loss: You are cursed to grow hair at a rapid rate for the duration of the curse or else lose all of your hair (it grows back after the curse ends).
Mute/Deaf/Blind: You are rendered either mute, deaf, or blind for the duration of the curse.
Forbidden Speech: You are cursed to never speak about a certain subject, topic, or word for the duration of the curse.
*Rapid Aging/Deaging: You are cursed to either age by one year each day, or to grow one year younger each day. After you reach your final day, you die.
*Phylactery: Your fate becomes tied to a creature or object. If the creature or object is slain/destroyed, you die as well.
Ugliness: You are cursed with horrible deformity for the duration of the curse. You have -5 on Persuasion checks and Deception checks for the duration and are easily noticed and shunned by most humanoids of any race.
image source: Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn
Possessed Limb: One of your limbs (usually an arm) acts on its own for the duration of the curse, usually attempting to harm its host, harm others, or sow chaos.
Petrified Limb: One of your limbs becomes petrified and is unable to be used for the duration of the curse. It could turn into any solid mineral like stone, iron, glass, salt, or gold. Any damage it takes is retained once the curse is lifted.
Funny Looking: For the duration of the curse, anyone who you attempt to communicate with bursts into uncontrollable laughter. This does not prevent hostile creatures from attacking you, but prevents them from speaking.
Lichsight: For the duration of the curse, you can see the spirits of the dead. Whether real or illusory, you cannot communicate with them and you must make a WIS saving throw each round or become frightened and run in a random direction or cower in place (50%/50%).
Butterfingers: Each round while the curse is active, you must make a DEX saving throw. On a failed save, you drop whatever you are holding and cannot pick up or hold anything for the rest of the round.
Forgetful: You have a tendency to forget things. During the curse, whenever new information is revealed to your character, you have a 50% chance to not be able to remember it, even after the curse has ended.
*Lady of Shalott: You are doomed to die if you ever lay eyes directly upon another being, and must therefore look at the world through a mirror and avoid direct sight of others. The difficulty of maneuvering a hand mirror or the necessity to close your eyes effectively makes you blinded while in combat, imposing disadvantage on attack rolls.
Stingy: During the curse, you must make a WIS saving throw whenever you intend to part with money. On a failed save, you opt not to spend your money on it. You cannot make another such save for the same purchase, even from a different seller.
Empty Coinpurse: You are compelled to buy things until all of your wealth has disappeared. You will even go so far as to barter your own goods once out of money. Whenever you find something for sale, you must make a WIS saving throw. On a failed save, you will do anything you can to attempt to purchase it or trade for it. Only if the seller refuses three times will you give up.
*Baleful Polymorph: You are transformed into a small creature or tiny animated object for the duration of the curse. You retain the ability to speak using a disembodied voice emanating from the creature or object, usually paired with animation like a moving mouth (if a creature) or a mouth-shaped part (if an object; like a book opening and closing its covers and such). You can move with a move speed of 10 ft. per round if an object.
image source: Star vs. the Forces of Evil
Talking Tumor: You grow a tumor-like second head that can speak that embarrasses, berates, or otherwise annoys and inconveniences you. It has +6 for Persuasion, Deception, and Intimidation checks, helping it be a complete jerk.
Evil Aura: Plants within 15 ft. of you wilt and turn brown or gray and animals within 60 ft. feel afraid or threatened by you for the duration of the curse.
Bad Taste: Eating food or drinking water causes you to become poisoned for 1d6 hours, or for the duration of the curse.
Bad Luck: Whenever you have advantage for the duration of the curse, you instead have disadvantage.
*Prophecy: You become destined to die under certain circumstances. Whenever it is possible for those circumstances to be met, you must make a relevant saving throw (falling boulder? DEX save. Poisoned apple? CON save. etc.) or begin dying. The victim cannot be threatened by the curse more than once every 2d4 hours. The curse will take increasingly convoluted measures to try and make the prophecy come true the longer the curse lasts.
*Guardian: The victim is polymorphed into a hostile creature of CR 6 or less. The victim is given some sort of command like guarding a location or spreading suffering, and will continue to do so until the curse is lifted or they are slain. They revert to their regular form if they are slain. The victim cannot communicate and is hostile to all creatures. The creature becomes immune to the charmed condition.
image source: Sleeping Beauty by Henry Meynell Rheam
Slumber: You fall into a deep slumber and cannot be awoken until the curse is lifted.
Eternal Rest: If slain while under the curse, you cannot be resurrected by any means even after the curse fades.
Phantasm: You believe that you have been polymorphed into a small creature (like a toad or chicken) and act as such for the duration of the curse.
Unquenchable Thirst/Hunger: You feel eternally hungry and thirsty. You must make a WIS saving throw whenever you encounter food or drink, no matter how dangerous or questionable it might be (swamp water, obviously poisoned food, moldy bread, etc.). On a failed save, you consume it.
*Obedience: Whenever someone you can understand issues a verbal command to you while you are cursed, you are compelled to obey. You may attempt a WIS saving throw to resist a given command for one minute.
Hold your tongue! (Ella Enchanted)
Magical Immunity: You become immune to nonharmful spells for the duration of the curse. Spells cast by enemies or damaging spells still affect you, but healing spells and buffs do not.
Unhealing Wound: A wound you have will never heal. Your maximum hit points are reduced by 2d4+the caster’s spellcasting modifier. This curse cannot reduce a creature’s health to 0 in this way.
*Wandering: While under the effects of the curse, you are compelled to wander. Each day at dawn, you must leave and never return to the same city/town or 2.5 mile radius (if in the wilderness).
*Deadly Descendants: All of your descendants are cursed to kill their birth parents, whether intentionally or not.
*Lonliness: You are cursed to die alone. Anyone you become romantically close to or close friends eventually leaves or dies or meets a horrible fate.
*Gargoyle: You are petrified during the daytime and return to normal at night for the duration of the curse.
Voyager: You cannot set foot on dry land for the duration of the curse, taking 1d6 psychic damage each round that you do.
Yes, there’s always a Wish spell or a Remove Curse spell, but I often believe that if any cleric can remove a curse it undercuts the drama of the punishing spell. Instead, use an alternative way to remove the curse. Most of it depends on how the curse was placed and the reasoning behind it. For instance, if you refuse to give a gypsy shelter from the cold in your luxurious castle, you might get transformed into a beast until someone falls in love with you. Here are some ways that one could feasibly break a curse (if the situation allows).
Give back an item that was stolen from the caster
Complete a quest or mission for the caster
Kill the caster
Pass the curse onto someone else (through some deliberate means like a handshake or kiss or losing a wager)
Seek out a powerful extraplanar being
Seek out special magical ingredients for a cure
Find a loophole in the wording of the curse (either through tricky wording or by finding a liminal loophole. “No man of woman born” could exclude a man born by C-section. “Neither day nor night” could exclude twilight)
Change your alignment (an evil or chaotic character learns to be good or lawful.)
Change your ideal or traits after learning some sort of lesson
Overcome one of your flaws.
Let the curse run its course instead of fighting it.
Find true love/True love’s kiss etc.
Prove your worth to the caster
Atone for past sins
Selflessly risk your life for someone else
Convert a creature to worshiping the caster’s deity
Avenge the caster
image source: Disney’s Beauty and the Beast (1991)
Feel free to use this list and add to it your own ideas for curses! There are so many possibilities that it’s never out of the question to find a new curse that uses arbitrary magical rules to drive the plot of a story. I guess that makes curses the sitcoms of the fantasy world.
I’ve already raved about how I think Rhodey is the epitome of a Sinnamon Roll™, but I don’t think I’ve said anything about James Rhodes the Charmer.
Its CANON that people look up to and respect Rhodey. But its also canon that Rhodey is a people person.
He’s charming as hell. And its not that fake charm that Tony and some of the others put out. Its all real, and people respond.
The guy is Popular, okay.
Hey everyone, it’s been a while. I’m in a better place now, and though my mini-sabbatical was necessary, I hated not updating you all! I can’t wait any longer, so I’m back!
Most people know that certain crystals or stones have associations in Witchcraft, but people seem to forget that this is a relatively new area of Craft. Prior to that, for thousands and thousands of years, Witches and smiths used metals to work their magick and skill, and this shouldn’t be forgotten today!
Alloys have different associations to pure metals, so I’ll do them separately.
Iron - Probably the most common metal in Witchcraft, it’s associated with repelling of spirits, demons, Fae, and magick generally. It’s a dousing metal, one that channels magick exceptionally well, and as such will “pull” magick out of the user. Enchantments don’t stick to iron objects, and any spells placed on them will fade almost immediately or simply not stick in the first place.
Copper - An ancient and useful technology, copper is said to be the second metal ever worked by human hands, and the first to be made into tools. It’s primary associations are with craft and manufacture, especially workings done with one’s own hands or skill. Amulets made from copper are said to enhance skill at creative or inventive endeavours, and altar tools made from copper will work very well for constructive magick or rituals. It’s also strongly associated with harmony and balancing, making it an excellent metal to include in altars focused around balance.
Steel - Whilst technically an alloy, it’s an alloy of iron and a non-metal (carbon) so I’m going to put it in this section. Steel is strongly associated with weapons and armour, and for this reason it works well for defensive magick, destructive magick, and for athames. It retains iron’s strong resistance to magickal enchantment, which for an athame is a good thing - you don’t want the magick “sticking” to your tools, so something like iron or steel is kind of like using a non-stick pan to cook your eggs.
Tin - The working of iron is called “blacksmithing”, and conversely the working of tin is called “whitesmithing”, because whilst iron oxidises black under heat, tin remains quite pale. In the ancient world, this metal was highly sought-after, as it is the crucial ingredient in the manufacture of bronze, an alloy of tin, copper, and occasionally some other metals. As a result, it was highly priced and much haggled-over, and so it’s primary associations are with money, trading, prosperity and success. It’s also very strongly associated with British Witchcraft, because Britain had so much tin that the Romans and Greeks called Britain “the Tin Isles”.
Gold - The first metal worked by humans, the purity, rarity and unparalleled lustre of gold have made it one of the most sought-after metals of all time. Regarded as one of the “noble metals” by alchemists, and one of the precious metals by almost everyone else, gold is of course strongly associated with money, fortune and trading. However, it’s also associated with intelligence, because of the alchemical pursuits followed to try to transmute things into it; and with purity, because it is biologically so inert that Victorian doctors used to coat pills for rich people in 24k gold leaf to mask the taste without harming the patients. It’s an excellent channelling substance, though I doubt anyone will have enough of it for a whole wand! Perhaps just a tip, then!
Silver - Although less prized than gold, this highly lustrous and workable material is also regarded as a precious metal. Due to its unique atomic structure, silver is the most conductive element in the universe - this makes it an unparalleled channelling metal, and it’s much lower cost than gold makes this a theoretically possible metal to make wands for energy-workers and for ceremonial wands for covens. It’s also a very pure metal, and is strongly associated with healing, growth, and cleansing of disease and impurity from the body. Amulets suspended on a silver chain will be imbued with healing energies, strengthening any enchantments upon them, and assisting in the boosting of the wearer’s natural immune system.
Lead - Contrary to popular belief, lead is not toxic to hold in your hands any more than nickel, antimony, or other metals that are often toxic by ingestion. Whilst it’s not advised to wear it as an amulet (because prolonged rubbing against the acidic oils in the skin will cause them to react with the metal over time and be absorbed into your body), holding a charm in your hands or wearing one for only a day or so is not dangerous to your health. This metal is associated strongly with travel, adventure, and safe voyages across both space and emotion. It’s also a metal associated with intelligence and academia, and with magick of all kinds. Pendulums made using lead weights or pendants will be unparalleled for divination. In fact, my own original divinatory pendant is made using a lead fishing weight and an old key, and whilst I now have a fancy new one made with rose quartz and pure silver, my old lead pendulum is still my absolute favourite!
Bronze - An alloy made from the combining of approximately 85% copper and 15% tin. This alloy has many superior qualities compared to both individual metals, and this has made it a first choice metal for a great many people from artists to cooks to metallurgists throughout the ages. Stronger than both tin and copper, and with a higher melting temperature and toughness rating than either, this metal is associated strongly with grand endeavours, imaginative or ambitious projects, and with collaborative enterprises. Bronze would be an excellent component of any spell intended to enhance your performance at your job, in seeking employment, or in advancing your own social or career goals.
Pewter - This alloy has become rarer in these more modern times, but in the Medieval and Renaissance periods pewter was one of the most commonly used metals available. It’s main component is tin, and whilst most pewter is about 92% tin you can get pewter with as little as 80% tin and as much as 99%! The remaining ~8% is usually copper, antimony, and in old alloys lead is often a component (lead is almost always absent in modern pewter for safety reasons). This alloy is the metal that’s most strongly connected to kitchen witchery, followed by cast iron and copper, because it has been used for over a thousand years to make everything from cutlery to plates to flagons. It’s also associated with “common” magick, the magick of everyday people (as opposed to what were traditionally called the “higher” magicks like alchemy and energy-working). So long as your pewter is free of lead, it’s safe to keep it near your skin, or to eat or drink from it. Potions are more powerful when brewed in cauldrons made of pewter, and your kitchen spells will work more effectively when you use pewter in the working somewhere.
Electrum - One of my favourite metals of all time, electrum is a naturally-occurring alloy of gold and silver, often with trace quantities of copper, platinum and palladium in the alloy too. Natural electrum comes in two common varieties; 10-30% silver, which is found mostly in the regions of Western Anatolia; and 50%-60% silver, which is found in the regions around Ancient Lydia (a large empire stretching across much of Asia Minor). However, most modern electrum is alloyed artificially, allowing finer control over the quality of the alloy and making it easier to work with artistically. Electrum is very much a metal associated with commerce - many regions such as the Lydian empire used electrum as a basis for their coins, as opposed to pure gold or pure silver, and it has always been a highly valued commodity. It’s also a very strongly artistic metal, as electrum has been used to make everything from the capstone of the Great Pyramid of Giza (sadly, this has long since been stolen by looters over the centuries), to wedding bands for pagan marriages. Electrum is a metal of love and emotion, and in its alloying of two precious and beautiful metals to make a product greater than the sum of its parts, it represents the joining of two lives together into a single whole to produce a love that will last across all time. Personally, I’d like my wedding band to be made of electrum!
Metals are a much overlooked, but incredibly useful addition to any Witch’s arsenal of magick tools, and I hope most sincerely that this has been useful for all of you wonderful Witches out there looking to expand your collection of Witchery supplies beyond common items like crystals and tarot cards. Remember that Witchcraft isn’t about doing what everyone else does, but rather it’s about doing what only you’ve ever done! As always everyone, Witchcraft is not a thing you do, it’s a thing you ARE - Witchcraft is in the mind, and so be sure to practice your Craft exactly how YOU know it should be practiced.
the part in the iron giant where hogarth drinks too much espresso and starts ranting about “im not smarter than everyone else i just do the stupid homework and if everyone else just did the stupid homework they could move up too” is literally so funny and relatable
'Oldest' Iron Age gold work in Britain found in Staffordshire
Two friends have unearthed jewellery which could be the oldest Iron Age gold discovered in Britain.
Mark Hambleton, who went back to metal detecting after advice from his late father, made the find with Joe Kania, on Staffordshire Moorlands farmland.
The three necklaces and bracelet are believed to be about 2,500 years old.
Their find was declared treasure at an inquest led by coroner Ian Smith, who joked it was likely to be “worth a bob or two”.
Julia Farley, of the British Museum, described the discovery, called the Leekfrith Iron Age Torcs, as a “unique find of international importance”.
Dr Farley, the museum’s curator of British and European Iron Age collections, said: “It dates to around 400-250 BC and is probably the earliest Iron Age gold work ever discovered in Britain. Read more.
Rome unveils 'museum' metro station packed with hundreds of ancient artefacts found during construction
For Romans, the daily commute will never be the same again. The city on Friday unveiled a brand new underground station that boasts a trove of archaeological treasures that were found during its construction.
They range from iron spearheads and gold coins decorated with emperors’ heads to a delicate perfume bottle made from turquoise glass and marble statues of scantily-clad nymphs.
There are giant amphorae, bronze fish hooks from an ancient Roman fish farm, the remains of a first century BC woven basket and even a collection of 2,000 year old peach stones, from when the area was a rich farming estate providing food for the imperial elite. Read more.
One of the many reasons that I can’t wait to meet Anna Lightwood is that she told Cecily and Gabriel that if they sent her to the Academy she would run away and become a mundane bullfighter,, I love her already :,)