Doing Your Own Research
Or, more appropriately titled: Doing Your Own Research, Without Just Looking Up Someone Else’s Correspondence Lists. Because while those lists are very handy to get started or have a shorthand reference, it gives us memorization, stopping just short of real understanding. What’s more, most correspondence lists won’t have your local (overlooked) plant life, or whatever niche plant, rock, animal you need. Sometimes, you have to get your hands dirty and figure it out from scratch.
Anyway so here’s some stuff you can do to aid in that.
Look into what it physically is. What family does it belong to? If that weird plant growing in your backyard is closely related to say, basil, it will likely have similar properties. Was that crystal formed under heat and pressure, or is it a sedimentary rock? What does this animal do? How does it live and survive? A lot of correspondences come from this level, and it’s the easiest level to research. Physical traits and fun science facts are all welcome here and fair game to use in magic.
Okay, so we know what the Thing is made of, but let’s look into its relationship with humans. There’s nothing demanding that roses be the Official Love Flower, but rather it’s a collective cultural thing. That has worked itself into magic as well. Are there any stories involving your object of choice? Local superstitions? Home remedies? What does this item get used for in wider culture? For some things, there may not be much here. But for those that do have lore, it’s a valuable resource.
The actual, spiritual sensations you get from holding or touching the Thing. (This is going to apply more to rocks and plants… please don’t go out and touch wild animals.) This will give you some better understanding beyond just what it does, but how it does it. Does the energy seem aggressive? Is it fast or slow moving? Does it give you the impression of being related to a certain element? Which brings us into the next…
If you communicate with stuff or spirits at all, this is for you. Just ask the Thing for yourself! “Hello. I am ____. Tell me, what sort of things would you be able to help me with?” Prepare an interview, maybe. This will likely be more specific than “love” or “cleansing,” because they’re giving you a pitch and will know themselves very well. It may be “I help someone realize romantic feelings they already have but don’t know about,” or “I help other cleansing items so that cleansed spaces stay cleaner for longer, but I don’t work by myself.” If you get an answer, record it!
Use the Thing! If you have a general idea of what it does, throw it into the mix for your next relevant spell and see how it changes the result. You can read a lot about something, but the research doesn’t stop when you start using it! As you discover things through repeated use, make note of that as well!