Help! Josh, I’m looking at all of these witchy supplies, and I can’t afford them! What am I going to do? How can I afford an altar? I’m on a college budget, for Goddess’ sake!
Calm down, love! It’s all going to be alright!
Like hell, it’s alright! I have to pay tuition! I can’t do that if I’m paying for cauldrons and statues! Have you seen the prices on cauldrons lately?!
Breathe. Stop panicking. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to be a witch. In fact, most of us started off with nothing for our altars!
It’s sort of misleading when reading many books available for starting up in witchcraft state that an altar has such and such items on it, or when many spells call for gems, semiprecious and precious stones or metals, or even hard-to-find plants or spices - many of which tend to be exotic or unavailable depending upon the locale of the witch. I’ve read plenty of spells and books that have placed heavy emphasis on having a cauldron (which, I might add, many cast iron cauldrons can run between $10 (American) and $200 (American) depending upon size, quality, and style). And while I’ve been privileged enough to live near several gem and crystal shops, I still see crystals the size of my pinky finger selling for close to $500. It can be a bit disheartening for the new witch. I was there. We all have been.
But I’ve found that it can be a matter of perspective. Either one can perceive the situation as a hindrance, or one can approach it as an opportunity to get crafty! Thus, the crafty witch, the kitchen witch, and the newbie witch all have something in common: the ability to supply herself with all that she needs without spending to pretty a penny.
But how?! I’m not particularly artistic! I don’t even have time to weave a Brigid’s cross!
As a low-budget witch, you don’t even have to be very artistic. Just practical. And with that practicality comes the ability to save time, as well. To get you started, let’s take a look at some supplies that can be appropriated easily for cheap, and then at some other items that can be substituted for others, and of course, at some supplies that can be picked up in dime and dollar stores!
Herbs: Cheap and Easy to Get!
Something that, as a kitchen witch, often bothers me is that there are many books out there that state that you have to use herbs and spices that are fresh or wild, or have to be kept in glass or natural packaging, or have to be organically grown. To all of that, I say bullshit!
As it is, organic herbs are often marked up in price. Glass packaging is also a mark-up in price. Using fresh herbs and spices limits you to a certain time of the year for many of these plants, or renders you incapable of using them at all (shiitake mushrooms have many uses, but are practically impossible to find fresh in my area, so they always are bought dried). Using wild herbs places you in a somewhat dangerous predicament, as any herbalist or botanist would warn of similar yet poisonous or toxic plants that may be found (a great example is the wild fennel that grows on California’s central coast: the seeds are delicious and particularly useful for teas and cooking, but look nearly identical to hemlock seeds, which also grows wild in this area and is extremely toxic). Another risk to wild gathering is that some herbs have a particular period of time in which they’re safe to consume: elderberry is only safe when completely ripe, for instance, limiting harvest time to a few weeks out of the year.
Rather than forcing yourself to go to the nearest Whole Foods or organic market, I would instead say that what you have in your cabinet works just as well! Dried herbs in plastic packaging picked up for ninety cents at the dollar store? Use it! Can only find ground herbs? Use them instead of the whole herb!
If you’re a witch who leans toward gardening, dollar stores often have inexpensive seeds for herbs and veggies! The college witch who wishes to have fresh herbs and plants can easily have a small herb garden on a windowsill. For years, all of my needs for basil - culinary and witchy - were met by the one basil plant I’d been growing, and it always had more leaves to offer!
If you live in an area where a certain herb is difficult to obtain, research substitutions with herbs that have matching correspondences. There’s no way for me to acquire star anise inexpensively where I live. However, if I need to improve a social situation, I can replace anise with an herb like lavender or rose hips.
Rocks, Crystals, and Gems
Herbs and stones are extremely prevalent in magic. For every intent, it seems like there are two or three stones that correspond to it. But it’s not easy on the wallet, nor necessarily practical, to go to a gem shop and buy a chunk of lapis or citrine or amethyst. On top of that, many witches (myself included) will often provide a word of warning, as budget shopping for stones can be misleading. Some stones, such as turquoise, amethyst, citrine, rose quartz, and lepidolite tend to be swapped out with similar stones that have been dyed to match the colors of the real deal, then sold under the different name. Instead of lepidolite, for instance, you may find yourself buying dyed mica. Instead of amethyst, you could be buying clear or smokey quartz that’s been dyed purple. And more common is finding that your inexpensive turquoise is actually epoxy!
For the sake of budget, I’m the kind of witch who recommends using herbs and spices instead, and building your collection of stones slowly. Many of the stones I use have been gifted to me, and the ones I’ve bought were done so on special occasions. If you’re set on using stones, gear yourself toward clear quartz, which is generally fairly inexpensive and is the jack of all trades in witchcraft.
In addition, there is absolutely nothing wrong with using stones found in your local environment! Work with the stones as intuition guides you. Sometimes, the most powerful magic is derived from local stones. A great example is chert. While common, it is a very hard stone capable of forming sharp edges. It’s rarely seen or used in witchcraft, but can make for a powerful stone for protection, well-being, hexes, and grounding. If you’re a flint knapper, you could even craft an athame from chert!
Cauldrons, Chalices, Athames, And Offering Dishes
I have a beautiful chalice and offering dish that I use in my rites. I’ve also got a cute little cast iron cauldron. But I’d acquired these after a year of saving up. Going out and buying these may be impractical for the newbie budget witch.
Cauldrons are ancient and synonymous with witchcraft, but when you get to the bare bones of what a cauldron is, it’s simply a metal pot. For centuries, if you didn’t have a cauldron, you were in trouble because it was your go-to cooking implement used for everything from boiling water to making soups and stews to even slow roasting meats. Many kitchen witches are aware of the power their pots and pans have. If you have a rite that calls for using a cauldron, you can use a pot or other fire-safe container!
Similarly, a chalice, when bare-bones, is no more than a cup. A glass or cup from your kitchen would work just as well as any brass goblet!
Athames are somewhat tricky depending upon the tradition. For a kitchen witch, your athame could by synonymous with your chefs knife, but for many other traditions, an athame is never used to cut material substances. Your finger works just as well, but if you feel the need to use a knife solely for magical properties, simple knives can be acquired at dollar stores, or you can set aside a knife from your flatware and use it only for magical purposes.
Offering dishes are entirely optional, and not every witch uses them. These can be any simple plate or bowl.
All of these dishes can be bought at dollar stores, thrift stores, or discount markets.
Jars, Bottles, Vials Galore!
This is a fun one! It allows you to get crafty and thrifty at the same time! Jars, bottles, and vials are easily purchased inexpensively at dollar stores and thrift stores, and Amazon has a lot of options for small bottles and vials in bulk for less than $10 (American). But say you want to avoid buying such bottles and jars. Reuse what you gain from grocery shopping!
As someone who likes to spend a lot of time in the kitchen, I come across plenty of herbs in glass jars and bottles. Jellies and preserves are almost always sold in glass jars. Soy sauce and sometimes ketchup are sold in glass bottles. Wine, beer, and some vinegars are available in glass. And keep an eye out for other, less conventional options that might appear in your kitchen! I occasionally buy caviar if it’s on sale and I feel particularly indulgent (and living on the coast, it is easier to obtain inexpensively depending upon the grade). Since the flavor of caviar is best preserved in glass, it’s almost always sold in little glass jars which I then reuse.
Even some condiments are useful! As I work in a restaurant, tabasco sauce bottles are thrown out all the time. I will occasionally “rescue” the little bottles, clean them out and remove the labels, and use them for my witchy projects. If you find yourself at a restaurant and finish off such a bottle, be sure to ask if it is alright for you to take the bottle home with you!
Thrifty and Frugal
Thrift stores, dollar stores, swap meets, and dime stores are your best friend if you’re a budget witch. Much of what I have today is a result of browsing through such stores on days when I’ve been able to set aside fifteen dollars. Candles can always be found in dollar stores, and if you enjoy using spirit candles, saint candles, or seven day candles, you’re guaranteed a good supply of them at dollar stores. Same thing with tea lights, tapers, and even emergency light candles and matches!
Thrift stores are ideal for anything ranging from crystals to small tables for altars, and are perfect for getting that wine glass or set of jars!
Swap meets are a little more pricey, but give you the opportunity to haggle if need be, or to find what you would least expect at a steal (my boyfriend has a Marseilles tarot deck that I was able to get for about $3 - a deck like that could easily go for five times that price).
Just be sure to cleanse anything you get from thrift stores and swap meets, as you never know what kinds of energy may be attached!
It’s easy to be overwhelmed at the sheer cost of getting started in witchcraft, but if you know where to look and what to look for, you can cut that cost down significantly and make it easier to supply yourself. And there’s never anything wrong with building up your altar over time. My own altar is the result of nearly a decade of collecting and buying in very small amounts, and much of what’s present on it had been gifted to me by friends and fellow witches.
I even know several witches to delight in creating their own supplies from scratch, carefully crafting the pentacle on their altar or whittling their own god and goddess statues from the wood they had left over from various projects.
Keep an eye out, and you’ll see opportunities left and right! Have fun, and remember that it’s not the quality or origin that matter. It’s the magic within yourself that makes for the most powerful spells!
Amethyst is a very relaxing stone that
helps us with meditation and sleep. It assists with self-control and
calms strong emotions. This stone can also be used to enhance psychic
abilities. However, amethyst may also aggravate psychiatric
conditions such as schizophrenia or paranoia.
Magically, amethyst is used to maintain
balance and equilibrium. It also can detoxify both your mind and
associated with the throat chakra and the archangel Michael. It is
also associated with the astrological signs of Virgo, Sagittarius,
Capricorn, Aquarius, and Pisces.
Amethyst is wonderful for:
Calming aggression and anger
Getting in touch with our inner child
Physical and emotional calm
Assisting transition for the dying
Focusing the mind
Emotional exhaustion and trauma, as
well as increasing emotional strength
Dispelling negative energy
Entering meditative states easily
Lightening mental burdens
Chakra and aura cleansing
Transforming psychic attacks to love
Learning about past lives
Alcoholism, as well as negating effects
Increase resistance to infection
High blood pressure
Bruises and injuries
Lightheadedness and fainting
Red blood cells
Please note: none of this is
intended to diagnose, treat, or prevent any specific illness or
ailment, yadda, yadda. Please see your doctor if you have anything
going on medically…etc.
Sometimes Greg’s son talks to him in crystalline chimes and glassy tones no human should be able to produce, and which Greg can only understand in fragments.
Rose taught him a little, before she … before, but Steven grew up speaking the language – Pearl especially was insistent that he learn – and it’s a sharp reminder that Greg’s son is only half human. Steven switches languages as easily as his chatter skips between topics of interest, and though Greg tries his best, he’s not sure he even has the brain wiring to understand more than the basics.
Sometimes Steven forgets, and it’s hard for Greg to maintain his calm cheer as he reminds his son that he can’t make head nor tail of the alien music.