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Clean Your Shit Up: Sustainable Witchcraft

litter sustainability

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#1 Ravenshaw

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Posted 17 April 2019 - 07:44 PM

There are so many workings which call for the use of burying containers (which are perhaps made of non-biodegradable things like plastic), sprinkling things like glitter (ugh!), and otherwise leaving trash in places. While these workings can be successful, I find them to be inconsiderate of the environment. Given that most pagans and witch folk usually have practices that span from nature reverence all the way to  earth-centric worship, I'm surprised that more green practices aren't being adapted. The earth is in a state of crisis, and every little bit can help. It's also considerate to be mindful of such things when working with spirits to whom the land is important - respect is not a one-way path!

 

I decided to post this to perhaps start a discussion on more sustainable options to classic spellcraft items that are less than beneficial for our environments.

 

1. STOP using plastic glitter, omg. There are plenty of replacements for it. Edible sprinkles, edible glitter, petals, or small seeds are useful replacements for something like land wight offerings. For adding non-edible shine to certain workings, why not use egg whites to make something glossy, bio-glitter made from cellulose and other materials (there are a LOT of eco friendly glitter options now, you guys!), sand, or salt. 

 

2. Glass bottles or plastics for containers....sigh. I'm guilty of this one. Real guilty. I love me a witch bottle. Granted glass is not as terrible as plastic, it still sticks around and takes a long time to go away. There are better options. For containers which will be buried with dry objects, perhaps do something like paper packets. For liquid items for burial, try adding enough gelatin or agar to the mix to create a gelatinous ball that can be buried easily. Or bury the items bare! Also look to nature for answers - use a hole in a tree to hold your objects, or seal them into bones or clay. Even animal skins make a more eco-friendly option (responsibly acquired, of course). 

 

3. Using local ingredients to replace exotic ones. Learn about local plants and utilize them (especially invasive! Byeeeee!)
in your workings. It's a great way to familiarize yourself with your local spirits, it is sustainably sourced, it can help your local environment, it's FREE, and you won't be contributing to less-than-favorable harvesting and trade conditions that are due process for many overseas products.

 

I will add more to this post as they come to mind, I am sure.


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#2 Mountain Witch

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Posted 17 April 2019 - 08:00 PM

Glass I don't mind for really long-term workings and since those are generally few & far between, it doesn't get used much.

 

For those of you who live outside city limits (or not in a snotty subdivision with rules) & have a fireplace: rather than just dispose of your ashes in the bin, create an ash pile somewhere it's not very visible. Anything you need to bury to get rid of, bury in the ash pile. Water/rain soaking through wood ashes makes lye, meaning anything you bury there is going to decompose more quickly. Except plastic, of course. (I use mostly herbs & cotton in my work.) If I need it to decompose a little more slowly, I'll put it in a wax "box", a chunk of wax I've carved a hole in, put my stuff in & then re-seal the top with wax. Slows the process down by about a third.


For purposes of action nothing is more useful than narrowness of thought combined with energy of will.
~ Henri Frederic Amiel

You can access my blog and get autographed copies of my books through my website


#3 Ravenshaw

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Posted 17 April 2019 - 08:06 PM

MW, those are awesome ideas! I'm especially fond of the wax box.


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#4 PapaGheny

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Posted 18 April 2019 - 01:32 PM

Mostly I'm commenting here because your mods and I can't click the +1 button. Ravenshaw I think this is a great topic. And you folk have some good ideas. Mountain Witch a wax box is a great idea.

 

Before anything else I know I'm out of the main stream, but I don't know anyone using glitter. That sounds horrible to me! I've maintained a ban on glitter since the 90's just because its so hard to get out of the house. Maybe its just me but I find it scary stuff. Is it really that popular right now?

 

A lot of my workings involve keeping things cleaned up as best I can. As well as being as self sufficient and economic as possible. So this hits home for me.

 

Most things I put in the ground is with the intention of the ground digesting it. I think its a good idea to ask ourselves why it is being buried and if it should last.

I think the worst thing or longest to break down is metal. Things like barn nails, railroad spikes, horse shoes, and carriage pins. These have been used for some years before I get to them so already rusting away. Mountain Witch wood ash sounds like a great way to speed the process.

 

I do liquid in libations so its poured directly in the ground. Grease I bury if I use it for a fat offering for the land. Leaving it for critters can also be a good land offering just the long way round. Then I leave it where they can find it easily and a burdock leaf makes a good offering plate. I also think its best to stay away from putting processed oils in the ground. They can leave oily patches for months.

 

I've noticed around here the use of woven baskets have fallen out. I find them real handy to contain thing for spell use before burial. They can also be made from nearly any plant if they only need to last a short time. If not into weaving they are often cheap at thrift stores just watch what they are made from or sprayed with.

 

I'm always looking for things to do with clay dug out of the garden. Its rather quick and easy to shape a basic bowl and leave it in the sun to harden. Cut grass can also help hold things together. It can also be caked into the weave of a basket to seal the mesh. Coating it with wax or honey or sap then dried in the sun can hold liquid for a time. It can also be lined with a large leaf.

 

You already said about animal skins. I just wanted to throw out there that they are often available for those willing to put in the work. I find the practice of tanning and pickling hides and skin has become unpopular. I don't mind to much because most skins are left near the woods. So it feeds the critters at a tough time of year. However its easiest to take a deer home and hang it to skin it. I find most hunters are more than willing to give them away. Instead of dragging them back out to dump of them. Also they often find the idea of tanning neat but to much work. So they don't think its weird someone would want them.


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#5 Mountain Witch

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Posted 18 April 2019 - 04:58 PM

 

Before anything else I know I'm out of the main stream, but I don't know anyone using glitter. That sounds horrible to me! I've maintained a ban on glitter since the 90's just because its so hard to get out of the house. Maybe its just me but I find it scary stuff. Is it really that popular right now?

 

 

Gads, you'd be surprised. Glittery things are all the rage, it seems. Even holiday wrapping paper comes with the crap on it. A client gave me a Christmas present with glitter wrap - it took me 2 years to get the living room to stop sparkling.  :mad:

 

If you must have sparkling shit, color some sugar (or buy the pre-colored stuff). That's what I put in the "reindeer food" I make for the young grandchildren. It's not exactly healthy for wildlife but at least dissolves.


For purposes of action nothing is more useful than narrowness of thought combined with energy of will.
~ Henri Frederic Amiel

You can access my blog and get autographed copies of my books through my website


#6 Ravenshaw

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Posted 18 April 2019 - 06:09 PM

PapaGheny- your basket comment reminded me that people can easily make their own baskets, especially from things like kudzu which is very super invasive here in Appalachia. also grass weaves for smaller baskets. good post!


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#7 PapaGheny

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Posted 19 April 2019 - 04:01 PM

Oh damn! I feel for you Mountain Witch. I might've considered moving.

I had no idea it had caught on like that. I guess to each their own, but I never heard of such a thing. Sugar glitter sounds reasonable. I might need to pocket that for when the little ones get crafting.

 

That's a good idea I'd bet Kudzu work real well. It hasn't taken a strong hold up in the northern Appalachians yet. I use yellow dock a lot its tough and I have a whole unused pasture of it I have to cut back constantly. Also herb wast. After hanging a batch of mint, then striping the leaves. I end up with a lot of left over stems. The stems can soaked and woven.

 

Wood is another possibility for liquid. A chunk of fallen branch makes a good jar. It just needs hollowed with a knife or drill. It can also be corked.


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#8 ThreeCircleTarot

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Posted 21 April 2019 - 03:46 PM

Fantastic thread! The earth is indeed in crisis and I'd go so far to say that not considering your relationship to earth when using magick is daft. I mean, the fossil fuel industry infiltrating politics is probably more dangerous than litter-magick, but lacking conscious connection to your surroundings/environment seems like shooting yourself in the foot! Especially if you're in less industrialized areas, or places that you're just visiting. I wouldn't be opposed to putting glass in the earth to set up protection if I had my own land, but I wouldn't want to regularly be depositing glass into areas where you don't know what might be watching you...

 

I keep seeing glitter being used in spell candles on Etsy... I prefer using crushed herbs to add a pop of colour. Melting some wax and affixing flowers to the candle is aesthetically pleasing and of course, flower magick.

 

I love the idea of the earth consuming your offering, that's exactly what it feels like! I too look for hiding spots like holes in trees, the places where it feels like nature wants to take what you're offering. In new places that I plan on visiting often, I might ask the land to present a spot for me.

 

Tried to google beeswax biodegradability/decomposition/recycling, would love to use it to enclose offerings... anyone know how long it lasts in the earth?


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#9 Onyx

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Posted 21 April 2019 - 08:59 PM

There is a perfect cavity in my ancient Apple tree that I use for offerings, only things that will decompose or offerings that the birds can use..  Mostly I write Sigils on Japanese mulberry paper and they burn very quickly and usually completely.  That just leaves the ends of candles, I dispose of them in the garbage.

I glitter wishbones for New Years gifts, I really should stop that, I don't know if a food type glitter would work as well or if gold of silver leafing would work better.  Something for me to think about before the next new year.


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#10 PapaGheny

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Posted 23 April 2019 - 01:19 PM

I'm not sure on the decay rate of bees wax. I wouldn't think thin wall would survive the winter above the frost line. Down in the clay it may stick around a bit longer. But, I'd think more of the point is that if its pure bees wax its decay will feed the ground instead of pollute it.

 

I forgot about your wishbones you showed us Onyx. I bet your right, silver leaf would probably be really nice for that.

 

I'm a bit bitter about what folks tie things up with at the moment. Around here people do try to reuse as much as possible. However, there hasn't been a horse on this property for four or five years and I'm still digging up binder twine. I'm not apposed to using it for general work, but it shouldn't go to ground.

I've been using a lot of hemp cord the past two years. I'm not real big on it, but its not horrible and I got a spool cheap at a yard sale.

However, I find a cheaper better solution is handmade cordage. I find making its a good skill. Mostly fiddle work and easy with just a little practice and experience. I'm always looking for new materials to work with. Right now I've been liking the leftovers from last years lilies and dead lemon grass. I'm fining them both strong and easy to work.


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#11 Mountain Witch

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Posted 23 April 2019 - 09:16 PM

You can still buy balls of 100% cotton string. I not only use it to tie up workings but to tie tall plants to stakes when it's needed. No, it's not as strong as binder twine (damn, people bury that???!!!) but doubling or tripling it works fine if you need more strength. I'm working on a ball I bought probably 10+ years ago. It doesn't take much!


For purposes of action nothing is more useful than narrowness of thought combined with energy of will.
~ Henri Frederic Amiel

You can access my blog and get autographed copies of my books through my website


#12 PapaGheny

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Posted 26 April 2019 - 12:38 PM

They sure do. Most of its from picking stales and reding up the barn. They just rake it up with everything else and dump it in the fertilizer pile. But, it also gets used to tie up anything and left where its used.

It was popular with local witches to for its relationship to the barn and animal care. Problem is when our grand mothers where using it, it was mostly sisal or jute.

Yesterday I fond a loop sticking up and pulled. It was a full peace still knotted from the bale. I wish I could say that was rare. After however many years in the ground I just rinsed it and used it to hang an ax and some rakes in the barn. Nasty stuff.

 

Cotton is good call. I may look around for a ball.


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#13 Onyx

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Posted 28 April 2019 - 04:32 PM

I believe that Butcher Twine is made of cotton, it is food safe too and really strong.


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#14 Aurelian

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Posted 28 April 2019 - 08:09 PM

In lieu of using seven day candles, I've been using antique hurricane glass lanterns for my candle work.  The glass doesn't crack, so they're less of a safety hazard, plus, nothing gets thrown away.  If I need to chuck something at the crossroads to complete the working, I just use the candle nub.

 

Also, for city dwellers, a friend of mine teaches that cross streets are indeed crossroads.  So if you live in the city, find an active one, and use the public waste receptacles!  


Edited by Aurelian, 28 April 2019 - 08:10 PM.

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"The truth about the world, he said, is that anything is possible. Had you not seen it from birth and thereby bled it of its strangeness it would appear to you for what it is, a hat trick in a medicine show, a fevered dream, a trance bepopulate with chimeras having neither analogue nor precedent, an itinerant carnival, a migratory tentshow whose ultimate destination after many a pitch in many a mudded field is unspeakable and calamitous beyond reckoning."  - Cormac McCarthy


#15 PapaGheny

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Posted 30 April 2019 - 01:02 PM

Butcher's twine sounds like a good call Onyx. A good connection to livestock and the larder to.

 

Aurelian thanks for the reminder on hurricane lanterns. Quite a while ago I use an alcohol lantern for candle work. It did a good job.

If I'm remembering right some Powwowing names hurricane lanterns directly. Used in spiritwork and divination.

 

I like that cross street, cross roads to. It is what it is, no matter what it looks like. Historic maps are often a good way to find an old crossroad that is now a city street as well.


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#16 Hunter

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Posted 26 June 2019 - 04:07 AM

Glad someone posted about this. As others have said, rarely use glass except for long term storage & even then... I nick jars & bottles from the local service bin & recycle, I don't buy them directly.

I hate glittery plasticky crap & I don't really buy stuff in (can't afford to.)

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Nature is complicated. There are no "rules" & it's only when we understand that that we can truly grow to appreciate it.

#17 Verin

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Posted 26 June 2019 - 10:27 AM

I often think about sustainability when it comes to crystals and their unethical sourcing. Many witches, including myself, use crystals in their workings and for meditation, visualization and whatnot, and I myself bought all of my crystals when I wasn't aware of the mining conditions. I have decided since then not to buy more crystals from sources that aren't fair and sustainable, and mostly I go for second hand and local stones now. Same goes for endangered and highly hyped plants such as palo santo and white sage... I like to grow most of my herbs that I work with, myself, or I harvest in the wild, when there is an abundance of the plant, for instance I know a field chock full of the most potent mugwort. I usually take only as much as I need from nature Herself for my workings, and return them to nature when I'm done. I pick up seeds, sticks, husks, stones, twigs from the ground. I cut my candles in half  and carve out the thread to light it, when I know that I won't be able to watch a full candle burn down during a candle spell, half candles work just as well. This way I have almost no residual wax, and I also like to melt old wax and make new candles out of it (from the wax of candles that are "just burning", cause what witch doesn't light more candles than the regular person?) :) Banana leaf is great to make containers. Mica is a mineral glitter, harmless to the environment, just check the source, because the same thing that applies to crystals applies here as well. Great topic!


Edited by Verin, 26 June 2019 - 10:29 AM.

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#18 Ravenshaw

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Posted 26 June 2019 - 11:49 AM

I often think about sustainability when it comes to crystals and their unethical sourcing. Many witches, including myself, use crystals in their workings and for meditation, visualization and whatnot, and I myself bought all of my crystals when I wasn't aware of the mining conditions. I have decided since then not to buy more crystals from sources that aren't fair and sustainable, and mostly I go for second hand and local stones now. Same goes for endangered and highly hyped plants such as palo santo and white sage... I like to grow most of my herbs that I work with, myself, or I harvest in the wild, when there is an abundance of the plant, for instance I know a field chock full of the most potent mugwort. I usually take only as much as I need from nature Herself for my workings, and return them to nature when I'm done. I pick up seeds, sticks, husks, stones, twigs from the ground. I cut my candles in half  and carve out the thread to light it, when I know that I won't be able to watch a full candle burn down during a candle spell, half candles work just as well. This way I have almost no residual wax, and I also like to melt old wax and make new candles out of it (from the wax of candles that are "just burning", cause what witch doesn't light more candles than the regular person?) :) Banana leaf is great to make containers. Mica is a mineral glitter, harmless to the environment, just check the source, because the same thing that applies to crystals applies here as well. Great topic!

 

 

This is also one of the main reasons I don't use crystals much anymore. When I really want one, I use what I already have but do not buy more. 

 

Mugwort is a great alternative. Here it's really, really, REALLY invasive so when I find a patch I go ape on it.

 

I don't get why glitter because so popular, honestly. Plenty of other things sparkle, and things like sugar sparkle and also attract and feed creatures - which would certainly please local spirits. Speaking of mica, I got to drink a mead with food grade mica and it was a pleasant experience. it dazzled and swirled in my cup - so pretty. Great idea with the banana leaf too! I've used plantain leaves and knotweed as well to make little parcels. Knotweed works particularly well.


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#19 Holdasown

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Posted 28 June 2019 - 06:06 PM

Same goes for endangered and highly hyped plants such as palo santo and white sage... I like to grow most of my herbs that I work with, myself, or I harvest in the wild, when there is an abundance of the plant, for instance I know a field chock full of the most potent mugwort.

 

I did my research and found mugwort could be used like White Sage. It has even more uses and is European so no cultural appropriation. I just started a patch in my yard. I am so excited to have my own to use and not buy anymore. 


Edited by Holdasown, 28 June 2019 - 06:06 PM.

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