A Little Kitchen Magic – It's All in the Preparation!

    This was written for the 2012 Magical Almanac.  I am a working witch; my magical space is usually in the kitchen and for the most part I do consider myself a "Kitchen Witch."  I use what I have at hand and keep a well stocked cupboard.  This is a overview of how I set up my workspace and it has some hints and solutions for those who are looking to kick their practice up a notch.

    The difference between High Magic and Kitchen Witch is that a kitchen witch does not need a stage, an audience or props to make the magic.  Rather, the focus is on intent, creating the maximum amount of energy and doing the work.

    But we find we do need a staging area; someplace we can work in private and have all our tools that we need to work our magic.  For many women it used to be the kitchen, where once upon a time we spent most of our waking hours preparing meals and doing our chores.  In between stirring the cauldron and drying the herbs, we would find the time to set up a magical working on the kitchen table, read cards for a neighbor, or brew a love potion for a special friend.

    Reality strikes – this is the 21st century.  Most of us business types hardly see the inside of our kitchen except to brew coffee, and many of us ignore that small box they sold us as a kitchen when we bought the house.  And if you live in an apartment, you know what I mean when I say "utility kitchen" and how very close it comes to "utility closet".

    So, to prepare a space for working, we need to allocate some of that precious square footage to the place we will be doing our preparation and working.  For most folks, this is a double duty space where meals will be prepared, if necessary, and magic will be performed.  Or maybe it will be storage space for pizza boxes and empty Chinese takeout containers interchangeable with storage of bottles of herbs and oils.

    But no matter how large or small your kitchen, it will end up being the ideal place for working your magic.  Why?  Because it is the one place in the house that can offer the kind of storage space that you will need and some counter top or table top space to work your magic.  It is the one place in the house where we feel most at home, comfortable and secure.  It is our hearth, the center of our life.  We may not spend a lot of time there, but we do feel comfortable there.

    Magical real estate in the home should be set aside.  Even if it is a shelf in a small closet, the storage of some oils and herbs should be away from the food stock and secure enough to keep prying eyes and fingers away from your "stash".  I realize there may be children in the house, or husbands or wives who do not want to know what you are doing.  A space should be agreed upon as your private space and it should be respected and left alone.  Having said that, we move on.

    Not all your stock is going to be non-edible.  Most of your stock will hang out in the spice closet and the baking shelves.  Most witches' I know have a spice closet (not a rack) that would rival most grocery stores.  And most of their supplies will be purchased from the grocery aisles in some food chain.  That is where you are going to get the best product and the best prices.  Whole cloves, nutmeg, fresh cinnamon sticks, vanilla beans, corn meal – all these things can be purchased at a supermarket and are freshness dated.  This way you know you are getting the product before it gets old and stale.  Sorry, but I have been in "pagan" stores where the cinnamon sticks are twice the price, half the weight and have been there since the store opened.  Freshness counts, don't fool yourself.  If you buy from a local pagan store, demand freshness.  In a good store you will never need to demand.  And be sure to clean it out regularly, keeping supplies fresh and on hand.  The rule of thumb is if the product is a year old, time to get rid of leftovers and purchase or acquire fresh.  

    Oils are the same way.  You can find many oils that you need in health food stores, pharmacies and department stores.  While you will not find the specialty blends you will find at the pagan store, you will find the basic ingredients.  Please be advised, we are being frugal here.  I will shop at the best pagan stores for the special blends I want, but for my own blends, I shop fresh and affordable.  

    Candles are a whole different ball of wax.  Hmm…  a pun.  Moving along, candles are a personal preference and depend entirely on the quality you need and your pocketbook.  White utility candles are a staple.  They can be used for everything and anything and do not require a bank loan to purchase.  They are acceptable!  But when we want specialty candles – specific colors, composition or scent, you are advised to again seek out your local pagan store.  The candles there are often handmade, at least in the better stores they are.  You can find beeswax, soy and candles that are solid color throughout.  I hate it when you get a candle and it's only colored on the outside, the inside is plain white – cheating on the dye.  I like solid color candles.  But composition, that is your own choice.  I find I only go for the beeswax when I want something special.  

    A walk in the park on a sunny weekend will yield a plethora of "extras" that may grace your closet essentials.  Stones, leaves, acorns, even the stray feather can be found in a park, or if you go to the beach, sand and shell.  I hit a construction site that tore down a building that had brickwork.  The old brick smashed up nicely into red brick powder.  Not a bad deal.  And ecological, as it recycles a piece of what will eventually end up in a landfill.  Look to the natural world to supply you with the "extras" you may need for your working.

    Then, of course, there are the hobby shops.  The black river stones I like to use for protection spells come by the net bag full cheap in these stores.  Also sprinkle sparkles for that touch of fairy dust, handmade paper for spell work, small wooden boxes, clay bowls or colorful jars for spirit homes.  Gemstones, paints, even wooden binders for books of shadow can come from those lovely discount hobby stores.  You never know what you will find in there.  Even oils and candles can be had if you look close enough.  

    So we come back to the kitchen space.  A shelf in a closet for those things we cannot eat, shelf space for those things we can eat.  Those edibles will serve double duty and we can always be assured that they will be replaced when depleted and they will be fresh stock.  However, I do recommend a separate set of mixing bowls.  You really don't want to put your edibles in a bowl that had something that could leave oil or residue behind and is not good for your digestive system.  I recommend a trip to the flea market or the donation store for used bowls.  Support your favorite charity by purchasing your magical mixing supplies from them.  I found the perfect small cauldron, cast iron with three legs, at a Christian consignment store.  It was labeled "fondue pot".   Yea, right, $5.00 = mine.

    Setting up your working space is totally at your discretion.  I keep a jar of kosher salt (I love the texture) on the counter.  If I am going to work on the counter, I will start by spreading some salt on the counter, get a clean damp rag and wipe the counter down.  Cleaned and grounded.  A little salt on the floor to remove any bad residue is a good idea as well.  Mop and go!

    Some folks like to "decorate" their working area.  Small personal altar space with some stones or herbs or seasonal fruits or flowers always makes a nice display.  A wooden cutting board with a lovely pentacle painted or carved into it would make a great portable work space, and if you reserve it for just spell workings you really don't need to worry about what you just cleaned on the surface you will be casting from in a little while.   

     A couple of candle holders discretely placed will set the mood for the working.  Colored light bulbs work well if you do not want to use candles.  I've seen clear or colored lights running under kitchen cabinets that look like fairy lights, and create a stunning effect for working in the kitchen.  For those who are concerned about energy use, the new LED bulbs for under the kitchen counters are perfect for mood lighting.

    If you have a center island or a kitchen table to work from, you are lucky you have such an ideal space.  But for those who have a galley kitchen or a utility kitchen, setting this up is going to be much more difficult.  I do suggest you get a stool and set it next to the counter you will be working at.  It will get you closer to your work, and make you more comfortable in close quarters.

    Storage of your supplies and equipment should be considered.  Kitchen canisters can hold candles, funnels, droppers, and more.  I reuse candle jars for herbs and stones.  I actually keep my candles in old plastic coffee containers – the big ones.  I have a cookie sheet for burning candles on and working some spells.  I have a bowl for water, a lovely deep cobalt blue.  Great for scrying!  

    I also have a couple mortar and pestles.  While a Cuisinart might be a choice for the modern witch, I like to sit and contemplate what I am doing.  I am slowly blending and bashing the herbs or stones I am adding to the mix, and in the process, I am adding energy and intent.  And there is nothing like the smell of freshly bruised herbs to focus one's mind on the process at hand.

    Which brings me to another topic… incense.  We may clear our space with sage or burning herbs, but I am not all that great with smoke.  In a confined space, smoke will build up quickly, and can cause respiratory issues.  I like oils in a diffuser.  A candle under a small bowl of water and drops of essential oil is lovely to me.  Or the smell of the herbs you are using and mixing with other oils.  Why do I want to "flavor" the area with another smell if I am going to be using smell in my working?  Try something different from incense.  Let the aroma of the working fill your space.

    Getting down to the real working, if you are going to mix oils for a special blend, you will need a few basics.  Eye droppers are essential.  So are funnels.  And never make one small batch of blend when you can make a larger one and share it.  It will use your supplies up more quickly, but you may be able to gift someone with it, or sell some.  Always keep that in mind.

    I have a success blend I make and I usually make about a dozen half oz. glass bottles, sometimes more.  I buy the bottles from a wholesaler, and the cost per bottle is very cheap.  Use the web to Google suppliers.  A store local to you will provide cheaper postage.  And, of course, there is always eBay.  

    By adding a label to the bottle – Avery or a cheaper brand printed from my computer printer – and a ribbon and a charm, they make very attractive gifts and I do sell them to people.  Make it in the mixing bowl, or mix it in the jars; an afternoons worth of work and I have a success oil that people are always asking me for.

    The last of the essentials is your "recipe book".  A Book of Shadows is an essential in the kitchen when you are working.  First, you keep the recipe.  Second, you keep the incantation.  Third, you keep the process.  Finally, you keep the results.  A spell working is nothing unless you know whether it worked or not, and if you can repeat it exactly a second time and get the same results.  You should be working in that book before you even set foot in the kitchen work area.  You should have your intent specifically laid out, your research done and verified, know all the materials needed and checked to make sure you have them on hand and write down all the particulars to the working before you set up.  

    So, your workspace is clear, your BOS is worked up and open on the counter, and you have laid out all the ingredients and bowls on the counter.  Here is a question I get a lot… do I create a circle?

    My question back to them is – what are you doing?  If you want to create sacred space and call a Deity to work with you on this project, then feel free.  There are, of course, many witches or magic practitioners who do not work with Deity.  But I have some very different ideas.

    I am drawing energy into this working, even with the help of my Deity.  And I will be sending this magic out to a project or person when it is completed.  I am drawing energy into myself, coating it with intent, and then placing it into the project to add more energy, then releasing it.  If I draw a circle around me to contain what I am doing, how am I going to collect the energy I need and how am I going to release it?  If I am cooped up in my own bubble, how does all my working come in or go out?

    Even if I am working something Chaotic, I still need to draw in and then release. And forming a circle will impair that working.

    Yes, I will call the elements or an element to my spell working.  Yes, I will draw all kinds of energy from that pool we all draw from to build my spell working.   And yes, depending on the work, I may call upon Deity to work with me to add an extra push to my working.  When my intent is clear and I have built up to a point where the energy is at its peak, I will release it.   I will then give thanks to the elements, to the energies and to my Deity to for their assistance.  But I will not create a circle to contain it.  What I will do is clean up when I am done.  

    Cleanup is sometimes confusing.   My working had a specific intent.  If it is for me, that is one thing.  I will draw that energy to me, allowing it to change me as it changes my world.  But if that intent was for someone else, the energy is not mine to draw.  I will salt down an area when I am done to remove any leftover energy.     Candles will be removed and buried no matter who the working was for.  Ashes will be buried.  Any salt or stones or paper or inks or oils will be sent to the earth as well.  These had intent, and the intent is released.  Much of what I work with has a "one use only" when used for anyone else.  My own materials, however, I will keep for reuse if I need to repeat the working.

    At this point you also should be writing in your BOS.  What did you do?  How did you feel?  What did you feel?  And what may have happened as you worked.  Did you see something, or hear something?  Was there an emotional response from your inner self that should be noted?  Was there an external response that you should note? And there should be follow up.  Was your intent answered?  What was the final outcome of the working?  Did you receive feedback from your client?

    A final note:  working as a Kitchen Witch does not mean you have to work in the kitchen.  If you have space elsewhere in the house you want to use, by all means use it.  You are still a kitchen witch no matter where you work because you use what is at hand without all the glitz and glamour.  Do not be restricted by name when you have the opportunity to set up a room for working that will serve as a personal private space.  But again, do make sure you are prepared, make sure you have everything you need, and remember you don't always need the little trinkets or props.  The key is intent, energy and the desire to manifest change.  A good kitchen witch knows how to create the maximum amount of energy with the minimum amount of personal energy expended and without tools.  Sometime your finger is all you need.

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