Every once in awhile we come across spell ingredients that are difficult to obtain. Here are some common examples and solutions:
You need to have a particular herb or oil for a spell or ritual. If you don’t have access to an herb you can substitute it with an essential oil. (Always be sure the oils you buy are 100% pure essential oils. Scented/fragrance oils do not work as they don’t have the plant’s essence).
In another instance you may come across and oil that you need but can’t afford to buy. Rose oil comes to mind immediately. It is the most expensive oil to buy. It’s hard to justify dropping hundreds of dollars on an oil you will only use a few drops. Instead, you can get an absolute. An absolute uses a different method, typically a solvent extraction. Absolutes are far more affordable. You can also substitute herbs or incense for an oil and just tweak the spell.
Depending on how the spell is written you may need to change the words around. Oil for herb, herb for oil, smoke etc. You can also just state the correspondence. For example “with essence of rose…”
Candles can usually be found in a variety of colors. Check your grocery stores, dollar stores, Walmart, home decor stores, online etc. for all different colors. Each season you can find certain colors that may be harder to find other times of the year. This is when I pick up one or two colors and set them aside. Wrap the candles in tissue paper to prevent scratches and colour bleeding.
Once in awhile though you will need a color that you can’t find. Even at the occult shop I go to regularly; I have had a hard time finding brown and grey candles. Silver only seems to be out around Yule. So when you are stuck for a color you can always substitute with a white candle..
Don’t overlook tea lites, birthday candles, emergency candles, chime etc. A white tea lite can be substituted in just about any spell. Birthday candles can be picked up at the grocery store. They come in just about every colour. Some grocery stores have really high quality pillar candles that I find are cheaper than the occult shop. You can also learn how to make your own candles! I do make my own from time to time, but I lack patience to make too many of them for myself.
Another difficult item to find are certain types of gemstones. Some are very expensive and others are elusive. Check out your local “rock shop”. Many cities have them and you can buy stones pretty cheaply. I also find tons of cool stones at the CNE in Toronto. You can also purchase stone chips which are less expensive. In a pinch you can substitute herbs with the same properties in place of the stone.
You can find tons of stones online, just make sure you buy them from reputable sellers since they are sight unseen (even with pictures). I have received stones from online sellers that are completely different than what I ordered.
Tools. I see too often new witches that go broke thinking they have to buy all of their tools at once. You can do very effective magick with minimal tools. The tools, at the end of the day are just props. They help to focus our minds on working magick, but the tools themselves don’t make the magick work. You do!
Your finger works just as well in place of a wand or athame. A wine glass works as well as a silver chalice. Any notebook makes a good Book of Shadows. (Especially if you can draw or print out nice pictures to glue in to it.) The bookstore sells nice journals you can use for a BOS. You can make really stunning digital BOS that can take with you wherever you are.
A fireproof dish with sand in it is a great incense holder. A metal or stone bowl can sub for a cauldron. Use your imagination. Often our tools find us. So don’t worry if you don’t have something. Use what you do have (yourself!) until something comes to you. It is your personal power, will and faith that creates effective magick.
The best book I have ever bought is “Holland’s Grimoire of Magickal Correspondences” By: Eileen Holland. This book is laid out alphabetically beautifully based on the subject and it lists all the correspondences for elements, days of the week, moon phase, crystals, stones, herbs, gods, colors etc. etc. and is a really wonderful resource to have. With a book like this it is easy to find substitutions for absolutely everything you could possibly need right at your fingertips!
I will be posting many correspondence tables in the future to make things easier for you.
How resourceful are you? Leave a comment of your best and most inventive substitutions!