Being A Brokeass Witch In The Modern World
It can be expensive being a witch, especially if you work with more historic forms of magic. Materia magica and tools like goat fat, spindles, and the bodies of hanged men just aren’t as readily available nowadays as they were for our forebears. There is no walking to the gibbet at the crossroads to
harvest goodness knows what from some hanged criminal for us, comparatively few people raise their own animals, and unless you’re the kind of person to hang out at your local sheep and wool festival, you probably also don’t have a spindle.
Or a cauldron.
Or a pitchfork.
And depending on where you live, your foraging options might be limited when it comes to traditional European witch herbs anyway.
So what’s a brokeass witch to do when a working or form of magic requires materia magica and tools that are prohibitively expensive?
Well, you could try out the following hacks.
1. Keep An Inventory
The first and easiest cost-saving activity that any witch can do is take an inventory of the magical supplies that are already in stock. As a group, we tend towards being pack-rats. We accumulate herbs, rocks, journals, random bones and raccoon dick bones as we practice, and it becomes all too easy to lose track of what we have. So if you’re looking to cut the cost of your craft, you need to reduce the risk of buying unneeded items, and that is where your inventory comes in.
Go through your stuff, make a list, keep the list somewhere easy to see, and refer to it when making your nefarious, magical plans.
2. Cost It Out
When you have a specific working in mind, take the time to research the cost of supplies. Shop around, fill shopping baskets on random sites and see what totals you get. Sometimes things will work out much cheaper than you initially expected and are actually affordable with a bit of budgeting work. Conversely, things may turn out to be a whole lot more expensive than you thought, so it’s good to cost things out to avoid any nasty surprises.
3. Figure Out Substitutions (And Make A Purist Cry)
In some cases, substituting some tools or ingredients can make things a little more doable financially. However, you need to be careful with any substitutions you make. After all, there’s a certain logic to magical workings, and some of that logic has pretty deep roots.
But while it’s clearly beyond the scope of this listicle subsection to teach how to ‘read’ and deconstruct magical workings in this way, I can give you a down and dirty hack to at least get you thinking about it.
Over the years, I’ve found that the easiest way to think about magic is in terms of story; and leveraging stories in order to change my own story, and the story of others. From an animist perspective, everything has backstory, and these backstories are what build the greater story-arc that you form when you create a spell. So the next time you look at a spell (or consider creating your own spell), try to think of it like a movie in a series of movies and deconstruct the various plots. Those bits where you find yourself thinking “Oooh wouldn’t it have been cool if (character name) did that instead of (character name)” are where you can possibly make some decent substitutions.
Just bear in mind that some spirits care a hell of a lot more about substitutions than others. I have done workings with some real sticklers, and workings with other spirits who are fine with you using whatever you have. So if it doubt, perform divination. Sometimes you can get some leeway from promising better when you’re doing better.
4. Make Your Own (Tools) if Possible
There can be a lot of magical and economic benefits to making your own tools. Because aside from the (usually) cheaper cost (again, cost this out first) of making your own tools, there is the added benefit of being able to birth your own tools into the world. You get to be there at the point of creation, and begin their stories. Yes, you get to be momma to some sketchy knives, spindles, staffs, and whatever the fuck else you need to produce in order to get on down with your magical selves.
Go have some magical tool kids! It’s like the only time you get to reproduce prolifically while poor without society looking down on you.
There’s also a certain niche value there too. I mean, no one else will have a table of art quite as shitty-looking as yours (or mine…speaking from experience here).
Table of “art”. Ha!
It’s artisanal, not shit.
5. Look For ‘Free’ Or Thrift
Finally, despite our lack of early modern witchy resources (oh, the irony), there’s still a lot to be said for foraging locally, especially if you can figure out some decent substitutions in your local plant life. Thrift stores can also be gold
mines for witches in need of tools, and you can still observe planetary timing in your purchases! Knives, candle holders, offering dishes, and fireproof bowls are not all that hard to find in a lot of thrift stores.
Of course, the only downside here is that you’ll probably never know the backstory on those tools, but can you ever really say that about any tools bought from local occult stores? So what if that knife you picked up was used by a little old lady called “Evelyn” to eviscerate her Canasta nemesis? Free spirits, bonus.
Witchcraft has changed a lot since the days of our early modern counterparts, and so has poverty. However, one thing that has not changed is that witchcraft was, and still remains, the tool of the poor and marginalized.
So regardless of what you end up missing, or the cool shit you don’t get to own, just know this: By being poor as crap, you’re continuing a true witchcraft tradition. Like I said, witchcraft has always been the tool of the downtrodden, and most of those were also poor as crap. Poverty just looked different then. But don’t forget, it’s your economic counterparts (give or take a few hundred years) that the folks who can afford all the swank stuff are trying to emulate.