I hate the word “budget.” It tastes like spreadsheets full of numbers and the word itself sounds ugly. But worst of all, for some of us, it’s a reminder there’s barely (or not) enough for everything that is demanded of us. THIS DOES NOT MEAN YOU CAN’T BE A WITCH.
(Disclaimer: my advice is not for the times in life when you’re googling “food pantries near me” at the public library, trying to find something to feed your kids before they get home from school and realize you have no dinner for them. I’ve been here quite a few times, and if I had seen something suggesting I spend a couple bucks on a candle, I would have lost my shit. I also have advice for this shit, and it’s magical as fuck, but it’s not witchcraft.)
Okay, back to your regularly scheduled post. You’re on a budget. You are or want to be a witch. What can you do?
Social media is teeming with amazing altars and witchy items. Do not let them convince you that this is what witchcraft looks like. I promise you your ancestors did not have that shit.
With that in mind, I’m sharing some tips and tricks that I’ve learned having to do low-cost witchcraft:
CHANGE YOUR PERSPECTIVE
Narrow down what it is that you actually need. To begin (or to sustain) a witchcraft practice, you really need very little.
Substitute shit. For example: if a spell calls for a certain herb that you don’t have, check for substitutions to see if you can use something you already have. I know herbs might seem like a weird one to pick on here, as you can usually get them for a couple bucks a piece, but if you grab five two-dollar packs of them, that’s ten bucks.
Recognize types of magic that are not cost-effective. An example of this could be crystal gridding, which requires multiples of crystals. Why buy six amethysts when you could have gotten several different types of crystals for the same price? If you’re counting pennies, this matters.
Tumbled stones are your best friend.
The main ingredient of magic is your own intent, and everything else is surprisingly flexible. An end goal can be achieved by many different kinds of spellwork.
PAY ATTENTION TO WHERE YOU’RE BUYING YOUR SHIT
This is going to piss at least one person off: try to avoid shopping at specifically witchcrafty shops. Specialty shops are always overpriced. There are times when you will need to go to one of them for certain things, but if you can get something elsewhere, do it.
Check out rock and mineral shops with more of a geological approach than a metaphysical one. Many of these are owned by members of geological clubs and are great places to find things mined locally by rockhounds. Much of their fare is sold rough, which drastically reduces the price (and ups the magic) as well.
If you absolutely cannot abide bringing home raw crystals with dirt on them, take a look at Ebay. You can get some pretty good deals on crystals there if you have the patience to bid and wait for shipping.
Go to the dollar store. Here you can get candles, common herbs, some seasonal decorations for the altar, and JARS.
See what local thrift shops have. Boxes, mirrors, tins, bags, candles, jewelry…I find at least one thing I can use every time I go.
PAY ATTENTION TO WHEN YOU’RE BUYING YOUR SHIT
Use after-holiday and postseasonal sales to your advantage.
Follow your favorite witchy-thing makers on social media. Sometimes they have giveaways and sales. I got my copy of the Darkness of Light Tarot for $15 because it had a dented box.
MAKE YOUR OWN SHIT
Dress your own candles.
Learn a cheap skill. I taught myself to embroider a few months ago. I got some embroidery floss, needles, an embroidery hoop, and some fabric from the remnant bin at Wal-Mart all for about 8 dollars. I can make my own little spell bags with symbols or sigils. I can make witchy book covers. I can do all sorts of shit with that.
Ask yourself how you can use skills you already have to make something for yourself.
ALWAYS BE ON THE LOOKOUT
Repurpose shit. Take secondhand things and make them better.
See what plants grow native near you and use those. (Why did I ever buy yarrow?)
If you’re a plant person, grow some of the herbs you commonly use.
See what yard sales have.
Pay attention when you go to beaches/mountains/lakes. I’ve found quartz, agates, and an assload of bones. I found acorns at my kids’ school. I picked up seed pods from the alleyway behind my inlaws’ house.
Witchcraft has lurked in poor little farmhouses and secluded cottages in the woods for millennia. “They” do not own it. You do.