How to Get What You Want

Author: Quill ofQuillsOccultSupply / Labels: ,

Be honest--this is what we're all here for.  No matter how many altruistic feelings you have as you cast spells for the healing and happiness of others, you're still working to change what is into what you want it to be.

That is the nature of magic and you shouldn't be ashamed to admit it.  Magic is essentially manipulative--as in molding, shaping, and transforming with your hands--and manipulation is a helpful tool in the magic and in the mundane.  If you don't think that our human interactions (and, indeed, life in general) is manipulative, just take a look at dating, job interviews, buying and selling, and both sides of parenting.

There's a give and take to these relations, and sometimes one or the other must be gently--or not so gently--coerced.  You pretend not to be too interested in a house so you can negotiate a better price.  He plays it cool on a date and she's intrigued.  Sons and daughters know just the right way to ask so that a parent is compelled to say "yes."  It's not right or wrong, it's just how we get things done.

But when it comes to magic, sometimes we just lose it.  In the chaos that ensues as we try to bail our sinking ship, we make choices that go completely against our efforts.  We go at the task with a bucket in one hand, a tea cup in the other, and two spoons in our teeth.  Our intention to quickly right our ship by using every tool and every limb fails miserably. Energy spent, water rising around our ears, we can at least congratulate ourselves for holding off the flood as long as we did. But we could have done a lot better. We could have taken a stern look at our tools, our space, and our energy reserves, picked up the bucket and scooped a full gallon of water back to the sea with every movement.  I'll show you how to do just that.

Simply put, it's not the spell you cast that ensures you get exactly what you want. Instead, it's all about organization, timing, and agility.

All practical magic is based on this information.  Unfortunately, no matter how many spellbooks you own they can never teach you how and when to use the spells they contain.  Few newcomers are willing to learn from a teacher, though many really need one because this is precisely what they teach.  To begin...


Looking at your situation as though it were a puzzle--and not a personal catastrophe--is the very first step. You must be pragmatic about it!  Forget, for the moment, about the good and bad; forget your fears and your hopes.  Forget about whether it's a curse or a cure you're about to cast and down what lane of the
shadowy future it might lead.  Just make your thoughts orderly in any way that helps you.  I suggest you write down the exact problem on paper and really look at it.  What's your angle?  What are your goals here?  Write a list of short phrases that represent the outcomes you desire.  Let's make an example: Jenny's sister is starting fights and making the whole family miserable.  As Jenny sits down to work, she puts aside her anger at her sister, frustration over the shattering of her family, and feelings of shame for contemplating casting against her own sister so that she can be clear about what really needs to happen in the situation.  She makes lists, does some divination, and talks with friends until she knows just how she wants to attack the problem.

Now you can go through your books and find spells that relate to your desired outcome.  Don't do this step before you're really clear or you'll end up with a ton of great, but thoroughly muddled, ideas without a clue on how to proceed.

Write down the name, source book, and page number for each spell that fits.  Have 2-3 spells for each angle of the problem so you will have options later in the planning process.  In the case of Jenny, she decides to look up spells for family harmony, ending strife, and binding troublemakers.


This is more than picking a good day and time, and even more powerful of an option than calculating Planetary Hours.  The timing I mean is at what point within the situation.  If you know you'll be seeing your target in person next week, you might wish to forgo a distance spell and opt for working something more intimate instead (like sprinkling him with powders, secreting a talisman in his belongings, or plucking a strand of hair from his coat to use in a later spell.  Sometimes, too, things will need to happen in a certain order to have the best outcome.  Maybe your boss has to wait for a phone call, attend a meeting, and go over paperwork before she can discuss your raise with you.  This early in the day is not the time to work a spell so you can eloquently make your case for a generous raise.  Work on other aspects of it now and do your eloquence spell right before you go in her office.  This is a more efficient use of time and ensures that the right changes happen in the right order.  After all, you wouldn't want to be a wit in front of the copy boy and then a dope with the boss, right? Keep your focus on what you need and how their remedies are to be arranged.

So Jenny's sister has stirred the pot again and then left town.  She won't be back for two weeks, so Jenny's got plenty of time to work on home matters.  She clears away the misfortunes Sister has left in her wake and brings clarity and peace back to her family home.  Maybe she will add a little strength of will to the other family members so that when Sister returns, they're ready to stand up against her bad attitude.


This is always last because what we're talking about is a "think on your feet" type of mentality that keeps us continually aware of what we have to work with at the moment.  Nothing happens in a vacuum, magic included, and we need to be ready for reactions. This is why some people have such a hard time with cursing. They lob a curse at their enemy and think the situation done (same problem with love spells, oddly enough).  But it isn't done--targets feel the effects of the spell and react, and they do so in whatever way feels natural for them.  Some grow sullen and depressed, certain that life hates them and they must recoil to be safe from it.  Not a bad option from the caster's point of view.  Other targets will lash out with anger, frustration, or jealousy and only cause further damage for you to clean up.  This is a witch's nightmare.  Unless you want to micro-manage every target, you're better off casting a spell with a fairly predictable reaction that you can work to your advantage and then (as needed) casting on the new situation that is created by the change.

Jenny decides not to bind her sister but instead to bolster the rest of her family because their safety is her primary concern.  They are happy and unified when Sister returns.  She tries bits of her old tricks and they don't work; the family remains solid and efforts to divide them fail.  Sister feels the brunt of spells she feel are effectively taking away her power, and she reacts.  Because Sister is overly dramatic she is furious--and possibly scared--and so goes wild and fakes a serious illness to regain sympathy.  Jenny's family, now strong and aware, tires of her antics and ignores her.  Jenny sees that Sister needs reigned in with stronger measures and decides to bind her for the safety of everyone concerned. Sister's behavior is halted and Jenny's conscience is clear.

You see how Jenny's spells worked?  She made an orderly task of it, worked within the brackets of time that were the best fit, and then allowed the changing situation to dictate the rhythm of her working.  She didn't need to whale on her sister with the strongest curses she possessed, nor did she need to confuse or exhaust herself by working all her spells at one time.

So there you have it--the quickest way to get what you want from anyone, any situation, any time.  It is as simple as the mundane manipulations we perform every day, and should quickly become just as obvious an option when you are contemplating the brewing of another of life's storms.  Just remember to stand tall, choose your bucket, and bail your ship with a firm hand!

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Who is This "Joe Pye"?

Author: Quill ofQuillsOccultSupply / Labels: ,

Of all the useless things people have named for them--cocktails and sandwiches and diseases...I'd rather be like Joe Pye.

Joe Pye was an Indian medicine man of Massachusetts, or so the legend goes, with such skill at healing the incredibly difficult disease, typhus, that the lovely Gravelroot was given his name.  Whether or not this was exactly so is a matter of opinion.  There doesn't seem to be a consensus on the matter among scholars (though, if you're as devoted to wild plants as I am you might like to read this in-depth article on just how very far the search for Joe Pye has come), but that doesn't stop the legends from rolling along.  

But, brilliant Indian herbalists aside, who is the Joe Pye you are likely to meet in the present-day woods?  A tall and stately figure with whorls of leaves rising in decreasing layers to meet a crown of fragrant purple flowers.  He is a lovely sight in clusters by the side of a creekbed and impossible to miss in a meadow, towering over the heads of every other plant. The butterflies and the bees love him dearly.  And so does the witch.

I won't bore you with the habitat and growth-cycle business of Joe Pye Weed, nor with its impressive medicinal uses.  I'm certain that many folks enjoy this kind of detail in other witchcraft pages but I regard it purely as packing material for filling out otherwise meager magical information.  And I don't ever like excess packaging.  So we're just going to tuck in to the good stuff right away, shall we?

If you don't have this plant in your stocks now, I suggest you remedy that right away (and not just because I sell the whole leaves in my shop).  If you find it growing wild, so much the better, because every inch of this plant has its own magic!  The leaves are the most commonly used, so we'll start there.  Lay a whole leaf in the sole of your shoe and everyone you meet will regard you with respect.  Tuck a leaf in your cheek (as though it were a pinch of snuff) and your words will be pleasing to the ears of the one whose amorous attention you seek.  Carry it in your pocket or add to formulas and mojo bags to bring gambling luck and general good fortune.

The flowers are another matter altogether.  Their focus is all love: drawing it, keeping it, strengthening it, and regaining it. There is also a lesser known method, noted by Catherine Yronwode of Lucky Mojo, for using Joe Pye blossoms in rites to inspire visions.  Call up spirits to answer questions on love and you'll neatly combine the two.

Before Joe came along, the root was the "big show" and the originator of the common name of this plant. Called Gravelroot, Gravelweed, and Kidneyroot, it is a clear standard for the root's use in treating kidney stones (that's all the medicine I'll talk, I swear).  But for magic, it's more about what's in your pocket than in your kidneys.  This is the part to use when you want money luck, business success, a new job, or prosperity in general. Roots can be carried alone or as part of a mojo.

Gathering Joe Pye Weed is a simple matter.  As always, carefully count the number of plants in any grouping (if you are taking roots or whole plants) and the number of leaves per plant (if only gathering leaves).  Your harvest should be no more than one-quarter of the total.  And I'm completely serious.  Unless the whole of it is about to be mowed down, never take more than is your share.  This ensures that there is enough for other witches, herbalists, and botanists, plus the wildlife who call its habitat their home.

Once you have your Joe Pye Weed at home, inspect each piece and wash where necessary.  Roots will need scrubbed with a stiff-bristled brush and leaves gently rubbed with the hands under cold running water. You will need to allow leaves to air dry for an hour on a kitchen towel before further processing, but the roots can be hung up to dry immediately.  Any area in the home with plenty of circulation will work for this.

If you would like to press your leaves, as you see them in my shop, you can layer them between sheets of plain paper and then weigh it down with large, heavy books.  Let your leaves rest this way for only a few days at a time.  Leaf pressing takes much less time than you think, and leaf molding is faster yet.  So watch your leaves!  You won't spoil them by checking in every other day. When they are quite flat, let them sit in their papers but without the weight so they can finish drying completely.

The other drying method is, of course, much simpler--just let them sit uncovered on a tray until they are curled and crunchy.  Crumble and pack away in a bag or bottle.  Done. This method is what you'll want if your goal is Joe Pye Weed you can add to bags and formulas: quick drying and easy to store on a spice rack.

Joe Pye Weed has become a favorite herb of mine not only because all parts are useful but because I call upon its virtues so often.  I always keep the leaves on hand because of the amount of public speaking I do (large and small) and the number of people I'd like to impress with that speaking.  It's something I keep in my emergency kit, give to our kids for school events, and have tucked in nearly every mojo I have carried. Couple that with its inclusion in my popular magical powder, Quill's Bag of Tricks (currently sold out), and I must keep a good supply year round or face a bewildering span of time until they grow tall again.

But now is the growing season, when all green things are lush and bright, and Joe Pye stands sentinel at his high purple post in the meadow or by the stream.  When you need him you can find him there, always ready to help.

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color photos taken by author

About Me

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My name is Quill and I've been practicing witchcraft for the past 17 years. 10 of those years I've been reading tarot and teaching.  I own a shop on Etsy called Quill's Occult Supply (check it out at full of handmade ritual and decorative items, spell components, and wild picked herbs.

I love to work with my hands.  Magic is a tool to shape our lives, and I'm using magic to shape tools to shape magic.  Cosmic! 

I use a lot of my favorite things in my shop: herbs, candles, wood, fabric, paint, clay.  And I get to carve, burn, grind, mold, think, dream ... I'm in the perfect business!

I've written 3 manuscripts for publication (2 non-fiction and 1 fiction) and am an avid NaNo-er!  I and my husband run a local coven called Orbis Prosapia, and our children are growing up surrounded by magic, mythology, fairy tales, Earth worship, art, open discussion, music, and humor. 

In addition to working on Ex Penna about my experiences as a professional witch, I also write for Scenes from the Circle about being a coven leader. 

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