Earth Magic: Take Action with a Charm Bag, by Dodge Graham McKay
(Article originally published in The Llewellyn Journal.)
I like to think of magical work that involves assembling, building, concocting or creating an item as a form of earth magic. You are the creator responsible for bringing an item into existence as a focal point for your will and desire. You are the manifester, giving form and function to the object you are making.
A charm bag is a quick and effective magical object that you can create for a specific purpose and discreetly carry with you or tuck into a strategic spot in your environment. Creating one gives you a sense of control over a situation and the gratification of taking action to do something about it. It is a hands-on, satisfying way to make a magical item that does not need to take a lot of time or money to create.
Gather the Parts
The magic starts when you begin to assemble the items you will use to make your charm bag. Do this with intent and carefully select the very best materials you can afford and source. Take time to consider your magical footprint on the Earth and make your charm bag as earth-friendly as possible. Try to use natural materials that will biodegrade. Plastic or synthetic materials may be tempting, but they can take hundreds of years to break down or release noxious chemicals if burned. As magical practitioners, we often call on the energy of the earth to perform our spells and rituals, so being conscious of the impact our magic has on the planet seems only fair and responsible.
Your charm bag does not need to be elaborate or complicated in order to be effective. I like to use four components to make mine:
- A small drawstring bag
- A small crystal
- A token to represent your intent
I like to keep the bag fairly small, no more than about 5 cm by 7 cm (2 inches by 3 inches), with a drawstring to close it. You can check your local arts and crafts supply shop or dollar store for these. I can usually find small muslin or cotton bags at these places, or you can sew your own using scraps of cloth.
Herbs should be dried, as fresh herbs can get moldy and soggy in the bag. Whenever possible I like to cut and dry my own herbs from my garden, or I head outside to harvest responsibly from the wild. But that is not always possible, and it is easy to overthink this one. The herbs you have in your kitchen can be equally effective.
The crystals should be small—something no larger than the end of your thumb or even a just a single bead is perfect. If you don't have a suggested crystal you can substitute a simple clear quartz. If shopping for crystals is not for you, head outside to find a pebble in a suitable color or a shape that resonates with you.
Assemble the Bag
Before you assemble your charm bag, take a moment to ground and center yourself. Make every movement intentional and state your intent out loud. Visualize a successful outcome as you work.
Money Charm Bag
- Bay leaf
- Mint leaf
- Small citrine crystal
The key to success with this one is to not be greedy. Visualize what you really need the money for. Write it on the bay leaf and place it in the bag. Add a liberal pinch of dried mint leaves and sprinkle into the bag, imagining each flake as the cash tumbling into your hands. Next, add the citrine. Citrine is a stone of manifestation, and is referred to as an abundance stone or merchant's stone as it attracts money and financial success. Many a witch shop owner have been known to keep a piece of citrine in their cash register. Pro tip: keep a small piece in your wallet!
Grounding Charm Bag
- Dirt from home or other place of comfort and security
- Small hematite stone
Collect a spoonful of dirt from outside your home or any other location where you feel absolutely safe and secure. Thank the place for this gift as you collect it. Add the dirt to your bag and follow this with a generous pinch of garden sage. Any culinary sage you may have in your kitchen will work just fine. Take a moment to smell the sage and focus on the smell and texture of the leaves as you do this. After a moment, add the hematite. Hematite has a coolness and stability that connects us to our inner strength, enabling us to securely ground ourselves and feel calm and centred.
Confidence Charm Bag
- A penny or similar coin noted for luck
- Valerian root
- Small carnelian
Select a coin for your bag, preferably one you found (I have been known to root through sofa cushions or all of the pockets of jackets hanging by the door to find a coin). A found coin represents luck and unexpected abundance. Valerian root adds relief from stress and anxiety while cheerful carnelian stimulates motivation and creativity, enhancing confidence. Try sewing your own bag for this, using cloth that is your favourite colour or has sentimental value. Maybe you have a favorite old shirt that you can't wear anymore, or a sentimental textile that can be recycled for this purpose. These personal touches serve as a reminder of who you are and all of the great things of which you are capable.
Healing Charm Bag
- Chamomile and/or lavender
- A small photo or drawing of the person in need of healing
- Small rose quartz
Chamomile is extremely popular as a tea herb, beloved for its soothing qualities. Lavender has a strong, comforting, and evocative fragrance that aids with pain relief and promoting good sleep. Add these to your bag with a piece of rose quartz, a stone of unconditional love and healing, with a strong association to the heart and circulatory system. Take a moment with the photo or drawing and visualize the person as strong and healthy, then slip it into the bag. You may want to change out the herbs for other ones that target the specific illness from which you need relief—mint for stomach upset, turmeric for inflammation, etc.
Protection Charm Bag
- Thorns, thistles or prickly plant matter wildcrafted from your environment
- Black salt (a complete recipe with instructions for making your own black salt can be found in my book, Earth Magic)
- Black tourmaline
Go out for a walk in your environment and seek out plants that have thorns, thistles, bristles, or spikes. Be sure to take some rugged gardening gloves along with you and carefully harvest a small amount of the aggressive, sharp parts of the plant. Look for plants growing along borders and boundary lines and take a moment to appreciate how these fierce guardians grew in these places. Add the plant matter to your bag along with a spoonful of black salt. Drop in the black tourmaline, which will absorb negative energy and protect against psychic attack.
Use Your Bag
Once your bag is complete, you can use it as it, or you may want to ritually charge it by placing it on your altar or in sacred space and focusing your will on it. How you choose to do this is up to you.
Charm bags should be small enough to fit in your pocket, or you may want to wear it on a cord around your neck. You can also place these strategically in relevant spots in your space—a confidence charm bag in your desk at work, or a protection charm bag hanging above your front door, for example. With a little research you can make a charm bag for any purpose.
A charm bag can be held in your hand to help you ground yourself and refocus your magical intent when you need to activate it. If you are not able to physically hold it, try visualizing it: how does it feel or smell? What is its texture? How much does it weigh?
When the Work is Done
When a charm bag has served its purpose and the magic has run its course, you may want to ritually dispose of it. I have a hard time throwing a magical item into a garbage can, so I have a couple tried and true ways to deal with them:
- Bury the used charm bag somewhere where it will not be disturbed, and it can decompose back into the earth. For this reason it is very important to use only biodegradable materials.
- Collect used charm bags and any other spent magical items in a paper bag. Ensure that these are all things that can safely be burned. Items that release noxious fumes, such as plastic items, should be left out of this. Burn the bag outdoors in a bonfire as part of your Samhain celebrations. My coven has a tradition of doing this, and it is a cathartic part of the ceremony. Candle stubs, matchsticks, poppets, papers—all of the earthly reminders of magic and spell work performed over the past year gets sent into the fire.
I hope you give charm bags a try! To learn more about how to incorporate the element of earth into your magic, please check out my new book Earth Magic.
Article originally published in The Llewellyn Journal. Copyright Llewellyn Worldwide, 2021. All rights reserved.