I will admit it, when I was younger, I loved the dollar store as much as anyone. I could buy all manner of home decor that I never would have been able to afford elsewhere. These days, they have whole aisles dedicated to candles, incense, offering dishes, jars, herbs, just about anything a thrifty witch (or a broke witch, we’ve all been there) would need.
But with the rise of climate change, and our consciousness that the earth really is in trouble, has come the idea of zero waste or low waste and just generally being more mindful of how we live our lives. Thus, is the dollar store really the best place to source your spell materials and tools anymore? Was it ever?
I’ve been going to dollar stores since I was a kid, and the toys we got there were always cheap, plastic, carelessly put together, and easily broken. By the time I was a teenager, it seemed to me that I was just wasting my money on stuff that I would throw away when I could make much of it on my own, and of much higher quality.
In my 20s, I came back to the dollar stores for frames, decor, candles, whatnot, because hello! it’s a dollar. It didn’t occur to me until I was older that this stuff might seem like it’s higher quality than when I was a kid, but it still comes at a price. Not just for the environment, but also for the people working in these factories. That didn’t sit well with me, and I moved back to more mindful purchases.
I really had to think how many things/ingredients I really needed, and if there were ways for me to get a hold of them without having to support places that shipped problematic items en masse from China.
That is a super long way of saying that I am going to offer a few tips and tricks that any budget conscious witch can use to get what she needs, while still keeping the environment in mind. After all, we only get one planet, right?
Tip #1: Thrifting
This is by far the easiest one. If we want to make less waste and create less trash, then we need to start reusing things and creating that economy for pre-loved goods. I have found numerous little hand made dishes, crystal glassware, scarves, candles, and books in the various thrift stores I have visited.
To the point where I rarely buy candles anywhere else, because in a good thrift store, you can buy them by the bag. More than you could ever need, all for under $2 usually.
My favourite thrifting haul to date got me two little ceramic bowls, a tray, a book stand, a little vintage looking purse, 5 woven placemats (which can be used for tarot mats or travel altar cloths), a handful of candles (beeswax tapers, floating candles, and votives), a ceramic vase, and a mini brass fireplace basket that I still use to hold my smudge bundles.
All from the Salvation Army thrift store on Vancouver Island for less than $25. The candles were all packaged together with a sticker for $1.50.
Now, this isn’t the norm. Most of my thrifting trips end with me finding a cute mug or a couple of tops for myself or my daughter. In Calgary, the thrift shops never have as many awesome finds as you can get in BC, but it’s still always worth it to check them out.
Kijiji and Craigslist are also great for picking up those rare purchases that you’ve always wanted to get a hold of. Remember Charmed? I always wanted a copper jelly pot like they used for their cauldron. They don’t really sell many of them new and if you can find them, they are usually fairly expensive because they are solid copper. But I found one on Kijiji a couple years back for $30. And it came with a lot of extra copper bits and bobs.
It didn’t come looking all shiny and nice, of course. It was old and tarnished, but with some ketchup and elbow grease (the acid in ketchup cleans copper. I have no idea how, but it does), the pot, mini chalice, two ash trays, and candle holder look good as new.
I have been fairly lucky in many of my thrifting finds. If you believe in and practise manifestation, this is the place to use it. When I head out in search of something, I always make sure to set an intention in my mind the night before.
I’ve also found a steamer trunk on kijiji for less than $100. It needs some love and restoration, but for $60, I am willing to put in the work. As soon as the warmer weather finally arrives, that is.
Tip #2: Upcycling
This one is another simple way to get the tools you need or even just a nice look for your home or your room without breaking the bank or increasing your carbon footprint.
This wooden cigar box that I bought on eBay for $12 became my travel altar. A couple coats of paint and a sheet of scrap book paper to line it, and it was good to go. It even has a circle in the centre on the top of the lid that I have yet to be confident enough to paint a pentacle over (it’s from where the brand sticker was).
This pickle jar will become a holder for all my mini spell candles. I’ll be posting a video of it’s transformation on my YouTube channel when it is completed. Glass jars are a great resource for spell work, be they jar spells, or simply a place to keep your supplies and herbs. With a little paint, or some pretty scraps of paper from old magazines and some watered down white glue, you can make them as unique as your imagination.
Tip #3: Grow Your Own
This is something that just about everyone can do. The vast majority of herbs you will find the most useful in spell work come from the grocery store. Others, that are less common, can be found in the seed rack that every major store carts out in early March.
I was at Home Depot the other day picking up a dust pan, and I found a packet of datura seeds. I had never seen those before in a retail store, and I was a little floored that there was no warning on the packet to mention how poisonous that plant is.
But I digress. Rosemary, thyme, basil, lavender, etc, can all be grown from seed in little terra cotta pots ($2+ for the small ones) on your windowsill. All they need is a little potting soil, some love, sunlight and water. And personally, if I can use herbs I’ve grown myself in my spells, it is always preferable to store bought.
Tip #4: Let Nature Provide
There are a lot of spell ingredients and tools that can be found outside in nature for free. My wand, the only wand I have ever owned, despite drooling over the Harry Potter style wands that are available everywhere, is made from a piece of wood I found when I was out playing with my friend when I was 10 years old.
I wasn’t a witch then. I was just a kid, but I could still feel the power in the little stick that I picked up and pretended was a cat tail for the rest of the afternoon. I kept it in a box under my bed for years. When I came to the craft in my teen years, I found it again, and I embellished it a bit with some leather cord and some stones and gems. It is the only wand I will ever need, and the only one I could ever want. I don’t know what type of wood it is, and I don’t know what makes it special other than it feels like a gift to help mark a special summer day with a dear friend who moved away that fall.
A Word on Crystals
This post got very long very fast, so I think I will wrap it up here. I did want to say a word about crystals. We all love our crystals. The vibrations that come from picking up that perfect crystal that is calling out to your from the shelf is unmatched. But I think we are all aware that the practises that get them to us are to say the least, problematic.
Now, I’m not going to say to never buy crystals or to get rid of all of the ones you already own. Throwing something out in order to create a more ethical feeling is counterproductive. I would say that it behooves us to try and source our crystals from ethical origins. Whether that means buying from a shop that knows the detailed lineage of their crystals, or buying them second hand, so that more of the earth isn’t torn up in search of them, or buying crystals grown in a lab, or even if it just means buying smaller pieces, we can all do our part to reduce the harm we cause in the search for our tools and supplies.
The goal is to not buy thoughtlessly. Be mindful in everything you do, but especially in your magic.
Talk to you soon. 💜