(It's also a place where you can watch a lot of very beautiful bejewelled ladies belly dancing... But... ahem... we'll save my appreciation of lovely ladies for another day...!)
I chose the subject matter for my talk quite a while ago and it fits in with a lot of the work we have done this year on Witch Path Forward, namely demystifying and simplifying the craft and making it more accessible to the man/woman in the street. I wanted to explore the idea that following a craft path was less about what you possess and more about improvising and utilising what the world naturally yields to you. As New Age stores and Ebay shops spring up everywhere offering all the latest shiny witchy paraphernalia I wanted to take the craft back to its basics, focus on the witch rather than the tools and establish that following the path of a witch isn't dependent on how much disposable income you have to throw at it.
So my talk was entitled Witchcraft on a budget and looked at the different ways in which we can cheaply obtain items for our workings. I explored four key areas -
Items we can acquire cheaply
Items from Nature
Items we already own
Items we can make ourselves
Each link (above) offers specific examples not just of the improvisation itself but of the way different everyday items can be applied to magical use. It was also important for me to focus on the rationale of using tools in the first place. Many witches use an atheme or a wand but with no real understanding of why they are doing so. If something is used without genuine knowledge of what it brings to your path then I venture the opinion that it isn't actually adding all that much value... There is no such thing as a mandatory must have list for witches, some popularly used tools can be entirely redundant in personal practise. To me it is more important to use something with a good understanding of why you are using it than it is to own everything on some tick list you found in a book with no real knowledge as to why you are using it.
Not all the ideas presented in the talk were my own work and not all the suggestions are things I use myself. I had a lot of input from other witches as to how they improvise and practise. Some were very inspiring and some were a little edgy (I particularly liked the confession that one witch gets all his/her herbs by sneaking round Kew Gardens with a pair of scissors!) I watered down some of the more squicky ideas (family audience) but still got a few squirms of discomfort when I suggested using menstrual blood to fertilise herbs (Come now, you really can't afford to be squeamish in this arena...)
The notes from my talk have now been written up and published on the site. I'll update as new ideas come into play and I welcome any suggestions from readers as to improvisations that have worked well for them.
Witchcraft on a Budget
Finally I'd like to thank my husband for introducing my talk and mending the tent venue when it broke! I'd also like to thank my apprentice Alice for her participation and assistance and also for fielding one of the questions during the talk when my mind went blank! I also suspect the very fetching outfit she wore attracted quite a few of the participants to the talk. Bargain!