In a lot of books on witchcraft and Paganism in general, you’ll see a lot of references to plants and fauna that occur in more temperate parts of the world. You know, places that are north and east of SoCal, AZ and lower NV. Because of this, it can be difficult to know what to do with your magix when you’re stuck in the
pits of hell desert.
For this post, I’m going to go over some of the various plant life you can find in the US SW desert, and how you can use the natural surroundings in your magical workings. Although it might look like there is nothing of use around you when you gaze out across the charbroiled landscape- I assure you that there are some great things out here that are very very useful for magix.
Plants and Vegetation:
With all plants, please use your discretion when harvesting parts of the plant. Don’t take so much that the plant will not survive, and please remember that de-barking trees can lead to the death of the tree (if you remove too much bark). With all of the vegetation listed below, remember that there are common parts to all plants that can be harvested- needles/thorns, leaves, bark and seeds- and all of these will have comparable uses regardless of the plant that they are harvested from. Please be aware that all correspondences used in this post are my own.
A general synopsis of plant bit associations that I have:
- Needles/thorns: Used for curse jars and execrations. I also like to use these in protection spells. Please be careful when harvesting needles. Some types of cactus (and trees) can have poisons or toxins on their needles. Use your discretion when handling.
- Leaves: I use leaves in protection (in AZ, leaves protect you from the hot hot sun) and growth spells. I also like to use leaves in spells for abundance.
- Bark: I use bark in a lot of warding. Bark is protection for the tree, and so I utilize it as a means to protect myself. I also like to use bark as a means to write sigils for spells- provided the piece of bark is large enough.
- Branches: Also used as a protection means. I like to make amulets out of branches.
- Seeds: Utilized in spells for growth, potential, creativity and abundance.
- Seed pod: Used to incubate anything that I’m trying to accomplish.
There are many different types of cactus that you can work with, but generally speaking- almost all cactus can be used for the same thing: their needles. These needles can be used in curse jars and execration rites as a means of causing pain to the recipient. You could also easily use cactus needles, or cacti themselves as a means of protection and warding. Energetically, I consider cacti to be very active, forceful and unyielding. You could harness any of these properties by using cactus bits in your magix.
- Prickly Pear: Prickly Pear comes in a wide variety of types, and each type will likely have its own possible uses and correspondences. But for the sake of length, I’m going to address PP as a whole unit for this post. PP are edible cacti, and you can even buy the paddles in some grocery stores. If you’re brave enough to harvest the paddles, or the flowering fruit- you could use these to represent sustenance during a difficult time. PP are very hardy and are difficult to kill- so any parts or pieces that you harvest from these plants is likely to carry those traits with them.
- Cholla: Cholla (pronounced “Choy-ah”) are evil. Much like Prickly Pear, there are multiple types of Cholla to pick from, but most of them are very similar. These cacti will drop pods of needles onto the ground. These pods are statically charged, and if you happen to be near them- they will suction to you and hurt really badly. So, just based off of this alone- I think it is a good indication of their use as a means of protection and in curses. You can also utilize their static nature to draw things to your workings- just make sure you’re okay if those things get poked when they show up. Be careful when you harvest these! You are likely to get stuck.
- Barrel Cactus: These cacti are very unassuming and they personally remind me of Daruma. Their needles are very easy to gather, as they are long and thick (please be careful when harvesting any spines). During certain parts of the year, pods will fall off of the top of these cacti. If you can collect one, they will contain a bunch of small black seeds. These seeds are useful in spells for growth and prosperity. You could even potentially use the pod itself as a rattle (depends on how shriveled up it is from the sun).
Please be aware that it is against the law to go out into the desert and remove certain types of cacti from their natural habitat. Please obtain all cacti through legal means. Additionally, in AZ, such cacti as the Saguaro are protected by law. Don’t mess with them ❤
- Mesquite/Acacia– Acacia trees are well known for their very long and sharp needles. As with cacti, the needles are very useful in curse jars and warding techniques. Some needles are big enough to actually be used as needles- which you could do. You can easily use the bark, seeds, and leaves of the Acacia as well. I like to use these parts for resiliency (Acacias are not easily killed. Many can be hit by lightning, or knocked over by monsoon winds and still manage to survive).
- Ironwood– Ironwood trees are known for their silver wood and light purple flowers. The wood of the Ironwood tree is a very slow burning wood and is very hard. I like to use branches, needles and bark from this tree regularly. The thorns are much smaller than Acacia trees- so be careful when harvesting them. Due to the slow burning nature of the wood, and the name of the tree itself, I like to use Ironwood in spells where endurance or strength is needed.
- Palo Verde– I consider Palo Verde to be the Sakura of the desert world. These plants have a very bright and short-lived flowering season in the early spring. If you can collect up any of the flowers that are shed during this season, you could utilize them in magix for enjoying things while they last, accepting transience of a situation, or perhaps utilizing notions of frail beauty. Additionally, this tree is almost always green, so you could collect branches or leaves to attract some “green” into your life, or to represent resilience and steadfastness. Also, sometimes the leaves form on long, thin flexible … branches? leaves? I don’t know what to call them. But these pieces can be used in knot magix as well.
Shrubs and Bushes:
- Creosote: My family calls these bushes “Greasewood” bushes, and if there is anything AZ is known for, its the smell that these bushes emit once they’ve been rained on. These plants are about as hardy as you can get. They can remain dormant for decades, and can survive without water for years if they have to. Their leaves are very waxy and their branches are very flexible. These bushes can be used for a wide variety of things. All parts of the bush can be utilized for resilience, endurance and flexibility. You can collect the little white “puffs” that form after the flowering season is over- these are the seeds of the bush.
- Brittlebush: I use Brittlebush leaves the way most people use Sage- I dry and burn them to cleanse my house or workings. I also like to add the leaves and flowers to various working for cleansing and protective purposes.
Other stuff you can pick up off of the ground:
- Sand: Sand is a great cleanser. I use it as a base for a lot of my magix boxes. I like to use it to ground out spells, to help cleanse items, to lock items up (bury the item in sand to suffocate it). For me, sand is often used as the equivalent of “salt” to a lot of other people. You can buy sand in home improvement stores, or if you’re lucky- you can gather sand from dried up washes.
- Feathers: Please be aware that it is illegal to have feathers that belong to birds of prey. So collect feathers at your own discretion, as local laws vary regarding this. Feathers can be used to represent agility, speed, or grace (depending on the bird). You can use feathers to help spread messages or ideas to new people and places. You can use feathers to represent wind or air, or to help new ventures “take flight”.
- Rocks: We’ve got a lot of rocks down here in the desert. Some of the most common rocks you’re going to find are quartz blends such as granite and straight up white quartz (often sold as “clear quartz” in fancy frou frou stores). But all rocks have the potential for good uses, and desert stones are great because they’ve been
bakingcleansing in the sun for a long time before you decided to pick one up. You can use stones to ground out your house, or to protect a location (place a stone in every corner of your room/house/property for protection, or perhaps one on either side of your door). You can draw sigils on rocks for various needs as well. Rocks have limitless possibility and there are many interesting stones you can find out in the desert. Please be careful when picking up stones, though- often times snakes, lizards and scorpions like to live underneath of them 🙂
Creepies, Crawlies and Dead Stuff
The desert has a lot of critters and neat things that you can find (living and dead). Due to the nature of the dry desert, you can sometimes find remains of animals and other things that can be used in magical workings. As always, please use your discretion when handling potentially venomous or poisonous items such as snake bits, spiders or scorpions.
- Spiders: You’ll find a lot of different spiders out here in the desert. The most common ones that I see are the standard Daddy Long Legs. However, it’s not unheard of to find Black Widows, Tarantulas and Wolf Spiders. Sometimes, you will find dried up versions of Daddy Long Legs or Black Widows which you can use for your magix. A common myth around here is that Daddy Long Legs bring rain- so you could use them in weather spells. You could easily use Black Widows in curses or protective spells. Just be careful when handling them. Additionally, you could try to collect some of the webbing from these spiders and use them in your workings. Webs are good for entangling people and making situations sticky- for better or worse. You could also use webs in protective workings- making it so that your enemies get caught up in the web.
- Coyotes: Coyotes are common around the more rural areas of the desert, and can be seen regularly- depending on where you live. While I wouldn’t recommend trying to hunt down a coyote for its bits, you can sometimes find dried out skeletons, knucklebones, skulls, and bits of fur along the side of the road or out in the deserts. Knuckle bones could be used in spells regarding chance and luck. Any of the bits could be used in spells for resourcefulness, being clever, ability to get out of bad situations, or elusiveness.
- Scorpions: Sometimes you will find these guys all dried out as well. I have found them in my shed before, and sometimes in places like garages and storage closets. You can use the stingers the same way that you would needles or nails- in curse jars and the like. The pincers can be used for protective workings, spells where you need to “get a grip” or potentially lock something down (think of anything that my require a firm grip or a vice grip). You could use scorpion bits for laying low and being undetected (these guys are good at that- trust me), or you can use them as a ‘hardening’ or protective agent (their “skin” is like armor, so utilize that aspect of their makeup).
- Lizards: Sometimes you will find dead lizards. More commonly, though, you will find lizard tails (many lizards can drop their tails when they feel threatened). So you could use said tail in magix where you are trying to get out of a bad situation or are trying to escape. You could also use the tail in magix that is diversionary in nature (since the tail flops around on the ground and distracts the predator while they run away). If you find a whole lizard- many of the lizards here are capable of scaling multi-storie buildings, and are also masters of blending into their surroundings. You could easily use both of these aspects when using lizard pieces in your magix.
- Horses: It probably sounds really bad- but sometimes you do find horse carcasses out in the desert. We do have wild horses in the desert out here, and sometimes people will drop dead, domesticated horses out in the desert because they can’t afford to have them properly disposed of. Additionally, many people out here in the desert have horses on their property- so you could ask them for some stuff, if they are okay with it. Horse hair is very very strong. You can braid it and use it in knot magix. You can also use it in bindings. You can get horse hoof shavings (a normal part of keeping horse’s feet properly trimmed) which can be used for travel or getting rid of the old and bringing in the new. Sometimes, with a carcass, you can find dried out bones and teeth on a horse which you can use as well.
Make the weather work for you
I know that many people think that the desert only comes in one form: hot and sunny. And while this is normally true, there are still aspects of the weather which can be used in your workings. The sunlight that shines down every day here makes a great incubator for cleansing items and for helping to melt wax or seal workings (as an idea, you can take a bunch of broken crayons, put them in a wax paper cup, leave it in the sun and let it all melt. Take it inside to cool. Remove the cup- now you’ve got multi-colored magix crayon to write with. You can include other things like salt if you wanted, too). The sun here is very scalding and burning- so you can utilize the sunlight to strip away old, unnecessary things so that new stuff can come through. I often like to leave workings in my car to cleanse and gather up a ton of solar energy. Or, you could leave a curse in the car to bake the recipient’s brains out (metaphorically, hopefully).
I also find that the monsoon storms in the summer allow for great energy that can be harnessed and directed into spell work. You can also gather monsoon rainwater to utilize in later spells. Water is very precious out here- so any amount of natural water that you can gather up is very potent and useful stuff. I find that monsoon weather creates a very charged atmosphere that reads to me as being borderline chaotic. So these types of energies could transfer into any workings you do with the monsoon.
And don’t forget that the clear desert skies can make for great moonlight and starlight workings as well! You can use cool desert nights to help charge up items in a way that won’t cause them to melt.
Hopefully this have given you some ideas on things you can use in the desert for your magical workings. This list is by no means complete- there are tons of other plants and possibilities out there that I probably haven’t even considered. If you’ve got any questions or need any other suggestions, let me know in the comments section below! 🙂