Rusty nails for every wisp of old ghosts you have
1 hammer blessed by your sweat and elbow grease
1 beeswax candle
1 box of matches
1 brush strong enough to sink its teeth into your hair and come out with a mouthful
Wisps from old ghosts knocking on your door, as many as you have
3 sprigs of rosemary gathered under a full moon, for She protects all worthy things
3 sprigs of rue gathered in full sun—the better to chase away the darkness
Whiskey, amount varies, depending on how much courage you need
Stitches holding your heart together
The stitches holding your heart together
Basement shadows, as many as you have the courage to face
1 mouthful of hair, collected from your brush
1 handful of grit (please tell me you have some, otherwise this will never work)
1 bottle of sunshine
Step One: Tie wisps from old ghosts to rusty nails then plant them in the earth around your home. Be sure to make the knots strong, as ghosts are slippery, always looking for a way back in. Use your blessed hammer to make sure those specters are firmly rooted in the earth. Again, they’re wiggly little things, sly things, so don’t take any chances. Hammer the shit out of them. If anyone asks, say you’re mending a fence. Who cares if they can’t see the magic foundation you build upon?
Step Two: Use your teeth to mash up rosemary and rue until they form a thick paste. Alternately spit paste and handful of grit along the perimeter of your rusty-nail fence until your hands hurt from the emptiness, and your mouth is dry and full of the tastes of green things.
Step Three: Drink some whiskey. Repeat as necessary until the taste of mashed up herbs has left your mouth, and you are no longer afraid to go into your basement.
Note the First: This could be a literal basement or a metaphorical one where you lock away all the secrets and dark crawly things you can’t deal with day-in, day-out. In either case, the liquid courage at the bottom of your glass and the shadows you find down there are real. Best to know that going in.
Step Four: Before you go into the basement, you will need something to tether the shadows you find there. Something sweet enough to trap them and strong enough to bind them—the stitches from your mending heart. After washing your hands, carefully reach inside your ribcage and worry the fat, ugly scar tissue around the suture that kept you from bleeding out once upon a time until the thread breaks free. Keep pulling until you have enough bloody string to tie to as many shadows as you can gather across the energetic fence around your home.
Note the Second: This part is going to hurt—another reason the whiskey will come in handy.
Note the Third: This might take a while. If you pass out from the pain, simply resume your scar picking when you come to.
Note the Fourth: It is likely that you will begin bleeding again. Don’t worry. It’s a sign you are still alive. If you do start bleeding, light one of the matches and press it to your heart to cauterize the reopened wound. Repeat as necessary. And don’t even think about not surviving. Your passionate heart can stand the heat. Your scars are proof enough of that.
Step Five: When you’ve gathered all the blood-soaked sutures you need, and the pain is no longer debilitating, light your beeswax candle with one of the matches from your matchbox.
Step Six: Go into the basement. Bring the handful of grit with you. You’ll need it. Whiskey can only take a woman so far.
Step Seven: Let the shadows come to you. The string soaked in your heartbreak knows what to do. Just be brave enough to keep the candlelight burning.
Step Eight: When you’ve gathered all the shadows you need, take them to your new fence. Weave your shade-laced string in and around your rusty nails until you have no more string left, and your heart stops throbbing at the memory of having the stitches pulled from it.
Step Nine: Run a brush through your hair 101 times or however long it takes to get rid of all the tangles. Take those tangles—they should be stuck in the mouth of your brush—and weave them in and around your suture-bound shadows.
Step Ten: Remember the beeswax candle? It should still be burning. Take the pool of melting wax and use it to seal your protective ward. Alternately pour drops from your bottle of sunlight and hot wax on top of each nailhead until you hear the little ghosts wince at the pain. Dribble it across the hair and threaded tapestry made of your past— that’s where all basement shadows come from, isn’t it?
Final Note: Don’t feel bad about making your ghosts hurt. Their pain is a good thing. They’ve given you enough of it, after all, so turn about is fair play.
Step Eleven: Take the remaining matches from your matchbox and plant them, red heads up, into the cooling wax until the permitter is covered, and you have no more matches—save one, to light the whole thing on fire.
Final (Optional) Step: But who are you kidding? You’ll need this one too. Take one last drink of whiskey so you feel fire within as you watch it blaze without. Let it burn.
Let the remaining circle of ash around your home be a warning to ghosts and future shadow makers—
You’ll just tie them up and set them on fire too.
Enchantment Learning & Living is an inspirational blog celebrating life’s simple pleasures, everyday mysticism, and delectable recipes that are guaranteed to stir the kitchen witch in you. If you enjoyed what you just read and believe that true magic is in the everyday, subscribe to my newsletter below for regular doses of enchantment. Want even more inspiration? Follow me on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. Here’s to a magical life!