Flame-Free Fire Magic
by Paige Curtin
Do you know how many pagan holidays are bonfire festivals? Like, a lot of them. Almost all of them actually (including Summer Solstice coming up on the 21st)! Which makes sense, because when our ancestors were celebrating they relied on fire and sunlight a lot more than we do today; their rituals were about begging the sun to come back, or praising its return.
Elemental magic is also a foundation of both ancient and modern witchcraft, with candle spells naturally dominating the Fire chapter of spellbooks. Since fire represents movement, passion, creation, cleansing, light, warmth, and sexuality, it’s no wonder we’d want to work with it!
But what about those of us in apartments and dorm rooms instead of a big open field or a home with a central hearth? Fire is the most volatile of the elements, the one voted Most Likely To Get Outta Control And Fuck Your Shit Up.
Or as Scott Cunningham more eloquently states: “Fire is the creator and the destroyer. It warms our homes, cooks our food, and fuels our passions. Unlike the other elements, fire cannot exist in physical form without consuming something else. Thus, fire transforms objects into new forms: heat, light, ash, and smoke.” That makes fire a great partner in spellwork, but it’s not always practical or safe to work with directly. “Fire must be controlled to benefit us. When we light a candle, we call upon its powers but we also limit them. This is necessary if its physical forms are to be useful.”
Luckily the forces of fire are accessible for us modern witches in tons of different ways that don’t involve getting up close and personal. There’s A LOT of stuff that symbolizes fire without actually being fire:
Colors- Red, orange, yellow, blue (like the center of the flame)
Crystals- Fire Quartz, Carnelian, Garnet, Citrine, Obsidian, Burning Ember Agate, Sunstone
Metal- Gold, copper, brass
Herbs- Anything warming or spicy like Cinnamon, Ginger, Garlic, Pepper, turmeric... you get the idea. Also citrus. And bright flowers like sunflowers, marigolds, calendula, etc.
You can also experience fire through image, light, and heat- all pretty abundant resources! Let’s see what we can conjure…
1. Fire Photos
Okay this one is easy. Maybe... too easy? We strongly believe that images are charged with magic, so if you're trying to fire scry and all you've got is a youtube video? Fine! Great! Fire scrying is about finding pictures in the flames, so as long as the sparks are flying somewhere you can see, you can See. Ya know?
Photos and art of fire can also help keep that forward-moving energy on your altars or anywhere else you could use a boost. Fiery or fire-inspired images and colors in the bedroom can help heat things up!
2. Crystals for Calcifying
Even when I do light a charmed candle, I don’t like to leave them burning too long or unattended, so I’ll snuff the flame and swap in a small Carnelian Indiana Jones-style, announcing out loud that the power of the fire carries on. Placing a Carnelian or other orangey-red crystal like Sunstone or Burning Ember Agate against the wick and focusing on the vibrational flame can serve you just as well as the real thing. There are also crystals like obsidian that are made of volcanic glass- born of fire! Doesn’t get more real than that.
3. Rock down to Electric Avenue
Not to get TOO out there or whatever, but electricity IS magic. I mean, if you take a minute to really look into what the heck electricity is and how we figured it out and still don't see the sorcery, you can take it up with Miss Frizzle. There is absolutely no shame in the fake flame game; so with that in mind, a whole world of options opens up.
What kind of meditation can you do with the gloops in your lava lamp? What different vibes do the lights in your home carry, and what kind of rituals do they make you want to do? What about those lightbulbs that change colors? Could you colorscape your spells?
Battery-operated tealight candles are very cool. If you don’t have to worry about lighting and keeping a candle lit, where in the windy world would you take your witchcraft that you wouldn’t otherwise? The beach? A mountain top? You could make a tiny travel altar with an electric tealight and a versatile crystal like clear quartz for on-the-go spellwork (just remember to ALWAYS take your materials with you. Witches don't litter.)
4. Fiery Foods
Cooking in general is a branch of fire magic, as the heat transforms the ingredients into a complete dish- plus the steam, smoke, or aroma of the food is a beautiful offering to the ancestors! It’s like a ghost of your meal being carried up through the ether. Share a meal with your spirits!
If you’re not preparing your own food, or even if you are, spicy ingredients can also help you connect to your inner flame. I work with this energy for cleansing and motivation rituals, letting the heat burn away any energetic blocks and, pardon the expression, light a fire under my ass! But capsaicin conjuring has been a tradition across millennia, and some practitioners consider the heat to be a form of sacrifice, an offering of one’s physical body to the gods or ancestors.
But let’s talk about the fun part: If you’ve ever experienced that almost-high feeling from eating something a little too spicy, that’s actually a sweet spot for spellwork. People who work with psychedelics or sexual climax in ritual are hoping to achieve a trance-like state that can help channel messages from spirit and spiritual power. Same with eatin spicy!
5. Getting in Hot Water
Combine the cleansing powers of fire with the cleansing powers of water! Feeling the heat from these frenemies is for everyone, so since you have to shower anyways- make it witchy!
Warming herbs like cardamom and cinnamon can take your routine grooming to ritual level, because fire wastes NO time. More of a fully-immersed mermaid? Bath or shower, sweating it out appeases the heat gods AND your sore muscles.
No bathtub, no fire? No problem! Find yourself a big bowl or basin and have a foot bath! Grounding is important even when you’re working with a mover and shaker like fire; tuning in from the ground up keeps you tethered to your intention.
And what else?! Y’all are so smart I bet you have a million more ideas that I never even thought of. Keep us posted on what works for YOU when avoiding fire itself, and keep casting the spells that make you feel, well, FIRE!
xoxoxo Junk Witch
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