The Tastes & Smells of Magick Spells: An Interview with Skye Alexander

Skye Alexander is an artist, astrologer, tarot reader, feng shui practitioner, drummer, and the author of many fiction and nonfiction books, including The Modern Witchcraft Spell Book and, most recently, Find Your Goddess. I reached out to Skye for an article about Sex Magick for Playboy, and decided to press my luck and ask her to do one more interview with me for Aromatica Poetica, to which she generously agreed. In her useful and informative spell books, she often provides recipes that engage the sense of smell and taste. I’m delighted to present some of her ideas here. Enjoy!

Aromatica Poetica: Please tell us a little about your introduction to witchcraft. How did you start practicing magick and/or identifying as a witch?

Skye Alexander: I think I was born a witch, I just didn’t know it. I’ve felt a strong connection to the natural world and the cosmos since I was quite young, and believed we are multidimensional beings. In the mid-seventies I began studying astrology and other metaphysical subjects, which led me to the practice of witchcraft and Wicca.

AP: You not only write very informative books on magick and witchcraft, but also write fiction, and are a visual artist and drummer! Is there a relationship between your artistic life and your practice as a witch?

SA: Being an artist helps me in visualization and in designing spells and rituals. My paintings contain magick symbolism and sometimes spells, especially sigils. I’ve also found that painting and writing fiction are powerful forms of magick—the artist/writer first has to create an image and then imbue it with emotion and energy, which is what witches do when we cast spells. In this way, we tap the Law of Attraction to create an outcome. My fiction often contains magickal and/or metaphysical subjects––my agent is shopping a mystery novel now about a group of occultists trying to determine who killed one of their members. Drumming and all forms of music can also empower spells, and witches often include music in rituals. Drumming is an ancient form of communication, and you can send your intentions out into the universe by playing a drum (or other instrument).

AP: When we spoke about sex magick for Playboy, we touched on the importance of involving the senses when creating a spell. Could you remind us of that relationship, and specifically how smell and taste can enhance magick?

SA: Magick is a bit like lovemaking—the environment you create can enhance the experience, making it richer, more joyful, and more fulfilling. We’re multisensory beings, and the more we engage our senses the more power we can bring to a spell or ritual. The limbic system is a very ancient part of the brain and it’s responsible for our sense of smell––it also relates to memory and emotions. Consequently, we can use aromatics to trigger emotions that support and strengthen our magickal intentions.

AP: As you point out in The Modern Witchcraft Spell Book, incense has been used in ritual for thousands of years. Tell us about how burnables enhance a spell, and give one or two of your favorites.

SA: Witches often burn incense to “smudge” sacred space and remove unwanted energies or psychic residue that might interfere with a spell or ritual. Sage is a popular herb for smudging, but you can choose any scent you like and/or that harmonizes with your intention. Lavender, for example, has a calming effect and can help you center yourself for spellwork. You can also burn incense to send prayers, blessings, or requests to the deities––as the smoke rises to the heavens, it carries your thoughts with it. I often cast a circle with incense by walking the circle while trailing fragrant smoke behind me.

AP: Here at Aromatica Poetica, we love essential oils! Tell us about how you might use these potent distillations to enhance spells, from baths to candle dressings, and give us a couple of your favorites.

SA: “Dressing” or anointing candles is a popular practice in spellwork. Rub the essential oil on the candle, then burn it to release the scent and ignite your intention. Choose an oil that relates to your purpose, for example, you could dress a candle with essential oil of rose, jasmine, ylang-ylang, or musk if you’re doing a love spell. Ritual baths, too, are a great way to prepare yourself for magick work. Bathing in a tub to which you’ve added one or more essential oils heightens your senses, eases stress, and symbolically cleanses you as you move from mundane to magickal space. I also like to dab a little essential oil on talismans and amulets to enhance their power. A Wiccan group I used to celebrate sabbats with blessed each participant as s/he entered the circle by drawing a pentagram on the person’s forehead with an essential oil for protection (such as basil).

AP: In The Modern Witchcraft Book of Love Spells, you offer charts to help us choose the right ingredients, for example in the flower chart, myrtle “keeps love alive and promotes peace” and jasmine helps with “seduction and sensual pleasure.” How do you determine these uses? Could you give an example or two of the sources or traditions behind these very useful charts?

SA: Some of the recommendations are based on long-standing associations we hold, such as connecting roses with love. Some botanicals produce physical reactions––lavender, as mentioned earlier, promotes relaxation. Some draw upon the energies of the seasons during which the flowers bloom. Because jonquils and daffodils blossom in the spring (in many parts of the northern hemisphere) we consider them to embody the vitality of springtime. A plant’s color or shape may also be a factor. We connect red with passion, so red flowers (especially roses) are ideal for love spells. And some go back to ancient traditions; for instance, the Romans crowned victors with laurel leaves so magickally we might use bay laurel in spells for success. Of course, we all have our own personal preferences and associations, so by all means go with yours if you like.

AP: Tell us about potions, and what elements make them powerful?

SA: Magick potions often contain herbal substances with special properties, as we’ve already discussed. I sometimes add crystals or gemstones that relate to my intention too (remove these before you drink the brew). However, your mind is the most important part of any spell. When you’re concocting a magick potion, hold your intention clearly in your mind and project it mentally into the brew. The Japanese scientist Masaru Emoto in his book The Hidden Messages in Water showed that words and images can affect the molecular structure of water; therefore I often imprint a potion by putting the liquid in a clear glass bottle and setting in on a picture (such as a tarot card) that depicts my objective. I also “charge” potions by setting them in sunlight or moonlight for a certain period of time to capture the energies of the heavenly bodies.

Collage art card by Skye Alexander: Fire Goddess.

AP: Besides drinking, we also love to eat, and therefore appreciate that you present cooking as a vehicle for working magick. For example, there’s that Relationship Rescue Pie, into which you bake not only apples and cinnamon, but also love! This is a huge topic, no doubt, but can you tell us a little bit about the relationship between cooking and spellcasting?

SA: As with potions, when you cook you imbue the food with your emotions and thoughts. Then when people eat it, they ingest your intentions. Sharing meals has long been a part of our secular and religious celebrations and rituals––and you can make it part of your magick practice as well. Again, choose ingredients that relate to your purpose. Strawberries, for example, represent love––they even look like little red hearts. I also invite the goddess Brigid to join me when I’m preparing a magickal meal––she’s the Irish goddess of the hearth and also creativity.

AP: Speaking of recipes, we’ve got big things cooking over here about which we are very anxious! Can you offer some scented ingredients to use in a spell for success?

SA: Sure. Peppermint is associated with prosperity, so I like to use it in spells for success. Nutmeg also aids financial ventures. Cinnamon and ginger speed up spells and give them an energy boost. Lemon and grapefruit increase clarity. Basil brings protection. And honey sweetens any deal.

AP: Finally, what are you working on these days/what do we have to look forward to from Skye Alexander in the coming weeks and months?

SA: My most recent book Find Your Goddess was published earlier this year (by Adams Media/Simon and Schuster) and tells the myths and histories of 75 goddesses from around the world. It also explains how to work with their special powers in both your mundane and magickal lives––and it’s illustrated with lots of gorgeous full-color images. In January 2019, Red Wheel/Weiser will bring out my book Magickal Astrology, which discusses how astrology and magick complement one another and how to use both to further your objectives as well as your understanding of the cosmos.