This article is part of our VICE Weekends summer series, presented by Weis
Lyndsey Harrington is an urban witch, an energy healer, a community builder and a women's health activist. She's also the co-founder of Moon Church, a Brooklyn-based feminist collective for magickally-oriented women and a founder of Fairy School, an after-school program that helps children nurture their relationship to magical realms.
Lyndsey grew up dividing her time between Melbourne, Australia and Santa Barbara, California and now lives in New York. We caught up with her to ask her about warm weather witchery, what spells really are, and how to best cast them over the summer months.
VICE: First up, how do spells work?
Lyndsey Harrington: To me, a spell is simply a ritual guided by a specific intent. Rather than viewing it as manipulating cosmic forces to manifest our desires, as I think it's often seen as, I believe a spell to be more of a conversation between ourselves and Spirit. As far as how they work, well, that's where mystery comes in.
If I want to affect positive change in my life, how can magick help?
A belief in magick is a belief that our world is far more interesting and mysterious than what meets the eye. So, even just believing in magick can be uplifting to the spirit!
I think it can also support the belief that we are not alone. Magick reminds us that we are always connected to, and in communication with, everything around us, and, that being so, we can ask for help when we need it.
So what's the first step to asking for help? Say I'm feeling overwhelmed by my friends or my environment, what can I do to regain composure?
It's been interesting for me to notice how, through my path of magick and spirit, I've become a lot more sensitive to my needs at any given moment. That sensitivity has been such a gift and has prevented me from burning out or feeling overwhelmed, which I used to feel often. I hear similar testimonials from other people who embark down paths as healers, witches, etc. There is so much beauty in self-care because we can't offer much to the world if we aren't feeling balanced, ourselves.
What motivates you to create spells, incantations, or mantras?
So many things! I craft spells for a multitude of purposes: spells for initiating myself or others into a new stage of life, spells when I'm seeking help or guidance from Spirit, spells to send healing…
Healing and rejuvenation really resonates. What do I need to have or say to cast these kinds of spells?
As far as specifics go, there is a myriad of concrete tools and techniques that can be used to help us out. I work with herbs such as ashwaganda and rosemary to prevent internal stress, and I keep crystals and rose water on hand at all times to help me feel clear. Other people I know use breathing techniques, mantra, or energy healing. I recommend trying a few things until something resonates.
You've said that to craft a spell is to be reminded of our harmony with nature. What things can we do to feel better connected to the environment?
I think expanding our awareness of nature is the best thing we can do. When I was living in Brooklyn, I loved the energy and opportunity that came with living in the city, but I also felt a desperate need for more contact with plant life. Even though I wished I lived in the woods, I ended up developing a sweet kinship with a catalpa tree outside my apartment building. I cleaned garbage off it and left it offerings. It helped me feel much more connected. I think it's easy to believe cities are devoid of nature, but it's there. It just takes a keen heart to find it and appreciate it.
Living in an urban environment can burn people out. How do you nurture your energy, sensitivities and optimism?
I think being conscious of our social lives and media intake are especially important when living in a city. We are so highly stimulated in urban environments that it can be overwhelming sometimes. I see enormous value in not overbooking one's self socially, and noticing how a TV show, movie, or social media binge makes us feel. Surrounding ourselves with people and events that inspire us, and engaging with media that energises or uplifts us is the most nurturing thing I can think of.
Are there any herbs, plants or crystals that are particularly healing to have around?
I believe that if we choose to tune in, the tools most potent for our healing will make themselves known to us. I love going into an herb shop and selecting only the herbs I'm intuitively most drawn to, then researching their properties afterward. Usually the herbs know me better than I know myself!
I also feel very strongly about using herbs, plants, and crystals local to the place we're living. I think we're drawn to certain parts of the world because they have medicine for us, so appreciating and accepting that medicine can be really powerful. The stones growing beneath your feet have known and influenced the ground you walk on for millions of years. If any crystal has healing power for you, it's that one!
What are some appropriate spells to cast or incantations to invoke as the temperature rises over summer?
There are two pagan holidays I love to celebrate over summer, and those are Summer Solstice (December 21st) and Lunasa (February 1st). Those are great times for ritual. Solstice is celebrating the sun, so a daytime ritual or gathering is really fun around that time. Lunasa (or Lughnasadh) is a celebration of the beginning of the harvest season, so it's a great time to celebrate abundance and the fruits of nature.
Beach and ocean rituals can be really powerful, too. You can offer a ritual for ocean healing, even if it's something simple like casting a circle in the sand and offering some thoughtful words.
This article is presented by Weis