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City magic: 3 city witchcraft spells

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On a day of sunshine and showers in mid-July, I take a pilgrimage to the city to do some city magic. My intention is to meet a city spirit and perhaps Old Father Thames and do some city spells and rituals. I hope it offers some inspiration for creating some city magic of your own.

City magic: a ritual to meet a city spirit

I start my pilgrimage alongside the River Thames. Rivers are a great place to do city magic but before I do, I take a side turning and head to the church of St Mungo the Martyr. I’m not visiting the church for particularly religious reasons, but because its tiny grounds hold a remnant of the old London bridge. I figure that a place that was once bustling with people working and trading, running and hiding, dawdling and meeting, loving and hating, birthing and dying will be sure to hold a genius loci, a spirit of place.

The city is busy, as always, with a mixture of bustling workers: suited, smart-casual, high-vis vested: and ambling tourists. I turn through iron gates, to enter the grounds of the church. I read the enamelled blue plaque on the wall which tells me that the grand stone entranceway ahead of me was once the way onto the old London Bridge.

I take a seat on a low stone wall beside more stony remnants of the old bridge. The archway is in front of me. A clock hangs on a bracket high above my head. A priest comes out of a green door, passes through the archway and makes his way out onto the busy street. I notice a cracked pebble of flint on the ground and pocket it as a memento of this day. 

Spirit of this place I would like to work with you, I say

The church bell rings a string of chimes then stops, chimes thrice, then thrice again, then thrice more. I take this as a welcome. I didn’t think to bring an offering. Never mind. I’ll be back.

City magic: a river spell of release

I return to the riverside for the next step of my city magic – a spell to release what I no longer need. I will be asking for the assistance of Old Father Thames. Taking a seat on a bench overlooking the brown river, I think about what I am ready to let go of – to release into the river. I write the word Fear on a bay leaf with a purple felt-tipped pen, then climb spiral steps back up to London bridge, pausing to pick up an abandoned Coke bottle – picking litter being a suitable offering to the spirits of the city and river.

I walk out halfway across the bridge and look down at the water. It pools and eddies, reflecting sunlight and cloud shadow – I can’t tell if it is coming or going. I read that, once upon a time, down by the docks, the river was so full of boats that you could walk from one bank to the other without getting your feet wet. I imagine that when the river was a stinking sewer, it was important to avoid this fate.

The Thames is still a city thoroughfare. River cruisers and water taxis ply their trade from various piers. The evidence of an industry I don’t comprehend is everywhere: landing stages, signs and warnings, metal posts and rings on the embankment and absurdly large orange buoys that rise and fall on the tidal flow.

Hello, Father Thames.

I pull the bay leaf out of my pocket and am surprised that the word written on it is ‘happy’. I don’t remember writing this. I turn over the leaf and see the word fear on the other side. I am momentarily confused. I don’t want to throw my happiness in the river, but neither do I want to keep my fear in my pocket. Perhaps they are inseparable.

I put the leaf in my pocket to think about later and take a fresh leaf. I write ‘self-doubt’ and then toss it over the wall of the bridge. It disappears for a moment and then, surprisingly, reappears, caught on some breeze. I watch it drift down into the Thames, where its wettened surface reflects the sun and is transmuted into gold. 

City magic: tuning in to city energies

I switch from walking to riding the underground for a while, taking the tube from Monument. Following my instincts, I choose a line and a direction. I’m not aiming for anywhere in particular, just taking in the sights and sounds, the changing energy and the echos of history. City magic is all about tuning into the energies the city holds to power our spells, so the better you get to know your city or town, the easier it will be to find the right energy for your city magic. I end up heading East, outside the old city boundaries. 

This area is downwind of the main city and grew up as a place for the working poor, incomers, outsiders. I imagine the spirits of this place, carried along on epic adventures. Drifting in on a Sou’wester, drawn up from the South alongside olives and wine, or in from the East on spice boats and trains, ferries and aeroplanes. They have made their home here and become part of the fabric of this remarkable place.

In one street, the words I hear are indecipherable to me, yet the body language enters my heart all the same. Here by the market stall, a hand on the arm signifies compassion, there on the corner of the street, three young women move in animated excitement, the pitch of their voices recognizable even if the words are not. That woman bending over the pushchair in a universal pose of maternal love. 

I am untethered yet connected and it feels exhilarating. 

I ride the underground to Westminster and find a different energy. A statement of power. Tourists clog the pavements to take photos in front of the Elizabeth Tower and Westminster Abbey. The one true King and the one true God. The landscape here is man-made: chiselled stone, baked brick, iron railings – But I can feel ancient energies pulsing beneath my feet. Civilisation feels like a veneer, trying to seal in energies that some would rather keep out – but they are there just the same.

City magic: beneath the surface

I sit on a bench in the hot wind of the underground station to plan my next piece of city magic. I tune into the energy of the earth that surrounds me. A train pulls in and then leaves. I watch it go, tuning into the electric energy of movement. I am planning a manifestation spell to use the energy of the earth – solid and grounding, alongside the dynamism of the train to achieve a manifestation that is grounded but moving forward.

I have a crystal in my pocket and a slip of paper with an incantation. I step on board the next train and take my seat. I sit with my gaze lowered. The people around me read their books, look at the maps and adverts on the walls, stare at their phones or cling to the handles of rolling suitcases.

As the train moves, I allow the screeching of wheels on rails to infuse me with energy. I feel safe as a badger in its sett and free as a hawk flying high on thermals. I hold the crystal, I say the chant silently without moving my lips. I hold my intention in my mind. The train rumbles on to its next destination and I concentrate on filling myself and my crystal with that energy.

City magic: grounding

Victoria station and I allow myself back into the mundane world. I take a gulp from my water bottle and snack on a cereal bar to ground myself. Excited chatter of tourists. Rush of commuters. I am back in the ordinary world, but we witches know that the magic is always there beneath the surface it’s just a matter of taking time out and tuning in.

Eva May Baker
Eva May Baker
Hello, and welcome to The City Witch, your portal into the magical world that exists within the hustle and bustle of city life. My name is Eva Baker and I am an urban folk witch, author and your guide on this magical journey.

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