Nature is something in which many of us pagans, witches or magical practitioners feel close to. Whether that’s magically working with plants, revering Earth deities, or simply appreciating the energies of the Earth wherever we get to experience them. To a lot of us, nature is a living, breathing entity, which deserves our respect. To others, nature is source of magic, in which we can gather tools from to perform our magical workings. Whether your beliefs lie in one, in both, or somewhere else, we acknowledge that the Earth is something in which we must care for and treat well. Especially given the current state of our Earth being burdened with growing crises of climate change, air pollution, plastic pollution, loss of biodiversity, and many more pressing concerns that are only getting worse with time. We as a community can use our paths to connect with nature on a more fundamental level – through being intentionally more eco-friendly on our pagan or magical path.
For many, simply worshipping our Earth is not enough and, in my opinion, the best way to live an eco-friendly life is to fight for systematic change: use your vote, educate yourself on conservation and global warming, sign those online petitions or go out and protest if you can and have the means to. Us magically inclined people have the power to fight for this change, and this is arguably the most crucial step to respecting the Earth and all its inhabitants. However, there are also more specific steps that we can put in place in our magical paths, so that we can better care for the Earth and leave no trace.
As pagans and magical practitioners, we tend to use a lot of tools or ingredients. Be this herbs, essential oils, crystals, etc., we enjoy them for their inherent magical qualities. Whilst I firmly believe that magical traditions, such as witchcraft, do not need to (and arguably, shouldn’t) break the bank, I also recognise that we buy these products a lot! The growing spirituality movement across the West has meant that there’s big industries for things like crystals, and because of this, companies are resorting to child labour, poor working conditions, inadequate worker’s salaries, and environmental decimation for the extraction of these minerals to meet the demands of the industry. Many modern magical practitioners are talking about this and spreading awareness of the ways in which crystals are unethically sourced, including Kathleen Borealis, a geologist who runs a podcast called Borealis Meditation. Essential oils are another magical ingredient which are usually unethically sourced as they are extremely resource intensive, and many modern pagans and witches frequently use essential oils from plants that are endangered, for example, sandalwood.
What you can do, is educate yourself and research the reality of how these magical objects are being sourced and extracted from the Earth. It is easy to fall into the trap of guilting oneself for all the previous purchases made that indirectly supported these unethical companies, however, allow yourself some understanding in that you didn’t know. On some level, we are all passively leaving marks on the Earth just by living in these industrialised societies and in many cases, it is unavoidable. My motto is do what you can, and what you can do will look different to everyone. If you have the means to, be more choosey with where you spend your money; make an active choice to double-check the place you’re buying from and see if they ethically source their products. A really great app for this which I recently discovered is called “Good On You“; they rate clothing brands based on issues concerning labour, environmental and animal rights. It’s also important to consider how certain big brands will utilise and adopt terms such as “sustainability” without actually putting in any steps to source their products more sustainably; this is commonly referred to as “green washing”.
It can be hard to navigate being more eco-conscious but just keeping aware can be a crucial step. When you buy your crystals for example, see if the shop says anything about ethically sourcing their crystals or perhaps ask them where and who they get their supply from. Shops that ethically source their crystals can be found online with quick Google searches. You can also get crystals second-hand from online websites or go rockhounding! Quartz is a highly common crystal, which can be found on most UK beaches if you spend some time looking through all the lovely rocks. I’ve personally collected many Quartz, Agate, Fossils pieces on the beaches of East Anglia and Cornwall, without really being much of a rockhound!
Another more personal way we, as pagans or magical practitioners, can be more eco-friendly in our paths, is to dispose of spells, offerings, or ritual objects, in an environmentally friendly way. I have spoken about this topic on my own YouTube channel, but common magical acts I see in witchcraft books or pagan rituals are throwing spell jars in rivers, burying objects in the wild (at crossroads, for example), flushing candlewax down the loo or leaving food offerings out in nature. All these things can have negative repercussions on the environment in some way. Some of these may be more obvious, such as how flushing anything that isn’t what you’d usually expect to flush can affect the sewage systems that are already improperly managed, which contributes largely to microplastic pollution; common offerings can include things like bread, which if fed consistently to wildlife, can cause them more harm than good; and whilst I appreciate the magical intention behind the spell method of placing jars in rivers or bodies of water, I can’t quite remove it for what it is – littering. It is frequently recommended in witchy books to place spell objects in rivers for banishing rituals or spells for communication, but there are ways to perform these magical acts without costing the Earth and leaving a negative mark in the land. We have soaring issues of soil pollution across the globe, not just plastic, but general waste and landfill that contaminates the ground, and subsequently, oceans. I never recommend burying items out in nature as soil ecosystems can be fairly fragile, for example, earthworms can ingest the chemicals that come out of plastics and can be further transferred to the predators that eat them. My own personal favourite alternative method to burying spell jars or objects is to keep a plant pot full of soil and bury my magical objects in there if I desire to carry out that spell method. People also opt for utilising hollowed-out fruit or vegetables instead of the usual glass jars, that essentially do not biodegrade when buried in soil.
One last lovely eco-friendly tip that you can implement into your pagan or magical path, is to buy second-hand. There’s numerous websites/apps and stores on the high street where you can get things for your path and help work against the single-use, throwaway consumerist society we have. Buying objects second-hand helps towards reusing and giving objects a brand-new life! Apps such as Vinted, Depop, Facebook marketplace, eBay, or any of the numerous charity shops on the British high street are perfect places to find things like: candle holders for altars, unused candles, offering plates or bowls, statues or figurines as deity representations, or even witchy books! You’d be surprised at what you can find if you go digging, and these second-hand objects are usually put at a lower price too, so it’s also a nice budget-friendly option. Just be sure to cleanse or purify the object before you put it into magical use, and it’s as good as new!
Overall, living a more environmentally friendly magical life can look like a lot of research and a lot of critical thinking, and knowing where to begin can be quite daunting. Google Scholar (scholar.google.co.uk) is a great website to read through scientific articles on ecology and conservation, and there are plenty of YouTube videos being made now all dedicated to helping you live more sustainably. Feel free to check out the references section below to do some further reading, and I wish you all the best on your environmentally friendly pagan or magical path!