We all manifest some sort of negative energy in our lives, and let me tell you, I am no exception. A typical week for me is bursting at the seams with strained energy. With four days of class, work every single day, two internships done over cyberspace, a feeble attempt at a social life and the never-ending struggle of the will to go to the gym, I definitely harbor some stress and anxiety.
I try my best to alleviate these stressors. I've done the yoga thing, which is shockingly not relaxing when you're as inflexible as I am. I've tried meditation, why is there no "power button" for your inner thoughts? And I've tried many other relaxation tropes, but they just don't work for me. I'm not condemning the mindfulness movement or anything, but these methods just don't seem to quell the thoughts and frustrations that are constantly whizzing around in my head.
After a recommendation from my roommates, I decided magic was the next step on quest for relaxation. I ended up at Alchemy Arts, a small occult supply store situated in Chicago’s Edgewater neighborhood, nestled in between a Boost Mobile store and a yoga studio (how fitting).
The store, which has been around since 1987, offers its diverse customer base supplies needed for any kind of occult or New Age practice: incense, crystals, Wiccan pendants, calligraphy kits, and an impressive stock of new and used books, with subjects ranging from 'magick' and divination to wholesome diets and pet care.
After visiting for some time with Kenneth Kwilosz, an employee of Alchemy Arts and a hand-rolled cigarettes enthusiast, I emerged armed with not only a "banishing spell", but also a hefty helping of skepticism. This spell, which is supposed to cleanse oneself of negativity and evil thoughts, is relatively simple to perform.
According to Kwilosz, here is the process for the spell:
1.) Wash your bathtub throughly
2.) Run a bath as you would normally at any temperature your prefer and pour in one rounded tablespoon of the bath salt as the bath fills so that it dissolves.
3.) If you require candles, soft music, incense, or any other accompaniment in order to get into a meditative state of mind, do so.
4.) Turn off the water and soak in the bath for as long as you want. The point is to be focused and mindful, as if you are disappearing from the world.
4). Now recite this prayer to whoever--or whatever-- you pray to:
"There is nothing within me that is not in line with my general well-being and happiness, or that can harm me by thought, word or deed."
5). Wash all of your body with the salt water- you don't need soap. Make it a ritual in the sense that you cleanse every bit of your body. *But watch out for salt in the eyes!
6). As you are washing yourself, envision all the negative that you want to be rid of coming out of your pores as beads of black tar- kind of like you're sweating (Think of the water spirit in Spirited Away!). This pulls out all the "dirt" you are holding within you. Kwilosz says this can be a little emotional as you are pate pulling out feelings and thoughts you didn't know you had. Some people even cry during this stage.
7). Once you feel like you've pulled out everything you can, drain the bath, stand up, and let the shower run over you. Envision all of the negatively rolling off of you from head to toe and disapproving down the drain. *Rinse thoroughly to prevent the salt from making you itch
Kwilosz stresses that this should be done whenever you feel like you need it even if that means every day for a week. It's like cleaning your house, you do it when it's dirty.
As I mentioned earlier, I don't necessarily believe in the occult, witchcraft or any of what Alchemy Arts' customers seem to subscribe to. How could some dark purple salt make me cry as I empty out my stress and frustration? How does saying a poetic prayer in my bath tub do anything seemingly "supernatural?" Well, I'm about to find out.
I performed this spell one day and here's what happened (or didn't).
Sunday February 28th. Bath lasted from 8:22 to 8:48 pm
What happened: Sunday nights are always rough for me as I feel the pressure and stress for the next week of school and work encroaching upon me. I drew my bath hot, the way I usually do. I don't take baths too often and if I do, it's usually just to take an Instagram worthy photo of my bath bomb dyed water.
I lit a candle and turned on a mediative Spotify playlist and then poured the salt into the running water. The water itself turned a light, transparent blue, really pretty actually. At first, it smelled a little like cinnamon but then as the salt dissolved, it smelled a little earthy. I got in the bath and found myself relaxing into the warm water. I was enjoying the light music until I got stuck with a Spotify ad (yes, I'm too cheap to pay for a premium account). I then made the mistake of washing myself before I said the prayer-oops. I prayed and then continued washing.
I did my best to envision my negatives as droplets but man, that is hard. The amount of focus and concentration it takes is insane. I got a little antsy and decided to drain the tub. As it drained, I stood up and felt the water drip off me slowly. I tried envisioning each droplet as a particular negative thought. Drip, this one is my frustration over my loud next-door neighbors. Drop, that one was my anxiety over my homework. Then I turned on the shower and let the water run on me for a while. Then I completed my shower as I usually do.
What worked: I did indeed feel relaxed in the bath, up until I had to wash myself. I felt a little more in tune with myself as I tried to recollect some bad feelings and expel them.
What didn't: Well, I didn't cry. I also didn't feel "cleansed" in the sense of my thoughts and emotions. As soon as I got out of the shower, my mind was already dwelling on getting work done for tomorrow. I got bored and I think a little dehydrated from the hot water- you know that feeling you get when you're in a hot tub for too long? Kind of weak and a little lightheaded? That was me.
For next time: No Spotify! I need to find some music elsewhere so I don't get distracted by ads. And I think I need to memorize the prayer so I don't have to open my eyes to read it.
Although I don't personally plan on trying the spell again because of my busy schedule and my disdain for the smell of the bath, it was definitely an interesting experience. I recommend people try this spell on their own time for their personal cleansing because I have no doubt that it may work differently for different people. Just remember to have an open mind!
Visit Alchemy Arts at 1203 W Bryn Mawr Ave, Chicago, IL 60660