Practical Magic: How to Recover from a Breakup Using Spellcraft
When therapy fails, you can always turn to magic to cure a broken heart.
Illustration by Katherine Killeffer
Love is one of the universe's most powerful entities, especially when we lose it. A breakup has the potential to completely possess us. Our thoughts and actions are no longer our own, but controlled by an unholy mix of grief and fear and rejection that cause us to say or do things we know are not in our best interest, like sending regrettable texts, lurking on socials, or crying while eating a microwaved burrito, very drunk, very late at night, alone, in bed.
And like love, moving on is not a science. We can't always shoehorn our feelings into the Kübler-Ross model. And the No Contact Rule, a celebrated method in the reddit community, is effective to a degree—but it's pretty hard to cut out a person with whom you'd shared, well, your life. The ever-popular "Get Under Someone Else" technique presents its own set of challenges. Short of Eternal Sunshine-ing your ex from your brain, there's no avoiding the internal work required to move beyond a perpetual Mariah Carey playlist.
So what recourse does one have? Well, there's always magic. Aside from being exceedingly more cost-effective than therapy, spellcraft is a mystical solution to a universal problem. Additionally, spellcraft requires meditative rituals that require you to look inward and concentrate on what you want to manifest, which is therapeutic in its own right.
While your ex may be deserving of the expletives you've been chanting in your head, hexing is a next-level measure that can put your own karma at risk. Don't do it.
But it's important to remember that casting spells is not a cure-all: Lighting some candles and smudging your apartment won't help you get over somebody if you're still stalking your ex's Instagram and mass-texting your friends screenshot evidence that s/he's an asshole. You need to make changes on the physical plane for a spell to take root.
Also important: When you cast a spell, the focus should be on yourself. If anyone else is involved in your work, you need to ask their permission first (even when your spell is cast with good intentions). This is doubly true if you're throwing down a hex. Hexing, or casting a spell on someone you don't like without their permission, is unethical. While your ex may be deserving of the expletives you've been chanting in your head, hexing is a next-level measure that can put your own karma at risk. Don't do it. Your fragile post-breakup self needs positive vibes, not karmic retribution.
The following spells will help you process your breakup without pissing off the universe.
Burn, Baby, Burn
Burning is a popular ritual for release. Gather old photos and letters, or write down the feelings you want to let go—be specific, but don't name names or get too detailed (leave room for the universe to fill in the blanks). To avoid burning something you might regret, like your shared lease, do the gathering when you're thinking straight—ideally on the new moon.
Speaking of the new moon, it's the perfect time to set intentions, so if you want to write a list of what you're releasing, do it then. Your list shouldn't be asking for things—affirmative, "I am" statements are paramount. Date the list and add the phrase, "I accept these things into my life now or something better for the highest good and the good of all concerned." This karma-free clause ensures that you're not enacting your will on anyone while allowing room for a better outcome than you can imagine.
The actual burn should go down two weeks later, outdoors and under the full moon (burning these items in your house will just release bad energy into your space and also, it's probably a fire hazard). In the meantime, do your physical work—meditate on your intentions, stop monitoring your ex's social accounts, unfollow and/or block with impunity. You might also want to invest in a cauldron, or scout out a fire pit to for the burn.
The burning ritual itself is simple—start your fire and, one by one, toss each item into the flames. Speak to what each item represents and why you need to release it. (You can do this in your head, but saying it aloud has more healing properties.) Chant, "I release you, I am done." You might get in your feelings. That's OK. Feel them—but recognize the act of burning as one of finality.
Self-Love on Top
Now that your past is a pile of ashes, it's time to rise like a phoenix. Breakups—and the self-destructive things we might do to deal with them—tend to make us feel more unloveable than ever. That's why self-affirmation is crucial to rebuilding.
For this spell, you'll need:
- A body-length mirror
- Talcum powder
- A red candle
- Rose essential oil
Add 2–3 drops of rose oil to the red candle, then light it. This should be the only source of light in the room. Strip down and stand in front of the mirror. Look at your body. If you have a negative thought, don't dismiss it—challenge it. Change the personal mythology of your body. Even if your "child-bearing hips" can't actually carry children, even if your breasts are sagging or uneven, even if you have more toe hair than any person should, this body connects you to your female ancestors and carries their genes and collective power. Forget traditional beauty standards and rewrite the narrative of your body. Trail your hands over this reborn body, focusing on the flesh, curves, and bones.
Next, cover yourself in the talcum powder. In the mirror, reflect the image of a goddess statue, one that represents centuries of feminine power. Visualize the powder pulling out all the self-criticism and shame you've been carrying around. As you dust off the powder, visualize your fears and doubts falling away with it. Arch your back, bend your legs, and turn your face toward the sky, allowing the love of the universe to wash over you.
Now, personalize the following chant and repeat it seven times. (Your version should express love for your mind, body, spirit, and self.)
I love my body exactly as it is.
I love my mind exactly as it is.
I love my spirit exactly as it is.
I love myself exactly as I am.
Blessed be the Goddess within me.
When you're done, snuff out the candle. Wear a drop or two of rose essential oil under your left breast for the next seven days, allowing the scent to call back your new commitment to self-love.
Sowing Your Oats
Once you love yourself again, it's time to open the door for an attraction spell. Again, you should not focus this spell on a specific person (unless you ask their permission, which is a little forward). The focus, instead, should be on stating your desires and opening yourself to possibilities.
This spell requires:
- A red candle (a new one) and candleholder
- Parchment paper and pen
- A toothpick, bobby pin, or other sharp object (for inscribing the candle)
- A floral essential oil (rose or jasmine would work)
- An ashtray
Wait for the new moon to cast this spell and, ideally, perform it in the nude. Start by inscribing the candle with your name, birthday, and any other sigils you associate with yourself. Next, write down the qualities you're looking for in a partner. If you have someone specific in mind, that's fine—write down what about them attracts you, just leave his/her name out of it. If that person is really who you're looking for, the spell will take care of the details. (Remember: you can't impose your will on someone else, and the spell could easily attract someone you haven't met yet. Don't limit your options!)
Anoint the corners of the parchment paper with your chosen oil. Then anoint each point on your list. As you're doing this, call out to Aphrodite and Venus (goddesses of love and beauty), asking them to send you a partner who's [insert list here]. Anoint the candle now, as well as your wrists. Light the candle and continue talking to Aphrodite and Venus about your fantasies. Pretend they're your wine-drinking buddies (the mortal ones are probably tired of hearing about your breakup anyway).
As the candle burns, read your parchment paper. Memorize it. Focus your energy on your desire for these qualities, and visualize them in the flame. If you're feeling it, do a little erotic dance. Masturbate. Whatever makes you feel good. When you're ready to end the ritual, read the parchment one last time and send it into the fire. Make sure you burn it completely, using the ashtray to catch the ashes.
The candle has to meet its natural end, so don't blow it out. Once that happens, take the parchment ashes and scatter them in the wind (you can also toss them in a stream or river, if available). You should continue wearing your anointment oil for two weeks, until the full moon arrives—but that's not the end of your physical work. You need to get back out there, literally. Spend time with friends, go to parties, talk to people you don't know, meet someone new. And start the process all over again.