There are many reasons that you may not wish to openly practice—roommates, a spouse who does not believe in it, parents who disapprove, Evangelical friends, or just personal preference. Here are 5 tips that I have learned over the years of being in that situation.
1. Home Décor
Rather than gathering all your materials, candles, etc on a single altar, scatter them in small groupings around the house. This dilutes the “witchy” look and can be easily explained away.
My favorite place to do this is the bathroom. Not only is it a natural place to cleanse and renew, most people don’t question odd clutter. I remember my grandmother had all kinds of crazy tchotchkes in her bathroom, including a gilt mirror bowl with rose shaped soaps that I wasn’t allowed to touch as a kid.
A standby favorite is a salt bowl for protection and renewal. Basically you start with a base of salt (large or small grain, preferably sea salt) and add whatever you feel is right. I like to change mine out every full moon, but that is just preference. Astrea Taylor wrote an article on how to create a salt bowl, if you are interested in learning more. It is a decoration that looks gorgeous and most people won’t know what it is for.
2. Hiding Materials in Plain Sight
Think about a “normal” place to store your tools and materials. For example:
- Herbs in the pantry (edible only!)
- Florida Water with makeup or deodorant (it looks like a regular cologne that way)
- Bowls and chalices in the kitchen (make them difficult to reach, so others won’t use them)
- In the garage with other Halloween “decorations”
- Minerals in garden pots or flower beds (if anyone asks, they’re just pretty rocks!)
- Label a box for “craft supplies” and mix in some “normal” looking things like a glue gun and scrapbook stickers to make the witchy materials seem like they belong
3. Travel Altar
Mint tins have been used as travel (or mini hidden) altars for many years. Hoodoo is incredibly creative and flexible, and I believe that tradition was the first to start using them, or at least popularized it. Basically you take a classic tin, like Altoids, and fill it with herbs, crystals, talismans, etc.
They are intensely personal and there is no right or wrong way to make one. I would suggest choosing a theme (for example prosperity / luck) and building from there. Start by anointing the inside, and adding in what feels right for that particular intention. Some people “charge” each item before adding them. I tend to wait and pray over the completed tin at the end. I usually use one of the Orthodox prayers, because they have all kinds of fantastic blessing and protection prayers that are ancient and powerful.
The above is a quick example that I put together of what an altar might look like for protecting against negative energies, such as going to a hotel room or a relative’s house who is a bit cranky. I started by anointing the top with Florida Water and the main area with Rosemary Oil.
The charred driftwood, salt, and rosemary are all specifically to protect against negative energy. I included four (a strong number in the Middle Ages, representing completion) apple seeds, for their connection to Avalon and representing healing. The star anise protects from the “evil eye” and brings courage. I also included a small tea light in neutral white. You can also use birthday candles. If there are no ways to light a candle, just omit it and add a mineral instead, such as tourmaline.
If you want a larger “hidden” space, shoe boxes are excellent. Just use the same principles, but on a larger scale. If you have your own room, set a drawer aside for your tools and materials (preferably one that locks).
I definitely do not have a green thumb. If plants stay alive under my care longer than a few months, it is a miracle. That being said, I am incredibly grateful for fresh herbs and flowers to use, even if they are short-lived. Having some sage, yarrow, mugwort and other “classic” herbs at your fingertips is helpful, especially if you live in an area where they are difficult to acquire.
If you don’t have a backyard or access to a community garden space, use a small pot instead. Miniature herb gardens will not attract attention. I have 100% muggle friends who have “fairy” gardens, so trust me, nobody will notice.
5. Nearby Park
If all else fails, create your own space out in nature. You can work with a particular “spot” in a nearby park to create a space where you feel safe to embrace who you are.
It might be a bench slightly hidden by bushes, or a grove of trees, or a cluster of rocks by the ocean. Find somewhere that speaks to you and start working with it to see what is needed.
Remember not to just “take” but to restore balance. For example: if you are using water from a nearby pond in an elemental spell, stop to pick up trash from the area first.
If you plan on lighting candles, ask first. For example, there is a beach I wanted to do a water ritual with, so I phoned the ranger station to ask if I could light some small candles on the beach. Usually the park service is primarily concerned with fires getting out of control, so if you assure them that you will be careful and use “hurricane” style candle holders, they will be okay with it.
Don’t be Afraid to Experiment!
Most of all, don’t let the judgment of others stop you from finding your true path.
There will always be a way: find what speaks to you, even if that means a few dried flowers stuffed in a mint tin at the bottom of your sock drawer.