One thing that we will never be short of in witchcraft are lists of correspondences. If you look on Pinterest for any witchcraft related topic, especially stuff like the sabbats or moon magick, you will always find big long lists of correspondences. You’ll find everything from colors and crystals to herbs and energies to work with. But why? What do you do with them, and where did they come from?
What are Magickal Correspondences?
A magickal correspondence is the energetic association of an object to a purpose or intention. It’s pretty simple; X corresponds to Y.
Where do Magickal Correspondences Come From?
The origins of magickal correspondence come from a mix of things. Some of it is lore, some from uses over time, and as well as practical association. Lore will tell us about how particular herbs, animals, and foods may have been used to achieve a goal or healing. For instance, Myrrh was a resin used commonly in embalming, so we use it today for protection. Roses were often found in tales or depictions of the goddess Venus which lead them to their association with love.
Correspondences for herbs comes from something called the Doctrine of Signatures, a system of examining the shapes and appearance of a plant to understand the parts of the body it can heal and other energies that it is connected to and affects. Touch, smell, taste, and even sounds that a plant makes help to create these associations.
In the Middle-Ages when this system came into use, it was believed that God created the condition or illness but also created the cure, which could be found in nature through the clues found in the shape, color, feel, smell, etc.
For instance, Bleeding Heart flowers look like hearts with a tear coming from them, so they are said to help with a broken heart or healing heart conditions, externally only, since they are toxic. So, we might use them in charms and spells but not for herbal remedies.
Lungwort is another example. Its leaves are in the rough shape of the lungs. Its scientific name is Pulmonaria Officinalis; pulmonary refers to the lungs. But even before that name was given to it, it was believed to be useful for curing lung and respiratory conditions because of the shape, feel, and growth pattern of the leaves.
Sometimes we look at how a plant or other item affects us on a physical or emotional level. Camphor opens up the airways, so it’s associated with cleansing and fresh starts.
Wormwood has a very bitter taste and is associated with banishing negative energy, but it also has mind-altering properties making it related to psychic vision and astral travel.
For gemstones, correspondences are similar to the Doctrine of Signatures, but the mineral makeup also plays a role. For instance, aluminum is associated with Air and the planet Mercury making it a metal idea for communication and knowledge. Turquoise includes aluminum and is associated with higher wisdom, knowledge, communication, and compassion.
Another principle that is used for finding correspondences is known as The Principle of Correspondence from the Hermetic Principles. It states As above, so below; as below, so above. As within, so without; as without, so within. What affects the macrocosm affects the microcosm. It’s also where we get the idea that a heart-shaped crystal will help heal the heart, or where the idea of working magick on a poppet will have an effect on the person it is made in the image of.
Keep in mind is that modern magickal correspondences also come from personal experiences and the associations we have with certain shapes, colors, smells, and so on today. We have a different understanding of the world and nature today, and we adapt our correspondences quite often.
For instance, yellow is used to bring happiness because we associate it with the color of the sun, which makes us think of warmth, happiness, joyful days on vacation with friends and family. We say green is a color for money magick because many places in the world have green money. But what if you don’t have green money where you’re from, and you’ve NEVER had green money. Then for you, maybe red is the color of your cash, so red would work better for you to draw money.
That’s one of the things about correspondences, they are adaptable. Through experience, we find one thing that traditionally is good for something that works better for us in a different way because of our cultural backgrounds. And that’s OK!
Why Do We Use Magickal Correspondences?
We use them because they add more energy to our work. While our own intention and energy are key in our magick, the more energy we can add to the mix, the more power we have behind our work. When we use these correspondences, as well as our intuition, we can find additional ingredients for our magick to boost our intentions.
Using these correspondences also helps to create a link between us and our magickal past. It connects us to the history, lore, and myth of the Gods and our ancestors. They help to link us to the greater web of magick that we want to tap into.
How Do We Use Magickal Correspondences?
When we’re looking to put together a spell, we look at our goal or intention and then find items and ingredients that correspond to it. I like to start with determining what kind of spell I’m going to do and then what kind of items I wish to use. For example, I might want to do a candle spell and incorporate some herbs and an oil. Then I might also use this to decide on the color of my altar cloth and even flowers I might decorate with and incense I’ll use an offering.
Let do this with an example using a common magickal intention.
Goal/Intention: Find new love
Magickal Method: Candle Spell
Tools to Use: Candle, herbs, oil, incense, gemstone
Correspondences for Love: red, pink, catnip, rose, cinnamon, The Lovers tarot card, Aphrodite
These are very basic correspondences for love. If I wanted to go even deeper and find more things to use, I could look for correspondences related to these correspondences. For instance, I could look for things associated with love that might also correspond to the color Red. Fire is associated with Red which makes candle magick an ideal method. Aphrodite is not only a love goddess, but she’s associated with the moon, so I could focus on working with a specific moon phase or using a red altar cloth with moons on it.
From there, I would use these things to craft my spell. I might use a pink candle, dress it with rose oil, place it on top of a Lovers card, sprinkle cinnamon and catnip around the candle, and call on Aphrodite to aid my manifesting.
Does any of this really matter?
YES! It matters because the energetic vibration of what you use in a spell affects the energy you are projecting with your intention. Yes, intention matters, but it isn’t everything. If you want to do a love spell, but you only have black candles, don’t expect the same results you’d get from a pink or red candle. This is why you’ll want to make sure you keep a Book of Shadows or some record of your work. This will show you what correspondences work best for you for your specific intention. Over time you will…and should…create your own set of correspondences.
Don’t be afraid of using magickal correspondences. Yes, they can get complicated, but they don’t have to be. And don’t be afraid to experiment with them in your magick. Start with the basics to get comfortable with using them to build your magick and learn to understand them. As you grow and develop your magick, finding the correspondences that work best for you, you’ll discover how to really make any spell or ritual your own.