The Book of Tides

a resource site for sea magick

What is Sea Magick?


what is sea magick
Sea magick is not a type of ceremonial magick which requires the gleaming silver chalice, the jewel-hilted athame, the flawless crystal ball on a base of intertwined pewter dragons. The average Witch thinks that they will never be a proper Witch because they can't afford those things for their ritual magickal use. I say "phooey" to that. Fancy tools don't make the Witch. There is no need to buy expensive tools from some overpriced New Age shop. Sea magick is pure folk magick.

The tool of the Sea Witch are typically derived from those items associated with the element of Water, preferably "found" items from the beach. Just walking along the shore, one can find many things that can be used in sea magick: seaweed, fishing net, shells, sea grass, driftwood, pieces of sea glass, sand, and of course water. The best way to show appreciation to our Mother Ocean is to put the items She provides to good use. Besides, natural items from the sea have a magickal charge to them that store-bought objects do not have without a lot of effort to charge the items.

A Sea Witch's altar

If possible, you should set up a permanent working space for any magickal workings that may need to sit for a moon cycle. This can be as small an area as a drawer, shelf, or windowsill, or as large an area as an entire room or garden. Work with what you have, and scale your magickal supplies appropriately.

Tip: If you don't have a lot of space, don't try to store half the beach in that space. Collect only the magickal items you need. You can probably acquire more supplies when things run low.

altar.png Since I do not currently have a large space, my sea shrine is scaled down to an antique desk.

I can open the front of the desk to use as an altar, with the two desk drawers underneath being used for any consecrated items that are not in use at the moment. I can also display magickal items such as a favourite divination deck and my glass scrying float along the top of the desk in addition to stashing small items in the pigeonholes inside the top of the desk. It is a lot of storage in a small space.

One nice feature of this desk is that there is a skeleton key so the top and the drawers can be locked against snooping visitors.

Tools of a Sea Witch

I don't really have a favourite thing in my sea shrine. Everything is carefully chosen and has a particular purpose. I am always finding new things to add, and I remove items that have served their purpose. Some useful tools include:

  • Glass fishing floats: Many years ago blue or green glass floats were used to support fishing nets. They come in different shapes and size depending on the type of fishing in which they were used. Round glass floats can be used for scrying. They can also hang in a window for protection as the old-style "witch balls" were used.

    Tip: If you are hanging a glass float for protection, secure it with jute or hemp cording. Cobalt glass is considered traditional for spiritual protection if you can find a glass float in that colour.

Tip: In the absence of actual physical tools, use the best tool of all -- your mind!

The Elements of Water

elements of Water Water is one of the few materials on earth that can exist simultaneously in more than one state of matter (solid, liquid, and gas) at certain temperatures. Because of this unique scientific property, each state of water has its own magickal associations. It is vital to carefully choose the best state of water for your magickal application.

Types of water

Water is not just water. It can be used as a vehicle of energies and as a base for potions, baths, and washes. Choose your type of water carefully such that it best suits your particular magickal application.

Warning: Water should not be collected in areas with high levels of air pollution, near roadways, in areas where chemicals are sprayed, or from polluted waterways. Chemicals have no place in natural magick.

Tip: Magickal waters are best stored for future use in glass rather than metal. Make sure you label them so you know which is which.

types of water

Types of sea shells

Sea shells can be acquired during beach explorations to be used in any sea magick workings. The shells themselves are made of calcium carbonate and can be used in charms, as tools, or even as storage containers. Hold a large univalve (one-piece) shell to your ear to hear the voice of Mother Ocean. She will speak to you when you are ready to listen.

As expected, each type of shell has its own particular associations which may lend itself more to some spells and charms than others.

Note: Be mindful of your sea shell sources. Commercial sea shell suppliers collect shells and other sea animals while alive, then kill and clean them to sell in the commercial trade. This includes not only shells, but animals such as seahorses, sea turtles, starfish, and pufferfish.

This exploitation disrupts the very ecosystem that we venerate as Sea Witches. It should go without saying that we should not buy shells without knowing their origin.

I will put one caveat that the damage is already long since done in the case of vintage and antique shells. Use them if you have them, but always be grateful to the creature who gave its life for that shell.

If you collect your own shells, check for living creatures before collecting the shell. If it is inhabited, put it down and leave it alone.

Types of salt

sea salts

Further reading

You might also enjoy these books:

Earth Power Earth Power: Techniques of Natural Magic by Scott Cunningham (Llewellyn Publications, 1983): A good basic guide to folk magick. Nothing too complicated that requires exotic ingredients.   Earth, Air, Fire & Water Earth, Air, Fire & Water: More Techniques of Natural Magic by Scott Cunningham (Llewellyn Publications, 1997): Somewhat more in-depth than Earth Power, but still simple enough for a beginner to manage.
Ocean Amulets Ocean Amulets by Katlyn (Mermade Magickal Arts, 1988): This is a small chapbook. The book is primarily focused on the use of sea shells in magick including lore about each shell, sea shell spells, and divination by cowry shells. There is also a bit of information on common beachcombing finds such as glass floats and beach sand.   Folklore and the Sea Folklore and the Sea by Horace Beck (Wesleyan University Press, 1977): An excellent reference for sea folklore. This is one of my staple texts.

These books can be difficult to find since many are out of print. Some great places to buy used books online include:

Tealmermaid's Treasure Grotto