On Road Opening Magick and Being Roadworthy (with Ritual)
This post tackles Road Opening magick, which is honestly some of my favorite witchcraft to do. In fact, I just finished a three-part Road Opener spell, made some gorgeous Crossroads Dirt herbal mixture (based on one of the three magickal dirts most commonly used in witchery) and as I am writing this post, I can already feel some momentum building!
Road Opening spells and the term “Road Opener” originally come from the tradition of Santería, and have been made popular within the American Hoodoo tradition. The name originates from the herb thoroughwort, known by the folk name, “Abre Camino,” which translates in English to “Road Opener.”
Many traditions, including my Hekatean practice, lend themselves to Road Opening work through their focus on the Crossroads as a source of power and place of contemplation. The term Crossroads refers to a magickal place, often tucked off the main road or by railroad tracks where two or three roads meet, depending on tradition. It can also be conceived of metaphorically, existing within one’s sacred space or inner temple.
To me, the concepts of “Crossroads” and “Road Opening magick,” are inexorably linked. As a Hekatean witch, it only makes sense to call on the power of the Crossroads to help move what seems immovable – to open a path that was previously unattainable. It’s the guts of magick, really–whether described as Santeria, Hoodoo, witchcraft, shamanism, chaos magick, or more styles than I can name–to create opportunities for a better life out of nothing but the earth and a strong intention.
So it is with all due respect to its origins that I employ the term “Road Opener” for this particular kind of magick work.
When to Use Road Opening Magick
According to Gordon White at Rune Soup, Road Opener spells might just be the most useful spells in general. To me, they represent a big ask to deity or the universe – a “Hail Mary” that helps clear a path when life gets jumbled and blocked. This covers a wide variety of what I call “crossroads moments.”
Examples of Crossroads Moments
- Staring down the blank page or canvas day after day
- Getting in and out of relationships
- Seeking out new career paths
- Dealing with unrelenting malaise
- Problems getting noticed at work or with the thing that you do that isn’t “work”
- Wanting more people to get cocktails with or do witchcraft with
- And so much more
- Everything, really
Everybody faces crossroads moments, some enormous, and some that we can maneuver with a bit of finesse. However, despite our best “mundane” efforts, we can’t move on or change paths; we are stuck with a barrage of ideas that have nowhere to go, no channel forward. Instead, they bounce inside our heads, creating a cacophony, a constant reminder that we can’t pull our thoughts together enough to make a melody.
These blockages can show up pathologically as anxiety, depression, and physical illness. They can hijack all areas of our lives, even with appropriate medical and therapeutic intervention. Relationships become stagnant, or even toxic. Work becomes an unbearable torment that we white-knuckle our ways through, just to get home and put on our PJs, and watch reruns of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” Our social life consists of the cast of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” Every day is the same old blank page, staring us down. The only clear thing is that we’ve lost the story.
At this juncture, we have come to an impasse and need something, anything, that we can throw into the fire to make it burn brighter and light the way forward. While I personally do devotional and healing witchcraft every day, these “crossroads moments” require something more focused in order to move out of whatever rut we’ve found ourselves in. That’s when we figure out how to open up a road.
Getting Roadworthy: My Story
According to Gordon, one must also be “roadworthy,” in order to have a road opener spell do its thing correctly. If the road opens, don’t we have to be fully capable of taking it where it leads us? To me, this means that we have to physically, mentally, financially, and, with respect to other factors of life, able to follow through on the mission statement set forth in the ritual. We have to be able to utilize the opportunities that come to us through the newly-opened road. I also believe that said road has to be geared toward the greatest healing good, or else what’s the point?
So when I approached the crossroads almost two years ago (and then again last year), I got only a fleeting benefit. I was physically and mentally incapable of doing the work that people offered me; too busy fighting daily battles with what was, at the time, a mystery disease. Then, after an unfortunately-timed car accident, I could no longer work at all. I couldn’t write, draw, or put together jewelry (which were staples of my existence). I definitely could not do the PR work that constituted a large part of my income over the years. I had no pain management and no answers. Both my body and the healthcare system had been failing me in a big way.
I’m confident enough to say that I am a driven person with and a pretty impressive idea machine. But at that point, those rather intimidating obstacles conspired to prevent my ideas from becoming reality. Somehow, I had managed to eke out a life between a loving family, tons of doctor’s visits, and my own daily practice of witchcraft. This practice had become rich and engrossing, and was only growing stronger.
Yet, I wanted to get back to work, but I could not. I was like a caged animal, who, having seen life outside the cage, knew that things could be much better.
During this time, I did a lot of magick to wheedle my way through the healthcare system, and managed to find exactly the right doctors to diagnose and start treating my debilitating ailment. The beast’s name is Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome with hypermobility of the joints. This comes with a lot of other things referenced in acronyms that are complicated and rare. Out of this arduous process came a course of treatment that eventually beat back the most disabling symptoms.
So there I was, still at the crossroads, but at least then I was roadworthy.
Road Opener Ritual
The first part of opening a new road for yourself is identifying some inner binds that prevent you from moving forward. Perhaps you have a running narrative from childhood whispering in your ear that you are doomed to failure, that you are useless, talentless, or undeserving. For me, identifying and unravelling negative self-chatter has been useful. If you are on shaky mental ground, I highly suggest doing this work with the aid of a licensed therapist. Either way, have someone who can help you parse this stuff. It can get sticky.
Identify three of these self-binds. I did mine while sitting at my altar, but this can be done anywhere. Write them down. Also, write down the external things that keep you from moving forward; really think with these things: “Am I roadworthy, or is there still work to be done?”
The second part of the ritual consists of imagining what your new road will look like. First, it is important to hone it down to a razor-sharp intention, in the present tense and in the active voice.
Here’s an example of what I mean:
“I am opening a new road to help me find happy and meaningful connections and opportunities to do the thing I want to do successfully, and get from it what I need.”
Fill in the blanks, but keep it simple. Write this down as well as you will need it for the ritual.
When you sit down to do the ritual, you will assemble the materials, the images of deities (if appropriate), and find a quiet spot where you will not be interrupted.
The work itself is simple. The real work comes through focus, raising energy and visualization:
- Cast a circle, and call on allies if that’s your tradition.
- Slather the candle in oil and roll it in your herbs (or Crossroads Dirt).
- If you are using herbs, call on each of them for their specific properties (the Crossroads Dirt comes with its own incantation).
- Anoint both pieces of paper with oil and herbs.
- Light the candle and offer it the things that bind you. Use visualization to see how those things have kept you from moving forward.
- Burn the paper in the fire-safe bowl, imagining life without these things holding you back.
- Avow your intention with gusto. Avow it three times, and then light the paper on fire, imagining your new life rising from the flames.
- Allow the candle to burn out, using this time to visualize the new road you are opening, in as much detail as possible.
- Give thanks and release the circle.