Miscellaneous - Witchy

Dollar Store Witchcraft for Witches on a Budget

Written By TJ Pandora “Auntie PanPan” Teer, Guest Author

Sometimes you just can’t make it to the local occult store at three o’clock in the morning.

I have yet to create a 24 hour occult store vending machine…but I’m working on it. In the meantime we must learn the art of improvisation.

Sometimes you just simply can not afford certain magickal items as well. When you have been in the craft for a long period of time, of course you have your favorite magick items…but not everyone has seventy dollars for a candle or two hundred dollars for a hand engraved athame…these things take time to save for.

Never Fear! Auntie has some ideas that might help you in your journey if you are just starting out.

Or mayhaps you might be having to do the woo woo out of state at your family’s house during the holidays. Great aunt Tilly may not understand you dancing naked (Skyclad) underneath the full moon in the garden with a giant horned skull on your head in the snow with a ginormous suitcase filled with herbs, oils, knives, giant candles and assorted sundries.

This is for the practitioner that may be new to the craft or needs to scale it down a bit to a portable overnight bag for those who may not be entirely out of the broom closet.

I hope that this helps you out. Enjoy.

Witchcrafting on a Budget

woman in witch costume feeling bored
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  • Altars –  Any plastic tub or cookie tin has the potential to become an altar.  I personally convert old jewelry boxes to make as new portable altars for friends and family (Remember to clean pre-loved/used goods accordingly – you never want to bring any extra entities home with you, especially if you have MORE than enough spirits to go around already!) I have also used old potato chip container tubes as portable altars for on the go. A little paint and a bit of designer scrapbook paper and who would know? Most miniature portable altars can be made quick on the fly with a metal breath mint tin. . . I see you over there Altoids! I truly believe that Witches help to keep the metal tin mint industry in business. But moving on.
  • Altar Cloths– Placemats anyone? Any placemat, piece of wood or lumber or just a piece of fabric can be used as a altar or altar cloth. Use your imagination! If you are short on space, you can omit the altar cloth and simply use one item for the holiday or season. (Beltane: Flowers; Mabon: Harvest leaves; Samhain: Skulls or black cloth; Yule: A pinecone or a bit of dried pine needles will work as well.) I have four coins in my Port-an-altar as well as a small piece of fabric that holds the coins as my altar. Each coin denotes the  elements Earth, Air , Fire and Water. I place each coin North , East, South and West for each element represented. The coins were free and they have come in handy for many vacations when I forget to bring anything else. I do have a 5th coin that I usually keep on my altar at home while I am away for the element of Spirit.    
  • Candles– Pillar candles, taper candles, chime candles, votive candles, tea lights? SO MANY CHOICES lay before you!!! Personally I believe that candles are overrated in the occult industry. Because honestly you can get them anywhere. Dressing a candle on the other hand? That might take some skills while away from home. Personally I am a fan of dressing tea light candles because you can buy a hundred tea lights for less that five dollars usually. I keep a white tea light in my Port-an- altar just in case of an emergency. I also keep a pack of matches and snuff the candles out with either a shotglass or my fingers. I have used birthday candles if I know that I’m in a hurry and space is super limited. The bonus with tea lights is that they usually come with a metal holder wrapped around them so you don’t need a candle holder… YAY! Multitasking!  
  • Candleholders – Aluminum foil works in a pinch. But you might get real lucky and find some nice candleholders at a dollar store or swap meet… get a small teacup or bowl and pour either sand or salt in it for a candle to sit in. Do you really need to take candleholders going abroad?    
  • Herbs– Go to the food or spice section of the grocery store when the family is buying the turkey or swoop some herbs from Granny’s kitchen… you don’t need many! True, many dollar stores may not have  Goofer Dust or High John the Conquerer? But they DO have Garlic and Rosemary. LEARN YOUR SUBSTITUTIONS!  I have a little pill box that if I’m not flying has my favorite herbs or salts for on the go travel. I usually travel with lavender, HPS (Himalayan Pink Salt), Rosemary and Cinnamon.    
  • Chalices– If you see a pretty cup or wine glass? Get it. My actual chalice was my drinking tankard I had from Reniassance Faire years ago.  Shotglasses work well as a chalice and an offering bowl. Honestly, Chalices are simply an option. Everything is optional.      
  • Offering Dishes– See Candleholders? Optional. Get one or two small candy dishes, depending on what is being offered. Keep your offerings simple when traveling. Non-leaky offerings preferred. Chocolate, biscuits, flowers, cookies… any small serving plate or miniature bowl would be fine.    
  • Incense & Sprays– I prefer to get my incense from the actual occult store – however in an emergency? Sprays look less suspicious on traveling adventures and you can find incense anywhere. My favorite scent used to be at this liquor store at my local gas station I found at three  a.m. in the Winter in Illinois. My incense burner is literally the size of a penny. If I would rather use sprays at the time – I like to use the empty perfume spray bottles from Daiso market for less than two dollars, and fill the bottle up after you get to your destination. Some people like to put sage leaf in water for a spray  with salt or some black tourmaline. If you are concerned about the ethics about harvesting Sage? I suggest getting your Sage at an occult shop that knows if its ethically harvested or go to a Native American Shop specializing in Sage. I have seen Sage bundles everywhere nowadays, but you only need one or two leaves of Sage – a little goes a long way. Sometimes its best to just make your own bundles for your own specific needs. If you are not a big Sage fan, you can always get a spray bottle and salt and start misting around your area.    
  • Athames – (ritual dagger) I actually do not usually use an athame. Athames are difficult to get through a metal detector. I use a spoon or a drop spindle. Sometimes I have been known to use a knitting needle. I do have a  wand, but I have it displayed on my bookshelf. Some substitutions you could use as an athame are: Scissors, Wands, Sticks of Selenite… I have a fountain pen that I use for most of my ritual work. Instead of knives, Improvise!
  • Salt – SO much Salt… I have SO much salt from various dollar stores… all different types. I personally like to keep salt packets from various drive thru restaurants and keep them in my mini altar     container. You can find salt even at various Home Goods stores. You don’t need much.    

Things you might not find at a dollar store:

person holding white animal skull
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  •  Crystals –  Although I have been surprised once or twice that there are some crystals at numerous swap meets or discount stores, they probably might be synthetic or dyed… its up to your ethics personally how you feel about using them… but its all about intention, right? Most rocks or crystals I have either have been gifted or simply found. I have had some luck and found crystals at: Home Goods, World Market, Five Below… it is a sacred quest.    
  •  Statues of Deities– If you are going on the severe cheap? I might suggest to you to print out one of your favorite images of your favorite deity or deities and laminating it to post on your altar/portable altar. You can also have a pretty picture or something else instead of deities, the choice is yours. You can also get out the molding clay or draw a picture or sew a deity instead. Get creative! Some people keep the mirror in their jewelry box-remade-portable-altar so there is no deity to actually look upon. The choice is yours.    
  • Journals and Books – If you are working on a Book of Shadows or (BoS) I suggest starting with a blank book to input all your work in – then move up to inputting real data into a computer or Google docs. I first started with a Book of Shadows , then graduated to a Rolodex of Shadows,     then to a Tablet of Shadows, now I’m working on my Pinterest of Shadows. Technology. I keep a majority of my spellwork on my phone.  Five Below has a plethora of woo woo books at the ready- I will not agree to the accuracy of these books – I believe in sticking with the classics regarding occult books. A small journal will be perfect for note / devotional / dream journal / gratitude journal /     spellwork on the go. Book covers for the ONE book you will be taking with you on a trip is more than enough. If you are worried about what someone may say or are too inquisitive as to what you are reading, you can always put the book on your tablet or phone and  type in a password for access.    

At the end of the day, the only person that is stopping you from creating cheap witchcraft on the go is You and your creativity. So go out there and get witchy with it!



Pan has been doing readings since 1985, having been trained in 1982 by her mother, aunt, and two uncles. Her grandmother and mother taught her tea leaf reading and other forms of Divination starting at age 9.  Pandora prefers to use Oracle decks instead of Tarot since in her opinion there is more “wiggle room” with oracles. Oracles show all the perspectives for the person, not just yes or no…but also WHY. Oracles work with introspection and reflection. Also, her favorite deck (Psy Card deck) she uses is the same type of deck she has been using since 1985…so why mess with a good thing? She has read Oracle at several occult stores across the country and has read oracles at several conventions in New Orleans, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Hollywood. You can find her Vlogs on YouTube and Spotify 

Connect with Pandora: YOUTUBE: AuntiePanPan INSTAGRAM: @auntiepanpan TWITTER: @auntiepanpan FACEBOOK: @Auntiepanpan

All opinions expressed in this article are the sole perception/experience of the writer, and may not necessarily be shared by Michelle Lewis – The Blessings Butterfly. All Rights Reserved.