[This issue, we sit down with witch and author, Jessica Howard. Here, she discusses her personal practices as a water witch; her new book on lithomancy; and her upcoming projects.]
ev0ke: How do you define your personal spiritual practice? Does it have a name, or is it more intuitive and eclectic?
Jessica Howard: My path is definitely a bit more eclectic, but I tend to refer to it as ‘water witchcraft’. I primarily work with the element of water; I tend to work with water deities and spirits, and my rituals and practices are those associated with the element of water, and that includes divination. Divination is a core part of my practice, and within that, lithomancy the main one.
ev0ke: Which Deities, powers, or other spirits do you honor in your tradition?
JH: Again, mostly those associated with the element of water. I tend to stick to Celtic deities — deities such as Cliodhna and Sulis, although I will sometimes work with those outside of that pantheon such as Poseidon. I do work with a fair few water spirits, such as the sisters of Avalon, well maidens, lake maidens and water animal guides. Each brings something unique to my practice, and I love getting out and connecting with them near natural bodies of water.
ev0ke: You recently published The Art of Lithomancy through Moon Books. First, congratulations! Second, how did this book come about? Did you approach Moon Books, or did they come to you?
JH: Thank you! I’m in equal parts excited and nervous about how it’s going to do.
Lithomancy is something I’ve been practising for a few years now, and one of the things which really stood out to me was the lack of information on lithomancy out there. Most of the information you find is quite repetitive and doesn’t go into too much detail about the history or process. It’s a really fun way to practice divination, one which is so underrated, and I would love to see more people getting involved in it. So writing about my own practice and experiences with lithomancy seemed like a natural next step. I would love to see more of a community around lithomancy out there, similar to tarot – it would be great to hop on instagram or Facebook and see people sharing their own readings, sets they’ve created themselves, etc. I’m hoping that this book will introduce more people to lithomancy and help create that community of readers I would love to be a part of.
I approached Moon Books as a couple of my favourite authors are published under Moon Books. I have to admit, I didn’t think they would go for it, especially with lithomancy being quite niche, so I really appreciate their support. It’s such a great community full of supportive people, so I know I made the right choice by approaching them.
ev0ke: Most people think of lithomancy as “divination with rocks.” But there is more to it than that. What, exactly, does lithomancy encompass?
JH: The very basic definition of lithomancy is ‘divination with stones’, but there is indeed a lot more to it than that! I’ve seen lithomancy referred to as a ‘visual and intuitive practice’ which sums it up really well. Essentially, we take our stones and we cast them, and then we use both the patterns the stones form as they fall (the visual) as well as interpreting the messages based on where they fall (the intuitive) to get our reading.
There are three types of lithomancy sets (at least, as how I define them); yes/no sets, traditional sets, and freestyle sets. Yes/no sets do pretty much what they say on the tin – great for simple yes/no questions. The traditional set is made up of either thirteen or sixteen stones depending on which variation you use, and the meanings for these are based on the planetary influences and elements of life (such as time, commitment, love, etc). Finally, freestyle sets are the ones you create yourself – you come up with the meanings yourself, assign those meanings, and design the set based on your own personal symbolism. I have found freestyle sets to be the most fun and the most effective when it comes to performing readings. However, no matter which set you choose, we cast and interpret our readings in the same way.
ev0ke: For those who want to get started in lithomancy, where do you suggest they begin? Should they buy stones or collect them? Or even use something other than stones to begin?
JH: Whilst lithomancy is traditionally divination with stones, many practitioners use crystals, and some (like me) will also include other items, such as shells, a coin, etc. Whilst the lack of historical information out there on lithomancy is disappointing, it also means it gives us the scope to be really creative with our approach, and that is one of the many reasons I love lithomancy. What you include in your set is completely up to you! For example, I have a set which is made purely from stones I found in my garden and decorated myself, a set made out of shells and pebbles I found whilst on a walk on the beach, and another set which is primarily made up of crystals. Another one of the things I love about lithomancy is you don’t need to break the bank in order to create your own set, which means we can be a lot more flexible when creating our own sets and getting to grips with it.
ev0ke: How does lithomancy tie in to energy healing and chakras? Is this something anyone can do?
JH: Energy healing is another focus within my path, and a while ago I was wondering if I could use lithomancy to aid in it. So I started playing around and experimenting, and came up with a system which has been so effective for me, I couldn’t not share it! It’s a set made up of stones which represent the seven main chakras and the four elements. This can be used to help uncover blockages or areas we can work on, and also offer guidance as to how to unblock and energise those areas in our day-to-day life. So, it isn’t lithomancy in the strictest sense, it uses the principles of lithomancy and the way in which we interpret the stones to help us identify areas in which we can balance ourselves. Just like lithomancy and divination, anyone can use this set to help them in their own healing, and there is more detail in the book about how to do so.
ev0ke: What book fairs, conventions, or other events do you hope to attend in the foreseeable future?
JH: I will be doing a workshop on creating your own lithomancy set at Moon Con 2022 which will be my first ever conference, so I am really looking forward to that. One of my resolutions for the year was to become more involved in the ‘real life’ pagan world, as at the moment the majority of my talks and such are done on-line. So I’m hoping that as we start to see more face-to-face events opening up then I will get the chance to get out and about and meet some of my favourite people in person.
ev0ke: What other projects are you working on?
JH: I have another book out early next year which is an introduction to water witchcraft which I’m very excited about. I’ve also been working on a few free, short courses which I am aiming to start offering on my website at the end of the year. These will be focused around lithomancy and water witchcraft in general and includes videos, guided meditations, ritual ideas, and more. So I have a lot to keep me busy!
Links: The Cottage Mystic and @thecottagemysticwitch