Human blood is one of the most potent sources of magical power. It has strong associations with both life and death, and is a way to inject your own essence into a spell or ritual. Blood is considered sacred in some cultures and taboo in others. Of all the human effects used in magic, blood is undoubtedly the most powerful.
When Should You Use Blood?
Because it is so powerful, blood may not be an appropriate addition to every spell.
It’s important to remember that when you add your blood to something, you are putting a part of yourself into that thing and tying it to you both physically and energetically. You don’t want to use your own blood in a curse, for example, because you don’t want all that negative energy to be tied to you. Likewise, you probably don’t want to use your own blood in banishing spells.
You also may want to leave blood out of spells that are meant to be gentle or subtle. You don’t want to use your blood in a love spell for the same reason you don’t want to use words like “obsessed” or “addicted” — it may create a connection that is too powerful and/or unstable, resulting in a toxic or codependent relationship. (If you want to use a personal effect in a love spell to create a physical link to you, try using sexual fluids and/or saliva instead.)
So when should you use blood in your magic? Blood is most commonly used to create very strong bindings. Anointing something with your blood connects it to your own life force. Add a drop of your blood to a magical oil, spell, or charm to create a link to your physical body. (Note that once you do this, you shouldn’t use that item on other people!) Blood is also associated with the ancestors (your “bloodline”), so you may choose to incorporate blood into rituals for ancestor worship.
We’re all familiar with the fictional trope of characters forming a blood pact by cutting their palms and mixing their blood. While blood can be used to create a bond between people, this bond is extremely powerful and should not be taken lightly. In folklore, these bonds are nearly unbreakable. Once you have this kind of connection to someone, it becomes extremely difficult to separate yourself from them. Think very seriously about whether you really want to be that closely intertwined before forming a blood bond with someone.
Blood is used in some religions as a devotional offering to deities or spirits, but in others it is a taboo to use blood as an offering. Do research into the deities you work with and their historical worship before deciding whether blood would be an appropriate offering. Don’t just assume that because a deity is associated with war or death, they enjoy blood offerings. That deity may belong to a pantheon that treats blood as taboo, in which case it would be offensive to offer it to them.
When considering using blood as an offering, remember that using your own blood creates a physical link between you and the spirit who receives it. Because of this, I recommend only using your blood as an offering for spirits you have worked with for a very long time and/or are formally dedicated to. If you feel like blood would be an appropriate offering but don’t want to use your own, try offering animal blood or one of the other substitutes listed below.
Safety, Ethics, and Etiquette
If you haven’t read my previous post about using human effects in magic, I recommend checking it out. All of the safety precautions listed in that post also apply to blood magic.
When collecting your own blood for ritual use, you should ALWAYS use a sterile lancet, a device used for blood testing that can be purchased over the counter at any pharmacy. This will only produce a couple of drops of blood, and will ensure a clean and safe draw. Always use a fresh lancet straight out of the packaging, never reuse a lancet or share one with another person, apply a clean band-aid to the pinprick, and make sure you dispose of your lancets properly. DO NOT use knives, pins, or any other nonsterile object to draw blood. These safety precautions eliminate the risks of infection and of taking too much blood by mistake.
When doing magic with blood, a few drops is more than enough. Exercise caution and never draw more blood than you need. A little goes a long way.
If you have struggled with suicidal ideation and/or self-harm, blood magic may not be for you. Collecting blood with a sterile lancet is virtually painless and is not the same as self-harm, but if you feel that the sight of your own blood may be triggering, do not attempt to do so. You can use another personal effect, like hair or saliva, instead. Alternatively, you may want to use one of the substitutions listed below.
When working with other people’s blood, it’s important to be aware of the possibility of bloodborne diseases. To be safe, always wear gloves, make sure you don’t have any exposed cuts or sores, and be careful not to get any blood near your eyes, nose, or mouth.
If you have a period, you may choose to work with your menstrual blood in spellwork or ritual.
One major advantage to menstrual blood is that it exits the body naturally, so you don’t have to draw blood with a lancet. Menstrual blood is completely sterile in most cases, and is not any more or less clean/safe than any other type of blood.
In addition to the normal associations of blood, menstrual blood is associated with the divine feminine, lunar energy, childbirth and reproduction, protection, and the release of old energy. This makes it a powerful and extremely versatile magical tool.
Animal blood has similar associations to human blood, and may be an appropriate alternative when you don’t want to use your own blood. Like human blood, it is associated with both life and death and with the balance between the two. Historically, animal blood was a common offering to deities in certain cultures. Like human blood, it adds a power boost to spells and rituals.
Getting your hands on animal blood may be tricky, but you can find it if you look. If you have a local butcher, ask them if it would be possible for them to set some aside for you. This request is much more common than you think — blood is an ingredient in several dishes, such as blood sausage and black pudding. You may also be able to find coagulated blood (usually pig’s blood) in some international grocery stores.
Alternatives to Using Blood
If you are uncomfortable using blood, don’t. You could use animal blood as described above, but if you don’t want to or don’t have access to it there are other substitutions to consider.
If you want to bind something to you, use some of your hair. Hair is another powerful personal effect and, like blood, it is associated with binding things to your personal essence.
If you want to incorporate the symbolism of balance between life and death, use pomegranate juice. Pomegranate is well known for its association with the Greek underworld and the goddess Persephone. However, its many tiny seeds give pomegranate a strong link to fertility. As a symbol of Persephone, pomegranate represents the cycle of life and death.
If you want to make an offering to a spirit or deity, use red wine. Wine is a classic devotional offering, and has even been used as a substitute for blood in religious ritual. In Egyptian mythology, the enraged goddess Sekhmet is appeased with a huge amount of beer dyed red to prevent her from killing humans. In the Catholic mass, red wine is used to represent the blood of Jesus Christ. The link between blood and wine is an ancient one, which makes this a powerful choice for those who want to call on the symbolism of blood without actually using it in their practice.
Blood magic is not scary, dark, or unsafe if it is approached with appropriate respect and caution. Because of its potency and rich symbolism, blood can be a powerful additions to many spells.
- Of Blood and Bones by Kate Freuler
- Utterly Wicked by Dorothy Morrison
- Sekhmet & Bastet: The Feline Powers of Egypt by Lesley Jackson
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