Harness the Magic of the Forest with Nikki Van De Car’s “Forest Magic”

Photo of the hardcover “Forest Magic” and the “Forest Magic Oracle” laid above face-up cards from the deck

Ah, the forest. Whether it’s the tranquil sanctuary of your backyard or the lush expanse of the park just down the street, the magic of the forest is never far from reach.

Step into its enchanting embrace with Forest Magic: Rituals and Spells for Green Witchcraft and Forest Magic Oracle: A Deck and Guidebook for Green Witches, both available now wherever books are sold. With this inspiring duo, Practical Magic author Nikki Van De Car centers the forest in a collection of resources for green witchcraft, rituals, spellwork, and seasonal magic.

“We receive so much from the forest—and by extension, from all of nature—whether in the form of sustenance, shelter, protection, inspiration, love, beauty, divination, wisdom, healing…the list goes on and on,” Nikki writes. “But more than that, we receive ourselves. We are more than the everyday—we are as eternal as the forest, and also as alive. We carry the wisdom of the forest, as well as its magic.”

Let’s get a glimpse of how you can harness the magic of the forest using Nikki’s latest offerings!

Illustration of a person sitting in a sacred grove, from "Forest Magic: Rituals and Spells for Green Witchcraft" by Nikki Van De Car

It All Starts with Finding Your Sacred Grove

In Forest Magic: Rituals and Spells for Green Witchcraft, Nikki Van De Car explores the history of sacred groves from around the world, dating as far back as the ancient oak grove at Dodona in Greece. Unlocking the power of this magic starts with finding your sacred grove.

The process of “finding, choosing, and creating your own sacred grove” is unique to each and everyone of us. To start, simply close your eyes and see if a particular sacred grove comes to mind. It may be within your own backyard, or a grove of trees in a nearby park, or maybe it’s a peaceful spot further from home that resonates with you.

If several choices come to mind, that’s okay. “We are meant to have connections to several forests, and you will likely feel called to tend multiple sacred groves over the course of your lifetime,” Nikki explains. “This choice is not forever or to the exclusion of any other place—it’s more a question of, Which forest do I feel called to tend right now, today?

Now, with your potential sacred grove (or groves!) in mind, here are some questions to ask yourself, straight from Forest Magic:

Do I feel called to sit beneath a tree? Some trees feel welcoming, with a sense that others have sat beneath them, generation after generation. Others seem secret, as if the shelter they offer is meant only for a chosen few. And still others feel unwilling, as if they are too shy or simply not ready to accept company.

Do I hear a song in the murmuring of the leaves? It may be a song you know or something just outside your range of thought, like a sensation you can’t quite grasp.

Do I feel a reverence in my heart? Sacred groves are, after all, sacred, and they should evoke reverence. That doesn’t mean you can’t laugh or play or shout within them. (Play is absolutely a way to respect and tend to your sacred grove.) But there should still be a slight sense of awe, of awareness that these entities have power.

Do I feel known, recognized, or accepted here? We don’t just choose our sacred groves—they choose us, too. It is a decision made in tandem, and as you recognize your sacred grove, it should also know you. This is a place where you can be all that you are in full, where you can weep and rage and rejoice and reflect—the trees will accept it all.

If you answered yes to any of the above questions, you may have found your sacred grove. While that choice and intention is all you need to harness the magic of your sacred grove, you may want to confirm your choice through a simple ritual.

Go to your sacred grove and choose a tree to sit beneath. Lean against the tree if you can, or simply align your own trunk—your spine—with the trunk of the tree. Close your eyes and tap into all of your senses. Notice what you feel beneath you as you sit, what you sounds you hear, or any aromas. Open your eyes and take in everything that you can see within your sacred grove. After a few deep breaths, say the following out loud or in your mind: “I choose you. Do you choose me?” Then, listen for the answer.

Visit your sacred grove often, getting to know each tree and each plant and giving them your love. “You are its caretaker, watching over it, ministering to it, and protecting it for the generations that will come after you,” Nikki Van De Car writes. Notice what animals live nearby—what signs do they leave within your sacred grove? Throughout the year, observe how your secret grove changes. Meditate within its shade. Ask it for advice. Share your joys and sorrows. Beneath the branches, journal your thoughts and observations, embrace play by making a craft, or work with one of the many suggested spells found in Forest Magic.

Now that we have a sacred grove to turn to, we’ll share two excerpts from Forest Magic outlining two special rituals.

Illustration of dawn breaking over forest treetops, from "Forest Magic: Rituals and Spells for Green Witchcraft" by Nikki Van De Car

Excerpt: Dawn Ritual

Dawn rituals are by nature drowsy affairs. The world is just waking up. Tempting as it may be to down a cup of coffee or tea before performing this ritual, try to restrain that impulse. It’s okay to be sleepy. Allow yourself that sensation. Give yourself permission to move slowly, stumbling a little in the dark.

There’s a heaviness to the light and the air that echoes the heaviness in your body. As difficult as it is for you to drag yourself out of bed, consider that it is as though the earth is struggling to shake off the weight of sleep.

In truth, that sensation of thickness in the air can feel almost oppressive…but then, the dawn breaks. It unleashes the wonder of the day. The sun rises and brings with it a burst of energy along with its burst of light.

Other rituals can be larger affairs, with special attire and a sense of ceremony. But this one in this gray half-light can be performed in your pajamas. It doesn’t require much of you. In fact, it can be as simple as stepping outside and offering a sleepy wave to the emerging sun.

But if you feel called to do more, run the tips of your fingers along any blades of grass you see sparkling in this rarely witnessed slant of light. Let your eye catch upon a glistening spiderweb. Gather the dew, the wild water of the morning, and anoint yourself with it. Sweep it across your eyelids, your temples, the base of your throat, your breast.

René Daumal said, “Each time dawn appears, the mystery is there in its entirety.” Consider—what is “the mystery” for you? What can you see in this most sacred light?

Illustration of the sun setting behind trees with a silhouette of a hand holding a candle, from "Forest Magic: Rituals and Spells for Green Witchcraft" by Nikki Van De Car

Excerpt: Sunset Ritual

Saying farewell to the day can be a powerful experience. We all have that impulse to take a photograph of a gorgeous sunset, even though we know there will always be another one tomorrow. Consider why that is. Why do we feel the need to hold on to the sunset, to keep it stored forever, either in photograph albums or in our phones? Is there a lingering fear left over from our ancestors’ nights spent hiding from the dangers of the dark?

Our nights are safer now, but they are still mysterious. After all, even with the advent of electricity, it is still more difficult to see in the darkness. Sunset is a liminal space—a time between, when it is neither day nor night. All things are possible at sunset.

How will you explore this threshold? Will you light a candle at the moment the sun descends past the horizon to carry its light a little longer? Will you watch for the green flash, the refraction of light moving through the earth’s atmosphere? Will you offer thanks to the sun, as well as gratitude to the night?

Whatever you choose to do, take a moment to look within yourself for a threshold you may be standing upon. What is about to shift within you? What do you want to manifest during this time when anything is possible?

Photo of “Forest Magic Oracle: A Deck and Guidebook for Green Witches” laid above face-up cards from the deck

Working with the Deck

Now, let’s deepen our green witchcraft with Forest Magic Oracle: A Deck and Guidebook for Green Witches. Featuring 40 cards with full-color illustrations of magical plants and a corresponding guidebook with information on the use and mystical properties of each plant, this deck is the perfect introduction to green witchcraft.

A great way to familiarize yourself with the deck is by doing a simple single card spread. Once you pull the card, learn its meaning and take its energy with you throughout your day. If it’s accessible to you, work with the featured plant!

For this post, we pulled the Rowan (Sorbus) card. Here’s what the guidebook says about it:

Rowan is a shrublike tree often adorned with bloodred berries. The rowan is a highly protective tree, said to shield the bearer from anything from fairies to witches to storms. If you spotted someone dancing in a fairy ring, you could safely pull them out by offering them a rowan branch to hold. Rowan is also known as the “wayfarer’s tree,” as it would provide guidance to those who are lost. These days, it serves as a portal between the known and the unknown; sitting beneath its branches can give you access to insights and understandings you may not have realized you possessed. A rowan is itself a liminal space—a threshold between what you know and what you only think you know.

Through these rituals and a sample spread, we hope you’re inspired to find a more grounded state of connection with the earth.

Dive Deeper

Featured Titles

RP Mystic - Graphic image leading to 'More Magic from Nikki Van De Car' Category page

Nikki Van De Car

About the Author

Nikki Van De Car is a blogger, mother, writer, crafter, and lover of all things mystical. She is the author of ten books on magic and crafting, including Practical Magic and The Junior Witch’s Handbook, and the founder of two popular knitting blogs. Nikki lives with her family in Hawaii.

Learn more about this author