So late last year I posted a fragment of writing to my Twitter and my Instagram…
Inspired by actual events as I drove home from dropping some things off for my partner at the Hospital the night of his stroke, this poem also references a simple spell or crossroads offering I make any time I am feeling in need of a bit of extra luck or good fortune: 13 Coins at The Crossroads.
Offering 13 coins, ideally pennies, at anything resembling a crossroads is a spell or rite I came up with some years ago for any time I was feeling the need for just a little bit of luck. I’ve refined it over the years, and any time I see a coin on the ground and pick it up, I place it in my left front pocket. Now you can, simply buy a roll of pennies if you’re in a bind and need a bit of fast luck, a Witch does what works after all and I’ve used this approach when feeling especially nervy about something in my life. I find it preferable though to collect pennies and other dropped/left behind coins and to set them aside in my left-hand front pocket of my pants, opposite where I carry my wallet and keys and everyday coins. Sometimes if I am finding a lot of coins, I’ll set aside a dish upon my blessing tile or a special dish on a shelf for the found coins to wait for use.
Why especially pennies? Well, if I was feeling Gother than Thou, I might say because the copper color is symbolic of spilt blood as an offering to the spirits! *insert dramatic musical cue here*
The rather mundane truth is that there is a widespread association in the English-speaking world between pennies and luck. There are any number of explanations for it, including the old rhyme “Find a Penny pick it up, all day long you’ll have good luck.” Then too, a penny (or once upon a time a sixpence) in a brides show is supposed to bring luck and prosperity to her life and marriage. Pennies, and other coins, also have a place in folklore as a payment to the spirits that take the dead to the afterlife as in many ancient cultures one buried the dead with coins over the eyes and the practice has continued in some places into modern times as a way of ensuring a peaceful and rightful transition for the deceased and to maintain the boundaries between the living and the dead.
There are a number of finer points I was not aware of, like the idea that a found penny is only lucky if found heads up! Some sources say if found tails up that could be the proverbial bad penny. Being a witch, I just pick the penny up with my right hand, see if its heads up or down and if down I speak a quick cleansing/blessing before moving it to the left front pocket for storing and later offering or use in magick. I suppose, one were minded to do so, you could set aside pennies found tails up for a baneful working of some sort; but generally speaking if you are putting that much time and energy into preparations for baneful workings… perhaps ones time might be better spent in either theurgy or therapy rather than spell craft?
Copper, of which pennies were once made, is supposed to have healing and energetic amplifying properties and can allegedly help balance once Chakras or energy centers. Having the same symbol of the Planet Venus and being associated with both the Goddesses Venus and Aphrodite in ancient times, Copper is also symbolically associated with healing, love, prosperity, beauty, and as an energizer for magic and spell work reputedly assisting the practitioner in drawing power. Some sources say Copper was once widely used in the making of mirrors.
So all of these ideas are interwoven with pennies and luck, from a folkloric perspective.
The origins of the idea of pennies = luck are a little harder to sort out. Some sources would have you believe that the idea dates from when pennies represented a great deal more buying power than they do in the current era, or from a time when metal was rare in society and finding any was finding something precious.
Whatever the reasons for the association it is there.
The spell itself is a very simple one, walking or even driving through the appropriate crossroads, you toss the pennies in the air (or out the window of your vehicle) and offer a quick prayer or greeting to the spirits or powers that reside there, then go on about your business avoiding looking back. This is done whenever one is concerned about needing a little bit of luck or to ward off misfortune and can also serve to build a stronger relationship with the spirits of place in a particular vicinity.
I particularly like this one because it is a very simple and quick and easily performed bit of magick… although it does require one to give some thought to what constitutes a proper crossroads, especially in a contemporary or urban setting… but that’s a piece of writing for another time…
Bliss and Bless Be,
Pax / Geoffrey