What are Magic Uses for Cicada Shells?
During some summers, millions of insects crawl out of the ground, and drag themselves up trees before grabbing hold of the bark or branches. Then they scream until they die. This is less horror fiction and more truth. Where I live, cicadas come in cycles. Many years, you don’t even see them. Other times their numbers alone make driving dangerous, because millions of flying bodies hurdling through the air and screaming are not good for visibility. Cicada Broods 10, 13, 14, 19, and 23 all make part of their homes in Indiana, each of them with their own schedules.
According to Wikipedia, Periodical Cicadas live most of their lives underground. They burrow into the soil after hatching from their eggs in tree bark. While some species live for two years underground, the type I’m talking about have either 17 year or 13 year lifecycles—most of that spent around ten feet underground. Towards the end of that, they crawl out of the ground and start their mating song. Or screaming. Whichever you prefer to call it.
At the end of the summer, the cicadas disappear once more. But they leave behind a wealth of discarded brown shells on tree limbs everywhere. In late 2014, I gathered a jar full of the shells left behind, cleansed them with a paint brush and blessed salt water, and put them in my cabinet for later. For what? Conceivably, anything.
I associate cicadas with transformation. You could fill the shell with a small, rolled message, or anything else small enough to fit inside, and then bury it while doing a spell for change or metamorphosis. They are ideal for shadow work, or anything involving the emerging of a ‘true self’ or rebirth. If you powdered the shell or left it whole, it would make a nice addition to a servitor’s body. I don’t think they would suit glamour very well since they change once and then are very obvious, but I don’t tend to work with glamours to begin with. They would also make nice wards—sleeping in the soil until the time has come for them to act. In many cultures, cicadas are a symbol for longevity. An insect with a 17 year lifespan is definitely out of the ordinary. Even though humans might not appreciate their song, they are also symbols of communication.
Information on each brood is available online, including the location and year they can be expected to appear. For witches concerned about ethically sourced materials, cicada shells are practically guilt-free. Just wait until they adults have emerged. The shell is shed as a natural part of the cicada’s life span and there are always plenty to go around in a big brood year.
Have more ideas for spells or charms using cicada shells? Post them below!