Fashion / Beauty

Confessions of a Modern Day Witch — the Real Magic of Corbin Chamberlin

Smudging, Crystals and the No. 1 Question He Gets

BY // 09.04.19
photography Orlando Pelagio

Sage & Salt founder Corbin Chamberlin waltzes into Forty Five Ten for a public appearance and a few days of scheduled readings with clients. Clad in a gorgeous caftan, the professional witch and I are scheduled for a chat.

Chamberlin’s collection of energetic crystals, candles and potions has sparked a current in high society and beyond. Readings by Chamberlin book up within minutes, and products from the Sage & Salt line fetch top-tier prices at Forty Five Ten.

In 48 enlightening minutes, we dive into everything from the rise of the divine feminine and the proper way to smudge your home to a recent witchy experience with Ashley Longshore in New Orleans. Consider it witchcraft, defined.

Let’s start at the beginning. What’s your story?

I grew up in a home in Arizona that was very spiritual. My mom was reading [tarot] cards and making tinctures and teaching me how to harvest herbs on the new moon. It was a very witchy household, but we never called it witchcraft.

But, in hindsight, it’s all a form of witchcraft. One of my first moneymaking gigs was reading cards for people, like $25 a reading, at 11 years old. This has always been part of my life. It’s all about energy and vibrations. And then I got into publishing, and I kind of drifted away from it.

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Did you leave Arizona and go to New York?

Yeah. I worked freelance, and I worked on staff at a magazine (Financial Times) for a few years as a writer. And I don’t want to put down the fashion industry. . .

Oh, we can put it down.

I’m a person of size — and I embrace that. But, I was surrounded by negative energies and people who put their values in the wrong places. There’s nothing wrong with having an appreciation of fashion — that doesn’t give you bad vibes. But I was surrounded by bad energy.

And I couldn’t light up a smudge stick [a wand of dried herbs, used to cleanse energy with its smoke] and blow it on a PR person’s face during a desk-side.

Some things you can’t smudge away.

Condé Nast would not be down with that. The fire alarm!

So you started Smokeless Smudge.

You can’t just light up anywhere. So, I created this spray, Smokeless Smudge. It’s everything I would smudge — but it’s a potion.  I felt like I was being attacked. So I was using the smudge spray everywhere — in cabs, after meetings.

And that was the beginning of Sage & Salt?

I started making the spray in 2010. And then I started Sage & Salt in 2014. But the professional witch stuff has been there forever. I remember sitting with my mom at the dinner table, and people would be, like: “How do I provoke my fertility?” “How am I going to get pregnant?”

And I remember my mom talking about moon cycles and herbs. It was really like Practical Magic. The crazy aunts were like my mom. No disrespect.

So, she was this amazing single mom who had this innate tune-in to energy.

She learned it from her mom, and my grandma learned it from her mom. My great grandma lived in New Mexico, and she had a gift where she could feel water under the ground. The farmers or people buying houses would go to her and commission her to feel the water so they could dig the well.

Using crystals and energy and smudging, to me, it’s a spiritual practice.

I think, really, either you’re energetically aware, or you’re not. That’s what it comes down to. People are very gun-shy of the word “witch.” But, if you’re smudging, if you’re minding your energy and who you’re with, if you’re looking at the moon, if you say you’re affected by the moon. . . then you might as well be a full-on witch.

Everyone’s a little bit of a witch.

Do you think you were born with something special?

My view is that this isn’t our first time around the sun. We’ve been here many times before. I believe that souls have ages — and the older souls have reconnected with these energetic beliefs and connections. I do think that 90 percent of the population has these gifts that they are able to tap into.

And I think that some people are just so cut off from it. Most people are born with a gift. And for myself, it’s a case of nurturing it.  

I’ve read that older souls have lived more lives and so they come with this evolved psyche.

Younger souls. . . They have to go through the rough stuff. They have to live those lives that aren’t grounded and energetically aware. They have to kind of be beat up a little bit to learn those lessons, but as you progress and as your soul gets older, you realize things like hanging out with toxic people is not for me. It’s not good for me. You’re just more aware.

Do you put what you do under the categories of wellness or spirituality?

I’m straight-up witchcraft. I don’t want to dance around it. I am of the belief that there’s a collective conscience, and people are more interested in smudging and tarot and crystals for a reason. I think the universe is pushing people in a direction to combat some very toxic macho negative beliefs that were held in the past.

So, I don’t think it’s a coincidence or some kind of trend that people are becoming more aware of the energy around them and trying to change it.

It’s comparable to the pushback that alternative medicine or holistic medicine gets. In 2012, I was very sick for two years. The doctor said: “Here’s your diagnosis. We don’t know what causes it. It’s autoimmune. Here’s a pill. You’re going to be on this for the rest of your life. Good luck.”

And so, 18 months ago, I made a very cognizant decision: I didn’t want to be on a pill for the rest of my life, so I cleaned up my diet. I started certain spiritual practices. It changed my life.

That is magic. The magic is active manifestation. Spells are active prayers. You went through your own ritual to cast this spell in your life for change — and that’s what happened. You call it a diet change, a mind reset. But, you did a spell — indirectly, if you knew it or not — and you put it out in the universe.

Is that part of the idea that energy can never be created or destroyed?

Yeah. Welcome to the coven. You did it. That’s what it is. You have to battle and combat yourself about what you think about. You can’t say negative things and then expect your life to be this flawless storybook.

You have to guard your thoughts. You have to guard what you say, because when you speak you’re putting out spells. You’re putting it out in the universe. I love the F word — I would never say it on the record — because it’s that cathartic word for me. But I’m very mindful about saying “This is the worst effing day.”

I’m always on my clients about it. Watch what you say. You’re putting spells out there, and it’s rebounding, and it’s changing your reality.

Do you think people who carry a very weighted, negative energy are able to release negativity and to evolve if they seek someone like you?

People attract what they put out there. Sure, there is beauty in death; there is beauty in the dark morbid things of life; not everybody needs to be dancing in the light. There has to be a balance. But it’s my experience that people who are habitually negative and who fall on the darker side of life attract entities and attachments.

That feeling that you get when you know it’s more than just someone with a bad attitude is some entity, some energetic leech, something that is using this human as a conduit of negative energy. People don’t realize they’re picking up these sandbags of negative energy throughout their lives and they are just spewing that shit onto everyone.

That’s why we have to smudge and wear crystals and be mindful. If people want to change, they can come to a witch but if people aren’t making the changes themselves, it’s worthless.

I keep the Smokeless Smudge on the desk.

Like Mace. . . How’s your basil doing by the way? Basil is very magical.

For me, 2018 was a really rough year. I spent a lot of time on my patio, and the basil kept going.

Basil is a very protective plant. In Italian witchcraft, the Streggas — Italian witches — they use basil. Very protective.

When I smudge, I kind of just wing it. I do it every Sunday after I clean.

So witchy. Do you instinctually do it on Sunday?

Yes. Every Sunday.

That’s the best day to do a smudging. The best day. There are a lot of theories behind planetary days — and the energies shift throughout the days of the week. Sunday is the day to clean house — and literally clean house energetically. That’s when I do my heavy cleaning, energetically, on Sunday.

Are there things you should keep in mind when you’re smudging?

You need to follow your intuition, first and foremost. I provide a product that could not be more energetically aligned — but when it gets to you, the best thing is to first listen to your intuition. I am not smarter than your intuition. But I have a few general rules.

Turn on your favorite music. I want you to sit for a few minutes and start to radiate joy. Think some happy thoughts. Start there. Don’t try to smudge your house if you’re in a bad place. It’s really important that you’re either thinking or saying, “I don’t want any bad vibes in this house.”

You can be as gangster as you want about this. You can say, “Get the eff out, bad vibes!” You can come up with your own mantra or spell. And then just go through your house and smudge it. Open up the windows. Open up the doors.

The theory behind my spray is that white sage removes negative energy. Palo santo is used to invite good energy and guides back into your house. And that’s why I put the two together. The average non-witchy person doesn’t realize that when you’re smudging you’re removing the bad vibes, but you’re also asking some of the guides and good energies to leave as well.

But when you have the palo santo it’s inviting in the good energy. It’s inviting in the guides — the angels, if you will — if you subscribe to that, because it’s all really the same thing.

Do you believe in angels?

Oh, ya. Absolutely. But I think that angels mean a lot of things. It’s not just this winged Christian thing. . .

But back to smudging…

One of the biggest things I can say is dismiss the energy. Tell it to go. Banish it. Put it out there. Radiate that message. That’s an instant manifestation. And then, once you’re done smudging, just sit there for a minute. Ground yourself. Thank your guides. Thank the energy. You can even thank the universe.

Make it be known that you want good vibes in your house. Say, “No bad vibes.” You know. Bye, Felicia.

I smudge my cats.

Familiars. You’re such a witch. Make sure you smudge the bottom of your shoes, too.

People never talk about how dirty the bottom of your shoes and the bottom of your handbag really are.

You’re walking through it. You’re trudging through it. You don’t think about it, but you’re walking that stuff in. That’s why I have a product called Doorway Dust. It’s my own concoction but it stems from Hoodoo tradition. It’s sulphur brimstone, brick dust, and black salt — and it blocks things from coming into the house.

Home for you. . . Do you keep a garden?

I don’t garden as much as I would like. This witch is on the go. I travel to clients all the time to do readings and house smudgings and blessings. I just got rid of a ghost out of artist Ashley Longshore’s house in New Orleans.

New Orleans. . . There’s a lot of energy there.

The spirit there is insane. They’re just very present. I have a lot of clients in New Orleans — a lot. And so, my life right now is 85 percent of me traveling around, doing things for clients. I brought my own altar to Dallas because we’re going to be here for the full moon, so I’m setting up an altar in my hotel room. Ritual goes with me no matter what.

The crystals are something I haven’t really dug into.

Last February, we bought just over 700 crystals, and I hand-selected every one. It’s a weeklong process. It’s not good enough just to get these stones and sell them to people. I cleanse them. They all sit in salt for a few days. They get smudged — both with smoke and the Smokeless Smudge. Then we bury them in a vortex in Sedona.

A vortex is a point in the earth where the energy is very extreme. These stones go through like 20 different hands. And I feel like they get a little wobbly, energetically. So we bury those things. We cover them in dirt and they realign and it heightens the vibration of the stones. We rinse them off and then we keep them stored in our witch warehouse.

Is there one request you get the most from people?

I probably get 150 emails a week from people. I have three things. The first one is: “Will I find love?” Then: “Am I cursed?” And: “How do I make my life better?” But there’s a lot of “Am I cursed?”

The fact that “Am I Cursed?” is your No. 1 question speaks to the fact that we are still in a culture of being unable to love ourselves — a culture of shame.

Then there are people who want to know how to get into witchraft. And I tell people you’re already in it. Your interest has brought you in it. I love being a professional witch.

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