Ikea is a strange and dangerous place. But if knowing witches is good for anything, it’s for walking into scary and confusing situations like this and coming out more or less unscathed. So here are some witchy tips from an occultist for surviving your trip to Ikea.
You may well say, “go drunk” doesn’t seem terribly witchy and may be potentially dangerous. Both true, but there are two ways, I find, to navigate inhuman and inhumane terrain. One is the complete sobriety that comes with animal panic focused like a laser beam through the eye of a needle. If this is your mode (it often is mine) then have at. You could go even further in this general direction: Listen to some Black Breath, drink two five-hour energies, sing a song in praise of Hermes, and rush into the particle-board furniture fray.
A second method, however, for seeing yourself safely through a forbidding journey such as this is to allow where you are to flow through you. That kind of openness, that kind of letting the world under the world in and listening to what instructions and warnings it might give, that’s a wicked witchy thing to do, and getting drunk can help with that.
Of course you don’t have to use any substances for this purpose. Deep calming breaths may be all you require. And that’s cool too, no one will be mad at you.
Before you go, get cleansing supplies.
Anything you pull from such an emotionally charged morass as Ikea may well have lingering energies and spirits from who knows where. Consider picking up sage or palo santo to burn over your new liatorp or arkelstorop. Salt is often used in purification, so making sure you have a fair amount of salt on hand to leave in a pile on your kejsarkrona or whathaveyou for a day or two would not go amiss. I’ve never gotten into crystals myself, but according to hibiscusmooncrystalacademy.com, black tourmaline and smoky quartz can help get negative energies out of things, so it might to place these on top of your new furniture or in any drawers. You might also consider leaving a protective sigil on a piece of paper on the furniture for a day or two (I like the aegishjalmur because it looks cool and is hard to say) or picturing the article of furniture bathed in holy light.
Whatever your method, with all frustration oozing all over your typical Ikea and all the breakups that have likely happened in shouting distance of your new stuff, you’re going to want to give it a good going over when you get home. And speaking of those breakups.
Take Steps to Protect your Relationships.
It’s a classic joke that couples who go to Ikea together fall into disharmony, suddenly remember all the things they don’t like about each other, and break up either there, in the parking lot, or in a living room while trying to construct a brimnes. This is so common that it is likely not only true, but a thing that is happens by design. And as scientists, which is to say witches, which is to say scholars, etc, we are entitled to speculate wildly and viciously as to the nature of this possible design. And in the spirit of that intellectual flail, I posit to you two possibilities.
Scenario 1: All these breakups and strife could have to do with orgone energy. Orgone energy could be a totally real thing, and if not is still a useful McGuffin for occultists and conspiracy theorists alike. Orgone energy, many have said, is an energy released by extreme human states that cause either spasmodic movement or a break in normal human consciousness, the big orgonic states being fear and orgasm. Harnessing this energy through fear, it is thought, is part of why human sacrifice might have been appealing to those who practiced it. And harnessing this energy through things like orgasm is a current that has spawned all sorts of thought on the nature of sex magick as well as a lot of youtube videos of young men asking you to take their masturbation very seriously because it’s part of them being wizards.
This leads us to the obvious and inevitable conclusion that Ikea’s twisty turny labyrinth might have been consciously constructed to drive people into rage, to turn love to loathing, and to harness these vast human energies. BUT TO WHAT END?! YOU ASK. Ha ha ha ha POWER OBVIOUSLY. Can you name a company that appears in as many nations as Ikea, that has its own ferries and boats like Ikea has, that has found its way into so many homes? And how, I ask you, is this juggernaut propelled to such heights? Quality products at affordable prices?! Ridiculous! It’s FARMING ORGONE!
Scenario the second: Another possible explanation is, as you might expect, fairies. I get the sense that a lot of people don’t take the idea of fairies (or the fae), terribly seriously. But just a hundred and fifty years ago fairies were widely accepted as being no joke, my pretties. Homeowners would lob the corner off a house rather than risk the ire of the fairies by blocking a fairy thoroughfare. Mysterious deaths were attributed to fairies, but not simply as fairy murderers at work, but rather as kidnappings with fake corpses left to avoid suspicion. Tuberculosis? Fairies! Weird children? Fairies!
And it may be unfair to lay all these evils at the feet of the fae. Maybe fairies were treated like millennials are now and just sort of blamed for everything. But the horrors of Ikea bear a resemblance to certain fairy lore hallmarks: specifically, travelers becoming disoriented and lovers falling into confusion. If you’re having trouble making yourself understood to your partner as the two of you look at custom stools, it could be fairies that’s all I am saying.
And by “that’s all I’m saying,” I mean I am also saying Ikea uses a lot of particle board that is formed from an admixture of anonymous wood scraps and can contain dozens of species in a single piece of furniture. Were the fairies perhaps imported into the stores with the wood of torn-up mountain ashes, also called rowans, which lore suggests is their favorite tree? Is it not possible that Ikea’s founder, Ingvar Kamprad, made a deal with the fairies to give them power in Ikeas to avoid their wrath over the destruction of sacred forests? Or are Ikea and the fairies in cahoots? How deep is this rabbit hole? According to sources, Ikea has used its considerable power to push against congressional regulations and keep the sources of its wood outside of scrutiny (even after the Washington Post linked Ikea to illegal logging operations near the Russo-Chinese border). Could IKEA and FAIRIES be part of a larger conspiracy that goes ALL THE WAY TO THE TOP?! Is our democracy in the pocket of BIG FAIRIE?! RUSSIA?!
So, assuming either of these is going on, what do you do? If it’s the orgone thing, just stay calm. Remember to breathe in and out, and maybe bring headphones and listen to soothing music. Maybe Juchewave or Astrud Gilberto. And if it’s fairies, iron is said to ward them off, so take a hunk or rod of that with you. St. John’s Wort and wearing your clothes inside out could also have a protective effect. Or you could get on their good side with an offering of cream and butter that you leave on one of the bookcases. It may go rancid after a while, but by then you’ll be long-gone.
Case the joint.
Check out the resonances of where your particular Ikea has been built for potential local variations in spiritual activity. For example, if, like me, you live in Brooklyn, consider how the Red Hook neighborhood where Ikea is located comes up as the site of H.P. Lovecraft’s “Horror at Red Hook.” Does that Ikea beckon to sleeping gods beneath the waves? Perhaps the Ikea near you is near a cemetery or haunted grain silo.
Join the Ikea family before you go.
If you do that, the coffee will be free. Coffee, can be used in a number of magical traditions and acts, from making offerings to ancestors and spirits, to a spell I haven’t tried yet to curse someone with insomnia by filling the head of a doll of them with coffee beans and garlic. It has been said that coffee has been used by Sufi Muslims in Yemen to transcend the physical plain, and it is said the archangel Gabriel brought the prophet Mohammed coffee as a gift. Actually, you could do a whole thing on the occult history of coffee.
Most relevant to our current situation however is divination. Divination is the practice of learning otherwise unknown things through magic. One form of coffee-based divining would be scrying. To scry is to look into a surface or medium in the hopes of having visions. When people look into a crystal ball, for example, that’s scrying, though people have been known to use many mediums for the practice, from black mirrors to water to beer to blood. And coffee is a great surface for scrying. To help you along you could also drink a great deal of the free coffee before looking into the coffee, as research from a team at Durham University found a link between high coffee consumption and hallucination. Look deep into the dark, electric brew. What do you see? Is there something you ought not to really buy? Did you forget that Malm you had your heart set on when you entered?
But I point this out mostly because Hey: Free Coffee! This in itself isn’t magic, but witches like anybody should take little free things when they can. And if you did get drunk before going to Ikea, this might help even you out before dealing with the registers.
Think of all of this as a kind of dying.
Once you’ve gone through the showroom and into the cafe, the time will come to go to the warehouse part where most of the furniture and so on actually is. It can be easy to get stressed out there, walking through narrow canyons between tall shelves and scaffolds, the cement floors twisting the reverberations of distant shouts, the sofas and bookcases from the pleasant living room and office displays now decontextualized and disassembled. So, too, shall our bodies be one day, you might think, separated into their various chemical components by time, waiting to be built into something else with no memory of the bodies we once were and the lives we once lived.
So try to think of your trip to the warehouse, and your trip to the Ikea as a whole, as one big trip to the underworld. Like Orpheus, Inanna, Hunahpú and Xbalanqúe, or the Ahuyuuta twins, you will he descending into a lifeless place that mirrors our own, but will come back out, returning into the open air of the land of the living with more wisdom. And also with maybe a nice beanbag chair or something.
Cooper B. Wilhelm is a poet, researcher, and occultist living in NYC. He’s published stuff with people. Into the Dark is a radio show he did about witchcraft (all the episodes are still available as podcasts). PoetryAndStrangers is a thing he does where he writes poems on postcards and then mails them to strangers he looks up in phonebooks. His new book Dumbheart/Stupidface out now with Civil Coping Mechanisms.