Ibiza is an island of abundance. From its breathtaking scenery to the magical energy it exudes, the White Isle has attracted many different nationalities, cultures and tribes over the past decades, all welcomed so benevolently by the good-natured locals.
If you come with good intentions, they say, you will be embraced by Ibiza’s loving vibration. It’s no surprise, then, that so many creative spirits, artists and healers have been drawn to Ibiza’s paradise shores and made it their home.
One of them is Sofia, the founder and artisan behind the intriguingly titled Island Witch Crafts, a growing offering of beautiful handmade smudge bundles and incense mixtures.
A woman of many talents, Sofia is a skilled graphic designer and photographer by trade. A strong connection to the spiritual and mysterious, that has accompanied the Chilean native her whole life, led her to seek further education in the field of personal growth and alternative therapies, training as a reiki master, crystal healer and yoga teacher.
Challenged by the restrictions of the first Coronavirus lockdown in the spring of 2020, all of these elements came together when, step by step, Sofia started to turn her passion project into a thriving business.
“I am very crafty, I always make things with my hands,” she laughs when we sit down together over a cup of hot tea in Sofia’s island home, which has a dedicated space for crafting her fragrant Island Witch Crafts creations. “I have always been curious about making smudge bundles, and in lockdown I finally thought, let’s do it properly!”
If you have ever visited Ibiza in the spring, you will know that this season is overflowing with natural beauty and has an ethereal quality of peace and tranquillity. On a sunny day when the sea is sparkling in a myriad of blues, the trees are bursting with lemons and oranges, and the island is covered in the delicate pink and white blooms of the annual almond blossom, it feels like you have wandered straight into paradise.
It was the abundance of the spring flowers surrounding her that made Sofia realise she could make her own smudge bundles. “I always have smoke around me, I love it. It’s my way of connecting to the spirit realm,” she explains.
“During lockdown I really wanted to smudge, or light incense, but all of my things were stuck in Italy where I had stored them while I was travelling. All the shops on Ibiza were closed, so I couldn’t get my hands on anything.
“I got the idea to make something myself. I wanted to make bundles with plants from Ibiza because I wanted to honour the island instead of bringing things from the other side of the world for burning. I started researching what kind of herbs the people of the Mediterranean burn for healing and I studied the properties of the native plants of Ibiza, and I learned that there are very good Ibiza plants for smoke cleansing.”
Each of Sofia’s Island Witch Crafts smudge bundles is a piece of art. They are called ‘bundles’ because they contain a variety of different ingredients that are layered on top of each other, and many hours of preparation and crafting go into their creation.
The process begins with foraging excursions that take Sofia all over the island to gather the right herbs and plants. As all the plants are collected by hand in Ibiza’s countryside, some Island Witch Crafts bundles are only available during a specific time of the year – or vary slightly throughout the seasons. For example, the availability of the eye-catching ‘citrus’ bundle ends when the last oranges have been plucked from the trees.
Once all the ingredients have been gathered, Sofia gets crafty. “I sit on the floor with all the plants laid out in a circle around me and I pick them up from left to right, layering them and tying them up. When they are ready, I reiki them and put them close to the stove. It’s very important to me that they are not close to electricity,” she says.
“The idea is that everything flows in a natural process, so just like the plants grow slowly in nature I don’t want to dry them with this intense heat. This way, they conserve their scent and the oils don’t evaporate.”
Sofia works in batches, one type of bundle at a time. It’s a slow, mindful process infused with her energy and love. “It’s not a fast business, but I like that the process has its own time. It has brought me closer to my feminine side, because I learned that everything has its own way of how it’s done,” she says.
“It’s not about being super productive; when I feel in the mood I will sit down and probably do 20 bundles. But on days when I don’t feel like it, I won’t force myself. The sticks are made very peacefully and every little detail, like the energy that I put into them, is very important.”
Depending on the ingredients, each bundle has a different purpose and potential for how it can be used to help lift the vibration of people and spaces.
Sofia reveals, “When you look at the plants, they kind of tell you what they are for. Rosemary and pine, for example, are a little bit spikey – so they are great for protection. I like to give a bit of purpose to each bundle, but all of them have plants that are great for cleansing, for protecting and for clearing away things that no longer serve you.
“The ‘campo’ bundle, for example, is very feminine because it is made with very sweet herbs and roses. Roses are considered to be the flower of Venus, of fertility and femininity, of abundance and colour. When I reiki the bundles, I do it with the intention to give off a love vibration. So I would give that one as a gift to my female friends, or suggest it to men to buy for their girlfriends.”
Once the bundles are ready to find a new home, Sofia wraps each of them in her signature brown paper packaging, stamped with a list of the ingredients and the Island Witch Crafts logo. In a time where the world is becoming increasingly open towards alternative therapies, and ‘practical magic’ such as astrology, manifestation and tarot have entered the mainstream, we are curious to find out how she chose the name for her brand – and what it means to her.
“The name is a play on words and I like that it’s a little bit on the edge,” Sofia tells us. “I know that the term ‘witchcraft’ can have negative connotations. In the past, if a witch would express her magic, she could get killed. So historically, most witches have been hiding their crafts. But I think we have reached a moment where its time for witches to come out of the shadows.
“I think all women have a little bit of ‘witch’ inside of them and now is an important time to come out into the community and help each other. But I also wanted to highlight the ‘craft’ that goes into the making of the bundles. Even the packaging is hand-printed, so I wanted to play on that.”
Island Witch Crafts is, undoubtedly, a labour of love. Sofia takes great care that the whole production process is mindful, sustainable and conducted with respect for Mother Nature.
She says, “The whole point is that it comes from the land and it leaves no residue. You can reuse the wrapping paper, of course, but there is nothing that cannot be burned without leaving behind something that is not pure. I wanted to be really conscious about this and go from having nothing, to leaving nothing.”
Since she launched the official Island Witch Crafts Instagram account in October 2020, Sofia’s stunning smudge sticks have been flying off the shelves. But, she says, many customers are reluctant to see the beautiful creations go up in smoke.
She laughs, “I always say to people, ‘please burn them, I will make you a new one’. Not burning them kind of ruins their purpose. The good thing is that each stick can last up to six months!
“But if you want to put the stick on your altar and just look at it for a while, you can wait until it’s the right moment for you to burn it. Because of the plants they contain, and the way they are blessed, they bring a good energy to a space even before you light them.”
So, for smudge stick novices who have not worked with smoke as a cleansing tool before, does Sofia have tips on how to use her beautiful bundles?
“For me, it’s a ritual. I love to smudge my house and good places to get the smoke into are doorframes and corners, because that’s where energy can get stuck. There are no rules for this, really, and you can invent your own rituals. There are some traditions that have been passed on, but we are all here to create,” she explains.
“You light up the tip of the smudge bundle and think of something you want to let go of. It doesn’t always have to be something important and big, it could be that you had a bad day and you want to clear the energy of that away.
“I like to burn the sticks during a Full Moon to support the process of ‘letting go’ or during a New Moon to set intentions. You need a big candle that will have a beautiful, strong flame to light your bundle with. Fire works with your solar plexus, your power, and your position on the earth, so you deserve to have a good candle in your house.
“A simple incantation you could use is, ‘Fill this house with peace and love; bring the blessings from above.’ Start by smudging yourself and while you do this, it’s important to blow air out of your mouth. The air from your lungs carries your intention, it comes from your body – and that’s the most basic alchemy.
“Then, you proceed to smudge yourself in clockwise circles or little upward strokes, fanning the smouldering bundle whenever is necessary to create more smoke.”
We eventually leave Sofia’s magical atelier in the fields of the Ibicencan countryside with two smudge bundles – ‘campo’ as a gift for a friend, ‘citrus’ as a treat to ourselves – as well as a bag of fragrant incense made from petals, herbs and pine needle trimmings that are left over from the smudge bundles.
As a wonderful afternoon comes to an end, Sofia sees us off with a beautiful metaphor.
“I like to think about the poetry of the process,” she says. “The air you put into the fire is going to create smoke, and it’s going to go up and touch the spirit for your wish to go.”
To find out more and order your own smudge bundle follow Sofia on Instagram @islandwitchcrafts. The next batches of bundles will be ready for delivery from March 19th – just in time for the spring equinox!