Key Magick by Blake Octavian Blair - Air Magic

Llewellyn's 2018 Magical Almanac: Practical Magic for Everyday Living - Team of authors 2017

Key Magick by Blake Octavian Blair
Air Magic

I’ve always had an infatuation with keys. They’ve always seemed to possess a mystical and magickal allure to me, holding an inherent power. Keys let us access a number of things, like vehicles to take us one place to another, our homes, our diaries, or on the magickal level . . . great power and otherworlds. Even the word has gained power in our language and moves beyond even the physical item we mostly familiarly associate with the word. We have key codes, PINs, and even flat, electronic, card-style “pass keys” that have in some instances replaced the traditional key. However, I still have an affinity for the old-fashioned physical key. The mystical, magickal, enchanting key!

Keys have long-standing magickal symbolism. I can’t even hazard a guess as to the point in history in which the key was first bestowed such power other than to surmise it was at the time of the invention of the key itself! Keys are synonymous with access, initiation. When one sees a key, one thinks of moving forward. One thinks of revealing the unknown and the previously obscured and locked away. However, it is important to recognize the stark duality of keys. When one holds the key, one may have the power to gain the advancement and liberation the key provides. On the flip side, one who possesses a key has the ability to lock or keep locked away things of great potential power and value. To hold or gain access to a key is to possess great responsibility. However, if you are not the key holder, quickly the key turns to a symbol of denial, obfuscation, and, in perhaps worse scenarios, imprisonment, oppression, or being held captive. Let us dive into the enchanted realm of key magick!



There is a host of spirits and deities who are associated with keys. The goddess Hecate, revered by magickal folk the world over, is deeply associated with keys. She is a guardian of the crossroads. Crossroads being a sort of gateway to new and different places in and of themselves begets an association with keys, the symbol and tool of passage into new realms. As Hecate is seen to traverse and serve as a liaison between the realms of the living and the dead, she is said to hold the great skeleton key that that unlocks the gates to all other realms.

Not surprisingly, another spirit closely associated with keys is also a spirit of the crossroads, Papa Legba from the Vodou tradition. He is also often associated with keys, and many people include one on his altars and shrines as an offering. He, too, in this culture, serves as an intermediary between realms. Such spirits can often be seen as spiritual key holders and can be worked with to obtain the keys needed for passage along one’s journey.

Keys are a sacred symbol in Christian traditions as well. I’m sure many are familiar with an old phrase that is tossed around in Abrahamic traditions: “the keys to the kingdom of heaven.” It has become cultural vernacular, among Christian and non-Christian persons alike, to use the phrase “the pearly gates” to refer to the gated entrance to heaven, at which St. Peter is said to stand with the keys bestowed upon him by Christ. Crossed keys are often thus used as a papal symbol as well. The symbolism of a gate in some form dividing realms and otherworlds is a widespread concept among spiritual traditions.

As shamanic practitioners, my colleagues and I have encountered many instances of spirits (both widely and lesser known) who have prescribed various individual uses and directives for the use of keys as spiritual objects, from being a medicine bag ingredient to a charm to wear, to an offering to be made, to showing the location of lost objects or future places to visit (in both earthly and otherworldly realms). The key is certainly a magickal tool and symbol recognized cross-culturally and through all realms and realities. Keys hold inherent power!

What are good types of keys to use in magick, and where does one find them? Well, while we will get into more nontraditional forms of keys later, let’s begin with the good old metal key. Both antique skeleton keys and modern keys make great magickal curios. The antique type can be culled from a variety of sources. Antique shops, thrift stores, yard sales, flea markets, online venues such as eBay, and Pagan and occult shops that carry spell components and magickal curios are all viable options. The ones, however, that have served me the best are flea markets and eBay. Both generally have an abundance of keys available and at very low prices. Their conditions vary, but some of the wear on older ones is part of their charm. Also, most are very easy to clean up a bit if need be. Hardware stores also, believe it or not, still sell skeleton keys and the locks that go with them for the internal doors in homes.

Modern keys also hold magickal power. Most of us have a key chain we carry house keys, car keys, and other keys on. Even if you don’t have a car, you likely have a key for some type of transportation, whether it’s a bicycle lock key or a subway pass. Earlier I mentioned electronic pass cards. My husband and I take mass transit subway trains at least five days a week. My subway pass is one such electronic pass card; it is very much a key in its own right. Whether traditional metal keys or pass cards, where there are keys, there is opportunity for magick. You can choose a key chain with magickal symbolism or energy. Key chains with crystals on them can be bought or made. Perhaps try a red jasper for safe travel or a yellow jasper, which is said by some to assist with motion sickness. I have a skeleton-key key chain that I have enchanted for protection. If you have a pass card key, you can always store it in your wallet with a small, trimmed index card you’ve inscribed with a sigil with magickal intent.


I use a very modern version of the key every time I write—the USB key. It’s called by many names: thumb drive, flash drive, USB stick, etc. However, one of its many titles is in fact USB key, and some people even keep one on their key chain. I save all my writing to USB keys. So, in my authoring, I practice a bit of techno magick. The USB key is both lock and key all at once, as I can also set a password for access to the data on the drive. This leaves the opportunity for another key to be used within the key—a magickal password.

Passwords are an opportunity for enchantment in and of themselves. Since they function as the key that opens the gate to the data they guard, we are certainly in the territory of key magick. However, you have an opportunity for another layer of magick, since whatever you choose as your password is a message you’ll be repeating out into the universe every time you type it. Words have power, after all. Think of your password as an affirmation you repeat. Example, if you included “HappyHome” in your password, you’d be infusing those vibes and sending that message into the universe every time you typed it, reinforcing those qualities and drawing them near to you.

Now that we have looked into a bit of the cross-cultural history and magick of keys, figured out what kind of keys you might already be using or have not thought of in day-to-day life, and considered where you might source some keys for use in magick and spellcraft, let us now look at a few simple and fun spells that we can use to dive into the realm of key magick.

Key of Knowledge Talisman

In this ritual spell you will create for yourself your very own key of knowledge to help you with a task or question. Perhaps you are a college student and perpetually studying. Perhaps you are preparing to take a specific professional exam. Maybe you have a pressing life question you’ve been contemplating heavily. Whichever it may be, hold that intention in mind during the ritual. You can do this ritual many times, for many purposes, and you can even cleanse and reuse the key if you desire. I prefer to use a skeleton key for this particular working. It has a lovely magickal, old-school flare to it! However, any lock- or door-type key will work.

You will need:

Key (skeleton preferred)

Cord of your choice



Incense of your choice

Begin by placing all the items on your altar space. Create sacred space and call in your helping spirits and deities according to the protocol of your tradition. Light the incense and use it to smudge all other components if you have not done so already. Place extra attention to the key and cleanse it of any prior intent and purpose.

Pick up and hold the key to your heart. Recite to the spirits,

I, (your name), ask you to assist me to empower this key for the growth of my knowledge and ease of learning. Please assist me in (state your question or what you are studying for).

Now hold the key to your third eye and recite the same request again.

Light the candle, pass the key above its flame, and recite,

I ask for the illumination of wisdom on the topic at hand. Please shed light on my situation so that I can see the best possible solutions clearly and more readily.

Hold your intention in your heart and mind. Hold the key cupped in your hands and blow your intention into it three times.

Tie the cord to the key, and then place it around your neck. Take the bell and ring it around the key and around yourself, calling forth the wisdom and power of your spirits and the universe, further awakening and empowering the key.

Release the sacred space, your helping spirits, and deities as your tradition calls for.

Spell for Home Protection

I particularly like this next spell for when I may be out of town for a couple of days and just want to put that extra boost of energetic protection on my home. The principle of what we are doing magickally in this spell is casting an energetic invisibility cloak around your home. Of course, your home won’t literally turn invisible, but the intent is to divert the attention of less-than-noble eyes and minds from your home, simply making your dwelling not of noticeable interest to them.


You will need:

Copies of all the keys to the entrances of your home

A small, externally mirrored box

A protective incense of your choice (optional)

Gather the listed supplies in your working space. If you do not have an externally mirrored box, a simple one can be made with supplies found at your local craft store. Create sacred space and call in your deities and helping spirits in accordance with the methods of your tradition. If you have chosen to use an incense, light it now and use it to smudge all spell components.

Hold the mirrored box in your hands and recite,

Spirit of the mirror, I call to thee!

Surface so shiny, affecting what we see!

I call upon you to please assist me!

Set the box down, with the lid open, and pick up the keys and hold them in your hand and up to your heart. Recite,

Keys to my home, a place so dear,

I ask to boost your protection while I am not here!

Place keys in box.

Spirit of the mirror, I ask of you:

All ignoble eyes and intentions please deflect,

By your powers to reflect!

Blessed be; so mote it be!

Store the box in a secret location inside your home until your return, at which time you may remove the keys from the box, automatically ending the spell.


The fun part about key magick is you can use a physical key as a magickal object: even when in plain sight, it does not necessarily have to draw attention. As a common, everyday object, it provides an opportunity for clandestine magick. Because of its varied symbolism both in an artistic, mundane way and in various cultures and religions, people won’t think much of seeing a key. Even when it’s a skeleton key mundanely dangling around your neck or hanging from an extra hook on your key rack at home, it can work its magick in plain sight without so much as a second thought by those who casually see it. Of course, your fellow magick workers will probably have the idea you’re up to something!

As you can see, keys come in a variety of forms, shapes, sizes, and purposes that are both magickal and mundane. However, a mundane key seems in my eye to be simply a blank canvas begging for a splash of magick. The key is an object of power, whether tangible like the house key or transit pass or intangible or philosophical, such as a computer password or a piece of knowledge that makes everything “click” and allows us to move forward. I hope this introduction to the realm of the mystical and magickal key has in fact served as a key in and of itself to help unlock the world of key magick for you. May you traverse forward and unlock your own gateways!


Illes, Judika. Encyclopedia of 5,000 Spells: The Ultimate Reference Book for the Magical Arts. New York: Harper One, 2008.

Illes, Judika. Encyclopedia of Spirits: The Ultimate Guide to the Magic of Fairies, Genies, Demons, Ghosts, Gods & Goddesses. New York: Harper One, 2009.

Mueller, Mickie. The Witch’s Mirror: The Lore & Magick of the Looking Glass. Woodbury, MN: Llewellyn Publications, 2016.

Tresidder, Jack, ed. The Complete Dictionary of Symbols. San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2004.