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Spell to Increase Physical Energy

From Goddess Spells for Busy Girls by Jen McConnel

9781578635481

Spell to Increase Physical Energy

Sometimes, we all feel a little run-down.

Ask Sekhmet to recharge you whenever your battery is drained.

You will need:

  • A small stone (tiger’s-eye, red agate, or amber)
  • A piece of tinfoil
  1. Take the stone and set it on the tinfoil. Leave this somewhere in direct sunlight to charge. Make sure you don’t forget about the spell: you want solar energy for this, not lunar, so you need to complete the spell within one day.
  2. Before the sun sets, take the stone and cup it between your hands as if you are clapping. Imagine that you are holding a tiny sun. Lift the stone to your lips and blow on it gently, infusing it with your energy. Say, “Sekhmet, Eye of Ra, as you wear the energy of the sun upon your brow, let me too carry the sun with me. This stone is my sun.” Repeat this invocation three more times.
  3. Touch the stone to your forehead, just above your eyebrows. Say, “My solar crown is my radiance. I am radiant. I am energy. I am fire.”
  4. Cup the stone again between your hands, holding it in front of your heart center. Bow to Sekhmet, and thank her for her help. Carry the stone with you whenever you need an energy boost. Make sure you don’t bring it into the bedroom with you at night so you can sleep soundly!

 

Witchery 101: Ways and Means – an Introduction to Witchcraft Traditions

Traditions are like marriages – serious, committed relationships usually closed to outsiders. One of the most intimidating factors in becoming a witch is finding a tradition that fits – or finding a tradition at all. Things were a lot more complicated in the dark days before the internet. One had to rely on fate and personal networking to find practitioners willing to talk and covens open to new initiates. Now one need only search local Meet-ups or the vast resource that is the Witches’ Voice to find groups or like-minded solitaries.

One of the nice things about a religion that is not bound by historical dogma* is that it can adapt to the evolving needs of its followers. So while the Gardnerian tradition is considered the “oldest” path, and arguably the source of all others, there are many different ways to get your witch on. Here are a few, brought to you by the incomparable Judika Illes from her lovely little tome The Weiser Field Guide to Witches (I have added Wikipedia links for those who want more information, as well as recommended reading for each subject):

Alexandrian Wicca
This tradition’s name pays tribute to its founder, Alex Sanders, and also to the ancient library of Alexandria, Egypt, once the largest  library in the world and a repository of sacred, mystical wisdom. Alexandrian Wicca was established in the United Kingdom in the  1960s.

Atheist Witches 
As atheists, these witches do not acknowledge a Supreme Creator or the Wiccan conception of a Lord and Lady; but work their magic using Earth’s natural powers and energies. Some may work with elemental spirits such as land spirits or fairies.

Cabot Tradition This tradition, based on the teachings of Salem witch Laurie Cabot, emphasizes that witchcraft is a science, art, and religion. The Cabot Tradition also emphasizes psychic development.

Chaos Magic 

There is no one specific school of Chaos Magic, also spelled Chaos Magick, nor do its practitioners adhere to one specific philosophy or spiritual tradition. Instead those who define themselves as chaos magicians share a certain attitude toward magic. Chaos Magic is defined as the primal creative force in the universe. Chaos magicians learn and experiment with various magical techniques in order to tap into this underlying, primal, creative force in whatever ways work best and most effectively for them. Chaos Magic is influenced by the work of visionary artist and magician Austin Osman Spare, who wrote, “What is there to believe, but in Self?”

The Clan of Tubal Cain
This tradition, founded by English witch Robert Cochrane, is based on practical traditional witchcraft, shamanism, Celtic mysticism, and Cochrane’s interpretation of Druidry. The American branch of the Clan of Tubal Cain is known as the 1734 Tradition.

Dianic Wicca 
Sometimes also called Wimmin’s Religion, Dianic Wicca is a feminist spiritual tradition and the only form of witchcraft that is exclusively female. Women’s rights and rites are combined in celebration of female divinity. The name of the tradition pays tribute to the Italian goddess, Diana. Among Dianic Wicca’s founding mothers is author Z. Budapest, who formed the Susan B. Anthony Coven in Los Angeles on the Winter Solstice of 1971. In 1975, Budapest self-published The Feminist Book of Lights and Shadows, a collection of rituals and spells that became the basic text of Dianic Wicca. It has since been republished as The Holy Book of Women’s Mysteries: Feminist Witchcraft, Goddess Rituals, Spellcasting and Other Womanly Arts . . . . Dianic Wicca may be considered similar in essence to the women’s mystery traditions of ancient Rome. Most Dianic covens are exclusively female. Sybil Leek sometimes called her own tradition Dianic, but what she practiced was not the same as Dianic Wicca.

Faerie Witchcraft
This shamanic tradition involves actual interaction with fairies. Faerie witches, also spelled fairy witches, practice Earth-centered magic with emphasis on plant and animal familiars. Historically, many witches have worshipped and communed with fairies. In 1662, while being  interrogated, Scottish witch Isobel Gowdie described her visits to the Fairy Queen. Similar testimony was given in French, Italian, and Hungarian witch trials. Faerie Witchcraft is profoundly influenced by Scottish clergyman Reverend Robert Kirk’s mysterious account of Fairyland, The Secret Commonwealth of Elves, Fauns, and Fairies, written in 1691 but not published until the early 19th century. Influential modern practitioners of Faerie Witchcraft include authors R. J. Stewart and Aline DeWinter. Faerie Witchcraft is not the same as Feri Tradition, nor is it the same as the various Wiccan traditions identified as Fairy Wicca.

Feri Tradition 
This shamanic, ecstatic, initiatory, spiritual, and magical system, also sometimes spelled Fairy, Faery, or Faerie Tradition, began its modern incarnation in the 1940s when author, poet, and witch Victor Anderson (1917–2001) began initiations. Anderson is typically described as Feri’s “founder,” but he described himself as a transmitter of ancient information. Another branch of Feri Tradition is known as Vicia. Anderson taught that Feri Tradition derives originally from a primordial people who emerged from Africa thousands of years ago, the original fairies—although they are known by many other names in different cultures. Their teachings were transmitted orally over the generations. Feri is an experiential tradition and various distinct Feri lineages and teachers now exist. Different lineages are influenced to different extents by different spiritual traditions including Celtic, Hawaiian, and Vodou. What most Feri practitioners share in common is direct personal interaction with spirits or deities. They do not subscribe to the Wiccan Rede (Do what you will but harm none); instead, each practitioner must take personal responsibility for her or his own actions.

Gardnerian Wicca
Gardnerian Wicca is the oldest, most formal modern Wiccan tradition. Based on the teachings and practices of Gerald Gardner (1884–1964), it is named “Gardnerian” in order to honor him but also to distinguish this tradition from older, less formalized traditions. The term Gardnerian Wicca may originally have been coined by Robert Cochrane, who was not a fan of Gardner or of his tradition. Its standard text is The Gardnerian Book of Shadows, which Gardner co-authoredwith Diane Valiente. At the time of its writing, Valiente and Gardner believed that they were involved in the evolution of an old faith, not the creation of a new one.

Hedge Witchery 
No initiation is necessary to be a hedge witch. Hedge witches are unaffiliated, solitary practitioners. The term “hedge witch” derives from “hedge rider” and similar northern European synonyms for witch. A hedge is a dense wall of bushes and other shrubbery. Once upon a time, large, dense hedgerows separated a village from surrounding forests. The hedge is a liminal zone, simultaneously a barrier and a threshold between the civilized world and wild nature. Witches were the hedge-riders who navigated this zone. The modern term “hedge witch” is sometimes used as a synonym for “kitchen witch” or is intended to serve as an all-encompassing name for the large community of non-affiliated, non-initiated, non-Wiccan witches. The term “hedge witch,” however, possesses shamanic undertones. By definition, a hedge rider or hedge witch travels between at least two worlds: the world of conventional reality and a spirit or afterlife realm.

Hereditary Witchcraft
By definition, a hereditary witch comes from a family in which at least one other person is or was a witch. Most hereditary witches derive from a lineage of witches; the trait is often passed down from parent to child, although sometimes generations are skipped. The term is also sometimes used by someone with one long-ago ancestor who was a witch or believed to be one. “Hereditary witch” is not a definitive term, and different people may interpret it in different ways. Some hereditary witches share traditions that are unique to their own families, but others do not. Fictional witches are very frequently hereditary; for instance, the Halliwell Sisters from the television series Charmed, or the Pure Bloods of the Harry Potter universe. Most modern witches are not hereditary.

Hoodoo 
A high percentage of the enslaved Africans in the pre-Civil War United States were of Congolese origin. They brought a sophisticated system of magic with them to North America, where it merged with European folk magic, Native American, and other African traditions to form a whole new magical system now called Hoodoo. A practitioner of Hoodoo is traditionally known as a “worker.” Hoodoo is very closely related to New Orleans Voodoo; the names are sometimes used interchangeably. Hoodoo is a system of practical magic, not a specific spiritual tradition. Hoodoo practitioners may belong to any or no religion. There are Pagan, atheist, and Jewish Hoodoo workers, for instance. Some Hoodoo traditions are intensely Christian. Many Hoodooers incorporate sacred texts into their practice, especially the Book of Psalms or the Book of Job.

Independent Eclectic
Most modern witches are not affiliated with any one specific tradition. Most witches incorporate whatever works for them or complements their own spiritual beliefs. Urban witches, in particular, may have many influences that are then integrated and incorporated in independent and eclectic ways. No one category may be sufficient to identify their practice; hence they are independent and eclectic.

Jewitchery 
This informal and eclectic tradition incorporates witchcraft, magical practice, and often shamanism with Judaism or Jewish self-awareness. Emphasis is placed on individualism. A Jewitch may or may not be a religious Jew. Judaism may be understood as a tribal group rather than as religion, and so essentially a Jewitch is someone who identifies as both Jewish and as a witch. Some Jewitches incorporate traditional Jewish folk magic or Jewish angelology into their practice. Others identify with pre-exile or pre-Second Temple Jewish traditions that may have been less monotheistic than modern Judaism. Still others identify with Canaanite traditions. Jewitches may or may not also consider themselves Jewish Pagans. Some Jewitches are Wiccan; others are not.

Kitchen Witchery
Kitchen witchery is a practice, rather than a specific spiritual or magical tradition. What distinguishes the kitchen witch from other witches is that the majority of her tools and ingredients are readily found in the home. A kitchen witch can cast a spell using ingredients found in her kitchen cupboards. Her magical tools may or may not be indistinguishable from ordinary household tools. The concept of kitchen witchery is ancient. For centuries, it was not safe to be an obvious witch. Low-key, discreet magical practice helped keep witchcraft—and witches—alive. Most kitchen witches are solitary practitioners who are well-versed (or learning to be well-versed) in herb lore and folk magic. Much kitchen witchery involves magical protection of the home and family. Associations with the kitchen are no accident; spells are often cast in the form of delicious meals. A kitchen witch might be conscious of stirring eggs in a clockwise (also known as sun-wise) direction, for instance, in order to draw in positive solar energy. A synonym for kitchen witch is hearth witch. A kitchen witch also refers to a kind of doll, a household amulet in the form of a flying witch that is traditionally hung up in the kitchen to bring good luck. These kitchen witches are of Scandinavian origin and recall Swedish Easter witches. (In Sweden, witches are associated with Easter, rather than Halloween. Children dress up as witches for parades and folkloric traditions similar to American trick-or-treating. Swedish Easter witches wear the guise of old peasant women, rather than black hats and dresses.)

Non-Wiccan Witches
This term was invented in response to the now-common assumption that all modern witches are Wiccan. Non-Wiccan witches may belong to any tradition other than modern Wicca. Non-Wiccan witches may belong to any spiritual or religious tradition or none—agnostic or atheist witches are typically considered non-Wiccan. Shamanic witches who perceive spirits as unique individual beings rather than as aspects of the Lord and Lady may also identify as non-Wiccan. Those who do not subscribe to the Wiccan Rede are, by definition, non-Wiccan.

Shamanic Witchcraft
By definition, shamanic witches blend elements of shamanism into their witchcraft. Some use the term “shamanic witch” to indicate a spirit worker, but a shamanic witch may incorporate trance and shamanic soul journeying into her practice, practices not necessarily done by a spirit worker.

Traditional Witchcraft
This is a loose definition; there are many schools and kinds of Traditional Witchcraft. Essentially, traditional witches are practitioners of forms of witchcraft that pre-date modern Wicca and New Age practices. Some people use this term to refer to hereditary traditions that are exclusive to specific families. Others use the term for specifically British traditions pre-dating Gardnerian Wicca. Others consider traditional witchcraft to be a worldwide phenomenon that refers to any practitioner of folk magic.

Wicca 
Although some people use the word “Wiccan” as a synonym for any kind of witch, in general, Wiccans perceive Wicca to be a specific religion or spiritual tradition, not just magical practice, which may or may not be encouraged. By definition, Wiccans subscribe to the Wiccan Rede, which states, Do what you will but harm none. (Rede is an archaic word for “rule.”) Those who do not subscribe to the rede are not Wiccan. Wiccans worship a male and a female deity, the Lord and the Lady. (Dianic Wicca is an exception, as most Dianic Wiccans only worship the feminine divine.) Wicca has a religious calendar, as does any other religion. Festivals, known as sabbats and esbats, honor the Wheel of the Year, the cyclical turning of nature’s seasons. The most famous Wiccan sabbat is Samhain, which falls on Halloween. Other Wiccan sabbats include Beltane, Imbolc, and Yule. Wicca tends to be an initiatory religion, but it is not  exclusively so. There are different denominations of Wicca, with different rules and  restrictions, in the same way as Protestant denominations. Modern Wicca is based on the teachings of Gerald Gardner, but the word is also sometimes used to refer to pre-Gardnerian British witchcraft traditions, as in Rhiannon Ryall’s 1989 book, West Country Wicca: A Journal of the Old Religion. To add to the confusion, there are also those, usually outsiders to witchcraft, who perceive the word “witch” to be derogatory, like a
racial slur. They may use the word “Wiccan,” perceived as less offensive, as a generic synonym for “witch” because they are trying their best to be polite.

  • Recommended Reading: too many to mention, but start with The Wicca Handbook, by Eileen Holland

There have been witches throughout history, documented in sources as “reliable” as the Bible (Witch of Endor anyone?), but details on their spell-work and magic-making are hard to come by. The reason for this, of course, is the secretive nature of witchcraft. Those witches who spell-worked for profit were not likely to share their knowledge freely, and the persecution, torture and execution of witches throughout history meant that record keeping was paramount to signing your own death warrant. So although the magical information that we have now is consistent and effective, we cannot prove unequivocally that it is of historic origins.  

Witchery 101 : A Prelude & Introduction to Practical Magic

Here at Chez Ankh, I am surrounded by books on witchcraft. More magical tomes than I can hope to read in a lifetime are literally at my fingertips.

So when I am asked (as I often am) “How do I begin studying witchcraft?” one would think that I’d have a ready answer. But I don’t.  There are so many paths, so many traditions, so SO many books that this simple question cripples me with indecision. How should I advise the sincere seeker when my own education is ongoing?

So I don’t. Instead I direct them to the books that have, over the years, made their way from the groaning Weiser shelves onto my  (equally burdened) desk. These are the titles that I turn to again and again, whether I am looking for some simple solution to a common magical problem or an obscure and powerful correspondence. These books are what I would classify as essential reading for the would-be witch.

So back to that original question. “How do I begin studying magic?”

Let’s begin with the most basic and accessible form of  witchery – Practical Magic. The information here is based on two of those aforementioned essential titles - Pure Magic by Judika Illes and The Wicca Handbook by Eileen Holland:

*****

Practical Magic is Earth-Based and Utilizes All “Living” Things

I. Everything that breathes, grows, occurs naturally or is crafted with intent has spirit – and spiritual power.

Witchcraft, as it is understood by most practitioners, is an earth-based belief system. Its core tenet is that the Earth, and everything on it and in it, contain spiritual power. Things that are mass-produced, without variation or individualized intent, do not have spirit. A rock has spirit, but a factory-made paver does not. A hand-sewn and embroidered pillowcase has spirit. That thing on your bed that you bought at Marshall’s does not. And obviously, everything that grows and/or breathes has spirit – although a plant raised from seed in your own garden, or found in a forest meadow will have more spirit than one that you picked up at the Lumber Depot.

II. The spirit of a thing relates to its origin and how it functions. The degree of its power relates to where and how it was formed.

This is important, because a witch uses or borrows those powers to work magic.  The spirit of each thing differs in degree (see above comment on wild/home grown plants vs. factory farmed) and kind. The power of an onion is vastly different than that of a rose. The power of obsidian (volcanic glass) formed and forced out from the Earth’s own furnaces differs greatly from that of sea glass, created by man and reshaped by sand and sea. Both are magical, both have spirit – but whereas the sharp, lethal energy of obsidian makes for great arrowheads, sea-glass is much better suited to an amulet.  And you wouldn’t woo a lover with a dozen onions, now, would you?

Practical Magic Utilizes the Four Elements

Each element has its own unique power and energy, lending strength to its associated magic. Each witch has a preferred element. Even if you’ve never practiced the craft, you probably already know which element you favor and (as a result) what kind of magic will work best for you. The elements also have associated planets, seasons, directions, etc. There is a whole volume’s worth of discussion here, so let us suffice with a brief description of each and a few correspondences.

Earth –  Common to us all, this is the element of grounding and healing magic, as well as money and fertility spells. It is, logically enough, feminine in its energy. Plants, because they grow in earth, are saturated with earth magic. Salts, being of the earth, are excellent vehicles for earth magic.

  • Time: Midnight
  • Season: Winter
  • Direction: North
  • Zodiac: Taurus; Virgo; Capricorn

Air – The element of intellect, intuition and communication. A more mysterious element than the other three – it is felt less directly, although it is no less essential. It is, in fact, the element that we need most (and need constantly). It is a masculine energy that fuels fires and fills sails. It is forceful and forward moving. Incense and fragrances are powerful air magic.

  • Time: Dawn
  • Season: Spring
  • Direction: East
  • Zodiac: Gemini; Libra; Aquarius

Water – The origin of all life (both planetary and individual) it is the element of life, love, emotion and mystery. It is feminine in its energy, and best accessed with baths and washes. Didn’t your mama tell you that everything works better when it is clean?

  • Time: Twilight
  • Season: Autumn
  • Direction: West
  • Zodiac: Cancer; Scorpio; Pisces

Fire – The most dangerous and unpredictable element – creator and destroyer – a thing that is not a thing – representing intelligence, purification, and sex.  Fire energy is powerfully masculine, and accessed though candle-magic and any number of spells that require burning and smoke.

  • Time: Noon
  • Season: Summer
  • Direction: South
  • Zodiac: Aries; Leo; Sagittarius

Practical Magic Utilizes Color

Colors have power. That why Priests (and witches) wear black and a certain famous golfer is know for winning when he wears his red shirt. Here are the most common color correspondences:

Black – the color of protection, authority,  and fertility (as in rich, black soil). Its element is Earth.

“Harness the power of the color black for fertility spells and for petitions to heal those who are chronically ill. Black candles are considered the most beneficial for repelling evil intentions while black crystals create psychic shields.” (Judika Illes, Pure Magic, p. 26)

Brown – the color of comfort, nurturing, and grounding. Its element is Earth.

“Surround yourself with brown energy to preserve and reinforce your personal power in the midst of long, draining projects. Brown is the color of justice. Brown candles are traditionally burned for assistance during legal proceedings.” (Ibid p.27)

Green – the color of growth and prosperity. Its elements are Earth and Water.

“Use green candles, baths and crystals in spells for employment, to get cash, in general, for anything that you wish to increase in your life.” (Ibid, p.27)

Yellow – the color of joy, harmony, and love. Its elements are Earth and Fire.

“Yellow is associated with romance as it’s the color most frequently associated with the most powerful spirits of love. Harness the power of yellow for romantic enchantments. A yellow candle will kindle new love. A yellow color bath can help you learn to love yourself.” (Ibid., p.29)

Red –  the color of passion, vitality, and good fortune. Its elements are Fire and Earth.

“Harness the power of red to enhance your personal power, your vitality and to protect as you transition over thresholds, particularly those having to do with marriage, birth and children. Pink demonstrates red’s gentler aspects. Pink is especially beneficial for spells involving children and a new romance.” (Ibid., p.28)

Purple – the color of royalty and psychic energy. Its element is Fire.

“Purple is also associated with sexual pleasure. If you can’t decide what color sheets to buy, you might consider purple. Purple candles are used in the most amorous of love spells.” (Ibid., p.27)

Blue – the color of tranquility, healing, and protection. Its elements are Air and Water.

“Blue is traditionally the most important protective color, particularly in regards to thresholds. A blue bead worn at your throat protects you from saying ‘the wrong thing.’…Paint your doors, window frames and/or ceilings blue for spiritual protection. Blue assists in breaking the chains of bad habits. Burn blue candles to reinforce your commitment to terminate a detrimental addiction.” (Ibid., p. 26)

White – the color of creativity and potential. It can be used, magically, as a substitute for any other color. Its elements are Air and Fire.

“White is especially beneficial for candles and spells to initiate new projects. Keep a healthy stock of white candles on hand for spontaneous spells…White is traditionally the color of the moon. Use white crystals, candles, and clothes when you wish to draw down some moon magic.” (Ibid., p.29)

Practical Magic Requires Only a Few Simple Tools

And probably ones that you already have on hand. Practical is the operative word here. No need to spend lots of money or search the far reaches of the internet. Just look in your cupboards or head down to the hardware store.

Candles – as we saw above, different colors have different associations, but simple white candles will serve all of your purposes.

Charcoal – for burning resins (such as Frankincense) or home-made incense (not pre-made in cone or stick form)

Incense Burner – an oven-proof dish, scooped out stone, or large seashell will do. Fill it with sand before setting in the charcoal and lighting up, to protect from heat and flame. Warning – if you use beach sand, you may ignite some briny odors you weren’t intending. Clean sand thoroughly!

Cauldron – oh yeah! Cast iron is nice, but really, any pot put aside for magical purposes will do.

Wooden spoons – for gently stirring potions and the like. Longer handles work best.

Mortar and Pestle – can be found cheaply almost anywhere these days. A coffee grinder works too, but is far less fun.

Containers – to keep your ingredients in and clearly marked - glass is best but anything airtight-ish works fine.

Knife – keep it small, keep it sharp, and (ideally) keep it exclusively for chopping magical ingredients and carving magical symbols.

Paper - for writing spells and intentions. The fewer chemicals the better, so unbleached is best, although again, whatever you have on hand will do.

Salt – for purifying, protection, making lovely scrubs and baths. Sea salt is always best.

Blank Book – because you will need to keep track of things, like what works, what doesn’t, etc.

Pop Quiz

What is more magically powerful?

  • a polished cowrie shell from a beloved beach-side shell shop
  • your grandmother’s needlepoint sampler
  • Mardi-Gras beads
  • poison ivy
  • it depends

You want to cast a love spell. Which magical combination would serve you best?

  • A black candle and a garlicky pasta dish.
  • A blue candle and a hot soak in epsom salts.
  • A purple candle, anointed with rose oil and incised with the planetary symbols for Mars and/or Venus (or any combination thereof)
  • A brown candle, soothing music, and a valium

Homework

  • Set aside some small space for your magical supplies and books. It needn’t be big, but it should be dedicated to witchy workings.
  • Gather the supplies mentioned above. If you don’t have something listed, be creative and make do with what you have. Magic is about intent, not purchase.
  • Keep your eyes, ears, etc. open for things that speak to you magically – a smooth stone that skips into your path, an iridescent crow feather, etc. – collect them if it is safe and ethical, or write about them in your witchy book.

Required Reading

**If you have suggestions or questions please post them in the comment field! I know that there are many, many of you out here who have wit and wisdom to share with Ankhie and the newbies, so post away!**

NEXT WEEK:  Witchy History and a Few Spells to Start You Off

Witchy Wednesday – Preview of Christian Day’s The Witches’ Book of the Dead

I first read The Witches’ Book of the Dead  in manuscript form several months ago and have been following its progress eagerly. Author, Christian Day, is a controversial figure and one of the most recognizable witches in America today, thanks to a larger-than-life personality and an over-the-top enthusiasm for all things occult and/or pop culture (interests that intersect more often than you might think). As a result, many people who have never met Christian have an opinion of him, based on media appearances and online interactions. And, of course, they are perfectly within their rights to do so. Ankhie, however, has met Christian many times, and can tell you that beyond the dramatic public persona he is a lot of fun, very funny,  a perfectionist, a pal,  and a profoundly insightful and intelligent individual. And the book, by the way,  is amazingly good!

The following excerpt is from an early section and should give y’all a general idea of the tone and direction of this fiery manuscript –  Enjoy!

Those who fear the study and use of supernatural powers often warn that exploring this path will open doorways to worlds best not explored. This fear-mongering has especially been used by authorities seeking to keep the masses from increasing their own personal power. While this view of danger lurking behind every closet door and under every bed is naïve to the true nature of the hidden realms of existence, the metaphor of the doorway is quite accurate. To work with the shades of the dead, the student must approach the spirit world with an open mind and be ready to experience levels of awareness that can unlock the hidden doorways of the soul.

Trafficking with the spirits of the dead offers us the ability to extend our intuitive senses and increase our magical power. When we welcome the dead to play a part in our supernatural workings, our visions become their aspirations and our wishes become their commands. The dead can be summoned to perform such tasks as helping you to seduce the object of your affection, influencing the minds of others, reaching into the dreams of the unwary, and spying on people. According to some legends, the dead knew where lost treasures where buried. Not much has changed. The spirits can still discover hidden opportunities and unearth profitable secrets. They can still convey magical talents, fame, love, and wealth to those brave enough to summon them.

But to begin working with the dead, you must be willing to surrender yourself to the arts of Witchery, immersing yourself in magic and knowing that part of you will die in order to be filled with the powers of the spirit world.

The Shroud and the Veil: Living Witchcraft

Establishing a pact between yourself and the spirits is only the beginning of living a spirit-filled life. You must also be willing to face your fears of the unknown and transform the fabric of your life itself. It is not necessary that you creep up and down the streets each night in a black caftan with your eyes painted to look like a skull. The spirits recognize those who are different. Learning to distinguish yourself as a creature of wonder and mystery will show the spirits that you are one of their own.

Working your magic in both the worlds of the living and the dead can be challenging. The mundane fear what they do not understand, and thus the Witch has often become the object of that fear. Yet the reward for conquering your fear of death and creating a primal shift in your own reality is to obtain the passport to the realms of the dead.

The Body, Mind, Spirit Connection

To conjure the dead, you must tend to your living earthly temple, which is made up of the body, mind, and spirit. Spirits are drawn to those built on strong foundations, not crumbling ruins of weakness and poor health. Maintain a healthy body, mind, and spirit and you can forge links to other planes of existence, becoming a beacon to the Other Side, a candle flame from which the dead can draw comfort and inspiration.

Your body is the living altar of your temple. Getting enough nourishment, exercise, and sleep helps to transform you into the proper vessel for the dead. Each time you summon the spirits, they take a bit of your life force; thus a well-maintained body becomes a battery for them to draw on. This process surely gave birth to the myth of the Witch’s teat, from which it was believed that demons would suck upon the sorcerer’s soul.

Conjuring spiritual forces stresses the body and can tire you out; the better health your body is in, the more prepared it is for working with the dead. Some psychics have told me that increasing their B12 actually helps them to perform spiritual work, so be sure to fortify your body with nutrients as well.

Having a sharp, stable mind, strong in will and imagination yet free of delusion and fear, is essential. Conjuring the dead is not a crutch for the desperate and lonely. You are dealing with forces that are often old and crafty, and your will must be as cunning as theirs if you wish for them to heed your call. The most important aspect of this is confronting your fear. Fear can usually be found at the root of most problems; fear of death, in particular, can be a major hindrance to your travels between worlds. Allow your fears to rise to the surface, confront your own mortality, and slay the inner demons that blind you from the truth. It is important to keep one’s emotions in check, not allowing the stresses and strains of everyday life to consume you. A mind that is free of fear and sharp of thought is ready to understand the secret and silent language of the dead.

Discovering the power of your undying spirit, the most crucial of the three, will connect you to the very essence of the dead, who are creatures of spirit themselves. We are kith and kin to the denizens of the underworld. The key to this spirit connection is magic. Every time a Witch performs an act of magic, he becomes more godlike and less human. As the Witch evolves, he becomes more attuned to the guiding presence of the spirit forces around him. Our spirits yearn to fly across time and space and to travel as dignitaries to the kingdoms of the dead. For this to happen, we must set our souls free from the obsolete restrictions of antiquated religious dogma. A Witch’s spirit bows to no one.

Letting Your Inner Witch Out

Witchcraft is both a practice and a way of life. As in any lifestyle, we immerse ourselves in its elements and embody its truths. In the case of the Witch, this immersion dares us to be different, to be unique, and to live our lives in both this world and the world of spirit. Witches have a fascination with the dark and mysterious; we dance with the dead every day. We honor them by draping ourselves in the black of night, wearing spidery veils and such adornments as the silver of Hecate’s moon, mourning jewelry, charms, and bones. Enveloping ourselves in shadow, we dress to impress the dead!

Spirits hate boring people and would rather avoid them. If you want the spirit world to take notice, celebrate your nonconformity! The competent Witch weaves herself between the worlds in exciting and sometimes shocking ways. When you allow your own unique soul to come through, you will discover your inner Witch, an archetype of great magical power and wisdom.

Keeping One Foot in the Real World

While it is important for the Witch to keep one foot in the grave, so to speak, don’t let the powers of death consume you. The Witch must learn to balance the worlds of matter and spirit. While this is a book about how Witches can work with the dead, Witchcraft is also devoted to life, and no book on the subject would be complete without urging readers to savor the living world of earthly senses. The simple pleasures of the flesh are important aspects of the magical experience. Spirits are attracted to your life force, so enjoy life! Get out there! Feel the passion and vitality of every second of your existence!

Tools, Places, and Times of Power

In the chapters to come, you will find the mysterious trappings of the magical arts employed to enhance your personal power or aid in contact with spirit forces. Whether the task at hand entails lighting a black candle, acquiring a human skull, or visiting a graveyard at midnight in the dark of the moon, you will find that the proper tools and the right ambience are vital elements of magic.

Witches know how to accessorize. Iron keys, graveyard dust, human bones, powders, daggers, and makeshift dolls stuck with pins are just some of the tools of the trade. The strange paraphernalia the Witch uses in magic are powerful mental keys that unleash her will upon the worlds. The more powerful the symbol, the stronger the connection. Finding just the right elements for our rituals and incantations is often challenging, but always rewarding. We scour graveyards, antique shops, flea markets, and even the Internet searching for unique items to increase our powers.

The appropriate surroundings help the Witch to attain a mood conducive to magic. A candlelit room drenched in shadow, a desolate crossroads at midnight, a decaying cemetery overrun with weeds, or a deathbed chamber filled with the sweet smell of mourning are settings that create the perfect atmosphere and invite the spirits to participate.

The clever Witch understands the spirit and power of place and knows that certain otherworldly intelligences and energies become associated with particular locales, holding dominion over the land. These spirits may be the shades of those who once lived in the area and remain attached to it, or more ancient beings of unknown origin that have chosen to become mighty sentinels. In both cases they have bonded with the very energies of the land itself, creating vortexes of immeasurable power. On an even larger scale, we recognize the sacred geometry of ley lines: places where the spirit world intersects with our own. You will often find pyramids, temples, stone circles, and other sacred markers at these power spots. Such magical sites radiate metaphysical energy through which the spirits manifest most strongly.

Time is a key ingredient in magical conjurations. Who hasn’t heard tell of the enchantments of the Witching Hour? When bringing to mind the Witch of legend, we see her standing on the precipice of a lonely cliff while a thunderstorm rages, or moving stealthily under the pale glow of a full moon at midnight. Certain magical times may be fixed and determined in advance, such as astrological aspects or moon phases, helping the Witch to plan her work ahead. At other times, such as the arrival of a sudden gust of wind to fan the flames of magic, the Witch will act swiftly to tap into the power of the moment.

When the Witch combines her steely determination with the shadowy accoutrements of the art, the spirit of place, and the times of magic, the greatest works of Witchcraft can be spun. Using these methods in your work with the Other Side will serve to usher the spirits to cross the inky black waters of death.

The Death Current

Virtually every exercise, tool, or ritual that deals with accessing the wisdom and power of the dead involves tapping into the cosmic force known as the Death Current, an energy that pervades the universe, passing through all of us and guiding us toward our own physical finality. It is similar to the Yin element of the Tao, the destructive chaos from which all life springs and to which all life must return; and to the Akashic records, the  psychic storehouses of all knowledge, wisdom, and even emotion. It is through this vibrational current that the spirits of the dead swim, waiting to be reached through the gifted seership of the Witch. Every second that the dead lived, everything they learned, every tear they shed, every joy they experienced, and all that they have been resides in the celestial tides of the Death Current. It is within this current that you will find the Witch, channeling her life force to balance and connect with the forces of death.

The Dangers of Spirit Work

You may be curious to know if there are dangers and pitfalls to interacting with the dead. The forces you will learn to conjure in this book are not to be trifled with, nor are these pages to be skimmed over; you must be willing to learn and absorb the teachings before you attempt any form of conjuration or contact. In fact, I recommend that you read this book in its entirety to make absolutely sure that this path is for you, and only then begin to practice the exercises herein.

The dangers are legion. If you enter into this intricate dance of life and death with the mind of a mere dabbler, you open yourself up to a host of possible complications ranging from fatigue, melancholy, and minor poltergeist disturbances to mental and physical illnesses, malevolent hauntings, and even possession by malefic forces! It is of grave importance that you engage in this work with care.

Be of sound mind and body, nurture your spirit, and approach the work with both caution and determination, and you will succeed in opening doorways through which the dead can penetrate this world. Your inner strength will serve to protect you, and your understanding will be a light to guide the way.

With these warnings prowling about your mind, you may wonder why I would consider doing this sort of thing at all, never mind teaching it in a book. You may also question whether there are any tangible benefits to such work.

The rewards and gifts of the spirits are limitless. Court the dead and they will help you to achieve love, wealth, and knowledge, and enable you to strike fear into the hearts of those who would commit injustice—all while leading you into realms of consciousness where death as we know it does not exist. It is through these altered states of awareness that the Witch discovers her greatest reservoirs of power.

Witchy Wednesday – “Sweet is the vintage…”

It’s been a busy summer here at Chez Weiser. We have been off tending the vines and readying the cellars for this Fall’s fine harvest. So in the spirit of full casks and corn cribs,  enjoy this excerpt from Charles Leland’s Aradia, Gospel of the Witches (Witches’ Almanac, LTD, Nov. 2010)

*

TO HAVE A VERY GOOD VINTAGE

AND VERY GOOD WINE

BY THE AID OF DIANA

“Sweet is the vintage

When the showering grapes

In Bacchanal profusion reel to earth,

Purple and gushing.”

*

- Byron, Don Juan, c.124

“Vinum bonum et suave,

Bonis bonum, pravis prave.

O quam dulcis sapor – ave!

Mundana ketitia!”

- Latin Songs, E. du Meril

*

He who would have good vintage and fine wine, should take a horn full of wine and with this go into the vineyards or farms wherever vines grow, and then drinking from the horn, say:

***

(in translation)

I drink, and yet it is not wine I drink,

I drink the blood of Diana,

Since from wine it has changed into her blood,

And spread itself through all my growing vines,

Whence it will give me good return in wines,

Though even if good vintage should be mine,

I’ll not be free from care, for should it chance

That the grape ripens in the waning moon,

Then all the wine would come to sorrow, but

If drinking from this horn I drink the blood -

The blood of great Diana – by her aid -

If I do kiss my hand to the new moon,

Praying the Queen that she will guard my grapes,

Even from the instant when the bud is born

Until it is ripe and a perfect grape,

And onward to the vintage, and to the last

Until the wine is made – may it be good!

And may it so succeed that I from it

May draw good profit when at last ’tis sold,

So may good fortune come unto my vines,

And to all my land where’er it be!

But should my vines seem in an evil way.

I’ll take my horn, and bravely will I blow

In the wine-vault at midnight, and I’ll make

Such a tremendous and terrible sound

That thou, Diana fair, however far

Away thou may’st be, still shalt hear the call,

And casting open the door or window wide,

Shalt headlong come upon the rushing wind,

And find and save me – that is, save my vines,

Which will be saving me from dire distress;

For should I lose them I’d be lost myself.

But with thy aid, Diana, I’ll be saved.

* This is a very interesting invocation and tradition, and probably of great antiquity from very striking intrinsic evidence. For it is firstly devoted to a subject which has received little attention – the connection of Diana as the moon with Bacchus, although in the great Dizonario Storico Mitologico, by Pozzoli and others, it is expressly asserted that in Greece her worship was associated with that of Bacchus, Esculapius, and Apollo. The connecting link is the horn. In a medal of Alexander Severus, Diana of Ephesus bears the horn of plenty. This is the horn or horns of the new moon, sacred to Diana. According to Callimachis, Apollo himself built an altar consisting entirely of horns to Diana.

The connection of the horn with wine is obvious. It was usual among the old Slavonians for the priest of Svantevit, the Sun-god, to see if the horn which the idol held in his hand was full of wine, in order to prophesy a good harvest for the coming year. If it was filled, all was right; if not, he filled the horn, drank from it, and replaced the horn in the hand and predicted that all would eventually go well. It cannot fail to strike the reader that this ceremony is strangely like that of the Italian invocation, the only difference being that in one the Sun, and in the other the Moon us invoked to ensure a good harvest.

In the Legends of Florence there is one of the Via del Corno, in which the hero, falling into a vast tun or tina of wine, is saved from drowning by sounding a horn with tremendous power. At the sound, which penetrates to an incredible distance, even to unknown lands, all come rushing as if enchanted to save him. In this conjuration, Diana, in the depths of heaven, is represented as rushing at the sound of the horn, and leaping through doors or windows to save the vintage of the one who blows. There is a certain singular affinity in these stories.

In the story of the Via del Corno, the hero is saved by the Red Goblin or Robin Goodfellow, who gives him a horn, and it is the same sprite who appears in the conjuration of the Round Stone, which is sacred to Diana. This is because the spirit is nocturnal, and attendant on Diana-Titania.

Kissing the hand to the new moon is a ceremony of unknown antiquity, and Job, even in his time, regarded it as heathenish and forbidden – which always means antiquated and out of fashion – as when he declared (xxi. 26, 27)  “If I beheld the moon walking in brightness … and my heart hath been secretly enticed or my mouth hath kissed my hand … this also were an iniquity to be punished by the Judge, for I should have denied the God that is above.” From which it may or ought to be inferred that Job did not understand that God made the moon and appeared in all His works, or else he really believed the moon was an independent deity. In any case, it is curious to see the old forbidden rite still living, and as heretical as ever.

***

Herbs of the Field: A Witch’s Quick-Guide to Wildcrafting

When Ankie was but a wee sprite, there were woods and fields behind her house, and many hours (in all seasons) were spent wandering, observing and gathering. Early spring saw pussy-willows by the banks of the sandy stream.  Summer months brought bouquets of wild flowers for Grandma Ankh, and tart wild strawberries,  raspberries, low bush blueberries. Autumn meant acorns and bittersweet. Winter was the time for evergreens,  and tracking prints in the snow. Sounds idyllic, doesn’t it?  Of course, those of you who read between the lines will understand from this that girl-Ankh was often lonely and bored – but that’s a story for a dark and stormy night not a warm June afternoon.

Ankhie has never had much talent for gardening, but she could always forage with the best of them. And there are those who believe that when it comes to witchy-herbs and such, wild varieties have greater magical potency. So in the spirit of  wondrous, weedy wastes, I offer you this excerpt from Elizabeth Pepper’s  Witches All – A Treasury From Past Editions of the Witches’ Almanac:

OF THE FIELD

Certain herbs acquire greater power under stress and seem to thrive in the garden no one tends – the wild. Those listed below are all alien plants, garden escapees, now masquerading as wildflowers or weeds. These ancient specimens perennially grace roadsides, railroad tracks, old meadows, vacant lots, swamps, woods, pine barrens and other waste places. You need only collect the smallest bouquets from most and a dozen or so leaves from  the larger variety of herbs. Pleasant and rewarding, the quest is known from olden days as “wildcrafting.”

Broom (Cytisus scoparius): A sprig of yellow flowers in a soldier’s cap lent courage in battle. The herb blooms in sandy soil from May through June. Wave a stalk in the air to raise a wind.

Clover (Trifolium pratense): Magic often favors a humble site and common clover is a case in point. Its three-leaf form is linked with the goddess Hecate. Called “trefoil” in old herbals that recommend its use in love charms. The plant blooms red-purple from May to September.

Fumitory (Fumaria officinalis): The gray-green foliage looks like smoke rising from the earth, and smoke from burning dried and crumbled fumitory herb purifies an atmosphere for magical work. Rose flowers with purple tips bloom from May to August.

Mullein (Verbascum thapsus): From June to September many roadsides are brightened by the presence of the large yellow-flowered plant once called “The Hag’s Taper.” Collect its flannel-textured leaves to dry and beat to a powder. Use as a substitute for “graveyard dust,” often required for certain spells.

Orpine (Sedum telephium): Orpine’s folk name is “Midsummer Men.” A maiden with romance on her mind was advised to collect a single pink blossom of orpine in silence and sleep with it beneath her pillow in order to dream of the man who would someday win her heart. The herb can be found during August and September in once-cultivated fields or along roadways.

St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum): This sacred herb adorned with yellow flowers blooms from June to September. Its primary use in witchcraft is to strengthen willpower and protect its bearer from harm.

Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare): Its stalks are topped with bright golden  buttons and its fernlike leaves emit a strong pleasant smell. The dried flowerheads and seeds wrapped in tissue paper guard treasured possessions. tansy blooms from July to September.

Vervain (Verbena officinalis): The plant held sacred by the most diverse European cultures is quite modest to the eye. Its spikes of tiny lilac flowers with five petals come to bloom from June to October.

Yarrow (Achillea millefolium): Yarrow is in evidence from June to August. A tight cluster of tiny dull white petals forms the flat flowerhead. Its aromatic leaves are fernlike. Yarrow is primarily a divinatory herb and often added to incense for that purpose. The dried, powdered flowers and leaves of the plant are part of many love charms.

Wicca Wednesday – Dianic Genesis & Z. Budapest

Zsuzsanna Emese Budapest is a daunting woman – fiercely independent, impassioned and poetic. Her contributions to the feminist movement and modern wicca are impressive and indisputable. The Holy Book of Women’s Mysteries  remains (30 years after its initial publication) a must-read for devotees and students of the divine feminine, despite questions that surround some of its historical assertions and the fervor of its polemic. It is a book as political as it is spiritual, and a reminder that the modern pagan movement was part of that vast,  sociopolitical groundswell that brought about the civil rights era. Some contemporary readers might find Budapest overly strident – but we should all remember how far we have come (how far we still have to go), and the sort of single-minded passion that was necessary to get us here.

from The Holy Book of Women’s Mysteries, by Z. Budapest, a brief,  lovely passage that seems fitting for Earth Week:

Dianic Genesis

In the beginning there was unknowable silence. She has an unknowable name which echoed through the universe; the power of this name, that no one shall utter, filled the universe with action.

Silence broke into its components, lights and shadows. From these lights action made form, and from the shadows, formlessness. Visible and invisible, she created a blend of the two we know today as Nature.

In this blend of form and formlessness, lights and shadows, visible and invisible, she created all the creatures, making infinite variations of herself as the birthing force, and the different form of her, where she s not so clearly visible, the birthed-in form.

She intermingled with herself, as if she was never divided, and created our solar system, our mother planet, and all the creatures upon it. Among the creatures she ordained, all species will know her either through instinct or through search, but all she created will periodically return to her holiness, and then again take form inside her.

And ever since, the world has been a blend of invisible forms, female and male, and a blend of invisible forms, self-love and self-hate. The divine mixing of these creates reality, for her essence is present in all, but her forms do not conform to temporary social orders. She is the circle of rebirth; thus we celebrate the moment in our lives as an honor to her, she whose Genesis is still happening, she who has not returned to any comfortable heaven to “watch” over us or forget us.

She who creates all reality daily, she who is visible and invisible in Nature, she whose name is secret, she who rules the Universe. The Force of Life and Death and all that is in between. She is All.

A Brief History of the Saxons & Their Gods: Part 1 – Woden

I just read over at The Watkins Review that there are more practicing witches in England now than in any other time in history. That is a phenomenal statement – and one that should bring credit and recognition to those brave and learned souls who have helped to bring magic to the masses. First and foremost among them (in Ankhie’s opinion) is Raymond Buckland, whose body of work has been one of the defining factors in modern Wicca. Raymond is an author, educator, mentor, supporter, practitioner, absolute gentleman and sports-car aficionado.

So in honor of the incomparable Mr. Buckland, we offer the following scholarly excerpt from Buckland’s Book of Saxon Witchcraft.

During the fourth and fifth centuries a movement took place in Western Europe know as the “Wandering of the Nations.” Tribes of Goths, Vandals, Suevi, Alans and others passed out from their old homes in the north and northeast and moved into the territory of the Roman Empire. For the previous two centuries Germans had been crossing back and forth between Germany and the Roman Empire, but now for the first time whole tribes began to migrate at once. The Visigoths (West Goths) passed into southern Gaul and Spain; Burgundians into southeastern Gaul; Vandals into Africa; Ostrogoths (East Goths), and later Lombards (Long Beards), into Italy. One group of peoples, however, did not go southward but westward. And they traveled not by land but by water. These were the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes, who sailed out into the North Sea and sought the islands of Britain.

These tribes differed in many important particulars from the others of the “Wandering Nations.” They had lived in the portion of Germany most remote from the influence of Roman customs and ideas. They lived in lands that were densely wooded, damp, and cold. Rivers were almost the only highways. Clearings in the forests were the only dwelling-places. The Jutes lived in modern Jutland north of the river Schely, the Angles in the region south of the Jutes and along the shore of the North Sea. The Saxons were a Teutonic race whose name is generally thought to be derived from the old German word sahs (a knife, or short sword). They are first mentioned in Ptolemy in the second century A.D. He speaks of them as inhabiting a district bounded by the Eide, the Elbe, and the Trave – in northern Germany, from the base of the Danish Peninsula to the mouth of the Rhine.

In the third century of the Christian era the Saxons were a numerous, warlike, yet practical people. In the fifth century considerable hordes of them crossed from the Continent and laid the foundations of the Saxon kingdoms in Britain – Essex, or East Saxons;  Middlesex, or Middle Saxons; Sussex, or South Saxons; and Wessex, or West Saxons. The West Saxons called themselves Gewissi, and included many lesser groups such as the Dorsaetas, Wiltsaetas, Sumorsaetas, Defonas, Wentsaetas, magonsaetas, and Hwiccas (saete = sitter; dweller).

For a hundred years before their migration to the British Isles the Saxons and their neighbors had been seafarers and plunderers on the coasts of the North Sea. As early as 364 A.D. they had been heard of in Britain, and the Romans there had established a special official – the Count of the Saxon Shore – to guard the coast, from the Wash to the Pevensey, against their attack.

The invasion of Britain by the Saxons (plus the Angles and the Jutes) marked the beginning of the British national history by destroying the Roman civilization in Britain and establishing the English race and nation with its own distinctive language, society, institutions, and government. They were Pagans, inferior to the Romans, yet they were most assuredly not barbarians. They understood the Roman civilization but discarded it as unsuited to essentially agricultural communities. ..

During the first two centuries of the settlement the conquerors of Britain were not single powerful tribes establishing single tribal kingdoms, but rather dozens of small tribal groups each under its own war leader. Some of them were groups of warriors, but many were doubtless groups of kin-families; that is, families connected by ties of blood, composed of women, children, and slaves. In nearly all the early groups the war-leader, or heretoga, became the king. He was awarded the largest portion of the conquered lands and the largest share of the booty. His family was, supposedly, descended from the gods.

***

The Saxons were practicing pagans during at least their first five generations in England. They worshipped four principal deities: Woden, Thunor, Tiw, and Frig or Freya. Since their temples, like their houses, were built of wood they have not survived, though their locations and those of their open-air meeting-places — groves, etc. — have. Throughout Britain today may be found innumerable place-names indicative of the deities worshipped and/or the locations of former shrines to these deities.

***

Chief among the gods of the Saxons was Woden, and there are far more mentions of him in English place-names than any of the other deities; Wansdyke (Wodnes dic) , an earthwork, runs all the way from Hampshire to Somerset; Wodnes beorh (Woden’s barrow) is close by, as is Wodnes denu (Woden’s valley). In other areas are found “Woden’s plain”, “Woden’s fortress”, Woodnesborough, and Wornshill.

Freya was chief amongst the female deities. She too is found in Freefolk, Froyle, Fryup, Frydaythorpe, and Frobury.

***

Woden

The primitive west Europeans had called the god Wodenaz. This later developed into Wuotan (Old High German) and Wodan (Old Saxon). It is generally believed that he was first thought of as a sky deity – perhaps a wind or storm god – with great wisdom, and with some sort of powers over life and death. This may be evidenced by the derivation of Wodenanz from an Indo-European word, parent also of the Sanskrit vata and the Latin ventus, both meaning “wind.” He could be compared to the Hindu Lord of the Wind, Vata, and the German storm giant Wode.

Woden had great skill as a magician or sorcerer (Galdorcraeftig = “a person proficient in magick”), and also a shape-shifter. His skill is seen in one of the oldest existing pieces of Anglo-Saxon verse containing the Nine Herbs Charm:

“The snake came crawling and struck at none. But Woden took nine glory-twigs and struck the adder so that it flew into nine parts…”

Woden appears in Norse mythology as Odin, the supreme deity, son of Borr and Bestla. He presided over the assemblage of the gods and over their feasts, consuming nothing but wine. As the wisest of the gods he obtained his wisdom from two ravens named Hugin (“thought”) and Munin (“memory”), who perched on his shoulders. The ravens could fly through all the reaches of the universe and would tell Odin (Woden) what they had seen. Two wolves were also his constant companions.

Woden was bearded, wore a long cloak and either a hood or a floppy-brimmed hat. He leaned upon a huge spear as he walked. He it was who introduced the runic form of writing…

The Woden of the Saxons was not quite the same personage as the Odin of the Viking Age (also, incidentally, the Old English waelcyrge were vastly different from the Norse Valkyrie). Woden was not concerned with organizing battalions of slain warriors, but more with walking the rolling downs and watching over his (living) people.

By the sixth century magicians and sorcerers had a good working knowledge of writing, useful in their secret arts. The writing generally used was the Runic discovered by Woden. One of the earliest examples of these runes is found on the Saxon cross now preserved in the apse of Ruthwell Church, Dumfreisshire.

It is sometimes referred to as the “Futhorc”, after the first six letters that appear there. It is also referred thus, today, to distinguish it from some of the later variations of the runes. These main ones were Anglo-Saxon, Scandinavian, and Germanic. The Celtic peoples of England adopted, and adapted, the Saxon variety and a form of runic writing is used in many traditions of witchcraft today.

Witch, Wiccan, Warlock, Pagan – What’s in a Name?

The words “witch” “warlock” and “pagan” have been the source of  much heated discussion of late.  We’ve talked here before about the power of words and why language is integral to the art and practice of magic. It is important to remember that this power extends beyond spells and incantations, to the names we choose to call ourselves and others. Part of the history of the modern witchcraft movement has been the reclamation of the word “witch.”  One need not look very far to see the culture of fear that surrounds it – associations with evil and ugliness that remain painful to those who see the path as something positive and enriching. Even now,  individuals who claim the title “Witch” often put themselves at personal and professional risk. We respect and support them as a community, and if we are brave and able, we join them. The same can be said of  “pagan” – a term once used to mark the wearer for damnation by Judeo-Christian societies. Those who identify as “Pagan” today, do so boldly, fully aware of the word’s historical risk.  There are those in this community who are currently attempting to reclaim the word “warlock.” It is a choice that has garnered intense criticism from surprising sources. Now, I have no interest in engaging in a lengthy discussion on semantics  or fielding fractious comments on personality and group identity. We as a community have more important things to read, ponder, and practice.  But if we are to thrive, it is vital that we respect and empower each other – although our paths may be divergent.

So, back to the title of this post: What’s in a name? Everything to the individual who claims it. Our names are our identity and our strength. The names of angels and demons, gods and men have been used to control them for millennia. Every occultist, priest and (yes) parent knows that. Whatever we choose to call ourselves, we must own it fully in order to wield its power. And if we want others to be respect us for that, we must in turn respect them.

On a lighter note – “magic” is itself a word that means many things to many people. Judika Illes gives us a glimpse in Pure Magic:

There is a power that radiates from all living beings in varying degrees of force and clarity. Different languages have different words to identify this power. The Polynesians refer to it as mana. Among the Yoruba, a prominent language group of Western Africa, it is known as axe. In Morocco, this power is called baraka and in other areas of the Islamic world some variation on that word may be used.

I offer you words from different languages because English has no specific word for this concept. I can describe the concept for you in English but I can’t name it. The closest approximation is force or power but these are imprecise because there are so many types of forces or powers. One could say spiritual force but that too is imprecise. It is a spiritual force but this force also expresses itself in very physical ways. The spiritual aspect cannot be separated from the physical. This force is a holistic power. It does not acknowledge the splits between spirit and matter that humans may perceive but transcends these divisions.

This concept lurks in the English language, perhaps for safety’s sake, demonstrating our cultural ambivalence to magic and reflecting the reality that for centuries, those who openly and effectively practiced Earth magic were persecuted and suppressed. Interestingly, the cultures that do possess an explicit and specific term to identify this force rarely possess just one generic term for magic. Their languages may instead contain something more like those twenty-seven Inuit words for snow, assorted various, specific words that describe specific acts, intents and practices that would in English all be lumped together under the category, magic. There is no one blanket word to distinguish magic from real life because in these cultures, magic is incorporated into real life. It isn’t supernatural but a part of the way natural works. One is encouraged to be aware of the various forces because contact with them strengthens, protects and improves quality of life.

Emergency Magic from Judika Illes

Sometimes things don’t work out.  You do your damnedest and still it’s not enough or too much or just not right.  Maybe the thing in question is something small, insignificant in the larger scheme of things. Maybe it’s something so important that you are left absolutely ruined. Either way, you are likely to wonder – how could it have gone so wrong? How can you make it right? The answer may be something simple – an appointment, a pill, a week in Jamaica with fun and supportive friends.  But what if those things don’t work? Maybe what you really need is a miracle. Maybe what you really need is magic.

If that’s the case, you might want to turn to witch-wonder Judika Illes.  Her book Magic When You Need It addresses all sorts of scary and unsavory situations (as well as more benign ones) with wisdom, wit, and a breadth and depth of magical knowledge to satisfy all querents.

The following is an excerpt from the introduction:

Conventional wisdom says that for every problem a logical solution exists. Sure sounds comforting, but lets face facts. In reality, life’s worst-case scenarios are far more complex and complicated than trite wisdom allows for, full of dramatic twists, turns and contradictions…

So what do you do when life’s worst-case scenarios demand urgent action, yet all the conventional responses are inadequate or nonexistent? What happens then? What are your alternatives? Do you give up? Roll over and play dead? Or do you turn to Earth’s oldest existing system of crisis management: magic…

Visualize your reactions to a personal crisis. A weight sinks to the pit of your stomach; a perpetual lump plagues your throat. You can’t breathe. You can’t think. Your mind has transformed into a broken record, endlessly returning to the source of your anxiety. Adrenaline rush elicits incessant fight-or-flight impulses.

The good news? Although you may be useless on the job, worthless at home, you’ve never been in better fighting form to accomplish genuine, working, solve-your-problems magic! The very same stress-induced reactions that make calm detachment so difficult are the ideal fuel for rescue magic. The magic of necessity is the most intense, effective magic of all, and stress, panic, worry, concern, intense fear and desire are your certified emergency-magic credentials. When you feel that adrenaline surging, you’re also feeling your magical aptitude  soaring.

After all, functional, dependable magic requires more than just lip service to a clever incantation or an investment in a few evocative props. For maximum effectiveness, magic demands nothing less of the practitioner than laser-intense, single-minded, borderline-obsessive mental focus. Nothing provokes that level of clarity and intensity of vision and desire more than a panic-worthy problem. The very same emotional and physiological responses to anxiety and dread that may have you overwhelmed can be channeled into magical mastery and problem solving. Rather than promoting passivity and hopelessness, magic encourages you to take the bull by the horns and realistically assess your situation and alternatives so that you can gain control of your destiny.

Magic’s very existence stems from humanity’s intense desire for crisis management. An ancient Egyptian papyrus known as Instruction for Merikara, believed to have been written approximately four thousand years ago, describes magic as a gift to humanity from the Creator “to ward off the blows of fate.” Although the rapid natural degeneration of simple problems into worst-case scenarios stimulated the birth of magic, the sheer effectiveness of emergency enchantment is responsible for the very survival of magic. Despite centuries of deadly persecution and the brutal suppression of occult knowledge, magic has not gone away. Why not?

Because magic works.

Because faced with unrequited desire or an insoluble situation, quite often the enchanted solution is the only solution. In the face of personal emergency, even the most ardent enemies of magic have found themselves relying on the Earth’s ancient wisdom.

A case in point springs from the Western world’s most respectable book of metaphysics, the Bible. Saul, ancient Israel’s first king, decreed practice of the shamanic and magical arts outlawed under penalty of death. Yet later, when facing his own worst-case scenario, where did Saul run to seek an emergency solution? Straight to the renowned witch of Endor, to beg her to come out of the retirement that he himself had imposed upon her. After some persuading, she relented and, in testimony to the effectiveness of emergency magic, conjured up the information from beyond the grave that Saul craved.

No spell is as effective as an emergency spell; no magic is as likely to work…

   

from Magic When You Need It by Judika Illes

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