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.