This extensive book, written by Casey Giovinco, is quite a treasure and is filled with so many wonderful stories, plenty of magical theory, and an excellent resource for both the Yogi and the Witch. Casey Giovinco doesn’t just write about the subjects of Witchcraft and Yoga as an interested party who has done some research; he is actually an Initiate of Witchcraft and has a RYT-200 certification from the Yoga Alliance: he actively practices and teaches both.
Links for book purchase: You can buy the book wherever books are sold such as at your local Barnes & Noble, or if your local occult shop is one that carries new books in store. You can also buy it from Amazon or from the publisher, Llewellyn.
The book starts out with a beautifully written introduction by Thorn Mooney, who is the author of Traditional Wicca, a Seeker’s Guide. Mooney talks about how the path of Yoga and Witchcraft are not out of step with each other because just a little bit of exploring the history of the magical elders of the many traditions of the occult out there, you will find they also espoused some form of Yoga practice as part of their magical pursuits, even in the writings of Aleister Crowley!
Casey’s book has also received a beautiful review and blurb by best-selling author and co-founder of the Temple of Witchcraft, Christopher Penczak as well!
The first thing that stood out to me was how much I really didn’t know about Yoga here in the West, which was quickly rectified – along with the pieces of Yoga philosophy and practice in the East… from the Rig Veda, to the most famous of the Upanishads: the Bhagavad Gita. This was woven here in sensible terms and in a language that a practitioner can understand was valuable insight to me that I was happy to learn.
The second thing that I found that was impactful for me is how this book really adds to your personal practice. While all initiated witches have a foundational learning they have received that was passed on to them by their mentors in their covens and traditions, each initiated witch has a personal practice that you must develop. It is my own personal belief, for example, that even if you are a member of a coven, at least 3/4 of your religious experiences and practices are things you do on your own outside of coven practice and 1/4 or less of your religious experiences in Witchcraft is what you do at the coven stead – where witches meet. If you are in a coven, that sets the stage to your development, but it is up to you to develop your skills further by the work you do on your own each day. This book is a good guide for that.
Also, maybe you aren’t a member or an initiate of a coven, or your feel that working in a group or a coven is not an option for you at this time (being an Initiate is a calling – not one that everyone will have the inner-fire for) One thing that that witches who aren’t initiated members of a covenstead miss out on is the psychic development that comes through group ritual work. If you are a solitary Witch working on your own either due to personal choice or preference, the instructions Casey gives you, will give you a way to develop some of these same psychic skills.
So whether an initiate, or solitary – you will find something for you here! Personally; I am an initiated witch an a member of a coven. How will I be using this book?
Preparing for the Sabbat is not just something I “go to when it’s time and run through the motions.” The first thing I am going to attempt to implement is some of the sequences for the Sabbats & Esbats ahead of time in order to mentally and physically prepare myself in mind and body for the ritual that will be done and also after the ritual is completed. I will also be trying these sequences before and after spells. I’m really looking forward to that actually!
Another way I will be using this book is in recommendation to others to supplement psychic development. Developing psychic skills of some sort is critically important for witches. Casey has done us all a huge favor by creating a guide that gives you easy to understand and follow instructions for developing some of these psychic skills. Just like we have five physical senses, Casey goes through each of the five astral senses. Yes! Your “sixth-sense” is really a misnomer: you have astral senses behind all of your physical senses. This is a book that I will also use in the process of helping to mentor folks looking to learn psychic skills as another pretty awesome tool in the toolkit! In actuality, his step by step instruction on Astral Projection is one of the cleanest and clearest I have read in a very long time.
A fascinating piece that Casey has demonstrated here is the connection to the powers of the witch in Leland’s work, known as Aradia or the Gospel of the Witches, to the powers of the Yogi in the Sutras. Wow, that was quite illuminating!
Are you interested in meditation? Casey has you covered here – including a meditation for healing and step by step directions on how you can meditate. The stories for example are entertaining in teaching meditation – I think you will have a new appreciation for the subject when reading this book.
Actually, the chapters on meditation (chapter 6) and also the chapter on visualization, imagining and astral projection (chapter 7) were some of my favorite parts of the book. Personally, I get a lot of questions about both meditation and astral projection from folks that struggle with it – especially because we talk so much about it in our practice – but the great thing here is Casey gives very relatable and understandable content that will show you how you too can learn to do this things even if you thought that it was an impossibility for you.
Also, a great understanding of the chakras are included. I have to admit, I have been very rusty on knowledge of the chakras and his descriptions are extremely beneficial to me. Also, the learning of what yoga poses are good for assisting in the relief of certain issues or challenges was very helpful and now bookmarked for future reference as Casey discusses how different ones affect us on both the physical plane and the magical level too.
The graphics and pictures that the book has for each of the Yoga postures and mudras were very helpful. If you are a beginner at some of this, those really help – and it is handy where you can see the common names for poses along with the Sanskrit names.
“A mantram is a collection of words which, when sounded in speech, induce certain vibrations not only in the air, but also in the finer ether, thereby producing certain effects.”
William Q. Judge, 1888
In Gerald Gardner’s book, “High Magic’s Aid,” he describes a particular scene in which Morven the witch is able to make a group of men change their emotional state by playing certain music and tones. He also describes a scene in his book “Witchcraft Today” in which members of his coven told him they could make him raving mad – which they demonstrated for him and he recounts how they were successful in this particular experiment.
Gerald’s description in his fiction book, High Magic’s Aid, and in his non-fiction book, Witchcraft Today, describes an occult practice that has been in fact known not only among those of the Wicca, but also by other occultists as well…. that certain words, sounds, vibrations, frequencies and names or words of power seem to have an effect on our mind and our emotions.
These sounds, words and names do “have power.” Many can attest to how at different times in their life that a particular song that just rocked their world. Maybe that song was very healing to you, very soothing, maybe it made you get up and go do something you always wanted to do. Maybe it made you sad or introspective? Maybe even that particular song helped you recover from the pain or loss of a loved one, or was part of your “falling in love” experience. Whatever it may be, the song had power to you, and *potentially* changed the way you thought about your life?
I have heard certain singers and songwriters give interviews that talked about the most humbling experiences in their musical career – and it is those experiences of hearing from their fans and being told how a particular song got them through a difficult time or even saved their life!
Production companies realize the effect of music in the movies and on the television shows we watch. A horror flick will always have music that increases the suspense level and puts us on edge. Romantic comedies seem have music with intent to increase its amorous effects to increase your emotional responses and so on …
Sound, music and words of power are given thought and paid attention to in our Craft. Certain words are “vibrated,” sung out, spoke in rhyme and done so in sympathy, or even layers, with an effect in mind that it is meant to achieve.
When thinking of mystical chanting, for many folks the tone and sound of Gregorian chants or even words spoke in Latin come to mind. These chants do speak to us somehow on a deep level. Those of a mystical bent seem have no choice but to be mesmerized by the sound of these chants as it takes them into different states of consciousness.
The idea of “Words of Power” is a common theme in Wicca and this is one of the reasons that some covens keep the god-names secret and only spoken about to other initiates of the Wicca and done so for a multitude of reasons.
One other concept that is used in our own branch or line of Wicca is the vibrations of various calls, chants, vowels, consonants and other sounds strung together which produces a very strange effect. Some of them are very harmonious and some of them feel “glass-shattering mad” and are different depending on the purpose they are meant to affect. These vowels and consonants, rung out at the right pitch, create not only a hypnotic effect on the mind of the witch, but actually DO leave impressions in a particular space and impregnate the items that are around that space with a mystical fluid-like power that can be read through psychometric techniques or those who are sensitive to psychic impressions, such as through clairsentience or clairvoyance. These types of sounds put together are often called mantras or mantrams by some.
Qabalists place great emphasis on certain words of power and of “correct names” in their work. Words such as the ineffable “Tetragrammaton” is described as a four-lettered word for the name of God. Other names at times were written in as substitutes for these “magical words” so as not to pronounce it too much and defile the name.
One of the most popular “Words of Power” that we hear in movies, books and television of a fictional variety is the word “Hocus Pocus,” but how many people realize this phrase is just a corruption of the Catholic Transubstantiation of the communion wafer into the body of Christ? Since this ritual was seen as a magical rite, transmuting the water and wine into Christ’s body and blood, it was considered special. When they saw the Priest perform the rites and in Latin say, “Hoc est Corpus” they may have been mesmerized by the religious act and wanted to copy the act itself. Certainly it wouldn’t be the first time that people would have borrowed pieces of religious ritual that were in turn originally borrows from other religious and mystical sects in turn. The stories of how people used to steal communion wafers and keep them as talismans or amulets, or use them in exchange to make a pact with supernatural entities is but example of this borrowing that occurred – so why not with names and what appeared to be magical words as well?
Many old spells utilize Latin and various corruptions of Latin. The first time I went through some of our spells, it look me a little while to try and figure out what the translations were before successfully performing them. Other magical books and grimoires are also filled with them. Take the well-known grimoire called, “The Sixth and Seventh Books of Moses” which utilizes various forms of Latin in the spells and experiments.
Many modern witches of today have developed their own techniques of creating “Words of Power.” Recently, Weiser Books re-released two classic books by New York City Witch, Marion Weinstein, who popularized her own method of creating words of power through invocation. The two books, “Positive Magic” and “Personal Magic” have been re-released for today’s reader and by using them, the reader can follow Weinstein’s own devised formulas for crafting your own “Words of Power” for a variety of magical intentions. (Marion Weinstein first came out publicly as a witch in 1969 on a talk radio show in New York she used to be on. In those days, coming out as a witch was quite shocking when you are a public figure! Today, many public figures still fear coming out of the closet.)
I’m sure if you think on this, you will be able to find pieces of music, words and sounds that conjure up various emotions for you personally. These emotions, when released at the proper time, such as in spell-making, can help give you a boost needed so that you have the necessary emotional involvement for certain spells. It is rare in our coven meetings here at the Wolfa Coven that we don’t have some type of appropriate music playing at some point or all of the ritual. The only exception where music is not played is when we are outdoors for ritual – for nature has Her own music to share with us: the sound of the crackling need-fire, the grass and flora beneath our feet, the sound of the wind in the trees, insects and animals carrying out their activities.
The power of sound and music; whether recorded, spoken, vibrated or sung has quite an effect on our human psyche. It can be used to create much beauty in the world. It is probably no coincidence that most religions in the world use some form of music or song as part of their religious ceremonies.
Rhonda Lachar once said, “Your life is what you make it. Your life can be simple if you will set it up with simplicity as a goal! It will take courage to cut away from the thousand and one hindrances that make life complex, but it can be done!”
There is an old saying that says the wise always strive to simplify their life. How many people do you know who run around from obligation to obligation and then find themselves complaining about the billion and one thing they have to do?
No place else seems quite as complex as our home lives. In our own culture of consumerism, we constantly buy ‘stuff’ occasionally just for the purposes of having ‘stuff.’ It seems possible that people can get weighed down and controlled by their stuff. They are either racing to get more stuff, or racing to replace more stuff. Complexity affirms complexity.
Moreover, as a witch you most likely know already that intangible objects can be impregnated with desire-bodies to create thought-forms. Everything has an astral double within the Gray Matter of the astral plane – and the astral double of any object can affect you and the environment around you – including others. Many place so much emotion and memory into physical objects, thereby turning these items into Desire-Bodies or Will-Bodies, constantly pushing or pulling on us at a deep energetic level, which leads to what I affectionately call “psychic constipation.”
One thing I have always noticed is that if you take a few moments to just look around the surroundings inside a person’s home, you can get a better idea of who they are, why they respond the way they do, and sometimes just about anything you want to know about a person. Chances are, in a person’s own “inner-sanctum,” they will surround themselves with items that represent where they are at that time – the Astral & Mental Body affecting the Physical Body and the items they surround themselves with.
As part of the process of “Knowing Thyself,” this activity can help you learn a few things about yourself by looking and analyzing your own surroundings.
This is not just a once and done exercise, but something I recommend doing for yourself once per year. I personally make this a winter activity since so much focus is indoors in my environment because of the cold weather of winter. In the summer time, we spend a lot of time working on the outdoors and time spent with the coven, and in the winter time we can spend time on our “indoor garden,” which is the things we surround and fill our homes with.
Even over the years, I notice different things I need to clean out.
To understand a little more about how your emotional involvement is so very important in spell-making and the creation of thought-forms, I highly recommend you listen to this 10 minute clip from Gundella the Green Witch. In this segment, Gundella is teaching you how to Cast a Spell – the three essentials…. Much of Gundella’s philosophy matches our own philosophy – she was a pretty remarkable witch.
In an earlier blog, you learned about how to perform the Art & Ritual of Meditation. You can click on the link if you haven’t had a chance to go through it.
We have written a great deal on spells and rituals on our blogs, but one form we haven’t mentioned a great deal on is what is called Charm Bags or Sachets, Amulets and also Talismans. Let’s first start with some varieties of Charm Bags & Sachets…
I came across the use of Charm Bags when I first read Sybil Leek’s book, Cast Your Own Spell. One story she tells is of Philadelphia, PA native, Charles G. Leland, who met met an individual who made him a Charm bag for success and good luck on a book he was writing. Sybil said the maker of the Charm had put a piece of his book in the Charm bag and thought if she might ask a Charm maker to put a page of her book in a Charm bag too.
As I continued my studies, I would occasionally come across other types of Charm Bags, with all sorts of different names from a variety of occult practices. Some of these were called Sachet Bags, Quanga Bags, Gris-Gris (pronounced gree-gree), Mojo Bags, tobies, and many more.
When it comes to sachet bags and powders, I first came across this term in the old 1930s classic book that Sybil Leek recommended to some of her students here in the 1960s called Legends of Incense, Herb & Oil Magicby Lewis de Claremont. In the book, it has a section on sachet powders that can be used to magically scent items by putting them in bags and occasionally opening up the bags and sprinkling them places for a certain effect.
Many of these sachets include aromatic herbs. Over time, you may need to re-fresh the sachet bag and powders. Today, most seem to recommend refreshing the scent by using diluted amounts of essential oils. When used for occult purposes, we may use scented potions, hydrosols or even magical oils to help concentrate our thought-impregnation on the ingredients inside a sachet or charm bag.
When it comes to sachet powders, one of the most common ingredients that is a natural fixative/preservative seems to be Orris Root – which is the root of a particular Iris flower, that when powdered, is highly fragrant and retains perfume scent very well. Even when the Iris is planted in the ground, I can tell how highly scented the root is because if you don’t pack the root down good when planting, then a critter such as a rabbit or squirrel might dig them up to munch on for dinner! This has happened to me before with Iris roots I have transplanted to a different location.
In de Claremont’s book, he gives a recipe for a Love Sachet that definitely looks like it would be very fragrant because some of the ingredients include orris root, Lavender, sandalwood, musk and a few others.
I then came across quanga bags at first through some of the coven lore passed down in which a good luck quanga might be called for in certain circumstances. Though, the specific term quanga may be a more common phrase amongst practitioners from another magical practice called Obeah, which originates in the Caribbean. (Remember the James Bond move, “Live and Let Die?”)
The practice of the Obeah is a combination of European infused magic, mixed with local customs and practices found in its Caribbean homeland such as Jamaica and the surrounding islands.
The European influence in Obeah heavily comes from the grimoires imported from American publishers of bygone days, such as the old de Laurence company of Chicago – particularly one of our favorite grimoires of sorcery known as The Sixth & Seventh Books of Moses, in which the de Laurence & Company also produced an edition of. Another book that heavily influenced Obeah is also a personal favorite grimoire of ours and has influenced us in the Wolfa Coven greatly called The Great Book of Magical Art. Magical practitioners, when they were able to obtain copies of these imported books, supplemented their own practices with what they found therein to create a unique blend of magical practice.
Gris-Gris bags and mojo bags seem to be common names for Charm Bags found in American Hoodoo practice. I also knew a hoodoo practitioner who made little charms inside brown paper bags called “tobies” as well.
One other type of bag, that might be of a more recent invention, is called a Crane Bag, and it is used by some practitioners of certain Druid traditions. Some of these seem to take on Charm bag qualities….
Another old book from the 1940s also used and recommend in our coven is The Magic of Herbsby Henri Gamache. This book contains a number of ingredients and descriptions about herbs that could be used as is, or in Charm Bags if you wish.
I will now share with you a story of a creation of a charm bag that I had made and used for a series of a couple weeks in order to concentrate on healing for another witch in need after they had experienced an accident from a number of years back. This was a spur-of-the-moment creation since the healing was needed as soon as possible. Once you have some of the basics down, you are able to create charm bags like this on the fly, using your own inspiration or inner-guidance to help you in their construction when needed.
Now if I had a bit more time to plan and react, I probably could have done a better job selecting ingredients, but I wanted to react quickly for her needed benefit at the time while she was receiving proper medical care for her injuries in the hospital. There are certain situations that require immediate reaction as a witch, and at those times, a well-trained witch will go into the Alpha State of Consciousness and select the right items needed for the spell. This comes from an inner place of “inward knowing.”
This charm bag is not one of the many traditional recipes, but one, as you will see, of going through my supplies and allowing my inner-knowing to select appropriate ingredients that could be of help very quickly. This includes symbolism that may also not be traditional in nature, but had certain inner-meanings to me.
Here are the items I chose for the Impromptu Healing Charm Bag:
1. Astral Candle – I chose the color red to represent the witch the bag was made for since she is an Aries.
2. Healing Candle – I magnetized a healing candle anointed with Healing Oil for the spell.
3. Solar Talisman – I coated a piece of paper in the universal fluid condenser to concentrate my thoughts, and once it dried and was ready, I inscribed a solar talisman for the purposes of healing and good health. Talismanic Magics is used in our coven extensively. One of my witchcraft mentors, Tarostar, says in his book The Witches’ Spellcraft that;
“A seal or Talisman is basically a Symbol, not a power in itself, but only insofar that it acts as a condenser of energy which represents or comes from the spiritual Force behind all Matter.”
4. A Green Charm Bag & Quartz Crystal – both were given to me as gifts by a friend who is a Luccumi Priest and initiated Witch. I was happy I had these on hand that he gave me as they came quite in handy in order to help the witch who needed the healing.
5. Sandalwood – some sandalwood powder was placed in the bag. Sandalwood has very high vibrations and definitely a sacred wood.
6. High John the Conqueror Root – I included this so that she will have some strength, virility and power while she healed up.
7. Fast Luck Powder – this was given to me as a gift from another witch who made this magical sprinkling powder. I thought it would be appropriate to sprinkle a little of this in the bag.
8. Healing Incense – this is a traditional formula part of the Horsa Tradition that I also sprinkled in the Charm bag since it has herbs of great healing qualities.
9. Mercurial Incense – Incense of mercury burned on the coals to carry my wishing prayers to the witch in need of healing. The Archangel Raphael is a great healer and rules over Mercury, so I knew I wanted to use some of Raphael’s influence to affect the healing.
10. Broomstick Charm – given to me by an initiated witch friend from Arizona. I tied this on the outside of the bag in order to sweep away any possible obstruction that could be in the way of her speedy recovery.
I then proceeded to cast the spell and construct the Charm bag. During that time, I concentrated on seeing her well again for a number of days. When the spell was completed, I buried the Charm Bag with much gratitude.
The Power of Talismans & Amulets:
Now let’s talk about Talismans & Amulets ….
In the world of the paranormal and the occult, amulets and talismans have always been popular. I don’t think that one country on this planet exists where people did not carry, hang up or wear an amulet or talisman of some kind.
But first, let me give you a brief description of the difference between what an amulet is and what a talisman is:
Amulet – Any object or charm used for the protection of something or someone. It is designed to keep evil or certain people or situations away.
Talisman – Any object or charm used to attract certain favorable conditions or to increase luck in certain activities for someone or something. Typically, talismans will be more complex, whereas amulets are more often designed to be simple in their construct.
In the Christian religion, many Christians wear either a simple cross or a crucifix as a symbol of their faith and also so that the Lord will continue to watch over them. I know I have seen Christians who upon receiving some bad or shocking news, would instinctually touch or grasp their cross necklace – symbolic of finding strength in their faith.
The actual grasping of a religious item, no matter what the religion, could possibly be an instinctual carryover that is buried somewhere deep within the memory banks of our ancestors. It could be described as reaching for something that gives you comfort in times of stress, such as a symbol of your religious beliefs. It is also similar to knocking on wood or a tree in times to prevent something bad from happening. The knocking on wood procedure is a simple invocation of the dryads (tree-elementals). Catholics in a similar vein may hold their rosaries tightly, also drawing strength from their Lord – as a silent invocation. The carrying of rare objects, such as rare stones, jewels, old items passed down reputed to be “protection charms” and the elusive four leaf clover are all charms that because they are considered rare and therefore, special. They have “faith” that these items will add a special protective shield around them when they place it in their pocket, a bag, a purse or hang it around their neck – regardless if they are religious or not.
Another rare object used as an amulet is Staurolite which is a rare mineral that naturally forms in the shape of a cross. You can even find your own by going to placed such as “Fairy Stone State Park” located in Virginia. Because of its rarity, it is deemed to be special and many folks have carried them as a charm of protection from all walks of life.
The question is, are these items special just because the objects themselves are rare and hard to get, or is it all just silly nonsense? Is the feeling of “specialness” what makes the mind give you a boost of confidence?
Those who are psychic and sensitive to subtle impressions of objects would say that’s not the whole truth. Those who practice the psychic arts of psychometry will tell you that you can pick up on psychic impressions if magnetism has been pressed into an amulet or talisman. When the attention is directed to an object, vitality and life-force flows to that object. These same objects also pick up magnetism from the wearer. The same could be tested with implements such as the pendulum and also seen by those with clairvoyance.
Sometimes the items themselves, even the pre-manufactured ones, may be nothing special at all – but because everything vibrates at a frequency, they absorb certain qualities or magnestism that the owner of said object may subconsciously place in the item. Amulets may not be just simple or hard to find objects and artifacts. They could be also rather complex designs inscribed on sacred metals such as some of the pentacles and seals that can be found in “The Greater Key of Solomon” or “The Sixth and Seventh Books of Moses.”
In regards to Talismans, many are typically a tad more complex in their construction than amulets. The reason for much complexity at times is because of their method of manufacture and consecration. Through varying occult means and rituals, items are said to absorb the magnetic vibrations of the manufacturer of the talisman. Most talismans are consecrated during the correct planetary timing.
With the witch or sorcerer’s mind firmly fixed on the reason for the talisman, and through occult correspondences such as the correct time and date, energies are absorbed into the object so that it radiates with a magnetic pull, attracting to the bearer of the talisman the circumstances desired. It is because these items are designed to be “magnetic” in nature – and not magnetic by means of a magnet, but meaning an occult quality whereby the object is designed to “draw something” to it and by effect, to the owner of the talisman.
Nonsense or not, the manufacture of such items is big money. How many realize that even everyday objects and jewelry that we wear today at one time just may have been an amulet or a talisman a long time ago in by-gone cultures?
The Herb Cinquefoil – the Five-Fingered Grass:
Herbs and flowers are sometimes employed in the practical occult arts in a similar way that amulets and talismans are employed. Sometimes these are hung around the neck, or simply carried in the pocket, or in a variety of ways. The use of single herbs to do this is a practice that also goes way back and seems to be found in many parts of the world, including in the practice of Witchcraft.
There is a wonderful little wild weed that grows throughout the country called Cinquefoil, or the Five-Finger-Grass.
Magically, it has great importance …. At least from the part of the country that I am from. It grows many different places I imagine and has a number of different varieties and species.
So what have the Witches of Pennsylvania’s past said to do with this reputed herb? What are its alleged uses in the art magical?
Besides being a classic herb used in practical occult magic for intentions such as money drawing, it was also known to help you get special favors. According to the old grimoire The Long Lost Friend, first printed in Pennsylvania, it was said that if you carried a little of this herb in your pocket when asking someone for a favor, you’ll surely get the favor granted to you!
Either way, this little weed that most would deem useless does bring me a smile when I see it come up in the yard or the garden. (Even though it seems to ONLY come up in the most strangest of places!)
Yes, some weeds are encouraged to grow by witches! Haven’t you ever noticed a witch’s garden? There usually seems to be a number of strange weeds that grow that are oddly encouraged.
Bibliography & Works Cited:
de Claremont, Lewis; Legends of Incense, Herb & Oil Magic. Print.
There is a tremendous amount of faith-healing and lore in Pennsylvania. My own introduction to this type of practice in Pennsylvania happened when I overheard my Aunt (mother’s oldest sister) teaching a charm to my Uncle. (Mom’s youngest sister’s husband).
My Aunt was teaching this magical charm to him in the dining room and I was in the living room not really hearing everything going on, but just enough to know what was happening. See, I was 11 or 12 years old at the time, and having a love of all things magical, I was interested indeed!
I had a good relationship with my Aunt and my Grandmother and we would frequently write letters, talk and also visit – so I wasn’t shy about calling my Aunt two weeks later to say, “You know that charm you taught Uncle (name)? Would you be willing to teach that to me?”
Her answer was, “Of course. I’ll see you next month at the family reunion, and I’ll show that to you so you can learn.”
I was ecstatic! So when the family reunion time came, later in the day, my Aunt pulled me aside to the back left corner of the hall and began to give me this first instruction…. She said, “Now what I am about to show you can only be taught from man to woman and woman to man….. and you must believe you can do the charm – believe it strongly that you can make this happen.”
She then proceeded to first demonstrate a particular charm she called “Blowin’ Fire.” The purpose of this charm is to cure a burn if you burn yourself – or, mainly, if someone else burns themselves, you can put out their burn.
She demonstrated this, including all of the hand gestures and what to do. She then taught me the incantation you say while you are doing this and I had to repeat this back until I memorized it. I did.
That was the very first charm I learned and I’ll never forget it! Her teaching me this charm means I learned a piece of Pow-Wow practice in the old, traditional way. I made sure I wrote it down and always keep that in memory. It is not a charm or a technique that I have seen in any Pow-Wow or magical book, nor the hand gestures that go with it, but it does fit in the same vein and I have used this charm very successfully on many, many occasions when I have been in situations where someone has burnt themselves or I have burnt themselves. The charm cools the burn quickly.
After that time, I really never looked back – and that jump-started my interest in exploring spells, charms, healing, herbs, witchcraft and later to take on Wicca as my religion when I was initiated into a Traditional Coven…. and the awesome thing about this is, traditional covens also are willing to embrace these old folk and faith-healing practices.
Now one thing that differs from what other Pow-Wows talk about. She never told me I had to believe in God, or that believing in Christ was a requirement to learn these charms. Maybe this is out of the norm, since a number of the experts that talk about Pow-Wow today and in the past seemed to be believers and followers of Christ – I’m not sure …. she herself went to a Catholic school growing up, but most of my Mother’s siblings weren’t actively practicing Christians, nor went to Church outside of funerals, weddings and those kinds of occasions. However, if you asked any of them if they believed in “God” they would probably have all said “Yes.” They may not have necessarily believed in Jesus as their personal savior, but they would probably all have said yes to believing in God even though the only one that was still Catholic was my Grandmother.
In reality though, if you asked me if I believed in God I would say yes too – a belief in a Supreme Creative Life-Force or Universal Source of Power or Universal Mind is also common in my own understanding of the path of the coven I was initiated into. While we don’t call on “God” in the name of Jesus, we do acknowledge God, or the Supreme Being.
Faith Healing, Pow-Wow and Witchery (Hexerei) has been part of Pennsylvania culture and lore for quite a long time. We are in fact steeped in this lore and there is more magical lore here in the land of this part of Pennsylvania than any other place in the USA.
This culture of welcoming those who are outside the norm to PA started with William Penn, and according to the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission:
“Pennsylvania is a national leader in religious diversity and expression.”
The vision of a spiritual and religious utopia was the plan for Pennsylvania so it would become a place where all would be free to worship and practice the religion of their choosing. This experiment and effort was then marketed to Europe in order to invite anyone suffering from religious or spiritual persecution to come and settle in Pennsylvania.
When mapping out and discovering the lay of the land, you will be surprised to find such extremes in Pennsylvania from the most open minded to the most conservative. Yes, Pennsylvania is a state of extremes…..
We are also known for having the largest Amish population, along with other sorts of religious groups such as Quakers, Dunkers and even Mennonite. Even one of the oldest of the revived Rosicrucian movements – the “Fraternitas Rosae Crucis” which has its headquarters in Bucks County, Pennsylvania and the three pyramids they built are still standing today.
A group of astrologers and alchemists started a closed of community in Ephrata to study the mystic sciences in Pennsylvania. (Another blog article for another day!)
Pennsylvania has had a proud history of folk magic, faith-healing, occult practices and witchery for a few centuries now. The systems most common in Pennsylvania from that time, and still existing today, primarily fall in to two camps and are typically called: Pow-Wow and Hexerei.
There is also another informative website from a local Pow-Wow Practitioner called “The Pow-Wow Guy” who has written a number of books. I have included a link to his extensive website and he makes a number of videos on YouTube documenting his own teachings and what he has learned and discovered of the Pow-Wow practice. It’s highly worth reading! He also does accept inquires from people locally who need the services of a Pow-Wow to help them with their problems in a manner similar that was not uncommon 100 to 200 years ago even!
Pow-Wow still is relevant today…. though homes in South-Central Pennsylvania have far less butter-churns than they did back in the day – so I am sure most requests are not related to a ferhexed butter church, but situations of healing, needing protection or curse-reversal are probably in as much demand as they ever were.
If you are interested in magic, the supernatural or witchcraft and live in Pennsylvania, it will not take you very long to come across, or hear about the practice of Pow-Wow and other forms of faith-healing. So let’s start with the practice of Pow-Wow that is most common among the Pennsylvania Dutch, and then we’ll jump into Hexerei.
The exact and most concrete origins of Pow-Wow are unclear and much speculation and theories have been put forth by scholars and amateurs alike. In this blog, you will find my own brief, but amateur tale of what I know and discovered so far. I am not an anthropologist or specialized in religious studies – so I can only share what I know from living in the middle of what is known as the “Hex Belt” of South-Central Pennsylvania as an interested observer and practitioner in the techniques used. I also can fall back on local legends and tales of the folks that had practitioners of Pow-Wow and other forms of folk magic in their families passed down. It’s not uncommon for folks that are born and bred in this area of Pennsylvania to have someone who practiced some of these arts in some way …. in fact, it’s more common than what you may realize.
For example, even in our coven alone, I can count at least 4 folks that have had familial history – where either a Great Grandmother or Great Grandfather was a Pow-Wow and did specialized charms. It is not just those making it up, as other family members, in each case, has confirmed this to be so. Some didn’t even talk about it until their own family members said, “well you know we have a family history of witchin’ so it’s not a surprise they wanted to become a witch.” (Even though Pow-Wow is not the same thing as Witchcraft or even Hexereri in any way – in the minds of many other people, the distinction between the two is not always clear for some.)
Practitioners of Pow-Wow in Pennsylvania and now in other areas may have carried these traditions of faith-healing practice from Europe and may have even believed certain objects carried the ability to heal, or assist the Pow-Wow as they prayed on behalf of others, themselves or their families. They also heavily used Biblical charms, such as the Psalms of the Bible in their faith-healing; along with written and verbal charms reputed to have miraculous effect for those that believe. Some of these charms may be written on paper and carried on the person, secreted away in a location or even consumed by drinking a liquid in which the charm was fashioned and then dissolved in a liquid so that the person needing the charm can “take in” the power of these magical words.
Pow-Wow also seemed to include a form of hands on healing. Even today, hands-on prayer is still used by many charismatic churches, those who practice Rosicrucian healing techniques, followers of Mary Baker Eddy’s Christian Science movement, the Curanderos of Latin America, various Occultists and Wiccan groups alike. Hands-on prayer for the purposes of healing seems to be one of those universal practices found in many parts of the world. The effect of consensual healing touch cannot be discounted – hence why many massage therapists and other forms of therapies that exist today can have quite a thriving business.
Certain practices found in Pow-Wow seems to follow the European grimoire traditions as well, I have personally seen old Pow-Wow charms written in old PA Dutch and translated only to be found in one of the three books below, and even other older books, such as “The Romanus.” For example, I have been to a few local historical societies a number of year’s back and some of the country ones locally still have copies of charms written in PA Dutch on paper that some family member had that a relative used and they donated it to the historical society to preserve it. One friend of mine spoke German, and was able to roughly go through and translate what these charms said – when I cross-checked them, I wasn’t surprised that the ones we found were connected to the Albertus Magnus’s Egyptian Secrets!
Many of the old Pow-Wows seemed to not believe they had the power to do the healing themselves. They believed their ability to heal (and other things too – it wasn’t only healing, but also protection magic against evil or physical harm was common too) was seen as a gift from God, and because of these blessings, God would be more apt to intercede on behalf of a person if a particular person that was doing the praying or charm was a Pow-Wow. Typically it was a very active and engaged prayer that had more engagement than what someone does at their foot of their bed before going to sleep and employed various actions and mystical passes along with the supplications that the person be healed or a resolution to whatever problem ailed the client.
You most definitely can believe in God and not be of the Christian faith and I point to a particular quote that is from one of my favorite books on Psychic Healing called, “The Psychic Healing Book” that was written by Amy Wallace and Bill Henkin in 1978 and published by Delacorte Books that says,
“Many healers say, “God works through me – I don’t know what I do.” It is not necessary to know what you do.”
Then a few sentences down, they add:
“When a healer claims to be a channel for God, it is his or her own personal God – whether that is a God in heaven or the God of his or her own heart.”
This modern and inclusive message by Wallace and Henkin resonates well with the coming Age of Aquarius in which togetherness and Inclusive Fraternity and Sorority of humankind is expected to occur. We are leaving the age of “Us vs. Them” and entering the age of “We.” The message that we can experience the Divine within us and also the stranger – that even if the religion or spirituality of another differs from your own, you too can recognize the divine within them and yourself and find connections and beauty in our differences.
I think the suitability to work such a system as Pow-Wow or even Hexerei is more so predicated on other signs of the ability to do the work, rather than religion itself. Take for example this:
Lore of people born with a caul or even if they were a 7th son of a 7th son would be considered to have extra blessing to perform the work. (This belief was also common among other folks that were not Pennsylvania Dutch, from other cultures as well.)
To many, the practice of Pow-Wow was thought to be a calling, and not something just everyone picked up. They had to feel they were called or chosen to do the work. These signs or callings do not necessarily address religion in itself other than the fact that God, or the Supreme Being pre-determined you for the work by signs that would be either recognizable to other practitioners or would lead the person towards the direction of interest – particularly within families, it was common to pass down the teachings.
Occasionally, it is theorized that Pow-Wow was a survival of pre-Christian pagan or witchcraft practice. We have absolutely no evidence of that, and what evidence we do have is often counter to these claims.
You could go to a local “white witch” for an herbal potion, a charm, and an incantation; or you went to your local vicar and they said a prayer from the Bible and touched you with a holy object or relic that maybe touched another hundred or so sick people that day. It could be likely that some of the folks tried to duplicate what they saw the Priests doing in Europe that was deemed so magical – the hocus pocus of the day.
The Pow-Wow practice when you look at many of the texts primarily relies on word charms, altered Biblical verses, the spoken word, mystical passes, lore and objects that have been prayed over to provide the healing or other requests in the name of God, speaking and working through the Pow-Wower. The most classical of these charms can be found in the famed book, originally published in Pennsylvania in 1820, called “Pow-Wows: Or the Long Lost Friend.”
This particular book pictured above was published in the very late 1920s, early 1930s in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and called “The Pow-Wow Book.” The last chapter of the book contains the entire 1850s English translation of the original 1820s “Long Lost Friend” in it. (As a side note: The Long Lost Friend has probably the best selling grimoire in history! Even today, some witches I know have even picked up old copies of the book at yard sales when someone cleans out their attic!)
Also, by looking at the cover of the book with the image of a witch on it – there seemed to be a very fine line with what the public constituted as witchcraft and what was considered Pow-Wow. Obviously, the actual practices of both would be seen as vastly different if you examined them, but it is obvious that many in the public was “just not so sure” at times. Just whether it was faith-healing or witchcraft was determined by the various opinions depending on whom you were speaking with.
Pow-Wows also created herbal remedies as well from what I have seen. From what I have seen and witnessed and survived from back in the day, they didn’t have huge collections of material written down in books, as they used the herbal remedies they had available or had learned. Various salves were common and typically manufactured ahead of time each year for when they were needed – such as for bumps, bruises, skin disorders, etc. For example, my elderly step-father talks about a particular salve his Grandmother made and was well-known for that was made of pine-sap/pine-tar. We had a lot of pine trees in the areas where I grew up so she had plenty of supply. The salve itself even had a pretty colorful name for it – at this point, he’s probably mispronouncing it or maybe it is a PA Dutch word that is a corrupted from of German – I don’t know – but I don’t know what the word translates to in regards to the name of this special salve that was in such high demand locally.
Herbal tisanes and potions seemed to possibly be more common among the English witches and cunning folk than the PA Dutch, at least from my own research – although, that doesn’t mean that tisanes were not used. Much of the herbal remedies they had made also may have been remedies for their cattle and horses, such as to keep bugs and pests away and other disorders that may affect them. Charms and written prayers to protect livestock and the barn were common as well.
In the old practice of Pow-Wow, typically it was taught between people of the opposite sex. Most of the teaching was how to perform the particular charms with the expectation that you memorize them. How to mix the herbal salves, the prayers that are used, how you can tell if someone else has been blessed with the gift, etc.
You also have to remember that Pow-Wow was a practice of the everyday working people, and at one time in our history here in Pennsylvania, well-known Pow-wowers would have people lined up or visiting at all hours of the day or evening. These visits could have been for a multitude of purposes in hopes that a solution would be produced in the here and now, such as stopping blood or blowing out the pain of a burn or even getting rid of warts and a number of other sundries. It was simple charming and in most cases has absolutely nothing to do with what we know as witchcraft even though to the outside observer they may not know the difference, and in some cases, many charms required no special skills and were charms that anyone could learn to do, gifted for the work or not.
Hexerei or Witchery:
There can be some cross-over between the practices of Pow-Wow and the practices of Hexerei, at times, but it was seen by many to be a very different type of practice. At one time in our history, being called a witch was a “bad thing,” whereas today, the Wiccan religion has given witchcraft a more respectable appearance than it once had.
What was the difference between what was Pow-Wow and what was Witchery? It almost seems that the biggest difference that people could identify is if you used the methods and practices for the purposes of blighting or harming other people, crops, animals or places; then you would yourself be delving into the dark-side. It’s possible that an anthropologist or those who study religions more closely may be able to come with with a list potentially in terms of defining this – because for an outsider, it may not really be clear – especially when you look at things like the old grimoires that are frequently mixed with what we might call Western Judeo-Christian ideas but still include both white magic and black magic.
While Pow-Wow magic heavily used the practice of faith-healing most of the time and protection from harm, Hexerei on the other hand was specialized and decadent magic. At times it could have a sinister take, or served in the role as that of trickster.
Hexerei means witchery and Hex means witch, and when it comes to witchcraft in Pennsylvania there is no other grimoire more heavily reputed to be used in the arts than “The 6th & 7th Books of Moses.”
This particular edition was printed in 1900, and shows its age since it is well over 100 years old. It was formally owned by someone who practiced Hexerei.
The interesting thing is that when it comes to the Wicca of England, the McGregor-Mathers edition of the “Key of Solomon”was the prized text that influenced some of the English witches along with other books such as the old Reginald Scot’s “Discoverie of Witchcraft.” Book sets such as Frazer’s “The Golden Bough” was a treasure trove to early Witches in our line, such as Sybil Leek.
Places like in France had a solid tradition of magical books as well, such as the famed “Le Petit Albert” and also “The Red Dragon” both taught good spells and spells of witchery. For Pennsylvania Dutch Hexenmeisters (witch-master) and witches, it was “The 6th & 7th Books of Moses.”This book not only teaches you how to summon spirits, but also instructions on the manufacture of talismans and amulets, how to summon infernal demons and also the forbidden arts of necromancy and working with elemental and planetary energies. This book also teaches you how to make and inscribe a magical circle on the ground for use in conjurations.
As stated earlier, Pow-Wow was typically used for everyday problems – the charmer who could stop blood, blow out a burn or divine who stole your property.
Probably the most used area of the Moses book is located typically at the back of the book, as it proceeds to give you instructions on how to cast spells using the Psalms. For example, one of the first charms I recall from memory in the book has you making a charm that a lady would wear around her neck that helps her in her pregnancy. Another charm for a pain in the back uses blessed oil that is used for anointing that has been charmed with the particular Psalm and the correct name of God uttered over it and applied to the body.
The practice of fortune-telling was common as well among witches or Hexers. One famed witch, the “Witch of Marietta” (Nellie Noll) who lived in Lancaster County is well-known, for in the 1920s, she was the Witch that John Blymire, who was a Pow-Wow practitioner, went to visit to have his fortune told to discover who he thought had hexed him. As we know, Blymire along with Curry and Hess were responsible for the 1928 murder of Nelson Rhymeyer who was a local Pow-Wow and farmer in York County because they believed Nelson had cursed them. It was a terrible tragedy that occurred, and this murder exposed witchcraft and Pow-wow in Pennsylvania to the whole country since it made national news that the people of Pennsylvania are deeply involved in the practices of witchcraft and conjuring! You can read more about this story in the above mentioned “The Pow-Wow Book” which gives a great deal of details on this famous local story.
Another interesting fact is on the topic of initiation of witch. Unlike Pow-Wow, where there no known formal initiation, and indoctrination into the practices and lineage of it came from teaching and demonstrating the charms from master to apprentice; Hexerei, on the other hand, seems to have many different ways that you enter the practice and become a witch. In this case, it doesn’t seem their is a hard and fast rule of any sort for opposite sex initiation – in fact, there are ways typically described where it can be done with same sex or even solitary. Sometimes it may be a “midnight in the graveyard” kind of scene and other times it may be a more intimate encounter.
There are also tales of self-induction into Hexerei without someone performing the initiation, such as being willed the power on your death bed. (a legend exists that a witch cannot die until they pass on their power) Another way was the ceremonial passing of one witch’s Spellbook to the pupil.
It seems like each witch has their own particular way of making another witch and typically some sort of religious taboo is broken in this act which symbolizes the breaking of conventional chains of society in order to receive power. Many of these ways include doing an act of personal defiance against the Christian religion and denying Christ. There are a few traditional ways this is done by wording and also by specific symbolic acts in order to be able to make this so.
You’ll notice these “initiations” into the practice in terms of Hexerei are a bit more rustic in tone than you will find in say another religious practice such as Wicca. I can only theorize why that is: The magical practices that received such a boom from the Victorian occult revival in Europe were strongly influenced by many occult orders, including the lodge system. The lodge system of initiation on a magical religion is effective in many ways and gives the initiates a sense of belonging, hence why it was popular. If Pow-Wow itself was revived in England rather than in Pennsylvania, it is possible that it would have adapted some of these influences too I would only imagine. (This is only my personal theory – I’m not a scholar, this is just me playing around with possible reasons that seem to have some logic behind them.)
There are some middle-ground grimoires that seemed to be used by both Pow-Wowers and Hexes, and one of them is: “Egyptian Secretsor White and Black Art for Man and Beast” that is shown here in the photo below. My copy pictured here from the 1930s is a combination of Pow-Wow like charms and also other practices that can border the arts of Hexerei. I know for absolute fact that people used many of these charms in the book because I have had the privilege of seeing charms in local historical societies that were written in PA Dutch and donated by deceased relatives. When the charms were translated, many of them came directly from Egyptian Secrets.
Witches also used this book as well. For example, famous witch Sybil Leek had an old copy of this book too. I don’t know if she picked up the copy when she was here in Pennsylvania, but she might of. She would have certainly been familiar with the subject of Pow-Wow and Hexerei as she did write a whole chapter on the topic in her now famous book that is hard to get ahold of now of days called, “Sybil Leek’s Book of Curses.”
The practices of both Pow-Wow and Hexerei from Pennsylvania was very influential as well in the development of other forms of magic and witchcraft found in other locales. For example, amongst folks that practice American Hoodoo, many of the techniques that were common in Pennsylvania was added to the Hoodoo pot of practices as well; along with the use of the amulets and talismans found in The Sixth & Seventh Books of Moses. Big publishers such as the old DeLaurence Company out of Chicago were influential in spreading these books first published in Pennsylvania to other areas of the country and the world and made them more widely accessible.
Some of my Elders learned Hoodoo Candle Shop magic in the traditional way. For example, one elder, Charmaine Dey learned Hoodoo Candle Shop magic from the old Hoodoo Drugstore known as Bichon’s Drugstore that was back in the day located in Houston, Texas. Charmaine was born on the Native Reservation in Broken Bow, Oklahoma and not only had a love of Witchcraft from her teacher and mentor Sybil Leek, but also had a love of Hoodoo Candle Magic she learned at Bichon’s that included the use of the Moses seals. This was also part of what she shared with her student, Tarostar, when they opened up their occult shop later in Las Vegas.
Even further, some of these practices also were added to the practices known as the Obeah, which is a unique style of Caribbean Witchcraft that combines practices such as what we have talked about in this blog along with African and Native practices of their locale.
This adapting and borrowing has always been common in the practice of magic and witchcraft of many forms. At the end of the day, witches and those who practice folk magic have a great deal of common ground with each other: mainly because no matter where you live, what culture you come from or grew up in; those who visit faith-healers and witches all come with the same concerns they hope to be fixed: to receive magical healing, to be told the future through fortune-telling, for magical protection, for love, lust and money and many more. As humans, most of us what very similar things.
We hope that you have enjoyed this exploration and expedition into the practices of faith healing, folk magic and witchcraft in Pennsylvania. Like many of you, each culture and society seemed to have it’s own magic that flavored their own locales and at times, we can all find similarities.
A Small Selection of PA Dutch Hex Signs purchased in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania:
Meditation… It seems that every occult book instructs readers that they must set aside and perform a quiet meditation each and every day – sometimes multiple times per day. Some texts also recommend that you should focus on nothing, allowing images and pictures that flash before your eyes to simply pass by without paying them much attention to them.
These instructions can be all well and good, but the problem is that I have not met very many people in my travels who ever have or will follow through with those instructions. To me, this doesn’t seem to be the fault of the seeker on the quest for mystical knowledge, but because when we think of meditation we default to Eastern ideas on the subject at first. Eastern practices and thought are not always comfortable for the Western mindset to comprehend. (There are always exceptions to every rule though!)
So what is a Witch’s Apprentice to do?
What I have found that seems to work each and every time is to approach the idea of meditation as contemplation at first – whether it be a moving contemplation or a still contemplation.
A still contemplation would be an activity where a great deal of movement is not required, but your mind is actively working. You could be reading a book of poetry, a book of days or quotes; just as much as you could be crocheting or knitting. You could be looking at a number of pieces of art, sitting in a gallery or listening to music enjoying a glass of wine.
During that time, the task should be a stationary one that doesn’t require a great deal of critical thinking. You are allowing what comes to you in thought, to come through. You are actively paying attention to what pops into your mind.
Sybil Leek described a similar process in her book Diary of a Witch when she discussed the differences between prayer and meditation. This idea of a still contemplation is allowing messages to come to you. Allowing the Deity to speak to you, rather than speaking at it.
My actual favorite activity for still contemplation is reading books of poetry or books of compiled quotes. I will pick a section to read and to allow my own mind to contemplate what they say and garner the wisdom I can from it. How does this inspirational passage relate to something in my life? Does this inspire me to do better at something? Do I need to take action on something?
Much Still Contemplation comes from actively watching Nature as well. Wordsworth had a wonderful quote about Nature being your teacher, that includes the wise words and wisdom of others.
“Come forth into the light of things, Let Nature be your teacher.”
Many an occultist admit that we all stand on the backs of giants when it comes to knowledge and wisdom passed down to us. This includes our mentors – whether either is magical or not. Each and every person or thing we encounter in Nature has a story to tell and wisdom to share.
My favorite book to perform a still contemplation with is titled “Distilled Wisdom” which is compiled and edited by Alfred Armand Montapert.
This is an everyday active task that does not take a lot of critical thinking skills, but still must be performed such as washing the dishes, pruning the hedges or any act of house cleaning and organizing that must be done.
I had observed the power of this practice in my youth many, many times when at the farm. I would be actively discovering something in the forest – an interesting plant or stone of some sort and when I would check in occasionally on my step-Father while he would be on the tractor. While he was engaged with the activity on the tractor, he seemed to be in an altered state of sorts. He might be singing a hymn or in an act or prayer to his Heavenly Father. Most of the time, he was in act of what I would title a moving contemplation.
During his time on the tractor, his muscle memory, known from his years of farming experience, instinctively knew what pedals and buttons to push, how to plow in a line, etc., without a great deal of critical thinking. While his hands and legs were busy operating the tractor, his mind was free to wonder and think about whatever popped into his mind – which provides an opportunity to analyze your own life and decisions. This activity is a highly important one for the witch!
I discovered myself doing this very same activity when outdoors one summer evening pruning a large overgrown bush and trying to tame it back to a manageable size. The work to do this was hard, but at the same time, each clip of the pruning shears did not take a great deal of mental capacity. This activity allowed my mind to wonder and I began to actively contemplate what old things in my life are overgrown and that I need to prune and cut away. This active and moving contemplation was enough to make me take notice that something very universal is going on here that should be paid close attention to and not ignored.
Both of these examples of contemplation-meditation forever changed my perspective on the ideas of meditation and opened up a pathway that seems to satisfy the Western mindset and idea that we must be always “doing something.” The whole, Idle hands leads to the devil’s work guilt!
If you would like an activity to try: Your assignment here is to look at any tasks that you perform in your daily life that does not take a lot of critical thinking power, such as mopping the floor or cleaning the house or any other institute task you do on the daily that doesn’t take a lot of brain-power and perform an active contemplation to allow your mind to receive messages and insight.
How do we learn do this? We must learn to pay attention.
Your second task would be to perform a still contemplation, finding a stationary activity that doesn’t require a lot of critical thinking but allows your mind to wonder so that you can receive messages.
Ritual Steps that can be used for a Sitting Meditation:
Set aside a particular niche or space for meditation. This can be with a favorite chair or floor pillow if you like. I do like to use a rocking chair and surround it with a circle of salt if you like for an extra mind key, pouring the salt widdershins, or counter-clockwise.
I like to use my witch’s cape when I meditate – and I wrap it fully around me before beginning with my hood up. Some may wish to make a special shaw or blanket as well instead.
I don’t particularly like to use candles and incense if I am meditating by myself outside of coven in case I would accidentally drift off in sleep, or go to deep in because of safety precautions.
Sit in the chair with your eyes closed. Rock back and forth if it is a rocking chair for at least three or four minutes in silence with as little white noise as possible. When you begin to slip into what is known as an Alpha State of Consciousness, lower your hood and give an invocation to Deity to begin the time of meditation. Ask that Deity and the Great Mother Goddess bless you on your journey of self-discovery and grant you safe passage. Ask that the messages come to you from a place of growth so that you may achieve your own best and good ends. (Our coven uses specific invocations at times for meditation – but those of other traditions would probably find it helpful to write invocations that match your own coven or traditions style of working.)
While rocking, or sitting still, see what ideas come to your mind. Don’t push them away or ignore them – but acknowledge why they have come to you and lean into why you feel you are thinking these thoughts. It could be something you have been worried about or it could be thought-forms you have come across that you want to work through. These little insights give us great clues about ourselves and our personal lives.
If you have a specific problem that you are attempting to work out, you can contemplate on that particular problem in order to see if any insight or answers from Deity come through for you.
When finished, put your hood back on and wrap your cape back around you and give a prayer of thanksgiving for any insight that you have received.
Some, at this time, find it very helpful to immediately journal a few notes of what they have received. Depending on how deep your meditation goes, it can be a struggle to remember all insights after a period of time, so if you are a journal-er, do this immediately after.
When it comes to the Moving Contemplation/Meditation, you may want to skip the witch’s cape, but you can still use the invocations and prayers before and after you begin and end the activity. This helps you to get into the habit of paying attention to the messages you receive during the periods of activity that seem almost instinctual.
Sweep up the salt in a clockwise motion to return the place back to its normal time and space. (If you used a salt circle)
In all things, be safe. And if you feel that your own thoughts may be too overwhelming if you are going through some tough times, you should remember that you can also talk with a therapist of qualified counselor before beginning a practice of meditation. They may give you personal tips and tricks that may be right for you in what you are personally working through so you can have a safe journey. There is no shame in this – and many qualified therapists would actually encourage these periods of personal reflection – so what I am saying is, chances are, your therapist would most likely not think you are crazy for wanting to actively engage in a form of meditation. And as always, if you are in treatment, your therapist can tell you if meditation might be a safe practice for you.
This is but the last page of the booklet, Tales from a Witch’s Hearthfire, but fear not, it is not the end. If you like what you have read here in this series, check out our page on The Sacred Pentagraph or also consider buying the book, The Sacred Pentagraph – Books I, II & III. You can also find Books IV & V for sale as well if you would like a complete set.
Sometimes, when sitting around the hearth with your favorite witches and hearing many stories, you will come across memories and nostalgia of things we all wish we could take back. All of us are guilty, at times, of saying to ourselves, gosh, why couldn’t I just shut up? I wish I would have handled such and such thing better. If you think back, you may find in yourself contemplating this very thing from time to time. So what is a witch to do?
Fortunately, A Witch’s Lament, as told here by Tarostar, describes the ritual to help give you a clean heart and mind to be able to learn from the mistake and move forward with your life.
If you ever find yourself thinking of memories past that you need to be cleansed from in order to move forward in healthy mind and heart, this spell is recommended. We all need to seek forgiveness, and more importantly, learn from our mistakes, correct and change them.
This spell, performed on Sol’s Day (Sunday) is a perfect thing to do. If you are able, maybe work this spell each Sunday for as many Sunday’s as you need – one Lament per week in order to help bring peace and solace in your life. This is but one of the important ways to help you in striving to achieve The Tenet of Harmony when you are seeking to achieve an harmonious existence with all things.
Below you will find the spell A Witch’s Lament, as told by an Elder, Tarostar V*. All text is copyright 1984 by Rollin G. Bennien, filed at the Library of Congress and printed here with permission:
Is a lover straying from your affection or has left you? Classical witchery, as told by Tarostar V*, teaches you how you may be able to change their mind towards affectionate thoughts of you again.
A waxing moon is needed on Venus’ Day so that as she waxes, so will sweet thoughts of you wax, so says the old witch lore around the hearthfire!
Dragon’s Blood resin is not hard to find in occult circles. My elders have told me how they used to purchase them in sticks wrapped in leaves. It was also used as a dye. Other local herbal apothecary shops sell it in big chunks that you can buy by the ounce, depending on how much the chunk weighs, and other occult shops may also sell it ground up already in a mortar and pestle and in little plastic packages.
I’m told it was not so exotic of an item to find in days past because it was used as well to help stain furniture and musical instruments as well. Very cool to know!
This particular spell is a classic traditional one, passed down, and set to poetic rhyme here by Tarostar V*. Using Dragon’s Blood for this purpose is one that Sybil Leek used to talk about being common amongst some of the folks she knew in the New Forest.
Below you will find the spell Blood of the Dragon Will Save the Day, as told by an Elder, Tarostar V*. All text is copyright 1984 by Rollin G. Bennien, filed at the Library of Congress and printed here with permission:
In this piece of knot-sorcery by the hearthfire, you learn the arts of ligature – to bind or tie with knots. Charms sung over knots made in a ribbon or cord is old magic to snare and bind. Many a tale has been told how to tie up the wind in the knots, tie up a storm or even tie up specific intentions in knots. You can hear many wondrous things around the hearthfire of a witch.
Even the witch’s cingulum which girdles the waist of all initiated witches in coven rituals is but a knot spell tying us firmly in our religion and is an umbilical cord to the Gracious Goddess who nurtured us to life in our physical vehicles, our bodies.
Those curious about the many uses of knot magic can lean in and hear many tales of their use if they inquire by the heartfire of a witch. As the Elder stokes the fire with the metal poker, and maybe adds another log in the hearth, you will be fascinated by the tales of how this magic was used to bind and release. With the scent of burning oak and apple wood, your senses will be heightened and much inspiration can be arrived at.
This spell invokes Venusian energy on a Friday night right before Luna reaches her full power to create a charm for love. It is practical love-sorcery at its finest. It also hints of other uses, but that tale best be saved for another evening around the hearthfire.
Below you will find BEWARE A WITCH WHO BLOWS UPON KNOTS, as told by an Elder, Tarostar V*. All text is copyright 1984 by Rollin G. Bennien, filed at the Library of Congress and printed here with permission:
… a coven of witches practicing in the Horsa Tradition & the Sacred Pentagraph Tradition