“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.
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.
The beautiful thing about what we have come to know as the Tenets of Witchcraft is that they can provide an infinite amount of thoughts to contemplate upon. Since these tenets provide a practical philosophy to witchcraft that we constantly strive towards, you find that various ones visit your thoughts during various moments of routine contemplation or meditation.
I feel at this time the Tenet of Harmony is the one to explore at this moment. We are either running towards something at full speed, or slowly trying to back away from something we wish to avoid. Striving towards creating an harmonious existence with yourself, nature and humankind is quite a Herculean task. This requires us to be willing to not only look at ourselves, our actions and our thoughts, but also our habits and all things.
Our own thoughts are the hardest to master. We should learn to understand all our thoughts and why we think them, but not every thought or feeling needs or deserves our outward expression . We can employ our own thoughts as a healing balm to restore harmony, balance and progression to the positive; or our thoughts can be turned into word-weapons meant to injure.
It is probably the hardest to maintain harmony when something goes wrong. A good quote that I have found from the book, Theosophy, by Katherine Tingley gives us a helpful occult reminder in order so that we can maintain perspective:
“The very fact that you find stumbling blocks in your way should give you an influx of courage, a positive joy, because of the opportunity thus presented to you to cast them away forever. Self-conquest! Is that not what you are here for?”
-quote by Katherine Tingley
For our higher ideals to come to form, we must project the expressions of those ideals. This all starts from the inside and works its way out into other areas of your life.
We are constantly under the distraction of our wishes and desires. Every advertisement, every form of social media, television, magazines; all provide an outlet to create more and more desire-thoughts.
Desire is not negative in itself as that is what keeps us going and growing. Our inward Higher Soul (Higher Manas) yearns very strongly for the desire to be reunited back into the Divine Monad, The Supreme Being; walking upward on the steps of consciousness. Our bodies desire for our own life to be sustained, hence, our urges for hunger and intimacy with others which are tools of the main terrestrial desire of our physical earthly bodies: Survival.
Those that follow the path of Esoteric Buddhism call this cycle of death and rebirth Samsara. They equate this to suffering and concern their spiritual practice around the work of escaping the suffering of Samsara and entering Nirvana. They are aiming for something very similar that we aim for.
As the witch begins to tend to things on all levels, starting firstly on the terrestrial plane, such as taking care of physical needs such as health and wellness, they can then begin at some point in their advancement to channel some of their desires into the advancement of the soul – the elevation of consciousness where you begin to find and explore what your purpose in life may be.
Ask yourself, “Who am I?” Ask anyone willing to participate with you in this experiment, “Who are you?” Many times, we find that we, ourselves, and those we ask, will define themselves only by what they do in terms of what they do to make a living. Sometimes they may define themselves as a parent (mother/father) or an extension of their life-partner. All of these things are not bad, but it doesn’t get down to the question of “Who are you?” You are more than just a Mother, brother or sister. You are more than just a teacher, accountant, technician. These are but the things we must do in this life and the tasks we carry out under the banner of these labels do teach us, but it is not who we are.
When someone is ready to find out who or whom they might be, the first thing you can do is find some activity to help others. This is not just one way to discover who we are and take us out of the personal ego-bubble we shroud ourselves in, but is a start to learning another one of the Tenets of Witchcraft, The Tenet of Humility.
By now, you can see these tenets are not just things we think about and contemplate, they are something we do, strive for and struggle with.
Bringing us back to the Tenet of Harmony, this particular Tenet is one key in traveling the path of the occult adept. We all know what something un-harmonious sounds like or mis-matched un-harmonious items look like; so this tells us that not only do our physical terrestrial senses strive to seek out Harmony in all things, but that our Higher Soul seeks out a spiritual Harmony as well in which that everything has its own time and place and space.
Numbers, sound, color are but some of the outward senses in which you begin to see what harmonizes and what doesn’t.
Even within the occult, it is possible to meet some that revel within the transgressive. They look constantly for ways in which they can look dark and spooky, and revel in the imagery of destructive magic. As time goes on, some grow out of it. For as we know, nothing within the physical plane is outside the natural laws. Even higher planes of existence have their own set of rules and laws that must be followed.
So why would someone want to purposefully revel in the transgressive? What I have found is that a tremendous amount of effort is expelled in doing so which brings on what is termed “Astral intoxication.” This is an over-stimulation of the Astral Body itself which gives folks in the occult what they might describe as a “ritual hangover” with a similar feeling to an alcohol hang-over, but it is not the only way that astral intoxication is brought on. (this is not the same as the ritual after-glow or the “re-charging of the batteries” when our occult powers are refreshed due to a good ritual.)
As we know, the Astral Plane(lunar) is but the place where all things must pass before they come into the physical (earth). The astral plane is a world of illusion and delusion. It has its function and place, but it is a realm of illusion. This is a gate we must all pass through when we first learn to separate what is illusion and what is reality, and utilize what we can do on the Astral Plane with wisdom.
Separating illusion from reality can be really difficult. This can be a tricky thing for a great number of witches, as most witches I know are all very nostalgic people, including myself. We all look back with fond memories with nostalgia on good times past and reminisce. So tell me this – if we are all honest: “When you started out in witchcraft, did you want terribly and desperately to buy one of those super expensive blank grimoires or ‘Book of Shadows’ from various makers?” Be honest! I bet almost every one of you did!
So what were we attracted to here with the fancy blank grimoires? We were attracted to the glamour. Glamour is but illusion, which draws upon our very witch-nature to be very nostalgic. Witches are very imaginative and dreamy folks!
The desire for these beautifully produced books are not a bad thing in the least. You may prefer beautiful produced books with nice coverings that will hopefully last a very long time. Though, you must be honest with yourself and ask: would you have bought this book if it was published in the cheaper booklet form like the old Anna Riva booklets, or did you purchase it strictly because of the aesthetic quality of the cover?
Funny thing is, my old little paperback copy of Anna Riva’s book The Modern Witchcraft Spellbook is simply a great little practical notebook! Above is my copy printed back when it first came out in 1972 (I think?) that has held up well and receives good use which has great practical charms and spells in it. When I bought this originally, I think I paid $4.00 or $5.00. I fondly remember the first spell I cast using this book in which I made a Protection charm by hollowing out an egg by making two little holes in each end and blowing out the contents and stuffing with five finger grass herb and sealing it with wax and painting the eggs. The finished products were displayed on little metal egg stands and were used for protection from all harm that could be done with the five hands. And, it was funny watching the other witches in the coven try to blow the yolks out of the eggs without laughing. Omelets for everyone!
Emerson once said, “Power to him who power exerts.”
“Don’t dissipate your energies by trying to satisfy every whim. Concentrate on doing something really worth while. The man who sticks to something is not the man who fails.” -Theron Q. Dumont, 1918
Bibliography & Works Cited:
Tingley, Katherine; Theosophy: The Path of the Mystic. Print.
Leek, Sybil; The Complete Art of Witchcraft. Print
Riva, Anna; The Modern Witchcraft Spellbook. Print.
Dumont, Theron Q.; The Power of Concentration. Print
“Arranging a bowl of flowers in the morning can give a sense of quiet in a crowded day – like writing a poem or saying a prayer.”
–Anne Morrow Lindberg
The last two weeks have brought us some good weather. Some members of the coven have even had their first outdoor fires of the season already too! I too have a nice bundle of fallen twigs and branches saved up that fell from the trees to use for kindling for my own outdoor fires at night.
As the rake pulled away the damp leaves, in my mind I am envisioning the awakening of the Great Earth Mother with the same feeling we have with a nice back-scratch from a loved one that is so stimulating and sometimes needed for relief of sore muscles. I imagine in my mind and visualize how this little act must feel for the Great Mother Goddess, in a metaphoric way, as I tend to her as she has tended to me. Though I don’t look at her as a humanized figure, I can’t help but relate the two concepts. This is a simple act of magic to me, and just like at the Sabbat ritual itself where the poundings of the High Priestess’s hand on the ground to invite the Great Mother Goddess back to spring and awaken Her, and the corresponding pounding of the besoms on the ground following her ritual action. Now, the final uncovering begins so that delicate herbs and plants can come through in full bloom.
This previously stated narrative is something that I try to get across in a number of the articles here which is that even the most routine acts can be practical forms of magic and meditation which has the potential to enrich the soul, promote happiness and assist us in the cultivation of a harmonious existence with man, crops and animals. A quote to illustrate this point further by Wilfred A Peterson:
“Happiness doesn’t come from doing what we like to do but from liking what we have to do.” (1)
We have to do many, many things in our lives, and how we go about them or carry them out can make all the difference. I often say that in spell-making, half of it is “what” you do, but the other half of it is “how” you do it. Some of the things we have to do can take a lot of time, sweat, tears and elbow grease; so why not approach them with an awareness of mind and heart in which we infuse a bit of the Ancient Wisdom Tradition into it?
So what are some other spring-time spells and rituals that we might engage in?
Well, one of the first things that comes to mind is a little ritual that our coven participates in during the Spring Rite in which the planting of prayers, petitions and wishes of things we wish to work for and cultivate in our lives.
The technique itself may be best summarized by the writing of petitions which are ceremonially collected and then invocations are made before the eventual burning in the Sabbat fire. Then, a little of the ashes are scooped out and mixed in which the soil with a blessing. The breath of life is breathed over the soil, and then the water is blessed. The seeds or bulbs are then planted and ceremonially watered. The resulting blossoms which should be produced can be a figure in the Summer Rite, and then by the Autumn should go into seed or fruit. When winter comes, we must accept our just rewards – either the attainment of our desires or the failures of that which we didn’t tend to. This teaches us the important lesson learned from what we may describe as the Law of Compensation which is one way of describing Karma.
As you can see, this technique described above and in itself is a way of keeping in touch with the land, its growing cycles and the results found in our simple nature religion. What can be more beautiful than engaging in a ritual or seasonal cycle in which we attempt to stay in touch with the growing, nourishment and harvest of the earth? Even if you cannot perform this ritual outdoors with other witches at coven, you can indeed participate in this ritual indoors with simple supplies of seeds, bulbs, a flower pot, soil and water.
The beauty of some of these simple spring rituals is they can be adapted whether you live in the country or in the city. They can be adapted to those who can be physically active outdoors and with much drama or pomp and circumstance as you prefer or performed in a more scaled-down version if you have disabilities which prevent you from traveling to coven in the woods or countryside. This is the beauty of occultism and magical practice – Witches make do!
A Love Spell:
Before we leave the topic of planting rituals, another spell that seems to be as old as the hills is a particular Love Spell which typically involves the planting of a bulb such as an Amaryllis, Hyacinth or Daffodils for the purpose of obtaining what we all seek after at some time in our lives: Love!This spell is very hard to cite in the Bibliography below because it, like the last one, has been written about so many times, in so many old spell books in different ways, and is one of the many old classical techniques of sorcery. However, I will list two places, one newer re-publication and one older, in which it is referenced in case you want to explore this spell further.
One famed witch known as Gundella, the Green Witch has spoken about this spell on her wonderful record on the practice of spell making titled The Hour of the Witch (4) which is a Vinyl record originally released in 1970, and then more recently re-released in a new edition and cover!
In all the various versions of this spell, the bulb is named after the person whom love is sought after – where amorous feelings of love is sought to be reciprocated. The bulb is then planted in a pot and is tended to each day so that as the flower grows, so it is alleged that the love between you and your intended lover will grow. Some witches add a little verbal charm to this – and this is another case where this charm and various versions of it has been written in so many ways and so many different times that it is hard to pin-point, but one particular version of this was written about in a wonderful little booklet on witchcraft by Delphine C. Lyons called Everyday Witchcraft. (5)
“As this root shall grow, And this blossom blow, So let his heart be Inclined unto me.” (5) -Delphine C. Lyons
Another modern book that was written by Pauline Campanelli and illustrated by Dan Campanelli that is titled Wheel of the Year(6) and it can give you various spells, lore and rituals that they enjoy at their home at Flying Witch Farms in New Jersey. It is quite a delight and entertaining read that gives you a whole seasonal cycle of lore for all 12 months of the year. They also have written a number of other books that are equally entertaining, but the fascinating and handy thing about this book is they make it easy to flip to the month of the year that we are in and read about activities that you can enjoy by yourself or with others.
One April tradition that the Campanelli’s discuss is a sanctuary garden which looks like a fascinating thing to try!
One thing to be aware of when it comes to seasonal workbooks such as this: most books will typically be written with a local flair. This book works very well for me because since at the time of its writing, the authors are/were located in New Jersey which matches my local environment/seasonal cycle here in Pennsylvania. For those that are located in other areas of the world, you may have to adjust some activities a bit to match your own local seasonal cycle, or even better, create your own that matches your local environment! There will always be activities that are universal, but some may occur at earlier or later months. How beautiful of an activity it is to create a seasonal workbook of nature’s cycles that correspond with your own environment – magical activities that can be found in each of our unique locations! For many of our witch friends who live in the Southern Hemisphere, the seasonal cycles might be reversed. Witches make do!
The 7-Knob Wishing Candle Spell:
Another classical spell – This would be what is famously known as the Seven knob Wish Candle. This spell is a very common spell among witches, but today, it seems many folks forget its wonderful simplicity. I think it is appropriate to talk about it in this article for Spring-time because this is a great time to plant things that are new in your life. This is another spell that has been written about in classical spell-making recipe books for generations. I will give you some resources of where you can find it in other places, and I will describe my own personal way of casting this spell.
The only supplies you need for it is a 7-Knob Candle and matches. You can either use a molded seven knob candle that has been molded with the seven knobs already, such as can be found at most occult supply stores, and pictured here below, or if you can’t locate one of these specialty candles found in occult candle shops, you can make do by taking your White Handled Knife and carving 6 circular lines in the candle. Many people like to inscribe their candles by writing the summarized wish directly onto the candle with their W.H.K. and if you do so, a molded candle will be better for this than a taper – as one that is traditionally dipped can flake off because of the layering process that occurs when you hand-dip the candles.
Another work-around that witches might typically do is to take one of those long hat-pins and place it into the candle, and when the pin falls, they extinguish the candle and the next day they will engage in placing the pin down the candle a little bit more – doing this for seven nights.
Gundella gives her own version of casting this spell on her record, Hour of the Witch, and you can read about this as well in Charmaine Dey’s fantastic book on ritual candle burning titled, The Magic Candle. Another reference location for this classical spell can be found in Tarostar’s classical recipe book of witchery called, The Witch’s Spellcraft, which has a fantastic description of how to perform this spell! In Tarostar’s book, the spell is titled, “Seven Knobs to Thy Heart’s Desire.”
You would then take the correct magical occult oil and begin the process of anointing it. For witches, there is a specific technique that we use when anointing traditional candles for spells and rituals that I can’t go into here, but for Seven Knob Candles, you would typically anoint them from the top down. The purpose of the carving and the anointing is to magnetize your wish into the candle. This is called thought-impregnation, and it is believed the “thought” enters the candle. The candle is seen as a magnetic object, so it is easy for candles to absorb our thoughts when we concentrate on them while anointing them. The process of burning the candle releases those thoughts through the fire elemental which responds by combustion. (the burning of the candle)
So here is how I do this spell when by myself outside of coven:
I take a circular brass tray and set it on top of the altar and place on top of that a candle holder that is fireproof. Typically, I will make a circle of salt or an appropriate herb around this – careful that the herb will not come into contact with the candle or flame. After it has all been anointed and carved, I will light the candle and concentrate my summarized wish and burn only one knob. I blow out the candle after the first knob is burnt and then go on with my night. I do this for 7 nights in a row – the only difference is that on the seventh night, I allow the candle to extinguish itself.
Some I might incorporate a magical talisman or pentacle, such as can be found in The Greater Key of Solomonor even the seals in the Sixth and Seventh Books of Moses by drawing them out with Dove’s Blood Ink or Dragon’s Blood Ink on one side and then writing the wish on the back of talisman/seal. (Use Bat’s Blood Ink for curses)
These paper talisman can be burned on the 7th night before the candle goes out.
The finished talisman or seal can be placed on top of the circular brass dish and underneath the fireproof candleholder. That can be great fun as well and can be another way to add more thought-concentration to the wish you are making. Even when you don’t fully understand the designs in certain talismans and seals, the point of the exercise is to imbue additional concentration into the spell. The talisman is anointed with the appropriate condenser fluid or magical oil before being placed underneath the candle holder.
It is a fun little spell in total. Enjoy its simplicity!
The Spring Equinox:
As we now approach the time of the Spring Equinox, this time is a focus of re-dedication to the coven. Typically, we will re-affirm the tenets of the religion at this special time, as it is a time of renewal and re-birth. This lines up with not only the renewal of nature in our environment and the growing season, but also astrologically as we enter the Sign of the Ram, Aries – the astrological new year. This means it is also a great time to perform initiations into the Wicca as well.
Witch Dances & Stone Circles:
Recently I was re-reading the book, Witchcraft and Folklore of Dartmoor by Ruth E. St. Leger-Gordon and I was reminded of something I was taught in Wicca: that the square-dances of today are often reminiscent of the old circle-dances – such as the back-to-back dances you read about in various witchcraft lore.
These dances would happen at the Sabbat or Esbat, which is not to be confused with the “Sabbath.” The word we use for our Esbats is said to come from the old French word s’eabattre which is said to mean “to frolic.”
There are many old stone circles that look perfect for this, such as in the old photographs I’ve seen of the Nine Maidens Circle and also the Rollright Stones that I have only seen photos of that are located in England. Here in America, we are lacking in the ancient megalithic stone circles that you find throughout England and Europe, but today, you have many folks that make their own, often on a smaller scale in America. (A magnificent megalithic park, like the Columcille Megalithic Park located in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania is more recently built, and is pretty intense and well worth the trip! Another stone circle I have heard of, in South-Western, PA that I haven’t had the chance to visit yet but have heard good things about and has a stone circle is called Four Quarters Interfaith Sanctuary. I am sure there are many others too!)
Today though, much secrecy is still required in the performance of our rituals. The secrecy is not because we aren’t free to practice the Old Religion, but because magic is best found in the silent and secret places. Those silent and secret places of the inner mind and those of private locations are where we seem to perform some of our best work when it comes to group-work. This is probably why witches are always attracted to old and remote locations that are well-off the beaten path to perform rituals, or even a small and private clearing in the middle of the woods that can easily be swept by a broom in order to cut the magical circle.
Any site, such as that clearing in the woods or a still, quiet spot indoors can be made a place for a sacred ritual by certain words and actions we do. In a book written by Douglas Hill and Pat Williams titled, The Supernatural, they say that, “The Power of the spell is derived from the power of words and of incantation.” When an incantation is spoken with emotion and the visualized thought-force is behind it, it most certainly is a magical spell that has power. Like all things in life, some witches have more power and some less. We are all at different stages of development in our path to reach perfection and eventually through a cycle of many lives reunite with the Deity.
Part of our “Spring Cleaning”, another important ritual for spring, is a clearing out of clutter, things broken and beyond repair, and that which holds us back from all that is positive and good. The art of simplicity is one that is very sacred to Wiccans, for one of our Precepts of Cosmic Order in our coven teachings teaches us that the wise always find ways to simplify their lives. Witches ever work to keep life simple. We know that life itself is simple, but we often find ways to complicate it and fill it up with both physical and mental clutter.
The wisest of witches aim to live uncomplicated lives. It isn’t because witches are out of touch, it is because they realize the most powerful things in nature are often the most simple, and yet, the most profound, and have chosen to order their lives in a way to remove excesses if possible in order to reserve time and energy – so that our life-force may be used wisely: Reserving power so that it may be put to good use toward a goal or target when it is needed and necessary, rather than wasting it. This too is a balancing act. It is a pathway of finding balance, which is often easier said than done – but we strive for it, even if we never become perfect at it.
A favorite quote of mine that I repeat often by Ralph Waldo Emerson:
“If I can’t do great things, let me do small things in a great way…..”
In remembrance of a magical ritual performed years ago and the beauty and simplicity of that ritual that was performed with love and trust in mind; I have written the following to recount and give honor to that day. With springtime rushing in the air right now, how can our thoughts not contemplate the beauty of nature?
It was a private outdoor affair and its memory is not lost to time even to this day for me:
“A bright lit forest of golden hue and skin that shined of azure-blue was the theme one day, yet a lifetime ago this memory I have and recall, I know – For it was born one day with good intent and sent spirit soaring, heaven bent with curling smoke and herb-scented fire weaving and crafting my hidden desire To ascend, to become, to be at one, As I will it, so be it done!
I left that woods, and much had changed, A call from the depths, unknown, unnamed. Now that place is so different, I don’t recognize it, And that is because, no one will find it.”
Thoughts on the “Cone of Power”
In these special spaces with our covens we often times create what has come to be described as a “Cone of Power” and the thought-form created in some ways may possibly be described as a form of long-range hypnosis on a grander level.
Each coven will have its own ways of doing this and concentrating the mental command so it can travel to its target like a carefully thrown dart. As you prepare your spring-time spells and rituals, it is important to keep that in mind. A great way to describe this mental command is via a quote from a book titled: “Practical Lessons in Hypnotism and Magnetism,” by L.W. DeLaurence, published in 1937:
“This subtle, silent, intangible psychic or soul force (Hypnotic Influence), is the power that has been conserved to the use of the strong minded; and when concentrated, and projected by the will with a combative, subduing, or controlling intent, it becomes the magic wand…..”
The mind is a powerful machine and one that a witch learns to master as carefully as the driving of a horse-driven carriage.
Studies within this book referenced above relating to the understanding of magnetism are also very good and discuss the subtle energy that is released from the body.
Hypnotic control can easily be delivered in-person through various techniques passed witch-to-witch with nothing but the mind, the hands, and carefully crafted commands through strong mental influence that is magnetic and inductive.
The use of spells is a way in which we can direct the vital force or “Vril” to draw in and attract certain influences by tuning our own vital fields to make them magnetic – hence, why the Widdershins movement is used and works much in the same way as a cyclotron.
More on Candle Magic:
Candle magic is widely popular when it comes to spellmaking. We do use candle spells in coven from time to time, but there are other secret ways that traditional covens use to make group magic together.
I believe one of the reasons that candle magic is so popular is because of the energetic virtue of candles that many folks may not even realize. When a candle is magnetized by the thought + emotion, it becomes a “condenser of magic” that absorbs and holds what is put into it. Everything about an unlit candle is magnetic. That is why when we do a spell, we use new candles for each spell – discouraging the practice of using the same candle for multiple spells. (Their are exceptions to this, of course!)
Now, to wrap up the conversion about the magnetic abilities of a candle…… Once the candle is lit, it becomes electric: meaning it sends forth the energy that was placed into it at the chosen time when it is lit as the wax melts and transmutes into heat, light, flame, etc.
Many covens use secret ways to empower a candle in coven circle, and then wrapped up to be burned at a later time during the correct planetary or angelic hour of the day.
A candle magnetized for money-drawing is in this photo above.
Writing a simple and direct incantation can take a little practice and skill. To help you get started and maybe help you spark some ideas, I am going to include a simple little incantation that can be used for Money-Drawing if you need a specific amount of money.
Solitary New Moon Spell for Money Drawing:
This spell is cast for seven days, starting on the New Moon.
To perform, place your incense thurible in the center of the altar. Place to the left of that a candle in the color of your astrological sun-sign and anoint it with the zodiac oil of your sun sign. It should first be inscribed with your name if it is for yourself, but for casting for another person, it should be inscribed with that person’s name, using the candle color of their sun sign and the correct astrological oil.
Underneath the candle holder that hold the Astrological Astral Candle, place a piece of paper in which you have drawn one one of the proper Money-Drawing Talismans out on in Dove’s Blood Ink and on the back of it the amount of money you need. Circle the candle holder with fresh mint.
To the right of the Incense Thurible, place a magnetized green candle for money and either a $5.00 bill or a $20.00 bill under that candle holder. Circle it with salt or purple sand. If you can, also place a single cut red or orange rose in front of that candle holder but within the circle of salt or sand.
Burn Money-Drawing Incense in the Thurible.
First, light your astral candle, speaking a few words such as,
“The money flows to me! The money flows to me! The money flows to me!”
Light the green money candle and chant something to the effect of:
“Force of earth and force of flame, force of wind and force of sea, This witch’s breath is on the wind, money flow and come to me.”
Continue chanting for a little while and when you feel your concentration has peaked, end with:
As I will, so mote it be!”
New Moon Coven Esbat for Money-Drawing:
Many of the same steps above would be used, but in a different way, to do this Spell at the Coven Esbat. Obviously, the coven-Esbat format will be the most powerful, with a coven concentrating their collective imaginative wills for the money-drawing for the person requesting it.
The first thing would be to cast the magical circle, being sure to cast the circle widdershins.
The supplies would be placed on the altar in the same method as above for solitary, but carried out in a different order in the center of the altar. First, you would light the magnetized money candle and the coven would circle widdershins, while holding hands until the power has peaked with the chant:
“Force of earth and force of flame, force of wind and force of sea, This witch’s breath is on the wind, money flow and come to me.”
Once it has peaked, the coven drops to the earth and silently concentrates on a swirling vortex of money, spinning widdershins, and bringing the right down that swirling vortex-cone the amount of money or greater to the person being concentrated on to receive. At the appropriate time, the coven will stand, and begin circling/dancing clockwise to send out the power raised while chanting:
“The money flows to (NAME)! The money flows to (NAME)! The money flows to (NAME)!”
They would do this until they have felt the power draining from the circle and it has all been sent out to the person. The Esbat would continue on as usual.
*Note: Candle burning can be a fire hazard. Follow the instructions of the manufacturer for proper candle burning instructions.
To finish this article, I will leave you with a spring-time quote:
“To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream, not only plan but also believe.”-Anatole France
Bibliography & Works Cited:
Peterson, Wilfred A., The Art of Living, This Week Magazine. 1961.
Gundella., The Hour of the Witch, Mutt Record Productions. Inkster, Michigan, 1970
Lyons, Delphine C., Everyday Witchcraft: love magic, charms and spells, fortune telling; everything you need to know to enjoy occult power!, Dell Publishing Co., 1972
Campanelli, Pauline., Wheel of the Year: Living the Magical Life, Llewellyn Publications, St Paul, MN. 2000
Dey, Charmaine,. The Magic Candle. Original Publications, New York. 1982
Tarostar, The Witch’s Spellcraft.
de Laurence, LW. Practical Lessons in Hypnotism and Magnetism
Leger-Gordon, Ruth E. St. Witchcraft and Folklore of Dartmoor
In this article we shall go through a simple list of terminology commonly found in Wicca. It is important to note this is a simple and quick primer and by no means definitive. You will learn what these terms mean in your own specific covens as each tradition will have it’s own meaning and correspondence to these terms.
Athalme or Athame – a ritual knife used by witches. This is used to direct the will. Most witches use one with a black-hilt. It is utilized to help create psychic barriers and thought-forms. An elemental tool used to command the elementals of fire. Other traditions may ascribe this tool to the element of air instead – such as the Golden Dawn “Air Dagger”.
Bolline – a pratical knife, typically with a white-hilt that is used for the cutting of herbs in a sacred or ceremonial manner. Most bollines have a crescent shape blade in the manner of a “hand-sickle.”
Chalice – sometimes called a “Cup” in some traditions. This is used for not just sharing ritual wine within the magical circle, but can be used for mixing potions and elixirs. Emotion and Desire corresponds with this tool and it can be used for acts of scrying. Some chalices will hold blessed water used in ritual as well. Connected to the element of water and controls and commands the elementals of water.
Deosil – meaning sun-wise or clockwise. In our coven, the magical circle is banished clockwise to send out the power that has been called in. The circle is only cast deosil if a psychic or a protective barrier is constructed.
Elementals – these are being that comprise what we refer to as the “Astral Nervous System” and reside within the Astral Light. They typically are classified amongst the four elements of Earth, Air, Fire & Water. They are in various stages of development and are malleable. Some of these beings take the shape of our thoughts that we impress into the Astral Light which makes them “Thought-Forms.”
Fortune-Telling – this is the practice of using some type of device or items to predict the future for yourself or another person. Common trappings to do so include playing cards, crystal balls, casting lots, tea-leaf readings. Typically this is performed by a witch for another person requesting answers to a situation or a problem.
Great Mother Goddess or Gracious Goddess – Symbolized by Water and Earth, or condensation and solidification, which is one-half of the Supreme Being or Universal Power/Life-Force. She is the fashioner of all-life in this place and Mother to us all. She gives physical form to all life in this physical plane of existence. She is often symbolized by the Earth and Moon.
Horned God/Father God or Good God – Air and Fire, or Evaporation and Combustion … motion and heat, which is one-half of the Supreme Being or Universal Power/Life-Force. The God initiates or sparks all life. He is often symbolized with Solar and/or Light-Bearing symbolism.
Initiation – a ritual or series of rituals used to integrate a new witch into a coven or tradition. Initiation into each degree of Witchcraft marks a level of advancement for the experience you’ve gained and the knowledge and wisdom that you have achieved. Each initiatory level has different responsibilities. Each successive degree of initiation builds on the previous one.
Journey – this usually relates to taking an “astral journey” using the practice of astral projection, or, it may refer to a type of meditation or path-working. Typically, the body is put into a relaxed state and mental chatter is slowed down to induce an altered state of consciousness. This can be self-induced or led by another person, and at times might involve tools or trappings. Hypnotism may also be employed. Today, we often talk about this in terms of brainwaves, such as Beta, Alpha, Theta, Delta, etc. The “Alpha State of Consciousness” is utilized for most types of journeys and psychic work, and is the state we induce the mind to enter when performing an act of spell-making or psychic pursuit.
Knot Spells – certain spells within Witchcraft use cords or string for the tying and releasing of knots to bind a spell and release a spell. The tying of knots in a cord binds the “thought” into it once the thought-form has been created of the desired effect, and the untying of the knot releases the thought-form to carry out its work. This was common work in weather manipulation, love and lust spells and curses.
Lammas – or “Loaf-mass” is one of the four compulsory Great Sabbats that the initiated witches attend and is celebrated August 1-2. It is a harvest festival that originated in England. During this Harvest Festival, libations are offered in Thanksgiving and Graditude to the Great Mother Goddess for the rich bounty that she has bestowed upon us. During the Sabbat festivals, the psychic batteries are “re-charged” until they are refreshed again at the following Sabbat. The two Equinox Sabbats and the two Solstices are Solar Sabbats that initiate each season. The Terrestrial/Earth Sabbats of Candlemas or February Eve, May Eve or Beltane, Lammas and Hallowmas are when the season that was initiated at the Solar Sabbats are at their height.
Magic Circle – a marked out space used in most forms of ritualized magic, such as Wicca, to set aside a place outside of space and time. When magical circles are drawn Widdershins, it creates a negative flow that invokes that which you call to it. When a magical circle is drawn deosil, it creates a positive flow that banishes or sends out that which is present. One pulls in power, the other sends out power. The space may be physically marked on the ground, although ritual action and elemental tools are used in erecting the circle and also banishing it.
New Thought – first arising in the USA, but has influenced occult practice and philosophy around the world. Mental Healing and Thought-Control is emphasized in order to use the power of thought to affect our realities. One main belief found in most New Thought movements is that our thoughts are causative and the quality of our thoughts can shape our physical conditions and our mental states and actions – including the actions of others.
Operative Magic – this is better known as “practical magic” by most. It is a magical action to receive results on this physical plane of existence…. Push buttons A & B, and receive result C. Examples of this would be for spells and rituals related to love, luck, protection, money, hexes, etc.
Pentacle – A tool used by the witch that is typically a round-shaped disc made of earthly material like wood, metal or stone with symbols related to earth symbolism or sigils of a tradition. Symbolizes solidificaiton of all things and controls the earth elementals. Typically will hold the dish of earth or salt in rituals. In most of our rituals where it is used, it is placed at the Northern point of the altar.
Quaich – a two-handled drinking cup used to hold wine during Sabbat rituals. Most today use the word Chalice, but Quaich is a word at times still used to describe the Wine Chalice of the High Priestess.
Rite of Passage – We typically use this to describe two things. For the first, see “I” for Initiation – for initiation is also a Rite of Passage to acknowledge achievement and begin the next stage of development. For the second, it is used to describe a ritual marked by a coven to acknowledge the passing of a coven member or initiate from this physical world, and bless them in their transition into the next life. These rituals are performed so that the Soul of the Initiate will transition with ease into the next incarnation as we celebrate their life and bless them on their journey.
Spells & Spellmaking – this is the process whereby you purposefully impress upon the Astral Plane the thought-form of that which you wish to affect and bring about. This is done by using Imagination, Will, Faith & Silence in an active fashion – while at the same time performing a dramatized ritual act.
Thurible – this is a dish that can be carried or is on a chain that is used to burn ritual incense during rituals and spells. It relates to the action of evaporation as well and controls the elemental spirits of Air. For most rituals, we place this to the Eastern side of the Altar, corresponding with the Air element.
Uncrossing – this is an old occult shop term used that is used to describe a ritual concept of freeing yourself or someone else of a “crossed” state. A crossed state is typically described as a streak of bad luck or even an intentional curse that impedes a person’s freedom. Think of how it would feel if the shoe-laces of both of your shoes were tangled and tied together – uncrossing would be the untangling of this condition to a state where your path is free and clear of that obstacle. Sometimes performing an Uncrossing is also described today as a “Cleansing.” Various magical and cultural traditions have methods for this. In some cultural and magical traditions, like Hoodoo, that may include ritual baths, or in the practice of Curadismo of Mexico it may include a “Limpia.” In Wicca this may include the practice of practical techniques such as hands-on healing, concentration, house-cleaning, candle-burning and the physical action of breaking or burning a symbolic object to be free of its negative influence – sympathetic magic is applied.
Visualization – this is the active and purposeful forming of a mental image or object within the mind out of your own mental-matter. When you visualize, you are using the imaginative will in a purposeful way to create the image in your mind and hold it there. This is the first step in creating a thought-form and is crucial for the casting of spells.
White-Handled Knife – this is a practical knife of the witch and typically has a white handle to it. It is used for carving, scribing, cutting or any of the practical tasks that a witch may need it for. The Athalme is not typically used for physical cutting – so only the white-handled knife is used for physical cutting and scribing. A common use of the White Handled Knife is for carving symbols into candles. This ritual blade is often confused with a “Bolline”, but it is a separate ritual knife.
X Factor – this phrase is used to describe something that is indescribable, but at the same time extraordinary in which we don’t have an exact answer for just yet. When you have been in the world of the Occult for a long time, you will see things on occasion that will just blow you away that you can’t fully describe in the moment exactly what they are because they are remarkable occurrences. Many times, these experiences are deeply personal and not often shared with others as we try to determine just what that indescribable X-Factor is that makes something work, or made something happen in a remarkable way.
Yule Log – At the festive meal shared by the coven near the Winter Solstice, a log of wood is be-decked with at least three candles and decorated with greenery such as pine, holly, mistletoe and or whatever type of evergreen trees or plants found in your own location. This is placed in the center of the table for the feast, and typically, the High Priestess will perform a consecration and ceremonial lighting of the Yule log. Typically the invocation will concern making the coven strong and sure of purpose and symbolize the blazing light that returns – the unconquered sun who initiates the seasons. It is also an indoor representation of the blazing light of the Sun and the Fires. Covens who use a Yule log in their ceremonies of the seasonals will have their own traditions and invocations used for this little ritual and tradition.
Zodiac – the earth orbits around the sun and spins widdershins. The Zodiac is used in astrology to divide the earth’s journey around the sun into 12 astrological signs in Western astrology. Astrology can be found throughout the world, and other locations and cultures will have their own representations. In our Western Astrological Zodiac, we begin with Aries and end with Pisces; but in the Chinese Zodiac, they typically use animals beginning with Rat and ending with Pig.
Faith Healing, Pow-Wow and witchcraft (Hexerei) has been part of Pennsylvania culture and lore for quite a long time. 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, occult practices and witchcraft 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/Witchery/Witchcraft.
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 the country 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.
Some folks have called Pow-Wow a simple form of witchcraft, others have called it faith healing, and others have said it is a Christian form of prayer. So what is the truth?
It seems that many are in agreement that most of Pow-Wow practice seems to be at the very least rooted or gained a great deal of inspiration from the pre-reformation practices. Some of these practices of the pre-reformation may be described as superstitions and/or typically a middle ground road where sympathetic magic crossed with faith/belief/religion.
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.”
Most of the old Pow-Wows did 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.
One argument says that old-time Pow-Wow practitioners would ask if one believes in God before they would agree to teach them the techniques. 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 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. Herbal tisanes and potions were more common among the English witches and cunning folk than the PA Dutch, 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, 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 & Witchcraft:
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. First, I must say that most folks that practiced Pow-Wow historically considered themselves followers of the Christian religion. To them, being called a witch was a “bad thing,” whereas today, the Wiccan religion has given witchcraft a more respectable appearance than it once had.
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 or witchcraft and Hex means witch, and when it comes to witchcraft in Pennsylvania there is no other grimoire more heavily used 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.” Places like in France had a solid tradition of magical books as well, such as the famed “Le Petit Albert.” 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, whereas, magical circles were either not used, or very rarely used in Pow-Wow or faith-healing.
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.
Hexerei, on the other hand, was decadent magic. It was typically not for just everyday concerns, although it could be, and focused more on grandiose type of desires and workings. Probably the most used area of this 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!
Another interesting fact is on the topic of initiation of witch. Unlike Pow-Wow, where there no known initiation, and indoctrination into the practices came from teaching and demonstrating the charms, 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. 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.
There are some middle-ground grimoires that seemed to be used by both Pow-Wowers and Hexers, and one of them is: “Egyptian Secrets” 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.
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.
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 book discussing some of the mysteries of the Great Mother Goddess, or the “Magna Mater,” is one written by Bill Gray titled, “Evoking the Primal Goddess.”
While I can’t speak for other traditions of Wicca, I can tell you about my personal beliefs as I have come to learn them as passed down to me: Our own Wolfa Coven believes in a “Supreme Being” or a “Universal Mind or Life-Force” in which all forces and forms that exist have come from and one day will all return to – such as through the process of reincarnation – which never “devolves” but continuously moves forward progressively. If we are to achieve perfection of the soul, it is a belief that we can’t do this in only one lifetime.
There are a number of titles or names that many witches may or may not call this Life-Force or Supreme Being, but that is not important: for what is perfection can never be personified by our own human understanding. To do so, would be to limit this Universal Life-Force and make it less than perfection.
It is a simple belief that something that is much greater than ourselves exists, somehow, and in some way.
Now out of this Supreme Being or Universal Life-Force, comes the first primal split or pair of expression – which as Wiccans we term the “Mother Goddess/Gracious Goddess and Father God/Good God/Horned God.” Typically, this duality may be given names which are kept secret by a coven and since anything less than the Supreme Being is now imperfect, it is okay to name our two “gods.” Wicca teaches that our gods are not perfect and they need our help, just as we need them. One deceased High Priestess of our coven line said it like this: “We are nothing without our gods, but our gods are nothing without us!” This primal pair of Goddess and God are but the expressions of the Supreme Being. Air and Fire related to the God and Water and Earth related to the Goddess.
Many folks have complained over the years about the “secrecy” of the god names of the traditional covens – and at the same time many Wiccans have termed that these names are “all important.” In my own personal opinion – call the “gods” what you wish. These names in many ways are “key codes” to the coven thought-form, or what we know as the “unseen presence of the coven” or an “Astral Coven Member” that makes up the Spirit of each coven. So don’t worry if you like you’re not in the special club without the passwords – many newer groups today have created their own door and key-code locks of god-names and this is perfectly acceptable for new groups to do. Over time, a long-standing coven builds up tremendous power through the use of ritual and the collective thought-forms they create which connects to these beings they work with and can elevate the names used.
This above goes back to the idea of the “sacred names,” in which certain names carry certain power or vibration to them that affects the Astral Light. If certain words are spoken or vibrated and are measurable energy that produce mental, emotional and physical particles which can be measured in the brain, you can then indeed “mess” with the thought form itself… though some god names are now to the point of power that they go well-beyond what a single witch or even many, many witches could mess with since the thought-form has been built that have taken a life of their own outside a coven. It takes only one or two trees to seed a whole forest over time.
This above also leads to a particular teaching in the world of the occult that says that a coven can be no more than 13 members, because only 12 of them are actual human-born witches (or 6 working pairs) and the 13th member of the coven is the “egregore” of the coven itself. If you quarter a circle by the directions, or in a cosmic-cross, three witches within each quadrant are all connected back to the unseen presence of Deity that is symbolized by the baalfire or need-fire in the center of the magic circle. When indoors, this central fire is symbolized by the altar in which we circumambulate; and outdoors, this is symbolized by the central ritual fire.
A few coveners have asked why we will place most of our altars in the center of the magical circle. (Though at times, for certain rituals, there may be two altars – one placed near one quadrant of the circle and the other in the center.) I said that you must think of what happens when we naturally gather around a fire outdoors. What do we do? Without thinking, we instinctually circle around it as the warmth of the fire radiates from the center outward in all directions. Indoors, the altar has the same representation since we are mimicking what we would be doing out of doors – so it only makes sense to circle around a central source.
The instinctual discoveries of what we do in our magical operations also apply to our Goddess and God. If these two beings represent a specific pair of “primal parents” or the first expressions or principles of Deity, then what makes sense to us? A Mother Goddess and a Father God maybe?
We often see witches ask ourselves, at times, why the God-principle is occasionally ignored or relegated to lesser importance at times. Why doesn’t the “Good God” seem to get the same amount of affection as the “Great Mother Goddess?”
I think outwardly this has a lot to do with the second part of the quote above by Bill Gray that refers to the fact that for so long, we have worked to suppress the “Magna Mater” of us all and we have entered the pendulum swing where for many of us, the Goddess receives much greater importance than the God as we work to bring Her back to equal importance.
Also, another rationale to this is the Goddess-principle of condensation/water and solidification/earth is what is responsible for the fashioning of life in this realm. If the God has initiated life through Celestial and Solar changes in the heavens, that has an immediate effect on the causation of Creation, stirring that life brought forth by the Great Mother – which it being She that has the greatest effect on all of us. The God is equally important, but his mysteries do not seem as close to us at first and we must grow in them as we learn to balance both sides of our primal parents within us.
Lastly for some, there is also possibly a great deal of trauma associated with the masculine-dominated religions that many people come out of when they first come to witchcraft. Most of us that have become witches have always seemed to have a propensity in this life for always feeling different or out-of-step from the masses, which has drawn, at times, criticism and condescension from mainstream patriarchal faiths. This means the principle of a masculine deity can at first feel traumatizing when folks first enter their new religion. This is a natural process of healing that folks go through if they have experienced this. We all have witches in our lives that we love dearly that have been shunned by relatives and even their own children of other faiths, at times, because they have discovered their one and true path that is right for them. With us being “different” and not fitting into conventional boxes and poked at for it, it is understandable why these feelings arise. My advice to other coven leaders when they see this is to be gentle with them and give it time – as they go through the healing process and discover healthy expressions of the divine masculine, most witches, if they work on their advancement, come out of this mindset in time and will begin to embrace the divine masculine as equal. We just have to realize that some other faiths, particularly Christianity, may have had figures in their lives that caused a lot of destructive trauma to them, and in the personal cases I have witnessed, regular and dedicated practice in Wicca seems to heal that. Even among witches who identify as male themselves may at first have a great deal of trouble with the divine masculine. It is not uncommon and it is a process of healing.
Some that come out of their former religion take up such passion and zeal that they begin to harm others in their newly adopted faith, just like they witnessed or experienced in their former faith. This is not the way and will of the Goddess that teaches us the tenets of Balance, Harmony, Humility and other important tenets we aspire to. The harmful pontification that can occur in these instances can also be equally damaging. I’ve personally witnessed this and have had the opportunity to help folks recover from the effects that those types have had over them. It is not an easy process and one that takes many years. It is worthwhile work to do, but easy it is not!
A quote about the path that I think relates to the way and will of the Great Mother that I love very much and we’d all do better if we aspire to is from the book titled, “The Mind of the Druid,” which is a particularly old book by Dr. Graham Howe that says,
“Follow the path, my son.”
“Your path, which is not my path.”
Even though we may work within the same religion of the Wicca, or even with others in the same coven, there is still an individual path we all follow as well. Our traditions are but a firm foundation on which we stand. There is power within a spiritual legacy that has been passed down to you. Our individual needs, drives and growth is still very much individual. The coven and tradition is but a unit that builds you up, challenges you, and aids you in the path of discovering thyself.
One High Priestess that I know told me one time that, “All things in Nature must find expression.” Her opinion seems to carry a spark of universal truth within it. Since Nature Herself is imperfect and in a state of always seeking balance, but never quite obtaining it, when you load up one side of the apple-cart with too many apples, it is bound to tip over. Some folks might describe this as Nature’s pendulum swing. In our coven, we refer to this the “Law of Compensation” and this law itself finds expression through the Autumnal Equinox ritual, or the “Rite of Autumn” – which is a time of us all getting our just desserts for our actions, good or ill – for like nature, what we sow, we must reap.
Many folks are familiar with the statement that, “Nature abhors a vacuum.” This particular statement can get so overused that I almost hate to even type it out here, so I will try to explain it with what it means to us in witchcraft and in terms of the Goddess:
The earth re-claims that which is given unto her: the earth, the sea, etc., This is a negative flow of magnetism or absorption. Now it is important here to note that “negative” does not equate to “bad” in ANY way, because destruction/absorption in this case refers to limiting and therefore, giving form and growth to something. For in order for something to be given form, it must be restricted and given a vessel to find expression in. In this way, we are saying that our “Good God” initiates, and our “Gracious Goddess” responds. This is the action and re-action of the primal principles.
Just like in human reproduction, the seed initiates new life when it finds the egg, and the egg responds. One side cannot and will not exist without the other: Without the response, there can be no initiation – and without initiation, there can be no response.
Blessed Be to all in The Craft who remember, honor and call upon the Great Mother in all her manifold attributes and many names!
During the late 1960s and 1970s, a number of witches released their own vinyl records through various record companies. Today, let’s take a trip down memory lane and discuss them! The first one mentioned has recently been re-released as well!
This is by far my favorite of the “Witches on Vinyl” post. In this, Gundella (Marion Kuclo) gives instructions on how to cast spells. She emphasizes that you must be initiated to be a witch, but anyone can access the power of magic at some level, so she gives you advice on developing a bit of talent and gives a number of spells to try your hands at.
Gundella came out of the witch-closet in the late 1960s when she retired from being a public school teacher and lead the Ann Arbor Coven. Like our coven, their coven was also a robed coven. Gundella also wrote newspaper columns and was a syndicated writer with hundreds of articles written for newspapers on all sorts of witchy subject.
An exciting thing happened just a few years back – this record has been re-released by Modern Harmonic! Now you can buy it on Vinyl, Compact Disc and of course on streaming! Here is what the new production looks like:
Sybil Leek – Astrological Delineations, your birth sign and your music
In the world of witchcraft, the name of Sybil Leek was legend. She was the world’s “Best Known Witch.” Sybil’s major love was astrology, and this record is a product of that love. In this, she pairs music that aligns with the signs of the zodiac. Very entertaining and gives you music that can help align your own sign’s harmonic energy with the power of music.
Louise Huebner – Seduction Through Witchcraft
In the late 1960s and through the 1970s, Louise Huebner was a well know witch who released two well-known books and at one time was deemed “The Official Witch of Los Angles County.” On this record, (though, I don’t have the record of hers – only the compact disc) Louise outlines some of her better known spells and teaches the listener all sorts of things that may have been of interest to a modern witch of the 1970s genre. A number of other witches did various recordings that were released during this same time period.
The Art of Witchcraft by Babetta
This is a very practical record on practicing witchcraft. Bebetta covers the use of magical tools and consecrating them – along with spells and the practice of divination.
Barbara, the Gray Witch
Barbara, the Gray Witch’s records are filled with spells and rituals. In it, Barbara describes what she calls White Witchcraft, Black Witchcraft and Gray Witchcraft. Gray Witchcraft, in her descriptions, describes the Witch who uses the power of the their mind.
Witchcraft and Magic, by Vincent Price
Vincent Price’s vinyl record is entertaining! His voice and his story taking is unmistakable and he is still loved by fans worldwide.
“As the Druids in their way of life were the brain and nervous system of communication over vast areas of territory, so is the tree, as it breathes thousands of gallons of water (blood?) up into the sky, to fall, the Aquarian giver, as rain on distant, thirstier, lands.”
-quote from “The Mind of the Druid” by Dr. E Graham Howe
Trees serve a great importance in our coven, and not just because of the wand we cut when the sap is up to perform invocations with, and more than just the Besom or Great Wand we shape. Trees themselves have the highest-developed astral bodies within the plant and vegetable kingdom and can assist in the radiation of power and the life-force.
Branches of trees and vines also served a role in the rituals of the Old Religion as much as it does today. On many occasions in ritual, we wear ritual masks and is custom to make wreaths of branches, leaves and vines as crowns for ritual. When the ceremony comes close to a conclusion, it is custom to toss the wreaths made of foliage into the fire after the dances are performed.
“Tree-worship was rooted in the oldest nature worship, and the Church had the utmost difficulty in suppressing it.”
-quote from “The Religion of the Ancient Celts” by J.A. MacCulloch
Amongst the Druids, there were certain trees that at times were considered more sacred than others and might even be considered the Kings and Queens of a sacred grove – such as the Oak Tree and the Apple Tree.
Work with the trees of a particular place should be rooted in the type and species of trees that are found in your own locale. For example, American Oak is different than the English Oak, and there are limitless variety of apple trees. We sometimes find it great fun to taste even the differences in the apples produced from apple trees – the difference in color, taste, crispiness, etc.
Other forms of flowering trees can be planted in order to create a special and sacred grove for Witchcraft rituals as well. There is in fact a custom of creating your own sacred grove for ritual and meditation using five sacred flowering trees that is a lovely custom.
The practice of meditation can be aligned to trees as well. Trees that you form a special bond and relationship with can provide great healing simply by placing your spine up against the tree and allowing the power of the tree to radiate to your spine – for what is a tree trunk but the spine of a tree itself?
Illness can be transmuted through trees as well by transferring a human illness to a tree. Because the tree itself cannot be sickened by our human conditions, the energy is transferred through the branches, through the trunk and down into the roots of the tree to be ‘earthed’ into the ground and recycled, or be transmuted into energy for the tree’s use and benefit.
Other forms of tree veneration is and was common in the Old Religion. In America today, we don’t have the long history of sacred wells that other places in Europe had. For beside each sacred well also seemed to stand forth some form of sacred tree or grove. It wasn’t uncommon when visiting sacred wells to find that many visitors to the site itself had tied ribbons or wishes on to the branches of the tree or placed other symbolic or sympathetic offerings to the tree in order to express a wish. What is this other than petitioning the elemental, the Dryad of the tree, for a gift or a wish, while speaking forth a simple Incantation for a situation to improve or sickness and bad luck to be lifted?
“There is One Supreme and Absolute Power at the source of life, the cause of all living.”
-quote from “The Supreme Philosophy of Man” by Alfred Armand Montapert
The same One-Source or Life-Force that runs through such majestic trees also runs through you and me as well – connecting all of us into one collective unit. It is a source that we can align and tap into. Additional power can be drawn from trees by simple concentration and the placement of the body and hands.
In our coven, there are techniques that are used by the position of the body, the arms, feet and hands to either direct the life-force outward towards a person, place or thing; or to absorb the life-force inward. These techniques are taught to initiates.
By working with the tree and experimenting with the flow of energy depending on body placement and concentration, you will feel how you will receive more flow or least resistance. It can only be experienced by trying out these secret methods.
By studying folklore as well you may discover that certain species of trees might even be best used for different things and pursuits. For example, how often when learning the passed-down teachings of “Water Witchin'” by use of Diving Rod have you been told it must be made from a certain tree? The most popular seem to be either a fruit producing tree, such as a Peach Tree (what I was taught) and others recommend other types of trees, such as a Hazel tree.
Learning to identify trees in your locale can be done easily. Two handy guides I have found most useful for tree and flower identification here in North America:
1. National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Trees 2. National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Wildflowers
What if you live in an environment that doesn’t have a lot of trees such as in drier climates such as a dessert like many witches we know and love? Never fear, there is magic to be had in these environments too which we can tap into!
Blessed Be, Thorn Nightwind
The Supreme Philosophy of Man. Montapert, Alfred Armand
The Mind of the Druid. Howe, Dr. E Graham
The Religion of the Ancient Celts. MacCulloch, J.A.
The new documentary about the life, art and magic of Rosaleen Norton titled, The Witch of Kings Cross, was just released today on February 9, 2021 and I had a chance to purchase the film and watch it. It was a fascinating story and I just couldn’t wait to journal about my reactions and thoughts about the film and reflect on it in terms of occult art and magical practice.
The film was beautifully produced and featured informative commentary about the life of Rosaleen and a great deal of her artwork. The music that was scored with the film, including the beautiful dance scenes of the folks portraying Pan, Lilith and Lucifer were extraordinary as well.
Rosaleen Norton came out as a witch around 1949 in Australia and made her home in the Kings Cross area located in the Sydney, Australia area. Her art continued to get more attention throughout the 1950s and it was very provocative and controversial in its day. Her occult artwork, much of it done while in a state of trance, would still be considered too risqué even by today’s standards for the more conservative types.
The controversy concerning her artwork, as you will see detailed in the film, put her at odds with the law quite a bit at the time – and some of her artwork was even burned by the government – the first such occurrence sanctioned by the Australian government. No other female artist has been tried and as prosecuted as much she was – but Norton continued in her path, finding ways to be true to herself and express her true will.
I sincerely enjoyed the interviews they had in the film with people who knew her personally in meet-spaces. The producer, Sonia Bible, and the production team must have made this film at the exact right time – because folks of that era of the late 1940s and 1950s are few and far between in our world today – having passed on to their next incarnation. I’m certainly grateful to be able to watch this film and and get to hear from those people what their experiences with Rosaleen was like.
The film gives you quite a few glimpses into the magical world of Rosaleen Norton. She was certainly influenced by by other occultists and occult practices such as a ceremonial Qabala and the work with psychic trance states that many of us still practice in Witchcraft today.
At our coven meetings, we talk a great deal about work within the Astral Plane, sometimes known to us as the “Grey Area.” This, being a store-house of all emotional impulses combined with mental thought – thought-forms if you like, and the place where magic is born. Those adept at clairvoyant sight and vision can get quite a lot of information and can view within this ethereal-web, or what I like to term, “the Astral Nervous-System” many beings and images, both elemental and created thoughts pressed into form. I get the impression from the film that Norton, being one to explore this Grey Area, was able to bring forth some of these beings she perceived on this plane and express them in a visual, terrestrial form in the physical plane for all to see. After all, the Astral Plane is filled with some of the most remarkable and beautiful beings of light, hope & desire; and at the same time, those of our greatest fears, worries and nightmares.
Being involved in Wicca and Occult communities, I have come to know a number of folks who are witches and very involved in the creation of art in many forms. If you are an Occultist and into the use of making esoteric or occult art, I highly recommend this film so that you may get a glimpse into how she used trance-states in the creation of her art. Those in the know of how to access these realms with ease will immediately know what to do. Even if you are not interested in her style of art, you’ll get a glimpse of how one Witch from Australia was able to bring forth artwork that has been adored for many decades through the use of trance states and peering into the astral plane. I think you will find that instructive!
Overall, as a Witch, you can’t help but feel great emotion for the trials and tribulations that Norton experienced in her life. I certainly learned many things about what she experienced in her life through this story. Not only was being a witch and public about it very hard in 1949-1950s Australia, but also being a female artist composing works of a spiritual nature outside of a conservative Christian society at the time.
Today, many of us take for granted to personal freedoms we have. In Norton’s time, not only was being gay illegal (and Norton and her partner were both bi-sexual), but so was the practice of magic and witchcraft. It makes me wonder just how many witches in the world were active back in those days. If we consider the fact that only a few dared step outside of the bounds of the law, how many continued to practice the Witchcrafts and magics they discovered in secret that we will never know of?
… a coven of British Traditional Witches practicing in the Horsa Tradition