Posts Tagged ‘the Gods’
Have you ever walked into the other room and forgotten why you went in? Or been in the middle of a presentation for work or school and forgotten your next line? Though modern science has investigated and standardized the human information processing system that encompasses remembrance and recall, the concept of Memory and its importance was recognized very early on in human culture.
Without memory, much of everyday human interaction is meaningless. We operate within a system of recognized social queues and norms, and we cooperate best with those people and sub-systems which are most familiar to us. We all recognize that green means go and red means stop. And we know to trust our family and friends rather than the random stranger lurking on the street. We know these things, because they are embedded as part of our memories. We build up our knowledge base cumulatively utilizing memory. And thus, any new creations and inspirations can be tied into our ability to do this. The anthropologists of the past several decades have worked to formalize our understanding of this concept (Tomasello, etc). But it was recognized long ago, most famously by the ancient Greeks who cast memory into the personified form of the goddess Mnemosyne, and the bright ideas built off of memory became her inspirational daughters, the Muses.
Mnemosyne was a Titaness, one of the many deities representative of the earlier pantheon of the Indo-European Greek mainland which was supplanted by the more famous Olympians. Legend has it that for nine passionate nights, Zeus was allowed to forget about his troubles and stress as new divine ruler of the world by remaining in the arms of Mnemosyne. And from their union, nine months later, the nine Muses were born at the oracular springs of Pieria. These sacred waters were probably a prophetic pilgrimage site for those seeking to gain the favor of Mnemosyne and the ability to either remember or to forget. Mnemosyne holds sway over both of these qualities. She is said to control the River Lethe and subsidiary waters in the Underworld which grant forgetfulness of one’s previous life or continued remembrance of it into the next.
But she was not just honored for otherworldly role, but for the power she could imbue in her adherents in the mainstream world. Kings and politicians particularly sought her favor. And as the mother of the nine Muses, she was constantly evoked alongside her daughters. Indeed, it is likely that the Muses themselves were all initially aspects of Mnemosyne herself, which over time, became divisible and separated out as distinct deities of their own. When Homer so evocatively calls upon The Muse at the start of his Odyssey (“Sing to me of the man, Muse, that man of twists and turns drive time and again off course, once he had plundered the hallowed heights of Troy…Launch out on his story, Muse, daughter of Zeus, start from where you will –sing for our time too”) it is likely early versions referenced Mnemosyne as a conglomeration of all the innnovative aspects which later became attributed out to her children. The oral nature of Homer’s work entails additions and alterations along the way. The singular general term ‘Muse’ as opposed to naming one of the specific deities, most likely Clio, Muse of History, implies higher levels of generalization or else a different entity than that which classical audiences would have assumed. The phrase ‘daughter of Zeus,’ though included in modern translations, is representative of a later alteration or addition to the text from periods whereby the relationship between Zeus and the Muses is more formalized. It may initially have said nothing of Zeus whatsoever, or else specified a different relationship to him.
The cosmology of Mnemosyne and her creative kiddies is most explicitly outlined in Hesoid’s Theogony or ‘Birth of the Gods:’
“(ll. 36-52) Come thou, let us begin with the Muses who gladden
the great spirit of their father Zeus in Olympus with their
songs, telling of things that are and that shall be and that were
aforetime with consenting voice. Unwearying flows the sweet
sound from their lips, and the house of their father Zeus the
loud-thunderer is glad at the lily-like voice of the goddesses as
it spread abroad, and the peaks of snowy Olympus resound, and the
homes of the immortals. And they uttering their immortal voice,
celebrate in song first of all the reverend race of the gods from
the beginning, those whom Earth and wide Heaven begot, and the
gods sprung of these, givers of good things. Then, next, the
goddesses sing of Zeus, the father of gods and men, as they begin
and end their strain, how much he is the most excellent among the
gods and supreme in power. And again, they chant the race of men
and strong giants, and gladden the heart of Zeus within Olympus,
– the Olympian Muses, daughters of Zeus the aegis-holder.
(ll. 53-74) Them in Pieria did Mnemosyne (Memory), who reigns
over the hills of Eleuther, bear of union with the father, the
son of Cronos, a forgetting of ills and a rest from sorrow. For
nine nights did wise Zeus lie with her, entering her holy bed
remote from the immortals. And when a year was passed and the
seasons came round as the months waned, and many days were
accomplished, she bare nine daughters, all of one mind, whose
hearts are set upon song and their spirit free from care, a
little way from the topmost peak of snowy Olympus. There are
their bright dancing-places and beautiful homes, and beside them
the Graces and Himerus (Desire) live in delight. And they,
uttering through their lips a lovely voice, sing the laws of all
and the goodly ways of the immortals, uttering their lovely
voice. Then went they to Olympus, delighting in their sweet
voice, with heavenly song, and the dark earth resounded about
them as they chanted, and a lovely sound rose up beneath their
feet as they went to their father. And he was reigning in
heaven, himself holding the lightning and glowing thunderbolt,
when he had overcome by might his father Cronos; and he
distributed fairly to the immortals their portions and declared
(ll. 75-103) These things, then, the Muses sang who dwell on
Olympus, nine daughters begotten by great Zeus, Cleio and
Euterpe, Thaleia, Melpomene and Terpsichore, and Erato and
Polyhymnia and Urania and Calliope (3), who is the chiefest of
them all, for she attends on worshipful princes: whomsoever of
heaven-nourished princes the daughters of great Zeus honour, and
behold him at his birth, they pour sweet dew upon his tongue, and
from his lips flow gracious words. All the people look towards
him while he settles causes with true judgements: and he,
speaking surely, would soon make wise end even of a great
quarrel; for therefore are there princes wise in heart, because
when the people are being misguided in their assembly, they set
right the matter again with ease, persuading them with gentle
words. And when he passes through a gathering, they greet him as
a god with gentle reverence, and he is conspicuous amongst the
assembled: such is the holy gift of the Muses to men. For it is
through the Muses and far-shooting Apollo that there are singers
and harpers upon the earth; but princes are of Zeus, and happy is
he whom the Muses love: sweet flows speech from his mouth. For
though a man have sorrow and grief in his newly-troubled soul and
live in dread because his heart is distressed, yet, when a
singer, the servant of the Muses, chants the glorious deeds of
men of old and the blessed gods who inhabit Olympus, at once he
forgets his heaviness and remembers not his sorrows at all; but
the gifts of the goddesses soon turn him away from these.
(ll. 104-115) Hail, children of Zeus! Grant lovely song and
celebrate the holy race of the deathless gods who are for ever,
those that were born of Earth and starry Heaven and gloomy Night
and them that briny Sea did rear. Tell how at the first gods and
earth came to be, and rivers, and the boundless sea with its
raging swell, and the gleaming stars, and the wide heaven above,
and the gods who were born of them, givers of good things, and
how they divided their wealth, and how they shared their honours
amongst them, and also how at the first they took many-folded
Olympus. These things declare to me from the beginning, ye Muses
who dwell in the house of Olympus, and tell me which of them
first came to be.”
Though Mnemosyne’s magickal powers were not preserved, her divinatory nature and her control over knowledge, remembrance, and the transitioning soul entitle her a role as a goddess for witches. Knowledge is power. And knowledge is created by Memory, which is ruled over by Mnemosyne.
As the United States collectively pauses to celebrate the memory of those we have lost in times of battle, it is fitting that we also celebrate our own ability to remember them. And perhaps wonder what lives they have moved on to now, and what memories they will retain of their former glory.
If you want to learn more about mythical and historical figures like Mnemosyne and delve into the deeper more fabulously magickal realms of the Witches of Antiquity, now is your chance! The Sacred Mists newest class, History of Witches in the Western World , is now open for enrollment. Created and taught by yours truly, the class utilizes the mythical, literary, and historical biographies of witch-figures to explore the history and anthropology of magick from prehistory through to the last century. I hope to see you around its digital hallowed halls!
Initial Image is Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s Lamp of Memory or Mnemosyne. Completed in 1877, the canvas’ frame is inscribed with the phrase “Thou fill’st from the winged chalice of the soul/ Thy lamp, O Memory, fire-winged to its goal.”
Is your city a god or goddess?
One of my favorite things about the socio-political phrase ‘the separation of church and state’ is that it does not include pagan concepts when it separates out ‘church.’ Organized monotheistic religion is automatically cast as a bias for political motivations, while the more spiritual ethos like those practiced here are allowed a place at the table. Political iconography is full of pagan and esoteric occult elements which subtly play on the psyche of the masses to promote ideas of community and nationalism.
Just take a look at the statue of Liberty. She’s not just a pretty lady wearing a tiara and holding up a torch. She is a sculpture of the Roman goddess of Liberty. And yet she is not a museum statue, or a remnant of a bygone age. She is actively worshipped as a symbol of welcome for the huddled masses searching for the promised land of the American Dream. And for those already in the United States she is a perpetual guarding symbol of the democratic spirit she so poignantly embodies. Overall, she was an entirely apropos gift from the republic of France to the United States: the first government of the modern era to successfully practice democracy (the only previous working variant having been in 5th century BCE Athens).
The Statue of Liberty wears a stylized toga comparable to those of Republican Rome (an antique civilization the France of the past three centuries has actively idealized). She carries a tablet of laws (the political variant of the moral Ten Commandmants) and a torch of enlightenment. But most intriguing of all ~ is her crown. Her crown hearkens back to ancient traditions of city-goddesses, where the deity most associated with the city (or the personification of the city itself) would wear a divine mural crown symbolic of the city’s walls or battlements. From the creation of the first cities there has been an implicit identification of the city as an anthropomorphic divine figure ~ a protector of man analogous to the city battlements she wears on her crown. The most prominent iconographic depiction of this centers on the ancient Near East, where the Tyche city- of the Phoenician coast reigned supreme. She was a symbol of the town’s prosperity and linked to the well-being of their inhabitants, the various Tyches could be counted on to guard the fortune of her denizens.
Anthropomorphization, or the transformation of a concept or inanimate object into something human, is something man and womankind intrinsically does to make these concepts or objects relatable. We do it in a myriad of different ways, both in ancient times and modern, often without even thinking anything of it. We name our cars. We treat our domesticated pets as human children. We even cast the gods in our own image, and then justify this by saying that we were cast in his or her image and that thus it is an infinite playback loop. By granting the space we live in, i.e. the nation, the city, the street, the house, etc a personhood, we make it easier for us to relate and understand the understandable.
Why does it rain? Because the weather god is sad. Humanity, even perceived humanity, implies an understanding of culture and emotion. In casting human forms on the divine, we cast them into a society which parallels and interacts with our own and therefore can be understood as a grand godly soap opera. It makes the big scary unknowable things about the universe fathomable while still retaining some elements of their mystical mysteries.
Creating these humanistic symbols also builds a community, who, if they have nothing else in common, at the very least possess this shared iconography. Just as sports teams has associated colors, team jerseys, and a mascot ~ so too can this team building psychology be applied at wider levels of society. The personified nation, be it in the form of the statue of Liberty or the likes of the Roman Empire’s Roma, acts as a visible totem for people to follow and share.
Gradients of civic divinity can be seen throughout modern society. From the goddesses on state seals to the magickal spells implicit in state, government, and even school models. The deification of space and of concepts is happening all around you.
And so, this week I ask you to look around your world and inquire into how many wonderful gods and goddesses may be going overlooked and in need of a bit of your attention. Is your city a god? Does your school have a patron goddess? What do you anthropomorphize and why? Why is it so important that humankind does this?
Prayer and song are elements of religious culture which anthropologists assume were some of the key early features of the world’s first religions thousands of years ago. The spoken or sung verbalization of a wish, a cry for help, a thank you and other types of prayer formalizes the supplicant’s desire ~ pushing it out from them and into the wider cosmos. It is a beautiful expression which bridges the gap between human and divine.
With the advent of writing in ancient Mesopotamia, these prayers began to be written down ~ their power deriving now as much from the vocalization of the desire as from the act of being written. Early writing was considered sacred. The knowledge of being able to read and write was a powerful skill; one which was possessed by the rare few; in fact, initially only priests, royal administrators, their scribes, and occasionally the royals themselves were capable of writing and reading. It was used as much for organizing the newly expanding Empires of the world as it was for magickal purposes. Over time, it would filter down to the merchants and beyond, sifting down through the ages until the invention of the printing press in China in the sixth century AD and the later, more prominent Western discovery of the printing press in the mid-fifteenth century, and the wider spread of literacy that ensued because of these discoveries. But in ancient Mesopotamia, the power of the written prayer was myriad, and was used to call upon the gods for a vast array of purposes.
The following prayer, or hymn, to the goddess Ishtar is from approximately 1600 BCE, during the first Dynasty of Babylon. It was written in cuneiform on behalf of the King Ammiditana, and survived the ages, to be deciphered by the archaeologists of the early twentieth century and ultimately read by you, dear reader, at the beginning of the twenty-first.
The Romance & Plight of Medea
Once upon a time, long long ago, in Colchis on the far eastern end of the Black Sea, there was a princess called Medea. And one day, a band of travelers came to Colchis, in search of the Golden Fleece which belonged to King Aeëtes, Medea’s father. The travelers, known to posterity as the Argonauts after their ship, The Argo; were led by Prince Jason of Iolcus; who had been challenged by his throne usurping Uncle Pelias, to capture the fleece and bring it back in return for the crown. King Aeëtes received Jason’s delegation amicably and decreed that if Jason could complete three epic challenges, Jason could sail away with the Fleece. Medea, present for their meeting and seeing Jason, either of her own volition or cursed by Aphrodite and Eros, the gods of l’amour, fell instantly in love with Jason. And unbeknownst to her father, agreed to help him in return for his hand in marriage and his making an offering to her goddess Hekate. At each of the challenges, Medea used her magick and herb-craft to keep Jason safe and bring him triumph: Medea gave him an herbal charm to protect him from the fiery breath of the Khalkotauroi (bronze oxen); advised him as to the best way to defeat a magickal group of soldiers sprung from dragon’s teeth; and gave him a sleeping potion to use on the fearsome dragon that guarded the Fleece.
With the challenges complete and the Fleece won, Jason whisked Medea away from her homeland with her protesting father and brother giving chase. In the resulting skirmish, Medea’s brother, Apsyrtus, is killed, thus angering the gods. Now cursed, Jason and Medea head to sea and back into the odyssey-like vignettes that characterized the Argonaut’s initial voyage to Colchis; except this , they have Medea and her magick to aid them. Initially, at the ship’s request (that’s right, The Argo could talk), they stop at the island home of Medea’s aunt, the sorceress Circe of Homeric fame, to have the ship magickally cleansed for the crime against Apsyrtus. Continuing on, post-purification, the Argonauts run into the sirens; before travelling on to Crete, which was guarded by a robot-like bronze guardian called Talos. Medea be-spelled Talos long enough to wound him fatally ~ using her apparent knowledge of metallurgical magickal arts to know the golem’s weak point.
Next they sailed to Jason’s home of Iolchus, at which point in the story, it is often assumed that Medea and Jason have been officially married; but alas, even with a foreign wife of noble blood and the Golden Fleece in tow, Pelias would not give up his brother’s crown to Jason, its rightful heir. It thus falls to Medea to get the kingship back for her husband. And so Medea tricks Pelias’ three daughters into believing that she can return the aged Pelias back to youth. Having given Jason’s father Aeson back some of his youth, she is rumored to have power over life and death. So she shows them a ritual similar to the one she performed for Aeson, whereby an elderly ram is chopped up, brewed in a cauldron of magickal herbs, and comes back out as a lamb; and then instructs the daughters to do the same for their father. They merrily (and gruesomely) chop him up, but Medea withholds the correct magickal formula for the herbs, and Pelias remains old, and dead. Unfortunately, Medea’s ploy to win the crown for her handsome hubby backfires: the people of Iolcus, led by Jason’s cousin and Pelia’s son, Acastus, run Jason and Medea out of town for her trickery.
Jason and Medea then flee to Corinth and set up shop. And they have two children, usually said to be sons. But in the Greek culture of the historic classic period, when the tales of Jason and Medea were finally written down; a foreign wife, like Medea, did not have citizenship: leaving the family status and Jason’s prestige in the lurch. Yearning for more power, Jason claims his family at home is not legitimate given Medea’s dubious legal status; and he ends up betrothed to the local Princess Glauce (sometimes called Creusa). Medea, furious, vows revenge, and sends a poisoned wedding dress to the lucky princess. Glauce and her father, King Creon, both die by the dress; leaving Jason once again without a throne to look forward to. And in some versions of the tale, Jason accosts Medea, only to learn that she has also murdered their two children, fearing both Jason’s wrath and the wrath of the citizen’s upon them for her regicide (Although in one version it is the crowd which kills the children; after Euripides’ play featuring the above storyline, few have deviated from the more dramatic element of Medea killing them herself).
Medea is swept away from Corinth by her grandfather, the sun god Helios and continues to travel around Greece. She first takes refuge in Thebes with her friend and former Argonaut, now the King, Herakles (Hercules,) before again being cast out when word of her wicked reputation reaches the Thebans. Next she takes refuge in Athens, where she meets and married King Aegeus, father of the hero Theseus and namesake of the Aegean Sea around Greece. Medea, now a skilled political schemer, arranges for her new son (some say by Jason, others by Aegeus), Medus, to become the heir apparent for the Athenian crown; and all goes well until Theseus appears and claims his birthright. Attempting to win the crown for her son, Medea attempts to kill Theseus and is caught in the act by Aegeus who promptly kicks her and Medus out of Athens. They run back home to Colchis, where Medea dethrones an evil uncle and puts one of her other brothers on the throne. And then, according to Herodotus at least, Medea and Medus move farther east into Iran where they become the namesakes of the Medes, an early incarnation of the cultural group that will eventually become the ancient Persians.
Jason, meanwhile, regains his throne in Iolcus, but lives out his life scorned by the gods for reneging on his promises to Medea. Ultimately, aged and ruined, he takes up residence under the remains of his once glorious ship, the Argo; only to be killed when the rotting wood of the hull fell apart on his head.
How do we know Medea’s Story?
Medea’s story is a tale of a woman scorned; the tale of the Hester Prynne & Scarlet Letter of the Ancient World. Her story is both the simple, heart-rending quest of a woman looking for love a la the Lifetime Channel; and a complex wander through the realms of ancient Greek myth. Even the basic tale of Medea is a sprawling epic of many names, multiple places, and considerable socio-political and fairy tale elements. It would have been told orally for possibly a millennia before it was ever written down, with elements added, subtracted, and altered to reflect the understanding of the audiences it was being told to. For instance, take the dubious legal loophole through which Jason divorces Medea. This is an element of the political and legal system of classical Athens circa the 5th century BCE, but in the story it is applied to the period of the tale, which is typically dated to have occurred (if it did indeed occur in any way, shape, or form) sometime around the 12th century BCE at the beginning of the Greek Dark Ages. But not everything is reworked and old elements slip in, staying because they are fragments of society still in use or those recognized as ancient: for instance the use of bronze when by now the Greeks had discovered harder metals; or the idea of their being a King of Athens and Corinth, when by the classic period, only Sparta had kings, most other city-states had adopted other more democratic forms of government.
The tale above is one I have amalgamated for you, as a timeline of Medea, taken from the primary historic literary versions of her tale. Each of those stories varies in its details and some only tell part of her tale, relying on the pop culture knowledge of its contemporary audience, much of which we are no longer aware of, to fill in the blanks. Although Hesiod, Pindar, and Herodotus both mention her, the earliest full source is Euripides classic play Medea , a tragedy which was written and performed first in ancient Athens in 431 BCE century and onwards and which focuses only on Medea’s time in that same city, though it mentions earlier events and foreshadows later ones within its script. It is considered the classic version of the story, as well as one of the most venerated plays in all of theatric history. Next comes Apollonius of Rhodes’ Alexandrine epic The Argonautika from the third century BCE. This text is unique in its romantic and epic language, and its use of extensive research to fill in the earlier portions of the story in particular. For Apollonius was a scholar at the library of Alexandria and in writing his tale, he preserved for us snippets of earlier texts, poems, and oral lore which recounted the melancholy tale of Medea. A smattering of others reference her in between classical Greece and Imperial Rome until finally there is Seneca’s Medea and Ovid’s 1st century AD versions of her in his Metamorphoses and The Heroides (which translates to The Heroines), which Ovid based on the classical mythology and clues from the decorative artwork of Greece that had been handed down to the culture of Rome. Ovid was much enamored of the story of Medea, and indeed wrote a third, full length text telling her tale which has sadly been lost to mankind by the ravages of time. However, his Metamorphoses provides ample anthropological details on the magickal rites of Medea and therefore what was considered pop culture magick or ancient ritual by his time period, and his Heroides delivers a poignant “letter” of Medea’s story, telling the tale as if from the point of view of the witch herself.
The Anthropological Background of Medea
Medea, an eastern figure, enters what we now know as Greek myth at an important time in proto-history; as the eastern European tribes of the Asian steppes migrated into the Balkan Peninsula, mixing with the so-called Pelagasian population that was already living in what is now modern day Greece. The mixture of populations as thus would have resulted first in a period of cultural conflict as the two societies’ belief systems and sacred stories fought for supremacy before ultimately settling into an amalgamated version which reflected the dominance of one and the submission of the other. In other words, the two sets of stories got shoved together and the powerful witch/goddess of Eastern legend becomes subject to and wife of the more western hero Jason; with the role of Medea and her dark arts possibly considerably toned down from what they may have once been and twisted to cast her as the villain. The culture that resulted from the mix of the Eastern nomads and the “Pelagasians” becomes the Mycenaean society of Dark Age Greece, circa 1200-800 BCE. Homer’s Odyssey and Iliad, contemporaries of the story of Jason and the Argonauts, are likewise born from this same mish-mashing of East meets West, and indeed all three stories cross-reference each other considerably, both in the use of the same characters and the use of certain linguistic phrases to describe people, places, actions, and cultural facets.
Medea’s story, in particular, is an ethical quagmire of the ancient world. Undeniably a villain for much of her tale, she starts off as the bright, innocent heroine, eager to help her hero succeed. Through circumstance and experience she is shaped into the nasty piece of work the society of her tale needed her to be in order to understand her place within their contemporary mythology. Medea, as a woman, was too powerful for them to begin with. Her magick afforded her a weapon against society, which put her on equal stance with men and allowed her loopholes around the burgeoning legal rules which ancient Greek society was starting to view as necessary and unbreakable. Her role as an outsider, a member of a barbarian nation to the East who has migrated into the “civilized” world of the Greek city-states, adds to the fear surrounding Medea. She becomes the misogynist’s boogeyman, terrifying three millennia’s’ worth of men with the tales of her magickal destruction and her symbolic role as the ultimate woman scorned. Even when sympathetic versions of her are introduced, like Ovid’s letter from Medea to Jason in the Heroides: she cannot even excuse herself for the evil acts she has and is about to commit. Modern opinions of Medea are perhaps more lax, in that expanded women’s rights and increased general psychological knowledge give us a deeper insight into the mind of Medea, who’s actions, though still not excusable, can be arguably seen as having a motive.
The later sections of Medea’s journey are also of anthropological note as not only does Medea travel from her native Colchis, she moves from Greek city-state to city state: Colchis to Iolcus to Corinth to Thebes to Athens, back to Colchis, and then potentially to the Iranian plateau. This could speculatively be associated with the cult of Medea or an ancient sorceress/goddess figure quite like her, moving across the prehistoric landscape and being variously adopted and then neglected just before or during the so-called Greek Dark ages (1200 to 800 BCE). But even with this cult gone, a vague memory of it lingered into the historic period to be included as one of the tourist stops along Medea’s life voyage.
The sometime finale to the story of Medea killing her children could also be explained as a regional variation of this religious following. In Athens, there is indeed evidence of an early mother goddess cult, often associated with Hera and Medea alike, which involved either the ritual death of children or else was in honor of the early death of children and the mourning mothers (let’s hope the latter). In Corinth there are indications of a cult specifically focusing on Medea and Jason’s two deceased children themselves. Temple excavations at several archaic Greek sites associated with this early mother goddess group contain the burials of children within or around the foundations of the building. Although macabre to modern tastes, this focus on death, especially the death of young people, is common throughout world cultures, both ancient and modern; especially in the developing stage between a nomadic existence and settling down in towns and cities. In the ancient Near East, it was quite common for the bodies of younger members of societal groups to be relegated to distinct burial areas separate from the living spaces and the adult burial grounds; either in commemoration, or in fear that those who had not had a chance to live would retaliate on the still-living or their remains.
Another possible cult detail hidden within Medea’s tale regards the use of Pelias’ three daughters. In almost all versions of the story, they are basically seen as faux-initiates of Medea who are meant to learn magickal workings from her but are ultimately, for political/vengeful reasons, not allowed into the full secrets of Medea’s magickal craft. This is potentially indicative of some element of the cult whereby magickal knowledge was transferred from teacher to student until ultimately, with the cult’s downfall, the power of the magick faded and initiates were left in the dark, literally.
Exploring the Witchcraft of Medea
The sheer antiquity of the character of Medea is also attested to in the types of magick Medea practices within what remains of her tale. Medea’s magick is not the ritual temple magick, secret devotion, or cosmopolitan charlatanism that came to dominate the classical Greek period: it is a darker breed altogether. Medea acts more as a tribal shaman cum medicine woman of the older hunter-gatherer days. Her ways are less the ways of the city-states she visits and more those of the countryside and the mysterious “other” of foreign lands outside the realm of “civilized” society. She is a darker, chthonic goddess of life and death, power and destruction. She builds kingdoms and watches them fall, only to help them rebuild again. Her magicks, like her, are representative of the older ways on the outskirts of the Greek culture that built the city and the myth around her.
Medea is first and foremost, a devotee of the goddess Hekate. But whereby the acts and devotions of priestesses of her ilk had become privatized by the classical Greek period when her story was written down, Medea, wild-child that she is perceived to be, practices her prayers in public and private alike. She has no qualms about involving others in her rituals and at multiple points in her story invites others to witness her magick, pushing them away only at the peak of ritual thus preserving only a small element of secrecy. Apollonius has Medea and Jason perform an offering prior to his trials together, where in she instructs him on how to invoke magick herself. And in most versions, Pelias’ daughters as well as a possible royal retinue witness the midnight youth ritual both the times she conducts it properly and the time she purposefully does not, again, only being kicked out for a brief portion of the ritual. Despite these witnesses, Medea’s magick is not the communal magick of a temple, it is a personal relationship with a goddess. It is an individual chanting alone in a sacred grove rather than a throng singing together as a priest makes a sacrifice.
Medea’s affinity for Hekate runs in the family. Her mother Idyia, her aunt Circe, and potentially her sister, are likewise devotees of the goddess and of her student the goddess Artemis/Diana. Intriguingly, most versions of Medea’s story indicate that a grove or shrine sacred to the goddess existed near the “palace” of King Aeëtes in Colchis. Colchis, or Kolkhis, is not so much a city as a region in modern day Georgia (the country, not the state mind you ~ you have no idea how often that confuses people). King Aeëtes would have not been so much the ruler of a city and its people as the leader of one large or several nomadic groups along the edge of the Black Sea, with a potentially movable “capital” and immovable sacred sites. Ovid’s Heroides insists that not only is there a grove, but that in it, is a golden statue of Diana, “wrought by barbarian hands” ~ an anthropological detail backed by archaeological and historical evidence of the religious practices of the Balkan and Caucasus regions around the Black Sea: sacred groves with central features, often a statue, which has been embedded with precious metals. Notably there is the later sanctuary at Sarmizegetuza in modern day Romania, which was built over a pre-existing sacred site quite similar to the sacred grove in Colchis under discussion. However, for all that there are sacred sites which Medea works her magick in, she and her magick are not tied to the site alone. She does not have to be working within the confines of the goddesses’ sacred space, be it a grove or a temple, in order to call upon the goddess. She uses her powers this just as easily from the bow of The Argo, in a field outside Iolcus, and in the streets of Athens as she does at the beginning of her story in the grove of her goddess.
Medea’s magickal litany consists of several practices which are still highly regarded within witchcraft today; namely: the arts of invocation, purification, herb-lore, and rituals combing these elements. It is her herb craft which distinguishes her more as a witch and less a simple pagan priestess. She uses her herbal skills multiple times throughout her life: twice to help win the Golden Fleece, in the youth ritual for the ram and Pelias, and as a poison against Glauce, her father, and later Theseus. She also uses her herbs to heal, in what are often side notes to the primary tale which are typically disregarded or made little of because they cast the wicked witch in a more positive role. Even I have left some of these side-notes out of my narrative above because they are often just that, side notes to the primary tale. Medea heals several of the Argonauts while on board ship, most notably the highly controversial and only female Argonaut, Atalanta. She heals and makes younger Jason’s father, Aeson. And she also cures Hercules when she visits him later in Thebes. Ironically, Hercules would eventually succumb to the same kind of “poisoned-outfit death” Medea had previously sentenced Glauce to just before she visited Hercules.
The biggest magickal feat she performs, however, is arguably the youth ritual at Iolcus. And it is this which I would like to leave you with as the pinnacle of Medea’s magick. [Please note, do not try this ritual at home ~ even if you can find a dragon to take you round to collect all the ingredients: don’t even think about repeating it!] Ovid’s rendition of this magickal feat is, in my opinion, the best of the bunch, albeit the one that takes the most mythological license.
“Three nights remained before the moon’s bright horns
Would meet and form her orb; when she shone
In fullest radiance and with form complete
Gazed down upon the sleeping lands below.
Medea, barefoot, her long robe unfastened,
Her hair upon her shoulders falling loose,
Went forth alone upon her roaming way,
In the deep stillness of the midnight hour.
Now men and birds and beasts in peace profound
Are lapped; no sound comes from the hedge; the leaves
Hang mute and still and all the dewy air
Is silent; nothing stirs; only the stars
Shimmer. Then to the stars she stretched her arms,
And thrice she turned about and thrice bedewed
Her locks with water, thrice a wailing cry
She gave, then kneeling on the stony ground,
‘O night’ , she prayed, ‘Mother of mysteries,
And all ye golden stars who with the moon
Succeed the fires of day, and thou, divine
Three-formed Hecate, who knowest all
My enterprises and dost fortify
The arts of magic, and thou, kindly earth,
Who dost for magick herbs provide;
Ye winds and airs, ye mountains, lakes, and streams,
And all ye forest gods and gods of night,
Be with me now! By your enabling power,
At my behest, broad rivers to their source
Flow back, their banks aghast; my magick song
Rouses the quiet, calms the angry seas;
I bring the clouds and make the clouds withdraw,
I call the winds and quell them; by my art
I sunder the serpents’ throats; the living rocks
And mighty oaks from out their soil I tear;
I move the forests, bid the mountains quake,
The deep earth groan and ghosts rise from their tombs.
Thee too, bright Moon, I banish, though thy throes
The clanging bronze assuage; under my spells
Even my grandsire’s chariot grows pale
And the dawn pales before my poisons’ power.
You at my prayer tempered the flaming breath
Of the dread bulls, you placed their necks,
Necks never yoked before, the curving plough;
You turned the warriors, serpent-born, to war
Against themselves; you lulled at last to sleep
The guardian that knew not sleep, and sent
Safe to the homes of Greece the golden prize.
Now I have need of essences whose power
Will make age new, bring back the bloom of youth,
The prime years win again. These you will give.
For not in vain the shimmering stars have shown,
Nor stands in vain, by winged dragons drawn,
My chariot here.’ And there the chariot stood,
Send down from heaven her purpose to fulfill.
She mounted, stroked and harnessed dragon’s necks,
Shook the light reins and soared into the sky,
And gazing down beheld, far far below,
Thessalian Tempe; then the serpent’s course
She set of regions that she knew of old.
The herbs that Pelion and Ossa bore,
Othyrs and Pindus and that loftiest peak,
Olympus, she surveyed those that pleased
Some by the roots she culled, some with the curve
Of her bronze blade she cut; many she chose
Beside Apidanus’ green banks and many
Beside Amphrysus; now was swift Enipeus
Exempt; Peneus too and the bright stream
Of broad Spercheus and the reedy shores
Of boeb gave their share, and from Anthedon
She plucked the grass of life, not yet renowned
For that sea-change the Euboean merman found.
And now nine days had seen her and nine nights
Roaming the world, driving her dragon team.
Then she returned; the dragons, though untouched
Save by the wafting odor of the those herbs,
Yet sloughed their aged skins of many years.
Before the doors she stopped nor crossed the threshold;
Only the heavens covered her; she shunned
Jason’s embrace; then two turf altars built,
The right to Hecate, the left to youth,
Wreathed with the forest’s mystic foliage,
And dug two trenches in the ground beside
And then performed her rites. Plunging a knife
Into a black sheep’s throat she drenched the wide
Ditches with blood; next from the chalice poured
A stream of wine and from a second chalice
Warm frothing milk, chanting magick words,
Summoned the deities of the earth and prayed
The sad shades’ monarch and his stolen bride
That, of their mercy, from old Aeson’s frame
They will not haste to steal the breath of life.
And when in long low-murmured supplications
The deities were appeased, she bade bring out
The old exhausted king, and with a spell
Charmed him to deepest sleep and laid his body,
Lifeless it seemed, stretched on a bed of herbs.
Away! She ordered Jason and Away!
The ministrants and warned that eyes profane
See not her secrets; then with streaming hair,
Ecstatic round the flaming altars moved,
And in the troughs of blood dipped cloven stakes
And lit them dripping at the flames, and thrice
With water, thrice with sulfur, thrice with fire
Purged the pale sleeping body of the king.
Meanwhile with the deep bronze cauldron, white
With bubbling froth, the rich elixir boils.
Roots from the vales of Thessaly and seeds
And flowers from the farthest Orient
And sand that Ocean’s ebbing waters wash,
And hoar-frost gathered when the moon shines full,
And wings and flesh of owls and the warm guts
Or wolves that change at will to human form.
To them she adds the slender scaly skins
Of Libyan water-snakes and then the livers
Of long-living gazelles and eggs and heads
Of ancient crows, nine generations old.
With these and a thousand other nameless things
Her more than mortal purpose she prepared.
Then with a seasoned stick of olive wood
She mixed the whole and stirred it. And behold!
The old dry stick that stirred the bubbling brew
Grew green and suddenly burst into leaf,
And all at once was laden with fat olives;
And where the froth flowed from the pot
And the hot drops spattered the ground beneath,
Fair springtime bloomed again, and everywhere
Flowers of the meadow sprang and pasture sweet.
And seeing this Medea drew her blade
And slit the old king’s throat and let the blood
Run out and filled his veins and arteries
With her elixir; and when Aeson drank,
Through wound and lips, at once his lips and beard,
White for long years, regained their raven hue;
His wizened pallor, vanquished, fled away
And firm new flesh his sunken wrinkles filled,
And all his limbs were sleek and proud and strong.
Then Aeson woke and marveled as he saw
His prime restored forty years before.”
Bibliography of Secondary Sources
Cleasby, H.L., 1907. The Medea of Seneca. Harvard Studies in Classical Philology, Vol. 18, pp. 39-71.
Clauss, J.J., and Johnston, S.I. (eds.), 1997. Medea: Essays on Medea in Myth, Literature, and Philosophy. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Cockburn, G. 2005. Lecture series on Medea: Analysis & Interpretation. Durham University
Medea and Witchcraft in Classical Greek Art
The Medea Tradition presented by Wesleyan College
(For classical, primary sources, please see links embedded in the text)
So as we’ve talked about, The Great Rite is the union of the God and Goddess in the sacred marriage. The ritual itself pulls from many ancient cultural and their various acts of sympathetic magick to honor the union of the God and Goddess to ensure fertility. It is an act that can either be done in actuality (also called “in truth”) or in token, and is considered one of the most important and most sacred of Wiccan rituals as it truly does embody the core essence of Wicca, the joining of the God and Goddess. The rite is often performed by the High Priest and High Priestess of the coven, or it can be enacted by another couple deemed fit by the group, and it is also part of the Third Degree initiation in many Wiccan traditions when the initiate is brought into the Mysteries of this degree by participating in this rite. When performed in truth the rite is performed, in private sacred space, by the High Priest and High Priestess, while when done it token it is often performed with all members of the coven participating to lend their energy and blessings as well. This ritual, as we’ll be talking about today, is Wiccan in nature though it is thought its roots can be found in some of the OTO rituals and the Gnostic Mass.
First let’s look at the different ways that The Great Rite in token. What this means is that the rite will be performed in a purely symbolic way; as this is an act of sex magick, rather than two people actually having intercourse, a receptive tool will be used to symbolize the womb and vagina while a phallic item will be used to represent the penis. Most commonly this is done with a chalice and athame, however I have heard of it being performed with a wand or rod in place of the athame (this would be considered completely untraditional by many practitioners, but in the neo-Wiccan and solitary practice of “do what works”, it certainly could be one way of performing this rite). Who holds which item is something that can go either way depending on the specific symbolism that you are going to work within your rite. It is common for the High Priest/male participant to hold the athame and the High Priestess/female participant to hold the chalice. However some will do the opposite in order to further work with the aspect of gender and energetic polarity through the rite. As this is a ritual of bringing together two halves to create a whole, this is one way to work with it and to further create an inner balance of the two. But again, it is more common for the female to work with the Goddess aspect and the male to work with the God aspect.
Beyond the decision of who is going to hold which ritual tool and perform which act, the truly important part of this rite is invoking the God and Goddess into one another. It is important to keep in mind that as this ritual, whether in truth or in token, centers on the act of both embodying deity and connecting the polar energies of deity together for creation, both the Priest and Priestess need to draw into themselves the essence of the God and Goddess and then that energy is incorporated into the more simple act of plunging the athame into the chalice. There are a few ways that this can be done; one way to work this is to have the male recite an invocation to the Goddess and then ritually direct that energy into the Priestess and then the Priestess does the same for the Priest, drawing the God into him. There is a method that is commonly known and still used as part of The Great Rite in both forms, an invocation known as the Five Fold Kiss.
The Five Fold Kiss
The Five Fold Kiss is a blessing used before the actual and symbolic Great Rite as a way of acknowledging that the Priestess is the embodiment of beauty, femininity, and is Goddess. This also helps to increase the level of spiritual awareness of the Priestess to help her tap into and truly feel the power of the Goddess flow through her, as well as to help those present truly see her as the embodiment of the Goddess for this rite.
While this is most commonly seen as being given from a male to a female there is a female to male version as well which I’ll include as well for the sake of giving more insight into it blessing. In the case of The Great Rite however, the only version of the Five Fold Kiss commonly seen is that given to the Priestess from the Priest.
The Priestess stands before the altar and the Priest begins by kneeling at her feet and then he will stand during the process, typically placing his hands on her hips. The Priest kisses the Priestess on both feet, both knees, the womb, both breasts and on the lips, starting with right of each pair. As he does this the following invocation is used:
Blessed be thy feet, that have brought thee in these ways.
Blessed be thy knees, that shall kneel at the sacred altar.
Blessed be thy womb, without which we would not be.
Blessed be thy breasts, formed in beauty.
Blessed be thy lips, that shall utter the Sacred Names.
The aforementioned Priestess to Priests version, which includes a kiss to both feet, both knees, phallus, both breasts, and lips, also starting with the right of each pair, uses the following invocation:
Blessed be thy feet, that have brought thee in these ways.
Blessed be thy knees, that shall kneel at the sacred altar.
Blessed be thy phallus, without which we would not be.
Blessed be thy breasts, formed in strength.
Blessed be thy lips, that shall utter the Sacred Names.
The next steps will vary based on how the rite will be performed. Will it be in long form or short form? Will it be more traditional or less formal?
Traditional Great Rite
When performed in a more formal or traditional way, which is also a long version of the rite, the Priestess lays down and a veil is placed over her. The Priest kneels at her feet and a female circle member brings the athame from the altar and stands by the Priestess and a male member brings the chalice and stands on the opposite side of the Priestess. This symbolizes woman as the altar, as the place where all magick and creation springs from. The Priest then recites an invocation which begins with several lines which express this:
Assist me to erect the ancient altar, at which in days past all worshipped;
The altar of all things.
For in old time, Woman was the altar.
Thus was the altar made and placed,
And the sacred place was the point within the center of the Circle.
As we have of old been taught that the point within the centre is the origin of all things,
Therefore should we adore it;
Therefore whom we adore we also invoke.
After the full invocation, the Priest then removes the veil, handing it to the female who then hands him the athame. The Priestess then rises to her knees so she is kneeling before the High Priest and she is given the chalice. The Priest then continues the invocation:
Altar of mysteries manifold,
The sacred Circle’s secret point
Thus do I sign thee as of old,
With kisses of my lips anoint.
The Priest kisses the Priestess on the lips and continues:
Open for me the secret way,
The pathway of intelligence,
Beyond the gates of night and day,
Beyond the bounds of time and sense.
Behold the mystery aright
The five true points of fellowship.
The Priestess then holds up the chalice and the Priest lowers the point of the athame into the chalice which is commonly filled with red wine (different groups will use different liquids such as mead, while some will use water as it is considered to be one of the most sacred liquids of all).
The Priestess says:
Here where Lance and Grail unite,
And feet, and knees, and breast, and lip.
The Priest gives the athame to the female covener and then places both his hands around the hands of the Priestess as she holds the chalice and then kisses her and she sips from the cup. In turn she kisses him and he then sips, all the while both keep their hands together holding the chalice. The Priest then takes the chalice and they both stand. Then the Priest will begin the passing of the chalice. In a traditional coven, where all acts are done male to female and female to male, the Priest will start this by passing the chalice to the a female in circle with a kiss and then she to a male with a kiss and so on until the chalice comes back to the Priest.
Next the cakes or bread are consecrated, which is done by the male and female members who assisted in the wine blessing. The woman takes the athame, the man the dish, and he kneels before her holding the dish up to her. She then draw an earth invoking pentagram over the dish while the man says:
O Queen most secret, bless this food into our bodies;
bestowing health, wealth, strength, joy and peace,
and that fulfillment of love that is perfect happiness.
The athame is placed on the altar and the woman takes the dish and, with a kiss passes it to the man, then he passes it back with a kiss, and then the woman begins the passing of the cakes, by giving the dish to another male in the circle with a kiss.
Traditional Great Rite in Truth
The above is the rite in token. The rite in truth changes at the point where the Priestess would rises to her knees. After the invocation is said by the Priest, all other members will either leave the room, in some cases they simply turn their backs to give some privacy to the Priest and Priestess in the center of the circle and they face outward and the Priestess remains laying down. The Priest recites another piece of the invocation and then kisses the Priestess in the sign of the Third Degree (according to the public Gardnerian version of the rite). The next portion of invocation includes the following verse:
Foot to foot
Knee to knee
Lance to grail
Breast to breast
Lips to lips.
At the point where the Priest says “Lance to grail”, if this section is used in the rite in token, the athame would be placed in the chalice. If the rite is being done in truth, this would be the point of physical union.
Now, this is very much a traditional Wiccan method of doing this and is the publicly know version that is often said to be Gardnerian in nature. This is not a version of The Great Rite that you are likely to see at your next community open Sabbat. You’re more likely to see something one of these. (The above version specifically comes from Janet and Stewart Farrar’s “The Witches’ Bible Complete”.)
Common Long and Short Form Rite
The difference between long and short from rites in a less traditional setting is the amount of wording used. The intention and the act of calling the God and Goddess within one another is most often still there. I do personally find that when it isn’t this portion of ritual is more of an act of blessing the wine and cakes than a true Great Rite. Remember, this is about calling on and honoring the God and Goddess and the act of union and creation. If this is missing, then this isn’t so much enacting The Great Rite, even in token, and is just more an act of asking for the ritual offerings to be blessed (and while this is fine, it’s just important to understand the difference, as this is one of the reasons that, beginners especially, can become confused by what is what in rituals). Here are several different wordings, but notice how the essence remains the same as the traditional version, even with the shorter invocations.
The Priestess holds the athame and the Priest raises the chalice in offering to her (this can also be reversed or they can each place a hand on the chalice and a hand on the athame). She inserts the point of the athame into the chalice and together they say:
As the athame is to the male, so the cup is to the female, and conjoined they bring blessedness.
Another version of the wording is:
HP: As the athame is to the male,
HPS: So the chalice is to the female,
Together they say: And conjoined they be one in truth, for there is no greater power In all the worlds, Than that of a man and a woman, Joined in the bounds of love, From which all life comes forth.
HP: Athame to Chalice
HPS: Spirit to Flesh
HP: Man to Woman
HPS: As the God and Goddess within.
Together (or all members in circle): Conjoined they bring blessedness to life.
For the sake of completeness, I’ll include here a cake blessing as you might see it in a public ritual as well. The Priestess takes the athame and pierces the bread loaf or places it over the food on the plate which is being held by the Priest and says:
We break bread to share in fellowship
As our ancestors have done
Since the dawn of agriculture
Breathe in the spirit of the Earth,
The Sun, the Rain, and the Fire,
Bound together for our nourishment.
Once both the bread and wine are consecrated through The Great Rite in token they are passed around the Circle, often the wine carried by the Priest and the bread by the Priestess, though this varies from group to group, using the blessings “May you never thirst” and “May you never hunger” upon presenting the items to each individual in the Circle. In return they will reply “Nor you”.
When you’re doing ritual in a solitary setting, you shouldn’t feel as though you can’t work this rite. As I talked about in the first part of this article yesterday, you need to remember that you hold within yourself both male and female energies regardless of what gender your physical body is, regardless of what your sexual preference is; you are an expression of both halves of the whole in a divine temple given to you by the Gods to house that spirit for a time. Call up and draw on both of those polarities and draw them into the rite for yourself.
In the sense of how to perform the rite, you can do one of two things. You can hold the chalice in your left hand and the athame in the right hand; the left side is the feminine side, the side where we place the Goddess on the altar, and the left is the masculine side and the side on the altar for the God. Hold the chalice up in the right hand while speaking the invocations of the Goddess and the athame while speaking the invocations of the God and then joining them together can be a simple yet effective way for a solitary to work with this rite. Again, it’s about your focus and intent. Don’t just recite an invocation during this, truly feel it. Feel the presence of the Goddess and the God and feel the power of their union when the tip of the athame goes into the chalice.
The other way you can do this, as a solitary is quite simple; place the chalice in the center of your altar and then use both hands on the athame.
Does it matter of the rite is done in token or actuality? That would truly depend on who you ask, but if the intention is clear, if your focus is to honor the deity resident within yourself and your ritual partner, then you’re doing the right thing and in token the rite fulfills its purpose. The biggest concern is that many people have started to move through the motions of The Great Rite as just a blessing for cakes and ale. This is a rite to unlock the Mysteries, and regardless of whether you’re a solitary or training in a coven this can be a rite to truly aid you in elevating your spirituality and your connection to the Gods.
The use of words in ritual and the power they hold are reflected in the Hermetic Principle of Vibration which tells us that nothing rests, everything moves and everything vibrates. Our words and the energy we place within them vibrates on this plane and in the astral plane and helps to create the change we seek through working with magick. However when we use words who’s vibrations might not truly be ones that we wish to put out into the Universe, we are only detracting from our work. Sometimes the words, and the combination of words, may look good on paper and sound good when spoken, but does their true essence, their vibration, honestly reflect what we desire?
Many people when they first come to the Craft want to jump into spells and ritual right away. It’s the “fun part” of being a Witch and it’s the thing that often draws people to this path in the first place. While there is nothing inherently wrong with this, the problem often comes from the approach that some which is held in the idea that these words written by someone else are the key, not fully understanding that it’s the intention and the vibration behind the words that are the real key.
I often find that in talking to people new to magick they are intent on gathering as many spell books, online spell collections and ritual collections as possible and then they just start working with spells as they are written by other people without really thinking of this power of words. This is one of the reasons that, personally, I advise against starting right off with spells, especially ones taken straight from the mouths of other Witches and magickal practitioners. Do you truly know the intent behind the words that someone else has written? Do you understand the meanings of all the words used? Do you know how to correctly say the words used? And what about the Gods or Goddesses mentioned? Do you even know who they are, nevermind being able to say their names? Because the answer is often “no” to many of these questions people find little to no success in their magickal work and then become discouraged. Many then decide that Witchcraft isn’t real or doesn’t work while a small few decide that they might need to do more work, more study, and then return to magick. These end up being the “cream of the crop”, so to speak, and often become life long magickal practitioners who take up a serious study of magick and the occult.
Some might say that this shouldn’t matter; it shouldn’t matter where the words come from and that it’s the intention behind the words as they are spoken that matter. And to a point, that’s very true. But if you don’t stop to think about what’s being said, if you’re just saying it without taking the time to consider what you’re really saying and really putting your own intention behind it, then you run the risk of putting something out there you didn’t intend and instead taking on the intentions of the original author. And honestly, when it comes to working with the Gods, if you are calling on a God or Goddess that you haven’t taken the time to develop a proper relationship with before asking for their help, if you can’t take the time to learn how their name is properly pronounced, who they are and what they like for offerings (and then bringing that into your work), then you shouldn’t be surprised when you don’t feel they have answered your call for help.
While it is always best to write your own spells, this obviously isn’t something that every practitioner is able to do, depending on their experience with spellwork. If that’s the case then you might want to consider either holding off on spellwork until you have more experience through study and understanding of things like the Magickal Laws and Hermetic Principles, or at the very least take care to truly study and understand the spell you pulled from a book or website before casting it. Be sure you’re intention is always behind the words that you use. And never, ever feel as though you can’t modify a spell you find in a book or on a website. None of these things are holy writ. If something doesn’t make sense to you, take the time to find ways to rework it. This is how most people start out with learning how to write and construct their own spells, just by the simple act of learning how to modify the spells they find by other people.
Taking the time to choose your own words, taking the time to study the Gods and Goddesses found in the rituals who you don’t have existing relationships with, and having true intent behind your words used in sacred space for the purpose of creating change will help you to send vibrations out into the Universe and the astral plane that will bring you what you truly desire.