Posts Tagged ‘witches’
A little note about this ritual for July:
The 4 winds were given magical names by the ancient Greeks – Boreas, Eureus, Notus and Zephyrus – it is these forces together with those of the elemental spirits of air, water, fire and earth that are called upon in the spell to carry your wish or workings to the four points of the universe.
For this solitary ritual we will be working with the Four Winds and our own life connections. If your life has been anything at all like what I have seen in my own lately you may feel the need for balance, for cutting ties to events or even people to continue your spirit growth. Normally you would do this type of working on a New Moon for banishment; however, with the current moon in Capricorn we are being gifted clarity, which has been absent in recent weeks. The light of the Full Moon is excellent for clearly delineating the depths of our obsession or desires which we need to separate ourselves from AND fill the space with that which we desire.
Items for this ritual:
-White Candle (this can be a votive or Ritual/Spell candle but of a size that can safely burn out)
-Incense of choice for cleansing/purification. I will be using Amber & Sandalwood sticks
-White Ribbon (length is not super important but if possible at least 9 inches in length)
-Colored ribbon to represent that which you will be cutting ties to (length does not matter here at all and if you only have white you can color the ribbon with markers or write on the ribbon that which you wish to clear).
Walking or pointing deosil-
I conjure you, O Circle of Power, you are a boundary of Sacred Mists between the world of men and the realms of the Mighty Ones; a meeting place of love, joy and truth; a shield against all wickedness and evil; a rampart and protection that shall preserve and contain the power that we raise within.
Move to the East.
Hail to thee Guardians of the Watchtower of the East and the Element of Air, blowing forth thought and communication on your gentle breeze we call to thee, please join us this night! Hail and Welcome!
Move on to the South:
Hail to thee Guardians of the Watchtower of the South and the Element of fire, dancing on the flames of passion, vigor and transformation we call to thee, please join us this night. Hail and Welcome!
Moving to the West:
Hail to thee Guardians of the Watchtower of the West and the Element of Water, riding on the waves of emotion and fresh ideas we call to thee, please join us this night. Hail and Welcome!
Moving to the North:
Hail to thee Guardians of the Watchtower of the North and the Element of Earth, dancing under the protective embrace bringing knowledge and growth we call to thee, please join us this night. Hail and Welcome!
Returning to Center:
Hail to thee Bright Lady and Goddess, in your name we have gathered beneath the Silvery light of the Full Moon in your honor and seek your blessings, we ask that you join us in the Sacred Circle of Power. Hail and Welcome!
Hail to thee Warm Lord and God, in your name we have gathered beneath the Silvery light of the Full Moon in her honor and seek your blessings, we ask that you join us in the Sacred Circle of Power. Hail and Welcome!
Having chosen the appropriate ribbon color for banishment or cutting of the cord for an obstacle and the growth that you wish to bring, hold both white and colored ribbons in your hands and visualize the outcome of your banishment and the filling of this space with growth in fine detail.
Tie your ribbons together with 3 knots near the top, you will want to have enough ribbon that it can “blow in the breeze”. Hold the ribbons in your hand near your mouth and breathe upon it trying to force the magick and desire through your breath into the very structure of the ribbons.
When you are satisfied, turn to the North and say:
“King Boreas of the North Wind,
by the powers of earth,
I call you to carry my working to the Northern quarter,
and by the powers of the gnomes,
I ask that you bring me balance and growth.”
Blow onto the ribbons wrapped in your palm so they might unravel and wave in the ‘wind’ in the direction of North. (gather them back up in your palm)
Turn to the East and say:
“King Eureus of the East Wind,
by the powers of air,
I call you to carry my working to the Eastern quarter,
and by the powers of the sylphs,
I ask that you bring me a light heart and freedom.”
Blow again onto the ribbons wrapped in your palm so they might unravel and wave in the ‘wind’ in the direction of East. (gather them back up in your palm)
Turn to the South and say:
“King Notus of the South Wind,
by the powers of fire,
I call you to carry my working to the Southern quarter,
and by the powers of the salamanders,
I ask that you bring me passion and joy.”
Blow again onto the ribbons wrapped in your palm so they might unravel and wave in the ‘wind’ in the direction of South. (gather them back up in your palm)
Turn to the West and say:
“King Zephyrus of the West Wind,
by the powers of water,
I call you to carry my working to the Western quarter,
and by the powers of the undines,
I ask that you bring me balance of emotion and movement.”
Blow again onto the ribbons wrapped in your palm so they might unravel and wave in the ‘wind’ in the direction of Center.
Turn to Center/Altar and say:
Great Lady of the Bright Moon, High Lord of the Warm Sun we call to life a balance of spirit, a removal of obstacles and a growth so that we might continue on our journey. We have called forth the winds to bring our magick to the four corners of the world. Your blessings received with joy and thanks. Blessed Be.
With the ribbons in hand and your scissors or other cutting utensil nearby Say:
“We sever the ties which restrict us
We sever the chains which bind us”
**Just below the final knot on your ribbons cut away the colored ribbon from the knot and place it aside, after the ritual is complete you will bury this ribbon piece or throw it away so that it is no longer near you. The place of burial should not be on your property or near your home/sacred space**
Continue the working by saying:
“We bring forth balance and freedom
We bring forth passion and joy
Moving forward in life our obstacles removed
Moving forward in life our attractions given the breath of life.
Our will is done, So Mote It Be!”
Moving to the North:
Guardians to the Element of Earth, We thank thee for thy presence and aid. As the seed grows within so shall it without. Go if you must, harm none, but know you are welcome to stay. Hail and Farewell.
Moving to the West:
Guardians to the Element of Water, We thank thee for thy presence and aid. With pure love within so shall it be without. Go if you must, harm none, but know you are welcome to stay. Hail and Farewell.
Moving to the South:
Guardians to the Element of Fire, we thank thee for thy presence and aid. With burning light within so shall it be seen without. Go if you must, harm none, but know you are welcome to stay. Hail and Farewell.
Moving to the East:
Guardians to the Element of Air, we thank thee for thy presence and aid. With the air of change blowing within so shall it be without. Go if you must, harm none, but know you are welcome to stay. Hail and Farewell.
Returning to Center:
Great Father, Lord of the fertility and what will be, we thank you for your blessing and love this night. You have sown the seed and it shall grow. Hail and Farewell.
Great Mother, Lady of all that is and will be, we thank you for your blessing and love this night. You have nurtured the seed and it shall prosper. Hail and Farewell.
As I bring my hands together, the Mists lower and dissipate. This circle is open to all those who may enter with love in their hearts always and never broken for we are friends, brothers and sisters in the olde ways. Merry we Meet and Merry We Part to Meet Merry again another day.
Fairy Tales should not be swiftly discounted for their seemingly fictional and innocent purposes as children’s stories. The tales thus preserved are, in fact, windows into other times, ancient peoples’ thoughts, and older magicks. They are just as valuable a tool in anthropological study as traditional religious mythology, and to a certain extent, observational science and archaeology. They provide insight into the psychology and perception of their contemporary societies by both the people living in those societies and those transmitting the stories since. Furthermore, their archetypal nature speaks to something deeper in all man and womankind; regardless of the story’s origins or original temporal setting. This archetypal voice is why these stories still resonate with audiences today. And it is research into understanding this archetypal psychology which has dominated the anthropology of the fairy tale and been the focus of work for famous names such as J.R.R. Tolkein, Joseph Campbell, Claude Levi-Strauss, Georges Frazer, and Carl Jung, etc.
The witches of the traditional canon of fairy tales, i.e. of Hans Christian Anderson, the Brothers Grimm, and the rest of their late 17th through to early 19th century peers provide particularly remarkable insight into two periods of time: the time of the authors themselves; as well as the earlier pre-Industrial Revolution era their stories are typically set in.
Growing discontent with the pervading religious system and local government, coupled with rampant diseases (like the Black Plague), led to a rise in fear on the European continent. With the advent of writing and a stronger infrastructure of roads and trade, this fear was not an isolated incident, but was communicated between groups of people: between villages on a smaller level and between countries -for indeed, now we have come to the period where countries are starting to define themselves as separate states with distinct borders rather than cultural alliances and princely empires as before. Though this new, unprecedented opportunity would later prove to be the cure for the darkness of the period, it was at first but a promoter of the miasma of fear which hung over the late medieval world. In need of a scapegoat, the western world, and in particular the Catholic Church, looked around for something ‘other’ to blame all of their fears and woes upon. And they found what they sought in the form of the witch. A female with power, an outsider to the community, a link to the devil or the pagan communities that had ruled Europe prior to Christian domination ~ the figure of the witch was a multi-purpose target. An easy mark, the witch was vilified, both in person and in the resultant stories of her.
If you want to learn more about the witches of fairy tale and take a deeper look at the residual layers of fairy tale and symbolism of the new characters and archetypes attached to the myth of the witch, then join the Sacred Mists’ newest class: The History of Witches in the Western World ~ taught by yours truly. Using an anthropological perspective, this class explores the changing forms of magick and the evolution of the ‘Witch’ through the biographies of mythological witches of the antiquity through to the historical magickal figures.
Above image courtesy of fanpop
Sometimes you just need a slight push to get things moving again and one such push has happened with the thanks of some fantastic interactions with students.
Within our Wiccan community I have been revamping the magickal challenges we do and now it’s a partnership instead of a lone witch operation. This really pumps up the inspiration and thrill of working on a challenge for the community.
An extension of that I will be bringing some of these challenges to our blog to share these amazing blessings and challenges with you.
Thursday, as we have seen in the past is ruled by Jupiter, today the moon enters Aquarius. Jupiter is the planet of joy, goodwill and benevolence, while Aquarius is associated with humanitarianism.
For these attributes we will be working with the sharing of blessings and how we bring our magick to our lives and to others as well with every interaction.
I am going to anoint a green spell candle today (now they don’t burn long so this is perfect for this type of magick) with some of my Clear Quartz Gemscents oil that I got from the SM Shoppe. While I am anointing this candle I will chant the simple chant which invokes within me a sense of community and togetherness “We all come from the Goddess and to her we shall return, like a drop of rain, flowing to the ocean”. Once my candle is anointed I will place it on my altar in the center next to my Dragonfly Incense Urn/Cauldron.
On a piece of Spring Green Color Magick Sizzling Spell Paper I will write my affirmation/blessing.
“I am one with those around me. By sharing my blessings, I receive blessings in return”
After I have contemplated community and the blessing before me I will light the green spell candle and then the paper with the flame of the candle.
The candle will burn completely out.
Magick always works best when you support it with mundane action. Today we share our blessings and joy with everyone we come across. If you have time or the inclination you can share your time or make a donation to a charity, cook and share a meal with family and friends. Share your talent in some way.
Personally I will be sharing my blessings with everyone I come in contact with through the joy in my voice and the willingness to help everyone to the best of my abilities. I will also be sending Reiki to everyone who comes across my mind today and share a meal with my family and extra cuddles with my pup and husband tonight. Thank you so much for sharing your blessings with me!
How can you share your blessings today?
In 1692, the sleepy town of Salem Massachusetts was swept with fear as the most infamous witch trials of colonial America rocked burgeoning province. While not impervious to the witch trials which had been sweeping Europe over the course of the preceding centuries, America had managed to avoid the wild, superstitious fear until the 1640s. Several trials occurred in the 1640s, but only in 1647 did New England have its first execution of a witch. A smattering of accusations and trials occurred over the next several decades, but the peak of the witch-hunt in the early Americas ultimately took place in Salem and its nearby villages.
The most well-documented of the early American cases, the trials of Salem spiraled from cases of childish magick to a socio-political nightmare that took the lives of a significant number of the female population of the township and its surrounding areas. The witch trials encompassed both purported actual witches, like the confessed enchantress Tituba, to the young girls whose immature attempts at divination were tied together with later seizures, speculatively from the eating of or exposure to psychotropic grain or other natural products. As the American lowlight of the Burning Times, the Salem Witch Trials represent an important, although tragic key point in the the anthropology of magick.
As I happened to be in Massachusetts this past weekend for an archaeology and heritage conference, I was able to make a pilgrimage to the pleasant New England town of Salem. Be it out of respect for the witches and innocents persecuted by the infamous trial or a morbid curiosity about gothic matters, Salem has become a tourist Mecca. And while many things in Salem have an element of kitsch about them, there is still much respect for the town’s solemn role in the history of witchcraft, both with regards to honoring the dark events that brought it notoriety and valuing the role it has for the modern Wiccan, Witch, and Neo-pagan communities because of its occult connotations.
My tour through Salem started off with a green bang. As we drove into Salem proper, my co-tourist and I discovered that Salem Commons was featuring an ecological rally for a green Salem (good cause!). We began our official tour with a brief visit to the National Park Service’s Visitors center for Salem, mostly to collect the relevant maps and brochures that were necessary to navigate the town. A meandering stroll around town led us past such amusing things as a local Pirate museum and some of the Witch museums of wax figures, none of which took our fancy enough to actually go in. Though these museums probably certainly have their charm, I was more keen to skip such secondary and third resources and go straight to the primary. And thus my principal goal for my Saturday afternoon in Salem was visiting the actual historical points of interest.
This kicked off with a visit the Burying Point, the oldest graveyard in Salem. Somberly perched on high ground in the city center, the Burying Point contains several of the dignitaries associated with the witch trials, many relatives of famous colonial personages, and my particular favorite concept (from my warped archaeological perspective) an exciting array of tombstone iconography representative of the seriation of styles prominent during the late 17th and early 18th centuries (super dorky reference, but I am quite a fan: Remember Me as you Pass By, Chapter 4 of James Deetz’ seminal book on historical archaeology and the cultural implications of gravestone iconography In Small Things Forgotten: An Archaeology of Early American Life). I had been planning on taking some pastel rubbings of some of the iconography, but sadly, very prominent signs forbade against this artistic endeavor. I did , however, manage a respectful rubbing of Emily Dickinson’s grave marker (“Called Back”) earlier in my trip.
The Burying Point is also the home of the Witch Trials Memorial, an artistic series of granite benches and inscribed paving stones which memorialize “the events of 1692 … as a yardstick to measure the depth of civility and due process in our society” (per the Salem City website).
Following a quick trip to A&J King’s fabulous bakery (walnut cinnamon buns to die for!) and brief tours past some of the more architecturally exciting bits of downtown Salem, we headed for the most pop culturally iconic monument in the town: the Bewitched Statue. As pictured at the start of this article, the statue is a bronze casting of Elizabeth Montgomery as Samantha Stevens astride her broomstick and against a crescent moon. Placed in Salem by TVLand, it is a fitting memorial to one of television’s greatest and most respectful representations of witchcraft in the modern world, as well as a testament to the role Salem holds as a place of magic, forever associated with the witches (and falsely accused magicians) of the New World. As a bright spot in the history of witchcraft, the show Bewitched, and its commemoration in Salem, provides a perfect counterpoint to the dark history Salem is typically associated with.
More meanders through town ensued, including trips into several of the touristy cum magickal shops, which although great, could not compare to the Sacred Mists Shoppe (if you haven’t been to the bricks and mortar version of Shoppe in Napa, it is well worth a trip of its own! Go!). And finally, after some fabulous frozen custard, my co-tourist and I headed over to the Maritime Museum and House of Seven Gables. Though the pirates obviously held strong appeal, it was the House of Seven Gables I was more excited to see. For one reason or another, it seems most American high school curriculums include Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlett Letter, but I believe his House of Seven Gables to be the far superior and more engaging text. The story of a lingering superstition, the politics of the witch trials, and a cursed set of families, the dynastic saga peaks at the invasion of a distant cousin who manic-pixie-dream-girls the lineages out of their various plights. Hawthorne’s cousin’s house that inspired the tale still perches along the waterfront in Salem. The house is a stunning piece of period architecture which serves as a historical testament both to the book, and the family’s own actual connections to the Salem witch trials that inspired the initial cursed events of the classic tale.
Though Salem’s place in the history of witchcraft is a dark legacy, the town of Salem remains an important focal point for magick. The idea of ‘The Witch’ has come a long long way from the hysterical fear it once elicited. Modern role models for the wiccan and neo-pagan communities like Bewitched or even Harry Potterhave done much to move away from the evil stereotypes once associated with being a witch. But in order to appreciate how far society has come out of the broom closet, we must fully understand how deep the fear of the ‘other’ represented by magick has come. We must memorialize the dark times in order to fully appreciate the light.
Isis may be the more famous “witch-deity” of ancient Egypt, and Thoth is viewed in later mythology as her assistant, but Thoth is actually the older of the two; and perhaps: the more subtly powerful. Indeed, in the Old Kingdom, at a period when the city of Hermopolis/Khmun ruled over the Egyptian landscape: Thoth was a leader of the main pantheon of gods, known as the Ogdoad, where he represented the moon. The curve of the crescent moon, so closely resembling the beak of the ibis bird earned Thoth his name and totem animal. The name “Thoth” is the anglicized version of the Greco-Roman Tehuti, from the hieratic “dhwty” (believed to be pronounced something along the lines of ‘dee-how-ti’ or ‘do-out’), which means “he who is (or is like) the ibis.” The association with the ibis is also a reference to early creation myths where Thoth took the form of an ibis during the formation of the world. In some of the earlier creation myths, it was believed that it was Thoth who technically created the world, sometimes in his own capacity, and sometimes acting as the force behind the creative thought of another, higher god, typically the god Ra.
Thoth was believed to be the philosophical power or force of thought (hence his wife Maat’s specific role as the idea of good and pure thought). He was the action which turns thought into being. Thus he is also attributed with the creation of both speech and writing: those two arts, so taken for granted in the modern world, but which allow mankind to communicate their thoughts to one another. Thoth therefore represented the idea of translated knowledge; and when knowledge is power, the person or deity responsible for it and its communication holds the proverbial key to the Upper and Lower Kingdom.
The idea of Thoth and the importance of speech and writing were so important and well recognized in ancient Egypt that most prayers thank Thoth for the ability to communicate with the divine, even if they are actually trying to communicate with a different god more specifically. One of Thoth’s many attributed epithets is “He who listens to prayers,” which is a sort of ancient joke: if Thoth is invoked in every prayer, he therefore gets to hear every prayer and can eavesdrop on the conversations of the other gods and their parishioners. Even in death, funerary prayers were not addressed just to the more direct gods of the dead, but also to Thoth.
The written and spoken word were both considered powerful magicks. Spoken magick relied not just on everyday speech, but on using the correct pronunciation, tone, and cadence when speaking; and these were facets of what was taught in the texts and temples of Thoth. Most, if not all writing, was initially considered magickal. For: in being able to read and write, one was literally channeling the power of Thoth into a concrete and physical form. And it involved a high degree of controllable training in order to both read the symbols and recreate them as writing. Thoth was therefore the god of scribes and palace administrators; and he was invoked in almost all forms of written communication, including that between the ruling powers and foreign dignitaries. Though not the patron deity of many of the Pharaonic dynasties, he was powerful enough to be integral to their rule.
The written word gave the power of Thoth a corporeal form which could be physically used in magickal rituals. Eating words was supposedly a way in which the magickal power of the texts and the heka of Thoth could be channeled directly into the consumer.
He could also grant the deceased further gifts for the Underworld if he felt so inclined. And if, in reading the ib, he encountered a powerful mage or witch to his liking, he might employ their soul further to do his bidding. The ancient Egyptians believed there were many aspects to the soul, and this is partially responsible for the complex and unique funerary arrangements for which they are so famous. But other than the ib, the other aspect of the soul which specifically intrigued Thoth was called akh. The akh was the ‘effective intellect’ or magickal knowledge which the person may have possessed. If the tomb was disturbed, thereby disrupting the ability of the various aspects of the soul to unite: it was the akh which would come back and, for lack of a better word: haunt the tomb or the robbers who desecrated its final resting place. In this sense, the akh might be considered a type of ghost. If, when Thoth assessed the soul, he found the akh of the deceased particularly powerful, he would offer them a role as one of his or Isis’ magickal companions (or in some instances enslave them). These elite groups of akh spirits existed as a semi-divine co-hort of minions which the two sunnu or priests of the gods, Isis and Thoth could call upon to enhance the strength of their own heka or send out on individual missions.
For more on Thoth and other witch deities of the ancient world, look forward to the College of the Sacred Mists upcoming class History of Witches in the Western World, taught by yours truly.