Pagns, Wiccans, Witchcraft and things that go bump in the night

Drawing of a pentagram ring from Crotone, Ital...Image via Wikipedia

Sit back and enjoy some light reading on what witchcraft, pagan, wicca, and shamanism
really entails, what it really is….

Almost anyone can work a spell, and you don’t have to be a genius to obtain successful results. All spellwork requires is solid intent, concentrated focus, and the ability to channel energy toward the specific direction of your wishes. Be that as it may, the end results don’t always parallel the original vision, and if a spell doesn’t come to fruition in twenty-one days or less, chances are it won’t work out at all. Why? Because certain cosmic forces can affect our magical efforts, and if the conditions aren’t right, even the most carefully planned spell can fizzle out before it ever reaches its target.

Working with magical boosters is a good way to prevent such an occurrence and increase the chances of magical success. For example, the day of the week or time of day you begin a spell could provide the proper conditions to set the magic in motion. Using a particular Element or color in the spellwork might speed the results. Even the way the wind blows can make a difference in magical impact.

Atmosphere and the Working Environment

Creating an atmosphere conducive to spellwork is probably the most important step you can take toward successful magic. Atmosphere puts us in the mood, molds the frame of mind, and builds anticipation. Trying to work in an area that doesn’t have a magical flavor is a little like trying to build a house without a hammer: things just don’t hold together well.

Building the proper atmosphere for magic isn’t difficult, and there is no wrong way to do it. All it takes is a small space, a little imagination, and a few items that say “magic” to you.

Some folks like to use an altar to create a magical environment, because it reminds them that spellcasting is a spiritual kind of work. They erect formal altars and include candles, incense, and symbols of the Lord and Lady. Others go for a more informal look, constructing a space that doesn’t look like an altar at all, but more like an arrangement of interesting objects. One of my altars, for example, contains a miniature rocking chair made of grapevine and dried flowers, a basket of dried pomegranates, an antique doily, a cobalt blue perfume bottle, several packets of seeds, and an assortment of crystals and stones. The fact that it doesn’t look like an altar in no way hampers its magical value. In fact, some of my most successful work began in that very space.

Constructing an altar isn’t the only way to create a magical environment. Some of the most sacred spaces in my home include a bookshelf covered with building-block castles, a large wooden spice cabinet, a shelving unit filled with African violets, and the wall that faces my computer desk.

The point is, the working environment you create doesn’t have to broadcast your practices for magical conductivity. The important thing is that you feel its power when you enter the area. Feeling the power makes you feel magical, and the person who feels magical produces potent magic.

Moon Phases

The Moon exudes a cool, feminine, silvery-feeling energy that rules the life-giving waters of our planet–the rains, tides, and dew–as well as those in the physical body, such as menstrual cycles and other bodily fluids. She also rules all emotional responses. Raw, properly focused emotion energizes magic. For this reason, many practitioners work in conjunction with a phase of the Moon‘s cycle that is in harmony with their magical intent.

*Waxing
This phase occurs when the Moon grows from dark to full. In this phase, the Moon provides the proper energy for magical efforts maintaining growth or enhancement. It is a good time for beginnings, fresh starts, and new love, and is of benefit in building businesses, friendships, partnerships, and financial prosperity. The waxing phase also provides suitable conditions for planting herbs, developing psychism, and increasing physical health and well being.

To seal spells performed during the waxing Moon, use this chant or one of your own choosing:
Oh, Maiden Moon, now hear my plea:
Hearken, hearken unto me!
As you grow, my spell enhance–
And power its magic with Your dance.

*Full
The Moon’s energy is most intense when She reaches abundant fullness. Any magical effort, especially difficult ones, can benefit greatly from the potency of this phase. Use the full Moon to amplify magical intent and to give spellworkings additional power.

To seal spells performed during the full Moon, use this chant or one of your own choosing:
Abundant Mother, Moon so bright
Hear my plea upon this night.
Your fertile power lend this spell;
Make it potent, strong, and well.

*Waning
The shrinkage of the Moon from full to dark is called the waning phase, and it offers an energy suitable for recession, peaceful separation, or elimination. Use the waning Moon to end undesirable eating patterns, break bad habits, or to remove yourself from dysfunctional partnerships or stressful situations. Its energies favor any magical effort requiring decrease or removal.

To seal spells performed during the waning Moon, use this chant or one of your own choosing:
Oh Aging One of grace, now hear:
With your guidance, this spell steer.
Remove all blocks and hesitation,
And take it to its destination.

*Dark
Some practitioners use this phase as a period of rest. They find it useful for regeneration, relaxation, and gathering for the creative phase of the waxing Moon.

Others prefer to use it for meditation, psychic power enhancement, or for delving into past life memories to help them better understand current difficulties. Dark Moon energy also lends itself to divination and matters where truth is an issue.

To seal spells performed during the dark Moon, use this chant or one of your own choosing:
I call on You, Oh Crone so wise–
One Who rules the darkest skies.
Come and be my treasured Guest,
And aid me in this magical quest.

Strangely enough, the derivation of the word witch is a subject on which scarcely any two authorities can be found to agree. The most frequent explanation is that it is akin to the word wise, and that witchcraft therefore means The Craft of the Wise.

It is widely believed that Gerald Gardner originated this derivation. However, this is incorrect, as it appears in Hugh Ross Williamson’s book, The Arrow and the Sword, first published in 1947, before any of Gerald Gardner’s books on witchcraft. But is this the right derivation?

Not according to Professor Jeffrey Russell, who gives an appendix on this subject in his book A History of Witchcraft (Thames & Hudson, London, 1980). Professor Russell rejects any connection with the Old English word witan, meaning to know, as he also does with the Old English wican, to bend. In his opinion, the real origin comes from the Indo-European word weik, which has a general connection with religion and magic. From this very ancient root-word came in turn, among other things, a word wikk, meaning magic and sorcery, and this eventually produced the Old English wicca, a male witch, wicce, a female witch, and the verb wiccian, to bewitch or work witchcraft.

It will be seen from the above that “Wicca” does not mean “witchcraft” and never did, in spite of its widespread modern use. So how did this usage originate? In his biography, Gerald Gardner: Witch, it describes his initiation in “Old Dorothy’s” house, and says, ‘It was half way through when the word Wica was first mentioned: “and I then knew that that which I had thought burnt out hundreds of years ago still survived.”‘ It will be seen that at this time Gerald didn’t even know how to spell the word. Its correct spelling is as above. Nor, unfortunately, does this account state in what context the word was used. It might have been that Old Dorothy’s coven was simply proclaiming Gerald a male witch, in which case this would have been an accurate use of the word.

So where did Gerald get the idea that “Wicca” meant witchcraft? I would like to advance a theory of my own. I must emphasize that this is just a theory, and I may be wrong. But I believe that this idea originated from his reading of a book which I know that he possessed, namely An Encyclopaedia of Occultism by Lewis Spence. This very valuable work of reference first appeared in 1920, according to the mention of it in the bibliography at the end of Gerald’s book, Witchcraft Today. It has recently been re-issued by Bracken Books under the title of The Encyclopaedia of the Occult. The entry referring to witchcraft begins: “Witchcraft: (from Saxon Wicca, a contraction of witega, a prophet or sorcerer).” This could have been read and misunderstood to mean that “Wicca” meant witchcraft, and this misconception has been carried on through the ranks of modern witches ever since.

It has to be said, of course, that the word Wicca has its uses to define the present-day revival, especially in the USA, where a number of associations using this word have gained legal recognition as religious bodies. Personally, however, I prefer the term The Old Religion, which is the English equivalent of the Italian term used by the followers of Aradia, namely La Vecchia Religione. (See Charles Godfrey Leland’s book, Aradia: or the Gospel of the Witches, first published in 1899.) 2741

(Incidentally, there is a legend in witchcraft circles to the effect that the reason why the original edition of this book is so rare is that old Gerald bought up all the copies he could find and destroyed them. Whether there is any truth in this or not, I cannot say.) Dorothy Morrison

In spite of Professor Russell’s opinion, as quoted above, there is an older derivation of the word witch that may perhaps be worthy of consideration. This may be found in A Concise Etymological Dictionary of the English Language by the Rev. Walter W Skeat (Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1901). This book discusses the above-mentioned derivations from wicca, wicce, etc., and then in turn connects these old words with the Norwegian vikja, which means firstly ‘to turn aside’ and secondly ‘to conjure away’. Thus, speculates the Rev. Skeat, the word witch possibly meant ‘averter’.

He also mentions that the Anglo-Saxon word witega, a prophet or seer, comes from the Anglo-Saxon witan, to observe, which he says is ‘cognate with witan, to know.’ We have seen that Lewis Spence regarded witega as the origin of wicca. So who is right? In spite of all claims, it seems to me that it remains a matter of opinion. One thing we do know is that the word came to Britain with the Saxons, who at the time of their arrival on these shores were pagans. I believe that to them, the word witch (or whichever of its forerunners they used), did not necessarily have any derogatory meaning. A witch was a seer, a knower, an averter of evil. The word only took on a negative meaning with the coming of Christianity, which taught that all the gods of the heathen were devils. So anyone who clung o the old ways and the Old Religion was a devil worshipper. And annually, around Halloween, we still see the same old charges being made in the same old spirit of bigotry.

The first recorded mention of the Wiccan Rede in the eight-word form popular today, at least that I have been able to discover thus far, was in a speech by Doreen Valiente on October 3, 1964 at what may have been the first witches’ dinner organized in modern history. The event was sponsored by Pentagram, a quarterly newsletter and “witchcraft review” started and published by Gerard Noel in 1964.

Demanding tolerance between covens as well as toward the outside world, Doreen spoke the Anglo-Saxon witch formula called the Wiccan Rede or wise teaching: “Eight words the Wiccan Rede fulfil, An’ it harm none, do what ye will.”[1]

The above quote is from Hanz Holzer’s book The Truth About Witchcraft first published in 1969 and again in 1971. This was one of the first books to present witchcraft from an outsider’s view looking in, observing some of the practices of the various forms of witchcraft in both the U.S. and U.K. around at the time.

Valiente’s “Eight Words” quote was also published in volume one (1964) of the Pentagram, the UK newsletter that hosted the event and as will be discussed later was subsequently published between circa 1965 and 1966 in the United States in The Waxing Moon newsletter. In 1965 the Rede was again quoted without references in Justine Glass’ book Witchcraft, The Sixth Sense:

The other, only slightly less important belief of the witches is in hurtlessness; an article of faith also of the ancient Huna religion, which is thought to have originated in Africa and traveled across the world, by way of Egypt and India to Hawaii. The kahunas taught that the only sin was to hurt either oneself or someone else. The Wiccan Rede (i.e. Counsel or advice of the Wise Ones) is: ‘An ye harm no one, do what ye will.’ [2]

Sadly no reference is given but since Glass had quoted from Pentagram earlier in that chapter it is quite possible that her above mention of the Rede derived from something inspired by Valiente’s speech in 1964. The wording is a bit different from that speech, but this may have been due to the usual changes that occur when information is passed via word of mouth or as the author recalled the quote from memory. Since Glass had an advertisement calling for help in her research which was printed in the same issue of Pentagram (and on the very same page) as Valiente’s “Eight Words” quote, this is a likely source.

Glass’ book also goes on to discuss how one of the coven’s duties is to keep its members in check when emotions are strong. This ethical support mentality was also mentioned by Gardner in The Meaning of Witchcraft as well as other authors in the 1970’s. As I will discuss in my paper on the Three-Fold Law, as traditional covens gave way to solitary practice (for the majority), something was needed to fill in for the coven’s grounding element to provide “moral restraint”. This replacement was the emphasis on the Wiccan Rede and the Three-Fold Law. As Glass insinuated, ethics was not a significant focus in the Craft at the time (around 1965), although the idea of harming none was generally accepted.

Another interesting variation is mentioned by Dr. Leo Louis Martello in his book Witchcraft: The Old Religion (first published in 1973): “Witch credo ‘And ye harm none do what thou wilt'”[3]. According to Dr. Martello, the quote was part of an article dated March 15, 1972 in The Villanovan, the newspaper of the Students Union of the Catholic Villanova University in Pennsylvania, USA. Again no sources were given.

Circa 1970/1971, Alex Sanders composed a series of lectures written by himself and others which were privately distributed as a course for novices in Alexandrian Wicca, a tradition Sanders founded. In the essay entitled The Book of Shadows, it is mentioned that during first degree initiation,

The Book [of Shadows] is closed in front of him [the one being initiated] and he is shown the cover, on which is often written the motto of Wicca: “An it harm none – do what ye will.” [4]

These lectures were published in the book The Alex Sanders Lectures in 1984 but were in private circulation since the 1970’s. This is the only reference to the wording of the Rede in Sander’s published material, although he had made reference to Crowley’s “Do what thou wilt” phrase in Stewart Farrar’s What Witches Do (1971).

Now when it comes to the origin of the Alexandrian tradition of Wicca, there is much controversy. Alex claimed to have been initiated into the Craft by his grandmother at the age of seven, which was later determined to be a hoax. There is also much debate as to how he was able to obtain a copy of the Gardnerian Book of Shadows which he had passed off as his own while incorporating additional elements of ritual magic into it. The point to be made here is simply that Sander’s teachings were heavily influenced by Gardner’s work among others and that this reference to a witches’ motto may have derived from Valiente’s Rede assuming the wording in the lecture was not altered at a later date prior to its compilation and publishing in 1984 – long after the Rede’s widespread dissemination.

There is, however, another important source for the Wiccan Rede, which is often attributed as the source of its origins. In the Ostara 1975 (Vol. III. No. 69) issue of Green Egg magazine, in an article called “Wiccan-Pagan Potpourri”, was a long (but most will find very familiar) poem called the Rede Of The Wiccae:

Rede Of The Wiccae

Being known as the counsel of the Wise Ones:

1. Bide the Wiccan Laws ye must In Perfect Love and Perfect Trust.

2. Live an’ let live – Fairly take an’ fairly give.

3. Cast the Circle thrice about To keep all evil spirits out.

4. To bind the spell every time – Let the spell be spake in rhyme.

5. Soft of eye an’ light of touch – Speak little, listen much.

6. Deosil go by the waxing Moon – Sing and dance the Wiccan rune.

7. Widdershins go when the Moon doth wane, An’ the Werewolf howls by the dread Wolfsbane.

8. When the Lady’s Moon is new, Kiss thy hand to Her times two.

9. When the Moon rides at Her peak Then your heart’s desire seek.

10. Heed the Northwind’s mighty gale – Lock the door and drop the sail.

11. When the wind comes from the South, Love will kiss thee on the mouth.

12. When the wind blows from the East, Expect the new and set the feast.

13. When the West wind blows o’er thee, Departed spirits restless be.

14. Nine woods in the Cauldron go – Burn them quick an’ burn them slow.

15. Elder be ye Lady’s tree – Burn it not or cursed ye’ll be.

16. When the Wheel begins to turn – Let the Beltane fires burn.

17. When the Wheel has turned a Yule, Light the Log an’ let Pan rule.

18. Heed ye flower bush an’ tree – By the Lady BlessBe.

19. Where the rippling waters go Cast a stone an’ truth ye’ll know.

20. When ye have need, Hearken not to others greed.

21. With the fool no season spend Or be counted as his friend.

22. Merry meet an’ merry part – Bright the cheeks an’ warm the heart.

23. Mind the Threefold Law ye should – Three times bad an’ three times good.

24. When misfortune is enow, Wear the Blue Star on thy brow.

25. True in love ever be Unless thy lover’s false to thee.

26. Eight words ye Wiccan Rede fulfill – An’ it harm none, Do what ye will. [5]

Lady Gwen Thomson[6] (1928-1986), a hereditary witch from New Haven, Connecticut (USA), attributed this text to Adriana Porter, her paternal grandmother, who, as she stated “was well into her 90’s when she crossed over into the Summerlands in 1946.”[7] Thomson was the primary teacher of The New England Coven of the Traditionalist Witches (N.E.C.T.W.), which she founded in 1972, although her teachings were brought to the public in the late 1960’s. This tradition was a combination of her family’s tradition blended with popular occultism.

This was the first time the Rede was publicly referred to as a “rede” (guideline) since Valiente’s 1964 speech and subsequent mention in the Pentagram and The Waxing Moon, and although the line numbers never quite took hold, the text itself did, especially the last line. This is also the first time the Rede was introduced in such a visible and easily distributed manner and at a time when the Craft was blossoming in creativity and public interest.

Joseph B. Wilson [8], publisher of the first witchcraft newsletter in the US (The Waxing Moon)and who for many years acted as a central networking hub for correspondence, contacts, etc., shared with me that Lady Gwen was one of his early correspondents. Although Wilson could not remember much about her, he recalled that he shared a good bit of his own information from his mentors with her — which by some accounts has since ended up as part of her adapted hereditary lineage. Mr. Wilson was also able to confirm two other important links to Valiente’s Rede influence on the Porter/Thomson Rede:

1) Wilson clearly remembers reprinting Valiente’s words in The Waxing Moon. Since his archive was lost several years ago, he could not give an exact date, but it would have been circa 1965-1966.

2) Gwen Thompson was a subscriber to The Waxing Moon.

Although this offers some links to a possible influence of Valiente’s Rede in the development of Lady Gwen’s rede, it is not conclusive and so we are left with three likely scenarios:

1) Lady Gwen’s stated history of her version of the Rede is accurate and was written by her grandmother. This will raise the question: If the passing of Adriana Porter came before the publishing of Gardner’s first book containing elements of witchcraft ritual (High Magic’s Aid, 1949) and after Gardner is said to have been initiated by “Old Dorothy Clutterbuck” in 1939, then could they share a common source? Or could one have perhaps inspired the Rede from the other? I could find no evidence to support or deny this.

2) Lady Gwen adapted a poem written by her grandmother, adding more Wiccan-like elements. Since the tradition Lady Gwen taught is freely described as an adaptation of her hereditary tradition it is quite possible that Valiente’s Rede influenced some of the rewording of Adriana Porter’s poem, perhaps even unconsciously doing so.

3) The entire history of Lady Gwen’s Rede was made up to add a sense of lineage and credibility to her established tradition. The questionable claims of family-based initiations pre-dating Gardner were not un-common and readily abused, so the accuracy of Thomson’s claim will always remain somewhat debatable without documentation.

By 1978 in her book Witchcraft for Tomorrow, Doreen Valiente had also mentioned the Wiccan Rede.

This idea has been put into a rhymed couplet called the Wiccan Rede:

Eight Words the Wiccan Rede fulfill:
An it harm none, do what ye will.

This can be expressed in more modern English as follows:

Eight words the Witches’ Creed fulfill:
If it harms none, do what you will. [9]

Later in the same book, a longer poetic version of the Rede that Valiente called the Witches’ Creed was introduced.

The Witches’ Creed

Hear now the words of the witches,
The secrets we hid in the night,
When dark was our destiny’s pathway,
That now we bring forth into light.

Mysterious water and fire,
The earth and the wide-ranging air,
By hidden quintessence we know them,
And will and keep silent and dare.

The birth and rebirth of all nature,
The passing of winter and spring,
We share with the life universal,
Rejoice in the magical ring.

Four times in the year the Great Sabbat
Returns, and witches are seen
At Lammas, and Candlemas dancing,
On May Eve and old Hallowe’en.

When day-time and night-time are equal,
When the sun is at greatest and least,
The four Lesser Sabbats are summoned,
Again witches gather in feast.

Thirteen silver moons in a year are,
Thirteen is the coven’s array.
Thirteen times as Esbat make merry,
For each golden year and a day.

The power was passed down the ages,
Each time between woman and man,
Each century unto the other,
Ere time and the ages began.

When drawn is the magical circle,
By sword or athame or power,
Its compass between the two worlds lie,
In Land of the Shades for that hour.

This world has no right then to know it,
And world beyond will tell naught,
The oldest of Gods are invoked there,
The Great Work of magic is wrought.

For two are the mystical pillars,
That stand to at the gate of the shrine,
And two are the powers of nature,
The forms and the forces divine.

The dark and the light in succession,
The opposites each unto each,
Shown forth as a God and a Goddess,
Of this did our ancestors teach.

By night he’s the wild wind’s rider,
The Horn’d One, the Lord of the shades,
By day he’s the King of the Woodlands,
The dweller in green forest glades.

She is youthful or old as she pleases,
She sails the torn clouds in her barque,
The bright silver lady of midnight,
The crone who weaves spells in the dark.

The master and mistress of magic,
They dwell in the deeps of the mind,
Immortal and ever-renewing,
With power to free or to bind.

So drink the good wine to the Old Gods,
And dance and make love in their praise,
Til Elphame’s fair land shall receive us,
In peace at the end of our days.

An Do What You Will be the challenge,
So be it in Love that harms none,
For this is the only commandment,
By Magick of old, be it done.[10]

Often the “eight words” couplet is tacked on to this when quoted by others, but in Witchcraft for Tomorrow, where the Witches’ Creed was introduced as part of the Sabbat Rite, only the above text was read after forming the circle. The “eight words” couplet was used separately in the same ritual, following the reading of the longer Creed text.

Then take up the pentacle, and pass deosil with it round the circle, holding it up at the four quarters, east, south, west and north, and repeating each time:

Eight words the Witches’ Creed fulfil:
If it harms none, do what you will.[11]

So technically the “Eight words” couplet poetically refers to the Crede and is not part of the long version of Creed itself, since that already includes a similar couplet:

An Do What You Will be the challenge,
So be it in Love that harms none

This is a minor point, and the long Creed can of course be used either way, but for the sake of accuracy I wanted to make the clarification.

Valiente’s earlier book, An ABC of Witchcraft Past & Present, which was first published in 1973, had no specific entry for the Rede, despite introducing it in her 1964 speech. Chances are it had not yet “taken hold” in the early Wiccan “community” that was still largely segregated and coven-centric by 1973, and thus was not yet something established enough to be included in an encyclopedia of witchcraft. However in the entry on Basic Beliefs of Witches, the a variation of the Rede was mentioned as part of the discourse on the Witches’ ethics:

Witches do not believe that true morality consists of observing a list of thou-shalt-nots. Their morality can be summed up in one sentence, “Do what you will, so long as it harms none.” This does not mean, however, that witches are pacifists. They say that to allow wrong to flourish unchecked is not ‘harming none’. On the contrary, it is harming everybody. [12]

This is a perfect example of the perception of Wiccan ethics prior to the 1980’s. Witches were not the epitome of “light and love” but rather real people who dealt with real situations, not afraid to get their “hands dirty” when necessary. Witches had a respect for life that was balanced with both its nurturing aspects and the harsh reality of the fight for survival. The rede was a summary or point of reference, but not a complete ethical system in itself.

If the Rede (or at least a version of it) was written by Valiente then the Crowley influence needs to be accepted as possibility. While Gardner does not associate Crowley with Wiccan ethics despite drawing from Crowley’s work in other areas, Doreen Valiente, a poet at heart, would have been much more open to using Crowley’s Law.

And mind you, Aleister Crowley, in my opinion, was a marvelous poet and he has always been undervalued in English literature simply because of the notoriety which he made for himself and reveled in. He loved being called the wickedest man in the world and all that sort of nonsense. The thing is — as his latest biographer, John Symonds, says — he couldn’t have it both ways. If he wanted to get himself that lurid reputation, which he worked very hard at for many years, then he wasn’t, at the same time, going to get a good reputation in English literature, in spite of the fact that a couple of his poems are in The Oxford Book of English Mystical Verse. I think it’s a pity that he’s not had the recognition that he deserves, really, and perhaps later years will remedy that. [13]

Many of Doreen’s books mentioned Crowley and recognized his indirect influence in Wiccan beliefs and practices. Even in the long text of Valiente’s Creed listed above, there is a line that is very reminiscent of Crowley’s dictum “Love is the Law, Love under Will” that traditionally followed the greeting “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law”. Even the spelling of “magick” with a K in the last line of Valiente’s Creed is also very characteristic of Thelema.

An Do What You Will be the challenge,
So be it in Love that harms none,
For this is the only commandment,
By Magick of old, be it done.

By the 1980’s most books made reference to the Rede, sometimes modernizing it and other times making it more archaic sounding. By the 1990’s many were clueless of the Rede’s history and several new variations of the Rede, often anonymous or lacking references, were scattered throughout newsletters and of course over the Internet. More variants seem to use the Porter/Thompson version of the Rede, including catch phrases such as “in perfect love and perfect trust”[14] and “merry ye meet, and merry ye part” which are specific to it. It should be noted however that the phrase “in perfect love and perfect trust” is also found in the (publicly known) first-degree Gardnerian initiation rituals. [15] John Coughlin

We are the oldest organization in the world. When man was born, we were. We sang the first cradle song. We healed the first wound, we comforted the first terror. We were the Guardians against the Darkness, the Helpers on the Left Hand Side. Rock drawings in the Pyrenees remember us, and little clay images, made for an old purpose when the world was new.

Our hand was on the old stone circles, the monolith, the dolmen, and the druid oak. We sang the first hunting songs, we made the first crops to grow; when man stood naked before the Powers that made him, we sang the first chant of terror and wonder. We wooed among the Pyramids, watched Egypt rise and fall, ruled for a space in Chaldea and Babylon, the Magian Kings. We sat among the secret assemblies of Israel, and danced the wild and stately dances in the sacred groves of Greece.

In China and Yucatan, in Kansas and Kurdistan we are one. All organizations have known us, no organization is of us; when there is too much organization we depart. We are on the side of man, of life, and of the individual. Therefore we are against religion, morality and government. Therefore our name is Lucifer.

We are on the side of freedom, of love, of joy and laughter and divine drunkenness. Therefore our name is Babylon. Sometimes we move openly, sometimes in silence and in secret. Night and day are one to us, calm and storm, seasons and the cycles of man, all these things are one, for we are at the roots. Supplicant we stand before the Powers of Life and Death, and are heard of these Powers, and avail.

Our way is the secret way, the unknown direction. Our way is the way of the serpent in the underbrush, our knowledge is in the eyes of goats and of women. It is our own force that sometimes shifts jeweled coils and mighty pinions in the breast of man; our Power is one with the Power that causes the God to stir in the heart of the seed, and the bud to burst into blossom and fruit; and whenever a man and a woman are united in one substance, our power is that substance.

Merlin was of us, and Gawain and Arthur, Rabelais and Catullus, Gillesde Retz and Jehanne d’Arc, De Molensis, Johannes Dee, Cagliostro, Francis Hepburn and Gellis Duncan, Swinburne and Blake and Eliphas Levi, Aleister Crowley and Austin Osman Spare, and many another bard, Magus, poet, martyr known and unknown that carried our banners against the enemy multiform and ubiquitous, the Church and the State. And when that vermin of Hell that is called the Christian Church held all the West in a slavery of sin and death and terror, we, and we alone, brought hope to the heart of man, despite the dungeon and the stake.

We are the Witchcraft, and although one may not know another, yet we are united by an indissoluble bond. And when the high wild cry of the eagle sounds in your mind, know that you are not alone in your desire for freedom. And when the howl of the wolf echoes in the forests of your night, know that there are those who also prowl. And when the ways of your fellows about you seem the ways of idiocy and madness, know that there are also others who have seen and judged and acted.

Now know that the power that we serve lies in the heart of every man and woman as the tree lives in the seed. And to be with us, you have but to call upon that Power, and you are as one of us. And when our Power and Joy have come upon you, you may go forth and doyour will among men, and none shall say you nay. And if it be your will, you shall do your will secretly, and if it be your will, you will do your will openly, as your will.

Therefore lift up your hearts saying, “I am a man” or “I am a woman, and the Power of Life is mine!” And in the Power of Life you shall live and love, accepting no restriction and placing no restriction, freely and granting freedom. And it may be in the bounty of life you shall see the love of life shine in the eyes of another, and the lust of life burn upon his brow, and thus you shall take great joy together.

And it may be in good fortune you may find a number such; and share your joy in secret feasting and rejoicing and all manner of lovemaking and festival. Or it may be that at hazard and danger you will teach the joyous power to men; as your wills move you. And this is well so long as you remember one thing. There can be no restriction.

The Power of Life is not restricted; it knows its own way, but no mind knows that way. Therefore in yourself practice all the giving and taking of freedom that is consistent with life, for thereby alone can you remain in our joy. Pain is. Terror is, loss and loneliness and agony of heart and spirit, even unto Death. For this is the gateway to the kingdom of Pan.

Our way is not for all men. There are those who are so constricted and sick in themselves that the thought of their own freedom is a horror, and that of others a fierce pain; so that they would enslave all men. And these you should shun, or, if you must, destroy them as you will know how, for this also is bounty.

Nor think the life power should manifest in those who have no trouble or turmoil, for these may be mere dumb cattle, innocents out of season. Rather does the power often show the most where conflict rages, since at any time, and especially in a false civilization, the way must be won through. Surrender is disaster. The other side of the coin is a song in the sunlight and a dance in the moonlight, where all mists are dispersed. But the way must be won. Jack Parsons

Once upon a time, when the Roman Legions were rampant, the name for those small groups of farmers, or settlements, was “Pagani”. You know, those country bumpkins, hicks, rednecks, and hillbillies, who paid little or no attention to the sophistication the Romans brought to conquered areas, by establishing “City States”. This was not merely setting up camp, this was City Planning at its finest. Roads, public buildings, sports arena, temples, and bathhouses, and indoor plumbing! Along with all this modernization came the Roman Laws and culture. Certain ways of doing things! But oh, those Pagans! With their Country ways, and lack of social skills… Hmpfff! So the term became a sneer.

When Christianity grew to a point where they too became the “conquerors” of towns, villages, and settlements, they had learned much from the Romans. But they were not a “Country”, with huge armies, they were Religious folk, and their fighting implements were the “WORD”! They knew the power of words and they began to explain things a little differently. The Pagans who were still around became followers of the Devil! Now the Christians knew a lot about the Devil. Why they spent more time describing him than they did their God! Some would say they were obsessed! So the country folk, who still practiced their beliefs as handed down through generations of tribal/clan culture, were now accused of siding with that Christian Devil. If you’re not with us, you’re against us! So Pagan became a term that meant someone who was NOT Christian.

Politically Correct thought eventually led the populace to consider Jews and Moslems, acceptable in society, so they were excused from being called Pagan. Many countries were invaded in the name of Christianity. Most of their Native Culture was obliterated. Temples burned, children placed in Christian hostels, and forbidden to even speak their own language. Read the history of the American Indian. Spain, Mexico, Africa … etc.. etc ..

OK, how does this reflect on the Pagan Community today? Why call ourselves Pagan? Why call ourselves Witches? Because we can! And by doing so, we attempt to bring into focus that those who were persecuted as Pagans and Witches were, in truth, Heretics! Yep, they didn’t behave as they were supposed to as God Fearing Christians! Hmmmm I wonder how many actually did fear their God … or did they fear the organization that seemed to speak for him? Anyway, the term Pagan originally meant those people who were too hard to find, and root out, because it costs a lot to wage a war. So you concentrate on the densely populated areas, and don’t sweat the small stuff. It had nothing to do with Religious beliefs until it began to be used in such a way by Christian zealots.

Today, we have many declaring themselves “Pagan”. Simply meaning that they are NOT following one of the big 3 religions … Christianity, Jewish, and Islam. However, there are also those practitioners of Buddhism, Native American, Santeria, Voudon .. etc.. etc.. Who don’t consider themselves Pagan. The common misconception of the meaning of the term is “devil worshiping” nasty people, who boil babies in cauldrons. So why would
anyone want to be identified as such? For those of us who are Pagan, we carry the title to point out the truths of history, rather than the lies. We don’t have to believe in any religious dogma. We can be Atheists, or we can worship a variety of Gods and Goddesses, as we choose.

Now, as for Wicca .. it is a neo-pagan construct of Gerald Gardner. Started in the 1930’s, it’s grown to become the 7th largest Religion in the US. Gardner’s premise was that the old ways were the necessary tools of survival in a primitive world. As lore was passed on thru the generations, people held some common beliefs and practices that were called “superstition” by many, but in reality, these practices worked. Gerald used the terms Wiccae, and Wicci to denote male and female practitioners of the old superstitious ways. They were the ones who adapted, and persevered in passing on family traditions, values and beliefs. He sought out this lore, and found common usage among people in many countries. Were they practicing Witchcraft? Well, they were practicing something that worked for them .. It was the opinion of Christianity that it was evil and Witchy! In truly looking at history, Gerald encouraged others to look at what was really going on …and as he drew people to him who in their turn realized the evolutionary process, a new Religious Practice was formed. Yes, they considered themselves Pagan, according to the Christian interpretation. Yes, they considered themselves Witches according to the Christian interpretation. And yes, they were seeking the lost art of communication with the environment. They created their own Dogma, and the rational was so simple that many began to follow their beliefs.

Not all who embrace the Pagan viewpoint find it necessary to become members of a Religious Group. Some simply want to connect with their ancestry, by understanding the Lore of their native culture. Some want to recreate the “Old Days”, and step away from society. And some just like the Pagan Parties . So once again, it’s really simple to understand the difference between Pagan, and Wiccan, and Witch, in the neo-pagan community.

A Pagan is one who shares an interest in various ecological, and esoteric practices in our society.
A Witch practices a variety of metaphysical disciplines.
A Wiccan is a follower of the Religion of Wicca.
Not all Pagans are Witches.
Not all Pagans are Wiccan.
Not all Witches are Pagan.
Not all Witches are Wiccan
ALL Wiccans are Pagan Witches! For Wicca is a Polytheistic, Earth-based, practice of worship which includes metaphysical disciplines.
by Wise old Owl

One of the greatest area of inquiry in magickal work is that of spell crafting and ritual magic. The “hocus pocus” of movies and tv are often quite different than spell crafting in reality. It’s much less about eye of newt and leg of frog and really reflects a focused intention.

The thing to remember when working magic, making a wish, or angrily cursing at someone is that in magic traditions throughout the world, the point behind almost any spell crafting is to bring words into action. How we make our request for help, or how we focus our projected Will can have outcomes and consequences that are undesirable if the intention of the action is not shaped appropriately.

The phrase “be careful what you wish for, as you might get it” is one to keep in mind when crafting a spell. How you make your ritual request can cause the outcome of the ritual to be either more or less positive. The Wiccan Law of Three stipulates that whatever sort of energy you put out into the world will be returned to you threefold increased. To followers of such a belief, asking for action against a person is considered a bad idea, and instead asking for help overcoming a problem, or for patience to get through the situation is the recommended course of action.

Looking at the root of spells, they are very much like meditations or affirmations. Magic is most often someone trying to bring an act of Will into being. The mind is cleared, the intention is focused and some sort of ritual is enacted which reinforces the intention in the life of the person performing the ritual. Depending on the seriousness of the intention, the ritual actions associated can be quick and simple or require elaborate preparations and enactments.

A ritual can be as simple as sitting quietly, taking a few calming breaths and focusing your mind. Or it can involve days of cleansing and preparation with special foods, music, clothing, ritual objects and more. Spells can be requests for help, to give and receive blessings, for healing, for knowledge and guidance, or fertility and prosperity. In some traditions and belief systems, prayer and magical spells are indistinguishable from one another. In many spiritualities that utilize chanting, one perfect utterance of the proper phrase can transform the spirit instantly, raising consciousness and expanding knowledge. Depending on one’s point of view, knowledge could be perceived of as magic.

Most all spells are asking for change. This change can be an “outside” change, something we wish to manifest in the world, or it can be an inner change, a difference in how we wish to be with ourselves and others. The more clearly we define what we want or wish, the more likely we will be able to manifest what we are asking for.

Writing the spell down in a Book of Shadows is good, especially for elaborate rituals and spells. Be sure to record all of your preparations, and to go back later and write down what the outcome of your magickal work was, not only what happened physically but how your feelings were around the situation. Rae Schwartz

I have a handful of rituals that I use to start my day nearly every morning. When I shave, I cup five handfuls of water to wet my beard, energizing the water with Air, Fire, Water, Earth and Spirit in turn before using that energy to both revitalize myself and cleanse the energy that collected from the previous day. Just before I begin my day, I stand in the middle of my home and project the energy of joy until it completely fills and surrounds my dwelling. In between these two rituals, I recharge my energy by doing a quick meditation with three stones, connecting with each one in turn.

Standing in my bedroom, facing east, I begin with the grapefruit-sized piece of blue calcite, holding it in my cupped hands until I feel it’s energy begin to seep up my arms. I’ll pull its energy into me until it has completely filled my body. The pale blue, almost white energy slowly fills my body from front to back as if I’m being gently submerged into a pool of water a degree or two below room temperature. Filled with the energy of the stone, I simultaneously bow and lifting the stone toward my forehead, saying softly, “Thank you for your gift. May you be blessed as you bless myself, my family, and my friends and family with whom I create my world. Blessed be.” I then replace the stone in its accustomed place before moving first to the kyanite that I wrote about in the previous article and then a large piece of quartz crystal, allowing the energy of each stone to fill me in turn.

* * * * * * * *

When I first began working with the three stones, I would connect with each one of them in turn each morning and then, each evening, I would spend some time meditating for a longer period of time with just one of the stones. The first night I worked with the calcite, the second the kyanite, and third night, the quartz crystal. I timed the process so that, once I had meditated with all three stones, I placed them in my windowsill to bask in the rays of the sun and the light of the full moon for the following three days. After completing that pattern, I’m comfortable working with the stones for a full lunar cycle before allowing them to sit in the windowsill during the full moon, unused, for a three day period each month.

To be perfectly honest, where the stones that I work with are concerned, I don’t consider the standard properties that you would find listed in books and Web sites. If you happened to have read the last article, you’ll remember that I allow the stones to call to me, so I already harbor a strong connection with the stones that I end up working with on my path. By experiencing a stone’s energy on a regular basis and coming to understand its characteristics and how they interact with my own energy, I discover the stone’s properties on my own, focusing on the stone as an individual, rather than the general properties for that particular type of stone.

The meditative and energy workings with the stones become pretty simple when you work with them in this manner. Since you already have an established connection with the stone, you simple rely on that connection to begin your work. The key to your work is going to be based on how easily you connect with the stone and the approach you use to interact with its energy. If your gifted with the ability to see the stone’s energy, your best approach would be to visualize the energy coming from the stone and flowing into you. If you feel the energy (as I do), you would first connect with the sensation of that energy and then pull it within you in much the same way that you pull in air when you take a deep breath. You can actually time the “pull” with your breathing and visualize the stone’s energy surging into you with each breath if that method is easier for you. Once your body is completely filled with the stone’s energy, thank it for its gift and return the stone to where you normally
keep it.

There’s a technique called shamanic journeying where you shift your consciousness from an awareness of the physical realm to an awareness of another state of being. Typically this is used to explore the subtle realms (places that are generally referred to as the etheric plane, the spirit world, or the Dreamtime), but there isn’t a limit as to where you can journey or the realms that you can reach when you shift your awareness. (If you’re awareness is actually leaving your body and projecting itself into the physical world, you’re experiencing a phenomena known as astral projection, something I am tremendously unskilled at doing in a waking state). The key characteristics to journeying are that you don’t leave your body (although you may lose awareness of your body and your physical surroundings while in a shamanic state) and you are exploring a level of existence that is not the physical plane.

If you are capable of pulling a stone’s energy within you, you already possess all of the necessary potential to journey into that energy. When you connected with the stone’s energy to begin the process, at some point you shifted your awareness from yourself to the stone – or to put it simply, you focused on the stone and its energy as you held it in your hands. All you need to do is shift that process slightly and focus on the stone’s energy that you’ve pulled within you. The key, and this is the pivotal part, is that once you have your focus shifted to where you’ve connected with the stone’s energy with you, you need to relax and clear your mind, much as if you were meditating, without allowing your focus to move from that spot within you that’s saturated with the stone’s energy. It’s tricky and typically requires a little bit of practice to develop the necessary skill level, so don’t be disappointed if you are only able to complete one portion of the process at first or are unable
to hold that balance of directed focus and open mind for very long when you first begin.

When you’ve achieved this level of work with the stone, simply hold the stone quietly as you journey into its energy. It doesn’t really matter if you’re sitting or standing (I use both positions), although I personally have a difficult time journeying into a stone when I’m laying down. (I find that the energy of the earth has a grounding effect on me when I’m in a prone position). Go into the journey without expectations. Simply allow whatever energy is there to manifest on its own.

For instance, the blue calcite that I’ve been working with has a very defined yet ethereal spirit and energy. It’s clean and pure and it’s spirit manifests as a tall, slender humanoid in embroidered robes and the journey takes place within a small chamber that seems to represent the stone itself. The kyanite is deep and gritty, it’s spirit form only vaguely humanoid, and the journey into that stone’s energy manifests as an entire landscape in a rural Indian countryside completely devoid of people. The quartz crystal’s energy is simply light. I don’t go anywhere or see anything when I journey into its energy. Once I’ve journeyed into its energy, I simply find myself in brilliant uncolored light, like staring into bright sunlight that doesn’t harm your eyes or make you squint.

There’s a fourth stone that I work with that requires a shift in technique. It was a gift from a spirit that I work with who is associated with the Pacific Ocean. A couple of years back I had finished doing some shamanic work on the Oregon Coast and was walking down an empty stretch of beach, still a little ungrounded, when I caught the glimpse of a juvenile seal between myself and the water. While the area abounds with sea lions (they’re a regular sight during a visit to the ocean), seals are rare and I usually only see them during shamanic work or at sacred sites that I’ve adopted. I quickly turned my head toward the animal, only to find that instead of a medium-sized seal, there was a small stone, a bit bigger than a large chicken’s egg where the animal had been, it’s coloring and markings exactly the same as the much larger seal. Since that day, I’ve referred to it by the extremely unimaginative name of “the seal stone.”

As a journeying tool, when properly connected with, the spirit form of a seal will spiritually manifest from the seal stone and carry my spirit on a shamanic journey to where a spirit (I refer to as The Handmaiden) awaits in her aquatic home. The technique is almost the same as journeying into the stone’s energy, except instead of focusing on the stone’s energy as a broad sensation, you narrow your focus to the spirit of the seal that exists within that energy. The rest of the journeying process is exactly the same, as the seal’s spirit is responsible for the actual transportation from one realm to the next and you aren’t required to master any additional techniques. All you have to do is maintain your focus on the seal’s energy while relaxing your mind and maintaining a semi-meditative state.

If you begin working with a stone’s energy by journeying into the stone, you may discover a couple of things happening.

First of all, that stone, it’s spirit, or the energy it manifests is going to have a very unique perspective on the world and the larger scheme of reality. By utilizing the journeying technique, if the realm opens to you and you meet the spirit of the stone (or are led to another spirit during the journeying), you can learn from that spirit much as you would learn from a spirit guide.

Second, not only can you draw energy from the stone for your own use, but you can give back your energy as a gift or thank you to the stone, a perfect way to maintain the balance of your working relationship. For instance, when I first started working with the seal stone, the spirit seal was very timid and reluctant to transport me. After taking me to The Handmaiden, it would immediately dart off for other waters and wouldn’t return until it was time to take me back to the physical realm. At the end of one of the return journeys, I held my focus for a moment longer than necessary and visualized an ideal seal habitat – a gently sloping beach in a protected cove, deep water protected from sharks by a sturdy shoal, warm sunshine and plenty of fish. The spirit seal responded joyfully to the gift. Now when I connect with the seal, I wait until that hidden cove appears in the energy and the seal is now happy and eager to work with me.

You can offer the same sort of gift if you begin working with the spirit of a stone. While a habitat may be appropriate if it’s an animal form that you’re working with, any gift that truly represents a humble and thankful nature would be appreciated. A beautiful flower to a spirit that resides in a meadow; a gift of a favorite childhood memory to an elderly spirit; almost anything that you can offer in thanks, respect and joy will be well-accepted. Jeff Fritts

The earth is filled with geographic zones, both large and small, that possess powerful energy fields. Mystics and magicians call these energy zones “power spots” or “places of power.” They can be found almost everywhere, even in the unlikeliest locations.

Different power spots resonate with different centers in our bodies. One may awaken the heart and help us experience bliss, while another may simply fill us with joy, and yet another may assist us in the process of spiritual healing. Then there is the opposite effect: some places can devastate our energy fields with such intensity that they may even cause disease to those who live hear them.

Power spots may also be classified according to whether they are yin or yang, “masculine” or “feminine.” A yang power spot fills us with a certain quality, while a yin spot can suck out disease and heal the human organism, while some yang spots merely fill us with egotism and bluster rather than with wisdom.

Ultimately, there are seven kinds of power spots: Those that are filled with beneficial energy and give this energy to us freely, as an act of love; those that awaken a particular chakra or inner center of power; those that actually help magicians and other spiritual seekers to shift their consciousness from one inner center to another; those that serve as “gateways between the worlds” and help us to enter different dimensions; those that bear the imprint of some very high or enlightened soul, such as the meditation places or graves of the masters; those that “suck out” or steal our life energies, causing illness or disease; and those that suck out the disease rather than the life energy, and thereby help us to heal ourselves.

To recognize places of power, try the following exercise. Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. Then empty your mind of all thoughts, and shift the focus of your attention to your physical self. Let your awareness flow like light throughout your body. You can imagine this awareness as a “bell-shaped skirt” of energy, beginning at the neck and flowing down all around your body, even into the earth. You can also imagine that you are opening an umbrella of awareness underneath you–one that reaches down into the earth itself and connects with the energies that dwell within.

Then imagine your head sinking down into your body and entering that cocoon of energy, coming to rest somewhere beneath your rib cage but above your groin. Don’t worry too much about exactly where to place your “head” because this inner center or power in the belly is slightly different for everyone. If you like, you can build up a mental image of your own head and face right there in your belly. Feel, breathe, and perceive from that head rather than the one on top of your neck.

Start walking. Don’t look at or focus on anything in particular. Let your energy body roll you from place to place as it wills. In time, you will find yourself attracted to a particular spot. Explore it. Don’t just sit there and try to “meditate” in a passive fashion. Keep moving! Feel its borders and boundaries, the subtleties of its energy. What kind of a place is it? Yin or yang? Does it resonate with a particular center inside your body? Which one? The type of power spot you choose will give you a clue as to the nature of your own magical gifts, because it will probably activate the center in which your own personal power is located.
John Garrison

Celebrate the changing of the seasons and the beauty and power of the Moon, the Stars, and the Sun. Written by a Witch who has spent many years teaching the Craft of Wicca to newcomers, The Craft is an accessible introductory guide that presents everything you need to know for successful witchery, including:
An essential set of instructions and guidelines for beginning the practice of the Ancient Arts

An overview of Wiccan beliefs, laws, rules, and principles

Directions for creating and using basic tools of the Craftathame, wand, cup, pentacle, cauldron, broom, black mirror, and meditation

Easy-to-follow instructions for altar set-up, circle-casting, building power, deity invocation, and more.

An assortment of miscellaneous spells, chants, and invocations for a variety of purposes, learn to walk the path of the Witchlive in harmony and balance, and discover the sacred within the natural world

In the following excerpt, author Dorothy Morrison discusses magical boostersthe practice of using natural correspondences to increase the chances of a spells success. Here, she presents the magical correspondences for the days of the week.

Magical Boosters: Working With The Days Of The Week

Since each day is ruled by a different planet and every planet exudes its own individual energy, most practitioners choose to perform spells on a day that is in synch with their magical intent. While this could postpone the work for a few days, the delay is always well worth the wait. Why? Because matching intent to the proper planetary influence not only empowers the magic at hand, but also, to a large degree, eliminates the possibility of cosmic error.

While thats certainly reason enough to cross-match intent with an appropriate day of the week, my thinking goes one step further. Because performing successful magic is a time-consuming process, it only makes sense to get it right the first time. Theres just no point in wasting precious time and energy if youre working against stacked odds.

A love spell, for example, has little or no chance for success if it is performed on a Tuesday. Thats because Tuesday is ruled by Mars, the planet of war. But if you performed it on Friday, its chances would be much better. Why? Because Friday is ruled by Venus, the planet of love. You get the idea.

For this reason, always check the Influences Chart when preparing for magic. Not only will it clear the path for success, but also it will save you tons of time and energy in the long run.

Influences Chart

Sunday: This day is ruled by the Sun. It provides excellent energy for efforts involving general success, business partnerships, job promotions, business ventures, and professional success. Magical work involving friendships, joy, and mental or physical health also benefit from this influence.

Monday: Monday belongs to the Moon. Its energy benefits efforts that deal with women, the family, home and hearth, the garden, and medicine. It also boosts rituals involving psychic development and prophetic dreaming.

Tuesday: Mars rules Tuesday. Try it for work involving men, conflict, physical endurance and strength, lust, hunting, sports, and all types of competition. Its also a great tool for rituals that deal with surgical procedures or political ventures.

Wednesday: Wednesday is ruled by Mercury. Its energy is most beneficial for spellwork involving writers, poets, actors, teachers, and students. Thats because its influence vibrates toward inspiration, communications, the written and spoken word, and all forms of study, learning and teaching. It also provides a good time to begin efforts that deal with self-improvement or understanding.

Thursday: Jupiter governs Thursday, and influences work that involves material gain, general success, accomplishment, honors and awards, or legal issues. Its energies also benefit matters of luck, gambling, and prosperity.

Friday: Friday belongs to Venus, the planet of love. Since its energies are warm, sensuous, and fulfilling, its of greatest benefit to efforts involving matters of the heart, pleasure, comfort, and luxury. Use it, too, for any magical work that deals with music, the arts, or aromatherapy.

Saturday: Saturn, the planet of Karma, presides over this day. It provides excellent conditions for efforts that involve reincarnation, karmic lessons, the mysteries, and wisdom. Its energies also benefit any work that deals with the elderly, death, or the eradication of pests and disease. Dorothy Morrison

Are you a good Witch or a bad witch?? The good witches come from the north and
the south, the bad witches from the east and the west….

Are you a “White Witch”?
Some Witches like to explain that they practice only “white” magick. This is probably their way of assuring you that they don’t cast “evil spells” or try to manipulate you through their magickal talents. The term white witch was much more prevalent in the early 1990’s, possibly as a need to be more politically correct or to counter the prejudices of those who would do them harm before New Age ideas became more popular. Some African-American and Native American Witches take offense to being called white Witches as the term implies race to them.

Magick really isn’t black or white. It just is. The idea of black or white is to differentiate between the intentions. White being good, according to the theory, and black being malicious.

One popular Wiccan author refuses to consider her work to be black magick but does practice “Dark” magick. “Dark isn’t the same as evil,” she says. Dark can relate to any type of protection or defensive spell, and this particular woman is very strong in her protection rituals. She would never cast a healing spell without the permission of the patient or perform any ritual that would bring ill will to another human being.

Think of Kestrel Firehawk in Flying By Night when she invokes Hecate, the Dark Mother, to protect her family and get her through this terrible crossroads in her life.

Most Pagans believe in karma, reincarnation, and/or some form of cause and effect. You may have encountered the same beliefs among Buddhists. You get back what you send out. What goes around, comes around. Do unto others as you’d have them do unto you.

It’s as simple as this: if the guy who sold you your car cheated you by rolling back the odometer, he’ll get that same energy back. Maybe he’ll be cheated tomorrow. Or maybe his disgruntled customers will talk to all their friends, and soon no one will buy a car from him and he’ll go bankrupt. Maybe he’ll never be able to hang onto any financial gain. Or maybe he’ll spend his next lifetime in jail as a car thief.

Wiccans subscribe to a set of rules known as the Wiccan Rede, which says to do what you will but harm none. Some Wiccans try to take the Rede very literally, trying not to hurt any living thing, including insects. Most Wiccans fall somewhere toward the middle of the interpretation: don’t perform magick to hurt another person or attempt to alter their destinies (including healing spells) without their permission.

Still other Wiccans perceive “harm none” as a call to protection and justice and believe that practicing magick responsibly includes doing what you can to make sure no one is hurt. For example, if you don’t practice magick to protect or defend and you have those abilities to work with the elements and Deity that most people don’t have, then you are in fact doing harm, the same as if you had caused the harm directly. Following through with this call to defense might include performing magick to locate a serial rapist and bring him to justice or to reveal the identity of a terrorist so your community will be protected.

The differing interpretations have been the source of heated discussions in Pagan communities around the world. Do you let Karma take care of murderers for you? Or do you cast a spell so that the murderer will be found and brought to justice? Each Pagan has his or her own convictions in this matter, just as people of all religions do.

Do Witches ever do harm intentionally, other than bringing criminals to justice, if that’s perceived by some as harm?
Yes, some do–just as people of all religions occasionally do bad or unethical things.

Occasionally, you hear of a Pagan High Priest (whether real or supposed) who wants to make sex with teenage girls part of the initiation into his coven. We don’t know. We’ve yet to meet him. However, we do personally know Baptist clergy who were arrested for molesting little boys in their churches and Catholic priests who were charged with having kiddie porn on their computers. That certainly doesn’t mean that all preachers and priests should be tossed in jail or burned at the stake.

Doing harm doesnt have to be a major criminal activity. It can be little things that leave the victim with distaste for a particular religion if we aren’t careful. Haven’t we all dealt with the office Power-Ranger or gossipy neighbor who could be unbelievably dastardly behind our backs and yet first in line to let everyone know they sing in the church choir, lead prayer circles, or teach Sunday School? Haven’t you ever wanted to call their pastor or religious leader and tell them to ask this person NOT to tell anyone about their religion because they’re such bad examples? And especially not to advertise their religion alongside their profession if they can’t be counted on to act ethically?

There are good and bad people of all faiths. We should all strive to be the best possible representative of the Deity (or Deities) we follow, because–like it or not–we are Their representative. Lorna Tedder

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  5. When I spent a few days copying Gwen Thompson’s BOS at Hallows 1972, she told me that she had received the Book and Initiation from an Irishman named John, whom she had met when she went to England during WWII to volunteer as a nurse in the war effort there. Since the Book contained mostly Celtic lore and Enochian magick (Gwen had not yet added the Gardnerian stuff she later got from Leo Martello), it seems likely to have come from the Celtic Coven that WB Yeats founded in Ireland, since Yeats was a member of the Golden Dawn and thus had access to the Enochian system. Gwen didn’t start the story about her grandmother until later, though she did complain about her initiate Ed B. who stole her BOS and ran off to New York with a story about getting it from his grandmother and starting the American Welsh Trad.
    Don Cardoza


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