Tag Archives: Mastering Witchcraft

For Hallowstide

For those of you who —  like our merry band — celebrate Hallowstide after October 31st, below is one way we’ve worked it with good results.  It’s actually from last year’s ritual done for the book club group, hence the ceremonial wordings.  As always, change it up to suit yourself, speaking from your own heart.

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Set up your altar with a skull, or representation of a skull.  We used a pottery skull with old skeleton keys crossed in front of it, as crossed bones, or “feet.”

Light candle beside skull,  saying

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From this fire, exorcised unto our need, spring forth now the Cunning Fire, which sits between the horns of our god.  Be Thou a lamp to light our ways, and a beacon to call forth our Beloved Dead this night.
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Knock three times, then say:

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By my Will I shape this throne
And call our Dead upon this Bone
Come ye in my Master’s Name
Until I send Thee back again

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Breathe life into skull, until you feel it stir and waken.

All stand in circle around altar.  Take up a red thread.  Each person ties knots into their thread, in the fashion of a snaim.  More about this another time, but for now — Don’t touch the thread with either forefinger at any point during the process.  Bring the thread to your forehead while concentrating on your intent, then down in front of you to tie the knots, then to your lips to whisper the name of one of your Beloved Dead, or to send a general call to the Ancestors.

Tread the Mill, stepping sideways and moving widdershins.  Pass thread deasil.  Whisper names of Beloved Dead, interspersed with “One by one and all together.”* Keep steps slow, but allow chant to increase in volume and/or speed.

When the Mill reaches its natural conclusion, one at a time, each person takes a thread up to the altar.  Offers a sign of love or respect (usually kissing the “feet”), then places bead end of thread into eye socket of skull, holding the other end.  Commune.

Remove thread, take up candle and pass around head 3x, to “take in” the cunning fire.  Rejoin circle.

When all have communed, perform a housle**:

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For our Ancestors, our Gods and ourselves, we do this.
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(((Knock 3 times)))
Here is bread, the life of the Earth,
Blessed to give us life and strength.
I consecrate it in the name of the Witch Father
With my left hand I bless it (mark it with goosefoot)
With my left hand I shall eat it.
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(((Knock 3 times)))
Here is wine, filling the cup with abundance
I consecrate it in the name of the Witch Mother
With my left hand I lift it,
With my left hand I shall drink it.
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Holding the cup in your left hand still, bring it near your lips, and say
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I drink this cup in the Witch Mother’s name:  She shall gather me home again.
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Then drink a little. Everyone who shares from the cup should say the same, holding the cup with their left hand, before they drink.
After everyone has shared from the cup, everyone should eat a piece of the bread- tear or cut it apart, making enough pieces for everyone. As you bring the piece of bread, held with your left hand, near your lips, you should say:
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I eat this bread in the Witch Father’s name, that I might have of his cunning fire

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Make an offering of bread and wine into a bowl.

Make subsequent toasts spontaneously from the heart.

Make the final round in silence.

Pass the bowl around for each to anoint their forehead with mixture in offering bowl.

While this happens, one of your number says:

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As some is taken, so is this given
By the sons and daughters of the family of the Old Faith
I give it to the Ground
I give it to the Pale People below
That above and below will become one
For what is taken is truly given
And what is given is truly taken
The day and night are wed
As the living and the dead.
Here is shown a mystery.
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Anoint skull.

Close the Skull, saying:

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In my Master’s Name, I bid you depart to your proper place, and be there love between us ever more.  So mote it be!

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Silently, each person takes up a candle from around the circle or on the altar.  One of your number takes up the offering bowl and starts a procession to a quiet place outside.  This could be a place where 3 trails meet, or any place you find good for leaving offerings.  In our case, our Magister is at the end of the procession, because the “Devil takes the hindmost.”

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Pour your offerings onto the ground, “To our Beloved Dead”

Leave your candles burning by offering.

Turn and walk away, without looking back.

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May you and the Ancestors be blessed!

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*Peter Paddon uses this phrase, and I like how it works.

**If memory serves, these words are a combination of Robin Artisson’s red meal and American Folkloric Witchcraft’s housle.

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Hot fresh witchcraft, with a prize inside

Drawn to a close — six Sundays of discussing Mastering Witchcraft and drinking tea with a group of fascinating witches.  Well, to be honest, most of us were drinking red wine, but we were sipping it from tea cups.  And some of the fascination came straight from Chapter 4 of the book.

I loved it.  So much so, that I’m bringing the fun to you.

Shortly, you’ll be able to read what well-known witches have to say on the concepts in Mastering Witchcraft.  I call them Celebrity Witches — high profile witches, who write, teach, speak and further the Craft in real and meaningful ways.  And that’s the tip of the iceburg, because to do those things well, they also have to be diligent practitioners of their arte “off screen.”

These Celebrity Witches will be working from the same set of discussion points used in the book club meetings.*  Please chime in with your own thoughts and experiences.  In many cases the celebrities are following along, so ask questions, as well.  The answers may surprise you!

And to sweeten the honey jar further, there’s a prize.  (Rules apply, see below for details.) Every time you comment,** I’ll put your name in the hat.  If you plug the online discussion on your site, I’ll put your name in three times.†  At the end of the online discussion,†† I’ll draw a winner.  The lucky witch will receive a copy of Mastering Witchcraft, which Mr. Huson has autographed with the inscription “you need but ask, the way is open to you.”

So stay tuned, to hear what Sarah Lawless of The Witch of Forest Grove, Jason Miller of Strategic Sorcery, Harold Roth of The Alchemist’s Garden, Hyperion of the UnNamed Path, Deborah Lipp, of Property of a Lady, Peter Paddon of the Crooked Path, Robin Artisson of Tracks in the Witchwood, and Mrs. Drinkwalter of North of Berkeley have to say about the concepts in Mastering Witchcraft.

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*Each Celebrity Witch retains all copyrights to their writings contained herein, with the sole exception that they have each agreed that I can post them on UsedKey.
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**And that means a *real* comment, not one of those sissified “me too” type responses. 
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†If you post on your site, email me at trothwy at live dot com, so I know to put your name in the hat.
 

††I’ll post an end date for comments to be eligible for the drawing, as discussions wind down.

 ¶Let the Discussion commence!

 

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Wonder what you’re missing?

 Last Sunday’s discussion exceeded my greediest expectations. 
 
As I told a new friend, the book discussion was “like one of those really deep, satisfying conversations where you’re up until 4 in the morning without even noticing it.” 
 
Except we weren’t up until 4 am … although we did run over, by about an hour.
 
 
 
 
It’s not too late to join us.  For more information, email bendith.y.cyrn@live.com, or call 832-684-5587.
 
Come over to the dark side.  We have tea and cakes!
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And the goat would be for?

In all fairness, you should be informed that this blog has been temporarily highjacked by a book club.

And now, you’re probably imagining this:

Well-bred ladies sedately sipping coffee and sharing household happenings over a tastefully appointed coffee table.

When really, it’s more like this:

And during the accompanying kaffeeklatsch, you read this quote from Mastering Witchcraft:

“When you cast a spell … Now supposing at just that precise moment the door to your place of working were to open and your husband or maybe your mother-in-law were to confront you … ‘Audrey! What are you doing dressed up like that in here?  And why haven’t you got any lights on? You’ll strain your eyes … And what’s all that terrible smoke?’  Total anticlimax.”

And you laugh, because you, too, have been there.

Only rather than confess to your dear old mum-in-law that you are a witch, you pretended to be smoking marijuana on the sly.   Well … it explained all that incense.

But not why you were naked.  Or what the goat was for.

Join Bendith y Cyrn in a book club style discussion of Paul Huson’s Mastering Witchcraft.  And it gets even better.  Mr. Huson has agreed to autograph a number of books for me.  If you take part, you’ll be able for buy one for my cost (book price + shipping), as long as they last. 

To sign up, email  bendith.y.cyrn@live.com or call 832-684-5587.

 So call already.  Coffee provided.  Goats optional.

 

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How do you know?

I was playing around on Etymonline this morning, and ran across something interesting.

While English uses a single word for the concept “know,” many languages use two or more verbs to cover the same concept.  So when you say “I know” in French or German or Latin, the word you choose says something about *how* you know what you know.

For instance, Old English had two words:  witan (to know something because you’ve seen it, or have personal experience of it), and cnawan (to have a
perception or understanding of something).

In Latin, the words are cognoscere (to become acquainted with) and scire (to know, to see).

All this because I wanted to share with you a simple but powerful divinatory technique I’ve seen my dear friend the amazing Mrs. Drinkwalter uses on occasion.  I’m not sure whether she thought it up herself, or got it from someone else.  Quite possibly lots of folks have thought it up on their own; it’s just the sort of thing that makes you thump your head and say, “Why didn’t I think of that?”   Mrs. Drinkwalter works it with runes, but really you could use anything.  Possibly even partially-sucked jello shots …  it’s just that good.

It’s based on the principles “To know, to dare, to will, and to keep silent,” which Eliphas Lévi writes of in The Key of the Mysteries:  “To undertake, one must know; to accomplish, one must will; to will really, one must dare; and in order to gather in peace the fruits of one’s audacity, one must keep silent.”

I use cards (no surprise) or a home-made set of weirden for this spread.   If it’s cards, I shuffle them, and as I separate them into halves, but before I bridge them, I tap each half of the deck, one on top of the other, right side onto the left, and left side onto the right, to form a crossroads.  As I do this,  I say Evn’s adaptation of a piece out of Paul Huson’s Mastering Witchcraft:

Hermes, Lord of the Crossroads
In Thy Name, I take up the Cards.
From a word to a word, let me be led to a word.
From a sign to another sign.
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Then I fan the cards out and pick four — one for each of To Know, To Dare, To Will and To Keep Silent.  Here’s how I interpret them:

To Know:  an important aspect; sometimes one that’s hidden from me, and sometimes an aspect that I’m not giving enough attention to.

To Dare: something that I need to do in a mundane, roll-up-my-sleeves kind of way.

To Will:  something that I need to act upon magically.

To Keep Silent:  something that I need to avoid doing.

This is my preferred method of divination before any magical working, because it’s quick and thorough.  Just the thing!

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For love of the dead

Necromancy.

The word conjures up images of scantily-clad heroines and rotting corpses. Sadly for all you B movie buffs, Necromancy is quite simply, “divination by communication with the dead.”  Some candles … a little incense … no corpse required.  Although it should be, love isn’t a word usually associated with it.  Love for your ancestors.

If you don’t already venerate your ancestors, I can’t encourage you strongly enough to do so.  For a witch, making and tending relationships with your ancestors has very tangible and loving returns, divination and recovery of lost lore being only two.  And because time isn’t linear (one of the reasons witchcraft works), your ancestors have a physical existence both in the past and the future where, through the cycle of life, death and rebirth, they will be reborn.  So they know a thing or two about the future.

For some practical steps in necromancy, I can highly recommend two sources:

In “Mastering Witchcraft,”  Paul Huson sets forth instructions for an amatory necromancy — The Dumb Supper — as a means of contacting the spirit of a dead loved one or for calling forth “the spectral apparition of a future loved one or spouse.”  The ritual takes some real commitment; it requires a fair bit of set up and is worked over 13 nights.  I did a simplified version of it some years ago, with excellent results, so I can only imagine how amazing the the full on bells-and-whistles Dumb Supper would be. *

From a Haitian Vodou-inspired perspective, Steven Bragg developed an Ancestor Novena which he sets forth in his article “Samhain, the Time of the Ancestors.”  His Novena is an excellent for making and keeping contact with your ancestors.  Like the Dumb Supper, the Ancestor Novena is time-consuming, but well worth the effort.

These are just two ways to approach communion with the ancestral spirits.  Every culture has them.  So Hindu or Budhist, Christian or Witch, in your own way spend some time with your beloved dead.  

For in this time of Harvest Home, we’re their harvest.

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*About “Mastering Witchcraft” —  If you’re a traditional witch, you’ve already got it on your bookshelf.  If you’re new to witchcraft and interested in a traditional take on the Magical Arts, boy are you in for a treat.  I’m very nostalgic about this book, as it informed my first steps as witch when I was very, very young.

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