Category Archives: WITCHCRAFTING

Simple Witchery Part 3 — The Four Pillars of Witchcraft

Screen Shot 2019-02-13 at 6.41.29 AM

 

To Know,
To Will,
To Dare,
To Keep Silent

 

What does that mean for a practicing witch? These are the four governing principals of the practice of all witchcraft. Each is simple at first glance, and means just what you would think, to have knowledge, to be willing to apply that knowledge, to dare to test your limits, and to keep it all under your pointy little hat.

However, they issue a deeper command even in simple witchery.

To Know: As I touched on in Simple Witchery parts 1 and 2, the highest order of business for a witch is know self above all else. Does this mean I have to embark on a quest, submit to extensive therapy, unpack all my bags and rattle the skeletons out of my closet before I can be a practicing witch?

No. But it does mean that a large part of your on going practice is devoted to knowing what makes you tick, why you do what you do, why you want what you want—the unvarnished truth. This is mostly because witch crafting works with intent, and if you don’t know your motivations, your intent can backfire. In fact, it will backfire . . . every witch has at least one story of learning that lesson.

I spent years as a personal development coach. I helped clients discover their motivational style, to more easily understand their desires and choices. When taken down to the lowest common denominator we are all motivated by fear and reward, with each at the opposite ends of the spectrum. In a very simplistic example, if a bartender took the job because the tips are good and s/he needed to pay the rent, that leans toward a motivation of fear—afraid of being homeless. If s/he took the job because of s/he likes meeting people, loves to talk and listen, and finds the atmosphere energizing, in other words s/he loves the job, that is much closer to reward motivation.

The example above just touches the tip of the iceberg, but you can see how it works. As a witch, do I want to cast a banishing spell because someone is truly causing me harm, or because I’m a little jealous of them, or annoyed by their needs or . . . (take your pick).  In such cases, it might be far better for me to work on myself, and if I cast any spell, to make it one for tolerance. At the very least, if I go ahead and work a banishing, knowing why I’m doing it will allow me to make it more effective.

A final note here; magic is not always the right or best solution and you have to know that too. Exhaust all mundane (non-magical) solutions first. Instead of casting a binding spell on a coworker who is bothering you—confront them in a calm and logical way. If that doesn’t work, take it up with human services.

So the first thing to know is yourself, the real you, the true you—warts and all as they say. Then, there is knowing the craft, the history of it, the thought leaders past and present, and the mechanics of it. There is only one way to achieve this and that’s research, research, research. If you’re a joiner, there are some great schools to be found online, and mentoring groups in social media. If you’re just starting out, I recommend finding somebody who is advanced and reputable, for some one on one mentoring.

There are many knowledgable writers at patheos.com. Circle Sanctuary is also another great source. Llewellyn is the largest publisher and book seller of pagan and witchcraft authors (among other genres).

As you can see, this To Know thing, is an on-going pursuit throughout the lifetime of a practicing witch. The wisest witch knows she doesn’t know it all and never will.

To Will: This is your intent. The magic of witchcraft is to actually will something to happen with focused intent through manipulating the laws of nature, human nature and physics. Let’s look at that word, manipulate, because it can have a negative connotation. 1.

handle or control (a tool, mechanism, etc.), typically in a skillful manner.

“he manipulated the dials of the set”

So witchcraft can be described as skillfully managing, controlling or creating (manifesting) a desired outcome through knowledge of natural and physical laws.

The caveat with this one is to remember what Cyndi Brannen of Keeping Her Keys says (I’m paraphrasing a bit as she names a deity, rather than using the word magic)  “[Magic]  can not do for you, what it can not do through you.”  In other words, you can’t work magic to help you find the perfect job, and then not do everything in your (will) power to look for that job. You can’t cast a spell for needed money, and not be willing to work for that money.

Then, what do you need the magic for? Isn’t it all just willpower? Yes and no—mostly no, and you’ll understand this as you get better at making magic happen. It just works.

To Dare: For me, to dare means to take the risk, because being a witch is risky. We might not have witch hunts, persecution and death by drowning, hanging or burning at the stake . . . in most countries, but it’s still not all that safe to be a witch. Society doesn’t look fondly on witches, we live in the margins, we have truck with the undesirables—often we are their champions, sometimes we are them.

To dare also means to believe and to try. “Do I dare believe I can attain this, or create that with witchery?” And, “Do I dare believe I am deserving enough to have this power?” In this vein, to dare is to lay claim to your sovereignty, your divine-given right to strive for that which you desire. Your right to autonomy, your right to justice, your right to equality. Whether you are practicing in the broom closet (keeping your witchery secret) or you are a loud and proud witch – to dare means to take control of your own power and use it.

To Keep Silent: Again, pretty self explanatory on the surface. Historically, keeping silent meant to keep your practice secret, only share it with coven mates if you had them, It was self preservation. But there were, and are, family and legacy considerations for keeping silent too—just like secret recipes, a family might keep their particular ways only in the family, passing it down through the generations. This was often the root of the book of shadows and the grimoires.

In my opinion, it also means to be circumspect about your practice, being careful not to share with those who would misuse or cheapen it, who are interested because it’s a fad. Also, not to proselytize. The general rule of thumb is that somebody who seems interested in learning more, must ask of their own accord.

Finally, I see keeping silent as part of my personal spell work, in not broadcasting the spells I cast. Cast your spell, release the energy to do its work in the universe, and let it go, put it out of your mind. Keep your journal, or book of shadows, to write the spell and later note its success or failure. That is the way your practice grows and you become better at crafting spells and manifesting results.

I want to add one final note to this series on simple witchery—simple does not mean lazy. There is no room for lazy in effective witchcraft. Study, make time for devotion/meditation, practice the craft (work spells, keep notes, and track your practice). Prepare your spells carefully, researching correspondences, moon phases, and other influencing factors. In this way, a simple practice every day is better than an elaborate ritual once a month on full moon, or whenever you have time.

My vision for Simple Witchery is to help you create an effective practice that fits your lifestyle, your schedule, your resources and, yes, your finances . . . because the only thing you need to be a witch, is within you—your belief and your intent. The rest is window dressing.

Start where you are, go slow, and grow.

Blessed Be and Journey Well

Read Parts One & Two

For more Simple Witchery visit the MAD Goddess  Patreon site, where you’ll find lots of free content, and the opportunity to become a patron starting at $3/mo.


Witchy Wares: A Merry Little Gift List

I’ve been so busy in my northwoods realm I nearly forgot to share my list of witchin’ gifts for the holidays.

Topping my gift picks this year is anything from Sarah Ann Lawless’s newly launched herbal shop, Bane Folk. I have long been a follower of this folk herbal witch, watching her develop and refine her line of exquisite poisons into modern versions of historic flying potions and other products. Her mandrake ointment has been a wonder for easing the pain from my spinal stenosis.* Now that she offers 5ml tubes for sampling each of her six herbal salves, I can’t wait to try them all.Screen Shot 2018-12-15 at 12.22.30 PM

The newest addition to her product line is her Poison Garden Perfume Collection. The website states, “Each poison garden roll-on perfume oil is crafted with the botanical extracts & essential oils of psychoactive and poisonous plants from the Artemisia and Solanaceae plant families.”

The size and price (a mere $4 +S&H) make this a perfect stocking stuffer.

*This is not an endorsement, recommendation, or suggestion for medical treatment.

Screen Shot 2018-12-15 at 12.53.17 PM

Listen, a witch can never have too many candles. For magics. I found these colorful beauties at Menorah(.com). Hand dipped using organic beeswax, they feature 100% cotton, clean burning wicks. Don’t be fooled by the picture, these diminutive tapers are only about 5 inches tall, but in my opinion that only lends to their magical uses. At $17.99 for a package of 45, it might be the best deal on this year’s list.

If you’re like me, scrolling through #witchesofinstagram, #pagasofinstagram and #castingspells on your Instagram feed turns you just a little bit green with envy. Some witches really know how to visually style a spell. While I’m waiting for the book of pretty spell casting to comeScreen Shot 2018-12-15 at 1.41.14 PM out (hint-hint Spell Bar), I find a lot of inspiration in the not-exactly-meant-for-witches magazine, Willow and Sage One year of four issues costs a dear price of $50 by subscription, a $2.50 savings per issue. It’s filled with how-to, ingredient lists and sources, and pages of visual eye candy for the home herbalist. A cleaver witch can see past the practical application and transform inspiration into beautifully laid spells.

Screen Shot 2018-12-15 at 1.54.31 PM

 

Of course, there’s much more to casting a good spell than meets the eye. This quirky little book, Composing Magic, by Elizabeth Barrette, covers the basics skills of  good writing and applies them to magical works. The easy to read format lets you jump around to areas of interest, such as spells, rituals, or a book of shadows, but the books flows from beginning to end with an easy to read style.

Screen Shot 2018-12-15 at 2.05.07 PMI can’t leave without sharing my fountain pen pick of the year. I’m obsessed with these scratchy, inky, pens that harken to the past. This rose gold and aquamarine Ted Baker model is hard to come by, but a Google search will still lock in a few available for purchase. If you love it as much as I do, don’t dally!

Don’t forget the ink! Though this is categorized as a red, the shimmer in Diamine Red Luster gives it the appearance of a rich copper sheen.

Screen Shot 2018-12-15 at 2.19.10 PM

That rounds out my witchin’ gift picks for Yuletide 2018. Wishing you a bright and blessed Solstice Season.

Visit my Patreon Page where I’m compiling a Compendium of Simple Witchery
Enjoy as many as 9 free posts, and consider supporting my effort to bring simple witch crafting to the wise and curious alike.

Follow me on Instagram

 

 

 


Simple Witchery — Part 2

statue-1405539_640

witch·craft
/ˈwich – kraft/
noun

synonyms: sorceryblack magicwhite magicmagicwitchingwitcherywizardry; spells, incantations.

I have to say I take exception to the rather archaic concept in the definition above specifically the descriptor, especially black magic. Most of the definitions I found with a simple dictionary search were equally as faulty.

Yes, some witches practice black magic, not all, and not even the majority. So why the inference that all witchcraft has a menacing element?

The persecution of witches (mostly women, but men too) is a time honored tradition of suppressing power. Not magkical power mind you, but that which resists the ruling powers of the prevailing institution. One very effective method to thwart opposition is to cast aspersions that create fear, and also promise repercussion for offenses. It plays out as convincing the masses that a witch is to be feared and reviled. It is a vehicle to prosecute and punish accused witches, up to and including death.

The rest of the definition, the casting of spells and use of invocation is accurate enough, if not amusing. By that definition, I was a witch sitting in the pew of the Roman Catholic Cathedral attached to the church school that I attended for 9 years—because if chanting litanies to the saints doesn’t fit the description of a spell, and calling forth the body and blood of a religious icon, a man who died over 2,000 years ago isn’t invocation of a spirit, then I guess I don’t know what is.

The largest misconception about witchcraft today is that is a religion.

~ Mad Goddess

Here is where I’m going to go off the rails because the further out of the broom closet I come, the more this is becoming my pet peeve. The largest misconception about witchcraft today is that it is religion. Some witches do intertwine their personal spiritual faith belief with their practice of the craft and in that way it fits the frame of religious practice.

The saying often goes, all Wiccan’s are witches but not all witches are Wiccan. It serves its purpose, but there are a few glitches even in that.

  • Wiccans are not the only witches who incorporate spiritual faith belief into their practice.
  • It is possible to practice Wicca without ever incorporating spell work, an essential component of witchcraft.
  • I know I can do spell work and invocations without a trace of religious trappings, or for that matter, belief in a supreme being; the only belief required is that in the properties of natural and physical laws, the properties of energy and the affect of motive and intention.
  • Finally, witchcraft can be practiced by those who follow a religious faith. Their faith may or may not approve, but otherwise, the two are not exclusive.

The least assumptive definition I found was, “The use of magic to help or harm people.”

Uhg. There is so much wrong with even that statement, some of which could be remedied by just dropping the last word. Yes, witchery (not necessarily magick) can and is used for both help and harm, depending on the practitioner—but help or harm can be directed to all things energetically connected by the web of life.

Witchcraft is the study and use of natural and physical law, for
the purpose of applying focused intent and personal will to a
specific purpose, and to manifest a desired outcome.

~ Mad Goddess

If any of those dictionary scholars were asking me (and they aren’t) this is what I’d tell them: Witchcraft is the study and use of natural and physical law, for the purpose of applying focused intent and personal will to a specific purpose, and to manifest a desired outcome.

A witch has a deep and abiding relationship with nature and the natural world, including an understanding that simply because many parts of the natural world are unseen to us it doesn’t mean we cannot enlist the aid of those properties and powers. In other words the belief that if E=mc², ( all physical matter consists of energy) that energy can be tapped into and used.

Many witches practice with a deity or deities, but even this does not a religion make. The major religions of the world call for belief in and worship of an all knowing supreme being (or beings) responsible for the creation and/or oversight of life as we know it, with the power to reward and punish our deeds. Witchcraft requires no such thing.

The practice of modern witchcraft, or neo paganism, primarily arises out of the desire to eschew the dogma and doctrine of organized religions, yet in many cases veers right back into those codes of behavior. Old habits and beliefs are hard to break; for those who were raised with prescribed religious practice it can be difficult to leave that aspect behind. Thus witchcraft and spiritual practice have become so enmeshed it can be difficult to tease one out from the other.

Working with the energetic qualities of archetypes and deities, gods, goddesses, prophets, saints or spirits, as opposed to worshipping or venerating and or submitting to the same, separates witchcraft from religious practice.

A witch might call on the energy of a particular animal to inspire its qualities, for example an Owl’s powers of observation. Indigenous American spirituality would describe it as calling on the animal’s medicine. Likewise, one could call on the energy or medicine of the ocean, the mountains, the sun, moon or stars, rocks and trees—as well as deities, spirits or human forms no longer of this realm; even archetypes and symbols have associated energy.

If witchcraft requires any faith belief, it’s the belief that all things have an energy that can be combined with our own to achieve a goal or manifest a desired result. Or, at the least the belief that we hold within our aspect the energy of all living things, each to be called forth as needed.

If either of those possibilities sounds a little crazy to you, consider how these concepts have permeated our culture:

  • He is the salt of the earth
  • She is an angel of mercy
  • I’m sly like a fox
  • WWJD – What would Jesus Do? What would your mother think? What would your father tell you?

All of these and many more are the calling forth of energy to our purpose. Of course, that alone does not make a witch. No more than my husband is a Catholic priest because he can still recite the entire mass in Latin (altar boy for three years). Nor I am Madonna because I can sing all of her songs. Yes that Madonna, not The Madonna—it’s okay for witches to have a sense of humor too.

You are not a witch until you know you are a witchTo Know is the first of the Four Pillars of Witchcraft*:

  • To Know
  • To Will
  • To Dare
  • To Keep Silent

The meaning of the first might seem obvious—you have to know witchy things to be a witch. But this pillar also commands the witch to know thyself above all else. It is essential to know not only what witchcraft is, but why you choose to be a witch.

Whew! It sounds like simple witchcraft is anything but simple.

Think of it this way—it’s like playing the piano. You learn to read music, practice the scales, develop and ear for the the sharps and flats, you have to know how to play all the notes and chords. Where you take it from there determines whether you’ll become a virtuoso or play chopsticks the rest of your life.

There is nothing wrong with playing simple tunes the rest of your life, just as there is no failure in making simple witchery the entirety of your practice. It’s not necessary to have a working knowledge of the uses for every herb in the Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs. You can do everything you need to do with herbs that are easily grown in your region or purchased (fresh or dried) at your grocery store.

Likewise, you don’t have to have one of every crystal and gem in your collection. A clear quartz crystal can be charged for any purpose. For that matter, a stone natural to your region holds scads of magick to be used.

Truth be told, you don’t even need that much. I’ll cover this in more detail in my next post—Everything You Need to Know About The Four Pillars of Witchcraft. Suffice it to say, the only thing you need to practice witchcraft is yourself and your intent. The rest is accoutrement.

My idea for simple witchery is to develop a practice easily incorporated into daily life, your daily life, because consistent practice is the key to effective practice.

Simple witchery is knowing that lighting a candle and invoking sacred space, is as effective as calling a circle and holding formal ritual. That drawing a magical symbol on a small stone to carry in your pocket, is just as effective (maybe more so), than a pricey, magical bracelet or amulet. That isn’t to say it’s okay to be a lazy witch (never putting much effort into your practice) or that you shouldn’t make fair exchange for the things you desire (it’s okay to buy the bracelet, purchased from the metaphysical shop).

Remember this; you will get as much out of your practice as you put into it—no more and no less.

Blessed Be and Journey Well

If you enjoyed this post consider supporting my work to share simple witchery by
 Becoming A Patron!


%d bloggers like this: