Scrying Board Divination
Scrying boards, such as the popular Quija board, date back at least to the time of the fourth-century Roman emperor Valens. In its first year of full production by Parker Brothers. Quija boards outsold their other favorite game Monopoly.
To perform this ritual, you will need a large piece of construction paper, a magic marker, a small wine glass and at least one other person.
At midnight, draw a small circle the size of the top of the wine glass in the middle of the piece of paper. Draw a line up from the circle to the top of the paper, down from the circle to the bottom of the paper, from the right-side to the edge, and from the left-side to the edge. The paper is now divided into four sections with a circle in the middle. Label the section in the upper right “Yes” the section in the upper left “No,” lower left “Yes,” and lower right “No.”
Place the wine glass upside down in the middle of the paper, covering the circle. With two people on opposite sides or four people on all four sides, each person put one finger on what is now the top of the glass. One of you needs to ask a “yes or no” question out loud. Wait for the glass to move on its own, free from deliberate help. You will know this because its movements will be fluid rather than jerky.
When you perfect this divination board, you can improve upon it by writing a circle of letters on the paper. Do this by writing the letter “A” at the top of the page and then making a circle around the page with the other twenty-five letters. This configuration of the board gives you the option of moving beyond yes and no questions.
Middle Age Witchcraft
During the early Middle Ages, the early Christian Church didn’t focus on witches or witchcraft. The Council of Paderborn in 785 explicitly outlawed the belief in witches, and Saint Boniface declared in the 8th century that a belief in the existence of witches was unchristian altogether. The Emperor Charlemagne decreed that burning a witch was actually a pagan custom, and anyone caught doing it would be punished by death. In 820 the Bishop of Lyon and others declared that witches could not fly or make brooms fly, could not make bad weather, nor change their shape. The idea that people could do these things, were deemed fanciful tales of mythology. The decree was accepted into Church law. King Coloman of Hungary declared that witches do not exist, and therefore witch-hunts were not necessary. Many other rulers of his day followed suit and the witch-hunts ceased for a while. These non-existent concepts lasted until the late 12th century. And the first medieval trials against witches occurs in the 13th century with the establishment of the Inquisition. The Church was actually concentrating on the persecution of heresy. But witchcraft, either real or just alleged, was treated as any other sort of heresy. It’s also at this time where we see the label Witchcraft applied broadly to pagan beliefs and practices. No longer does it become a label for a craft or practice, but as a title or label for a set of spiritual beliefs. Witchcraft becomes the title of a religion, with many varying practices. And it’s here where many today claim the label for their religious practice.
Today, Witchcraft can be defined as:
A neo-pagan religion that is further defined and put into practice by it’s many sects, such as Wicca, Deborean Wicca, Strega, Pictish and others.
The European witch-hunts reach their pinnacle around 1450. No longer is it a theological campaign for the church, but a phenomenon that resembles mass hysteria and fear. The classical attributes of a witch, casting negative spells to control others, flying on brooms, intercourse with the Devil, and meeting with demons and other witches at sabbats, became descriptive fact in Canon Law around 1400. Conspiracy theories begin to form; stating that witches use their sabbat rituals and underground movements as a means of plotting to overthrow Christianity. The church and monarchies see this as a war upon their authority and control to be weeded out and destroyed. The lands of the Holy Roman Empire, as well as Scotland were all affected by the trials. 29 editions of The “Malleus Maleficarum” were reprinted between 1487 and 1669, even though the book was condemned by the Catholic Church in 1490. It was continually used by secular witch-hunting courts to condemn and prosecute accused witches. Intellectuals spoke out against the trials from the late 16th century. Not even then elite society could keep themselves or their family members out of the witch jails. Johannes Kepler in 1615 used his prestige to keep his mother from being burnt as a witch. The 1692 Salem witch trials exploded even though the practice of witch trials was declining in Europe. During the Early Modern Period the concern over witchcraft reaches the boiling point. There are many thoughts as to why the trials began. That they were more about the desire of the Church and current Monarchies to gain or maintain control over the citizenry. It’s interesting to note that most of the witch trials that ended in convictions took place in rural areas with a 90% conviction rate. Another interesting statistic is how the highest concentration of trials took place along the borders of France, Germany, and Italy, in what is now modern day Switzerland. Some areas, such as Britain (with the exception of some notable trials in Scotland) saw fewer trials, but were still extensive. And some point to Spain as holding the largest portion of trials and executions. There were early trials in the 15th and early 16th century, but then the witch scare went into decline, before becoming a big issue again and in the 17th century. The practiced declined some say in part to other more weighty concerns placed before the Church and Monarchies. Others say it declined out of fear of reprisals. And still others claim it’s a combination of these reasons, and the increased practiced of Witchcraft sects to go underground and hide their beliefs and practices. There are many traditions who make the claim that their early practioners migrated away from these witch-hunt areas to escape persecution and continue their beliefs and practices. While others make claims of going underground into secret societies. Though there is no unequivocal evidence of secret pagan societies or migrations; we can learn from history how persecutions do indeed force people to flee or live in secrecy.
The Creation of Modern Witchcraft
The Evolution of Labels
- Before we can discuss how Witchcraft came to be, we need to come to a common perspective of the labels and titles used in this article.
- This evolution in language is what etymology is all about. Etymology is the study of or branch of linguistics dealing with word origin and development. Where a word was created or formed and it’s development through history. Words evolve, that’s a given. Proof of this can be found in the twenty-volume Oxford English Dictionary (O.E.D.), which is known by scholars as the definitive resource for word origin and definition. A word that had definition 1 in 1492 will still hold that meaning; but it will also evolve into a new version or use of that meaning, creating definition 2. Both meanings are correct and the application of the definition of the word will depend on it’s usage in conversation or context.
- When it comes to using a word as a label, we have to think about how the word was used when it originated and not just how it’s perceived today. Warlock is a good example of this. It’s origination was to define a liar, a traitor. But today many non-pagans use it as the title for a male witch. Which most witches don’t care for.
- So let’s first define a common understanding of some of the labels used in the pagan community.
- Old Latin (OL)
- Low Latin (LL)
- Latin (L)
- Old English (OE)
- Middle English (ME)
- Modern English (E)
- Classical Greek (CG)
- The latin language used before 75 BC
- Nonclassical Latin, esp. in the medieval period 600 – 1500 AD
- Modern Latin, used since 1500 AD
- Anglo-Saxon English used primarily between 400 – 1100 AD
- English language used between 1100 – 1500 AD
- English language used since the 1500 AD
- Greek language used between 700 – 300 BC
- From LL – the Saxon wicca/wicce
- 1. Old English: An old Saxon noun with a masculine ending, pronounced “witch’-ah” (not “wick’-ah”). 1a. The feminine form “wicce”, pronounced “witch’-eh”.
- 2. Modern English: A modern label for the pagan tradition of Wicca, established by Gerald Gardner.
- From OE wiccecraeft, ME wicchecrafte
- 1. Old English: the power or practices of witches; black magik. The craft of the wise.
- 2. Middle English: A neopagan religious practice such as shamanism, wicca, voodoo, diabolism, diablerie, demonology, Satanism.
- From LL paganus, L pagus
- 1. A person who is not a Christian, Muslim, or Jew; (Any Abrahamic origin belief system)
- 2. Heathen: formerly, sometimes applied specifically. to a non-Christian by Christians
- From CG neos, L paganus
- 1. Any group of nature based revival pagan religions.
- From the old world, using wicca/wicce and witch interchangeably is correct. But in our society today; the creation of Gerald Gardner’s Wiccan tradition clouds the use of these words. In common conversation, when someone mentions Wicca they’re rarely referring to witch; and more often referring to the traditional practice of Gerald Gardner. Using these words in the old world communication creates confusion. Now while it’s technically accurate; thanks to good old Gerald, the word has evolved into something new with a stronger or more prevalent meaning.
- In the old world Witchcraft was a practice, a craft of magik. Technically it’s the correct usage of the word prior to 1100-1200 AD. Today it is a label used to define a specific set of neo-pagan traditions. It’s not a new concept; it actually started during the 13th century and is thanks to the early Christian Church. But we’ll get into that later on.
- Over time, the category of religions under Witchcraft has slowly returned to their own roots and stand on their own. In part due to the neopagan revivals. For instance, Satanism isn’t considered to be part of Witchcraft. They stand on their own as a pagan religion, but not related to Witchcraft. Part of the delineation comes from the attempts to revive the old pagan religions in the late 1700s.
Explorer Phase Do’s and Don’ts…
DO… Continue to read, study and record notes in your journal or Book. Why did you choose this athame over that wand? Why do you prefer sandalwood to jasmine? Should you hide your altar when Granny comes to visit?
DO… Begin to think about which Way appeals to you…Celtic? Egyptian? Druid? Can’t decide? Maybe you are the Eclectic type?
DO… Understand that you will be challenged as you begin to speak and interact with other Pagans. It’s our hobby. And it makes you think about what you say you believe in. It will tell you a lot about your commitment to the Path that you have chosen for yourself.
DO… Keep a sense of humor. It puts things into perspective. You will be laughing at yourself for a lifetime as you look back on your early days. We all do. We were just learning when we began and we weren’t always very good in our first attempts. (I’m laughing right now just thinking about the first time I cast a circle by myself!) But we did learn and you will, too. And since we all are continuing to learn each day, you will never run out of things to laugh about!
DO… “Talk little and listen much”. Lurk around the chat rooms. Peek in on a cybercircle. Check out your local area for open circles or workshops. Keep your eyes and ears open…opportunities for learning are everywhere.
DO… Continue to ask SPECIFIC questions. It is easier now that you have some real information under your belt, isn’t it? Instead of a broad-based “I dunno anything about this!”, you can ask “Well, what about THIS?” At last those answers are beginning to make some sense!
DO… begin thinking about Deities and ritual structure. Who of the Old Ones speaks to you? What sort of relationship would you have with the Deity of your choice-or the One who has chosen YOU?! What are the symbols associated with these Deities? Learn Their stories.
DON’T… Get ahead of yourself. All worthwhile lessons take time to become integrated into your spirit. The mind is usually the last to know! That is because your subconscious is learning through dreams and visions and symbols while your conscious mind is still struggling with the words. Continue to spend time alone to allow all your new feelings and thoughts to become clear. Take a walk and enjoy your life!
DON’T… Put all your spiritual eggs into one basket. Even though you may have a favorite author, continue to read other viewpoints. Even though you may respect a Witch or Pagan, continue to listen to other voices. Read about the latest “conspiracy theory”. It may be ridiculous, but it does train the mind to be on the look out for alternatives. (However do know that if you are abducted by aliens, they didn’t hear about you from us!)
DON’T… Tell all that you know and don’t pretend to know about something that you don’t. Complete honesty may be difficult with other people, but it is essential to be honest with yourself. Lies waste energy.
DON’T… get frustrated because you STILL haven’t found out how to contact a coven. That will come later…if it is still what you want to do.
Interest Phase Do’s and Don’ts…
DO… Read as many books on the subject as you can-on History, Myths, Poetry, Psychology and Science as well as books on Witchcraft or Magick.
DO… Make yourself a research library. Take notes or highlight passages that particularly interest you. If you have a question on what is written, place a question mark next to that passage. You should enjoy what you read at this stage-the enjoyment will actually help you to retain what you read better than struggling through dusty tomes on alchemy (unless you happen to love alchemy, that is!).
DO… start a journal. You can even call it a “Book of Shadows” if you want to. (It can just be a loose leaf notebook, These are handy for creating different sections.) Write down both the things that you have found to be of interest and the things that you would like to know more about.
DO… Look at Nature. Witchcraft and most other Pagan paths are called “earth or nature based” religions. What is Nature saying to you? Bring home rocks, sticks, leaves or other things you find that attract your attention. Now ask yourself-WHY did you bring that home? Write it down.
DO… get organized. Concentration is an important skill in Magic. Disciplining yourself to make regular entries into a journal and writing things down will help you to develop concentration.
DO… learn to ask SPECIFIC questions of other Witches or Pagans when you need help. And ask yourself some questions, too. “What do I think Witchcraft is? What do I find here that has meaning for me?”
DO… tell the truth. Can seasoned Witches tell if someone is “full of it”? Yes, they can and rather quickly, too! Be honest about what you know and what you don’t.
DO… spend time alone to think carefully about how you feel and what you want for yourself. Some people think at the onset that Witchcraft will allow them to change other people or circumstances. But YOU will be the one who changes as you explore this Path. Do you really WANT to change?
DON’T… take it too fast. You have not made any commitments yet. You are doing research into a subject that interests you on a personal level. Jumping into a group situation at this point may hinder your development more than help it. You need to find out where YOU are going before you hit the trail with someone else.
DON’T… get discouraged. Sometimes it is very difficult to “go it alone.” But the Craft is made up of individuals who bring something of value to the Path-as well as receive benefits from it. Many “old timers” have the “Grampa attitude”. You know, the “When I was your age, I had to walk three miles to school every day…in the snow…with no boots…carrying my little sister…and a load of firewood…” Well, in a way that is true. It WAS much harder to be a Witch only a few decades ago. So be forgiving if they are not ready to hand you all their hand gathered “firewood” on a silver platter….you may have to walk a mile or two by yourself….in the snow…with no boots…..
DON’T… ask about joining a terraspace coven just yet. A coven is a close knit group working together. It is a difficult process to create an effective magickal unit. Most covens are not actively looking for new members, as each time a new person is added to the group, it takes time for the unit to re-adjust. There are some cyberspace “covens” that readily accept new members. If you look on it as a “training exercise”, you could learn a few things. Ask around the Internet.
DON’T… be afraid because you are not part of a group. Many, many Witches find out after much trial and error that they actually PREFER to work alone. Traditionally the Witch WAS a loner…and many still are by choice. Often solitary Witches get together to talk and exchange information and then happily go back to their solitary practice. You CAN do a little bit of both.
Still “Interested”? Then you will probably want to go further into…