Gestures In Magick
Gestures are silent counterparts to words. Gestures can enhance Wiccan rituals when performed in conjunction with invocations or dance, or can be used alone for their real power. Pointing (as mentioned tioned above), the use of the first and middle fingers splayed to create a “v,” and the vulgar presentation of an upraised middle finger demonstrate the variety of messages that can be conveyed through gesture, as well as the range of our emotional responses to them.
My introduction to Wicca happened to include some of these old gestures. In 1971, I saw some photographs of magical protective gestures tures such as the mano figa (a hand clenched into a fist, the thumb jutting ting out between the first and middle fingers) and the mano cornuta, a “v” formed by the first and little fingers and held upside down. Both have long been used to avert the evil eye and negativity, and the latter is used in Wicca, with points up, to represent the God in his Homed aspect.
The magical significance of gestures is complex, and stems from the powers of the hand. The hand can heal or kill, caress or stab. It is a channel through which energies are sent from the body or received from others. Our hands set up our magical altars, grasp wands and athames, and pinch out candle flames at the conclusion of magical rites.
Hands, as the means by which most of us earn our livings, are symbolic of the physical world. But in their five digits lie the pentagram, tagram, the supreme protective magical symbol; the sum of the four elements coupled with akasha, the spiritual power of the universe.
The lines on our hands can, to the trained, be used to link into the deep consciousnesses and reveal things to the conscious minds that we would otherwise have difficulty knowing. The palmist doesn’t read these lines as streets on a roadmap; they are a key to our souls, a fleshly mandala revealing our innermost depths.
Hands were used as the first counting devices. They were seen to have both male and female qualities and symbolism, and images of hands were used around the world as amulets.
Gestures in Wiccan ritual can easily become second nature. When invoking the Goddess and God, the hands can be held uplifted with the fingers spread to receive their power. The Goddess can be individually invoked with the left hand, the thumb and first finger held up and curled into a half-circle, while the rest of the fingers are tucked against the palm. This represents the crescent Moon. The God is invoked with the first and middle fingers of the right hand raised, or with the first and fourth fingers up, the thumb holding down the others against the palm, to represents horns.
The elements can be invoked with individual gestures when approaching the four directions: a flat hand held parallel with the ground to invoke Earth at the North; an upraised hand, fingers spread wide apart, to invoke Air at the East; an upraised fist for the South to invite Fire, and a cupped hand to the West to invoke Water.
Two gestures, together with postures, have long been used to invoke the Goddess and God, and are named after them. The Goddess dess position is assumed by placing the feet about two feet apart on the ground, holding the hands out palms away from you, elbows bent slightly. This position can be used to call the Goddess or to attune with her energies.
The God position consists of the feet together on the floor, body held rigidly upright, arms crossed on the chest (right over left, usually), hands held in fists. Tools such as the wand and magic knife (athame) are sometimes held in the fists, echoing the practice of pharaohs of ancient Egypt who held a crook and flail in a similar position while trying ing disputes.
In coven work, the High Priestess and High Priest often assume these positions when invoking the Goddess and God. In solo workings they can be used to identify with the aspects of the Goddess and God within us, and also during separate invocatory rites.
Gestures are also used in magic. Each of the fingers relates to a specific planet as well as an ancient deity. Since pointing is a magical act and is a part of many spells, the finger can be chosen by its symbolism.
The thumb relates to Venus and to the planet Earth. Jupiter (both the planet and the god) rules the forefinger. The middle finger is ruled by the god and planet Saturn, the fourth finger the Sun and Apollo, and the little finger by the planet Mercury as well as the god after which it is named.
Many spells involve pointing with the Jupiter and Saturn fingers, usually at an object to be charged or imbued with magical energy. The power is visualized as traveling straight out through the fingers and into the object.
Other ritual gestures used in Wiccan rites include the “cutting” of pentagrams at the four quarters by drawing them in the air with the magic knife, wand or index finger. This is done to alternately banish or invoke elemental powers. It is, of course, performed with visualization.
The hand can be seen as a cauldron, since it can cup and contain water; an athame, since it is used to direct magical energy, and a wand since it can also invoke.
Gestures are magical tools as potent as any other, ones we can always take with us, to be used when needed.
–Scott Cunningham, Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner