White-Washed Witches

White-Washed Witches

Author:   BellaDonna Saberhagen   

Witches are good. They were the great priests and priestesses of the “Old Religion” that everyone turned to in times of need. They were healers and seers, guides and advocates. It was only when the big bad Christians came and burned the Witches (nine million women, to be exact) that they were seen as bad, malevolent, evil things seeking to destroy all that was good and holy. Christianity maligned the good people of the earth, demonized the gods, and spread the hatred and fear of Witches that survives until this very day.

The above sounds familiar, doesn’t it? It’s what many Pagan authors believe and would like their readers to believe. The only problem is, it’s not true. It’s rewritten history. Every bit of it. If we’re to grow beyond the haphazard anthropology of Margaret Murray, we have to accept that. Many Pagans do accept that (most Pagans by now, I would hope) ; but there is one part of it that seems to be ignored: that Witches are good, and in fact MUST be good.

Historically, often the opposite is true. I’m not speaking of Celtic or even Norse tales; one can argue that since they were not written down until after Christians took over their respective regions that they may well have been changed to suit Christian morality. However, the Greeks had tales of witches that far pre-date the Christian take-over, and even these do not paint witches too kindly.

Medea was a princess well skilled in magic. In the tale of Jason and the Golden Fleece, she plays a key role. Hera takes an interest in the success of the mission and asks Aphrodite to have her son Cupid strike Medea with love for Jason so that she would be willing to help him with her “dark knowledge.” Medea’s father was King Aetes, the keeper of the Golden Fleece. After being struck with love for the enemy of her father, Medea considers killing herself with one of her deadly potions rather than betray her father or her love. However, she decides to betray Aetes and help Jason, which sets the tone for future actions. She gives him a balm that makes him invincible for a day and tells him how to win the trial her father has set before him to win the Golden Fleece. After the trial is won, she learns that her father has no intention of honoring his bargain and handing over the Fleece. She tells Jason of this and he and the Argonauts steal the Fleece and take her with them as they flee. During the pursuit, Medea is responsible for allowing the Argonauts to escape by causing her brother’s death; either by asking him to rescue her and sending him into a trap or by cutting him into pieces herself and forcing her father to stop pursuit to gather the remains of his dismembered son.

Upon arriving home, Jason finds that his father, the rightful king, was forced to suicide by the evil Pelias (the entire expedition for the Fleece was a bargain made between he and Jason, if Jason could bring the Fleece, Pelias would relinquish the kingdom back to its rightful ruler) . Jason needs to bring Pelias down and again turns to Medea. Pelias is an old man, so Medea approaches his daughters with a magical way to make the old young again. She cuts up an old ram in front of them, puts the pieces in a pot of boiling water, says a charm and out springs a lamb. That night, the daughters happily cut their own father to ribbons in their effort to make him young again. Jason becomes king. Medea bears Jason two children, but he does not marry her. Instead, he marries the princess of Corinth in order to gain that kingdom as well and forces her and her sons to leave his realms because she threatens harm to his new wife and he has seen what she can do. In exile, Medea sends a poisoned garment that kills Jason’s wife. Once Jason finds out, he threatens to sell his sons into slavery, so Medea kills them herself so that they would not be so tortured and shamed; then she escapes as Jason curses her.

While some of her magic may have been for what she saw as good, she certainly did not live by the codes modernly associated with Witches. She was a Witch, but not a good Witch. Her early magic may not seem so bad, helping Jason to win the Fleece through the trial; but she had to betray her own family to even go that far and that was certainly seen as evil in those days. Circe was a “most beautiful and dangerous witch.” She turned every man she came upon into a beast, but with a human mind so that they remained conscious of their predicament. When Odysseus sent a scouting party out to check the island, she turned them into swine, save one who got away and ran back to tell his captain. Odysseus went alone to face Circe, having been given an herb by Hermes to prevent her magic from affecting him. That he was able to resist her magic sparked Circe’s romantic interest and she freed his men and told him what he must do next on his long journey home.

In another tale, Glaucus sought a love potion from her to make the woman he desired love him. His story made Circe love him, but he was not interested. She decided it was the fault of the woman for which he longed. Circe turned this woman into a monster that destroyed all that tried to get close. Her name was Scylla; she became a monster that different sea-farers worried about in several tales. She was another Witch doing evil things, possibly in the name of love, possibly for her own selfish aims.

The concept of Witches as evil is older than Christendom. These tales prove this. In fact, the idea of Witches as good is more modern than many would prefer to believe. The book, The Wizard of Oz was banned in some places for daring to have good Witches in it. Even Leland’s Aradia has Witches doing bad things (the age of this text is up for conjecture, I date it to Leland, since his claimed source was never heard from again; others consider it to be based on a much older text) . Aradia is told by her mother: “And thou shalt teach the art of poisoning, Of poisoning those who are great lords to all; Yea, thou shalt make them die in their palaces; and thou shalt bind oppressor’s souls; and when ye find a peasant who is rich, then ye shall teach the witch, your pupil how To ruin all his crops with tempests dire (…) And when a priest shall do you injury By his benediction, ye shall do to him double harm and do it in the name of me, Diana, queen of witches all!”

I find that Leland’s Aradia states that Witches should out-right harm those who oppose them (and even those simply better off than they are) very interesting since some of his writings were clearly taken and applied to some forms of modern Wicca. The Charge of the Goddess as written by Doreen Valiente states, “Whenever ye have need of any thing, once in the month, and better it be when the moon is full, then shall ye assemble in some secret place and adore the spirit of She, who is Queen of all witches. There shall ye assemble, ye who are fain to learn all sorcery, yet have not won its deepest secrets; to these will She teach things that are yet unknown. And ye shall be free from slavery; and as a sign that ye be really free, ye shall be naked in your rites.”

From Aradia: ”Whenever ye have need of anything, Once in the month, and when the moon is full, ye shall assemble in some desert place, or in a forest all together join to adore the potent spirit of your Queen, my mother, Great Diana. She who fain would learn all sorcery has not won its deepest secrets, then my mother will teach her, in truth all things as yet unknown. And ye shall be freed from slavery, and so ye shall be free in everything; and as the sign that ye are truly free, ye shall be naked in your rites.”

I only hope Valiente gave Leland credit and did not just outright plagiarize him. This piece is clearly taken from Aradia, but the morality taught in that book (what I took as proof of Witches doing bad things was from the very same chapter as the “Charge” was “borrowed” from) was discarded and the Wiccan Rede placed in its stead. Since, by what most modern Witches would prefer to believe, all Witches follow the Rede, there are no bad Witches; and if you believe Wicca is the “Old Religion” of Europe, there never were bad Witches.

This belief creates individuals who become indignant every time pop-culture and media portray Witches as anything but good. They cry everything from “Christian persecution” to “the patriarchy gets nervous about powerful women, so they have to make them evil, cruel and sometimes insane.” While these beliefs may not be baseless, it must also be understood that Witches are not always good, just as Christians are not always good, just as your five year-old is not always good. Witches are humans and as humans, we can make mistakes, get angry, be selfish, exact revenge and wish to protect our families and property at all costs. If modern Witchcraft really wants to strive to be one with nature, then we cannot go against nature. Nature is both destructive and creative, we need to be the same or we are unbalanced. It may well be true that “The Witch that cannot hex, cannot heal.”

I see the modern good interpretations of Witches to be like old B-rate horror day-for-night shots (outdoor scenes filmed in broad day-light with a filter over the lens trying to create the illusion of darkness and usually failing) ; they give the darkness lip-service but stay within the circle of their white-light lamp. Sometimes you have to step outside your comfort zone to get in touch with reality; you might not always like the reality you see, but at least it is real and not a fantasy. The Witch as always good is just as much a fantasy as the Witch that is always bad.

_________________________________

Footnotes:
Mythology by Edith Hamilton
Aradia or Gospel of the Witches by Charles LeLand
The Charge of the Goddess by Doreen Valiente

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White-Washed Witches

White-Washed Witches

Author: BellaDonna Saberhagen

Witches are good. They were the great priests and priestesses of the “Old Religion” that everyone turned to in times of need. They were healers and seers, guides and advocates. It was only when the big bad Christians came and burned the Witches (nine million women, to be exact) that they were seen as bad, malevolent, evil things seeking to destroy all that was good and holy. Christianity maligned the good people of the earth, demonized the gods, and spread the hatred and fear of Witches that survives until this very day.

The above sounds familiar, doesn’t it? It’s what many Pagan authors believe and would like their readers to believe. The only problem is, it’s not true. It’s rewritten history. Every bit of it. If we’re to grow beyond the haphazard anthropology of Margaret Murray, we have to accept that. Many Pagans do accept that (most Pagans by now, I would hope) ; but there is one part of it that seems to be ignored: that Witches are good, and in fact MUST be good.

Historically, often the opposite is true. I’m not speaking of Celtic or even Norse tales; one can argue that since they were not written down until after Christians took over their respective regions that they may well have been changed to suit Christian morality. However, the Greeks had tales of witches that far pre-date the Christian take-over, and even these do not paint witches too kindly.

Medea was a princess well skilled in magic. In the tale of Jason and the Golden Fleece, she plays a key role. Hera takes an interest in the success of the mission and asks Aphrodite to have her son Cupid strike Medea with love for Jason so that she would be willing to help him with her “dark knowledge.” Medea’s father was King Aetes, the keeper of the Golden Fleece. After being struck with love for the enemy of her father, Medea considers killing herself with one of her deadly potions rather than betray her father or her love. However, she decides to betray Aetes and help Jason, which sets the tone for future actions. She gives him a balm that makes him invincible for a day and tells him how to win the trial her father has set before him to win the Golden Fleece. After the trial is won, she learns that her father has no intention of honoring his bargain and handing over the Fleece. She tells Jason of this and he and the Argonauts steal the Fleece and take her with them as they flee. During the pursuit, Medea is responsible for allowing the Argonauts to escape by causing her brother’s death; either by asking him to rescue her and sending him into a trap or by cutting him into pieces herself and forcing her father to stop pursuit to gather the remains of his dismembered son.

Upon arriving home, Jason finds that his father, the rightful king, was forced to suicide by the evil Pelias (the entire expedition for the Fleece was a bargain made between he and Jason, if Jason could bring the Fleece, Pelias would relinquish the kingdom back to its rightful ruler) . Jason needs to bring Pelias down and again turns to Medea. Pelias is an old man, so Medea approaches his daughters with a magical way to make the old young again. She cuts up an old ram in front of them, puts the pieces in a pot of boiling water, says a charm and out springs a lamb. That night, the daughters happily cut their own father to ribbons in their effort to make him young again. Jason becomes king. Medea bears Jason two children, but he does not marry her. Instead, he marries the princess of Corinth in order to gain that kingdom as well and forces her and her sons to leave his realms because she threatens harm to his new wife and he has seen what she can do. In exile, Medea sends a poisoned garment that kills Jason’s wife. Once Jason finds out, he threatens to sell his sons into slavery, so Medea kills them herself so that they would not be so tortured and shamed; then she escapes as Jason curses her.

While some of her magic may have been for what she saw as good, she certainly did not live by the codes modernly associated with Witches. She was a Witch, but not a good Witch. Her early magic may not seem so bad, helping Jason to win the Fleece through the trial; but she had to betray her own family to even go that far and that was certainly seen as evil in those days. Circe was a “most beautiful and dangerous witch.” She turned every man she came upon into a beast, but with a human mind so that they remained conscious of their predicament. When Odysseus sent a scouting party out to check the island, she turned them into swine, save one who got away and ran back to tell his captain. Odysseus went alone to face Circe, having been given an herb by Hermes to prevent her magic from affecting him. That he was able to resist her magic sparked Circe’s romantic interest and she freed his men and told him what he must do next on his long journey home.

In another tale, Glaucus sought a love potion from her to make the woman he desired love him. His story made Circe love him, but he was not interested. She decided it was the fault of the woman for which he longed. Circe turned this woman into a monster that destroyed all that tried to get close. Her name was Scylla; she became a monster that different sea-farers worried about in several tales. She was another Witch doing evil things, possibly in the name of love, possibly for her own selfish aims.

The concept of Witches as evil is older than Christendom. These tales prove this. In fact, the idea of Witches as good is more modern than many would prefer to believe. The book, The Wizard of Oz was banned in some places for daring to have good Witches in it. Even Leland’s Aradia has Witches doing bad things (the age of this text is up for conjecture, I date it to Leland, since his claimed source was never heard from again; others consider it to be based on a much older text) . Aradia is told by her mother: “And thou shalt teach the art of poisoning, Of poisoning those who are great lords to all; Yea, thou shalt make them die in their palaces; and thou shalt bind oppressor’s souls; and when ye find a peasant who is rich, then ye shall teach the witch, your pupil how To ruin all his crops with tempests dire (…) And when a priest shall do you injury By his benediction, ye shall do to him double harm and do it in the name of me, Diana, queen of witches all!”

I find that Leland’s Aradia states that Witches should out-right harm those who oppose them (and even those simply better off than they are) very interesting since some of his writings were clearly taken and applied to some forms of modern Wicca. The Charge of the Goddess as written by Doreen Valiente states, “Whenever ye have need of any thing, once in the month, and better it be when the moon is full, then shall ye assemble in some secret place and adore the spirit of She, who is Queen of all witches. There shall ye assemble, ye who are fain to learn all sorcery, yet have not won its deepest secrets; to these will She teach things that are yet unknown. And ye shall be free from slavery; and as a sign that ye be really free, ye shall be naked in your rites.”

From Aradia: “Whenever ye have need of anything, Once in the month, and when the moon is full, ye shall assemble in some desert place, or in a forest all together join to adore the potent spirit of your Queen, my mother, Great Diana. She who fain would learn all sorcery has not won its deepest secrets, then my mother will teach her, in truth all things as yet unknown. And ye shall be freed from slavery, and so ye shall be free in everything; and as the sign that ye are truly free, ye shall be naked in your rites.”

I only hope Valiente gave Leland credit and did not just outright plagiarize him. This piece is clearly taken from Aradia, but the morality taught in that book (what I took as proof of Witches doing bad things was from the very same chapter as the “Charge” was “borrowed” from) was discarded and the Wiccan Rede placed in its stead. Since, by what most modern Witches would prefer to believe, all Witches follow the Rede, there are no bad Witches; and if you believe Wicca is the “Old Religion” of Europe, there never were bad Witches.

This belief creates individuals who become indignant every time pop-culture and media portray Witches as anything but good. They cry everything from “Christian persecution” to “the patriarchy gets nervous about powerful women, so they have to make them evil, cruel and sometimes insane.” While these beliefs may not be baseless, it must also be understood that Witches are not always good, just as Christians are not always good, just as your five year-old is not always good. Witches are humans and as humans, we can make mistakes, get angry, be selfish, exact revenge and wish to protect our families and property at all costs. If modern Witchcraft really wants to strive to be one with nature, then we cannot go against nature. Nature is both destructive and creative, we need to be the same or we are unbalanced. It may well be true that “The Witch that cannot hex, cannot heal.”

I see the modern good interpretations of Witches to be like old B-rate horror day-for-night shots (outdoor scenes filmed in broad day-light with a filter over the lens trying to create the illusion of darkness and usually failing) ; they give the darkness lip-service but stay within the circle of their white-light lamp. Sometimes you have to step outside your comfort zone to get in touch with reality; you might not always like the reality you see, but at least it is real and not a fantasy. The Witch as always good is just as much a fantasy as the Witch that is always bad.

Footnotes:
Mythology by Edith Hamilton
Aradia or Gospel of the Witches by Charles LeLand
The Charge of the Goddess by Doreen Valiente

To Summon the Spirits

To Summon the Spirits

By using this spell, you can summon a spirit that can help you when you need it.

 Items That You Need:

a bell

The Spell:

Think of the person and chant the following:

Blood of my blood your sprits of love
Come from below and above
Entities loving who wish me well
Come to this Circe when I sound this bell

After that ring the bell 3 times. You can repeat this spell every one hour.

Willow (Apr 15 – May 12)

WILLOW LORE

  • 5th Moon of the Celtic Year – (April 15 – May 12)
  • Latin name: Weeping Willow: salix babylonica; black Willow: salix nigra
  • Celtic name: Saille (Sahl’ yeh)
  • Folk or Common names: Willow, Witch’s Tree, Pussy Willow, Salicyn Willow, Saille, Sally, Withe, Withy, Witches’ Aspirin, Tree of Enchantment,  Osier, Tarvos Tree, and Sough Tree. The Anglo-Saxon ‘welig’ from where the name ‘willow’ is derived, means ‘pliancy’.
  • Parts Used: Bark, sap, twigs, branches, wood.
  • Herbal usage: The bark of the Willow has been used as a pain killer… the bark contains a glusoside called salicin that forms salicylylous acid which is  the ‘active ingredient’ in aspirin. The bark has astringic qualities and can be used for rheumatic conditions, heartburn and as a diuretic. The sap  gathered from the tree when it is flowering can be used to treat facial blemishes and dandruff.
  • Magical History & Associations: The bird associated with this month is the hawk, the color is haze, and the gemstone is blood-red carbuncle. The  Willow, a Feminine herb, is associated with water, and is an herb of the moon. The bird associated with this month is the hawk, the color is haze, and the  gemstone is blood-red carbuncle. The Willow is associated with water, and is an herb of the moon. Willow wood is one of the nine traditional firewoods to be  added to the Belfire that is burned at Beltane – as the tree of death that is Sacred to Hecate, Willow is added to the fire as a celebration of death. The  Willow is sacred to Minerva who invented numbers and also to Artemis, Ceres, Persephone, Brigid, Hera, Helice, Mercury, Belili, and Circe. The Sumerian  goddess Belili was a goddess of trees, and Willows in particular. The Willow is also associated with Orpheus, regarded by the Creeks as the most celebrated  of poets. It is said that Orpheus received his gifts of eloquence and communication by carrying Willow branches on his journey through the Underworld. A  bas-relief in a temple at Delphi portrays Orpheus leaning against a Willow tree, touching its branches. Pagan associations with the Willow have always been  strong, for they are often revered as trees of the MoonGoddess, she who reflects her moon magic upon the waters of Earth. Willow was often the tree most  sought by the village wise-woman, since it has so many medicinal properties, and eventually the Willow’s healing and religious qualities became one and  the tree became called ‘witch’s tree’. The Willow is also associated with the fey. The wind in the Willows is the whisperings of a fairy in the  ear of a poet. It is also said that Willow trees can uproot themselves and stalk travelers at night, muttering at them.
  • Magickal usage: The Willow has applications in magick done for enchantment, wishing, romantic love, healing, protection, fertility, magick for women,  death, femininity, love, divination, friendship, joy, love, and peace. Placed in homes, Willow branches protect against evil and malign sorcery. Carried,  Willow wood will give bravery, dexterity, and help one overcome the fear of death. If you knock on a Willow tree (knock on wood) this will avert evil. A  Willow tree growing near a home will protect it from danger (I know this to be true. When the tornado hit our farm, the only reason we only lost part of the  roof, rather than the whole house, was because the grove of Willows around the house protected us. Our poor Willows got pretty battered by the storm, lost  most of their leaves and quite a few branches, but have recovered fully now!). Willows are also a good tree to plant around cemeteries and also for lining  burial graves for its symbolism of death and protection. Willows can be used in rituals for intuition, knowledge, gentle nurturing, and will elucidate the  feminine qualities of both men and women. If a person needs to get something off their chest or to share a secret, if they confess to a Willow, their secret  will be trapped. Also, wishes are granted by a Willow tree if they are asked for in the correct manner. Willow leaves, bark and wood add energy to healing  magick, and burning a mix of Willow bark and sandalwood during the waning moon can help to conjure spirits. Uses of Willow in love talismans include using  the leaves to attract love. Willow leaves or twigs can also be used in spells to create loyalty, make friendship pacts, treaties, or alliances. A rejected  lover can wear Willow as a charm to win back the love. To determine if you will be married in the new year:”Throw your shoe high up         into the branches of a Willow tree;         If the branches catch and hold the shoe,         you soon will married be.”

    Willows have many uses to Witches, the most common is that the wood is used to make wands for moon magick. Willow wands can also be used to dowse    for water (underground), earth energies, and buried objects. (The Witch should be careful to ask for the tree’s blessings before taking a branch to    make a wand.) The supple long ending branches of the Willow make good weaving materials to use to weave circlets and wreaths. Willow wood is good for    making magical harps.

Secret, Ancient Rites of Stress

by Tostito Tramp

I am so stressed from my friend Earthbeam stressing out my friend Uberwurm that I think I need some relief. It occurred to me that others may be in the same boat — to be specific, the S.S. Stress, which sails out of Shit Happens Harbor. There is new research that points strongly to this being the very boat that carried Amun Re through the underworld — and why not? What could be more stressful than that whole Egyptian afterlife fooferah? For those of you experiencing stress, I offer this ancient yet timely ritual to propitiate that god of modern life, Stress.

I would like to take a moment to stress (ha, ha) the utmost antiquity and lineage of the occult methods that you are about to read. The ancient Sunkurians knew the unpleasant tension of their lives by the name Nekhurt. Nekhurt Nekhurt Bibastos Nekatut translates to “shit that fucking shit deity screwed me again.” Doctors Pesty and Moreseau question this and have suggested the alternative “damn me, damn him, we screw it up,” which contains intriguing hints at modern philosophy concerning responsibility for one’s own circumstances, as well as divinity lying within ourselves. The Sunkurians conducted special weekly and biannual ceremonies to appease Nekhurt, so that he might take pity upon them and make their lives a little less miserable.

We find a less well-known ritual influence among the Vikings, who despite being a freewheeling and uninhibited people still offered up votive gold goat figurines to the great goat GnashJaw, sometimes referred to as Toothgrinder, the infamous third goat who always pulled Odin’s cart the other way. Even today, we find the expression “third wheel” to designate someone as a source of stress for those around them.

For etymologists, it is interesting to consider the similarity between GnashJaw (originally spelled Gnashja) and the name of the Indian god Ganesha, known as the Lord of Obstacles! Many insights can be gleaned by dwelling upon the mystical truths embodied in Ganesha’s characteristic creature, the elephant. Consider the notoriously long memory of the elephant (hint: what more stress relieving phrase is there than “just forget about it”?). Consider the deep wrinkles covering elephants, demonstrating in the very flesh a lifetime of anxiety. This secret stressful characteristic of memory is also expressed by the Greeks in the story of Odysseus. What an easy time of it he could have had if he had just stayed with Calypso, or with Circe, or even just been a happy little piggy chomping on Circe’s garbage!

Of course the Hermetic magicians and alchemists of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries regularly made sacrifice and propitiation to the great power Inhibitus Obsessus. It is in their rituals that the forms we know today first come into focus. According to Goutish Cornish of the Flemish Museum of the Scottish Gnomish, stress (in other words the inexorable workings of Inhibitus Obsessus) is credited as the object of over 86.3 different traditional sayings, rituals and superstitions among the Scottish Gnomish people of the Middle Ages. And why not, eh? Middle age is extremely stressful. At least we in modern times only spend a brief time in middle age. Imagine generations of people living there for their entire lives! Going to the dentist before anesthesia!

This century has witnessed both the rise of stress and the rediscovery of these ancient ways of appeasing it. It starts in Britain during the twenties, where Dr. Poodle from Helsinki met the charismatic and thoroughly repressed Madame Tourniquette. Together, they founded a secret society dedicated to research into the occult causes of stress and perspiration. Although they eventually had a falling out over the inclusion of perspiration in their research agenda, their original findings and work were made public in 1952 under the magickal names Sphincter (Tourniquette) and Retention Od Avicus (Poodle). Note the interesting connections implicit in the second name, dealing as it does with the modern concept of anal retentiveness (also echoed in Touniquette’s own magickal sobriquet), as well as the traditional mental retention of Ganesha’s elephants, seen herein to be so debilitating to them.

In the self-published Gnasherbitnail, Poodle and Tourniquette first revealed the ritual presented in this article. At the time, its readership consisted of a small occult splinter group hungry for enlightenment. Now I bring it to a broader readership no less in need. I have consulted some of the premier occult minds of the Meadowbrook neighborhood as well as sparing no trouble to retranslate the ritual from the language in which it was first published. So, from the ancient Sunkurians to you, my readers, behold the authentic Secret Rites of Stress. (Disclaimer: This translation of the original Sunkurian has not been evaluated by any individual attached to an accredited scholastic institution.)

The Ritual

First you need some salt. Don’t waste it by scattering it in a circle, dropping it into water or throwing it over your shoulder. These actions are far too cavalier and messy. To appease Stress, we must pile it all into a small perfectly proportioned pyramid and then eat it. Don’t forget to align the corner of your pyramid with Sirius — and if you don’t know which corner to align, what are you even doing reading this article?

Eat the salt, and lots of it, to increase your blood pressure, get a nasty taste in your mouth and cause you to purse your lips, which is part of the Stress Mudra (more about that later on).

Water is also involved. You may drink some to alleviate your parched throat and cracking lips after the salt. But do not spill a drop on the floor or on your ritual attire. Robes, you say? What robes? This is a stress ritual! It is to be conducted in a suit and tie or a corset and three-inch heels. (Notice I made no indication of criteria to choose which outfit to wear, so if you bridled at my sexism, then you have only your own straitjacketing and chauvinistic presumptions to blame.)

You are allowed 1.2 ounces of water. It must be perfectly pure. Read those labels carefully; contact the bottler if necessary; you may even have to distill it further a few times yourself. If you use too much, then Stress will be displeased, because by association and correspondence and all that uptight magickal twaddle you are allocating your emotions more than their acceptable time and energy. So drink your 1.2 ounces of water with great care and deliberation. Keep those emotions in check!

I can see that you traditional ritualists are just itching to light up some incense about now. Yes, the rolling eyes and urgent, furtive glances toward the altar give you away. Well, you know what? No. N-O. There will be no incense in the Stress ritual. It is just far too hippie dippy earthy crunchy touchy feelie. Suck it in and push on! That is the way to the Stress Deity’s heart.

Now we cast the circle. This is where that 9-foot cord comes in handy. Get a pencil or pen and tie it to the end of the cord. Do not use up too much of the cord tying it to the pencil. You can make up for some lost length by angling the pencil out as you draw the circle, but it will only make up for a little. Next, find the center of your ritual area. This will require some measurement and possibly mathematics. If you can’t cope with that, then your best bet is to postpone the ritual until you feel sufficiently stressed to be motivated to find the center of your ritual area properly. `Nuff said!

Once you find the center, pound a nail into the floor. No outdoors Stress rituals allowed. If you attempt it, the godhead will smite you with agonizing inner accusations of “cheater, cheater” for a very long time. Tie the other end of your cord to the nail. Watch out now! You are really starting to lose some length here. Then slowly and carefully draw the circle on your floor using your cord like a compass. Do not let the cord go slack! Do not change the angle of the pencil! Do not stop and redraw that bit that you missed! If you foul up, you should again wait until you have sufficient incentive to get it right.

As you draw the circle, you must visualize a reddish black line of energy exactly corresponding to your pencil line. You should channel your personal stress into this line. While casting the circle, the following should be sung in the key of D minor (remember it is the saddest of all keys):

With this pencil I describe

The perimeter of my Stress bribe.

The perfect accomplishment of this task

Reflects the worth of my sorry ass.

You had better end a verse as you are completing the circle. Anything less shows a slapdash attitude that simply will not do. If at the end you do not meet up with your starting line… you guessed it. Try again some other time.

I must pause briefly to assure my international readers that I in no way wish to make it impossible to conduct these important mysteries accurately and correctly. So after consultation with my in-house magicians, witches, linguists and historians, we recommend the following substitutions: 35.732 milliliters of water, a 274.32-centimeter cord and 7.62-centimeter heels if that is your chosen footwear. The national baseline of meticulousness should be consulted to indicate whether you need to exert yourself additionally to propitiate Stress.

Now take your 11.6 inch (29.464 centimeter) lacquered blackthorn wand and stand facing 3 degrees north of east, as derived from true north. Your local longitude and latitude will indicate the correction to use to arrive at true north from magnetic north. It is time to assume the Stress Mudra!

Stand with your feet together, weight evenly distributed. Your knees should be locked (disclaimer: the author assumes no responsibility for any fainting resulting from spending too long in the Stress Mudra). Tuck your butt, straighten your back, pull your shoulders down and back, reach your arms behind you as far as you can, wrinkle your brow, purse your lips, clench your teeth and press your tongue against the bottom of your mouth. Now tighten every muscle in your body and bring to mind the most humiliating scolding you ever received.

Facing 3 degrees north of true east in your Stress Mudra, groan once with full energetic vibration from your fifth chakra. Simultaneously bring your wand in front of you with your projecting hand (for those who don’t know, this is the hand with which you flip people off). While slowly correcting your facing to true east, using the same reddish black stress energy as before, draw in the air the Rider-Waite Ace of Swords Tarot card. Don’t forget the border and the little yods (those are the two-ended flamy-spermy things that were probably just a leaky pen but got passed off as kabalistic truths). While you are doing all that, recite with full energetic vibration from the fourth chakra the first Stress Affirmation:

I must perfectly recall everything I ever learned, or by Obsessus I suck!

As you say suck, release all the tension in your body and fall backwards into a limp heap on the floor. Your fourth chakra must fall exactly on the center of your circle. Don’t forget to remove the nail first!

Get back up and face 2&fraq12; degrees west of true south. Assume the Stress Mudra as before. This time, draw in the air a group of hydrogen molecules fusing into a helium molecule. Simultaneously correct your facing to true south and recite the second Stress Affirmation:

If everything I want does not manifest instantly, then by Gnashja I suck!

Again, fall completely relaxed on the floor, but this time land with your third chakra on the center of the circle.

Repeat at the remaining directions, with these details: West should be 5 degrees south of true west; draw a map of the world’s oceans and recite “I must never allow my feelings to influence me or by Inhibitus I suck!” Vibrate from your second chakra and land with it on the circle’s center.

North is true north; draw your house. Recite “If I am not healthier and wealthier than anyone I know, then by Nekhurt I suck!” Vibrate from your first chakra and land with it on the circle’s center. Be careful not to injure your tailbone.

By now, you should be feeling the immense tension of your life building in your body, mind, and spirit. If you don’t, pause here to make sure that you are fully aware of the Stress in your life. Otherwise, the ritual is completely useless, and you should have known you would fail at it and never have started it in the first place!

Now assume the Stress Mudra at the center of the circle, facing the direction that corresponds best to your personal stress (this would be the one with the Stress Affirmation that you hated saying the most). Recite 19 times:

“It is all my fault!”

Now release all the stress. If the ritual has been correctly done up to this point, you will know how to do that. Otherwise, do not attempt this Great Mystery, for you may injure yourself, betray everyone you care about, anger the Stress Deity, summon by mistake the ex-lover with whom you broke up bitterly and cause all the people you hate to get raises or even better jobs.

Once Stress is released, you must ensure Stress will not return. Therefore, perform all the steps that lead up to the Great Mystery backwards. It may take you a while to practice saying the affirmations backwards, as well as springing smoothly up from the floor into the Stress Mudra. Don’t forget to include any extraneous actions you took during the course of the ritual.

Did you get through it? If you did, congratulations! Your life will now be perfect.

If you didn’t, Stress will eventually forget this botched attempt at propitiation and go back to only heaping upon you your normal daily allotment of frustration, pain, anxiety, ignominy, humiliation, boredom and illness. Better luck next time.

White-Washed Witches

Author: BellaDonna Saberhagen

Witches are good. They were the great priests and priestesses of the “Old Religion” that everyone turned to in times of need. They were healers and seers, guides and advocates. It was only when the big bad Christians came and burned the Witches (nine million women, to be exact) that they were seen as bad, malevolent, evil things seeking to destroy all that was good and holy. Christianity maligned the good people of the earth, demonized the gods, and spread the hatred and fear of Witches that survives until this very day.

The above sounds familiar, doesn’t it? It’s what many Pagan authors believe and would like their readers to believe. The only problem is, it’s not true. It’s rewritten history. Every bit of it. If we’re to grow beyond the haphazard anthropology of Margaret Murray, we have to accept that. Many Pagans do accept that (most Pagans by now, I would hope) ; but there is one part of it that seems to be ignored: that Witches are good, and in fact MUST be good.

Historically, often the opposite is true. I’m not speaking of Celtic or even Norse tales; one can argue that since they were not written down until after Christians took over their respective regions that they may well have been changed to suit Christian morality. However, the Greeks had tales of witches that far pre-date the Christian take-over, and even these do not paint witches too kindly.

Medea was a princess well skilled in magic. In the tale of Jason and the Golden Fleece, she plays a key role. Hera takes an interest in the success of the mission and asks Aphrodite to have her son Cupid strike Medea with love for Jason so that she would be willing to help him with her “dark knowledge.” Medea’s father was King Aetes, the keeper of the Golden Fleece. After being struck with love for the enemy of her father, Medea considers killing herself with one of her deadly potions rather than betray her father or her love. However, she decides to betray Aetes and help Jason, which sets the tone for future actions. She gives him a balm that makes him invincible for a day and tells him how to win the trial her father has set before him to win the Golden Fleece. After the trial is won, she learns that her father has no intention of honoring his bargain and handing over the Fleece. She tells Jason of this and he and the Argonauts steal the Fleece and take her with them as they flee. During the pursuit, Medea is responsible for allowing the Argonauts to escape by causing her brother’s death; either by asking him to rescue her and sending him into a trap or by cutting him into pieces herself and forcing her father to stop pursuit to gather the remains of his dismembered son.

Upon arriving home, Jason finds that his father, the rightful king, was forced to suicide by the evil Pelias (the entire expedition for the Fleece was a bargain made between he and Jason, if Jason could bring the Fleece, Pelias would relinquish the kingdom back to its rightful ruler) . Jason needs to bring Pelias down and again turns to Medea. Pelias is an old man, so Medea approaches his daughters with a magical way to make the old young again. She cuts up an old ram in front of them, puts the pieces in a pot of boiling water, says a charm and out springs a lamb. That night, the daughters happily cut their own father to ribbons in their effort to make him young again. Jason becomes king. Medea bears Jason two children, but he does not marry her. Instead, he marries the princess of Corinth in order to gain that kingdom as well and forces her and her sons to leave his realms because she threatens harm to his new wife and he has seen what she can do. In exile, Medea sends a poisoned garment that kills Jason’s wife. Once Jason finds out, he threatens to sell his sons into slavery, so Medea kills them herself so that they would not be so tortured and shamed; then she escapes as Jason curses her.

While some of her magic may have been for what she saw as good, she certainly did not live by the codes modernly associated with Witches. She was a Witch, but not a good Witch. Her early magic may not seem so bad, helping Jason to win the Fleece through the trial; but she had to betray her own family to even go that far and that was certainly seen as evil in those days. Circe was a “most beautiful and dangerous witch.” She turned every man she came upon into a beast, but with a human mind so that they remained conscious of their predicament. When Odysseus sent a scouting party out to check the island, she turned them into swine, save one who got away and ran back to tell his captain. Odysseus went alone to face Circe, having been given an herb by Hermes to prevent her magic from affecting him. That he was able to resist her magic sparked Circe’s romantic interest and she freed his men and told him what he must do next on his long journey home.

In another tale, Glaucus sought a love potion from her to make the woman he desired love him. His story made Circe love him, but he was not interested. She decided it was the fault of the woman for which he longed. Circe turned this woman into a monster that destroyed all that tried to get close. Her name was Scylla; she became a monster that different sea-farers worried about in several tales. She was another Witch doing evil things, possibly in the name of love, possibly for her own selfish aims.

The concept of Witches as evil is older than Christendom. These tales prove this. In fact, the idea of Witches as good is more modern than many would prefer to believe. The book, The Wizard of Oz was banned in some places for daring to have good Witches in it. Even Leland’s Aradia has Witches doing bad things (the age of this text is up for conjecture, I date it to Leland, since his claimed source was never heard from again; others consider it to be based on a much older text) . Aradia is told by her mother: “And thou shalt teach the art of poisoning, Of poisoning those who are great lords to all; Yea, thou shalt make them die in their palaces; and thou shalt bind oppressor’s souls; and when ye find a peasant who is rich, then ye shall teach the witch, your pupil how To ruin all his crops with tempests dire (…) And when a priest shall do you injury By his benediction, ye shall do to him double harm and do it in the name of me, Diana, queen of witches all!”

I find that Leland’s Aradia states that Witches should out-right harm those who oppose them (and even those simply better off than they are) very interesting since some of his writings were clearly taken and applied to some forms of modern Wicca. The Charge of the Goddess as written by Doreen Valiente states, “Whenever ye have need of any thing, once in the month, and better it be when the moon is full, then shall ye assemble in some secret place and adore the spirit of She, who is Queen of all witches. There shall ye assemble, ye who are fain to learn all sorcery, yet have not won its deepest secrets; to these will She teach things that are yet unknown. And ye shall be free from slavery; and as a sign that ye be really free, ye shall be naked in your rites.”

From Aradia: ”Whenever ye have need of anything, Once in the month, and when the moon is full, ye shall assemble in some desert place, or in a forest all together join to adore the potent spirit of your Queen, my mother, Great Diana. She who fain would learn all sorcery has not won its deepest secrets, then my mother will teach her, in truth all things as yet unknown. And ye shall be freed from slavery, and so ye shall be free in everything; and as the sign that ye are truly free, ye shall be naked in your rites.”

I only hope Valiente gave Leland credit and did not just outright plagiarize him. This piece is clearly taken from Aradia, but the morality taught in that book (what I took as proof of Witches doing bad things was from the very same chapter as the “Charge” was “borrowed” from) was discarded and the Wiccan Rede placed in its stead. Since, by what most modern Witches would prefer to believe, all Witches follow the Rede, there are no bad Witches; and if you believe Wicca is the “Old Religion” of Europe, there never were bad Witches.

This belief creates individuals who become indignant every time pop-culture and media portray Witches as anything but good. They cry everything from “Christian persecution” to “the patriarchy gets nervous about powerful women, so they have to make them evil, cruel and sometimes insane.” While these beliefs may not be baseless, it must also be understood that Witches are not always good, just as Christians are not always good, just as your five year-old is not always good. Witches are humans and as humans, we can make mistakes, get angry, be selfish, exact revenge and wish to protect our families and property at all costs. If modern Witchcraft really wants to strive to be one with nature, then we cannot go against nature. Nature is both destructive and creative, we need to be the same or we are unbalanced. It may well be true that “The Witch that cannot hex, cannot heal.”

I see the modern good interpretations of Witches to be like old B-rate horror day-for-night shots (outdoor scenes filmed in broad day-light with a filter over the lens trying to create the illusion of darkness and usually failing) ; they give the darkness lip-service but stay within the circle of their white-light lamp. Sometimes you have to step outside your comfort zone to get in touch with reality; you might not always like the reality you see, but at least it is real and not a fantasy. The Witch as always good is just as much a fantasy as the Witch that is always bad.


Footnotes:
Mythology by Edith Hamilton
Aradia or Gospel of the Witches by Charles LeLand
The Charge of the Goddess by Doreen Valiente

Celtic Wicca (Church of Wicca)

Celtic Wicca (Church of Wicca)

The Church of Wicca was founded by Gavin and Yvonne Frost. They offer correspondence courses in their brand of Wicca, which is sometimes called Celtic Wicca. The Church of Wicca has just recently begun including a Goddess in their diety structure, and has been very patrofocal as Wiccan traditions go. The Chuch of Wicca terms itself “Baptist Wicca”

*The Frosts call their tradition of Wicca Celtic. To me it seems more of a mixture of high magic and eclectic Wicca, with a smattering of Celtic thrown in. For instance, they use three circles, one within the others, made of salt, sulphur and herbs with runes and symbols between them instead of just one circle. They also insist on a white- handled athame and will not have a black handled one, whereas all the other traditions I have heard or read about use a black handled one. It seems to me the Wicca they practice and teach should not be called Celtic at all; but since a lot of it is made up or put together by them from other traditions they should also give it a made-up name; say Frostism. If you DON’T have to pay for the course, and have some extra time, it would probably be worth reading just for comparison. [*From Circe, who took their correspondence course.]

 

The Frosts have always been rather more public than most traditions (advertising their course in the Enquirer and similar publications) which has earned them heavy criticism in less public Craft groups.

 

Goddess of the Day for 4/6 is Circa (Greek)

Goddess of the Day

Circa (Greek)

“She-Falcon”.  Dark Moon Goddess; Fate-Spinner.  As the circle, or cirque, she was the fate-spinner, weaver of destinies.  Ancient Greek writers spoke of her as Circe of the Braided Tresses because she could manipulate the forces of creation and destruction by knots and braids in her hair.  Goddess of physical love, sorcery, enchantments, precognitive dreams, evil spells, vengeance, dark magic, witchcraft and cauldrons.