Monday, May 25, 2015

Some Crooked, Some Upright

   My last entry on the three different spells I was working on at the time got me thinking about the roots of those magics and how even though they are all spells, they're ruled by a different school of practice that is often the singular focus of devotion by some witches, myself included.  Even though two of those charms featured a form of black and red magic, they were still done in my way; the green way.  This got me thinking on the different kinds of paths that exist, sometimes simply categorized into good or bad, high or low, ceremonial or natural, but sometimes they are categorized by their intention and the practices which benefit those intentions.  In traditional witchcraft, this can be construed as the separation of black magic from green, red and *white* magic.  I don't know if "magic" is the right word, I never really know how to describe what I think is going on here, but I will use the term magic to mean one's spiritual and mystical influence in the world and upon other living things.

  Some witches are students of a single path, devoted to the practice of a specific kind of gift which is central to their work. Just as among shamans there may be healers, seers, exorcists or a specific kind of shaman, the same is true of practitioners of any magic, including witches.  A witch who devotes to a particular form of practice; such as the arts of necromancy, conjury of shades, divination and diabolic work may consider themselves a black magician, whereas a witch who devotes entirely to medicine, agrarian/funereal magic and all manner of magia naturalis might call herself a green witch.  Red witchcraft is usually part of the practice of most witches, though on occasion a true red witch will emerge; one who is devoted to the erotic, protective and warfaring current of the red.  White magicians are common; the curandero are a kind of white (and/or green) magician or spiritist in Mexico, usually drawing their power from prayer, purity, pious cleanliness and a strict code of spiritual healing from benevolent spirits. These days when we hear the term "white lighter", we often are led to think of someone who has devoted their energy to ignoring the balance of energies in favor of the socially acceptable new-age witchery popular among youth.  This is different from a white healer- white "magic" is a serious undertaking and an important part of spirituality for many cultures- my own included, and they have little to do with the new-age.  White healers are considered traditional folk healers and "shamans" in the American Southwest and they do not work in a world devoid of the dark, not at all, they acknowledge the darkness and strive to counterbalance it and drive it away from causing illness.

    Most witches simply practice all or some parts of all these kinds of workings; walking neither one road or another. I have a difficult time separating the green from everything else personally, this is likely the direct influence medicine and Santeria in my house, extended family and community; plantlife is necessary; their souls, medicine, animus--whatever-- is needed.  Simply necessary.  I suppose I took this to heart and now green is my way to go.

     Green Magic- all that is agrarian, botanical and natural belongs in this realm and the practitioner is usually a devotee to land and death.  Green magic is rooted in healing herbs and baleful herbs, in the cycles of moon phases and star paths, in the change of one season to the next and the worship of the divine through nature, and devotion to nature (land, sea and sky) and all the spirits thereof.

"Green magic is ruled by physicality, the land, green and growing things and living beings which are animated by sprowl.  Workings of physical healing, herb craft and material gain are acts of green magic.  The familial spirit of green magic is the Hare." - Gemma Gary, Traditional Witchcraft: A Cornish Book of Ways
     A green witch can be all sorts of things; a witch, a shaman, a medicine woman, a cunning man, a fairy doctor- any practitioner who engages in physical healing, agrario-domestic craft, nature worship and herbalism may find themselves on the green road.  Divination and spirit-work are as much part of the green path as herbalism; the spirits that reside in tree, plant and growing thing must be communicated with, because they do not share their knowledge freely, nor are most people truly able to hear them.
 "Among the foci of modern practitioners of wortcunning are the learning, practice, teaching and anamnesis of the Green Art in its many aspects. As well as the charms and spellcraft  usually associated with herbal magic, such also includes divination, spirit devotion, occult pharmacy and practical botany."-on the Green Arts, D.A Shulke,  Viridarium Umbris,

"I prefer magick with the balls to push shaft deep into the crimson petals of the goddess." 
Peter Grey, The Red Goddess

     Red Magic- is the fiery well of erotic bewitchment, transmutation and the bending of wills.  The red thread of fate that runs through all magic is stained with the blood of passion and vengeance- but most of all it is strength.  Aside from the passions, red magic may be the deliverer of Aphrodite's soothing love or Eros's fiery lust, just as easily will it turn from love to hate, lust to madness, and boil those touched by the heat in vengeance and warfare.  Unpredictable and double-edged, the red thread is used for empowering the self, protecting the herd and absorbing the life of one's enemies.  The classical witches of ancient Greek and Roman literature employed various diabolic means to achieve their erotic ends, a dark red magic.  Most spells which were cast to drive a lover mad were considered a type of dark erotic magic- this was the difference between love charms which were driven by philia which was romantic and friendly, and those driven by eros- raw lust.  When the red witch pursues the mysteries of the flame, they divine the wisdom of protection and the decimation of opposition, this is the power of battle and sovereignty.  Red is Will, a thread running through all labyrinths. In my practice, the red familiar is the moth, who dances around the flames.

      Black Magic-  Horns blazing, eyes leering, hooves scratching at the black dirt.  Sometimes he's a horned old man, sometimes he's an antler-tipped youth, sometimes a stag, sometimes a goat, always a man of of the night. The black magics fall under the eye of the man of the crossroads and his queen; sometimes Lilith, sometimes Fairy Queen.  Black undertakings is the work of necromancy, shape-shifting, traveling, divination of the complex sort, undertakings of power, sorcerers operations for control, (sometimes) oneiromancy and the manipulation of life and death.

     The Black magic is usually diabolic, committed to nocturnal arts and its mysteries. This is a path for poisoners and diviners, for those who's sorcerous operations wake the dead and things deeper, darker than that- demons and things that never lived.  Sorcerers often tend to draw from the well of the Living Shadow, rather than from nature or passion or angelic purity as their source.   Dark dealing is a necessary part of most witch work, in my humble opinion.  By our nature, witches are usually seers who must have at least some dealings with the denizens on the otherside, necromancy being at the heart of witchery is a thing born from the shadow, and therein lies the wisdom of the spirits and gods, because the witch is illuminated and sees most things obscured by darkness. 

       White/Grey Magic:  The general idea as I was taught in my childhood, was that the spirits effect all forms of life, and so do the orisa and tricksters (in my household, Stick-man), and that these spirits are sometimes to blame for what has gone wrong around us or our miseries.  This concept exists in many religions in different forms; angels vs demons, etc.  And so, to draw out the evil spirits which afflict us, one must perform purification and prayers to the spirits who will protect and heal us. This is where white magicians become useful; they are holy and are supposed to lead pure lifestyles in order to bring the healing waters to those they touch and pray over and this is the only power they practice.  In conjunction with green medicine, white magic becomes the science of temperance; healers, medicine men and curandera are usually agents for the people (where a witch is agent of the self and the seeking) and work towards purifying and balancing the body by expelling bad spirits and appeasing good ones, laying hands, administering herbal medicines and performing prayers.

Further Reading

The Red Goddess by Peter Grey
Healing with Herbs and Rituals: A Mexican Tradition by Eliseo Torres
Traditional Witchcraft: A Cornish Book of Ways by Gemma Gary
Ancient Greek Love Magic by Christopher A. Faraone
The Golden Bough by James Frazer 
Three Books of Occult Philosophy by Agrippa
Viridarium Umbris by D.A Shulke

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Get Witching.

A busy week for a witch can mean suddenly needing to perform healing prayers, rites and charms for a grandfather diagnosed with a serious illness. The second I left the hospital I went straight for the best magic I know, the kind I was raised around; healing medicine.  Mine is very different from mi Tia's, different from my moms, from my various aunts; I'm a green sorcerer, that's what I go to.  Well, gramps needs healing, and all I can do to help on a spiritual level is what I know I'm good at--  and I know I'm a damn fine witch.  So I get witching; stuffing herbs, baking the clay dolly for its work, catching the right moment when Venus was high in her healing phase and my star in the constellation of the hunter shined in my sight, the smells of meadowseet, sweet-grass, palo santo and sage are a soft reminder that the ancestors and beloved dead are everpresent, ready to lead my hands and whisper over air and darkness the secret things I need to know to stay focused and offer all my support to someone I love dearly.

Another busy day for a witch can mean a lot of meditation and fasting and preparation in the arts of dust making... In this particular case, a dust made for a friend from a recipe in my cunning book.  Poison things are a dance with death and devil, a twisted thing that can corrupt all it touches.  I'm careful in the preparation of crab dust; a protection and hexing dust requested of me by a good friend who felt she needs more protection at her disposal against an unwanted guest in her life.  Crab dust does nasty things to nasty people.  

 During the full moon lunar eclipse I got to take a break from the heavy stuff and do the type of magic I'm best suited to; ardent arts- Love Magic.  Venus and Eros were a huge force that evening.  Venus, being the axis upon whom I perfect my nature and know myself, the beacon of the flaming current I feel myself upon; warm, sensual, alive and ripe, was my muse for the evening as I prepared for all the drinks for me and my partner would need for the creation of joyfully red magic.

Drink of the Blood Lunar Flame:
1/2 vial of dew from the woodhorn of an appletree collected on the full moon, hour of Venus
1 cup skyriver mead
1/2 cup cherry blossom water collected on full moon in hour of moon
1 tbsp honeydew honey 

Drink of the Glittering House of Venus:
1/2 cup rosewater
1/2 cup orangeblossom water
1/2 cup sweet red- sweeter the better
A pinch of blue lotus.
- Served in a silver cup on a round copper plate of Venus with the square of Venus etched on the top and the figure of Venus and Eros (with flaming arrow, comb and apple) etched on the back.

Damiana liquor, jasmine water, with vanilla bean, anise and catnip steeped two weeks prior are another favorite ritual drink for rituals in which love talismans and amulets are being created and the red spirits need feeding.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Holy Water and Hexes

Hate and healing,
hex and harmonies,
actions weighed and balanced by people-
who sit in the company of spirits.
They know better than to walk in the sun, or in the moon. 
The truth is found in the middle road, where the best herbs grow,
 in the shade.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Darkyear turning

Now is the darkyear.  I observed the change-of-suns as I have for the last decade, spending my time meditating on the exchange of light to dark and dark to light twice a year, marveling at the glory and wonder of the seasonal changes, making exciting plans and grieving what was lost.  An Cailleach, the hag of winter, the stoney blue-skinned, brittle-boned owl in the frost, carved from darkness, clutching in her hands the cold sun, she rides now.  She is the bride of winter, and I observe her movement with feasting, drinking, missing my loved ones and honoring the finality that permeates the early autumn air.  I also welcomed the king of the dead, of harvest and hunt; now's the time when the dark host rides in the wind and the night lead by the Horned One, wild and shrieking. Between a cauldron of bones and a cornucopia of gathered harvest, stands always the witch, readied for the change of seasons.  We lit our candles, we drank our mead and recited The Song of Lugus and Rosemerta, burned a wicker effigy in the bone pot and reveled in that warm, happy feeling you get when death moves around you.

I spent much of the last few weekends replenishing my stock with this years harvest.  Most of the time I keep sal negro, red dust, brick dust, ghost dust, sal de mar,  orris root spice, white bone spice and polvo de sangre (made with real blood) among other dusts, powders and salts; some for sigil drawing, others for more practical hands on magic.  Each different kind of dust requires entirely different conditions for their creation, sometimes it takes months to prepare just one vial full of a spice, but the results are well worth it; when the bones are rubbed red and the black circle is drawn, it is well worth the effort.  My oils from the summer didn't work out so well, but the weeping birch-sap and honey amber incense I made smells like heaven baking in a sunbeam.  My oak gall ink turned out black as night, thick and smelling of forest and the shade under roots.

Around this time of year, different people or branches of family ask me to come over and perform blessings. The spirits are "acting up", so they call me.  I show up with my kit; powders, philters, dusts and spices, keys, oracles, candles-- tools of all kind, rolled up into my travel bag.  Usually the family plies me with wine and smoke to get me to leave my hermitage, and in exchange I cross the house in black dust, bind it in red dust, circle it in white dust, cross the windows, bind the doorways, seal the wood-stove, hearth and chiminea, bury the blessed nails and break the old spell bottles.  To drive away restless spirits; a bitter root smoke, to bring peace; palo santo, then sage to bless every living or non living soul within.  I sit alone with the dead, poor wine into basins carved from years of Seattle rain the foundations of the big family house, share honeyed whiskey cakes and whatever else I'm asked to procure.   My craft is far different from my mom's medicine, my sister's healing magic, my tia's voodoo, or auntie's oraciones, and I serve a specific function I suppose, which comes in handy when the spirits get restless. If it were as "simple" as purification or warding bad dreams, ma or the aunties can handle it, but when people start getting nervous, they call me.  Usually I just serve as seer for my family, their friends and extended relations of my own, but between Last Harvest and samhuinn I get busy; the wine starts pouring and I have too much fun dancing with the dead.  When the land slows down and the air grows cold, I seem to truly come alive.