A Little Book of Wicca

The latest offering from TDM Publishing is A Little Book of Wicca.

Consisting of some 60 pages, this short guide to Wicca, contemporary witchcraft, aims to be a perfect introduction to this earth-centric spiritual belief.

Commencing with a brief history of how Wicca came into being, it also covers the common beliefs and ethics found within Wicca, the perception of a dual deity (a God and a Goddess), sacred days and seasonal festivals, as well as information specifically to the Southern Hemisphere that is often overlooked in other books. A glossary containing some of the more commonly used terms is included as well as a recommended reading list.

A Little Book of Wicca is a perfectly priced introduction book for anyone interested in learning more about Wicca, or to being used as a guide to be given to family and friends in order to explain what this earth-centric spiritual belief is truly about.

Details:
ISBN: 9780244863067
Dimensions: A5 (5.83 x 8.27 in / 148 x 210 mm)

Cost: $15.99 (includes postage within Australia) available direct from TDM Publishing.

Some Myths about the Witch Trials

A 1655 pamphlet illustration of witches being hanged
In England witches were hanged, not burned. This illustration is taken from a 1655 pamphlet by Ralph Gardiner© Bettmann/Getty

Today I was rather surprised to be reminded of one of the misconceptions about the witch trials (or the “Burning Times” as it is often referred to within Pagan circles) that I had thought had been debunked by the 20th century – that some nine million people lost their lives after being accused of witchcraft. Apparently not.

As such, I thought I would share four of the more common misconceptions about the witch trials as discovered by Professor Diane Purkiss (Professor of English Literature at Keble College, University of Oxford).

1. Nine million witches died in the years of the witch persecutions: It is estimated that a more accurate figure is from 30,000 to 60,000 people were executed in the whole of the main era of witchcraft persecutions, from the commencement in 1427–36 in Savoy (in the western Alps) to the execution of Anna Goldi in the Swiss canton of Glarus in 1782. These figures include estimates for cases where no records exist.

Colour drawing showing people being burned in a public square as part of the Spanish Inquisition
The Spanish Inquisition persecuted those perceived as heretics by the Catholic Church, but witchcraft was largely regarded as a superstition, and wasn’t pursued as a heresy by officials except in rare cases© Prisma/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

2. Witches were burned at the stake: While people found guilty of practicing witchcraft were burnt at the stake across Europe and in Scotland, they were actually hung in England and America. In Scotland, they were straggled first before being burnt.

3. The Spanish Inquisition and the Catholic Church instigated the witch trials: Four of the major western Christian denominations (the Roman Catholic, Lutheran, Calvinist and Anglican churches) persecuted witches to some degree, while the Eastern Christian, or Orthodox, churches carried out almost no witch-hunting. In England, Scotland, Scandinavia and Geneva, witch trials were carried out by Protestant states. The Spanish Inquisition executed only two witches in total.

4. King James I was terrified of witches and was responsible for their hunting and execution: More accused witches were executed in the last decade of Elizabeth I’s reign (1558–1603) than under her successor, James I (1603–25). The first Witchcraft Act was passed under Henry VIII, in 1542, and made all pact witchcraft (in which a deal is made with the Devil) or summoning of spirits a capital crime. The 1604 Witchcraft Act under James could be described as a reversion to that status quo rather than an innovation.

In Scotland, where he had ruled as James VI since 1587, James had personally intervened in the 1590 trial of the North Berwick witches, who were accused of attempting to kill him. He wrote the treatise Daemonologie, published in 1597. However, when King of England, James spent some time exposing fraudulent cases of demonic possession, rather than finding and prosecuting witches.

Sources:
Witch: Eight Myths and Misconceptions by Professor Diana Purkiss
“Witch Hunts”: Now and Then, Myths and Realities by Morgan Lamkin
Professor Pavlac’s Witch Hunts by Brian A. Pavlac

Further Reading:
The Witch: A History of Fear, from Ancient Times to the Present by Ronald Hutton (Yale University Press, 2018)
A New History of Witchcraft: Sorcerers, Heretics and Pagans by Jeffrey B Russell and Brooks Alexander (Thames and Hudson Ltd, 2007)
Witchcraft in Europe, 400-1700: A Documentary History by Alan Charles Kors (editor), Edward Peters (editor) (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2000)
The Oxford Illustrated History of Witchcraft and Magic by Owen Davies (Oxford University Press, 2017)
The Witch in History: Early Modern and Twentieth-Century by Diane Purkiss (Routledge, 1996)
Witchcraft and Magic in Europe, Volume 4: The Period of the Witch Trials by Bengt Ankarloo (editor), Stuart Clark (editor) (University of Pennsylvania, 2002)

Imbolc – Return of the Maiden

The earth is in the slow process of returning back to life after the long winter’s sleep with the first tendrils cautiously making their appearance.  There is the likelihood of frosts, but despite this, early flowers are pushing their way to the surface – snowdrops, dwarf hyacinths, jonquils, early irises and even daffodils are appearing, making the statement that spring is on its way.  A fragile warming of the air can be felt as winter, usually the season of rest and withdrawal, comes to an end.  This is the time of uncertainty as the spirit reawakens, welcoming back the Maiden of Spring.

Imbolc (also spelt Imbolg) is the first festival of Spring, and is usually celebrated around 31st July or 1st August in the Southern Hemisphere, when the sun moves 15 degrees into Leo.  It is Irish-Gaelic and translated to mean “in the belly” referring to the potential of all life that is in the belly of the Great Mother (Mother Earth), but also the pregnancy of other animals, particularly cattle and sheep, who give birth to their young around this time.  An alternative word for Imbolc is Oimelc, meaning “ewe’s milk”.  Although here in South Australia the lambs are often born around the Autumn Equinox to ensure that there is enough winter grass for them to eat, in other parts of the country, and particularly in New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania, Imbolc heralds the birthing season for lambs.

The Crios Bridghid (Brighid’s Cross) is believed to have originated in the Connemara, located on the western side of Ireland and were traditionally made from reeds, rushes or straw.  The reeds were braided into a rope and formed into a circle, which was believed to hold protective powers.  Those who jumped through. Over time the circle became likened to a swastika cross, and it was believed to be a representation of the sun or even a fire wheel.  Once made, the cross would be placed over the doorways of houses, stables and barns, for protection and prosperity for the coming year.

You are invited to celebrate Imbolc – The Celtic Festival of Spring at the Riverdell Spiritual Centre (Hillier) on Saturday, 1 August 2020.
:: Connect with the Maiden Goddess through empowering meditations
:: Explore the journey of Brigid from Goddess to Saint
:: Make your own Crios Bridghid (Brighid’s Cross) that will be empowered through sacred ceremony
:: Discover how to connect with the healing energies of St Brigit through making your own healing candle.

All attendees go in the draw to win a copy of
In Her Sacred Name: Writings on the Divine Feminine.

Date: Saturday, 1 August 2020
Time: 11am to 3pm
Investment: $50.00
Venue: Riverdell Spiritual Centre, 51 Clifford Rd, Hillier SA 5116

Payment must be received by 20 July 2020 as there are limited places available.

Direct payment via Bank Transfer to:
Account Name: Frances Billinghurst
BSB: 325185
Account Number: 03146790
Please put your name for reference.

What is the Shadow? (Debbie Ford)

According to Debbie Ford (best-selling author of The Dark Side of the Light Chasers and The Secret of the Shadow), the shadow contains all the parts of ourselves that we try to hide, deny or suppress.  It is the keeper of all the aspects of ourselves that we dislike and the qualities that we judge as unacceptable.  The shadow wears many faces: angry, critical, fearful, lazy, controlling, selfish, weak, pathetic.  These are the faces we do not want to show the world and the faces we do not want to show ourselves.  

Most of us expend huge amounts of energy trying to get rid of or control these unwanted aspects of ourselves.  We hope that by hiding or fixing our “bad qualities” we will have the peace, success and happiness we desire.  Most of us are convinced that we are flawed and inadequate so we become masters of disguise, and go to great lengths to hide our bad qualities from those around us – even from ourselves.

The result of turning our backs on our dark side?  A life that slips by only half lived.  Dreams that are never realized, or worse, that lay buried under years of resignation and shame.  

Until we make peace with our shadow we will continue to be at war with ourselves and our outer world will mirror our inner struggle.  What we resist persists – and we will create and attract from others that which we most dislike in ourselves.  Until we feel authentic compassion for each and every aspect of ourselves, we will continue to draw forth people and events that will mirror the negative feelings we have about ourselves.  Until we take back our power and forgive ourselves for being human we will attract people who push our buttons and reactivate our emotional wounds.  And until we find the courage to love ourselves completely, we will never truly be able to experience the love from those around us.  

We do not need to guess how we really feel about ourselves at the deepest level, all we have to do is look at how the outer world treats us.

If we are not getting the respect, love and appreciation we desire from the outer world, it is more than likely we are not giving these things to ourselves.  This is the benevolence of the universe in action.  The whole world is a mirror of our own consciousness, and when we make peace with the disowned aspects of ourselves, we make peace with the world.

Registrations are currently open for the online month long sadhana (spiritual journey) that I will be hosting that incorporates exploring the shadow under the guidance of the Dark Goddess. Starting on Saturday, 6 June 2020 (just after the full moon) and concluding just before the following full moon on 4 July 2020 the Encountering the Dark Goddess sadhana journey is specifically designed to take participants into the realm of a chosen “darker” aspect of the divine feminine to explore the various aspects of their own shadow self in order to commence positive change at the deepest level.

Throughout the month long journey you will be provided with detailed information about the various Dark Goddesses, instructions as to how to set up altars and undertake daily devotional work, suitable prayers and a list of offerings for your chosen goddess, weekly emails containing metaphysical and psychoanalytic concepts regarding working with the Dark Goddess and the “Shadow Self”, group rituals and much more.

If the Encountering the Dark Goddess sadhana journey is something that calls to you, ensure that your register prior to Saturday, 6 June 2020. Details as to how you can do that are found here.

In my forthcoming book, Encountering the Dark Goddess: A Journey into the Shadow Realms, I share how to utilise the mythologies of specific Goddess whose very nature is about change, destruction, mask removal and much more, in ways designed to accept our own shadow.

Whether you seek healing from past trauma, release from fears or acceptance of the “unacceptable” aspects of your self through the power of meditation, ritual or inner journeying, Encountering the Dark Goddess: A Journey into the Shadow Realms offers itself up as a guide to assist you to embrace the ever changing aspects of life.

From my own personal experience (of which I share in this book) I am of the belief that when we connect the Dark Goddess, we are able to find the light within the darkness and our lives are enriched through the integration of all aspects of our soul as a perfect whole.

Encountering the Dark Goddess: A Journey into the Shadow Realms is being published by John Hunt Publishing and should be available for pre-order from mid-June 2020 through Amazon US, Amazon UK, Indiebound, Barnes & Noble, Waterstones and the like, with ebook pre-orders appearing a month or so before its physical release in 26 March 2021.

The Power of Language

Having worked over 60 hours for the last couple of weeks, I find myself with the rarity of having a free weekend, resulting in finally catching up with emails, blog postings and other outstanding projections, including finalising the upcoming Encountering the Dark Goddess month long “sadhana” (spiritual journey) that will be commencing on 6 June 2020.

One of the blog posting that took interest was John Beckett’s The Power of Language and the Dangers of its Misuse. To know what you are doing (which includes the use of language) is one of the four powers of the sphinx which are taught within the Temple of the Dark Moon’s Outer Court training. As Beckett points out in his blog, “there is power in ritual language”, yet increasingly people often mistake what may be foreign to them as being “inherently deep and meaningful” without thinking about what they’re doing.

From a devotional perspective, there tends to be a difference in opinion as to whether you should communicate with deity in their cultural language, ie addressing prayers to Greek Gods in Greek, or mantras to Hindu deities in Sanskrit. While this maybe possible in some cases, as language is a human invention as a means of communication, many have evolved over time so would a devotee address Demeter, Hermes or Zeus in ancient or modern Greek? Surely being divine beings, deity (in whatever guise we mortals attach to them), have the ability to transcend language. Beckett offers examples of his experience as an American devotee of the Celtic God Cernunnos in his aforementioned blog.

Probably one of the more important comments Beckett makes is the reminder that there IS POWER in ritual language, especially if you are using something that taps into the collective unconscious that has been built up since its initial use. For example, the Latin Mass or the Islamic Call to Prayer. At the end of the day, ritual language does not need to be foreign or archaic, but you should know what the words means and when spoken, that your intent is appropriate. If you are going to use non-English words in your rituals, then put some effort into pronouncing them correctly.

Within contemporary witchcraft there is one such chant that debate still ensues today as to its meaning, and that is what is often referred to as “The Bagabi Incantation”:

Bagahi laca bachahé,
Lamac cahi achabahé,

Karrelyos.
Lamac lamec bachalyos,
Cabahagi sabalyos,

Baryolas.
Lagozatha cabyolas,
Samahac et famyolas,

Harrahya.

In the 1970s Michael Harrison allegedly examined the etymology and concluded that the words derived from the old Basque language, and was in effect some kind of witch rallying cry to gather for the work of the slaughter and harvest before feasting. Harrison provided a possible English interpretation:

Kill (or the Feast) in November; kill!
I shall transport thee there myself,
and without the aid of a sieve,
to scour the plates and dishes with sand:
work (which must be done) with those plates and dishes.
(We shall meet our friends) ready for the drinking-cup
if they shall go (to the Feast), their bellies full with
quaffing from the drinking-cup.
O Sons (of the Master) with your Families (shout His praises with the cry)’.
‘HURRAHYA’!

More recently, Sorita d’Este and David Rankine concluded that the Bagabi incantation had no actual linguistic equivalent in any language, barbarous version in grimoires, or old magickal papyri, and as such, “considering the villain in the original tale of Theophilus is a Jewish Magician, it is possible that the Bagabi is in fact a corrupted Hebrew Chant.”

Alternatively, it may have originated from a 13th century French religious drama, Le Miracle de Théophile by the Trouvère Rutebeuf that “refers to the legendary history of St Theophilus of Adana, who according to traditional saints’ legends made a pact with the Devil and repented of it … This play is the original source of an influential invocation to the Devil (in an unknown language) … given to the character Salatin … labelled a sorcerer.” The words that Salatin used to invoke the devil are those of the Bagabi incantation.

For those contemporary witchcraft practitioners who have used the Bagabi incantation in their rites, experiences similar to the Thelemic concept of the Barbarous Names of Power have been recorded. Aleister Crowley advised that “the most potent conjurations are those in an ancient and perhaps forgotten language, or even those couched in a corrupt and possibly meaningless jargon.” When used in evocation, barbarous names serve the purpose of exalting the mind from the vulgar world through a release from rational, discursive thought. They are used as a mechanism for provoking ecstatic consciousness, and therefore further indicating the power that language has within magical ritual.

Dark Goddess Online Sadhana Journey

The current climate has seen a change in how things are done and for me, it is almost like a cosmic “hurry up” to finalise something that was initially drafted about six or seven years ago – producing online version of Encountering the Dark Goddess.

And finally it is here.

Commencing on 6 Juue 2020, the Encountering the Dark Goddess online version is a month long online sadhana (or spiritual exploration) into your deep shadow self through the connection with various “darker” aspects of the Divine Feminine in order to commence positive change at the deepest level.

The word sadhana is a yogic term referring to any spiritual exercise aimed at progressing the sādhaka (seeker) towards the very ultimate expression of their life in this reality. Therefore, as a “sadhana”, this online journey will present you with the unique opportunity to step through the veil and into the realm of the Inner Self, to meet and embrace your Shadow Self, to remove the unwanted and to reclaim what has been missing.

During the month online journey you will receive:
:: Detailed information about the Dark Goddesses we will be exploring and working with over the month,
:: Instructions regarding how to set up altars and undertake daily devotional work,
:: Prayers, mantras, and offerings that relate to specific goddesses,
:: Daily emails consisting on appropriate metaphysical and psychoanalytic concepts regarding working with the Dark Goddess and the “Shadow Self”,
:: Meditations,
:: A private Facebook group to connect with others who are undertaking this journey,
:: Group ritual,
and much more.

As the online journey lasts for a month, it is essential that you are able to commit yourself to the sadhana (spiritual) practice.

To take place over the Southern Samhain – from 6 June 2020 (ACST) to 4 July (ACST).

Investment: AUD$222 $150 (special introductory rate)
Register online through Paypal**

Once registered, please email me with your preferred email address and Facebook profile so you can be invite to the secret Facebook group.

** Direct deposit is available for Australian participants only.
Please email me for my bank account details.

The Dark Goddess is waiting ….

Are you brave enough to step beyond the Veil?

Important: Event Changes due to Covid-19

Due to the Australian government today imposing a 14 day self-quarantine restriction on  all travellers into Australia, it has been decided that ALL events being offered by the Isian Centre of Metaphysics and the Temple of the Dark Moon will be deferred until after 13 April 2020.

The events this will effect will be:

Monday Night Meditations – tomorrow night’s meditation (16 April) has been cancelled with the meditations resuming on Monday, 20 April 2020 due to the 13th being Easter Monday public holiday.

Gathering around the Cauldron – due to take place on 2 April has now been moved to Thursday, 16 April 2020.

There will be NO Reboot Your Life sessions available until after Easter.

At this stage all other events will be taking place as per usual.

How to Be a Better Beginner (Thorn Mooney)

A new year has commenced and while I am taking a bit of time away from the coven to finalise a number of outstanding writing projects, I came across the following article by Thorn Mooney which really struck a cord, considering the less than satisfactory outcome from last year’s Outer Court training. This resulted in a considerable amount of contemplation around future training structures, not only of the particular tradition of contemporary witchcraft that the Temple of the Dark Moon is aligned with, but indeed providing any degree of training in general when it comes to witchcraft in this Instragram image driven modern world where anyone tends to classify themselves as a “witch”.

A result of the contemplation undertaken is to offer training via a new format, Gathering around the Cauldron, where the focus will be a balance between the practical and theory. Should there be enough genuine seekers, then The Wytch’s Circle may be held at a later stage.

Back to Thorn’s article where she addresses the issue of how a seeker can simply be a good beginner! Her entire article can be found here.

We’re living in a moment—and I’m turning into my father as I say this—where a lot of people want things done for them. It’s not really our fault (I’m including myself in this, because let’s be real, my father was talking to me, too). Culturally, we’ve become accustomed to being able to just Google answers, to download an app for whatever our problem is, and to receive twenty-four hour customer service, whatever sort of customer we are.

I see similar patterns in many of the spaces occupied by beginners in Pagan and witch communities. People don’t want to read multiple books, they want to read one perfect one. Lots of people don’t even want to do that: why read a book when you can just DM [direct message] an author and ask them to explain what witchcraft is? Even using Google is too much to ask. When the going gets tough, the tough abandon ship and then complain that there aren’t any good resources available.

Beyond books, this applies to my own experiences with inquiries to my coven. These days, my group’s exclusivity has less to do with our tradition and more to do with the reality that people are just less willing to travel more than 15 miles, to compromise their personal schedules, or to do the work they’ve asked for (reading, contemplating, working ritual, attending coven meetings, etc.). I want to be clear: there’s a very important conversation here about inclusivity and ableism that’s ongoing in many magical communities (including my own coven), but I’m not talking about people who need consideration. I’m talking about people who are just entitled and lazy, or at least unaccustomed to putting forth the individual effort required for anything beyond mediocrity (who then complain as though the fault for their mediocrity lies elsewhere).

How do you not become one of these people? Well, the good news is that if you’re worried about it, you almost surely aren’t. But just in case:

1. Read everything, regardless of what the Internet says. Go to a library, use interlibrary loan, and get your hands on as much text as possible. Then actually read and think about the material critically. No book is perfect. No author knows everything, no matter how solid their bio sounds or how many social media followers they have.  Do some comparison! Does this text largely agree with other texts on the same subject? If they’re saying something bananas, look for confirmation elsewhere! And remember that just because something is repeated often, that doesn’t mean it’s accurate.

2. Ask better questions. My ninth grade geometry teacher told us on the first day that there were, in fact, stupid questions. A while ago, I wrote a blog that mentioned the failing utility of the question, “Is this book any good,” but there are others I’ll address here.

Broad questions and questions that reveal you haven’t done any legwork on your own are the main culprits. The one that plagues my inbox personally is, “What’s a traditional Wiccan?” Here’s why that question is frustrating: first, I literally wrote a book about what that means. I run a website about it. I write a blog about it and make videos about it. Most of these things are available for free. A ten second Google search will turn up, not only an answer to that question, but my answer to that question. If you can answer it with a Google search, do that first.

“But Thorn, you know Google isn’t always reliable! How can you tell people to rely on Google?” Thanks for pointing that out—yes, you’re correct. And I’m not. We’ll use the unreliability of Google to craft better questions. Like so: “I read on Google about traditional Wicca. Is true?” This is a much better question. It’s more specific, and it demonstrates you’ve put forth an effort. It requires less time to answer, and is therefore more likely to receive a response. This isn’t just me being weird and picky, this is true for most people who find themselves in the position of answering questions (see, Steve O’Keefe). Here’s another good one: “What does traditional Wicca mean to you?” A very similar question, but with the nuance that you understand you’re talking to one person and that mileage will vary. You can improve practically any question with some variation on, “But what do you think?”

If you learn to ask more specific, thoughtful questions, you will get better answers.

3. Get uncomfortable. I’m not saying throw out your personal boundaries or disregard your safety, but any time you’re doing something new you’re going to be dealing with a learning curve. You’ll hit a wall at some point and progress will get slow. It’ll happen. Sometimes the wall is running out of low-hanging fruit and suddenly having to seek out more advanced material, or new people who can guide you. Sometimes the wall is conflicts with other parts of your life, which you can either ignore or work through. Ignoring inconsistencies, conflicts, or other uncomfortable places will result in the wall not moving, and in no progress happening either way. You’ll sit right where you are. When you choose to work through something, you may still decide that the thing is wrong, irresolvable, or worth walking away over, but at least you’ll come by those conclusion honestly and on your own terms. When things become difficult, keep going. That’s usually means you’re making progress.

4. Be okay with being a beginner. In fact, rejoice in it. You know what I find exhausting? Social media accounts and blogs run by beginners that purport to be resources for others, when really they’re just plagiarized from books or other websites. Everyone wants to set themselves up as an expert as quickly as possible. Aside from things being exciting and new, there are resources everywhere, lots of people who want to help you, and every damn day can feel like a discovery of something magical. There’s nothing sillier than watching beginners fight online over who’s right, what’s authoritative, what terms really mean. Enjoy the learning process, and take advantage of this time where people expect you to not know. Don’t try to bullshit people, have some modesty, be kind, and do more listening than talking.

5. Take action. Reading and hoarding information is all well and good, but you have to do something with it. It’s true that witchcraft and magic are serious arts, and it’s also true that you can do foolish things and get hurt along the way. Let’s be real: someone who just read their first book and has never worked ritual magic is disproportionately unlikely to successfully invoke something genuinely harmful or to successfully pull off a working that is truly destructive. More than likely, nothing at all will happen, except for whatever internal emotional experience results. Witchcraft isn’t skydiving. A beginner and an expert skydiver both jump out of a plane, and they both have to equally deal with the fact that they’re falling. In magic, however, things don’t work just because you say the words and do the motions. You’re not just jumping and falling. There’s effort, intention, connection, and skill behind it. Those things develop in time, with work. For most people, success rates increase with time and practice. So start!

6. Don’t hang your hat on any one teacher, and don’t pick a hill to die on. I have my favorite writers and teachers, as well as religious narratives, traditions, and perspectives that are dear to me. However, I try not to model my practice after any one of those exclusively. Witchcraft isn’t a cult of personality, and it’s also not static. Don’t pin yourself to any one person or perspective, especially in an era when so many of our heroes and ideas seem to be made of straw. Community leaders are ousted, change their minds, convert, retract their positions, and are human just like everyone else. At the very least, they’re going to die eventually. If your practice is all about someone else, where will you be when that person isn’t there anymore? The same is true for ideas. Witches who began practicing in the 60s and 70s (and earlier) had to watch while their understanding of history was ruthlessly dismantled by scholars in the 90s and later. Witches who began their practice before social media had to readjust with the development of the Internet, and all of the changes that brought. In the last decade, some of our most cherished teachers have revealed themselves to be bigots, sex-offenders, and plenty else besides. Life gets messy and history keeps moving, without much care for your feelings. Explore, be open. You have to keep enough distance so that when it’s time to let something go, you can.

7. Do the work you say you want. If you say you want to be psychic, and every book and teacher out there says similar, core things about how to develop your psychic abilities, and you don’t do them because they’re time consuming or difficult, you don’t then get to complain about not progressing as a psychic. Magic, spiritual development, witchcraft, tarot reading, group leadership, and pretty much anything else worthwhile you can name requires actual work. That means time, commitment, effort, reflection, and repeated failure (after which you get up and try again). If you want to do the thing, and especially if you ask for help to do the thing, then you have to actually do that work that you said you wanted to do. Buying a book is not the same thing as reading a book, and it’s definitely not the same thing as doing the exercises in the book. So how badly do you want it? Prove it.

Wytch Bottles as Countermagical Devices Through History

In 2016 Kerry Sullivan wrote a rather interesting article about the history and use of Wytch’s Bottles. Considering the first workshop for 2020 that the Temple of the Dark Moon will be offering in our “Practical Crafting” series is on Making Your Wytch’s Protection Bottle, I thought I would include part Sullivan’s article. Please click on the link above to read the article in its entirety.

According to Sullivan, witchcraft was deemed a serious threat in 16th and 17th century Europe, and court records attest to the terror evoked by suspected sorcery. Judges gave serious consideration to the danger posed by wytches, and many were hanged for it. One case, found at the Old Bailey (London, England), records a man testifying that his wife has been subject to the ill machinations of a local witch. The judge, understanding the severity of the man’s dilemma, gives him clear advice to visit an apothecary and create a witch bottle to turn the curse back on the witch that cast it. Magick was a genuine source of fear and trepidation and wytch bottles were seen as one of the best means of defense.

Wytch bottles are stoneware containers that contained a wide variety of materials believed to have specific effects if properly prepared. In particular, they were used as both counter-magical devices for those already suffering from a wytch’s curse and as prophylactic to protect the maker from negative or evil elements.  The earliest known written mention of a witch bottle comes from a book of witchcraft written in England in 1680. However, bottles have been found dating as far back as the early 1500s.

German Bellarmine Jugs were often used as “Wytch’s Bottles”.

The tradition is believed to have started in Germany around the time of the Protestant Reformation. Bottled spells are believed to have traveled to the New World with English immigrants. Researchers have noted that witch bottles tended to proliferate during times of intense social anxiety, for example during the witch hunts of the 17th century. Wytches were widely blamed whenever ill health or misfortune struck a person. Wytch bottles were not only meant to heal the afflicted but also to send the curse back to the casting wytch and hopefully kill them.

When created for counter-magical purposes, a witch bottle often contained nails, pins, herbs, and samples of the afflicted, such as urine or hair. In the Old Bailey case mentioned above, the apothecary advised the man to prepare a potion of his wife’s urine, nail clippings, and hair, combining the materials in a pot of water and boiling it. Boiling was a key part of counter-magical efforts, as it was believed to help reverse the curse. Another key ingredient, if you could get it, was sulfur. “If you think about where sulfur came from in those days, it spewed out of volcanic fumaroles from the underworld. It would have been the ideal thing to [kill] your wytch, if you wished to” said Brian Hoggard, an independent expert on British witchcraft who helped researchers understand a sealed witch bottle found in London in 2004.

Wytch bottles could also be used to invite good fortune. A common love spell called for a handful of dried and crushed flower petals (preferably from flowers given by a lover), rosemary and lavender (for love and strength), and rosewater. The cork would then be sealed with red or pink wax and set in a place where it would not be seen or disturbed.

If making your own wytch’s bottle to protect your home (or car) is something that interests you, then on Sunday, 23 February 2020 the Temple of the Dark Moon is holding a workshop on Making Your Wytch’s Protection Bottle. This workshop also falls on the eve of the dark moon, which relates to our rebirthing as we unfurl us out from the depths and emerge from the Underworld of emotion into new potentialities.

All materials are provided. Bookings are essential as there are limited places available. See the above link for more information.

Visions mark a New Way Forward

As this current calendar year draws to a close, to brings to an end a rather “interesting” (to say the least) year for the Temple of the Dark Moon.

This year saw the first Outer Court training circle in five years commence that delivered more challenges than the initial desired result. As such, the Temple will be taking all of the Southern summer off, instead of commencing at Lughnasadh, as what has been the norm. This will mean that no teaching on the Craft will be offered until April, the end of Autumn, when Gathering Around the Cauldron will commence on Thursday, 2 April 2020 and continue throughout the year on a monthly basis.

Between now and April, there will still be a number of events being offered, including the annual Yemaya: Blessing of the Waters that is held at Grange beach, Adelaide, as well as new practical crafting workshops on Spells, Amulets and Talismans held on Saturday, 15 February 2020 that will provide in-depth information on various highly effective techniques of spell casting as well as the purposes of using an amulet or talisman. Then on Sunday, 2 February 2020, the ever popular Making a Protection Bottle will be held.

April will also see the commencement of a six part exploration of the Tree of Life glyph that is found within ceremonial magick in the Climbing the Tree of Life series from Thursday, 16 April 2020, which will be nicely complimented with a ten part mediation series of corresponding Qabalistic archangels on Thursday evenings from 7 April 2020.

As with all events offered by the Temple of the Dark Moon, save for the Yemaya: Blessing of the Waters, it is essential to book as there are limited places available.

At this current time, there is no desire to recommence the Outer Court training circle. Those attendees who participated in the 2019 Outer Circle are fully aware of what is required of them should they wish to complete this training. My own personal commitments and focus for the new year will initially be on finalising the manuscripts of two books (including the long awaited Encountering the Dark Goddess) ready for publication.