Q&A With TRLT: Part 3, Sorcery

The Road Less Traveled gave me quite a compliment in recognizing the efforts I make to be evenhanded about my opinions. I am not God, not even a Bad God, therefore I can only speak to my human beliefs and my personal preferences. I’ve learned that, unfortunately, there are those who do not respect the convictions of others – surprisingly, even among Pagans. And I do make a real effort. Perhaps it is my legal background but I learned early on that it’s better to think things through before committing them to writing. If something is worth saying, it’s worth saying well, no?

Thanks for the very real kudos.

Let me begin by saying that not all folks who consider themselves Witches adhere to ritual structures as found in Wicca – or any structures at all. As I pointed out in “Part I,” not all Witches are Wiccans. And as I pointed out in “Wannabethans,” there are plenty of Witches who unknowingly use Wiccan practices. However, there are plenty of Witches who fly by the seat of their broomsticks. No circle, no quarters, no nothin’. They are still Witches. Further, there are some Witches who do not “practice Magic” at all. They consider themselves spiritualists, philosophers, herbalists, healers, and folks who observe the cycles of the earth. Sometimes these people are sensitives, mystics, and prophets – but that’s not a “requirement.”

Like I said in my reply to your second set of questions:

My view [of nonWiccan Witches] is that there are potentially as many ways of practicing as there are practitioners. . . . I actually kinda hate it that the only amalgamated definition we have for non-Wiccan Witchcraft is a definition based in what it is not: non-Wiccan. From a Lacanian perspective, this is disempowering – “lack.” If you have another term, I’d love to hear it! I’d be a big fan of coming up with a new, holistic, empowering term. Sadly, Traditional Witchcraft and British Witchcraft connote Gardnerian Wicca.

So, given all that, I would say seiðr is not a European folk magic in that it is a sort of sorcery. . . .

But what is the difference between Sorcery and Witchcraft, you ask? So much that there is an ongoing discussion that ranges from A to Z and back again. There are volumes of books, article, and blogs dedicated to the subject(s). So, I know you will understand that I am just hitting the high-points here. The nuances are so varied that I can’t possibly include them all in one post, but will make some attempt to point them out in later posts if there’s an interest. Deal?

Before I throw my hat in the ring, here are a few outside sources for you. I wouldn’t want you to just take my word for it!

  • I disagree with about half of this WitchVox article – the connotations of half of it at least – but feel it’s worth looking at anyway.
  • Then there’s this forum repost of Silver Ravenwolf’s perception of High/Low Magic.
  • In this thread, SingingBear argues that, “The real names should be Ceremonial and Earth Magic not High and Low Magic.” I think that’s a better delineation; it avoids the misunderstanding that there is a value judgment involved. But, like I mentioned earlier – I don’t remember where, Sorcerers can be, admittedly, imperious. I tend to like that about us.
  • This post addresses the possible confusion between “Low Magic” and “Dark Magic” or “Black Magic,” a subject I may end up covering in a post sooner rather than later.

To me it seems to be a bit like this:

I’ll repeat some of what I said in “High Magic Versus Low Magic, What’s the Difference?” (Bear in mind that “High” and “Low” are not value judgments. You might say it has a little to do with “astrological” and “terrestrial,” respectively.) Low Magic is a pretty broad set of practices and philosophies which do not require specific ceremony and ritual. Low Magic does not require intensive study or understanding of ancient traditions. Low magic is what you might call “every day magic.” It’s “practical magic.” You do this kind of magic to practical, terrestrial ends. Low Magic frequently requires nothing more than the individual’s will and maybe a handful of materials. More importantly, Low Magic typically seeks to create “spells” that offer tangible/terrestrial/material benefit to the personal/earthly self. This includes protection spells, money drawing spells, spells to encourage good luck, and love spells. This is where Witchcraft typically corresponds.

High Magic, on the other hand, includes a set of very exacting practices which require specific tools, including  – often exotic – ingredients and astrological timing; language use, not always English – hell, not always terrestrial languages; and even “real estate.” Consider the requirements of the Abramelin Operation – no kidding Crowley bought a house in, no shite, Loch Ness, Scotland.[1] High Magic is far more formal and utterly saturated with ancient and esoteric traditions: the Hermetic Arts, Alchemy, Sacred Geometry, Kabbalah, and Angelic Evocation.[2] These require a great deal of ritual and ceremony. Often, operations take a very long time: days, months, up to a year, and longer. John Dee, adviser to Queen Elizabeth – and the original 007, and his sidekick, Edward Kelley took many years to complete the “Angelic Reception” of what is now referred to as Enochian. If you don’t know about these characters and are interested in Sorcery, I advise you start here. Though Dee’s is one of the most complex systems, it is worth the time and effort spent in studying his process.

Quite possibly the greatest difference is purpose. The goal of High Magic in the Western tradition is to have knowledge and communication with the Magician/Sorcerer’s personal agathodemon or Holy Guardian Angel (HGA), the embodiment of one’s truest divine nature. High Magic also differentiates itself from Low Magic in that High Magic is generally has a more intangible goal. It is geared toward nothing more than self-enrichment and enlightenment. “Being closer to ‘God’.” It is intended to have the goal of communication with “higher” entities (Divinities, Spirits, Angels, etc.) in order to bring one’s self into accord with Divine Will.[3] But, of course, it’s even more complicated than that – I assure you.

Further, Sorcery or High Magic is not a religion. It is a set off praxes and can (like Hoodoo, I suppose) be practiced alongside a religion. There are Judeo-Christian Sorceries, Islamic Sorceries, Chinese Traditional Religious Sorceries, etc. It is from these arts that concepts such as casting a circle, invoking deities, and evoking spirits is adopted liberally by “New Age” practice.

This leads me back around to another aspect of Low Magic. Low Magic, aside from “Craft-Work,” also encompasses the highly ritualized communication with “lower” entities. Yes, I am talking about demons. But I am not talking about worshiping demons, I am talking about wrangling them into a cooperative state and putting them to work. Look up the legend of King Solomon. (Here’s one source.)

I don’t want to get into Goetia or demonic evocation too much in this post since I could go on for pages and pages. But, in a nutshell, my idea of a demon is a “disorganized” entity – not necessarily evil but certainly capable of deception and unwarranted destruction that could, to a human perception, be interpreted as evil. For those of you who have no experience with demonic evocation, the best metaphor I can use is this: imagine a demon as a feral three year old on a party-party-sugar high. Left to its own devices, it will be destructive and loud and bothersome. Calm it down and give it something constructive to do and you’ll have better luck. Further, for those of you who still have Christian remnants of “demons” hiding under your metaphorical beds, imagine this: If we believe in an omnipresent deity, and I do, then there is nowhere where God is not. So, guess what? If there is a hell, however you define it, God is there too. If we believe in an omnipotent deity, and I do, then there is nothing beyond God’s use. If there are demons, however you define them, they can be put to divine use.

Yes, it’s more complicated than that.

Because I would be remiss in this discussion if I were not to include a word or two from Lon Milo DuQuette, here is a page from Low Magick: It’s All In Your Head … You Just Have No Idea How Big Your Head Is (Woodbury, MN: Llewellyn Worldwide, 2010. 10-11)[4]:

So what is the source of this power? For me, it seems that some of the power comes from the intercessory “spirit” or “entity,” some from the Sorcerer, some from the ritual itself. But given that all of those parties derive power from “The Almighty Creator,” that’s from where all of the power ultimately comes. But, alas, I am not divine and can only relay my perception. I believe in an all-God because that’s how I’ve experienced my life and how I’ve learned to articulate those experiences. I can imagine that there are others with entirely different perceptions and ways of formulating those perceptions.

Finally, you asked if, as Maman Lee stated would happen to a hoodoo, can power be divinely revoked from a Sorcerer or Magician?

I’m going with, “Yes.”

For three reasons.

If I believe that God is all-powerful, and I do, then it stands to reckon that God has the authority to revoke any and all talents given to a human.

Also, there are ways of granting a Magus or Witch precisely what s/he asks for but doing it in such a way that it utterly destroys his/her life. Whereas the “Witch’s Duh” is a shortfall in the spellwork itself, I believe that there are other kinds of divine retribution. Be careful what you want – it might want you back, sort of thing. Getting what we want instead of getting what’s “good” for us is often the best cosmic punishment.

Further, if the architect of the ritual believes that s/he has trespassed, s/he will place her/himself in a psychological state where no Magic is possible. i.e. We can “psych ourselves out.” In this case, I still see it as God revoking power from the practitioner. In my opinion, this is a case where The Creator has “built in” a default auto-destruct mechanism. This idea deserves a post of its own. Someday.

There is so much more to it all. I can’t hope to cover everything there is to cover in this meager blog, but I hope that I have pointed you in a direction to pursue your own truth.

Well, that was a fun foray into comparative practices!

Blessings, Quarks, and 93,

The Bad Witch


[1] He also bought an “Abbey” in Sicily – from which Benito Mussolini’s government eventually chucked him in 1923. I mean when Mussolini kicks you out of Sicily, you’re not doing a low-prep “spell” for personal gain.

[2] This is just to speak to Western systems. There are Middle Eastern (aside from Jewish) and Far Eastern systems of which I know very, very little.

[3] Yes, of course, there are secondary and tertiary benefits to this aspiration.

[4] I used to set my clock by DuQuette. I don’t anymore. But this section – this I still like.

Q&A With The Road Less Traveled: Part I

This one is for The Road Less Traveled who posed some questions after my “Interview With Maman Lee.” I’m going to have to break this down a bit since no one really wants to read an article length blog post! Plus, I rekon having this in my scholarly voice instead of the Badness you’ve all grown to know and love, will make the ride a little different road.

Let me take a minute up front to thank you for the intricately detailed and elegant set of questions you’ve posed for me. I have been modestly berating myself for working more on “fun” projects then getting to the framework of my research (I have over 27,000 words of the “innards” but none of the (sometimes tedious to develop) super-structure. Thanks to your prod in the right direction, I have churned out these posts and about 30 more pages of a much-needed exoskeleton, thereby freeing me up to dedicate the weekend to research. Being encouraged by this headway has renewed my attentiveness to the project. So, thanks.

Bear in mind that I am not Haitian, nor am I descended from Haitians; I am not a Voodooist (initiated or otherwise). I make no claims to proficiency, expertise, or secret knowledge. But I will do my best to make a response based in logic and research. Also bear in mind that in our fields there are varying opinions, to say the least. The only reason I venture to address these topics is because I was asked to, not because I feel a need to create some sort of standardization among those opinions. What follows is simply my scholarly “take” on the questions at hand.

For instance, some folks lump Witchcraft and Wicca together and have good reasons for doing so. Ethan Doyle White, for one, argues that because of “common use,” we should not differentiate between initiates of Traditional Wicca and eclectic practitioners who refer to their practices as “Wiccan” (“The Meaning of “Wicca”: A Study in Etymology, History and Pagan Politics”. The Pomegranate: The International Journal of Pagan Studies 12 (2): Feb. 2011, 185–207). I happen to disagree. This does not diminish White’s claims or his argument. It simply means that, as a scholar, I can accept his argument as valuable while still holding to my own rationale.

Like my daddy says, “Just ‘cuz them beans give me gas don’t mean no one should eat’em.”

OK, maybe it’s not just like that but still.

This segues well into the first set of questions.

The first half of the first question TRLT asks is:

What exactly is the main difference between European Witchcraft, sorcery, and Hoodoo? Aren’t they all different forms of magic? Is there difference simply the way people who practice these different systems do things?

This is laden with many questions so let me parse them out as best I can. (I’ll address the second half of that question and questions 2-3 as we go along this week. Maybe even ending on a PBP post – what is it this week? Still R?)

As for the difference between European Witchcraft, Sorcery, and Hoodoo, there is a basic difference in cultural development. First, I must address the multifold differences in European Witchcraft alone. Not only are there differences in folk-ways across the continent, there is a distinct difference between folk magics and Wiccan-based crafts. European Witchcraft is not a homogenous model. In itself, the multifaceted set of traditions contains a number of divergent cultures. Both Norway and Italy are in Europe, yet the Vǫlur’s practice of seiðr, in the form or galdr and other shamanic practices is very different from the folk magics of, say, Sardinia. Further, today’s vala and gyda will have very different practices (based on access, technology, laws, and cultural necessity) than their ancient ancestors. What’s more, practices in Italy itself can vary greatly from the mainland to the islands.

As for the variances of traditions based on Wicca, consider Stregheria (Italy). While I have not studied Grimassi’s tradition[1] (1970s) in detail, I know that it is founded on Gardnarian paradigms. Though  Leo Martello was the first recognized author to claim an Italian “family tradition” of Witchcraft (Witchcraft: The Old Religion. 1970), Grimassi popularized the “Aradian Tradition,” inspired by English author, Charles Leland’s,  Aradia, Gospel of the Witches (1899), a literary translation of Italian folklore combined with Leland’s characteristic narrative style. Here, Leland blends Roman mythoi with Middle-Eastern apologues to create a foundation for Mediterranean system – which was then adopted as a Celtic underpinning.

Likewise Buckland’s reimagination of Pictish Craft.[2] Because we have little or nothing left of the insulated Pictish people, subjects of cultural absorption and genocide and without an extensive written culture, we have no way of authenticating the recovery of their craft. However, I am of the mind that there is no historical evidence to believe that PectiWita and Gardnerian Wicca (considering the relentless Roman invasions and ensuing cultural changes) would have anything in common at all.

The opinion one has about “European Witchcraft,” it seems to me, hinges upon one’s opinion of Gardnerian British Traditional Witchcraft and the ensuing conglomeration of neo-Pagan Reconstruction movements. Those who agree that Gardnerian Wicca, and those that emulated it, are derived from uninterrupted (or even authentically recovered) customs, methods, and mythologies reaching back to antiquity will be of a mind that is very different from the opinion of those who believe that Gardner borrowed  heavily from Crowley and The Golden Dawn to recreate a manufactured tradition (perhaps driven by his desire to have extramarital sex). Of course, I don’t want to represent a falsehood here – there are opinions in between.[3]

Like mine.

I’ve mentioned a few in these posts: (“It Must Be. . .Wikipedia,” “ Dead Horses . . .,” and “Wannabethans” – likely others as well).

And then again, there is a sizable difference between Wicca as an initiatory system and Wicca as an eclectic set of practices. Initiatory Wicca, limited to a select number of vetted lineages, is not even the same as Wicca which does not have its foundation in one of these lines. Also see here.

It’s a lot like apostolic succession for the Papacy.

Of course, we should recognize solitaries and eclectics who choose to refer to their practice as “Wiccan” as legitimate. Some do not. It’s a matter of personal politics. The Bad Witch doesn’t have a dog in that fight.

Of course, there’s the possibility that there is a tradition surviving in Europe that has nothing to do with mainstream “Traditional Witchcraft.” If they exist aside from Teutonic Shamanism, I don’t know anything about them and cannot give you any information.

Being The Bad Gydia, I can tell you that the rituals of seiðr have little or nothing in common with Wicca when it comes to ritual. What is common among them is repetition (of musical chanting of a sort and drumming) to achieve the states of altered consciousness wherein Magic is performed. Other than that, most of the things practiced in contemporary Heathenism are derived from Wicca in effort to be “friendly,” not because they are authentic to Germanic practices.

My opinions regarding these concessions is beside the point.

So to answer whether the “difference [is] simply [in] the way people who practice these different systems do things,” I would say, “yes” and “no.”

The way things are done is certainly different; but nothing I would call simple. The way things are done speaks not just to a practical difference, but to a difference in philosophy.

For instance, in Wicca (and Western European Sorcery) the wand and the athame are decidedly phallic. In many Western Esoteric traditions, the phallus is venerated as the source of creative power.[4] The “wand-carrier” or völva is, by definition, a woman. As a matter of fact, it was expressly forbidden for Norsemen to “assume” female magical powers. This is not to say that they could not practice magic at all, which eventually became the case after the influx of Christianity (it’s very complicated), but that men were forbidden to perform magic. For this reason, I have to believe that the “imagination” of the “source of power for their workings” is different.

In my panentheistic belief system, all power comes from “God” or “The Almighty” or “The Creator” or whatever one calls the supreme and eternal animating force of the cosmos. The issue remains that, even if we all believe this tenet, we may all define this divine presence differently. Exactly where the source of power is derived is above my pay grade.

Alas, I am only qualified to speak to my own belief.

There’s so much more to come.

B, Q, 93 for now – TBW


[1] Grimassi, Raven. The Book of the Holy Strega (1981) and Italian Witchcraft: The Old Religion of Southern Europe, previously titled Ways of the Strega (1994). Consider also Stregheria.com – “The Home of Authentic Italian Witchcraft.”

[2] Buckland, Raymond. Scottish Witchcraft: The History & Magick of the Picts. Llewellyn Worldwide, 1991.

[3] If you are interested in more information, you might look at this one that argues that all of Gardner’s credentials are fabricated. Or this one that offers around 80 (I quit counting) other articles that criticize Wicca, Gardner, and Wiccan Witches – accompanied by  the claim that too many Wiccan initiates censor any and all criticism of their movement. And then there’s this guy (who, I openly admit, I did not watch yet but plan to) who has a four part YouTube criticism of Wicca. While most of the reviewers use unnecessarily crude language, I do not suggest we throw the baby out with the bathwater.

[4] It happens to be one of my main projects to use Norse traditions to recover a system of female power not based in phallic influence (or the “lack” thereof).

Clean Up, Aisle Three . . .

It’s been a stormy day here in The Bad Witch’s town and I’m a little late at getting to my post. It seems that whenever it storms, it storms. Know what I mean?

Now, I know I don’t tell you the details of my work like some bloggers do.[1] Some of y’all post photos of your altars and your tools and some of you give scripts for your rituals and some of you report your supplications verbatim. I love you for it. But it just never occurs to me to talk about the specifics of my practice (though I have). Theory, sure. I’ll go on and on all day about what I do and don’t venerate in The Star Ruby and how I tackle “O, Phalle!” (And why I feel the need to rewrite everything I was taught after 2002.) But it doesn’t occur to me to be really detailed. Until today that is.

Let me step back for a minute and give you a few background notes that you’ll need to follow this story through.

Most of my referrals are Christian women – Southern Baptist Convention to be exact. Some are Catholic, but not enough to speak of.[2] I’m always amused that women who were raised to believe that Pentecostal “speaking-in-tongues” lay somewhere between mass-hypnosis and demonic possession are the first to call on an Occultist when thing get out of their Preacherman’s reach. But, Lawd! Don’t tell nobody!

My discretion, my banal appearance, and my knowledge of Scripture (and ways of showing that Jesus approves of “what we do here today”) make me very popular among the polyester peplum crowd.

Oh, and my effectiveness. That too.

Most of those who call me want me to help out with things for which they are simply unwilling to pay a psychologist or a lawyer. So, I advise them and give them whatever placebo they think they need – and ultimately leave them with the business card of a local psychologist or a lawyer. No charge.

But every once in a while there’s something real that needs handling.

This was the case with a woman I helped with a “house issue” a few years back. (It’s The South; we don’t say “haunting” or “spiritual disturbance” or “demonic” anything – it’s a “house issue.”) Back then, she just had a “bad feeling about the place.” It is a huge old farmhouse in a little-bitty town the next county over. It had been her rents-in-law’s place, they had given it to their son, he had married her – we’ll call her Estelle, and she and her husband had lived there for thirty years until he died – a few months before “the issue” began.

She’d had her minister come out and “bless” the house a little after the funeral. Not only did things not improve, they deteriorated. She reported an increasing sense of dread, particularly in certain areas of the house, things would inexplicably break – not always precipitated by a fall, her children and grandchildren reported disembodied voices and vague apparitions: typical stuff. Estelle’s granddaughter is a local (very young, insanely successful) businesswoman with whom I have a friendly working relationship. One day while conducting business, she pointed at my pendant, “Do you do things for other people?”[3]

That’s how that happened.

This morning, Estelle’s daughter, we’ll call her Sally, phoned me and asked me to “help out” as she believed she may have been (in a whispered undertone) “cursed.” After a lengthy conversation I surmised the following. Sally knows this woman – um, Veronica – who, Sally feels, has some sort of “black magic” power over her. I tried all of the standard, “Are you giving Veronica power over you,” examination only to discover that this was indeed, a real deal. I won’t spin too much energy on telling what’s the specific what –as I don’t want to feed it. But I feel like I can offhandedly tell you this much: Sally has always been a bit competitive with Veronica; they went to high school together, they fought over boys together, eventually they fought over husbands, etc. Veronica always seemed to end up on top and it seemed, to Sally, that it was always at Sally’s expense. Sally has taken to calling Veronica “The Evil Bitch” as a proper noun in everyday conversation. Obvs there’s more to it – but that’ll do for now, no? Now, Sally believes that a series of very unlikely events have been directly caused by The Evil Bitch. After a series of discoveries I found that, “Yes, The Evil Bitch is doing these things,” and, “No, Veronica is not doing these things.” Everything pointed to Veronica being fairly detached from and disinterested in Sally and, well, to be honest, utterly benign. The Evil Bitch on the other hand was – well – an evil bitch. I scratched my head for a minute.

If you have been through this kind of thing before, I beg you – don’t tease me that it took me a minute to figure out WTF was happening. I’m not new at handling my own, um, “demons,” but, despite having left a stack of doctor and lawyer’s business cards about town, I haven’t handled more than a half-dozen real issues for other folks (aside from family – they count as my own demons[4]). Most of these have been fairly run-of-the mill.

When it occurred to me, it occurred to me hard.

Sally has put so much energy into developing the The Evil Bitch character – in frighteningly intentional ways – that she created a fecking thoughtform – not just a larva or gooey astral pest – one strong enough to actually do things. It wears Veronica’s face because that’s how Sally created it. It looks – for all intents and purposes – that Veronica is doing the damage because Sally created The Evil Bitch to pass for Veronica. It soothes Sally’s psyche to believe that Veronica is “out to get her” and it creates a much needed villain for Sally and her catty girlfriends. (Not unlike Batman, hmmm.) But, having poured that much energy into an energy being, giving it a name, giving it a purpose, no shit – giving it instructions. (I kid you not; sometimes I just want to shake people.) And, of course, because Sally is not a trained Magician who knows better, the damned thing has no death date or means of constraint. Fun, huh? I can dismantle the thing – getting Sally to let go will be the hardest part – but it won’t be cool. And I’ll still need to leave her with a card for the local psychiatrist.

Here’s my parting thoughts on this. I know that there are people tossing energy around all the time; I know that, often, this causes manifestations. I know that “normal” folks “work magic” all the time. None of that is a surprise to me, nor should it be to you.

I am called to mind of a conversation – what? Three years ago? – I had with someone who purported to be a hard-core Magical practitioner. In the context of a profound conversation, I asked about his/her thoughts on egregores, servitors, and elementals. S/he said that s/he “observed the elementals” and that s/he had “many servitors” and that “some of them don’t even know [that they are his/her servitors].” More head scratching.[5]

I only tell you this because I use this instance to remind myself that not everyone is on the same page when it comes to genuine Magical practice. But, like I also said – everyday-folks toss energy into the aether and get appropriate manifestations. But does that mean that they are “doing Magic”?

I’m not saying that they aren’t – this is a sincere question. Is what Sally did “Magic”? Sure, it’s akin to what Magicians do on purpose; does the fact that she did it unknowingly and ill-advisedly make it “not Magic”? Is it about “intent” again?

If so, then is what the aforementioned Self-proclaimed Magical Practitioner (SMP) does really “Magic”? Or is it “Just the way the universe works”? S/he has intent – just not knowhow. Does the fact that s/he doesn’t understand the theory behind it – or even have the language to discuss it competently – make it “not Magic”?

We Magicians like to be imperious[6] and it pisses some of us off just a little when those we perceive to be our intellectual inferiors “stumble onto” our playingfield. And we might even like to say, “Sure, it’s magic; but Sally had to call a real exorcist to sniff out and take care of The Evil Bitch.” Or, “Sure, it’s Magic; but SMP would be laughed out of any conversation with self-respecting Magicians and prolly wouldn’t be able to control his/her thoughtforms once created.”

But, then again . . .

 

Whatcha think?

Blessings, Quarks, 93,

The Bad Witch

 


[1] I figure that just because I don’t tell you about what I cook every night doesn’t mean that you assume my family starves, or because I don’t tell you about social life you think I’m a hermit or a pariah, or because I don’t tell you about my BMs you assume I have a toxic colon, or because I don’t tell you about my sex life you think I’m celibate (or a prude). I figure y’all have enough sense to know my life is bigger than this page – and I appreciate that about you. Likewise, I figure that just because I don’t tell you the specifics of my training and practice schedule doesn’t mean you should assume I don’t have one. I am a Witch after all.

[2] Anyway, Southern Catholicism is more like Northern Baptistery than it is like anything in my experience with The Roman Catholic Church.

[3] I always feel like I look a little like the late Zelda Rubinstein when I first talk to someone. I can’t shake the feeling that I am 4’3” and my hair won’t stay tied up.

[4] Remind me to tell you about my Momma’s china cabinet and my (adult) nephew’s garbage can monster. *Hand on head.*

[5] Servitors, just for the record, are not human beings that one manipulates into doing our bidding without their consent. Those are called “victims.”

[6] Admit it.

The Atrum Traba: Dealing With Particularly Nasty Astral Energy

I’m reblogging this since I’ve heard tell (and seen posts on FB) that a few folks out there might need a push in the right direction. Be safe, y’all.

The Bad Witch Files

I’m about to attempt to share with you the development of and use of one of my favorite exorcism tools: The Atra Traba, The Dark Table. (Linguistically, this is a convoluted translation, but one I’m going to stick with for simplicity’s sake. The Darkness to which I refer is plural in nature and refers to the Darkness for which the table is used and not an adjective of the Table itself, so Atrum is appropriate (rather than singular Atra). Traba refers to a plank of wood, not necessarily a “table” – but as most capable practitioners are familiar with the use of The Holy Table of Practice, it is understood that this is not a “table” in the sense of four-legs-and-a-flat-top-at-which-one-sits.)

The purpose of this tool is to collect, call out, and banish (or exorcise) a particularly troublesome energy, entity, elemental, or (shiver) demon. I like to call these Astral Nasties…

View original post 1,748 more words

I Had a Few Words With The Bad Witch and All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt

Polonius: What do you read, my lord?

Hamlet: Words, words, words.

I finally got around to watching What the #$*! Do We Know!? the other day.[1] It articulated much of what I try teaching my apprentices in terms of Quantum Physics, Magick, and “reality.” So, I wasn’t surprised by much of the stuff in this film. But one thing was new; I had never heard of the experiments being conducted by researcher, Dr. Masaru Emoto, chief of the Hado Institute in Tokyo.[2]

Emoto created some experiments on water that validate the influences human consciousness and “intent” has on physical reality; though you and I would likely simply call it “Magick” (duh), this phenomenon has come to be known as the ‘Hado’ effect. Emoto describes it as follows: “Hado is the intrinsic vibration pattern at the atomic level in all matter, the smallest unit of energy. Its basis is the energy of human consciousness.”  Dontcha just love it when they use scientific words to define those things we’ve been talking about forever?

Here’s what happened.  Emoto took some water and directed various thoughts and feelings “at” it. Then he froze the water.  When he “sent loving thoughts and feelings to the water,” the water froze into stunning and highly-organized crystals; however, when he directed negative energy into the water, there were either no crystals at all or there were disorganized and unappealing formations. Surprised? Neither was I. Invoking positive energy causes an equal and corollary reaction.

Momma’s church. The view from her “hill.”

Last weekend I went to an early Beltane ritual where a Reiki Master charged crystals and performed a ritual ending in participants “planting” charged crystals in damaged or ravaged places on Earth.[3]  I have my quartz and I intend to plant it on farms in North Alabama where, a year ago last Friday, tornados ripped through my families’ communities (*literally* just barely missing the homes of my parents and my sister and her family). We do this sort of thing; we call it Chi, Ki, Prana, Life-force. So this part is not a shocker for TBW.

But, the next part is what – ridiculous as it seems – blew my mind. In following experiments, Emoto did nothing more than write a word on a label and place that label on the water container before freezing it. Guess what happened. Same thing. No shit. Why am I surprised? It’s simple sigil Magick in a laboratory in Japan. I know. It’s not that the thing happened that’s got my head twisted, but that I’m starting to think about a lot of possible implications that I never thought about before.[4]

For instance . . .

This got me to thinking about t-shirts. Does the shirt we wear effect the 60-70% of our watery bodies? What about the water vapor on the planet around us? Does wearing a “Bad Witch” t-shirt make one internalize the sentiment? What if the sentiment is intentionally ironic? What matters more – the words or the intent?

Tell me then about tattoos? Huh? How does that work?

I always thought of these things in a psychosocial framework which is influenced by hegemonic values. i.e: I wear my ΠΒΦ t-shirt as part of my external and manifest identity – I want you to see this shirt and think of me in a certain way: as a sorority girl and all of the attendant meanings attached to “Greekness” in a college town like mine (family connections and affluence and certain social values) and more specifically as a member of Pi Beta Phi, and the meaning attached to a nationally respected sorority with a “secretive” past (more money, rigorous study habits, particular aspirations, and less likely to be a “sorostitute” than other girls in other shirts with other attendant meanings).[5] I know you will “read” my t-shirt and I choose to identify myself with its “message.” I have, perhaps, internalized this part of my identity to the point where I no longer imagine myself as making conscious choices about what my shirt says about me. After all, t-shirts do not appear in a cultural vacuum, but, rather, express a cultural engagement with values, attitudes, and concerns of the majority.[6]

But what does the symbol *ΠΒΦ* do to the water in my body? And therefore my body itself? And my brain? And my being? Anything at all? Do I have to be frozen for it to matter? Is freezing water like a wave collapsing into particles when observed? (Holy crap, I’ve talked myself into another “wave collapse” conversation.) In Emoto’s experiments, no one had to look at the labels in order for the crystals to have formed. No one knew which water would receive which label. Emoto did not “invoke” the water with positive/negative emotions. It was merely the presence of the word that caused the change.

I understand this in terms of sigil Magick. I really do. When we have intent. When we invoke, when we purposefully change the energy waves around us, when we charge an item or a bath or a meal with our intent. But I don’t get it in terms of daily, banal, t-shirt-y-ness. Does wearing a shirt that says “Love” affect our physical beings aside from our psychological states and psychosocial perceptions? I would tend to say no – but does Emoto’s experiment suggest that I’m wrong?

Am I having a duh moment? Was this something everybody already figured out and I’m just now stepping in it like a pile of horse pie that everyone else saw laying in the road?

This got me to thinking along another line. A personal line. Once, after a really strange and inexplicably dramatic pitfall in my life, I – understandably – hit a low spot. Not long before I started blogging in earnest. One of the things I did during that time was to take my eyeliner pencil and write all of the negative things said about me and to me on my mirror. Still in my dissertation-mindset, I had the re-appropriation and empowerment of terms like “queer,” “bitch,” and “nigga” on my mind. Using the kind of “magic” the rest of the world still believes in, as I found strategies to positively cope with each term written on my mirror, I would erase it. From Halloween to Mother’s Day the next year, I’m not sure I ever saw my face through anything but a smudge. I thought I had “gotten over” all of that years ago. But now, I’m starting to wonder about a few lingering “side effects” of that low-spot are related to the way I “banished” those words. Have those words “frozen” in me?

This leads to a whole ‘nother conversation about emotional addiction. Part of What the #$*! Do We Know!? looks into the theory that we are addicted to our own emotions (here it is on the YouTubes: http://youtu.be/6BkI8LD24y0). Realizing the chemistry behind emotions – “nerves that fire together, wire together” – can give us the key to changing our (capital *I*) Identity. Like any other addiction, in order to satisfy our biochemical cravings, we have to supply more and more of the neuropeptides that create a cellular response.[7]In other words, we have to keep “ramping it up” in order to feel “satisfied.” But if we could change our cellular reactions we could change our Selves. Could we change our cellular reactions by doing something as simple as writing words on our bodies? This

My arm (leftmost) and the arms of several co-workers on TWLOHA Day, Auburn, 2010.

made me think about To Write Love On Her Arms.

Every year on November 13th , I hand my daughters colored Sharpies, hold out my arms, and say, “Go for it.” They each take an arm and draw entangled hearts and write the word “LOVE” up and down their momma’s blighted wrists. To Write Love On Her Arms (both the foundation and the short story) is about taking the broken in body and spirit, the addicted, and the self-mutilating and covering them in love. In his (admittedly Christocentric) retelling of the experience which inspired the TWLOHA movement, Jamie tells about Renee, who has carved “FUCK UP” on her own body with a razor blade: “she is ours to love . . . . [and we are] coming alive to meet her needs, to write love on her arms.” I imagine Renee’s scars and the scars of so many like her. And then I imagine them with LOVE written over them.

And thinking about Renee’s scars made me think about my sister’s (very recent) double-mastectomy and her terror at removing the bandages for the first time to “see” – and suddenly I can’t breathe. I had put all of my energy into thinking about doctors and hospitals and medical outcomes that I forgot to think about being. I forgot to think about t-shirts. Not Susan Koman pink things, just t-shirts in general. And what she will look like when she wears her bathrobe and what she will be invoking when she sinks her body into a tub of water for the first time. Hoping it won’t be “GROSS” and “UGLY,” I urgently want to grab my big sister like I did in the days after those tornadoes left her living and I want to write “BEAUTIFUL” and “ALIVE” all over her.[8]

And I want to write things on me too.

Does this kind of sigil Magick work in real terms? Sure we change based on our imagination of our Self. We internalize what we see. But is there more to it?

Anybody up for an experiment?[9]

I suggest:

  • “Charge” a Sharpie or an eyeliner or something.
    • Better yet – don’t – I like the idea of a “control group” of sorts.
  • Write a word on your body.
    • Better yet – have a trusted companion write a word where you can’t see it – for the “control group” – or is that just a “variable group”?
    • Make a secret sigil if you must (yet another variable group), but I’d like to see what happens with a readable language.
  • Do this at different parts of the day.
  • Tell me what happens.

Blessings, Quarks, and 93,

The Bad Witch

PS – Look! More Quarks!


[1] Writ: Matthew Hoffman, William Arntz, et al. Dir: William Arntz, Betsy Chasse, et al. Perf: Marlee Matlin, Elaine Hendrix and John Ross Bowie. Medula Films and Captured Light. 2004. Netflix.

The terms are basic and the metaphors are concrete rather than abstract and theoretical as most QP documentaries can be. If QP is hard for you to wrap you head around, I recommend it.

[2] I don’t know what to do with his name. I would call him Dr. Marsura, but the film calls him “Mister Emoto.” Seems all kinds of wrong.

[3] I have my own paradoxical feelings about taking quartz from the Earth, charging it, and then sending it back “with healing energy.” But that’s not a topic for today.

[4] And I keep remembering that, while the universe – especially the Milky Way – probably has plenty of water vapor to speak of and likely has liquid and frozen water (especially on Saturn’s moon), Earth is made up of over 70% water and that we are about 60% water (and the human brain is 70% water at that). If emotion can change water, and we and our planet are mostly water . . . I know – but – it’s – still – I’m . . . . I think I’m just having a weird day.

[5] While I may belong to a number of fraternal organizations, TBW is not a college-based sorority member.

[6] I can choose not to wear a Pi Beta Phi t-shirt and don a Bad Witch t-shirt instead. Alas, I will not subvert said values – I will merely uphold them from the outside. For exteriority confirms that there is an interiority to subvert. Dammit.

[7] According to the film’s scientific talking-heads, the cell is the smallest unit of consciousness in the human being. Ironically, this is something one of my dissertation committee members and I have discussed at length. She has written a book about Rhetoric and cellular production. I painted her a picture of mitochondria when I defended my dissertation. We are toooootal geeks.

[8] But, in the end, I may just get her a t-shirt after all. She hits.

[9] If there wasn’t s’much paperwork involved in human testing, I’d experiment at school.