Witch Bottles and Hand to Craft

The above picture is an 18th century witch bottle with a fascinating look into the craft of the day.

To be a witch is to deliberately place yourself in harm’s way. It is no accident, it is the same love a parent has for their child: we protect life. We shrivel up our noses and introduce our heads into walls, desks, and palms, complain miserably about the state of humanity, but when the chips are down, who steps up? Yup, we draw out the sword and shield and put ourselves between that which is profane and the very humans we complain about. In order to keep that up, there are measures that must be taken. We must take care of ourselves first. One of the first lines of defense for any serious witch is a witch bottle. Everywhere I have ever been has a bottle buried in the earth filled with sharps and taglocks. Some of them mason jar sized, some of the baby food jar sized, some of them a small little vial. Just as in martial arts, potency is not determined by size.

Witch bottles are best created on either a Tuesday or Thursday. Tuesday’s tend to be harsh and swift when it comes to workings of curse or defense. Thursday’s are good for the initial creation of protective charms. However, there are always the exceptional emergencies when all conventions should be tossed out the door and the moment of protective power is right here and right now with whatever it is you have on hand. Be not afraid of time and convention. Sometimes, patience is a luxury. When you have the luxury of patience, by all means, be creative with your witch bottle, pick just the right pins and nails, if you are a menstruating female, wait for your moon, use urine, hair, fingernail clippings, tears, and sweat. You get the picture. Inscribe your bind rune and seal that up with black wax before you bury. You could start the process on a Thursday and bury on a Tuesday just for more kick. Chant your chant to the listening other world denizens; bring power to the moment and object. Just do it.

Creating the witch bottle is not a challenge, but you must literally pour yourself into the work, your desire to keep acts of evil and profanity from you must be true. You will have to dig deep and find that raw part of yourself that declares a howl on hunt night with the pack. You must be willing and able to surrender yourself to whom you call your Master of magic and let yourself become his or her vessel, speak with their voice, be moved by their will in that moment of power. That is the challenge.

One of the most real dangers we face is other humans who either do not agree with our way of being or those who are afraid of the things they have done: they fear reprisal for the profanities the have inflicted upon others. Make no mistake, they are just as dangerous as any other enemy. . . sometimes more so because they can be the ones whom you consider your most trusted and beloved. I assure you, you are never psychologically or emotionally ready for that. The first brutal impact is crippling; all you can do is ride through and gear up while lying in wait. No witch bottle will help you there, but a good old-fashioned curse will. And you will have to pull it out and sit back patiently for the results.

Where the witch bottle helps is when dealing with other witches and those who mean you harm through the arte. Which brings me to the other real danger to us: other witches. We spend so much wasted time arguing about what a real witch is. A witch is a witch is a witch. Really?? Who cares???  The longer we argue, the less work gets done, whatever your work is, it isn’t getting done arguing about what real is. If they want to be light and fluff, let them, If they want to follow a three-fold law, let them. If they want to run on hunt night, I suggest you not look like a deer. Because when the real chips are down, the thing that will matter is standing together facing the same direction doing the work. Arguing amongst ourselves is not only a waste of time, it is exactly what our foes want. It is dangerous to let our foes have what they want. Remember divide and conquer? So yes, gather your bottle, your needles, pins and nails (don’t forget the blood and or urine.) Find your pack whether it wears light or blood does not matter. Shut your mouth and do the work you are called to and let others do theirs in accordance to their way. Just as I do not need your approval or belief to know the reality of my craft’s work, they do not need mine. We are all wolves here. Do not waste your precious time and focus with needless strife. The real work is out there waiting for you to call upon your Master and put your hand to your craft, but first protect yourself.

wolves

Saving snapdragons from the Old Woman

snapdragons

The wind came whipping through early last evening and with it a front of biting cold that would have frozen a popsicle into permafrost, so out I went with my basket to strip away the last of the snapdragon blossoms. It was quick and rude. It was me and the cold and flower blossoms quickly freezing. I found myself apologizing to the plants as I quickly peeled away the flowers from their stalks. I know they would have frozen to death on their stalks and I know that when dealing with plants, all are magical and have life and breath of their own. I felt horrible hastily tearing them off while the wind cut through me, I felt like I was being rude. I’m not much of one to let things go to waste and letting the remaining snapdragon blooms freeze and be wind tossed seemed the wrong thing to do. I had earlier carefully harvested only the bottom mature blossoms in proper ceremony with offerings and thanks, but this, this was something different and their response vexed me at first.

When you go to a pound and adopt an animal, that animal knows it is be saved from certain doom. They can smell death linger in that place. It’s fingers slowly winding around their throats every moment that kennel remains closed with them in it. They flee and pull at the their ropes as soon as the door is opened to their release and you can see the relief wash over them as the car door shuts moves away from the death smell. As I was walking up the path back into the house, I felt that from the flowers in my basket. They knew they were going to die a wicked, tearing death being scattered into oblivion and lost to any magic that could have happened with them later. They were witness to the earlier rites I did while harvesting their siblings. They knew as the door opened and the wind stopped biting and the warmth embraced them, that they were going to be safely preserved and used in a magical manner.

So what are the magics hidden withing these little blossoms of dragon joy? First just as the name implies, they are said to attract the spirit of the dragon. How very appropriate for a witch who loves the company of dragons? They are associated with Fire and the planet Mars so harvesting on a Tuesday afternoon is a perfect hour. I suppose if you want to get even more persnickety about harvesting you could label not only the date you harvested them but the moon phase and sign. . . timing has magic unto itself. Time is an ever fleeting thing and to catch it standing still in a husk of a plant. . . well that’s another blog post entirely.

It is said that if you walk widdershins while holding a dragon blossom that all hexes against you will be broken, of course, here the number of repetition is three? If you have any part of a snap dragon on you, it is said all deceptions will be revealed to you. I remember asking a friend a few years back what the reason he had snapdragons in his garden. I knew that he wasn’t one to grow anything in vain and since I was not familiar with the spirit of snapdragons at the time the question had to be asked. Protection from angry and troublesome spirits, it made sense to me after he responded because I knew he and his wife were also into graveyard work. I tucked that note in the back of my head and planned to make friends with snapdragons of my own.

The Old Woman is coming, laying a blanket of cold upon her realm. Button up, light the hearth fires, and prepare the feast!

Witch drums, hunts and masks

I curled up on the couch last night with a deck of cards, an afghan, and Salem ( yes, the witch drums were indeed going.) The door bell rang and often times I was greeted by fresh little faces who had no idea the proper etiquette to soul beg for candy while leading a parade of ancestors and spirits. It was like saying “trick or treat” had not only lots it’s meaning ( give me a treat or I’ll set my ancestors to mischief on you) but no even a  necessary Halloween salutation when the home owner answers the door with a bowl of candy to appease the little gremlins dragging souls behind them so their lives do not face the fury of trouble making spirits. Must be commercialism again. I braced myself for this to be a long, dragged out, interrupted reading between door bells ( and it was) and made sure that my ancestor altar had enough. Yes, ‘may you have enough’ is a great blessing to give and receive. I don’t care what it is, having enough of it is always a boon.

When I had drawn out and examined the last cards of the spread, there was this understanding that was dawning. It was even echoed in the material I was absorbing passively while I was doing the reading through the television show. The ‘witch hunt’ is not over. It’s not even really a witch hunt. It is a blatant recasting of blame upon some other sect of society that is less popular or disadvantaged for the imaginary ‘sins’ of non conformism or even just having the audacity to speak the truth and do the right thing for the right reason. Welcome to America.

Witches, we are hated and feared and made larger and scarier than life to make us VERY frightening and make the point even sharper, the penalty for being a witch is DEATH. I watch Rebecca Nurse swing, a midwife who dedicated her life bringing, nurturing and guarding life in this place be accused of evils exactly opposite her actions, be convicted on fear based lies and hearsay and then swing from the gallows. The woman was not even a witch, she practiced no magic, she bent no element of this world to her will, she called upon no other world being to her aide such as the likes of Isobel Gowdie did,  and yet, that is what they called her: witch.

These days, the death we are visited by is not the gallows. It is social black mail, a thing hidden behind other invalid excuses but it really boils down to one thing: we are different and we refuse to conform to the narrow minded beliefs espoused by the bigots perpetrating their abuse. They never make it about religion on the surface. In fact, they will carefully and righteously say ” I don’t have a problem with other religions, but. . .” ( You can see the lie clearly with the word ‘but’ inserted directly after said assertion of non issue-ness ) and realistically it’s not even about the other person’s religion. It is all about  the fear of the person speaking. The fear of what they do not  understand and make no attempt to understand because, by their own doctrine, attempting to understand necessarily makes them sinners. *face palm*

Here are some words from Peter Grey’s Apocalyptic Witchcraft on the witch hunt subject that have given me new circles to think in on this subject:

What is abundantly clear is that witch hunts did not begin with witches, and are thus not avoided by making ourselves harmless or integrating and ingratiating ourselves with the corrupt systems of governance. The Templars, though haughty and high handed, were hardly an outsider organisation. The accusations are always the same, what counts is how we respond to them, what truths they conceal and can be made to reveal to us. Simply acting out the parody role our enemies have scripted out for us is not a solution. We need greater finesse. Yet when our enemy describes their fear to us with such eloquence, they reveal their weakness which we would be foolish not to exploit. It is a game of masks, and ours is heavy with horns that ground us down through our thighs, as we rise from the heart of the earth through the balls of out feet.

This was a thing I found last night. I literally picked up a book, flipped through pages with my thumb and opened the book reading the first thing my eyes fell upon.

The doorbell finally stopped and the witches on the screen kept going and the candle burned steady and true. When the last witch on the screen spoke her final word of the evening, my star candle came out and all lights went out. The Star candle was lit from the ancestor candle and was carried through the home while calling upon Hekate, the torch bearer, the shackle breaker crowned with light, to make all that was here holy and sacred in Her name. I spread out the Death Kings on the floor and called for their clarity before sleep. I actually slept all night, a rare occasion. Tonight, the Feri gods are called and the Western Gate opened. . . Samhain is a season with Halloween only a day in it’s passage.  I am still thinking how best to harness and wear this mask, but it is clear that the Imp in Game of Thrones is correct:

Never forget what you are. No one else will. Wear it like armor and no one can hurt you with it.