Wednesday, October 26, 2016
The Witch With Her Tools Of Magick
Good Afternoon My Witchy Readers,
Today we will touch briefly on some of the Witches tools, that she or he uses in ritual and magickal practice. To start, to quote the "Invocation of the Elements", the author, I believe, was Scott Cunningham, for this appears in his book "Wicca - A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner" a portion of the poem which states "By wand, blade, cup and pentacle."which are considered the four traditional Witches tools.
Now, we do use many additional tools, such as the besom or broom, the boline, some use cords, as well as candles. There are many tools a witch could choose to use. But all tools, supplies, ingredients and objects the witch uses are simply to enhance and access her inner magickal power.
Our wands are made from wood, traditionally, and are always harvested from living trees. To pick up dead wood from the ground, may be simpler, but there is no living energy left in the wood, unless it has just been broken and blown from the tree tops. We harvest the wands by cutting them from the tree and then using our finger or athame to cut the air between the actual tree and wand. First cut the wand from the tree with a saw or pruners. Then we 'cut' the etheric body to keep the energy within the wand.
Our blade, as mentioned in Mr. Cunningham's poem, is our athame. This is one of the modern witches most important and special tools. It is used to cast the magick circle, and the metal in the blade is used to seal the circle from harmful energies. The athame is never used to cut anything physical, except for one thing, in it's entire lifetime. That is the one cut, when the athame is held by the hands of both the bride and groom as they cut the wedding cake. After that initial cut, it is carefully wiped off and brought home to bring protection to the house, and of course to be used in rituals, when needed.
The above picture is Ms. Doreen Valiente considered to be the Mother of modern Wicca. She worked with Gerald Gardner as his High Priestess.
The cup mentioned in the poem, refers to our chalice. The chalice is an old name for a cup or drinking vessel. Our juice, or water or wine, whatever is being used in ritual, is drunk from this container. It is part of the Witches Cakes and Ale ceremony, from which the Catholic practice known as Holy Communion comes from. Whereas the Catholics believe in transfiguration, and believe the wine and wafer actually transforms into the body and blood of their Christ, the practice of it, historically comes from the Pagan rite of cakes and ale.
In the cakes and ale ceremony, we also drink wine or juice from a chalice and eat bread. But we understand that the wine represents the essence of the Goddess as found in the vineyards and orchards, and we consume it while reciting "May you never thirst my sister or brother, or Lady" if it is being presented to the High Priestess. When we consume a small piece of bread or cake, we understand that it represents the sustenance of the God as He is found in the grains and food stuffs from the fields. We hand out small pieces during ritual while saying "May you never hunger my sister or brother, Lady or Lord" as the case may be. Pagans do not believe in transfiguration as we know the bread and wine are merely symbolic.
The pentacle, also known to many as the pentagram is used for protection. Now the pentagram is a five pointed star geometric shape. A pentacle is when that shape is made from some material, such s metal or wood, making it three dimensional and with a circle surrounding it. This is used in the center of the altar as an altar pentacle and is the focus point on the altar. It represents both the Goddess and God, all the elements, divine energy and it brings protection and by placing an object upon it, it will charge or empower the object with no further actions necessary. The altar pentacle can be as simple or as fancy as you desire.
The besom or broom, has ancient historical significance, and was first used as a tool of domestication of the woman. She would use it to keep the cottage clean, and to sweep away vermin and debris. The broom became associated with the witch in reference to flying centuries ago, when the first witch hunters started to interrogate suspected witches. We will get back to the broom in a moment, but let me say the following:
It was curious how all across Europe, that suspected witches, under torture and duress would all come out with the same stories of flying to Witches Sabbats, to dance with a tall, dark man, with a tall hat and sign his book. They all had the same stories of doing evil deeds and harming others. But to modern scholars this is no mystery, as the witch hunters, sent forth by the Catholic church in Rome all used the same book "The Malleus Maleficarum" also known as "The Witches Hammer" written by two Dominican Monks, which was a tutorial used by every witch hunter and detailed the procedures used to arrest, torture, interrogate and eventually kill suspected witches.
In this manual of horrors, it details very clearly the questions the witch hunters were to ask and the torture techniques to employ until the witch confessed. So of course the stories are the same. The manual used was the same all over Europe. Eventually these 'beliefs' written down in this book by the two Dominican Monks became the basis for almost all of the rumors, lies and legends that still surround witches today.
The broom was thought to be used as a mode of transport by witches from these early witch hunters and so they made the stories become "true" by confession under the most awful torture. As a side note, today we have a term "3rd degree" mostly in reference to burns. This term originated during the witch hunts and persecutions of the Medieval Era, from the 3 levels of torture inflicted on a suspected witch. The 3rd degree was the most advanced, as it is reported that no one could survive this level of torture. Confession, during this era, never saved a witch but only ended her torture by often equally cruel and barbarous methods of execution.
The broom or besom we use today, is not used in ritual to sweep the floor but to sweep the air around the circle. We start low, about a foot above the ground and using a sweeping motion go around the circle once, then go around again, this time with the broom at mid or waist level. Then a third time we go around with the broom at head height or a bit higher. This helps cleanse the area of stagnant, stale energy and prepares the area for ritual work.
We are free to openly use and display our tools today, in our modern society. We have laws which protect our religious practice and gives us religious freedoms. But in ancient times, a witches tools would be hidden amongst ordinary kitchen tools, so they would not stand out during a witch hunters search of the suspected witches home. Also in ancient days, although the pentagram was an ancient magickal symbol for many studying the Eastern religions, it was not found in the country witches cupboard of tools. She used what was practical, more than what was decorous.
For instance the boline, was a simple herb knife. It was a small sickle, that could hang on a cord from the waist and was readily used in the garden to cut herbs, as well as in the home to carve symbols in candles, or other necessary jobs requiring a blade. It is believed, with little historical evidence to back it up, that the boline had a white handle, while the athame had a black handle to differentiate between the two blades for ritual purposes. Again, this is more magickal, witchy lore as I have yet to find any firm historical documentation. But as always, I continue to research and look for more of our magickal ways in the faded mists of history.
As Samhain comes near, the Witches Sabbat of the end of the year, the last harvest and the first day of our New Year, all occurring on November 1st, please remember it is also our Day of the Dead. Our Memorial day if you will. A day to remember the souls of loved ones lost, but for myself, I also always remember the souls of those persecuted, tortured and murdered, many times for crimes they never committed, but whose torment eventually led to our ability to practice today the ancient ways of the wise ones. The Craft of the Wise, The Wise Women of the Village, The Cunning man's magick, and to learn the knowledge of the Old Crone. This Samhain, if you wish to remember and honor those who have gone before us, take a moment on Samhain Eve, October 31st, after dark and light a candle and give thanks.
There is so much legend and lore, magick and mayhem that I am so lucky to be able to share with you all.
I would like to thank a very dear, true friend (M.K.) for first suggesting this blog, many, many moons ago and for continuing to give me the encouragement and support to allow me to present my words to you every week and I hope to be able to do so for many moons to come.
Peace and Happiness - Ms.Faith
© 2010-2016 Faith M. McCann. Portions of this blog posting may include materials from my book “Enchantments School for the Magickal Arts First Year Magickal Studies.” For more information, see www.enchantmentsschool.com or go to the title of tonight's discussion and click, it will link you to my school's website. Please note that the copying and/or further distribution of this work without express written permission is prohibited.
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at Wednesday, October 26, 2016