Well, no one really knows, but received wisdom defines it as the use of the will to effect change, and recognises two types: natural and high, or ritualistic. In natural magic, witches emphasise folk wisdom. They may cast spells and use candles, herbs, wax images, crystals and scrying or divination objects such as crystal balls and dowsing rods, as well as more familiar psychological techniques such as meditation, visualisation and repetition to focus their minds on the effects they want to manifest.
Natural magic is craftwork, and its practitioners regard themselves as craftsmen and women.
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They are in The Craft. High or ritualistic magic tends to focus more on ceremony, ritual and invocation. Alchemists were generally high magicians, but high magic's most famous son is probably the turn-of-the-century mystic and occultist Aleister Crowley. Most ritualistic magic is conducted in groups or covens. Witchcraft's own religion, Wicca, makes much use of it.
Does magic work? Graham King thinks so. Four years ago, King sold his successful business making specialist cameras for archive libraries, got rid of the Jag and the country cottage, burned his collection of silk ties and bought the Museum Of Witchcraft, Boscastle, on the north coast of Cornwall, which he now runs as a going concern. Fifty thousand visitors come to the museum every year to peer at the cases of charms, amulets, poppets wax dolls , wands, athames ceremonial knives , scourges ceremonial whips and talismans.
Having spent 20years as a scientist, technician and businessman, King now devotes his life to witchery. Look, I have been employed in the electronics industry, and I don't know how electricity really works, either, but it does, right? Hands up who really understands how the telly makes pictures, or the microwave makes dinners.
As for the VCR. Debate as to whether magic is a psychological or supernatural power, or a bit of both, boils like a brothy cauldron in the witching community. Vivianne Crowley no relation to Aleister, incidentally is in no doubt. Even the British Psychological Society has become interested in the ability of spiritual practices to manifest healing powers, and in clairvoyance, psychometry [the ability to divine by touching something] and telepathy, those techniques psychologists call parapsychology.
According to Crowley, Wiccans simply harness and develop these parapsychological techniques. Which is both disappointing no fabulous supernatural phenomena and intriguing anyone can do it. When I told her that some witches claimed to be able to turn lightbulbs into frogs, she just laughed and said, "Rubbish! The obvious question remains. And why isn't every witch a millionaire?
Or immortal? Ah, well. For one thing, witches are human, as fallible as doctors or politicians and we all know how fallible they are. Most witches just aren't all that competent, and the ones who are tend not to mouth off about it. Not so long ago, a very public attempt by the self-proclaimed king of the witches, Kevin Carlyon, to prevent the building of the Channel Tunnel by burning an effigy of a train raised a good few nudge-nudge, wink-winks in the pubs around Lewes, East Sussex, Carlyon's home town, and knocked something of a dent in the reputation of The Craft.
These days, most witches have learned to be more modest about their powers. Then there's the responsibility. If I waved a wand, I'd just be disempowering you. King recently cast spells for a couple who were finding it hard to conceive, and "baby Sean arrived nine months later". On the other hand, "I only get involved with things where there's real need. Someone who just wants a new boyfriend can sort themselves out.
What about black magic? Officially, Wicca operates a no-harm principle, the so-called Wiccan Rede, but King claims that "the principle is recent and not many witches stick to it". King himself admits to having cast spells with "broken mirrors and effigies and coffins to warn people to behave well. The circumstances haven't yet arisen where I might actually curse someone, but that's not to say there are no such circumstances. Rands isn't so circumspect. In the odd years she's been a witch and a civil servant, qualified nurse, nanny , she's found herself in the hexing business twice.
I'm old-fashioned in that way. An eye for an eye. I cursed one man who was forcing his sexual attentions on women and he's now got a very nasty incurable skin disease. That might not have been my doing, of course, it might have happened anyway. That said, most witches hesitate to use black magic because they believe in the threefold boomerang - that their actions will return to them three times over. Since sending her victim a skin disease, Rands' own health has taken a downturn. Cursing and hexing are partly what gives witchcraft a bad name, of course.
All the same, there's a reluctance among many witches to talk freely. You can hardly blame them for having a persecution complex. Somewhere in the region of 40,, mostly women, were murdered in Britain during the great witch-hunts, for an assortment of evils ranging from spinsterhood and warts to ergot poisoning.
Ergot is a fungus that infects rye, causing convulsions and hallucinations in anyone who eats it. There is now plenty of evidence to suggest that the symptoms of the "possessions" at Salem and elsewhere - in the UK in East Anglia especially - during the witch-hunt period were the result of ergot poisoning.
Even now, in our secular age, we can't quite make up our minds about The Craft. Though the Witchcraft Act was repealed in , we're still edgy about witching. Lest we forget, it was only 15 years ago that we had our own Salem, with the tabloids screaming blue murder over supposed acts of satanic abuse by witches and Devil worshippers. Even though a government enquiry into the whole affair found that ritual abuse "has never been substantiated by empirical evidence", the public remains willing to lump witchcraft in with Satanism, as though the two were some devilish double act. Earlier this year, evidence of ritual activity was discovered on the hills overlooking the Meon Valley, near Southampton.
Wax had been dripped on to the ground from candles and, buried in a circle, investigators uncovered 12 dead rats. Shock and horror! Wax drips and dead rats.
Unfortunately, discrimination against Wiccans and pagans is alive and well, tinged with ignorance and paranoia. Drama teacher Ralph Morse was recently suspended from his job at Shenfield high school in Essex after admitting to being youth officer for the Pagan Federation and a practising witch he was later reinstated. The school's headteacher, John Fairhurst, issued a statement saying, "We completely and unequivocally reject their world of witchcraft and magic.
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In the US, things are even worse. Despite a constitutional guarantee of freedom of speech and religion, Harry Potter our own dear HP! The rows of chain stores and discount outlets piled high with pointy Hallowe'en hats and broomsticks are okay, though.lininomatnetf.gq/map6.php
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That's just business. Thankfully, witches appear not to have returned the religious bigotry. Having made the journey from Catholic to witch, Rands insists, "there's not much distance between them. They share the same sense of ritual. I would visualise him and ask for his assistance. I don't think he's the son of God, but he's a pretty good witch. The next decade could see Wicca completely throw off its associations with the occult "occult" means hidden and go mainstream.
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Which would no doubt please its founder, Gerald Gardner Claiming to have been initiated in the "Old Ways" by a crone named Dorothy Clutterbuck in the New Forest in , Gardner published Witchcraft Today soon after the repeal of the Witchcraft Act in and effectively founded what has become Wicca, the witches' religion. A mildly eccentric ex-colonial civil servant whose influences ranged from Hinduism to folk magic to freemasonry, Gardner conceived of a celebratory religion whose focus was on the power of the natural world.
Wiccan rituals generally begin with the drawing of a magic circle, offerings to the elements and the four directions, and continue with a series of rituals, incantations and chants whose power rests in the symbolic marriage of male and female. But does that amount to a religion? Vivianne Crowley says it does: "A religion is a set of ritual acts and practices invoking or calling up the divine.
By that definition, Wicca is undoubtedly a religion. One problem with Gardner's work, however, was that, in order to give Wicca the authority he felt it deserved, he couched its rituals and incantations in purple prose, stuffing in grandiose archaisms wherever he could fit them, so that, to the unconvinced, Wicca can seem rather absurd, all thees and thous and thereforeuntos.
Even the Wiccan salutation - Blessed Be - is tinged with hey-nonny-no. Another problem is that Gardner appears to have been a bit of a perv. It was he who introduced into Wiccan ritual scourging, the practice of using flails or whips lightly to scourge the skin as an aid to concentration.
This idea was not new - some Hindu and Christian sects still practise it - but there was no evidence that it had ever been part of witchcraft traditions. And his ideas about working "skyclad" or naked also raised some eyebrows. Neither of these things appears to have put Wiccans off. Its feminism and emphasis on individual responsibility matches people's perception of the world. But, I say, nudity, magic, the mysteries of nature, it's all a bit un-British, isn't it?
On the contrary, says Ronald Hutton, professor of history at Bristol University. We are the first nation to have industrialised and to have been acutely cut off from the natural world. Wicca is a response to that, a countercultural religion allowing people to link back with the land. A product of our history it may be, but does Wicca have a future?
Since its inception 50 years ago, it has branched off and taken on local flavours. There are now radical feminist, gay and all-male Wiccan groups. They're attracted to participatory ritual, and there's a hunger for a spiritual system that enhances lives by bringing about an inner change. And Wicca is celebratory. Wiccans themselves are optimistic. As Crowley says, "Wicca has no paid leadership, no buildings, no capital: it's like a huge voluntary group, but it's survived 50 years.
Wicca is having a strong influence on rave and rock culture, eco-pagans and road protesters. The correspondence between magic and virtual reality means it also appeals to infotech workers. It's a religion for self-employed and self-reliant people, artisans and individualists, and it is currently finding its role as the clergy or inner ring to these groups. The 90s saw a remarkable pulling together of all the pagan strands.
No one I spoke to had any ideas about the tarantula and the crow, by the way. The woman in my local pet shop wasn't missing a tarantula, though she pointed out that they are great escape artists. So I've decided the tarantula was a runaway pet.
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But as for the crow, well, I really don't know what to think about the crow. According to Cassandra Latham, the rules of spell-casting are: don't dabble but do persist; do not start anything that you can't finish; be aware that anything you wish for in another person may come back to you; and be precise. However, the pesticide incidentally harms the water table, the workers, the people who eat the sprayed foods, etc. Think through the repercussions. Don't do large-scale magick recklessly. Weather magick will change the natural pattern. You could be responsible for far-off droughts or floods, or serious disruption of local weather patterns.
Be respectful of others; don't do magick in public. Your magick-making should take place somewhere other people are not likely to interrupt you, and your spells are best kept out of sight. This is partly a matter of respect for others' space. And partly to keep your magick spells strong and on-focus. Clean up your magickal residue. Release the directions and deities, erase signs and symbols, and open the circle before you leave.
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With Bright Blessings,. Like this article? Please give it a thumbs-up in Stumbleupon. Help others find this resource. Thanks so much! All ritual is magick ritual Sometimes ritual falls flat, and sometimes it flies you to the Heavens on diamond wings! Here are some ritual-magick tips. There are certain boundaries of behaviour that are expected of us. But how do we know how to behave unless someone lays out the guidelines?
Some call it hubris to imagine being peers of God. But it's the most natural thing in the world to become peers of the Goddess! Well, you're in luck, because I'm going to show you ways that really work. I felt there was a lot missing from the Wiccan Rede -- specifically, the more spiritual aspects of Wicca.
So I wanted to add these elements, since in my opinion the spirituality is the most important part! And there are many methods you can use.
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