The Smart Witch

Introduction to Magic




Introduction

One thing magical practitioners have in common throughout history and around the world today is curiosity – the quest for knowledge. We are the original inquiring minds who want to know. There is a reason that so many of the first books printed were grimoires – books of magic – on the whole, magical practitioners are great readers.

There is only one thing better than learning from a book, and that is learning from one another. I have created this space in keeping with the inquiring, questing minds and spirits of magical practitioners. I hope you come away with ideas and information that intrigue and inspire you, and that you find useful.

As you tap into your own energy and continue the evolution of your repertoire of magical power, do feel free to join me on my Facebook page and offer your thoughts and experiences.




The Nature of Magic

Magic, at its most basic, is the science of Earth’s hidden powers. Its practice is also an art. Magic is a science in that performing a spell requires research and awareness of the methods of magic. It is an art in the sense that you must follow your intuition and be creative. In the practice of magic, you will blend art and science to bend the natural forces to your will and bring about your desired outcomes.

While there are a host of schools, philosophies, methods and traditions related to the practice of magic – folk magic, natural magic, ceremonial magic and sympathetic magic for example – all share a fundamental metaphysical wisdom. This wisdom, which is common to all magical tradition and knowledge, is that there is an inherent energy radiating from Earth and from all living things. This magical power, this capacity for magic, radiates from people, animals, plants and stones. It is the existence of this power that defines what, in magical terms, is considered “alive.”

To be in the presence of life’s radiant energy is to receive blessings. Although some, throughout time, have learned to manipulate magic powers for malevolent purposes, magic is intrinsically a positive, sacred energy. The goal of magic is to tap into an energy so generous and powerful that all aspects of life improve. The power can be transferred, transmitted, increased and amplified.

Power is contained within a book, plant or crystal regardless of whether a human taps in to it. The most potent magical books, crystals and tools retain and radiate their power and energy forever. So, magic is a partnership between human and other Earth energies. Whether magic is used for good or ill depends upon your intent, not the inherent nature of power.

Everyone and everything that exist naturally on Earth, and whatever is constructed from naturally occurring parts, possess the capacity for power. This power expresses itself simultaneously on all planes – physical, mental, spiritual, emotional and sexual. So claim and affirm your birthright! Declare your spells in the present tense. Speak your charms as if your intention is already achievedand so it is. Allow your communication with the Lord and the Lady to occur in the present, in the now.



Some Types of Magic

There are different types of magic, some common ones are:

  • Folk Magic. Includes old superstitions and folk practices and continues to have power today. Examples include tossing salt over your shoulder or burying a statue of St. Joseph upside down in your yard to speed the sale of your house.
  • Ceremonial Magic. Entails performing rituals using specific props and speaking elaborate words. This is also known as High Magic.
  • Sympathetic Magic. The use of objects that represent your desired outcome. As part of a spell casting, you might, for example, turn on your shower to make it rain.
  • Natural Magic. The use of herbs, crystals and candles to direct energy. This type of magic incorporates the Sun, Moon and planets.
Fundamental to the philosophy of these types of magic is the concept that anything occurring naturally on Earth – human, plant, animal, stone, metal or element – is alive according to magical definition. Anything that radiates magical power in any degree is perceived to be alive.

The manner in which different entities are alive, however, is not identical. A stone, for example, is alive in a different way than an animal.
Those things that lack life – plastic bottles and mass-produced goods, for example – contain no power, and so are of little value in the practice of magic.



The Ethics of Magic

Practicing ethical magic will prevent the violation of other natural laws, and it will protect you from undesirable magical backlash. Many who practice magiceven if they do not follow the path of Wiccaembrace the ethic of the Wiccan Rede, which first appeared in 1974 as a poem in Earth Religion News.

The Rede usually is summarized by the last two lines: 

   "Bide the Wiccan Law Ye Must,
     In Perfect Love and Perfect Trust,
     Eight Words the Wiccan Rede Fulfill,
     An it Harm None, Do What Ye Will."

Harm includes that which may accrue to the practitioner. It also is considered to be anything that manipulates another person’s free will.

So, this simple ideal of ethicsdo what you want, so long as it harms nonecontains an unwritten condition, that is: do nothing that will harm yourself. Conduct oneself as if in a circle of light, taking on the tasks of preserving and bettering the world, with love and concern for your highest good, for others and for the Earth.

A corollary to the ideal of “an’ it harm none” is the Rule of Three, a tenet held by some practitioners of magic. It states that whatever energy – positive or negative – you put out into the world will be returned to you three times.




The All

Before time, before people, before the creation of the Earth, there was the All. The All existed in silence, in stillness, in knowing. The All is both female and male. No part is greater than the other. The two are twin and of equal form.

From the union of the twin parts of the All came the seeds of life. The Goddess and God chose physical symbols to remind us of their presence. The Goddess chose the Moon, luminous, radiant and calm, yet changeable. The God chose the Sun, fiery, strong and bright. 

In witchcraft traditions, we pay homage to both the Lady and the Lord, the Goddess and the God, as manifestations of the All. In most faiths, one worships the God or Gods of that faith; but in working magic, you may choose the deity or deities with whom you will work. You even can choose which aspect of deity to work with, because all deities from all cultures are seen as facets of the All.

You may choose to work with powerful Goddess Isis, who always is victorious, although she fights not. Or with Brigid, the Celtic Goddess of healing, who can be called upon to help in enduring hardship. Or with Cernunnos, the horned God, who embodies a raw state of wild and untamed virility. Or with the handsome, athletic Lugh, the God of magic, art, music, strength, beauty, healing, courage and intelligence.

Perhaps you will be called to be with the dark Goddess Morrigan, who will take care of wrongdoings. Or to Aradia, the Queen of the Witches in the Italian tradition, who may be called upon to protect any witch. Or with Quan Yin, the Japanese Goddess of mercy, who will protect you from danger.

Your may be drawn to Aphrodite, Goddess of love and beauty for matters of love. Or to Kali, the Goddess of Earth, Nature, destruction and creation, who will renew you and clear old problems so that healing can begin and new endeavors prosper. You may even choose to work with aspects of Jesus, understanding that he, too, represents a facet of the All.

So, the Allthe Goddess and the God, the Lady and the Lordis present in all beings and in all things. And though we work with deities, we do not beg from them.




Blessed Be

“Blessed be” is a traditional salutation in many contemporary magical traditions. Use of the phrase indicates that you wish good things upon the one to whom you are speaking. The phrase appears in some Pagan paths, but it’s most likely to be used in a Neo-Wiccan context.

The phrase is part of a longer ritual, which is included in some initiation ceremonies. During that particular rite, the High Priestess or High Priest delivers what is known as the Five Fold Kiss, and recites:

Blessed be thy feet,
which have brought thee in these ways,
Blessed be thy knees,
that shall kneel at the sacred altar,
Blessed be thy womb,
without which we would not be,
Blessed be thy breasts,
formed in beauty,
Blessed be thy lips,
that shall utter the Sacred Names of the gods.

Circe Offering the Cup to Odysseus
      John William Waterhouse


“Magic is older than writing. So nobody knows how it started.”

                     - Zora Neale Hurston







The Charge of the Goddess


The Charge of the Goddess is an invocation frequently used in ritual.
When I have departed from this world,
Whenever ye have need of anything,
Once in a month, and when the Moon is full,
Ye shall assemble in some desert place,
Or in a forest all together join
To adore the potent spirit of your queen,
My Mother, great Diana. She who fain
Would learn all sorcery yet has not won
Its deepest secrets. Them my mother
Teach her, in truth, all things as yet unknown
And ye shall all be free from slavery,
And so ye shall be free in everything;
And as the sign that ye are truly free,
Ye shall be naked in your rites, both men
And women also: this shall last until
The last of your oppressors shall be dead:
And ye shall make a game of Benevento,
Extinguishing the lights, and after that
Shall hold your supper thus.

By Doreen Valiente as adapted by Starhawk



The Charge of the God

A companion piece to the Charge of the Goddess.

Listen the words of the Great Father,
Who of old was called Osiris, Adonis, Zeus, Thor, Pan, Cernunnos,
Herne, Lugh and by many other names:

"My Law is Harmony with all things.
Mine is the secret that opens the gates of life
And mine is the dish of salt of the Earth,
That is the body of Cernunnos,
That is the eternal circle of rebirth.
I give the knowledge of life everlasting,
And beyond death I give the promise of regeneration and renewal.
I am the sacrifice, the father of all things,
And my protection blankets the earth."

Hear the words of the dancing God,
The music of whose laughter stirs the winds,
Whose voice calls the seasons:

"I who am the Lord of the Hunt and the Power of the Light,
Sun among the clouds and the secret of the flame,
I call upon your bodies to arise and come unto me.
For I am the flesh of the earth and all it's beings.
Through me all things must die and with me are reborn.
Let my worship be in the body that sings,
For behold all acts of willing sacrifice are my rituals.
Let there be desire and fear, anger and weakness,
Joy and peace, awe and longing within you.
For these too are part of the mysteries found within yourself, within me,
All beginnings have endings, and all endings have beginnings."

By Janet and Stewart Farrar



The Charge of the God

A different version.

I am the radiant King of the Heavens,
flooding the Earth with warmth and encouraging the hidden
seed of creation to burst forth into manifestation.

I lift my shining spear to light the lives of all beings
and daily pour forth my golden rays upon the Earth,
putting to flight the powers of darkness.

I am the spirit of all beasts wild and free.
I run with the stag and soar as a sacred falcon against
the shimmering sky.

The ancient woods and wild places emanate my powers,
the birds of the air sing of my sanctity.

I am the harvest, offering up grain and fruits beneath
the sickle of time so that all may be nourished.
For without planting there can be no harvest;
without winter there can be no spring.

I am the thousand named Son of creation.
Know that by all names I am the same.

The spirit of the horned stag in the wild, the endless harvest.
See in the yearly cycle of festivals my birth, death and
rebirth and know that such is the destiny of all creation..

I am the spark of life, the radiant Sun, the giver of peace and rest.
I send my rays of blessings to warm the hearts and strengthen the minds of all.

Author Unknown





The Wheel of the Year

We have eight seasonal celebrations – Sabbats – per year. Together, these celebrations comprise the Wheel of the Year. There are four Greater or Grand Sabbats and four Lesser Sabbats or Cross Quarters.

The Greater Sabbats represent the transitional stages of life we – and the Earth – go through: conception and birth, sexual development, middle age and death.
The Lesser Sabbats celebrate the solstices and equinoxes representing the four stages of life: youth, maturity, old age and death.

Celebrations of the different Sabbats are filled with symbolism that represents the stages and transitions of the Wheel of the Year. The God and Goddess during the Sabbats demonstrate these stages and transitions. An example is Yule. It is the Winter Solstice when the God is born of the Goddess and the cycle of life begins. Just as it is the time of year that the days begin to become longer and life will soon return to the land.

 



Sabbats

Celebrate the Sabbats - they are holidays that celebrate Deity.

In the Northern Hemisphere:
  • Samhain - October 31
  • Yule - December 21 (give or take a few days)
  • Imbolc - February 2
  • Ostara - March 21 (give or take a few days)
  • Beltane - May 1
  • Summer Solstice - June 21 (give or take a few days)
  • Lughnassad - August 2
  • Mabon - September 21 (give or take a few days)
In the Southern Hemisphere:
  • Samhain - April 30
  • Yule - June 21 (give or take a few days)
  • Imbolc - August 2
  • Ostara - September 21 (give or take a few days)
  • Beltane - November 1
  • Summer Solstice - December 21 (give or take a few days)
  • Lughnassad - February 2
  • Mabon - March 21 (give or take a few days)










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