Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Eight Ways of Making Magic

Symbol for the Eight Ways of Making Magic
In the Gardnerian tradition of witchcraft (Wicca) there are said to be eight ways of raising power for magical purposes.  They are as follows.

  1. Meditation or concentration
  2. Chants, Spells, Invocations.
  3. Projection of the Astral Body, or Trance
  4. Incense, Drugs, Wine, etc.
  5. Dancing
  6. Use of the Cords
  7. The Scourge
  8. The Great Rite
You can combine many of these ways to produce more power.

To succeed in magic it is said you need the following five things:
  1. Intention. You must have the absolute will to succeed, the firm belief that you can do so and the determination to win through against all obstacles.
  2. Preparation. You must be properly prepared.
  3. Invocation. The Mighty Ones must be invoked.
  4. Consecration. The Circle must be properly cast and consecrated and you must have properly consecrated tools.
  5. Purification. You must be purified.
Note that just as there are eight ways of making magic, so are there eight sabbats in the wheel of the year, and just as there are five steps to magical success, so are there five points on the pentagram.  Eight and five are reoccurring sacred numbers in the Craft, and eight times five is forty, a number used in many magical applications.  For example, the scourge is often used in counts of forty.

Although I was trained and raised in a Gardnerian coven, and I value the insights and experiences I gained there I am now walking a different crooked path.  Let's analyze the eight ways of making magic and the five steps to success from an AFW point of view.

1. Meditation or concentration
Concentration on a subject is the most basic form of raising and sending energy.  The evil eye is nothing more than negative thoughts clarified through intent and projected through the sense of sight. Meditation is a deeper form of concentration, and can be enhanced through specific postures and gestures.  These postures can be compared to eastern yogic traditions although they have roots in Celtic forms of magic, such as the one-legged one-eyed stance which emulates the posture of the crane and the fachan for battle magic.  Fergus Kelly in The Guide To Early Irish Law makes a statement that helps define it as a magic that kills. Kelly writes:
"...some of their sorcery was effected through córrguinech, a term which seems to mean 'heron (or crane) killing', and apparently involved the recitation of a satire standing on one leg with one arm raised and one eye shut."
2. Chants, Spells, Invocations
This way of raising energy encompasses many different techniques, all of which have to do with the spoken word.  Chanting is the original idea behind "enchantment".  The words of a chant can reinforce the intent of the magic, or they can be seemingly nonsensical words with traditional meaning.  An example of this kind of chant is the popular so-called "Basque Witches Chant".

Eko, eko, Azarak
Eko, eko, Zomelak
Bazabi lacha bachabe
Lamac cahi achababe
Lamac lamac Bachalyas
Cabahagy sabalyos
Lagoz atha cabyolas
Samahac atha famolas

Spells, just as they sound, were once written or "spelled" documents detailing the results desired. This form of magic was especially popular in ancient Rome, when "spells" would be written on lead tablets and given to one of the elements. (burning, tossing into water, burying, etc.)  Nowadays a spell is any set of actions that brings about change through an act of magic.  They often utilize components with specific correspondences to the desired outcome.  Hoodoo uses its own traditional recipes and spell components to work magic. 

Invocation is a special kind of vocalization used to invite the presence of the Old Ones.  Also included in this is the concept of evocation.  Invocation is the inviting of a spirit into oneself. Evocation is the inviting of a spirit to be present in local space.  Invocation is a carefully learned skill in many traditions.  It demands trust and an understanding of the other realms.  The spirits that we work with in our tradition are ancient and powerful.  Safety and discipline are paramount during an invocation.

3. Projection of the Astral Body, or Trance
Projection of the astral body is a technique taught in several ways in our tradition.  One can "fly" out on a broomstick or other gandreigh by use of an ointment, potion, or shamanic training.  The fetch is an etheric construct used for projecting the astral body into that it may wander in that form.

In truth, all of the ways of making magic seek to bring the magician into a form of trance, even if it is very light.  Through trance we perceive other realms and can manipulate the energy links that connect all things as one. Drumming and guided meditation are two ways that trance can a achieved. Many of the following ways of making magic also assist in achieving trance.

Amanita Muscaria
4. Incense, Drugs, Wine, etc.
Entheogens have a long and storied history in the Craft, particularly the Solanaceae. They have been used in flying ointments, transformation elixirs, herbal incenses, smokes, anointing oils, washes, and any mixture you can think of.  Also popular in certain circles are amanita muscaria, wormwood, damiana, hashish, syrian rue, and countless others. Wine, of course, is central to the Red Meal, and also serves as a gentle way to let slip our egos and find ourselves outside of consensus reality when used in moderation.  All of these substances are dangerous, and several of them are also illegal.  This is certainly one of the ways of magic that should not be attempted by the untrained witch.

5. Dancing
Dancing may be the oldest form of celebration and communication.  It is central of the raising of power through the treading of the mill.  The mill is tread by moving widdershins with a lamed step over ground where the compass has been laid.  More vigorous treading of the mill can happen in large groups where the spiral is danced inward and outward in a kind of follow-the-leader procession.  Dancing in circles around a bonfire is an ancient and pan-cultural tradition.  This form of raising power can be witnessed at many sabbats and festivals around the world.

Warricking in preparation for scourging
6. Use of the Cords
7.  The Scourge
These, also known as warricking and stropping, are often used in combination to produce the desired trance state.  The cords are used to slightly restrict blood flow to certain areas of the body while the person being bound is made to stand or sit in uncomfortable positions also used to restrict circulation.

The cords are also used in knot magic, and as a symbol for the magical link.  Through the contemplation of certain knots, plaits, and other features of the cord a trance state can be achieved much like in the use of a rosary or prayer beads.

The scourge is used almost always in a light stroking motion to encourage blood flow into certain areas.  Only in extreme circumstances is the scourge used in anger or with force. Light, rhythmic application of the scourge can produce trance just as would a steady drumbeat, or the use of the lamed step.

8. The Great Rite
The Great Rite in full is the act of sexual congress between two individuals who have each invoked a God or Goddess.  Another term for this act is the hieros gamos. What Gardner was actually getting at by including this as one of the ways of making magic was the ideal of sexual energy being used as a conduit for magic.  Anyone can do this, partnered or not, invoked or not. It is quite popular in modern chaos magic circles, particularly those influenced by the work of A.O. Spare.  In our tradition we refer to the use of sex magic as drewery.

1 comment:

  1. Hmmm ... looks like we'll need a whole article on the use of cords. =) (I've been thinking of this, anyway. There are actually several articles rolled into this one title, aren't there?)


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