Pagan Blog Project 2014
Leontes: “Oh, she’s warm!
If this be magic, let it be an art
Lawful as eating”
— William Shakespeare The Winter’s Tale
(Apologies for the lateness of this post. I’m getting caught up after being struck down with that horrid cold going around like wildfire in the Northeast.)
Witchcraft is frequently referred to as The Art. What do we mean by that? Witchcraft requires a few things of its adherents: Will, Knowledge, Bravery, Silence, as well as Creativity. (The first four comprise the “Witches’ Pyramid: To Know, To Will, To Dare and To Keep Silent.” The last is one of a few “unspoken” requirements.) As an art, Witchcraft has rules, much like other forms of art such as photography, painting, and sculpture, and the expression of those rules is what results in Witchcraft.
You must know how to focus your will. And by will, I do not mean Crowley’s definition of Will (the interplay between the deepest Self and the entire Universe), rather I mean what you want to accomplish. I mean what you will to have happen. This is not nearly as easy as one might think it is. For instance, if I am doing a candle working, while I may very well throw up a Circle and perform magic on the candle, to anoint, charge and prepare it for the Work ahead, that doesn’t mean my job is done once that I place that candle and light it. If I truly want that Work to be successful, I will be focusing on that Work while that candle burns. Sending the candle energy, checking on the candle, making sure it’s burning well, seeing the objective in my mind as often as possible, to help manifest that Work.
Now, I know how to prepare a candle. I know what kind of candle I prefer, what I might want to anoint it with for the job at hand, and how to charge it with my intent. But what if I can’t find the candle I need? Let’s say I’m looking to do a candle for healing work. Personally, I would want a 7 day yellow pullout in glass. Why? Because I find them easier to anoint (or carve if I am so inclined), and I like being able to get my hands all over the candle. But if I cannot find one? I’ll grab a 7 day poured yellow candle. If I can’t find that? a 7 day white. If I can’t find any of those or similar types? Well, Shabbat candles will work. But this is because I know the “rules.” I know what will work and what won’t.
Now, the purpose of this article is not to teach you the rules I’ve learned, but to establish that there are indeed rules in the Art, and like any other form of art, one must know the rules if one desires to break them.
Like other forms of art, creativity is involved in Witchcraft. Yes, even in British Traditional Witchcraft (BTW). In both the Traditions I belong to, we learn how to do things to the specifications of the Tradition. For some examples:
- How to prepare for Circle.
- How to erect a Circle.
- How to do magic in that Circle.
- How to invoke.
- How to dismiss.
- How to open the Circle.
Once I know how to do these things to the specifications I’m taught, then I can play. Because I know what has to be done, and how it should be done. This also means I also know how not to break the rules. This is actually even more important. This is part of To Know. To put it in another perspective:
If you’re a singer, you learn your scales. Yeah, you hate it, but your voice teacher keeps making you do them. Same with any instrument. You learn your fingering, and you get better at it. Once you learn those rules, you can play…learn how to harmonize, how to adjust keys, how to wing it. But you also know what doesn’t work. As a singer, if you’re a tenor, you know you can’t sing a soprano part. But you know you can adapt it to your voice. If you’re a painter, you know that mixing cerulean blue with a lemon yellow makes a different green than if you used a Hansa yellow and a Phthalo blue. But if you don’t know that first, you might end up with colors you weren’t expecting, or wanting. But if you only have the lemon yellow and cerulean blue, when you wanted Hansa and Phthalo, you then know what to expect.
Now, knowing what to do is great. Having the will to do it is also great. But can you Dare to do it? Do you have the moxie, the gumph, the balls, the ovaries, the whatever, to actually do what needs to be done? To make those changes in your life? To send that energy to a friend in need? To put that nasty neighbor or coworker’s name in the freezer to keep them away from you or your loved ones? Do you accept the consequences of your actions? Or lack of actions? It’s not all about just waving a wand, going *puf* and going on with your life. Just like in the physical world…for every action there is a reaction. Knowing that, and knowing what you should expect, how to mitigate it, whether it’s worth it or not. That’s Daring. We Dare all the time. We Dare when we go on a date. Or a job interview. Or even to the supermarket. Because being a Witch isn’t just about Circles and magic and ceremony. It’s about your life. Daring to live it on your terms, in accordance with your beliefs.
Keeping Silent. I never discuss what I do in Circle. Not unless you were there, or unless it especially concerns you. I also don’t discuss magic I do, again, unless you were there, or it concerns you and I feel you need to know something. I see a lot of requests for healing, for help, for prosperity work, and for job work (finding/keeping/help with) for people I love, people I barely know, and for people they’re associated with. I rarely, if ever, say I’m doing magic for them. I just do it if I feel it’s appropriate for me to do so (and admittedly, it usually is).
Now, when you know how things are done, you can get creative with it. Like I mentioned above–no green pullout candles? All you can find is a box of Shabbat candles? OK, then! You’re out of incense? Well, what do you have in the spice cabinet? Maybe even sprinkling a little scented oil in the pooled wax of a burning pillar candle. Sometimes it’s just about what you need to accomplish, and doing what need to with what you have to work with. That’s Art.