Search This Blog

Tuesday, 30 August 2005

Witches And Broomsticks Use And History

Witches And Broomsticks Use And History Cover
The Broomstick...

The traditional companion of the witches was the enchanted broomstick, used for their wild and unholy flights through the night and probably to some distant Witches' Sabbat. This is one of the first images you get to see as a child and this was doubtlessly believed by the prominent rulers of Europe. The number of actual confessions of witches doing so is remarkably small. Usually confessions state that they went to the Sabbat on foot or on horseback.

Legends of witches flying on brooms goes back as far as the beginning of the Common Era. The earliest known confession of a Witch flying on a broom was in 1453, when Guillaume Edelin of St. Germain-en-Laye, near Paris, stated that he had done so. In 1563, Martin Tulouff of Guernsey said to have seen his aged mother straddle a broomstick and whisk up the chimney and out of the house on it, saying "Go in the name of the Devil and Lucifer over rocks and thorns". In 1598 Claudine Boban and her mother, witches of the province of Franche-Comt, in eastern France, also spoke of flying up the chimney of a stick. The belief of flying off though the chimney became firmly embedded in popular tradition, although only a few people ever mentioned doing so. It has been suggested that this idea was connected with the old custom of pushing a broom up the chimney to indicate the absence of the housewife. The Germanic Goddess Holda or Holle is also connected with the chimney.

Other indications that lead to the popular belief that witches actually flew on broomsticks can be found in an old custom of dancing with a broom between the legs, leaping high in the air. In Reginald Scot's book, The Discoverie of Witchcraft, published in 1584, we find a similar description:

"At these magical assemblies, the witches never failed to dance; and in their dance they sing these words, 'Har, har, divell divell, dance here dance here, plaie here plaie here, Sabbath, Sabbath'. And whiles they sing and dance, ever one hath a broom in her hand, and holdeth it up aloft." Scot quoted these descriptions of Witch rites from a French demonologist, Jean Bodin, who made observations of a kind of jumping dance, riding on staffs. These customs might have contributed to the popular picture of broomstick-riding witches through the air.

In 1665, from the confession of Julian Cox, one of the Somerset coven, mentioned "that one evening she walks out about a Mile from her own House and there came riding towards her three persons upon three Broom-staves, born up about a years and a half from the ground. Two of them she formerly knew, which was a Witch and a Wizard".

Where do these beliefs come from?

Some authors claim that the oldest known source of witches flying on broomsticks is a manuscript called Le Champion des Dames by Martin Lefranc, 1440. This might be one of the oldest images representing a hag on a broomstick, but it is certainly not the first. A wall painting from the 12th century in Schlesswig Cathedral (Germany) shows the Norse deity Frigg riding her staff.

If we really dig a bit deeper into history, we'll find that from the Roman world there are reports that mention witches flying on broomsticks as well as having used ointments, as early as the first century. They were called Straigae (Barnowl) and the Lamiae from Greek culture had similar characteristics. Later in Roman history, the goddess Diana was the leader of the Wild Hunt:

"It is also not to be omitted that some wicked women, perverted by the Devil, seduced by illusions and phantasm of demons, believe and profess themselves in the hours of the night to ride upon certain beasts with Diana, the goddess of pagans, and an innumerable multitude of women, and in the silence of the dead of the night to traverse great spaces of earth, and to obey her commands as of their mistress, and to be summoned to her service on certain nights". (See: Canon Episcopi).

Similar beliefs existed in many parts of Europe. From Norse mythology, we know that the army of women, lead by Odin (Wodan), called the Valkyries, was said to ride through the skies on horses, collecting the souls of the dead. In continental Germanic areas, the goddess Holda or Holle was also said to lead the Wild Hunt and is connected to chimneys and witchcraft. Berchta or Perchta, another Germanic goddess, which can be identified with Holda, has similar characteristics.

Again in Celtic Traditions, the Horned God Cernunnos, and/or Herne the Hunter was leader of the Wild Hunt and the Scottish Witch Goddess Nicneven was also said to fly through the night with her followers. Eastern Europe sources also have a wealth of folklore about witches flying through the air. So flying through the air, evidently, was a deeply rooted mythological theme, associated with the free roaming of the spirit, the separation of soul and body.


The broomstick is a female and male symbol, "the rod which penetrated the bush". Its symbolism and interpretation is therefore purely sexual.

Broomstick Weddings

"To marry over the broomstick," "jump the besom", was an old-time form of marriage, in which both parties jumped over a broomstick to signify that they were joined in common-law union. Also in the Netherlands, one can still find the old saying "over de bezem trouwen" (marrying over the broomstick). At gypsy wedding ceremonies, the bride and groom jump backwards and forwards over a broomstick. A besom used to be placed before the doorway, the married couple had to jump over it without dislodging the broom, from the street into their new home. At any time within a year, this process could be reversed to dissolve the marriage by jumping backwards. All this had to take place before several witnesses.

In folk-belief, like that in Yorkshire, it was unlucky for an unmarried girl to step over a broomstick because it meant that she would be a mother before she was a wife. Light-hearted wags used to delight in putting broomsticks in the path of unsuspecting virgins.


Artificial Phallus

There are hints of its use as an artificial penis or dildo. In a curious old book, A Dictionary of Slang, Jargon and Cant, by Albert BarrSre and Charles Godfrey Leland (1897-1899), we are told that the slang term in those days for a dildo or artificial penis was "a broom-handle", and the female genitals were known vulgarly as "the broom". To "have a brush" was to have sexual intercourse. Noteworthy is the evidence from Witch trials mentioning the "cold hard member of the Devil himself". In 1662, Isabel Gowdie, accused of
witchcraft, made a confession which could suggest that some sort of artificial phallus of horn or leather may have been used:

"His members are exceeding great and long; no man's members are so long and big as they are....(he is) a meikle, black, rough man, very cold, and I found his nature as cold within me as spring-well water...He is abler for us that way than any man can be, only he is heavy like a malt-sack, a huge nature, very cold, as ice."

Broomsticks and Ointments

That ointments used to induce astral projection has been known for a long time. Therefore the belief of witches flying away on their brooms probably has its true origin in this shamanic practice of applying narcotic herbs. There are numerous paintings, engraving and woodcuts from witches, anointing themselves, before flying off to the Sabbat. There are also quite a lot of confessions of ointments being applied to leave the body and fly off. These confessions sometimes show an unawareness that they were not actually flying, but often it is obvious that the witches knew that the ointments they used had the effects requited for leaving the body and making spiritual journeys. These practices we now call astral projection, were obviously known throughout large parts of the world, but especially worthy evidence comes from French and Italian records.

There is also a hint of use of besoms and sticks as a means to insert the witches unguent into the vagina to potentate the aphrodisiac effects and for optimal absorption and effect, while serving as an artificial penis.

The confessions of a woman named Antoine Rose, a Witch of Savoy (France) who was tortured and tried in 1477, stated that "The first time she was taken to the synagogue (Sabbat) she saw many men and women there, enjoying themselves and dancing backwards. The Devil, whose name was Robinet, was a dark man who spoke in a hoarse voice. Kissing Robinet's foot in homage, she renounced God and the Christian faith. He put his mark on her, on the little finger of her left hand, and gave her a stick, 18 inches long, and a pot of ointment. She used to smear the ointment on the stick, put it between her legs and say "Go, in the name of the Devil, go!" At once she would be carried though the air to the synagogue."

Alice Kyteler, a famous Irish Witch of the early 14th century, was supposed to have owned a staff "on which she ambled and galloped through thick and thin, when and in what manner she listed, after having greased it with the ointment which was found in her possession."

Book and Article Resources:

An ABC of Witchcraft by Doreen Valiente, 1973. De Benedanti: Hekserij en Vruchtbaarheidsriten in de 16e & 17e Eeuw by Carlo Ginzburg, 1966, 1986. Encyclopedia of Witchcraft & Demonology, 1974. Europe's Inner Demons: The Demonization of Christians in Medieval Christendom by Norman Cohn, 1975, 1973. Heksen, Ketters en Inquisiteurs by Arie Zwart en Karel Braun, 1981. Practical Magic in the Northern Traditon by Nigel Pennick, 1989. The History of Witchcraft by Montague Summers, London, 1927. Witchcraft, A Tradition Renewed by Doreen
Valiente and Evan Jones, Phoenix Publishing, 1990. Witchcraft & Demonology by Francis X. King, 1987, and various online resources and articles...

Books in PDF format to read:

Patricia Telesco - A Witchs Beverages And Brews Magick Potions Made Easy
Kathryn Paulsen - Witches Potions And Spells
Alfred Thompson - Magic And Mystery A Popular History

Tags: kabbalah pythagorean scholarship  the pride project  witch milk  september mabon autumn  occult  role witchcraft  

The Staff

The Staff Cover
The Staff is generally known as a male mystery. This means that females were not taught the skills necessary to make or consecrate a Staff. However, even the most closely guarded secrets often get out, and today females can make and use a Staff during ritual. Sometimes it is frowned upon, but it is generally accepted as any other working tool of a Witch.

In yesteryears, the Staff was used spear-fashion, to hunt animals and fish. Because it was such a powerful tool it became shrouded in mystery. The priestess females tended to the homefires and the cooking, but food provision and the tools used therein were male mysteries. Women had much to do, and silently let it fall to their men.

By the time more efficient weapons had been devised, such as bows and arrows, the Staff became of use as a walking stick. Canes are generally used by older, wiser people, and perhaps the story of the "magic walking stick" came about because some old apothecary
had a cane to help him in his old age.

By the time the Middle Ages came along, the Staff had been adopted by the Christian church. They believed in magical staffs, as seen in the Story of Moses' magickal stick turning into snakes. And the Christian church decided that if they had staffs, none other could, and the posession of anything looking like a "tool of the devil" resulted in land, money, and status being taken away, as well as the threat of death by hanging or fire. Witches and magicians of the times would make their magickal staffs into brooms, by tying twigs onto the bottom, and using it as a broom. This is how the theory of the witch's broom came about.

Nowadays, when times are a little less threatening, we can carry staffs like the original shamans and villiage priests did. We can gussy them up and hang doodads on them, polish and varnish them, carve runes and mystical symbols on them, and no one really cares. Many Pagans, Witches, and people of other religions carry fancy staffs with them to gatherings.

My Staff

I made my staff fairly simply. I found a branch that seemed to me to be perfect for the task , and I stripped off all of the bark. Because I was using Chinese Cherrywood, underneath the bark was a lovely pale cream colour of wood. I eagerly tore off the remainder of the bark , but was soon dismayed to see that the wood at the top of the staff, where I had started peeling, was turning a dull reddish colour. As the wood dried, it's colour deepened. At first I was none to happy, but I eventually grew, through working on the staff, to like it much better than that creamy colour.

After all of the bark was off, I gathered it all up and put it in a bag. I later burned it in a small cauldron to represent the elements of air and fire in my staff's consecration ritual. I then proceeded to carve the runes upon my staff. I carved the Egyptian
Symbol of Life on one side, and several words along the other side. Using Ogham runes I carved the words, "To Heal, To Love, To Learn" and my
name rune , and farther down, "Summer Solstice, 1991", being the date upon which I finished my staff!

After all the carvings were finished I proceeded to sand it down, using the heaviest grade of fine sandpaper. I sanded until my bloody arms were going to fall off. Don't do this one at home kids, leave it to the professionals . When all of the staff was smooth, I then began to resand the whole thing again, this time with really fine sandpaper. It turned out to be really smooth.

After I re-etched the runes to make sure they would stand out okay, I varnished the staff with a spray-on varnish . I did this 4 times, letting it dry overnight before reapplying. Then I hung my doodads on it, stuck it in the altar room, and off I went on the night of the full moon to consecrate it.

Consecration Ritual

Consecrate the staff the way you would consecrate any magickal tool. I sort of "edited" the usual version of the ritual because I had the bark to burn as incense.

Pass the Staff through the smoke of the fire, saying:

O Creature of Wood and Spirit!
With incense made from thy own bark,
Representing the Element of Air,
I cense thee!

Pass the Staff through the flames of the fire, saying:

With Fire bright, also of thy own bark,
I burn away all impurities!

Sprinkle the Staff with the consecrated water, saying:

With Water, clear and cool, that once fed thy roots,
I wash thee clean and free!

Sprinkle the Staff with the consecrated salt, saying:

With the Salt of the Earth,
I ground thee firmly to thy purpose!

Thou shalt be an aide in the Directing of my Will.
Thou shalt be a physical symbol of the Masculine within me.
As the Egyptian symbol of Life is etched on your side, so shall the
Feminine and Masculine meet and join,
And be stronger and wiser because of the union!

Books in PDF format to read:

Howard Phillips Lovecraft - The Street
Tuesday Lobsang Rampa - The Saffron Robe
Howard Phillips Lovecraft - The Festival

Tags: kabbalah pythagorean scholarship  the pride project  witch milk  september mabon autumn  occult  role witchcraft  

Monday, 29 August 2005

Relaxation Ritual

Relaxation Ritual Cover
1- Sit or lie in a place where you will not be disturbed. Get comfortable. You arms and legs should not be crossed. Your eyes should be closed.
2- Visualize a ball of warm golden light surrounding your feet. The ball always brings peace and total relaxation. Let it go and as it goes, feel you feet being filled with the warm golden glow of total relaxation and peace.
3- Now allow this ball of light to rise up to your legs and up your torso. Then allow it to go down your arms to your fingers, and finally up your neck to your head. You are covered with the warm glow of peace and relaxation.
4- Stay in this state for a few moments. Be at one with yourself.
5- When you want to come out of it, take three deep breaths and feel fresh energy come into your body.

Books in PDF format to read:

Aleister Crowley - International
George Robert Stowe Mead - A Mithraic Ritual
Anton Szandor Lavey - The Satanic Rituals

Tags: further notes witchcraft  the witches  practices 20th  spiritualism 1848  modern writer  cornelius agrippa  

Sunday, 28 August 2005

Cutting A Doorway

Cutting A Doorway Cover
At times you may have to leave the circle. This is fine, of course, but as previously mentioned, passing through the circle dissipates it. To prevent this from occurring it's traditional to cut a doorway.

To do this, face Northeast. Hold your athame point downward near the ground. See and sense the circle before you. Pierce its wall of energy with the athame and trace an archway, tall enough to walk through, moving counter-clockwise along the circle for about three feet. Move the point of the athame up at the arch's center and down the other side until it is near the ground.

As you're doing this, visualize that area of the circle's energy being sucked back into the athame. This creates a void, allowing passage in and out of the circle. Pull the athame out of the circle's wall. You're free to walk outside.

Once back inside, close the door by placing the athame at the lower North-Eastern point of the archway. With your athame trace the circle's perimeter clockwise, as if redrawing that portion of the Circle of Stones, again visualizing blue or purple energy flaring out from the blade and converging with the rest of the circle. It is done.

Books in PDF format to read:

Aleister Crowley - Which Things Are An Allegory
Mama San Ra Ab Rampa - Autumn Lady
Howard Phillips Lovecraft - The Thing On The Doorstep

Tags: further notes witchcraft  the witches  practices 20th  spiritualism 1848  modern writer  cornelius agrippa  

Friday, 12 August 2005

Witchcraft A Study In Bias Prejudice And Discrimination In South Africa

Witchcraft A Study In Bias Prejudice And Discrimination In South Africa Cover

Book: Witchcraft A Study In Bias Prejudice And Discrimination In South Africa by Damon Leff

When discussing witchcraft in polite company, one discovers that although not everyone permits their personal bias to evolve into open discrimination, those with bias against Witches carry their prejudice like a moral compass. In less than civil society, bias against Witchcraft is often overtly smug and pretentious, as though the prejudice itself was some form of badge of honour indicating one’s measure of commitment to the moral struggle. If you’re a Witch, social bias against you is pervasive and perverse.

This short study in bias, prejudice and discrimination is intended to begin to peel back the shameful and barbarous layers of institutionalized cultural bias that exists against Witchcraft in South Africa.

'Witchcraft' makes no apology for its lack of academic qualification. The study is an honest portrayal of bias, prejudice and discrimination experienced by real South African Witches. It is not intended to be an exhaustive examination of the psychological effects of stereotyping, prejudice or discrimination, nor is it intended to be unbiased. It is intended to be a critical indictment against the avarice of superstitious fantasy that barely mimics logic and reason in our nation’s psyche.

Download Damon Leff's eBook: Witchcraft A Study In Bias Prejudice And Discrimination In South Africa

Free eBooks (Can Be Downloaded):

Hippolyte Taine - Witchcraft And The Suspicion Of Witchery
Walter Gibson - Witchcraft A History Of The Black Art
Damon Leff - A Pagan Witches Touchstone Witchcraft And Witch Hunts In South Africa
Tim Hartridge - Witches Workshop Handbook A Short Guide To Participation In The Workshop Part I
Damon Leff - Witchcraft A Study In Bias Prejudice And Discrimination In South Africa