There’s a post from the Tumblr blog The Red Wing Briar that regularly pops up as a meme across various social media platforms, and since it’s currently circling again, I thought it would make for an interesting discussion. Here’s the post:
Why are ‘witch tips’ always like, “use quartz as a substitute for any crystal!” and not the good stuff like “River spirits are almost always looking to fuck shit up, so if you rile em up and then feed them a name, they’ll lay someone tf out.”
I feel like most of the comments I’ve seen whenever this meme appears are like, “Ha, I get it, but good point. Many so-called ‘witch tips’ are kind of milquetoast and don’t really help anyone move forward with their Craft.” But a solid minority of people who comment are like, “Okay, but how? How do I rile up a river spirit? Is there a book? A website? Because I’ve got a lot of names over here.”
And y’all, you know I’m all for experimenting with magic and seeing what we can make happen, but I also want to go on the record as saying that we probably shouldn’t be messing around with river spirts. The myths that have come down to us about them rarely end well, the spirits themselves not being particularly renown for their easy-going temperaments or affability.
To reiterate: River spirits are wily, volatile, and hold grudges, and trying to bend them to our will should definitely be avoided in favor of affairs less likely to blow up in our faces.
But here’s how I’d do it.
Big Wheel Keep on Turnin’
So. Let’s say you’ve got a score to settle, and you’ve decided that the only way to handle the situation is to bring in river spirits to “lay someone tf out,” as the kids say. In order to cast this spell, you will need:
- a river.
- the full name of the person you’re targeting.
- a photograph of the person.
- a hooded, waterproof poncho.
- a thunderstorm.
Gather your physical supplies, wait until the National Weather Service issues a Severe Storm and/or Flash Flood Warning for your area, then go to the bank of a river. Go ahead and put on your poncho before getting started.
The key to this working is flattery, similar to that prayer to Diana from the Aradia text. (I’m not saying river spirits are vain, but everyone reacts well to compliments.) Once it starts raining, address the river spirits in a clear strong voice, telling them how beautiful and powerful they are. Point out how majestically they rule the surrounding ecosystem, and how they’re just amazing in general.
Increase the volume of your voice to match the storm as it grows in intensity, until you are basically yelling compliments at the river. Hopefully, there will be some howling wind at this point to add to the effect. As loudly as you can, tell the spirits that you see them, and how much you honor and respect them.
And, as the storm reaches its peak, hold up the picture of your target and shout:
“BUT [FULL NAME] DOES NOT. LAY THEM TF OUT.”
Tear the picture in half with force and intent. If you’re so inclined, this would also be a good moment to raise your arms to the sky and cackle maniacally, laughter being an effective way to both end the ritual and cast additional shade upon your enemies.
Once the storm passes, make your way home and deposit the pieces of the torn photo in the first recycling bin you come across. (DO NOT throw them in the water. That would contribute to pollution and more than likely turn the spirits against you.)
The upside to this approach is that it’s dramatic as all hell. The downside is possible drowning: I feel like river spirits would be fairly indiscriminate when called upon to wreak havoc, and of course there’s always the chance that they’ll come running straight back to you after their work is done to celebrate their victory with you. Which could easily result in burst pipes and boiler issues and your bathtub falling through your dining room ceiling.
Witch Tip: Never Tell River Spirits Where You Live
Even if you don’t have access to a poncho or a thunderstorm, you can still disgruntle river spirits effectively. Just write the person’s name on a cherry bomb and run up to a river while screaming, “[FULL NAME] SENDS THEIR REGARDS.” Fling the firecracker at the water and book it back to your car, with the hopes that you’ll slide under the spirits’ radar in the ensuing confusion.
The myths don’t really tell us how river spirits feel about shooting the messenger, but if fortune’s on your side, they’ll direct their rage and indignation at the person named, and not the person with matches hurriedly fleeing the scene.
And again, let me stress that these are not wise courses of action. River spirits are daemones and genii locorum — they’re intelligent but decidedly not human, and their reactions can’t be anticipated in human terms.
Naiads don’t drag unwary victims to the depths because they’re evil: They do it because they see something/someone that fascinates them, and they want to keep it. Kind of like how orcas sometimes jump through hoops on command and sometimes maul their trainers to death. Aquatic beings are unpredictable, like the element in which they live. If we’re going to work with them, much less attempt to harness them, we’ll only be able to do so on their terms, which won’t always work out so greatly for us.
Honestly, if you really want to get watery vengeance on a rival, just leave a dead fish on their porch and call it a day. It will freak them out badly enough to adjust their attitude. And you won’t have to worry that a leaky faucet or a damp spot on your carpet might herald a visit from river spirits, coming to call on their number-one fan.