Reading through Tempests post, Magick is not a Band-Aid Fix I was struck by one of her first statements.
“Even as a teenager, I was more interested in books on mythology and folklore than those focusing on spellcraft. History, theory, practice, culture: all day long please. Modern books on spells? Nope.”
I stopped reading for a moment as I thought to myself, Yes! This. Exactly! Gods how I hate spellbooks! They’re all, gather this coloured candle, and this type of crystal, and this oil or incense or herb (or all three) and this thing and that thing and then sit in a circle that you drew with salt mixed with sugar and unicorn tears and chant these ridiculous words. End your spell with, So mote it be, but no you don’t get to know why you have to say that, and then go about your day – pretending you did something worthwhile.
I may have an issue with the more common type of spellcraft that exists. Perhaps.
I Used to do Spells
I, like probably every witch ever, of course tried doing those typical spells you find in those awful books. I would gather all the materials, set aside a time – often based on the day of the week or moon phase – and read the chant or poem or whatever in a stilted voice.
And my Gods but did I always feel like a complete idiot.
When you feel awkward, stupid, foolish and idiotic you are not going to be pushing any intent or will into the spell. Which of course means only one thing – the spell isn’t going to work. It kind of messes with your witchy confidence when your spells never work. I suppose I can only be glad I never pushed enough will into any of those spells to have them backfire on me.
So those spells, for me, are basically just playacting. It’s funny too, because the physical actions of chanting and lighting candles and such are also part of my current Hellenic and Hekatean rituals – but I don’t feel foolish doing those. I think the difference is to do with intent – the rituals are about communication, while spells are about releasing will. Chanting and the like are handy for the communication, but they get in the way of my will.
No More Spells
I can’t say when it happened, my memory isn’t that great and keeping track of time is something I am terrible at now, but at some point I realised I shouldn’t do spells. At least, not the typical style of spells that are in so many witchy books. I would say it’s been at least 10 years since I tried one of those spells though.
In point of fact, I don’t even like the word “spell” anymore. Hearing or reading the word just conjures up images of weirdos in oversized robes, chanting “ooga booga”, waggling their fingers all mysteriously and flinging glitter everywhere. I know this isn’t how real witches actually do it – well, most of the time – but that doesn’t stop my mind from conjuring up that image.
But it’s just not for me, not anymore. Not if I want to have any sort of success as a witch.
What’s a Witch to Do?
So, if there are none of the typical spells to do, then what do I do as a witch?
As I wrote about earlier this week, when I first decided I was a witch I didn’t know anything about modern witchcraft – not even that it existed. So I just made it up as I went along. As I wrote it, I was a rudimentary wild witch – and that is how I am now.
I am of course a Hearth Witch, but the thing about Hearth Witchery is that it is a bit wild and rudimentary. There isn’t any formal sort of craft we follow, there isn’t a specific set of things we must do and follow. The whole point of our craft is that we adapt and make things up. Don’t have an athame to hand? Grab a steak knife. Don’t have a special goblet for representing water? Use a shot glass, no one cares. Don’t have a special altar space? Use the kitchen bench!
Hearth Witchery suits me perfectly because I can do the most mundane thing and turn it into magic, by infusing my will into the action. There are no special chants or correspondences of crystals and herbs and oils when it comes to making magic while sweeping, cooking, scrubbing and the like – well okay, maybe with cooking and herbs.
There’s More To Witchcraft Than Spells
Witchcraft is so much more than casting spells. Though I suppose it depends on what one defines as a spell – but as I mentioned above, the very word conjures up certain images for me, so changing definitions isn’t going to help.
Other than Hearth Witchery, there are many types of non-spell witch magics one can perform. Sigil magic is a favourite of mine, and generally relies on concentration and a bit of drawing and thinking. Knot magic is another of my favourite methods, and it relies on very little at all – though chanting is often part of it, the chanting tends to have a different feel to it than typical spells do.
There is the creation of potions, brews, lotions and even those dry mixes like black salt. There is the use of your body, in dance and other forms of movement to release your will. There is singing, whether by rote or improvised, to release your will verbally without a boring chant. There is the power of writing or drawing your magic and releasing it however you choose.
And then there is the type of witchcraft where you don’t do anything at all – or so it seems. Where the magic is happening inside of you, but you don’t use any sounds, any trappings, any movement, anything at all except your mind. An outside observer can watch you and see you doing nothing at all, but inside you there is something massive happening.
Spells are perhaps the most notable thing about witchcraft – other than pointy hats, flying brooms and bubbling cauldrons of course. But it’s possible to be a witch, an effective witch, without casting spells. And thank the Gods for that – because I’d be the worst witch in the world if spells were a necessity.