The Power Of The Witches’ Mind: Self-Deception, The Imagined Other, And Sympathetic Magick

The Power Of The Witches’ Mind: Self-Deception, The Imagined Other, And Sympathetic Magick July 14, 2019

Through our powerful witches’ minds, we create magick both in the form of an actual poppet or of the entirely energetic variety when we create mighty illusions of ourselves and others. Like sympathetic witchcraft, our thoughts create beings of ourselves and others that may have little to do with truth. Whether the poppet is a physical creation or entirely an energetic thought-form, sticking needles and otherwise giving attention to false poppets leads to trouble.

Whether the poppet is real or entirely an energetic thought-form, sticking needles and otherwise giving attention to false poppets leads to trouble. Canstock image.

The Power Of The Witches’ Mind

How, then, do we determine which is real and what is illusion? The answer to that question requires contemplation, an activity that our shadow selves are loathe to do. It’s far easier to remain in the power of illusion, clinging to attachments of self and other that only serve to hold us back.

Disconnecting from the external world through daily contemplative practices, such as prayer and meditation, offer perspective for the immediate time and help build our spiritual muscles of discernment, thereby quieting the shadow illusion. More extended periods of separation, being closed for spiritual maintenance, is a practice that can be enormously beneficial. Going deep into ourselves, using our powerful minds to reveal the truth, can be difficult. There are so many distractions, plus the general state of society is troubling. However, without this turning inward, I argue that it’s impossible to solve the external problems. The magick is within us to reveal, and it all begins in our witches’ mind.

“A Witch’s work is mind work and utilizes powerful metaphors, allegories, and images that unlock the powers of the mind.”  ― Laurie CabotPower of the Witch: The Earth, the Moon, and the Magical Path to Enlightenment

This has long been one of my guiding principles in life and witchcraft. The mind has fascinated me since I was an adolescent, trying to figure out my place in the world and understand others. I became so infatuated with exploring the mind that I earned a doctorate in psychology. The mind is where I am most comfortable, whether it’s in my private self or as a teacher and writer. I love thinking about thinking, and I love thinking about how thinking is involved in witchcraft.

The Witches’ Mind Is A Powerful Self-Deceiver

It’s curious that I am writing about thinking at this present moment when I am about to embark on developing a lesson for The Mystai, my course on Modern Hekatean Witchcraft, that explores sacred space. I’ve known for months that the core energy of the lesson is on embodied witchcraft. This is because I know that the witches who are drawn to the work of Keeping Her Keys are highly intelligent, contemplative and on a spiritual quest to know – and be – more.

However, there is a danger in getting too much into our minds: we can lose our bodies along the way. The challenge becomes how to play to our strength – our beautiful, powerful mind – while developing our weakness – avoidance of corporeality. We may be spiritual beings having a human experience, but a huge part of that is to sink into physicality. The mind, though, is so much bigger than our bodies.

From our experiences, our thoughts and beliefs grow. In turn, our experiences are filtered through our existing mindset. Seems a bit of a vicious cycle when we are pursuing our truth, especially since many of our thoughts are entirely false. How then do we discern what is truth and what is fiction? How do we learn from the shadow self without being seduced by it’s fear-based lies? In other words, how do we avoid creating false poppets?

The Imagined Other

Our minds create thought-forms of others, both for individuals and groups. These forms influence not only how we see these others, but how we interpret ourselves. This “self in relation to others” is a construct that I spent a great deal of time studying in my graduate school years, and it continues to fascinate me to this day. There is absolutely no way that anyone can have a truly objective view of another person since we interpret everything through the lens of our personal experience and personality. In a way, everyone is imagined and everything is a thought-form.

This does sound a bit like I’m pulling you into The Matrix or some other work of science fiction, but like any good work of the imagination, there is much truth therein. This is the same for the thought-forms we create. Complications arise when our false self, the shadow, is running our energetic show and so creates these forms as shadows of the shadow. Just like the way poppets are constructed to represent their target, like begets like: if we are in shadow mode then we attract the same from others.

When we are truthful in ourselves, we are likely to attract others who are more sincere. Moreover, we have appropriate boundaries that make us less susceptible to allowing toxic people into our lives, thus the ensuing thought-forms and self-in-relation-to-others energetic beings and constructs we create will usually be more healthy. We become less judgmental of others and more firm in what we need. Those pesky expectations, so often associated with the “false” poppets of the shadow self transition into requirements for engaging with us.

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Sympathetic Witchcraft

“Delphis has brought me pain, and I burn this bay leaf against Delphis. As it crackles in the flames with a sharp noise and flares leaving no trace of ash, so may Delphis’ body melt in the flame.” – from Theocritus, Idyll 2: Pharmakeutriai (The Witches) 2nd C BCE

Simaetha was practicing sympathetic magick – using a symbolic representation of a person, animal, spirit or even deity to bring about desired changes in their behavior – in this case to cause great suffering.  In 21st century parlance, Simaetha’s boundaries were nonexistent and her shadow self was at full throttle.

Her use of a kolossos, the ancient Greek word for these enchanted dolls, is an example of a popular form of magick practiced by our ancestral Hekatean Witches. Perhaps if heartbroken Simaetha could seen the situation for what it really was she wouldn’t have turned to cursing. Regardless, her poppet demonstrates that the witches’ mind, her intentions for destruction, can be powerfully morphed into physical objects. But, what’s really going on is that her intentions created a thought-form, an energetic representation of who she thought poor Delphis (he deserved it, for the record) was based on her own perceptions rather than who he really is. Makes my head spin a bit writing this because my witches’ mind wants to reject the notion that I, like my witch-ancestor, do the exact same thing.

Read my Guide to Poppet Witchery.

Learn how to craft powerful (and true) kolossoi in The Mystai, the Keeping Her Keys system of Modern Hekatean Witchcraft.

The Remedy: Spiritual Maintenance

The way to discern true from false mental chatter is through daily practice designed to bring out the former and expunge the latter. Contemplative practices such as meditation and prayer that quiet the mind create space for the truth to bubble to the surface of our consciousness.

Resistance to meditative practice, including certain types of prayer and chanting, is entirely natural. The shadow – or ego as some call it – needs the energy of constant mind-motion to keep you distracted. All growth requires friction, and it is this tango between truth and shadow that permits us to evolve. When we quiet our mind, we can gain perspective into the thought-forms we’ve created, discerning which are fasle poppets.

Learn more about daily practice in this video about The Witches’ Hour of Power.

Daily Hekatean Chanting practice is presented in this video.

The Psychic Witches’ Mind

No discussion of the witches’ mind’s ability to create and deceive would be complete without talking about how psychic abilities are involved in all this. A daily divination practice is accessible to everyone, whether or not you identify as psychic. Using the cards to discern truth from shadow by asking the card-spirits for specific guidance regarding what you need to know about a situation, or insight into yourself, yields helpful results. Honing your psychic skills through daily practice, including recording your experiences, premonitions and dreams, leads to deepening your powers and self-awareness. There is no separation between the everyday witches’ mind and the etheric one, the more the two are merged the less likely we are to create false poppets of ourselves and others.

Mat Auryn’s book Psychic Witch is full of exercises to strengthen the witches’ mind.

Becoming The Imagined Other

I am not in the habit of googling myself, but when my youngest son recently proclaimed that I had my own “box” on the search engine, I decided to see just what the internet version of me looked like. I’ve spent time curating the self I present to the world, and there are many pieces that I keep private. What I saw about myself was mostly the thought-form I wish to project in the public sphere: a bit salty, well-educated, dedicated to Hekate and her witchcraft, and politically progressive.

Then there were the things that didn’t seem to reflect me at all written and said by others. Their thought-forms of me are mostly none of my business. However, I noticed that I was often writing blogs here on Patheos that were basically rants about an imagined other. In this case, the white-lighting, politically dormant and misguided self-described witches. Alarmingly, these are my most popular articles. More worrisome is that I had fallen into the shadow-trap of believing that writing from this energy was helpful to me and my readers.

Me Versus The “Light And Love” Crowd

While digging into the inherent problems I perceive the “light and love” crowd cause greater witchdom once in a while can be beneficial, frequently jumping into this cauldron is toxic. I am angry at many things, including what I perceive as the perversion of witchcraft, but writing about this is not what I want to be known for. I imagine the imagined version of me, based on these articles, is not very representative of who I am. That person, the true me, is much more concerned with figuring out her own journey in order to make the most of what I’ve been given in this incarnation. I have a sureness of purpose in teaching and writing about Modern Hekatean Witchcraft that I believe is my Great Work. While ranting gets attention, I realized after examining various pieces of data and information, it doesn’t really lead to creating the energy of prosperity for me or those who are part of Keeping Her Keys. I don’t care much for the “light and lovers,” but chronically sticking needles in them isn’t good for me, even if it is popular.

Back In Black

Being me, during my period of being closed for spiritual maintenance, I expanded my survey of other areas of falsity in my life and found quite a few. Relationships I’ve been clinging to with thought-forms of people rather than who they have shown me they are. Being stuck in the past about the thought-form of how I think I need to look. Then I hit the big one, at least for me: having others hold me in a position of esteem which has always been so uncomfortable for me. What I realized is that if others want to create a false poppet of me, it’s not my concern.

My attention needs to be focused on living my journey the best that I can, while tending to the work of Keeping Her Keys. I’ll always be focused on the darker aspects of life and witchcraft because it’s in the shadows where growth and truth are found. Black is the color of this witch, for the blackest nights when Hekate is honored, to the void between the worlds, and the heights of The Starry Road. Black is the color of my truth. I don’t need to diminish others in order to stand proudly in my tattered black  leggings. More importantly, the truth of who I am is what makes me strong, not pushing others down.

I’m back from my period of spiritual maintenance, ready to tackle topics that will hopefully inspire you to live your truth and deconstruct your false poppets. I wish and witch you well along your journey.


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About Cyndi
Cyndi Brannen, PhD, is a witch and spiritual teacher, a trained energetic healer, psychic and herbalist. Her teaching and writing extends from where she stands at the crossroads of personal development, spirituality and witchcraft. Keeping Her Keys: An Introduction to Hekate’s Modern Witchcraft explores Hekate from her ancient origins to modern understanding through magic and personal development is available now from Moon Books. True Magic: Unleashing Your Inner Witch uses the magic of the elements and the three realms to activate your true witch powers and will be available later in 2019 from Moon as well. Connect with her on Facebook or at to learn more about her teaching and writing. Cyndi lives in rural coastal Nova Scotia with her two sons where she can often be found wandering the cliffs or wild foraging plants. She lives what she teaches: fierce love, emotional courage and true magic. You can read more about the author here.
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