A Random Inspiration to Write a Ritual
This ritual came to me one early December morning. I was on my way back home weaving down a dark country road while the heavy first snow was falling. The moon was obscured by the heavy clouds. The silence in rural Indiana is palpable. I have wanted to do a sort of re-dedication for some time, and now felt like as good a time as ever. Especially with all of the changes that have occurred within and without these past couple of months. The inspiration for the ritual came from my meditation on the rune Algiz, sometimes known as the Witch’s Mark. This rune and its role in witchcraft has held my interest for some time; lurking in the shadows of my psyche. The rune, which is reminiscent of a pitchfork or Devil’s Trident has fascinated many magical practitioners who are able to see the layers of symbolism. It also resembles the foot print of an owl, which has associations with witchcraft and spirit flight due to its nocturnal nature. This symbol can be associated with cthonic deities of death and transformation, and the gods and goddesses of magic. Especially the fearsome goddess Lilith. In Sabbatic witchcraft symbolism, Algiz preserves the mysteries of soul flight, and the Wild Hunt. According to the work of Nicholaj de Mattos Frisvold in, The Craft of the Untamed, “the witches foot” holds the mysteries of birds representing soul flight, the trident, and Tau cross. Also, reminiscent of the World Tree upon which Odin hung to gain knowledge of the Runes. It was common initially for medieval depictions of witches to show them riding on a stang or pitchfork, which can be seen in the rune’s corresponding shape. More information on the Witch’s Mark and traditional witchcraft inspired by the medieval Witches Sabbath can be found in the aforementioned book by Frisvold.
For this ritual in particular, it stands for all of those things, and more. It also represents the Witch’s Taper; a single candle lit against the night, depicted by the single vertical line of the rune. Its light represented by the three rays seeming to radiate out. This is how this ritual manifested to me, as a single candle flame lit against an all encompassing darkness, unwavering in the howling wind and snow. From there the ritual grew in my mind, maintaining a certain simplicity often found in natural magic. Just like the single flame that stands to illuminate an infinite darkness, the vision of the flame within my mind unfolded into a complete ritual reminiscent of a Witch’s Pact. The imagery opened up into a new an interesting interpretation of the various paths within traditional witchcraft practices. By honoring and inviting the elder spirits of the land one creates a direct link, and through spirit congress gains contract with those who dwell within.
The Final Rite of Witch-making (what I originally had titled the ritual, although I do not believe a ritual or initiation is required to “make” someone a witch, we are what we are)
This title came to me just like the rest of the ritual in a single wave of written inspiration. I have performed other dedication rituals over the years. I have also done the long solitary initiation rituals included in many witchcraft 101 books. There have also been times when my life has caused me to drift away from my study and practice of magic, and I have re-dedicated myself when I return, and I always return. There is a spark within me that never dies, and it is ignited when I am focused on magic in any form. I wrote this as the dedication to end all others, to reinforce my already long held commitment to the craft. After relocating I wanted to forge an new connection with the eldritch spirits of the land on which I now live.
The Ritual as Written, starts with a single flame carried outside to a lonely solitary place. Dedicated solely to the witch’s purpose on this dark night. The taper is carried out into the darkness, ideally lit, protected from strong winds that would seek to extinguish its light. The candle flame casts its own ethereal circle around the witch. The flame represents the spark of inspiration within all living things, the universal point of connection, which makes magic possible. It also represents the occult illumination within the witch which grows as they are pulled through the spirit road.
Igniting the Flame
The practical portion of the ritual was very simple and bare bones. Take a candle to a lonely place in nature. I performed this ritual on the Winter Solstice, the day of longest darkness. There is something about the cold weather and the barren trees that makes me feel the thinness of the veil during this time, however this ritual should be performed at any time of year. The practitioner takes the candle, hopefully staying lit and brings it to the predetermined space. I have been making offerings in advance at the intended location to gather an audience. The candle if not already, is lit. The color of the candle, though not paramount, holds unique symbolism in its color. Historically, a lantern or naturally colored candle would have been used, reflecting the color of tallow or beeswax used to make it. Today we are able to use colored candles to attract specific types of spirits that reflect our intent.
For example: I seek the audience of those who dwell within. People of earth, tree and stone; spirits of life, death and transformation, stand witness to my oath and accept the offerings I give. Those who would remain and those already close who wish by spirit pact to work your will in this world, may I be your breath and hands here and now. I ask for those who would be my guide and teacher in the other worlds. A pact I initiate and strengthen with blood, fire and smoke, sealed with spoken word and continued offerings. Until we should part ways.
I also included the image of a witch mark as a way to show my inward commitment on my physical body in a subtle way that would remind me of the Mysteries of the Witches’ Sabbath. Using a classic method of self tattooing, details of which can be easily researched online, I created a permanent talisman on my left wrist. The Witch’s Foot, also known as the rune Algiz from the Elder Futhark, was the symbol that I chose due to its multi-faceted layers of meaning.
This is the dedication chant that I have written and used, something similar may be substituted depending of the flavor of practice and your intention for the ritual and its marking.
“I mark myself in the name of the Old One, he who brought wisdom and knowledge of magic to mankind and taught the arcane arts. He who has been called many names, and has worn many masks. The spark-the source of illumination…I mark myself in honor of those ancestors who walked the path before me. May the blood bind us and the path forever guide us in this and every future time.”
Color Symbolism in the Candle
Normally I don’t use a lot of color correspondence when I incorporate candle magic into a spell. When I do use color correspondence I generally stick to three or four colors. Black, white, and red are the colors typical to most witch’s needs, I also utilize green because of its nod to the natural realm, including the forest where so much magic lives, and the Crooked Path of Veneficium and Pharmakon. I also chose green because I didn’t have a black or a white candle on hand at the time. This is some randomly inspired color correspondence symbolism that I received while writing this ritual. It is one of many potential ways of organizing certain qualities, and likely comes from my collective knowledge and experience of these particular colors and their associations.
Red represents blood, obviously. It also represents power, creation, sealing a pact and carries the energy of sexuality and mad inspiration, the fire in the head. Red can be used by those who seek power through honing their individuality on the fire’s of Tubal-Cain’s force, through personal strength and will power. The color red would feel appropriate to those who identify with the warrior or the harlot, those empathetic individuals of great physical presence and charisma. This magic is blood magic and ancestral magic.
Black is the Void. It is all potential because it is everything and it is nothing. In this context black is used to represent the primordial waters as well as the chthonic depths of the Earth. This is the deep-delving shadow work represented by the Black Flame and the Sol Nigrum or Black Sun, a symbol of initiation and purification. In this case initiation only occurs through complete destruction of the previous structure and its conceptions. It is also a classic representation of the Mysteries of the Witch’s Sabbath. This represents the magic of Water and Earth both subterranean in nature.
Like the black candle, the white candle is initiatory in nature as well. Also seen as a classic choice for this traditionally inspired ritual, evoking the powers of Old World Witchcraft in all its modern potential. The white candle initiates through illumination, the celestial and ritual approach to magical attainment. These practices have the emphasis of looking above and beyond oneself focusing on the celestial spheres and divine entities. The color white while it represents light and illumination it is a false light like the light of the Moon; it is only a reflection of true reality. Just like the color white contains none of the other colors, it can reflect them but it cannot contain them, while black contains all of the colors and all potential. White represents the magic of Fire and Air or inspiration and intellect.
The Green Flame
I chose the green candle, or perhaps out of necessity it chose me. My intention was to forge a connection with the local land spirits. To me the green candle represents the collective body of occult herbalism including its medicinal components, as well as the Path of Poisons. As the complimentary color to red, green can be seen as ancestral as well. In the sense that the blood in this case is the green blood of the plant realm, and those ancient denizens of the greenwood that knew those who came with offerings before us.