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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Spell Writing Pt1

Spell Writing Part 1:


The American Heritage dictionary defines incantation as ‘ritual recitation of verbal charms or spells to produce a magic effect.’ It is a Latin derivative, which means ‘to enchant.’ When we include a spoken charm in a spell we are, in a sense, adding a means of enchantment, a way to send our magick out by speaking a chanted charm. Any words we may speak from the heart will send our energy out with the spell. It only adds to the harmonious energy of the spell if we can arrange those words into a pleasant-sounding rhyme. We often find that rhymes are easily committed to memory and can be very useful in creating spoken charms, which can also be used as positive affirmations. Affirmations themselves can be a form of spell-working that can have a powerful effect. Powerful words or phrases used in spoken charms can send their energy into a spell and work as excellent correspondences; they are a form of spoken ingredients in spells. It is not my intention to teach a course on writing poetry or prose. This is simply a short lesson on composing a spoken charm that can help to empower any spell.

The important part, as mentioned, is the intention. Think about your intention. Begin to feel what you are thinking about. If you are focused on bringing prosperity into your life, then begin to feel the desire for it. Begin to visualize your intention as already in effect. Form a picture in your mind of your intention as having already manifested. How strong is your intention or desire for the outcome? Where do you sense it? Is it just a thought? Do you feel it in your heart? By locating the seat of your desire, you can begin to sense your creative urges kick in and this is what we want to tap into.

Writing is a means of expressing what is in your heart and mind. It is a means of putting into words what you are feeling on a cellular level, so to speak. It is the tool we use to capture ideas and feelings that come from within. It is a means of interpreting what we experience with our senses. Our emotions find release in the writing of words. When we experience a desire to create a spell addressing a specific intention, we should listen to our heart and let it speak to us. Write down any thought that comes to your head. Be creative.

A rhyming dictionary can be very helpful in finding words that will rhyme to produce a rhythmic or musically flowing effect. A Thesaurus can be an excellent source for words that relate to or describe one another. Selecting words that express your feelings can be a powerful part of spell-writing. Words that flow in a melodic or rhythmic nature can add an extra boost of energy to a working. I have always been taught that melodious and rhythmic spoken charms or incantations are like music to Spirit. I feel that incantations that rhyme have a flowing vibration and can be very powerful to use in spells.


Once you are ready to begin to create the spoken part of your spell, you will be very familiar with your intention. By this time, it has been growing in strength and power with each thought you have given it. With your intention in mind, think about how you are going to bring it into form. Think about the method or magickal technique that you will be using and include this in your charm. If you are using a simple candle spell, you might focus the intention upon the candle and make reference to it. For example, you might say something like this for a money spell:

“Candle flame strong and bright,
Draw money to me on this night.”

Use simple words that say what you want. The phrases can be repeated as a chant and will form their own rhythm in the repetition. The charm itself can be as long or short as you choose. I would suggest you keep the charms short to begin with. This makes it easier to remember and you will be less likely to make mistakes that can break the rhythm if you are chanting the charm. Your charms can express the nature of your spell whether it is a solemn working or one of lightness and joy. It is important to sense the spell and let your creativity flow from it. Take into consideration the time of day and use it as you write. You may want to include the ingredients you are using in the wording of the charm. For instance you might want to include the herbs, stones, or oils by name and include their magickal properties and how they will affect your intention. Your wording may stress your need and may be in the form of a request for the power of the magickal ingredients’ properties to boost the energy of your spell.

Another method of boosting the power of your charm is to determine the number of times to repeat the charm. Numbers have a magickal property of their own. By matching your intention with the magickal properties of numbers, you can add extra power to the chant as well as to the entire spell. As part of your magickal education I suggest taking the Numerology course offered by to help include numbers in your spell writing.

Whatever method of writing you choose to create your spoken charm, remember that you will do well to memorize the charm and know it before performing your spell. This is important because you will be able to speak the charm from your heart and will be able to speak it without reading it. As you speak a charm in this way, from your heart, it is rising from within you on a cellular level and coming out with your breath, much like the technique used in magickal breathing. When using charms in this manner, it is much more beneficial if we have committed the charm to memory and can speak it from within and not by reading what was written on paper. Once you have written your spell and committed it to paper, you will find that most of it is committed to your memory as well.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Faith Healing

Adapted from Life After Death, by Deepak Chopra (Harmony Books, 2007).

Faith healing brings together three domains, Akasha: Pure consciousness (God), a subtle event (prayer), and the physical body. The light so often seen by those who are healed is a subtle energy, which can also be perceived as an electrical or nervous charge in the body, a seizure, rapture or dizziness. In her book, The Healing Touch of Mary, Cheri Lomonte recounts the following story.

Dawn J. was a devout Catholic who as a young woman had prayed for a vision of the Virgin Mary. Soon after she left her parents’ house, she experienced an actual visitation. This created a sense of awe and humility; she hardly felt worthy to behold the Mother of God in the flesh. But Dawn came to feel that she had been chosen as a messenger.

Soon thereafter she was asked by a coworker to help with a personal matter. The co-worker was worried about his wife, who had begun to visit a house in the Bronx where a statue of Mary had begun to spontaneously exude scented oil. Dawn agreed to intervene and paid a visit to the house. When she walked in, however, she was greeted by the powerful scent of roses, and when she was shown the small statute, exuding a continual stream of oil, she became convinced that this was a genuine miracle.

Subsequently she paid several visits to the house, each time experiencing a divine presence in the scented oil. On one visit the woman of the house told her that the walls and furniture had now begun to exude oil, which she wiped up with cotton balls. Dawn was given a bag of these to take home. Sometime later she hears that the friend’s 3-month-old baby was gravely ill with spinal meningitis and had been hospitalized in intensive care. Dawn felt a strong impulse to use the holy oil as a health and she took an oil-soaked cotton ball to the hospital and gently stroked the baby’s spine with it. She left, and the next day was informed that the infant was out of danger. The doctor considered the recovery miraculous. Dawn attributed it to the healing touch of Mary.

The three domains of consciousness don’t merely overlap; they are actively involved with one another. The physical plane is represented by the statue, the oil, and the baby’s body. The subtle domain is represented by the vision of Mary, Dawn’s faith, and the divine presence felt in the oil. The domain of pure consciousness is represented by the divine itself.

My purpose here is to open the possibility that there is a unifying principle, the Akashi field, that embraces a wide range of phenomena.

Life After Death by Deepak Chopra

Source: Faith Healing

How to Make Your Own Rose Water

Adapted from Rosemary Gladstar's Herbs for Natural Beauty, by Rosemary Gladstar.

Rose water is used in cosmetics for its lovely scent, but also because it has light astringent properties. As the gentlest of all astringents, rose water is often used as toner for fair and dry skin.

You must be careful when purchasing rose water to buy only the 100 percent pure form. Often what is available in pharmacies and even some natural food stores is synthetic rose oil and water with preservatives added. Pure rose water is the distilled water of roses. It is usually made by stream distillation, and it smells heavenly and tastes delicious.

Availability: Besides health food stores and herb stores, you can often find rose water in delicatessens; it is used as a flavoring in fancy Greek pastries, puddings, and cakes.

Rose Water, Method No. 1

This recipe is the more traditional way to prepare rose water. Though it’s a little more involved, its fun to do and the results are outstanding. You can make a quart of excellent-quality rose water in about 40 minutes. However, if you simmer the water too long, you will continue to produce distilled water but the rose essence will become diluted. Your rose water will smell more like plain distilled water, rather than the heavenly scent of roses.

Be sure you have a brick and heat-safe stainless steel or glass quart bowl ready before you begin.

2-3 quarts fresh roses or rose petals
Ice cubes or crushed ice

1. In the center of a large pot (the speckled blue canning pots are ideal) with an inverted lid (a rounded lid), place a fireplace brick. On top of the brick place the bowl. Put the roses in the pot; add enough flowers to reach the top of the brick. Pour in just enough water to cover the roses. The water should be just above the top of the brick.

2. Place the lid upside down on the pot. Turn on the stove and bring the water to a rolling boil, then lower heat to a slow steady simmer. As soon as the water begins to boil, toss two or three trays of ice cubes (or a bag of ice) on top of the lid.

3. You’ve now created a home still! As the water boils the steam rises, hits the top of the cold lid, and condenses. As it condenses it flows to the center of the lid and drops into the bowl. Every 20 minutes, quickly lift the lid and take out a tablespoon or two of the rose water. It’s time to stop when you have between a pint and a quart of water that smells and tastes strongly like roses.

Direct Source: Rosemary Gladstar's Herbs for Natural Beauty

Post Source: Green Living

Monday, April 28, 2008

Animal Herbology

Introduction to Animal Herbology

Herbal medicine is gaining popularity in Western culture. Those of us who use herbal remedies in our own lives, are also apt to use natural remedies to enhance the health of their pets. Herbal medicine is a very useful adjunct to traditional veterinary medicine, however, it is not without its own risks. Herbs that help in humans do not necessarily have the same effect on animals. And more importantly, some herbs that are safe for human consumption may kill or injure our pets. Therefore, it is essential to seek qualified professional assistance from professionals well versed in animal herbology and dosages.

I can’t stress too strongly that use of herbs or any other medical procedures on your pets without clear knowledge of what you are doing puts the lives of your animal friends at risk. Herbal and vitamin supplements can be of remarkable assistance in a well managed therapeutic regime, but you MUST make certain that you inform your veterinarian of any herbs, vitamins, or other supplements that you have administered to your pets, AND you must know what you are doing. When in doubt, speak to your veterinarian.

A note about birds: If you have pet birds, you are likely already aware how careful you must be regarding what medications are administered to them. Sometimes, even licensed veterinarians are unaware of what substances can be fatal to birds. For your bird’s health, please seek a qualified AVIAN veterinarian for advice. For safety’s sake, do not use any of the following herbs in this lesson, unless they are specifically noted as safe for birds.

This lesson is meant to supplement knowledge you have already obtained through other appropriate studies. It is not meant to in any way be a complete guide to a subject as complex as herbology for animals, so it will definitely be necessary for you to do your own research as well.

Please also be aware that even though the following herbs are mentioned in this lesson as having been used in animals with therapeutic effect, natural does not necessarily mean “safe.” It is important to purchase your herbs from reputable sources with standardized strength. It is also necessary to understand that animals, like humans, can have unforeseen allergic reactions. Whenever you administer medications of any sort to your pet, it is necessary to watch them carefully afterwards for any symptoms.

Herbs That Should NOT Be Given To Pets

Certain herbs should never be given to your pets, as they are toxic. These include:

White Willow Bark (Salix alba) – Similar to asprin, toxic to cats.


One of the most common uses for herbal supplements in both animals and humans is to stimulate the immune system. Keep in mind that in certain cases, such as auto immune disorders in which the body essentially attacks itself, immune system stimulation is exactly the opposite of what you want to be doing. It is important to be certain of what the problem truly is before treating it.

If, after a proper diagnosis, you wish to assist the immune system of your pet, there are several supplements that can be used:

Shark Cartilage: Shark cartilage is a traditional Chinese remedy that contains mucopolysaccharides and carbohydrates that stimulate the immune system. It can also be used as an anti inflammatory that helps with issues such as arthritis or other types of joint injuries.

Echinacea: The purple coneflower, echinacea augustifolia, and echinacea purpurea are the species of echinacea most often used as a herbal remedy. Echinacea stimulates the immune system via several different methods, and is a highly useful herb that can be used in cats, dogs, and birds. It should generally be used in conjunction with drugs prescribed by a veterinarian. Be certain to inform the veterinarian if you are using echinacea for your pet, since it could be a concern during anesthesia and recovery. Echinacea should NOT be used if your pet is suffering from lupus, tuberculosis, connective tissue disorder, FeLV, FIV or FIP. Do not continue use beyond 6 to 8 weeks, as the immune stimulation actions fade over time. You can restart therapy after a “rest” of approximately 4 weeks.

Alfalfa: Alfalfa sprouts contain many vitamins and minerals, and is generally a nutritional herb, but is also said to stimulate the immune system. Alfalfa may be used in birds.

Brewer’s Yeast: Also said to stimulate the immune system.

Seaweeds: Certain types of seaweed, such as Kelp, Kombu, Nori, and Undaria protect against some bacterial agents, as they stimulate the immune system. They have been used in birds. Be aware that Kelp should not be used in animals with autoimmune thyroid disorders.


As always, serious injuries should be seen by your veterinarian. For minor wounds, you can use the following herbs:

Lavender Oil: After thoroughly cleaning the wound, one drop of lavender essential oil will assist in healing. Lavender oil can also help burns heal.

Tea Tree Oil: Tea tree oil can be used after thorough cleaning as an anti microbial agent. It can also be used to bring a cyst to a head. One drop is all that is necessary. After the cyst is brought up and drained, use a drop of lavender oil to aid healing.

Aloe: Fresh Aloe gel is very useful for all animals including parrots. An additional bonus is that Aloe gel can be used as an effective pain reliever for the owners of parrots who may occasionally receive a “love bit” that is overly enthusiastic.

Epsom salts: Soaking itchy paws and abscessed nail beds in 1/2 cup epsom salts per gallon of water for 10 minutes, 2x per day will help draw out infection and relieve itchy feet.


Peppermint: Digestive difficulties in dogs can be treated with peppermint (mentha piperita). It is necessary to make sure that there is no underlying problem such as accidental poisoning or eating something they shouldn’t have.

Catnip and Catmint: Getting peppermint down a cat might be a challenge, since they generally don’t like mint taste. Catnip and catmint are both useful for nausea in cats. Again, make sure that your cat hasn’t gotten into something she shouldn’t have.

Ginger: Ginger works in animals the same way it does in humans. It can be used to help with gas, diarrhea, and car sickness. It can also be used as an anti-inflammatory. Ginger can be used with parrots.

Slippery Elm: Slippery Elm bark is a digestive aid for pets with nausea and constipation. It can also be used as a cough suppressant. Slippery Elm can be used with birds for coughing and vomiting, and in animals including birds externally for bites, boils, or abscesses. If a parrot is bitten or scratched by a mammal, even if it looks superficial, bring it to a veterinarian immediately, as a course of antibiotics will likely be necessary due to the parrot’s lack of natural defenses to pasturella bacteria.

Acidophilus: When antibiotics are used to treat your pet, they can kill “good bacteria” living in the gut, allowing “bad bacteria” to build up and cause problems such as gas or diarrhea. These good bacteria can also be killed by stress and illness. Acidophilus is a powdered form of the useful bacteria, lactobacillus.


It is natural to get discouraged when your pet is in pain, and to attempt to use your own remedies, however, it is important to let your veterinarian know of your concerns, and let them know you are treating with natural remedies.

Dandelion: Useful in treatment of arthritis. Can be used with birds.

Perna Mussels: These muscles contain glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) that assist in building cartilage and bringing down inflammation. The mussels also contain glucosamine, which is a precursor to GAG. The perna mussel also includes a type of Omega-3 fatty acid that reduce pain and help anti inflammatory action.

Glucosamine and Chondroitin: These products are useful for both humans and animals, however, it is necessary to be very careful with figuring the appropriate dosage for pets. They can take human grade pharmaceutical glucosamine and chondroitin, however not in the same quantities as humans do. Animal supplements often are augmented with absorbic acid to help with its uptake in dogs. Special animal dosages are available through your veterinarian, or over the Internet. These compounds help to heal cartilage and reduce pain in hip dysplasia. They also assist with the pain and joint damage of arthritis in both dogs and cats. If the dosage is too high, dogs may vomit or get diarrhea. It then becomes necessary to reduce the dosage. Glucosamine and chondroitin are safe for long term use, and can be used with other drugs and vitamins.

Yucca: The yucca plant can be used to reduce pain and soft tissue swelling with minimal gastric side effects. It works by increasing the circulation in the damaged tissue, so that waste build up is reduced.


Chamomile: Because its sedative power is mild, it is useful for birds in stressful situations.

St. John’s Wort: Yes, animals can suffer from the same types of nervous disorders as humans, including obsessive/compulsive behaviors, depression, and mood swings. St. John’s Wort (hypericum perforatum) has been used to treat compulsive licking in dogs, aggression, separation anxiety, feather plucking in parrots, and neural disorders. Do not use St. John’s Wort with other antidepressant drugs. Also, do not use St. John’s Wort with animals who spend a lot of time in the sun, as large doses can cause photosensitivity.

Bach Rescue Remedy: Rescue Remedy is a combination of flower essences that can effectively be used to treat temporary anxiety, such as going to the vet. Be sure to let the vet know you’ve given this to your pet.

Ginkgo: Ginkgo is said to increase the blood flow to the brain. Humans have reported increased memory and brain function from use of Ginkgo. Animal herbalists have been using it to treat cognitive dysfunction in older animals.


Eyebright: As its name implies, eyebright tea can be used as a wash for eye irritation in all pets including birds.


Warm about one tablespoon of olive oil, and add two drops of tea tree, one drop of lavender, and one drop of chamomile. Drip into and around the ear. Do not use with parrots.


Cayenne: Cayenne is the active ingredient in capsaicin. It is useful in all animals as a treatment for sinus congestion. Recommended for use in parrots as they love its taste.


Animals, like humans, can build up toxins in the colon and filtration organs. A mild course of detoxifying agents, such as those listed below, can be useful in treatment of other disorders.

Garlic: The anti-oxidant, antifungal and anti-parasitic properties of garlic are useful detoxifiers in all animals including birds. Garlic given to parrots should be fresh garlic, not powder. Do not use for long periods of time, as it could cause anemia.

Cinnamon: Cinnamon is a mild antifungal and anti-bacterial. It can be used on parrots.

Aloe Detox: Aloe Detox is a commercial product that is made by a company called Naturade. It has been credited with saving many parrots through detoxifying the liver.

Milk Thistle: Milk thistle seeds contain silymarin, an antioxidant that protects and is said to regenerate the liver. Very large dosages can cause loose stools.


Ginseng: Both Panax ginseng and Panax quinquefolius have been used to treat animals with extreme weight loss from chronic conditions such as cancer and leukemia, chronic infections, nerve disorders, and anorexia. It is said to enhance the release of insulin, so that the glucose levels in the blood decrease. Ginseng CAN cause increased blood pressure, may contribute to low blood sugar, and may pose a concern during anesthesia and recovery.

Essiac Tea: Essiac tea is said to be a natural cancer treatment, consisting of various herbs including burdock root, sheep sorrel, Turkish rhubarb root, red clover, slippery elm, and sometimes other herbs. There are several manufacturers of the product. It has been used for cats and dogs.


Use of non-stick cookware can be fatal to parrots. If the cookware is overheated, it can release polytetrafluoroethlyene (PTFE) gas that is rapid working and lethal. All species of birds can be affected. The only clinical sign of this poisoning generally occurs when the bird drops off its perch. Although this is not a herbal issue, it is an important safety consideration if you keep birds.

Herbal products to avoid use of with birds include:

Ma Huang
Life Root


We have a special obligation to our animal friends, to take as good care of them as is humanly possible. This includes proper veterinary care, as well as alternative medical care when warranted, in conjunction with medical professionals. Herbal remedies can be very useful, but you must do your homework. If in doubt, ask a professional.

Written by:
Rev. Mikki Barry
Master Herbalist
Global Institute For Alternative Medicine

Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Aroma Families

The Aroma Families

When choosing oils for your starter kit, you may wish to include a representative from each of the aroma families. Those listed below here are the most popular essences used in aromatherapy. The asterisk indicates the least expensive oil, and the five asterisk the most expensive.


Bergamot **


Roman Chamomile***
Rose Otto*****
Ylang Ylang**


Roman Chamomile***
Clary Sage***


Tea Tree*


Black Pepper**




Juniper Berry**

Suggested Starter Kit

For your first aromatherapy kit, I would like to suggest this all-purpose starter kit. It covers most needs in health and home.

Bergamot, geranium, lavender, eucalyptus (or tea tree), coriander, frankincense, patchouli and juniper berry.

The Basic Essentials

Here is a list of the most basic of the Essential oils, there are quite a few, so I have just included the basics to begin with. Please refer to it, when you are trying out different blends. When blending oils, remember that each oil has its specific properties, but they will also enhance each others properties.

The Oils

Basil For study and office work

Bergamot Uplifting, skin active

Cedarwood Relaxing, warming

Clary Sage Uplifting and inspiring

Cypress Astringent, tonifying

Eucalyptus Clarifying, antiseptic

Frankincense Soothing, comforting

Geranium Balancing, harmonizing

Juniper Invigorating, cleansing

Lavender Soothing, calming

Lemon Refreshing, uplifting

Lemongrass Tonifying, cleansing

Marjoram Sedating, comforting

Orange Refreshing, enhancing

Patchouli Relaxing, sensual

Peppermint Cooling, invigorating

Rosemary Invigorating, warming, good for study

Sandalwood Strengthening, fortifying

Tea Tree Antiseptic, cleansing

Ylang Ylang Relaxing, sensual

Carrier Oils or the Massage Medium

By adding your chosen Essential oils to a massage medium, you can create individual aromatic blends that are not only effective for body, mind, and spirit, but you will also create your own personal blend, that will make the blend that little bit extra special. Do not make the blends too strong, and always use carrier oil, by using carrier oils, they are the ideal bases for massage and tactile therapies. You can buy specialty carriers from your local pharmacy, just ask and they will be all to glad to help.

Sweet Almond: Light, fine, odorless oil containing natural vitamins. Most commonly used for massage.

Peach Kernel: Fine quality oil, rich in vitamins and ideal for facial massage.

Olive: Renowned for its warming qualities to the body. Good base oil for general massage.

Macadamia: Extremely high in vitamins A, I and U. This, I am proud to say, is a true Australian oil with its warm nutty aroma is an excellent body oil to nourish and moisturize the skin.

Avocado: Highly penetrative oil, rarely used on its own. Rich in Vitamin A and E, excellent for dry skin. This oil can also be combined with Essential oils, as this too is very rich. So use it wisely.

Wheat germ: High in Vitamin E, this oil is an excellent anti-oxidant to help preserve your blended oils.

Jojoba: This oil is a natural fluid wax, non greasy. Does not turn rancid and is quickly absorbed by the skin, moisturizing. This oil is great for a base in treating eczema.

Can I Make Essential Oils at Home?

Can I Make Essential Oils at Home?

Now, you may have wondered how essential oils are produced and whether or not you can make them at home.

The production of essential oils is a rather complicated process which usually requires specialized equipment and LOTS of plant materials. In the case of the production of rose otto, or rose essential oil, it takes about 2,000 pounds of roses to produce one pound of essential oil.

Although home distillation kits are now available, and you probably can find a few sources through the internet, they are fairly expensive and, for most people, making their own essential oils takes too much time, money and effort to make it worthwhile.

Processes of Extraction from Plants

There are many complex processes for extracting the oils from plants, depending on the herb. For this course, we will only discuss the primary processes of extraction. The two main methods used for extracting essential oils from plants are:

* steam, water or dry distillation or
* simple expression or pressure, (that is, the squeezing of the skin of an orange, for example)

Steam Distillation

The majority of oils such as lavender, myrrh, sandalwood and cinnamon are produced by steam distillation. This process isolates only the volatile and water-insoluble parts of a plant.

Essential oils are usually liquid, but can also be solid (orris root) or semi-solid according to temperature (rose or oakmoss). They dissolve in pure alcohol, fats and oils but not in water.

Unlike plant oils, such as olive oil, essential oils evaporate when exposed to air, leaving no oily residue behind.

I have seen where someone spilled German Chamomile, also known as Blue Chamomile, on a white shirt and within an hour or so; the stain was gone because the oil had evaporated. Other oils, such as patchouli or sandalwood may leave some slight discoloration.
Steam distillation does not leave chemical solvent residues

Cold Pressing

Simple expression or pressure is used to extract essential oils with this method. Basically, this involves squeezing of the skin of an orange, lemon, lime or grapefruit, for example.

Pick up a lemon, an orange and a grapefruit at your local grocery store. Slice the skin off of each of these fruits. Squeeze the skin
between your fingers, folding it over itself. You will see a small spurt of oil and the scent of the fruit will be magnified.

Here in essence, is the essential oil of these citrus fruits. And speaking of citrus fruits, this is a good time to consider the healing qualities of one of the freshest, and relatively inexpensive, essential oils you will find.

Take out your notebook and bottle of sweet orange essential oil. Put one drop on a tissue paper and inhale its scent. (Inhaling directly out of the bottle may be too intense.) Before you read further, consider the following questions and note your responses in your notebook. Be sure to list the full name of the essential oil as well as the day and date of your notations.

Now, consider the following: How were you feeling before you sniffed the oil? How are you feeling now that you have sniffed the oil? Do you like the scent? Why? Why not?

Once you have written down each question and your responses, continue reading.

Sweet Orange, Citrus sinensis

It’s not surprising that sweet orange essential oil is known as an antidepressant. Its fresh, bright scent is uplifting and cheering for most people. It is also helpful in relieving nervous tension and stress.

Diffused into the air, it can not only alleviate mild depression, it can help in dealing with colds and flu, bronchitis and chills
Whatever the plant and however its essential oils are extracted, aromatherapy probably has found some use for the concentrated energies of its oil.

Found in Various Plant Parts

Unlike fixed oils, essential oils are volatile. This means they evaporate rapidly at room temperature, whereas fixed oils, such as vegetable or motor oils, are more stable. Chemically, essential oils consist of a complex mixture of 30 to 100 or more compounds.
The oils themselves are found in various plant parts. Peppermint, patchouli, basil and geranium oils are derived from their leaves and stems. Clove oil comes from flower buds. Jasmine, rose and tuberose oils are derived from the open flowers. Essential oils are also derived from the seeds, wood, bark, roots, needles and skins of various plants.

The following essential oil is derived from the fresh or partially dried leaves and young twigs of a tree.

Take out your notebook and bottle of eucalyptus essential oil. Put one drop on a tissue paper and inhale its scent. (Inhaling directly out of the bottle may be too intense.) Before you read further, consider the following questions and note your responses in your notebook. Be sure to list the full name of the essential oil as well as the day and date of your notations.

Now, consider the following: How were you feeling before you sniffed the oil? How are you feeling now that you have sniffed the oil? Do you like the scent? Why? Why not?

Once you have written down each question and your responses, continue reading.

Eucalyptus globulus, Eucalyptus spp.

The essential oil is produced by steam distillation from the fresh or partially dried leaves and young twigs. The Eucalyptus tree is tall, at times growing more than 300 feet high. Young trees have round bluish-green leaves whereas the mature trees develop long, narrow yellowish leaves, creamy-white flowers and a smooth, pale grey bark often covered with a white powder.

Generally speaking, I've used Eucalyptus globulus in cool mist humidifiers (the manufacturers will NOT recommend doing this, by the way) by putting 10 to 15 drops in the water catch. I've also put 5 to 10 drops in a candlelight diffuser or potpourri pot...where you add water, add the essential oil and then light the tea light.

Eucalyptus is an excellent expectorant. Which means that, if you are congested, you may find yourself “coughing up a lung” along with a lot of phlegm!

Known for its use as a nasal and lung decongestant for colds and flu, Eucalyptus also inhibits proliferation of the cold virus, Patricia Davis in Aromatherapy: An A-Z says, "Eucalyptus used in air sprays or any form of vaporization during epidemics, will give a good measure of protection from flu and the infectious illnesses of childhood."

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Essential Oils

How Do Essential Oils Work?

Essential oils work in many ways. Scientists have been especially interested in how fragrances can trigger memories and in how pheromones--fragrant, hormone-like substances, influence physical attraction.

The nose connects to the olfactory bulb, the only place in the human body where the central nervous system is exposed directly to the environment. The cells of the olfactory membrane are literally brain cells.

Fragrant substances, like most essential oils, pass on to the limbic system without being registered by the cerebral cortex. Even before we become aware of an aroma, our subconscious reacts to it.

How Can We Use Essential Oils?


Massage is one of the more popular ways to use essential oils. Because they are so concentrated, it's usually best to dilute (almost always) essential oils with a neutral carrier oil, such as sweet almond, jojoba, coconut or olive, to avoid irritating the skin.

Even such oils as lavender, tea tree, sandalwood and rose should be diluted before use on the skin because undiluted use may lead to sensitization and the inability to get the healing benefits of those oils when they are most needed.

When working with essential oils, keep them away from the eyes and mucous membranes.

Because people's associations with oils and scents vary, always allow someone to smell an oil first before using it in a massage. If someone has a negative reaction to an oil's scent, you are better off finding an oil with similar properties that is more to their taste.

Because skin types and chemistries vary, you must watch carefully for adverse reactions.
There are many benefits to massage, including relaxation of the muscles and movement of the lymph fluids.


Inhalation of essential oils can be both a simple and fairly complex process. Special (and expensive) electronic aromatherapy diffusers will spread a scent throughout a room. A few drops of oil placed on a clay light-bulb diffuser will also do the job.

Using candles scented with essential oils can release the aromas into a room as the flame warms the wax, which in turn moves the fragrances into the air. Scenting the water in potpourri pots with essential oils is another way to gently lighten up a room.

By using a sprayer you can disinfect or perfume a room very quickly. Fill a spray bottle with water and a dozen, or so, drops of your chosen oil(s). Shake the bottle and then spray. As essential oils do not actually mix with water, make sure you shake the bottle to blend it (temporarily) before spraying.

Even putting a few drops of essential oil in a humidifier can do the job.


A few drops of an essential oil in bath water, just before you step into the tub, can do wonders for your mood. Bathing with essential oils gives you a double benefit--contact with your skin and inhalation of the scent as it rises from the water.

Because essential oils are not soluble in water, that is, they do not mix with water, it's best to add your essential oil to milk or a carrier oil before adding it to bath water. The last thing you want to do is put sensitive body parts on top of undiluted essential oils floating on top of your bath water.

Hand or Foot Baths

If you're going to perform reflexology on someone, soaking his or her feet or hands in a bowl of warm water scented with the appropriate oils can be very relaxing as well as antiseptic.

Again, use only one or two drops of essential oil dispersed into warm water. Check the water yourself to make sure that it is not too hot before allowing your subject to put his or her hands or feet in the soak.

Dispel Headaches

Both the inhaled scent and physical application of lavender essential oil (three drops of the essential oil to a 1/2 teaspoon of sweet almond or olive oil) to the outside of the sinuses and forehead can also help dispel headaches. Use only a finger's dab of this blend to apply to your sinuses and forehead. Repeat, if necessary, in a half hour or so.

Others find inhaling peppermint oil to be indispensable to ridding themselves of such pain.

Sweet Dreams

I also know many people who burn lavender stick incense at night to help them sleep peacefully.
The herb itself has been burned in rooms where a woman is going to give birth. More than one midwife wears lavender oil to set up soothing and calming energies.

• Store essential oils in a cool, dark place
• Always keep out of the reach of children and away from any pets.
• Avoid using directly or near the eyes or mucous membranes. Use whole milk or vegetable oil to help flush out any essential oil that might have splashed into the eye. Remember, essential oils are NOT soluble in water, so water is not the best medium for removing them. If problems persist, seek medical assistance as soon as possible.

• Do not use the same essential oil every time, whether for skin application or inhalation. Rotate your essential oils to avoid becoming sensitized and to avoid overexposure to any one essential oil.
• Remember, just because an essential oil is derived from a plant, it cannot be used in the same way as the plant. (Herbalists will note similarities with the use of many essential oil as to traditional uses of herbs, but essential oils and the herbs themselves are NOT interchangeable.)
• If you develop a skin rash, stop using it right away.
• When working with essential oils, make sure you have adequate ventilation. Open up windows, put on the exhaust fan. This is especially important for practitioners, who will tend to be exposed to essential oil fumes more than the average individual.
• Do not use essential oils internally UNLESS you get much more training!
• Always dilute essential oils before using them on the body.

If making a one-ounce massage oil blend,
remember the following:

• 1 oz. equals approximately 30 ml
• 1 teaspoon equals about 5 ml
• 1 tablespoon equals about 15 ml or 1/2 ounce

*One percent essential oil in a one-ounce blend would be about 10 drops.
*Two percent essential oil in a one-ounce blend would be about 20 drops.
*Three percent would be about 30 drops.

Because essential oils are so concentrated, it's usually best to dilute (almost always) them with a neutral carrier or base oil, such as apricot kernel, jojoba, coconut, emu or olive, to avoid irritating the skin.

Even such oils as lavender, tea tree, sandalwood and rose should be diluted before use on the skin because undiluted use may lead to sensitization and the inability to get the healing benefits of those oils when they are most needed.

Carrier oils are referred to as such because they carry the essential oil onto the skin or in the product that they are used in. Different
carrier oils offer different properties and the choice of carrier oil can depend on the therapeutic benefit being sought.

Carrier oils are generally cold-pressed vegetable oils from the fatty portions of the plant. Cold pressing means that no external heat has been used while the seed is being pressed.

The following essential oil is often used in “sensual” massages because it has a reputation as an “aphrodisiac.”

Take out your notebook and bottle of patchouli essential oil. Put one drop on a tissue paper and inhale its scent. (Inhaling directly out of the bottle may be too intense.) Before you read further, consider the following questions and note your responses in your notebook. Be sure to list the full name of the essential oil as well as the day and date of your notations.

Now, consider the following: How were you feeling before you sniffed the oil? How are you feeling now that you have sniffed the oil? Do you like the scent? Why? Why not?

Once you have written down each question and your responses, continue reading.

Patchouli, Pogostemon cablin

Many people think of patchouli as a "hippy's herb" from the 1960s. During that time of "love fests" and heavy use of marijuana, patchouli incense was often burned to cover up the scent of the burning drug. Then a lot of people who weren't using drugs found they liked the scent.

But most people don't know that patchouli was rather popular in the 1860s as well. In the 1860s, Britain imported cashmere shawls from India. The shawls were packed with patchouli leaves to discourage moth infestation.

British merchants found that if they had cashmere shawls that were not packed with patchouli leaves, that they could not sell them. However, once they scented the shawls with patchouli, they did sell.

In addition to being known as an aphrodisiac which heightens sensuality, this relaxing scent is also known for its antidepressant and antiseptic properties.

Patchouli essential oil can help prevent viral infections and aid in the healing of wounds. The oil used to treat yeast infections both in the mouth and the vagina. As pointed out above, it is used in Asia as a moth repellant.

Anxiety: Clary Sage, geranium, juniper berry, lavender, lemon balm (Melissa), neroli, Roman chamomile, rose otto, sandalwood, sweet marjoram, ylang ylang

Mental Fatigue: Clary Sage, juniper berry, rosemary

Relaxing: Chamomile, lavender, lemon balm (Melissa), geranium, neroli

Uplifting: Clary sage, eucalyptus, juniper berry,

Euphoric: Jasmine, sandalwood, ylang ylang

Muscle aches: Birch, eucalyptus, juniper, rosemary

Respiratory problems: Eucalyptus, lavender, peppermint, pine, spruce

Depression: Basil, clary sage, geranium, lavender, melissa, rose, ylang ylang.

Headaches: Eucalyptus, lavender, lemon balm, peppermint, Roman chamomile, rosemary

Insomnia: Roman Chamomile, lavender, neroli

Friday, April 25, 2008

Origins of Aromatherapy

Origins of Aromatherapy

The use of fragrance goes back thousands of years. Originally, people used herbs, and the oils derived from them, directly as a part of their spiritual or religious practice, and often, more indirectly as medicines.

Aromatherapy and More
It is relatively simple to burn the actual herbs themselves, when using the herbs as incense. Or to release the scent of the herbs, by pouring boiling water over them, to produce a tea, infusion, tisane or steam inhalation. If a plant grows in your locality, you can probably prepare it for these types of use.

However, the use of essential oils is more complicated because one doesn’t just use the raw herb itself.
In most instances, the ancient world's use of botanicals did not include the use of actual essential oils. Rather, instead, many of the ancients used fats and oils infused with plant materials.

The Term "Aromatherapy"
In the 1900s, a French chemist, Professor Rene-Maurice Gattefosse, is credited with coining the term "Aromatherapy." His family owned a perfumery business. As he defined it, aromatherapy carries a somewhat narrow definition in the respect that it only includes essential oils, not other botanical products, which may or may not be considered a formal part of aromatherapy.


"To reach the individual we need an individual remedy. Each of us is a unique message. It is only the unique remedy that will suffice. We must, therefore, seek odiferous substances which present affinities with the human being we intend to treat, those which will compensate for his deficiencies and those which will make his faculties' blossom."
--- Marguerite Maury. "The Secret if Life and Youth".

Aromatherapy is a multifaceted healing art, which uses the essential oils of plant and trees to promote health of body and serenity of mind. Although the roots of this beautiful therapy are ancient, I have set out to prove that the basic principles on which aromatherapy is based are no less valid today.

Aromatic plants have been used by humankind since the dawn of history. There is evidence that over some 4,000 years ago, the Ancient Sumerians made use of the scented herbs such as cypress and myrrh, while in the 1870's George Ebers discovered a 21 meter scroll of papyrus that listed over 850 Ancient Egyptian botanical remedies, dating from about 1500 BC.

Ancient Greek Physicians such as Hippocrates and Galen interpreted the microcosm of the human being according to the Elements of Fire, Water, Earth, and Air, while the masters of the Chinese tradition saw five elements at work. In either case, they employed a rich and varied language of Nature - not to describe their observations as fixed phenomena, but like the physicists of today, to use these concepts to expose the dynamic force that masquerades as matter.

Aromatherapy also has a few intriguing diversions, such as the art of natural perfumery, the making of cosmetic lotions and potions, and an exploration of sensual aromatherapy - for those wishing to enhance their love life through the alchemy of fragrance and the magic of touch.

Practices such as these were the beginnings of a tradition that embraced not one but several civilizations, and developed hand-in-hand with systems of science and medicine that were based on both empirical knowledge and informed intuition

By applying traditional wisdom to aromatherapy, we can avail ourselves of a corpus of knowledge that is immediate and profound, practical and intuitive. And through contributing to the synthesis of East and West, we can expand our awareness both of the human spirit and the plant essence.

War Time Uses of Essential Oils

Gattefosse experimented with essential oils on wounded soldiers during World War I. His work showed that essential oils, rather than chemical antiseptics, detoxified wounds and sped up healing.

His own personal experience with the healing properties of lavender made him a fan of that oil. He accidentally burned his hand in his laboratory when an experiment caused a small explosion. After he applied lavender oil, the pain ceased and (according to aromatherapy legend) the skin soon healed, perfectly cured.

This seems the perfect place to discuss one of Gattefosse’s favorite oils and a few of the ways you can best use it. Of course, we are talking about Lavender essential oil.

Take out your notebook and bottle of lavender essential oil. Put one drop on a tissue paper and inhale its scent. (Inhaling directly out of the bottle may be too intense.) Before you read further, consider the following questions and note your responses in your notebook. Be sure to list the full name of the essential oil as well as the day and date of your notations.

Now, consider the following: How were you feeling before you sniffed the oil? How are you feeling now that you have sniffed the oil? Do you like the scent? Why? Why not? Once you have written down each question and your responses, continue reading.

Lavender, Lavendula angusifolia

An antiseptic essential oil, lavender has found its niche in the treatment of burns, whether as a result of a kitchen or camping accident, or spending too much time at the seaside or hiking in the mountains.

Just a couple of drops of lavender essential oil mixed into a teaspoon of aloe vera gel makes a soothing, antiseptic and pain relieving lotion which not only relieves the pain of a burn, but also speeds up the healing process.

A few drops in a tea light diffuser at night before bedtime can help an insomniac relax and have sweet dreams.

Lavender essential oil also has a reputation for helping stressed out individuals calm down and take life a little slower. In essence, it helps them to stop and smell the flowers.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

The Basics of Aromatherapy

Wise Weeds Botanical Studies, Basic Aromatherapy Course enables students to develop their knowledge about and appreciation for the healing qualities of essential oils. Students also learn about the safety issues involving these products.

Practical Aromatherapy: Using Essential Oils for Healing expands on the concepts covered in this course and presents more historical, safety and research information as well.

We highly recommend that students purchase the kit of sample bottles of essential oils at the course's beginning, as they will use them from the very first lesson. The experiential part of this course is an integral part of the student's growing knowledge and comfort level with using essential oils.

In this course you will find the following information and more:

* An Introduction to Concepts of Learning
* The Term "Aromatherapy"
* Some of the Processes of Extraction from Plants
* What Plant Parts Contribute Essential Oils
* How Essential Oils Work
* Some Ways to Use Essential Oils
* Basic Safety Tips
* A Quick Reference of the Healing Properties of Essential Oils

Also, this course will discuss some of the properties and uses of the following essential oils:

* Lavender
* Sweet Orange
* Eucalyptus
* Patchouli


As I've worked with people to create balance in their bodies through the use of herbs and other healing options, I've incorporated the use of essential oils into my healing practice more and more.

The very scent of essential oils soothes calms, awakens or otherwise affects individuals in very positive ways, regardless of whether or not they are even aware of aromatherapy as a practice.

Essential oils lend themselves to subtle types of non-threatening healing. Not all people are open to "alternative" therapies, but most enjoy pleasant smells.

Here in this course, you will learn a little bit about aromatherapy--the use of essential oils for healing, and why it works.

Remember, this class will merely put you on the road to learning about the therapeutic uses of essential oils. It is how you mark out your personal route on this map that will determine the true value of your journey in your life. Have confidence in yourself and the learning process. The most important suggestion I have for you right now is: keep your own journal of impressions. If all you do is plan to skim through these materials, you will miss the best and most fun part of this course--learning how much you already know about the effects of essential oils.

Learning is a process. Most of us, if we went to public or private school, were taught to value grades and "doing it right" more than actual knowledge and understanding. Oftentimes, independent thought or questions were discouraged, not rewarded. Well, I hope you can leave those types of educational concepts behind. Avoid being intimidated if this course is your first experience with dealing with an alternative healing topic. If some of the material seems vague, or does not give you enough information, please let me know.

By the same token, if you are very experienced with alternative therapies, please don’t be put off by any extended explanations of terms or concepts. Read the material thoroughly. I may mean something slightly differently by a term than your prior experience may lead you to believe.

I'm a strong believer in repeating concepts and information more than once and in slightly different manners that way our brains can process the information (and access it in the future) in a more comprehensive manner. This is kind of like filing folders in more than one file cabinet drawer Or keeping a written record, as well as data on a disk.

For a long time I hesitated to produce an online or correspondence course because people learn in so many ways, not just through written communication. In fact, most people are not aware of how they best learn something. Consider the following;

If your learning pattern indicates you learn better by hearing the spoken word, for example, you may want to purchase or borrow a tape recorder. You could then read each section onto a tape and then play it back for better comprehension.

If you're working in a group, individuals could take time and read the sections aloud to one another.

If you're one of these people who learn best by hands-on work, you'll benefit greatly from the essential oils.

One of the more important communications concepts I've learned from someone who struggles with dyslexia, and being a mother to a child who was just learning about the world, is, don't take anything for granted. Question. Question. Question. If something is not clear, make sure you understand it.

It's smart to ask questions when you don’t know something. That's not something that many of us were encouraged to be aware of when we were in school quite the opposite, by my recollection. Most kids (and then adults in the corporate world) tried to look like they knew everything. Otherwise, people would think they were "dumb" or "stupid."

It took me years to learn how foolish that approach to learning and knowledge is.
Remember, the only stupid questions are the ones you don't ask. But also remember, I don't know everything, and I may tell you just that!

Just as herbalists learn to keep a record of how various herbs affect them, their friends, families and clients, so, too, should you keep your own materia medica of essential oils and their applications and effects.

While I will give you my impressions of certain essential oils, you will want to build on that knowledge, using it as a foundation, not as the sum total of your learning.
Although you may get the impression from this course, and modern books on aromatherapy, that aromatherapy has been scientifically validated and proven to work, that is really an incomplete impression.

Aromatherapy remains an extremely young art form. There are so many variables that come into play as to the effectiveness, efficacy and safety of essential oils used for healing. While it is important to draw upon the experiences and experiments of those who have gone before us, it is equally valid, in my opinion, to note what results that we, as individuals exploring alternative healing, obtain.

Am I suggesting that you ignore all of the work of those who have gone before you? Certainly not but I am suggesting that you open yourself to noting how you, and others around you, respond to essential oils. Hopefully, this course will enable you to do just that.

When you sample an essential oil, you must keep notes. Do not rely on your memory. First impressions of an essential oil can be fleeting.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Meaning Of WitchCraft Pt.4

The Meaning of Witchcraft by GERALD GARDNER
Part 4

It is evident from early pictures and descriptions (the earliest being the famous cave paintings found at Ariege in the Caverne des Trois Freres, done by men of the Stone Age), that the High Priest who was the god’s representative sometimes wore a ritual disguise, consisting of a head-dress bearing the horns of a stag or a bull, and a kind of robe of animal skins; sometimes, too, a mask which concealed his features. This custom seems to have been more particularly followed at the big Sabbats, when many people gathered outside the circle who were not actual initiates of the witches’ mysteries, but came “for luck” (i.e. for the blessing of the Old Gods) or simply to enjoy themselves. It made the proceedings more impressive, and at the same time safer, if the god’s representative was masked and disguised, so that he could not be recognized. The horned figure, seen dimly by moonlight or by the light of torches, would have seemed to the outsiders to be a supernatural being, and the initiates would not have undeceived them. When only initiates were present, there was less need for the ritual disguise, so the custom of wearing it has tended to fade out.

It will be seen that witchcraft is a system involving both magic and religion. This in itself is an indication of great age, because in primitive times magic and religion were closely interrelated. The priest was also the magician, and the magician had perforce to be a priest. Indeed, when one comes to consider it, many religious rites today are directed towards ends, which might be called magical. What is the essential difference, for instance, between prayers for rain, or for a good harvest, and the old fertility rites, which were directed to the same end? And why must a King or a Queen undergo the ritual of Coronation? With regard to the Church’s prayers and a fertility rite, the difference would seem to lie in the latter working on the principle that “God helps those who help themselves,” whereas the former is content with petition. The question of the necessity of Coronation ritual raises the whole idea of the Divine King or Queen which has engaged the attention of anthropologists for many years. The idea that there is any connection between religion and magic may be indignantly repudiated by some orthodox believers; nevertheless, both spring from the same root.

As I explained in my previous book, there are certain secrets of the witch cult that I cannot by reason of my pledged word reveal; but many people write to me saying, “You said in your book, Witchcraft Today that all the ancient Mysteries were basically the same; so as we all know what these ancient Mysteries were, we know exactly what the witches’ secrets are. So why don’t you write another book telling everything?”

Now, while the ancient authors who were initiated into a number of the Mysteries agree that they were all the same basically, and there is a certain amount of agreement among modern authors about what their secrets were, I doubt very much if any of them realizes the reason behind them, “what made them work,” in fact; and what makes things work is the witches’ secret. I think that this was probably the practical secret of the ancient Mysteries also.

However, I am not going to be drawn in this way to break my word; a statement, which will, I hope, result in a saving of notepaper and stamps on the part of some of my more aggressive correspondents. Certain of the present-day enquiries of psychical research, archaeology, anthropology, and psychology are beginning to converge in a manner that is gradually revealing facts about ancient beliefs and their effect upon human evolution which have not been realized before. It is my hope that this book will be a useful contribution to these lines of enquiry, and perhaps assist in their convergence.

Upon the 1st March, 1956, Major Lloyd-George, then Home Secretary, as a result of a question asked in the House of Commons, said that black magic was an offence in common law. When pressed by M.P.s to define black magic, he said, “It is the opposite to white magic (at which there was laughter and ironical cheers) which is performed without the aid of the devil, so I assume the other is done with his aid.”

If this were accepted as a definition, then authentic witchcraft is certainly not black magic, because witches do not even believe in the devil, let alone invoke him. The Old Horned God of the witches is not the Satan of Christianity, and no amount of theological argument will make him so. He is, in fact, the oldest deity known to man, and is depicted in the oldest representation of a divinity which has yet been found, namely the Stone Age painting in the innermost recess of the Caverne des Trois Freres at Ariege. He is the old phallic god of fertility who has come forth from the morning of the world, and who was already of immeasurable antiquity before Egypt and Babylon, let alone before the Christian era. Nor did he perish at the cry that Great Pan was dead. Secretly through the centuries, hidden deeper and deeper as time went on, his worship and that of the naked Moon Goddess, his bride, the Lady of Mystery and Magic and the forbidden joys, continued sometimes among the great ones of the land, sometimes in humble cottages, or on lonely heaths and in the depths of darkling woods, on summer nights when the moon rode high. It does so still.

From time to time the public have been treated to various highly-colored and highly unconvincing “revelations” in the popular Press and elsewhere upon the subject of “Black Magic,” “Satanism,” and similar matters, and occasionally these have been linked with witchcraft. Let me state right away that I personally maintain an attitude of thorough-going skepticism towards these things, and that even if they do exist I do not consider them to have any relation to the survival of the witch cult. Alleged “confessions,” especially where witchcraft is mentioned, bear ample internal evidence of their own meretriciousness, in that they are obviously modeled upon sensational thrillers and reveal no knowledge whatever of genuine witch practices.

The real thing is deeper hidden than this. People, especially country people, are reluctant to talk about it; but no one, I think, can study folklore in this country for long without becoming convinced of the amazing vitality and tenacity of old beliefs.

Where the town-dweller usually goes astray in his conclusions about the witch cult is that he has been fed mentally upon the alleged “revelations” mentioned above, or upon works that associate witchcraft with some fantastic belief vaguely known as “Satanism,” with the implication that it is, or was, a cult of evil and nothing else. I submit that this is an unreasonable view, and has been promulgated by persons who possess no qualifications beyond a bent for sensationalism or an outlook blinded by religious bigotry. The countryman and countrywoman preserve a belief through the centuries because they think it is some use to them, or because they derive some satisfaction from it. Of course, the benefit they derive from the belief may not always seem to us to be highly ethical. Nevertheless, no one but a maniac would deliberately cultivate evil for its own sake.

The foundation of magical beliefs, of which witchcraft is a form, is that unseen Powers exist, and that by performing the right sort of ritual these Powers can be contacted and either forced or persuaded to assist one in some way. People believed this in the Stone Age, and they believe it, consciously or not, today. It is now well known that most superstition is in fact broken-down ritual.

The unseen Powers that have interested man most in his early history have been the powers of fertility and of contact with the spirit world; of Life and Death. These are the elementary powers that became the divinities of the witches, and their worship is as old as civilization itself. The meaning of witchcraft is to be found, not in strange religious theories about God and Satan, but in the deepest levels of the human mind, the collective unconscious, and in the earliest developments of human society. It is the deepness of the roots that has preserved the tree.


The Meaning of Witchcraft


First Published in 2004 by

Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC
York Beach, ME
With offices at:
368 Congress Street
Boston, MA 02210

Originally published in the U.K. in 1959 by Aquarian, London

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Gardner, Gerald Brosseau, 1884-1964

The meaning of witchcraft / G.B. Gardner.

p. cm.

Originally published: 1st ed. London: Aquarian Press, 1959.

Includes bibliographical references.

ISBN 1-57863-309-5

1. Witchcraft. I. Title.

BF1566.G3 2004


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Meaning Of WitchCraft Pt.3

The Meaning of Witchcraft by GERALD GARDNER
Part 3

Eileen Power, in her book, Mediaeval People4 says, speaking of the peasants:

They used to spend their holidays in dancing and singing and buffoonery, as country folk have always done until our own more gloomier, more self -conscious age. They were very merry and not at all refined, and the place they always chose for their dances was the churchyard; and unluckily the songs they sang as they danced in a ring were old pagan songs of their forefathers, left over from old Mayday festivities, which they could not forget, or ribald love songs which the Church disliked. Over and over again we find the Church councils complaining that the peasants (and sometimes the priests, too) were singing ‘wicked songs with a chorus of dancing women’, or holding ‘ballads and dancing and evil and wanton songs and such-like lures of the devil’; over and over again the bishops forbade these songs and dances; but in vain. In every country in Europe, right through the Middle Ages to the time of the Reformation, and after it, country folk continued to sing and dance in the churchyard.

She continues:

Another later story still is told about a priest in Worcestershire, who was kept awake all night by the people dancing in his churchyard, and singing a song with the refrain ‘Sweetheart have pity’, so that he could not get it out of his head, and the next morning at Mass, instead of saying ‘Dominus vobiscum’, he said, ‘Sweetheart have pity’, and there was a dreadful scandal which got into a chronicle.5

However, I have never heard of a present-day witch meeting being held in a churchyard; I think those sensation-mongers who have described present-day witches as forgathering in graveyards are guessing, and their guess is a few centuries out.

Actually, witch meetings today may take place anywhere that is convenient, and only people who have been initiated into the cult are allowed to be present. The actual proceedings would probably greatly disappoint those who have been nurtured on tales of blood sacrifices, drunken orgies, obscene rites, etc., etc. Witches do not use blood sacrifices; and only the type of mind which considers all recognition of the Elder Gods and their symbols to be “diabolical” would call their rites “obscene.” There are, on the other hand, people who consider many of the Church’s beliefs and practices to be an insult to Divinity; a woman once told me, for instance, that she thought the Church of England’s Marriage Service so disgusting that she could never bring herself to submit to it. Much depends upon one’s point of view in these matters.

4. Penguin Books, 1951.
5. The chronicle in question was that of Giraldus Cambrensis, Gemma Ecclesiastica, pt. I, c. XLII.

The taking of wine during the rites is part of the ceremony; it consists usually of two glasses at the most, and is not intended to be a “mockery” of anything, still less a “Black Mass.” In fact, witches say that their rite of the “Cakes and Wine” (a ritual meal in which cakes and wine are consecrated and partaken of) is much older than the Christian ceremony, and that in fact it is the Christians who have copied the rites of older religions. In view of the fact that such ritual meals are known to have been part of the Mysteries of the goddess Cybele in ancient times, and that a similar ritual meal is partaken of, according to Arthur Avalon in Shakti and Shakta, by the Tantriks of India, who are also worshippers of a great Mother-Goddess, there seem to be some grounds for this statement.

In the old days, they tell me, ale or mead might be used instead of wine, any drink in fact that had “a kick” in it, because this represented “life.” I wonder if this is why Shakespeare used the expression “cakes and ale” as a synonym for fun which was frowned on by the pious?

It is a tradition that fire in some form, generally a candle, must be present on the altar, which is placed in the middle of the circle, and candles are also placed about the circle itself. This circle is drawn with the idea of “containing” the “power” which is raised within it, of bringing it to a focus, so to speak, so that some end may be accomplished by raising it. This focusing of force is called “The Cone of Power.”

Incense is also used, and I have read in Spiritualist literature that “power” is thought by some mediums to be given off by naked flames, by a bowl of water, and by incense. All these are present on the witches’ altar. I once took a photograph of a witches’ meeting-place while a rite was being performed there; this included none of the people present, deliberately, but merely the altar, etc., and part of the circle. When the photograph was developed it showed “extras” in the form of ribbon-like formations, some of which appeared to proceed from the candles. I assured myself that there was nothing in the composition of the candles, which could account for this phenomenon, nor was there anything wrong with my camera. A copy of this photograph is on display in the Museum.

The great reservoir of “power,” according to the witches, is the human body. Spiritualists generally share this belief. Upon the practical means used to raise and direct this “power” I do not propose to touch; but that it is not a mere flight of fancy to believe in its existence is proved by some of the researches of modern science. The radiesthesia journal, The Pendulum, for March, 1956, carried an article called “Living Tissue Rays,” by Thomas Colson, from the Electronic Medical Digest. This told how Professor Otto Rahn of Cornell University had described to a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, at Syracuse, New York, how yeast cells can be killed by a person looking intently at them for a few minutes. The yeast cells were placed on a glass plate and held close to the person’s eyes. The Professor explained this by saying that certain rays were emitted from the human eye, which were capable of producing this result. For several years, he said, scientists had been reporting discoveries that living things produce ultraviolet rays. In the human body they had been found coming from working muscles, and in the blood.

The fingertip rays of several persons at Cornell killed yeast readily. The tip of the nose was discovered to be a fine ultra-violet ‘tube’. Then came the eye. Human rays are not always harmful. From some persons they are beneficial to tiny plants. There seems to be no difference in the kind, but the volume differs. When large, it is lethal to yeast. The same person emits it at different rates. He may be ‘killing’ at one time and ‘benign’ at another. The right hand appears to radiate more than the left, even in left-handers. . . .

These body rays seem to be given off most strongly by the parts of the body which are replaced most rapidly, such as the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet. . . . The tops of the fingers are very strong emitters of this energy. . . . The back gives off the least energy and the abdomen and chest slightly more. The sex organs in both sexes and breasts in women emit these rays quite strongly.

The first scientific proof that there is a personal electric field, a sort of electrical aura, within and in the air around a living body, was announced to the Third International Cancer Congress. The report was made by Dr. Harold S. Burr, of Yale University. . . . Human eyes are powerful electric batteries. This discovery, showing that each eyeball is an independent battery, was announced to the National Academy of Sciences in 1938 by Dr.Walter H. Miles, Yale University pathologist. . . . The fact that eyes produce electricity has been known to science since 1860, when it was discovered in frogs, but the source of this electric power, its variations and especially its high power in human beings, is little known.

The above extract gives the reason for the witches’ traditional ritual nudity. To their Christian opponents this was mere shamelessness; but students of comparative religion know that, apart from the practical magical reason given above, nudity in religious ceremonies is a very old and worldwide practice. This is, in fact, yet another indication of the witch cult’s derivation from remotest antiquity.

It may seem strange that the beliefs of the witch and the discoveries of the man of science should ever find a realm in which they could meet and touch; yet this is not the first time such a thing has happened. The doctor who introduced the use of digitalis into medical practice bought the secret from a Shropshire witch, after taking an interest in her herbal cures.

The witches’ belief that “the power” resides within themselves, and that their rites serve to bring it out, is the great difference between them and the practitioners of “ceremonial magic,” black or white. The latter proceed by the invocation or evocation of spirits, sometimes of demons, whom they seek to compel to serve them. This is not the witches’ way, though they believe that helpful spirits, human or otherwise, come of their own accord to assist in their rites, and that those present who have developed “the Sight” (i.e. clairvoyance) may see such spirits.

A popular belief about witchcraft, which is nevertheless erroneous, is the idea that a witches’ coven must consist of thirteen people. Actually, it may consist of more or less than thirteen people; but thirteen is considered to be the ideal number. This may be because it is the best number of people to work in the witches’ traditional nine-foot circle; six couples and a leader. Or it may be because witchcraft is a moon cult, and there are thirteen moons in a year and thirteen weeks in every quarter, each quarter of the year having its Sabbat. The four great Sabbats are Candlemass, May Eve, Lammas, and Halloween; the equinoxes and solstices are celebrated also, thus making the Eight Ritual Occasions, as the witches call them. On the great Sabbats all the covens that could forgather together would do so; but apart from these great Sabbats, minor meetings called Esbats are held. The word “Esbat” may come from the old French “s’esbattre,” meaning “to frolic, to enjoy oneself.” Traditionally, the Esbat is the meeting of the local coven for local matters, or simply for fun, and it is, or should be, held at or near the full moon.

As might be expected from a moon cult, the leading part in the ceremonies is played by the High Priestess, or Maiden. She has the position of authority, and may choose any man of sufficient rank in the cult to be her High Priest. In France the Maiden was sometimes called La Reine du Sabbat; in Scotland she seems to have been called the Queen of Elphame (i.e. Faery), and one old witch-trial has it that “she makes any man King whom she pleases.”

Apart from the theory that the “fairies” were actually the primitive People of the Heaths, the smaller, darker aboriginal folk displaced by the Early Iron Age invaders, which I treated of in Witchcraft Today, there is another connection between them and the witches. In the popular mind, after the advent of Christianity the old Celtic Paradise to which the souls of pagans went when they died became the “Realm of Faerie,” and the God and Goddess who were the rulers of the After-World became the deities of the witches, who held to the Old Religion, and also were considered as the King and Queen of Faery. Hence the High Priestess of a witch coven, who is considered as the Goddess’s living representative, would naturally be called “the Queen of Elphame.”

The original “Fairyland” was the pagan paradise, and the “fairies” of early romances, are very different from the dainty miniature creatures of later tales and children’s stories, made up when their original significance had been forgotten. This is made abundantly clear by the descriptions given in the anonymous old English poem, “Sir Orfeo,” of which the earliest MS. we have dates from the early fourteenth century. It is reminiscent of the Greek story of Orpheus and Eurydice, but with a happy ending instead of a tragic one, and contains a fine description of “The proude courte of Paradis,” which was entered apparently through a hollow hill or rocky cave, and of its rulers, “The king o’ fairy with his rout,” and his queen, the White Goddess; “As white as milke were her weeks” and so brightly shining that Orfeo could scarcely behold them.

A. E.Waite, in his introduction to Elfin Music, an Anthology of English Fairy Poetry6 says: “The Elizabethan age commonly identified the fairies of Gothic superstition with the classic nymphs who attended Diana, while the elfin queen was Diana herself, and was called by one of the names of that goddess, that is, Titania, which is found in the Metamorphoses of Ovid as a title of the uranian queen.” He states further that “. . . the original fairy of Frankish poetry and fiction was simply a female initiated into the mysteries and marvels of magic.”

A third ingredient in the tales of “fairies” is, of course, actual non-human nature spirits which some people claim to be able to see, and it is fascinating for the student of folklore to disentangle these different strands that weave through old stories and beliefs.

The High Priest of a witch coven is, as we have seen, chosen by the Priestess. He is the person whom the Inquisitors and witch-hunters of old times used to call “the Devil,” as being either an actual supernatural devil or else his human representative. Witches are constantly being accused of “worshipping the Devil.” Now, when we use that word “Devil,” what picture automatically forms itself in most people’s minds? Is it not that of a strange looking being who seems to be partly human and partly animal, having great horns on his head, and a body covered with hair, although his face is human? Have you ever stopped to wonder why this picture should automatically come into your mind in this way? There is not one single text in the Bible which describes “the Devil” or “Satan” in this manner. The only place in which you will find such a personage described is, curiously enough, among the gods of the ancient peoples. Here you will find quite a number of Horned Gods, and sometimes Horned Goddesses too, who were not, however, beings of evil, but deities beneficent to man. The reason why people picture “the Devil” in this way is because from the very earliest times the Church has taught that the Old God who possessed these attributes was the enemy of the Christian God, and hence must be Satan; and people have got so used to this concept that they have never stopped to question it.

6. Walter Scott, 1888.

Monday, April 21, 2008

The Meaning Of WitchCraft Pt.2

The Meaning of Witchcraft by GERALD GARDNER
Part 2

I am not the first to have pointed this out; Eliphas Levi, the celebrated French occultist, who was also a devote Catholic, stated in his book, Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Magie, that the first condition of success in the practice of black magic was to be prepared to profane the cultus in which we believed.

Some may hold that anyone who does not believe in Transubstantiation is lacking in the True Faith and doomed to Hell. I am told that certain Nonconformist ministers preaching against Transubstantiation obtained consecrated Hosts and held them up to mockery in the pulpit; but I have never heard that this made them witches.

What about the Christian people who carry such consecrated Hosts about in lockets as personal charms? Are they being reverent or not? And are they witches? We have some of these charms in this Museum.) I know very well that some people would be shocked at this practice, but this does not alter the fact that it is done.

The point which those writers who persistently link the witch cult with the Black Mass fail to appreciate is that they can either maintain that witches are pagans, or that they celebrate Black Masses; but that in the name of logic and common sense they cannot have it both ways.

Unlike a number of sensational writers, I do not wish to convey the impression that there are witches at work in every corner of the land. On the contrary, there are very few real witches left, and those keep themselves very much to themselves. They are generally the descendants of witch families, and have inherited a tradition, which has been preserved for generations. This is, indeed, the traditional way in which witchcraft was spread and preserved; the children of witch families were taught by their parents, and initiated at an early age. In fact, this is very probably the origin of all those frightful stories of the witches bringing babies to the Sabbat to eat them; what really happened was that witch parents dared not omit to have their babies baptized, for fear of instantly arousing suspicion, so they used to bring the babies to the Sabbat first, and present them in dedication to the Old Gods. Then, they felt, it wouldn’t matter if a ceremony of Christian baptism was later gone through “for show.” (“When I bow my head in the house of Rimmon, the Lord pardon Thy servant in this thing.”) However, as the persecution of the Old Religion grew more fiercer, it became dangerous to admit children. Innocent children prattled among themselves about where their parents went and what they did, and one unlucky word overheard by the wrong person might have meant death to the whole family. There are terrible records of children being hanged or burned with their parents, merely because they were of the witch blood. Margaret Ine Quane, for instance, who was burned as a witch here in Castletown in 1617, had her young son burned with her, simply because he was her son. Hence the custom of initiating the children was less and less observed, and this, coupled with the wholesale extermination policy carried on at the Church’s instigation, soon greatly reduced the numbers of the cult.

However, there is one factor in the continuity of the tradition which the opponents of the cult had not reckoned with. The witches are firm believers in reincarnation, and they say that “Once a witch, always a witch.” They believe that people who have been initiated into the cult, and have really accepted the Old Religion and the Old Gods in their hearts, will return to it or have an urge towards it in life after life, even though they may have no conscious knowledge of their previous associations with it. There may be something in this; because I know personally of three people in one coven who discovered that, subsequent to their coming into the cult in this life, their ancestors had had links with it, and I have already mentioned the witches who “recommended” me.

Of course, witch rites today are somewhat different from what they used to be many centuries ago. Then the great meetings, called Sabbats, used to be attended by large numbers of the population, who arrived provided with the wherewithal to cook a meal for themselves (hence the “hellish Sabbat fires” we have heard so much about), and prepared to spend a night on the heath in merrymaking, once the more serious rites were over. In fact, most traditional country merrymakings have some connection with the Old Religion; the Puritan Stubbes, in his Anatomie of Abuses, fiercely denounces the people who stayed out all night in the woods “Maying” on the old Sabbat date of May Eve; and Christina Hole, in her English Folklore, notes how the Northamptonshire “guisers”—folk-dancers dressed in fantastic costumes—are called “witch-men” to this day. Such instances might be greatly multiplied.

The English climate, of course, did not always permit these gatherings to be held on the heath; and I think that in this event they probably took place in someone’s barn, or in the hall of a great house whose owner was friendly to the cult. In the Basque country of Pays de Labourd in 1609 the official investigator from the Parlement of Bordeaux, Pierre de Lancre, was horrified to find that the Sabbat was sometimes held in the local church, apparently with the priest’s consent. He was particularly scandalized to find how many Basque priests sympathized with the Old Religion.2

We are often told horrid tales of witch meetings in churchyards, and of witches who, in the words of Robert Burns, “in kirkyards renew their leagues owre howkit dead.” But in the old times the churchyard was the regular place for village merrymakings. In those days a churchyard was not, as it is today, a place of gravestones, but simply a green sward. From M. C. Anderson’s Looking for History in British Churches3 we may see that dancing in the churchyard was quite feasible in the old days as the author says that it was not the practice to erect gravestones to those who were buried there. “The great folks were buried beneath sculptured tombs within the church. . . . The little people remained anonymous in death
before the 17th century.”

2. De Lancre, Tableau de L’Inconstance des Mauvais, Paris, 1612.
3. John Murray, 1951.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

The Meaning Of WitchCraft Pt.1

The Meaning of Witchcraft by GERALD GARDNER
Part 1

My Directorship of the Museum of Magic and Witchcraft at Castletown, Isle of Man, brings me a great deal of correspondence from all parts of the world; some interesting, some abusive (a very little, just enough to enliven matters), some fantastic, and some funny in all senses of the word.

However, my more serious correspondents want to know the origin of witchcraft. Where, they ask, did it come from? What is behind this thing that obsessed the minds of men for centuries? Is it an underground cult of devil-worship? A dark thread running through history? An irruption of the supernatural into normal life? Or is it an enormous delusion? What is the meaning of it all?

This is a matter which of late years has exercised the ingenuity of a number of writers. These may be roughly divided into three schools. Firstly, those who take the severely rationalist view that witchcraft was a kind of mass hysteria, arising from psychological causes. Secondly, those who maintain that witchcraft is real, and that it is the worship and service of Satan, in whom its devotees appear to be great believers. This is the attitude taken by that very prolific writer, the late Montague Summers, and his many imitators. Thirdly, that school, headed by anthropologists like Dr. Margaret Murray, which has tried to look at the subject without either superstitious terrors and theological argument on the one hand, or materialistic incredulity on the other. This school of thought maintains that witchcraft is simply the remains of the old pagan religion of Western Europe, dating back to the Stone Age, and that the reason for the Church’s persecution of it was that it was a dangerous rival. I personally belong to this third school, because its findings accord with my own experience, and because it is the only theory, which seems to me to make sense when viewed in the light of the facts of history.

Perhaps I had better state briefly what that experience is. I am at present the Director of the only museum in the world, so far as I know, which is exclusively concerned with magic and witchcraft. I was a Civil Servant in the Far East (Malaya) until my retirement, and I made a large collection of magical instruments, charms, etc., which formed the nucleus of the present collection here. I am also an archaeologist and an anthropologist, and through these studies I became interested in the part played in the life of mankind by magical beliefs, and by what people did as a result of these beliefs.

When I was out East, before I had any contact with witchcraft in Britain, I investigated much native magic without finding anything, which could not be explained by telepathy, hypnotism, suggestion or coincidence, and frankly I considered magic as an instance of the curious things that people will believe. In those days I was very much interested in Dr. Margaret Murray’s theory that witchcraft was the remains of an ancient religion; but as all authorities seemed agreed that while there was evidence that some people may have been witches, there was not the slightest evidence that witches had ever been organized into covens; and as Charles Godfrey Leland, who had known many witches in Italy and elsewhere, and wrote a lot about them, never mentioned any coven or any organization, I dismissed witchcraft as something which had possibly happened once, but even if it had existed it had been “burnt out” three hundred years ago.

The earlier books I read on the subject all seemed to agree to a certain extent. They said that witches existed everywhere, and were both male and female. They were intensely wicked people. They worshipped the Devil, often in the form of a heathen god (but then, all heathen gods were the Devil). They had a big organization,regular religious ceremonies on fixed dates, a priesthood with priests, priestesses and officers, and an organized form of religion; though their deity might be called “a god” and “the Devil” almost in the same sentence. This was explained by saying that all non-Christian gods were really the Devil in disguise.

However, in the late 17th and the 18th centuries public opinion seemed to change. In spite of the strong views of John Wesley and other clergymen, people did not believe in witches any more, to the extent that when two clergymen induced a jury to convict Jane Wenham of talking to the Devil in the form of a cat, and she was sentenced to death for this in 1712, the judges protested and she was released. In 1736 the penal laws against witchcraft were repealed; and I did not think that anyone, with the exception of the Rev. Montague Summers, dared hint that there might be anything in witchcraft today without being laughed at. Charles Godfrey Leland had been regarded as a romancer who had written up a few Italian fortunetellers, and while Dr. Margaret Murray was known as a good anthropologist, it was thought that she was writing about things that happened three or four hundred years ago, when people were superstitious, and believed silly things.

However, after Dr. Murray’s books appeared, some other people were bold enough to admit that there were some witches left, but said that they were only village fortune-tellers, impostors who knew nothing about the subject, and there never had been any organization, and anyone who thought otherwise was just being imaginative. I was of these opinions in 1939, when, here in Britain, I met some people who compelled me to alter them. They were interested in curious things, reincarnation for one, and they were also interested in the fact that an ancestress of mine, Grizel Gairdner, had been burned as a witch. They kept saying that they had met me before. We went through everywhere we had been, and I could not ever have met them before in this life; but they claimed to have known me in previous lives. Although I believe in reincarnation, as many people do who have lived in the East, I do not remember my past lives clearly; I only wish I did. However, these people told me enough to make me think. Then some of these new (or old) friends said, “You belonged to us in the past. You are of the blood. Come back to where you belong.”

I realized that I had stumbled on something interesting; but I was half initiated before the word “Wicca" which they used hit me like a thunderbolt, and I knew where I was, and that the Old Religion still existed. And so I found myself in the Circle, and there took the usual oath of secrecy, which bound me not to reveal certain things.

In this way I made the discovery that the witch cult, that people thought to have been persecuted out of existence, still lived. I found, too, what it was that made so many of our ancestors dare imprisonment, torture and death rather than give up the worship of the Old Gods and the love of the old ways. I discovered the inner meaning of that saying in one of Fiona MacLeod’s books: “The Old Gods are not dead. They think we are.”

I am a member of the Society for Psychical Research, and on the Committee of the Folklore Society; so I wanted to tell of my discovery. But I was met with a determined refusal. “The Age of Persecution is not over,” they told me; “give anyone half a chance and the fires will blaze up again.” When I said to one of them, “Why do you keep all these things so secret still? There’s no persecution nowadays!” I was told, “Oh, isn’t there? If people knew what I was, every time a child in the village was ill, or somebody’s chickens died, I should get the blame for it. Witchcraft doesn’t pay for broken windows.”

I can remember as a boy reading in the papers of a woman being burned alive in Southern Ireland as a witch; but I could not believe that there could be any persecution nowadays in England. So, against their better judgment, they agreed to let me write a little about the cult in the form of fiction, a historical novel where a witch says a little of what they believe and of how they were persecuted. This was published in 1949 under the title of High Magic’s Aid.

In 1951 a very important event occurred. The Government of the day passed the Fraudulent Mediums Act, which repealed and replaced the last remaining Witchcraft Act, under which spiritualists used to be prosecuted in modern times. This Act is, I believe, unique in legally recognizing the existence of genuine mediumship and psychic powers.

I thought that at last commonsense and religious freedom had prevailed; but even so, the passage of this Act was highly obnoxious to certain religious bodies which had been preaching against Spiritualism for years and trying to outlaw it as “the work of Satan,” together with any other societies to which they objected, including Freemasonry and, of course, witchcraft.

About a year previously, this Museum had been opened, and I had flattered myself that showing what witchcraft really is, an ancient religion, would arouse no hostility in any quarter. I was to find out in due course how wrong I was!

Any attempt to show witchcraft in anything even remotely resembling a favorable light, or to challenge the old representation of it as something uniformly evil and devilish, or even to present it as a legitimate object of study, can still arouse the most surprising reactions. The virtues of humanism, which Charles Saltman defined as “sensitivity, intelligence and erudition, together with integrity, curiosity and tolerance,” have still quite a long way to go in their struggle against the mentality, which produced the Malleus Malejicarum.

In 1952 Pennethorne Hughes wrote a book, Witchcraft, which gave a very good historical account of witchcraft, but stated that while in mediaeval times witches had a fully worked-out ritual of their own which they performed, modern witches were simply perverts who celebrated “Black Masses,” which he described as being blasphemous imitations of the Christian Mass. This made some of my friends very angry, and I managed to persuade them that it might do good to write a factual book about witchcraft, and so I wrote Witchcraft Today.1 In writing this latter book, I soon found myself between Scylla and Charybdis. If I said too much, I ran the risk of offending people whom I had come to regard highly as friends. If I said too little, the publishers would not be interested. In this situation I did the best I could. In particular, I denied that witches celebrated the Black Mass, or that they killed animals—or even un-baptised babies—as blood sacrifices.

One of the first questions I had asked witches as soon as I had got “inside” was, What about the Black Mass?” They all said, “We don’t know how to perform it, and if we did, what would be the point of doing so?” They also said, “You know what happens at our meetings. There is the little religious ceremony, the greeting of the Old Gods; then any business, which has to be talked over, or perhaps someone wants to do a rite for some purpose; next there is a little feast and a dance; then you have to hurry for the last bus home! There is no time or place for any nonsense of ‘Black Masses,’ and anyhow why should we want to do one?”

I think this is just common sense. To a Roman Catholic who believes in Transubstantiation, that is, that the bread and wine of the Mass are literally changed into the flesh and blood of Christ, a ceremonial insult to the Host would be the most awful blasphemy; but witches do not believe this, so it would simply be absurd to them to try to insult a piece of bread.

1. Rider, 1954.