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Witchcraft

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About Witchcraft

The Witch Ballad

Oh, I have been and I have seen In magic worlds of Otherwhere For all this world may praise or blame For ban or blessing nought I care What is a Witch

Witches are great individualists, so there are probibly as many different answers to this as there are witches!

A witch is a person who perceives vivdly the connection between all aspects of life. Witches do not see spirit and matter as separate entities - they worship Nature in stream and stone,plant,animals, and people. They usually have a well-developed instinctual side. Also witches are vibrantly aware of unseen natureal energies - which they use in their spellworkings. Herbs,colors,symbols - all these have properties that witches make use of, mostly to help and heal.

Most witches have more than aa trace of mysticism which they develop by trancework, but they are also great pragmatists who value common sense and Mother wit - for, as you will see, witchcraft is a sensible matter, for the most part. Often deeply sensitive, they feel for each felled tree and wounded animal, but they are also tough. They accept that death is part of life and that suffering has a purpose.

Needless to say, witches are not the frightening hags of children's stories! They don''t wear tall hats or ride of broomsticks. They idea about the hats may have some from the 'come of power' that witches raise, and the broomstick is a symbol of fertility - we shall be looking at these later on. Nor do witches blight cattle or have dealings with the devil. These ideas are the product of medieval imaginations and came in handy for someone corrupt who needed scapegoats! The ideas are hard to refute, and most people who don't knowa real witch have their doubts. But such fears can bar the way to valuable knowledge.

Witches have a saying: 'where there's fear there's power'.

What do Witches believe in?

Believe 'in' is a funny idea to a witch. They don't perform acts of faith or have dogmas. To a witch the Goddess and the God are just there, like the hills and rivers are there. The Earth is the body of the Goddess. The God is the life force that impregnates. Goddess and God are within each of us. There are no idea of a separat God in heaven, judging us, nor the slightest belief that our bodies are their find salvation.The Goddess and God are sometimes called ' the Old Ones ' for they have been with us since Neolithic times.

Some people are surprised to find that witchcraft is a religion, but really you can't be aware of spiriual realms and not be religious. The witches' religion is free and unstructured, with no dogma. This can be something of a culture shock with dogma and religion have been seen as inseparable for so many hundreds of years! Above all to witches, life and the forces of Nature are sacred - there to be respected, celebrated and also used, when the time is right, in magical workings. Witches do not believe that their way is the one and only right way for everyone - they merely feel it is right for them. They belive strongly that each person should have the freedom to find his or her own way of worship, or not worshipping, as the case may be.

Witches Moral Code

Eight words the witches' creed fulfil.

If it harms none, do what you will.

Witches believe is freedom and personal choice. They also believe in responsibility. You have to decide yourself what 'harms none', but mostly this is quite obvious. Stealing,bullying,assalt - these are obviously harmful. Occasionally issues are less clear, however. In a divorce, for instance, people may be harmed, but equally they may be harmed if the marriage remains intact. There is no dogma to tell you what youmust and must not do. 'Harming none' also means not harming yourself. There is no law that says you must put yourself last and go through life a po-faced martyr (probibly poisoning the air for everyone that somes near). We are each responsible for our own fulfilmenthappiness, for only in this way can we bring anything worth having into our relationships with other people. So although the witches' code is simple in one way, in another it is also complicated. 'Do what you will' is not an invitation to rampant self-indulgence! In needs thought about what is really right for you, your 'true will' not just the whims of the ego.

What is Wicca

Wicca can be termed ' Group Witchcraft ' but that is rather an oversimplification. There are other types of groups with a looser structure, a more open style, and often with commutity involvments, such as public festivals and courses. Wicca in its present form has been around since the 1940s. It is more regimented although the underlying beliefs are very similar. Wiccans form covens and call themselves 'witches'. They celebrate the eight seasonal festivals or 'Sabbats' and have hierarchy of initiation. Wicca is both a religion and magical system. If working efficiently it can also be a means to self-development (as indeed can other paths).

Witchcraft History

Witchcraft is really about the flight-inspired, about feelings and visions and a certin type of ' consciousness '. Charting the oigins an growth of something so abstract is not easy. They facual history is hardly less problematic as historians and schoars continue to argue the matter botly.

There is evidence to suggest that a mother-goddess was widely worshipped in the Stone Age and that type of magic may have been used to bring about fertility, success in the hunt and other such life basics. Such magic was probibly 'sympathetic magic' which means the 'like attacks like' principle. For instance, a hunter who wanted to track down an animal might perform a ritual dance wearing the hide and horns of the animal. Such a rite would also have provded the useful function of forging a psychic bond between hunter and hunted - he could then feel at one with his prey and 'know' where it could be found. Evidence also exists suggesting women held principal power in some ancient culture. However, all of these matters are in some dispute.

Coming closer to the present brings us to the Celts. Celtic beliefs are important in present-day witchcraft, but I think it is what one might call the 'Celtic mind-set' that is most relevant - poetry and soul and ever-present sense that the spirit world walks with us, just out of sight at the corner of the eye. The Celtic viewpoint sees that the 'real' is only one reality and the logic goes only so far - and that sometimes isn't far at all. It seems certain that women did have considerable power in Celtic society - remember Boudicca? - and that clans gathered around influential females. In other words, they were matrifocal.

Evidence of the Celts in Ireland goes back to 12 000 BCE (BCE means Before Common Era - a tear preferred by pagans). They had many gods and goddesses, but also worshipped the Great Mother and marked their time around the Moon. In common with present-day pagans they saw no contratiction is sometimes behaving as if there was one Goddess and at other times as if there were many gods and goddesses. From 500 BCE the Celts had become a major force in Europe. They have bequeathed the four major fire festivals of Imbolc, Beltane, Lannas and Samhain that we shall look at later.

In addition to the Celts, moern witches are influenced by two strands of thought from the Continent, the Apollonian and the Dionysian. Apollo was the Greek Sun god and has cult related to philosophy and the tools of the conscious mind. This influence can be seen to some extent when we compose rituals, but of far more importance to most lone witches is the Dionysian approach. Dionysus was the god of wine, and his cult was ecstatic and wild. His rites were often unstudied and unbridled, more the province of the tangled forest, the moonlit grove. Both approaches sought to raise consciousness, but the inspirational, instinctual Dionysian way is closer to the witch of today, for although we may prepare our rituals in advance we are free to be spontaneous in than and we encourage states of trance and 'merging'. Isis, the great goddess of ancient Egypt has been called the most complete form of the goddess ever revolved and her worship was widespread and spanned many centuries from the fourth century BCE onwards. The cult of Isis influenced Gnosticism. In the twentieth century occultists associated with the society called the Golden Dawn have recaptured her essence. Notable in the was Dion Fortune in her novels The Sea Priestess and Moon Magic... There are similarities between the rites of Isis and certain Wiccan ceremonies today, and it is obvious that worship of so great a female deity is inspiring to witches.

The old gods and the different appoaches lived comfortably cheek by jowl, fir the most part, and magic and its practitioners were accepted as witches, wisewomen and cunning men - indeed, the priestesses and priests were types of witches/magicians in a sence, for they mediated enforcing creeds. With the advent of Christianity, however, things changed, for intrinsic to the new faith was a total belief that it was the one and only word if God, and slowly the old faiths were stanped out or went underground. Christanity is based on dogma, revealed through one source and disseminated by an ordained priesthood. Some Christian churchmen were anti-women, so it is understandable that such a faith would have been highly uneasy about 'witches'. They are believed to have survived in secret cults of Nature worship, Goddess worship, trance/ecstasy and spell casting, and there is some evidence that certain English Kings were part of a 'witch cult'. (I would like to point out that many Christians do not interpret their religion in the way described about and are alive to the message to love brought by Jesus.)

Through the Middle Ages it is really inclear how much witchcraft was practised and some historians say it was virtually none at all. The Renaissance saw a growth is ritual magic. Few magicians were brought to trial because they were usually men of influence - and ritual magic is 'Apollonian' and rather less disturbing to a culture the distrusted personal revelation. The 'witches' were another matter. Exemplifying the power of the Feminine, the non-rational, the instinctual, they could not be tolerated by a masculine,law-giving, God-the-Father oriented religion. Countless numbers were burnt at the stake, or hanged (after the Reformation burning was not practised in England). Again I must stress that it is unclear how much 'real' witchcraft was practised, how many of those brought to trial were, in fact, witches by any discription and also how many unfortunate people were exected. Some of the picture that has been built up comes from accounts extracted under torturn, and so is obviously unreliable.

Kinder times arrived and witchcraft began to be popularised at the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth by writers such as Charles Leland and Margaret Murray, who clam to be resurrection old sources. These are discussed in Paganism for Beginners but I must say that almost everything they have said has been challenged. Some witches claim to be part of a local or family tradition that goes back throught the ages. It is a mixture of ancient lore and tradition and some inspired reconstruction by gifted witches of this century. Most importantly, it stresses the right if each individual witch to find her or his own way by seeking direct experience of the gods. It is a way of dance,dream,poetry and inward soaring.

In the end anyone who practises witchcraft feels no doubt that they are part of something unutterable ancient. It is about rootedness and remembering - memory in the bones, not in the mind. Of Course, what we do now is nothing like what a Stone Age woman would have done, wrapped in fur by the side of the fire, and this is only right, for we are different. And yet we are not so different, really. The Earth still turns, the Sun sets and rises, the breezes play, humans and beasts are born, mate and die - and the witch celebrates the patterens of life, weaves the wind, dreams the dreams of the Goddess into life....

If you choose the way of the witch you will feel that you have come home. Ordinary words strain to decribe the experiance.

The Witches Rune

Dark some night and shining moon

East, then South, then West, then North

Harken to the witches' rune

Here we come to call thee forth

Do Witches Really Do Magic

Witches do magic. Spirit,emotion,light,sound,feather,petal,stone and bone are vibrations on a spectrum. Witches are very much aware of this interconnectedness. Thoughts are things, but by themselves they are small things. It is rightly said that it's no good wishing. However, the concentration and ritual of magic focus desire, and enable us to move about the spectrum, so to speak. Working magic is an expression of human will and dignity, for we are moving among the gods, and that is one of the reasons magic has been feared.

Magical consciousness experiances the essential oneness of all things as a reality and it is needed in spellcraft. It is a light trance, and altered state of awareness that is not difficult to achieve with practice. Simply relax, allow a day-dreamy state to grow and the rest will fallow. Do not expect anything dramatic, especially at first.

Speels can be likened to prayers. For instance, a person may go into church, light a candle, kneel and say a prayer. That is like a simple speel but insted of begging to God to help, the witch will place great importance on her or his own concertration and power - she or he is respnsible for the success or failure of the spell. However, no sensible witchbelieves that such power is the proerty of the little human ego. Really it comes from the Goddess and the God in all of us.

Most people accept the existence of telepathy and poltergeists, and positive thinking is still a real 'buzz'. All these are a kind of magic. There are levels of reality other than the day-to-day, and more takes place on them than some people realise. During the Second World War a coven of witches in the New Forest in England worked to prevent an invasion by Hitler, who was himself reputed to be using occult forces (the swastika is a magical symbol). Witches are also credited with helping to defeat the Spanish Armada through the storms they whistled up - indeed, Sir Francis Drake himself is said tp have been a witch! To many thing there is more than meets the eye.

Is Magic Dangerous

Anything that is new, and untested can hold dangers if not approached sensibly. Magic is a powerful force and needs to be treated with respect. You would not attempt to go to sea in a cardboard box or wire up a socket without urning off the mains. It is only common sence to use that correct method, whatever you do in life. Learning to ride a bike or to swim is dangerous. Magic is safer than cycling on our busy roads or swimming off our polluted beaches.

Before attempting anything magical, think very carefully about your motives and whatit all means to you. Magic is not there to gratify anyone's vanity, although pride in a spell well done is fine. It isn't a game, but neither is it a long-faced matter - the Goddess says 'let there be mirth with reverence'. Approach magic with common sence.

Make sure you are well informed. Read as many books as you can. Perhaps talk to some experienced withces. Give magic some real thought. You wouldn't choose a career, move house or even go out in the evening without thinking about it. Magic deserves this.

Get in the habit of visualising a protective circle extending two or three metres around you. Close your eyes and practise picturing this circle of electric blue light. If you are no good at visualizing, that does not necessarily matter, but you must feel certain your circle is there. Perhaps you will get a shiver down you spine, as your circle earths earths itself. Maybe you will get a feeling of safety and security. Perhapsyou may hear the sound of your circle of power humming, or even smell its presence, like incense. Whatever method you use is fine as long as you clearly imagine your circle. This circle is the basis of the 'magic circle' of often written about. It is really a sphere, going all round you and the place you are working. It will protect you as you open yourself to do magic, and prevent you feeling depleted. Please be sure you always use your protective circle whenever attempting anything magical, and disperse it when you have finished.

Always steer well clear of anyone or anything that doesn't feel quite right. People who are up to no good are usually tranparent.

When we begin to set magical focus in motion we activate unconscious, or barely conscious elements in ourselves - amd these may come back at us in frightning experiences. Many of us are brought up riddles with guilt and doubts, although we may reject what we have been taught ass the more emphatically. It may seem doubly violating that these unpleasant beliefs are still part of us.

If this is you, do please do yourself a favour and think carefully about what I say. In denying what is a part of you, you really are repeatinga destrucive pattern. These things are not easily eliminated - how could they be? If something has formed the fabric of your life, if it has been dinned into you by parents and teachers that you loved, respected or feared that in a way it is a part of you - for now. By lovingly accepting factors out of daylight, see how they are operating in your life and be able to deal with them. This does take a while. So give yourself the time you need - you owe that to yourself.

Do Witches Harm People with Magic

The answer to this is definitely no, for several reasons. The 'boolerang' affect state that what you do comes back to you threefold, so who is going to risk that? More importantly, the very idea of harming anyone is out of keeping with the life-affirming nature of the craft. A true magical working demands a lot from the witch, and a bed spell is a horrid thing to attempt. Magic is a positive thing. If we have been sacked, a spell to get us a new - and better - job is likely to cheer us up, and get results. Wishing our boss would catch a virus in his lap-top will just make things worse for us. 'Live well is the best revenge.'

It is a mistake to imagine we are at the mercy of anything malevolent that might come our way. We all have a psychic 'skin' to keep out anything that might seek us harm. This can be strengthened by regularly forming our magic circle. Of course, there are occasional scary stories put about by people who believe they have been harmed by black magic. The key word is 'believe'. If you believe you are being harmed then your fears will work against you in a nagative magic of your own. The best antidote is to try to think positively, get plenty of fresh air -and fine someone inderstanding to talk it over with. Inevitably there are the occasional unpleasent types who meddle with magic. Keep well away from them, and follow the words of the Goddess when she says 'Keep pure your highest ideal. Strive ever towords it. Let naught stop you or turn you aside.'

Does Magic Work

In a word, yes, but not always exactly as we have in mind, for magic changes the person who works it. Real magical transformation takes place in the mind of the practitoner, which then translatesto change in the physical world. These changes come through ordinary means and are rarely dramatic. A properly worked spell will always have some effect, but success is sometimes partial and may come about in ways ordinary course of things. It is just the witch who says a quiet 'Ah-ha'.

There is an interestingthought about working magic: many people are drawn to witchcraft, to a greater or lesser extent because they hope they will be able to get what they want -whatever that may be. However, the altered consciousness necessary for working magic quite often makes the goal itself seem less relevant or crucial. Everything looks different. Sometimes it seems one already has all one couls possibly wish for. Maybe that is why many witches are not rich - it just doesn't really matter. After all, the true goal of magical workings is heightened awareness and union with the Goddess and the God.

How does magic work

Magic works through the power of the mind,using the imagination to build up a clear picture of what is worked for a sending the image forth to do its work. It requires a high degree of concertration and the ability to visualise clearly and exclusively, for what may be quite long periods - ritual helps the process. It also involves the raising of power to energise the spell.

Since time immemorial occultists have spoken of the 'astral plane'. This is a subtle plane existing alongside the everyday - it can be thought of as a world of finer essence. It is the stuff of thoughts and dreams and we can enter it nightly. Dreams may be partly remembered astral travlling, for we all have an 'astral body' tjat interpenetrates our physical body, but often separates when we sleep. Some eople are able to astral travel consciously and the old stories about witches' 'flying ointment' and wild journeys through the air (on broomsticks) are really accounts of astral travel. It is on this astral plane that magical effects first take shape, translating them to physical reality. However physical actions need to back up magical actions. All the spells in the world won't get you a job unless you send off applications.

How Does a Witch Raise Power

This can be done in a variety of ways and sometimes it doesn't seem necessary to raise power as much - simply concertrating hard may be all that is needed. Power can be raised by chanting, dancing, drumming or rhythmic gesture. This also has the effect of dulling the conscious mind and helps to create a light treance helpful for magic. The power can raise in a cone shape, and at the correct moment has to be directed towards its purpose. The power thus raised comes from the delicate electrical currents of the human body and consciousness is heightened in the practitioner.

What is a Chant

This is a rhyme, also called a rune, intoned rhythmically to raise power. Such rhymes can be simple and repetitive - indeed it's probably best they are - and they need to scan and rhyme well, so they trip off the tongue. Lone witches will often make up their own. Here is an example of a power chant. Of course, there are longer - and better - chants available.

Pentacle and Earth and North Call the cone of magic forth Air and East, athame bright Cone of magic to its height Fire and South and candle burn Make the cone of magic turn Cauldron deep and West and Water Cone of magic never falter Aya, aya Anu, aya aya Lugh Aya, aya Anu, aya aya Lugh

The last two lines can be repeated as often as necessary - a sence of this develops naturally. Anu is a celtic name for the Great Mother Goddess. Lugh (pronounced 'Loo') again is Celtic and means 'shining one'. He is god of the Sun, crafting and harvesting. The names are chosen for their sound as much as anything else.

How Does A Witch Cast A Spell

I am sure each witch has her or his own way of going about things. Also some of the steps are quite subtle and natural, and only discovered by practice - which, as they say, makes prefect! I'll give an account of the basics.

First, you need to feel good about the whole business, and that could be affected by lots of things. The phase of the Moon is important. Also you need to make sure that you won't be disturbed Night-time is often best.

Having decided to start, assemble the equipment for the ritual and put on the garment you usually ware, or go naked, for many witches like to work nude. You may like to meditate for a while, especially if thiswork is especially important. Allow consciousness to alter to the magical consciousness. Then ritually cleanse your working area and cast your magic circle. We have already spoken of the magic circle, but the full ceremony is explained later in this book.

The Elements, which correspond to the four compass points are also invoked at the appropriate points around the circle - the quartered circles was a favorite Celtic design. This is an important concept, because elements and directions represent our Earthly state, they ground us and project us and they represent different energies that we need to work with. North is equated with Earth, East with Air, South with Fire, and West with Water, although this is sometimes rotated through 180 degrees in the southern hemisphere.

'Invoke' means to cause to appear inwardly, as opposed to 'evoke' which is an external apparition - magicians evoke spirits. We would not presume to attempt to evoke Elements or god-forms. The presence of an aspect of the Goddess or God may also be called upon. For instance, if your working was to be about pregnancy or creativity you might think of the Great Mother as Isis, Brighid or Demeter.

Clearly state the intention of the work. You should have formulated it earlier, before creating the circle, when thought was clear and logical. Now you can raise power by chanting or dancing, direct it, complete your spell and release it. Finally, some form of communion with the Goddess and God rounds off the ritual, with thanks and farewell. The circle is now allowed to fade. Ground yourself consciously, perhaps by eating or drinking.

What Does The Pentagram Mean

pentagram.jpg

The pentagram, or five-pointed star, is perhaps the sign most often linked to witchcraft. It symbolises the four elements, Earth, Water, Air, and Fire, plus the fifth element, or spirit. It is ussally shown with a single point uppermost, meaning the power of the mind working creatively with matter. With an apex pointing downwards it looks like the face of a goat, and has been associated with the seeking of control for dubious purpose. But this really only means the spiritual spark hiddin within matter, and the poor goat is, after all, a useful and fertile animal!

Sometimes the pentagram is seen as representing the sacred Feminine, as it looks like a spreadeagled body of a woman. It is a favorite decoration for witches, and many wear it on a ring or necklace. As a pentacle, or disk, it appears on Wiccan altars, signifying Earth.

Being able to trace a pentagram in the air is useful in magic, and it is much used by Wiccans. To invoke the Earth element (and generally as an invoking sign)

Can Witches Tell the Future

Clairvoyance and witchcraft do not necessarily go together, although most witches are intutive, and use forms of divination.

Do Witches Do healing

The village wisewoman was probably a counselloe, healer and midwife. Today, witches are often in the healing professions. Also witches tend to do 'spiritual healing' of some sort, through laying-on hands,spells, herbs,etc. This is a whole subject in itself, and although it is important, we can not do then is mention it here. In particular, witches work to heal the Earth, for the harm we are doing to her indicates the distortions in our culture. Even if we as a species do not destory Gaia herself, we could make her trangically inhospitable to us, and to others.

Do Witches fly on Broom sticks

These stories probably originate from accounts of trances which feel like flying, somehow becoming linked to a broom, perhaps through sexual ecstasy. Brooms are fertility symbols - phallic handle in feminine brush - and were 'ridden' across the fields to encourage good crops. Also brooms are used for ritual and general cleansing - an innocuous possession for a medieval witch!

The whole thing about witches flying on broomsticks was all made up, a long long time ago when they still burned people for being witches... Someone saw some people leaping into the air with brooms, and so this person thought that they were trying to fly away on their brooms, or even maybe causing drought on thier crops... But in fact the people who had the broomsticks out in the field leaping up into the air with them, were in fact showing the crops how high to grow...

What Is A Warlock

This is not a team that is used by witches - male witches are called 'witches' too. 'Warlock' is a Scottish word meaning demon, wizzard, or magician. It has come to be used for a male witch, but not among witches themselves.

wizzard.jpg

Do witches believe in fairies?

They believe in Natural spirits, which are more or less the same thing, although different from the 'Disney' type of fairy. The faery folk are sometimes held to be the pre-Celtic peoples.

fairies.jpg

What is the adittude of Witches to Sex

There is something exciting and forbiden about both sex and witchcraft, although of course sex is now discussed freely. When the two subjects are put together, the imagination runs riot. The truth of the matter is that the sex life of most witches is much like anyone else's, although there is probably a difference in attitude.

Put simply, witches regard sex as sacred, and that is a general view among them. In many mythologies sex between the God and the Goddess created the Universe, and created life anew each year in the seasons. Much that is creative can be seen as stemming from male/female polarity, whether it is the creation of a physical child or something more abstract, like a poem, in which the 'sexual' act is internal - a union with the 'inner man' or 'inner woman'. Creativity is sexy.

Sex is also sacred because it is enjoyable. it is a gift of the Goddess, who says 'behold all acts of love and pleasure are my rituals'. Witches seek the divine through the body, not by transcending it, and sex can arguably be the most vivid expression of boily joy. There are no dogmas to limit sexual expression. The only rule is 'harm none'.

When we make love we are in a sense enacting the union of the God and the Goddess, but that doesn't mean that homosexuals love is less sacred. Sex is natural, but also special and powerful. Most witches will see that sex needs to be treated with respect, and people treated with consideration. It is certaintly no part of witchcraft to abouse children, sexually or otherwise: nothing could be further from what all witches believe. This should be made crystal clear in the light of some stories that have been circulated.

Do Witches Get Married

They may well, if they have a cimmitted relationship. It is a good basis for bringing up children.

What Does 'Sky Clad' Mean

This is a picturesque phrase for nudity. The human body is special and so witches may choose to perform thier rites naked. Some people don't like the idea of nudity... I can't understand why... being naked is more comfterble than wearing clothes... some witches do rituals naked and some do rituals with their robes on.

What is Sex Magic

Sex magic takes several forms. One of the activities involed in making a spell is raising power. Sex is the strongest power source available. As an exapmle, a couple who are both witches may direct the power of their orgasm into a spell - say for a home of their own - building up a clear picture of the house and releasing it at the strateic moment. This is simple in essence, but not always easy to do, for when you are involved in making love you may not wish to this about bricks and mortar at the transcendent moment. However, it can be fun practicing!

Another type of sex magic involves the 'dreamtime' after oragasm. This can be a mystical interlude in which things are seen more holistically. Naswers to questions may appear in the mind and what was obscure can become aware of its significance. Again, the trust between a committed couple helps and supports the process.

Tantra is another form of sex magic. Like many magical practices, Tantra raises personal power and swareness. There is also the achievement of states of ecstasy and union with the Divine. Tantra in an Eastren system and is not readily adapted for use by the Westerner. Plenty of literature is available to Tantra, and witches may practice it. The esoteric teachings of different countries bear recognisable similarities, and witchcraft and Tantra are have the same roots.

Many books are avaliable of spiritual sexuality, and one is listed in 'Further Reading' at the back of the book. However, the idea that bodily ecstasy is sacred is a difficult for our culture. Tantra is not about anything gross or mindless but it is certainly explicitly sexual. There are many techniques but goal is union with the Divine through the physicality of sex.

There is no doubt that Tantra needs to be approached seriously. Good intentions are not enough to protect the inexperienced from the ill-effects of meddling with the subtle energy currents of the body, and those who say Tantra should be learnt only at the hands of an experianced teacher are playing it safe. Comprehensive details about Tantra are, however, outside the scope of the this book.

Finally, sex itself is magical. The mystery of the origion of a human life can never be completely explained, for all the advances in genetics. And the high achieved during sex is the best that most of us can hope to experiance.

Is Sex Magic Dangerous
  The dangers involving in sex magic are mostly emotional, and these should not be understimated.When sex is used magically things can become intense. You may think you know what you are doing but this may turn out not to be the case. Things can emerge from the unconscious for which one is not - and cannot - be perpard. Someone could be badly hurt, or become disorientated or obsessed. At least you may mess up a beautiful friendship. So sex magic is just for couples who are in love, committed, open with each other and able to trust each other. If this is the case the use of magical sex will bring them closer together, but if not please be warned and steer clear.
 
How do Witches feel about Abortion
   There is no generalrule. No dogmas attach to this subject and witches don't debate it particularly. There is a stronge strand of feminism in witchcraft. Many witches will feel strongly that each woman has the right to determine how she uses her own body, and if she doesn't wish to play host to a new life than that is her choise.
 
    Each woman in a sense has the power of life and death over her foetus. That is awsome, and some say fear of this power has been one of the drives behind patriarchy, to be controlled by father-god and defined by rigid rules. Maybe even at the primitive foetal stage we are aware that our continuance depends to a large extent on the benevolence of our host mother. As the late astrologer Howard Sasportas put it, " Some wombs are five star, others are two star - and some are shark-infested!" Abortions are relatively easily come by now. Throughout history, during the dark ages, medieval times, and before, the combination od certain herbs, and simple ritual to cultivate the right state of mind would surely have been known and almost definitely have resulted in abortion. But abortion is no small matter. Each action we take changes us, and everything has a price. If you have become part of the current of creation by becoming pragnant, the decision to stop it is a big thing and you have to live with consequences later on that you may not imagine. In this sort of situation women need the support of other women,possibly those who have had similar experiences. This is not strictly about witchcraft, except that witchcraft is often allied to feminism and women's issues are seen by many witches as bound up in their beliefs and practices.
 
Do Witches Meet Outdoors or Indoors?
 
   Outdoors would always, in history, be the preferred place, as the is closest to Nature. However, most witches meet or do solitary workings indoors, because that way they aren't disturbed. Sinister stories are often heard about weird gatherings, but if any persons or animal has been  harmed true witches are not involved. There are some rituals which are open to anyone, held in parks for example, sometimes for Earth healing or a similar purpose, and these are becoming more popular as witchcraft and paganism open up. Usually a witch will have a special place for rituals and spellwork indoors, and by comstant use a strong stomosphere can be built up.
 
What is a Magic Circle?
 
   This is a sacred space for rituals and spells. Creating the magic circle is an important first step, whatever one's working is to be about. The circle is in fact a sphere, surrounding the working area. It acts as a protective device, for in magical work stray engeries can be harmful. The magic circle also concertrates the power, so that it isn't dissipated before the correct time. In addition , the circle is a halfway house between to everyday world and the world of spirit. We may experience things in the circle that do not happen elsewhere.
 
   It is more convenient if the circle is actually marked on the floor. The space should first be cleansed. This can be sone by imagining and nagativity as grey clouds which you can sweep out of your circle by the motion of your hands. Banishing such as this is done 'widdershins' (anticlockwise). Positive actions are performed 'deosil' (clockwise), in the direction which the sun is seen to move in the northern hemisphere. Witches in the southern hemisphere often reverse these directions, for there the Sun is seen to move anticlockwise. The besom or broom is usually used to sweep out the nagitivity. Salt and water are used ti cleanse, by sprinkling. The circle should be drawn or 'cast' deosil starting in the north - again, reverse this in the southern hemisphere. You can use your figure, athame, wand, or whatever tool appeals to you. Visualise a stream of blue light coming from the tip of your figure, or tool, and forming the circle around you - clairvoyants are able to see this.
 
   Once the circle is made it should not be broken, but if you must cross it open  a doorway widdershins with your finger or magical tool, and close it deosil after you. Open and close again in the same way when you return. If you are in a Wiccan circle someone will do this for you. Animals and children can usually pass through the circle without disturbing it, being naturally in tune.
 
   It is usual to place candles at the East with air, South with fire, and West with water. Spirits of the north are called 'gnomes'. North is especially sacred because, in the northren hemisphere, it is the 'blind side' of the sky, home of all that is mysterious. The sun and moon are generally in the south. In the North are the circumpolar stars that never set. This is Caer Arianrhod, where souls of the dead retreat to heal and perpare for rebirth. North is associated with truth groundedness and practical wisdom.
 
  Air spirits are called sylphs. They are guardians of all that is swift, youthful and to do with the power of thinking. Their direction is East. South is the home of the fiery salamanders, of insoiration, energy and initiative, and in the west are the water spirits or undines. West is the direction of empathy, feeling and fathomless wisdom. Sometimes the west is associated with the crone aspect of the Goddess, and sometimes this applies to the North. East is associated with the Goddess as Maiden. South is associated with the Mother.
 
  Alone witch might ask the Elements to be present in words of her or his own. Turning first to North and holding high the arms the witch might say:
 
Lady and Lord of the North
Lend me your presence and your power.
Give me protection, grounding and good sence,
By hill and dale, deep cave,old bone,
By fertile field and soil and stone
Be with me now, O Powers of Earth.
 
 Turning then to East, the witch says:
 
Lady and Lord of the East,
Lend me you presence and your power,
Give me clarity, vision and swift thought
By wind and cloud, tall mountain's height,
By blue horizon,morning light,
Be with me now, O Powers of Air
 
   Then turning to South the witch says:
 
Lady and Lord of the South
Lend me you presence and your power.
Give me inspiration, energy and intuition,
Bonfire, beacon, burning bright,
Embers rich,wild lightning strike,
Be with me now, O Powers of Fire
 
   Lastly, turning towards West, the Witch says:
 
Lady and Lord of the West
Lend me your presence and your power.
Give me love,wisdom and empathy,
Green-hearted lake and river wide,
Crystal fountain, ocean tide,
Be with me now, O Power of Water
 
  While invoking Earth, imagine fields of corn, standing stones, silent caves and the richest of the soil, feel the weight of Earth, its reality and rootedness. In case of Air, imagine that you are standing on the top of a mountain. Around you the air is sparklingand blue, and a cool breeze blows on your face. Feel the freshness of Air, how bright and clear it is. When invoking Fire think of heat, wild dances, firelight,lightning. Feel the energy of Fire, warmth, heartiness and the leaping of the imagination. For Water imagine waterfalls, the swell of the ocean, the song of a mountain stream, the mysterious depths of a lake. Feel the cool, soothing presence of Water surrounding you like an embrace. When all is finished, thank the Guardiand and bid them 'Farewell', starting at North and going doesil, and allowing the circle to fade. Please note: you don't need a compass; you just need to be roughly in the right direction.
 
How should I ensure I have finished my ritual properly
 
   It is important to end spells and rituals thoroughly or you may feel oppressed or 'spaced out'. Consciously let go of energy by opening your palms, raising you arms and relaxing. Concentrate on your farewell to the Guardians - say to each of them ' merry meet ' merry part and merry meet again' - imagine the doorway to their world closing. Take a few deep breaths, place yourpalms to the ground for a few moments, and eat a few mouthfuls of food.This will ensure a full return to the 'here and now'.
 
What is placed on a witch's altar?
 
   A witch will probibly like to honour each of the Elements upon the altar. Earth can be rerepresented by a stone or pentical, Air by the anthame and incense, Fire with wand and candles and Water by the chalice and cauldon - the cauldron is often placed in the center of the circle. In addition, statues or pictures of the Goddess and the God, special articals, necessities for spellwork. and of course any seasonal flowers or furits, as an offering. The altar can be anything from a box covered by a cloth to something more elaborate.
 
What do witches wear?
 
  Many witches like to work in the nude, for the subtle energies of the body are more free without cloth to restrict them. However, if nude working isn't suitable for some reason, you should try to have a special robe to wear only for working magic. It is easy to make such a robe - stitch together two rectangles of cloth on three sides, leaving openings for head and arms. Choose a soft, natural fabric and make sure there is plenty if room for movement. You can tie the waist with a length of cord. A plan, dark color is best. Keep you feet bare, if possable. It is usual to have a special necklace to wear in the circle. The necklace can be of any natural stone that you feel in harmony with or it could be a chain with an ankh, pentagram or other symbol on it - but it should be worn only when conducting rituals or working magic.