13 - Completing the Circle
The witches have never acknowledged the limitations of the sense-world, they have always lived, moved and had their being in the domain where the subtle forces, now called Extra Sensory Perception, operate The importance they place upon a linkage with this level of consciousness is expressed in the words of a present day witch 'Once a person has had even one of these experiences of contacting forces beyond the world of form, he or she is no longer in bondage to it'
(Justine Glass Witchcraft The Sixth Sense)
All the way through this book I have been trying to show the reader that there are ways every individual, given a bit of patience, common sense and determination, can awaken ancient sleeping powers from within themselves. Simply copying out 'rituals' from some earlier source, insisting that the festivals have to be celebrated on a particular calendar date (which is exactly what the early Christian Church did, to bring all its adherents into line) or insisting that a fixed structure of 'covens' with High Priestesses and High Priests is the only way witchcraft can be approached, is not satisfactory. Certainly there are many excellent covens with wonderful rituals, powerful Priests and Priestesses and fascinating sequences of seasonal Sabbats, but it is not the only way.
There are, of course, as in every other field of human existence, frauds and tricksters, people who claim a rare heritage of magic, initiations beyond anyone's belief, powers over all kinds of people or situations, and rip-off merchants ready to rook the unwary or untrained. One of the most important aspects of solo working is that you only have yourself to deal with, and your own fantasies or hang-ups to confront. Once you have actually made contact with the Old Ones you know that you are not alone and unsupported.
What saddens me is those people who have taken up witchcraft quite sincerely, practised its arts, celebrated full moons and festivals for years on the basis only of material taken from one or two books, or just the words of one hierarchy. Some of them have been too blinkered or even forbidden to use their own heads to think about the roots of the Craft, or the pattern of rituals. It is necessary to go beyond the written word, the published rites and seek the pure spring of ancient wisdom which in many forms has flowed throughout all lands, during our human childhood on this planet.
Learn something about the social structure before our modern times. Do you consider that large groups of people, many of whom would be members of large and extensive families, would be able to gather somewhere, waving swords and incense burners, dancing and chanting the names of the gods and goddesses of pagandom without some record of such events occurring somewhere?
Don't you think that a pagan priesthood, which not only admitted priestesses but often held them in regard above the male priests, would have been recorded in some document somewhere in Europe in the last thousand years or so? Even the witch trials, which suggested all sorts of impossible things, never caught on to the idea of female priests! Look at the fuss that is being made these days about the ordination of women into the Church of England - when you could be hanged for unnatural practices, don't you suppose that some bright inquisitor might have thought of accusing ladies of being pagan priestesses and worshipping a Goddess?
Flying through the air on hurdles was quite reasonable and sexual congress with goats all par for the course, but preserving ancient gods and goddesses, dancing at high, sacred sites, casting magical circles and gathering in covens led by a priestess fortunately never seem to have crossed their bigoted minds. Surely this suggests that they never happened!
We do know that magic has existed since the days of the cave-dwellers. Their elaborate paintings and carvings demonstrate this, and recent research is adding to our understanding of the symbolism of ancient art all the time. We know that it still works, or the tens of thousands of witches, magicians, ' Wiccans', occultists, Qabalists and shamans would not make any effort to study and practise a useless art. Today psychology is exploring the minds of people, finding there the impulses which can lead to physical illness, or the inner strengths by which healing power from within can overcome cancers or arthritis.
They are teaching relaxation methods which lower blood pressure and the levels of stress chemicals in the system. They are using 'creative visualisation' to enhance concentration in both children and older folk. They are using very nearly purely magical methods of story-telling and confidence-building techniques to return to individuals those inherent powers which they feel they have lost or never had.
It is in the works of Jung and his followers that we find credence given to the validity of symbolism and mythology; an acceptance that alchemy was not just an early attempt at organic chemistry, but a way of discovering the mental transformations a person could make towards individual evolution, purifying their purpose and motives. The need to break themselves down, as it were, into chemical elements, to be burned, whitened, changed and recombined are very similar concepts to those which Russian shamans went through, being torn apart by wild animals and reborn healed and renewed.
Within the books written by modern ceremonial magicians the lone witch will also find much valuable information and insight, for ritualists have often worked alone, from the days of Merlin to this century. They do band together into structured Lodges for certain aspects of the work, but most of them learn the arts of meditation and the crafts and skills of talisman making and divination and use these as solo workers.
Although the ceremonial magicians of today have a very complicated system of setting up rituals, invoking the powers of angels and building the inner images of temples and places of power, their actual work is much more suited to the individual practitioner because all along, stress is laid upon the mental aspects, which are often ignored in books on witchcraft. The idea of blessing the four Quarters in the names of the archangels can easily be replaced with the use of the Elements themselves, and the description of the indoor room of an ancient temple exchanged for the greenwood setting of the Great Goddess and her Companion.
Much of the real work of magic has to be done on the inner levels in any case, no matter who is involved, where it physically takes place or what system is being used. Once you know how to switch your awareness into the 'searching for wisdom mode' you can flick through library books, subconsciously settling upon a valid quote or relevant piece of information. This is how the old witches used to work.
In their ordinary lives they would have encountered many bits of data, just as we do, but when an animal was sick they would be able to sift through the hedge and find a suitable herb, depending on the season, or cast their mind back to the last charm against fire in the thatch for a client seeking that sort of protection. (Incidentally, the zigzag-shaped iron end-plates on supporting struts seen on cottage walls are the rune Sigel, the Sun, which is intended to prevent lightning strikes, and the Xs are the rune Geoffu, the Giver, thought to bring luck.)
Gradually you will find that your intuition wakes up, that you regularly have hunches. You should learn to act on these and not spend time trying to rationalise what is coming directly to you by divine inspiration. Act immediately and you will put up your success rate by 95%. It is hard in a logical world to rely on this unexpected source of common wisdom, but once you get it going life's little problems fall away. You find that you can buy bargains in old junk shops to suit your unlikely need, or find a parking space in a crowded city centre, simply by pausing on your journey and 'listening' for that inner voice of guidance.
Knowledge will start to flow to you from unlikely sources. Strangers will approach you with important pieces of information, books will fall off shelves at your feet or spring open at just the page you need. Snippets of radio or TV programmes will offer a crumb of knowledge just when you were wondering how on earth you could locate that address, or book title or whatever. You may discover other members of your family have records or memories of long-forgotten facts about your grandparents which open up whole fields of further research, or that old tools or photographs turn up in the loft and point you off in another direction in your search for blood links with pagan ideas.
You stop losing things very quickly because you have a sense of attachment to things that have a habit of wandering. If they do disappear you will find a sharp command 'Bring my keys back now' will often have the desired effect and they will materialise under the hall table. You will be guided to write to people, or telephone just at the moment when something you wanted to know comes to light. You will find ways of protecting your house and property from thieves or vandals, and your garden from blight, if you ask the Great Guardian God to take a hand, or the Lady of growing things to protect your roses.
These things are trivial; they require much more in the way of trust of the improbable than book learning or coven training. They cannot really be written down because the vast majority of material of value to modern solo witches has to be experienced, tried and tested and found good. You will have to continue to experiment, reaching out all the time to understand without intellectually analysing or logically dissecting what you have to do. Keep your brain from interfering with what your heart knows best how to deal with; allow images and ideas to flow like a river, not be caught in bucketfuls by the inquisitive mind, which always has 'How does it work?' on its tongue.
Magic and all the old arts work because the Goddess who is mother to our world wishes it, and because the Great Cosmic Father is amused by our little workings, and shares the joy of our festivals.
Once we are able to enter that free-thinking realm then we will be truly free, and our magic will both guide us and satisfy us with its positive results. We have a right to be as wise as our ancestors, and to inherit their traditional abilities to work in harmony with Nature for the good of Nature, and for all living beings, of whom we are a small example.
Our magical circle is the great ring of the circling stars. They are our kindred and sources of our mundane power, if we learn that Light is not just illumination to see by but a path to follow, and a lantern which each of us in turn may take up and so guide the footsteps of others wandering in the lonely dark. We have to begin to think globally, so that our magic skills will benefit those all round this beautiful green Earth, and that the spiritual example we are able to set by our lives can inspire and support many others.
You can learn to be a witch, a Wise Woman, a Cunning Man, a healer, a diviner, a magician, a pagan or any other thing you will, on your own, but you will never be lonely for there are thousands out there, on the same path. Some are ahead of you, some behind, some lost and unsure and perhaps scared because they do not have your confidence, gained from your experiences and training no matter how unfinished, and you will be able to offer help, albeit mentally or spiritually.
The exercises which complete the year are up to you. Seek out true companions on the inner ways, make contact with the Goddess and the God as you are coming to know them. Meditate or look inwards at your own growing spark of divine light, and be prepared to shine before those of the Earth who are lost in material matters.
Set out your sacred place, on a world which is sacred all over yet often spoiled by the acts of humanity. Learn and practise your divining arts, your practical crafts, your magics and your healing powers. Give thanks always to the Great Ones, walk gently in their ways, honour their symbols and look for their Light which shines from the eyes of those who know them wherever you go.
May they bless your life.
Marian Green would be happy to receive letters from anyone who is trying out the exercises in this book and will reply, time permitting, if return postage or International Reply Coupons are enclosed.
Marian Green is the Editor of QUEST magazine, published since 1970, and available only from BCM-SCL QUEST, London WC1N 3XX, UK. She also runs one- and two-day courses in Britain, Europe and Canada; details from QUEST.
Here are just a few more books!
Rae Beth, Hedge Witch (Hale)
Gavin Bone and Stewart Farrar, The Pagan Path (Hale)
W.E. Butler, Apprenticed to Magie (Aquarian)
Vivianne Crowley, Thorsons Way of Wicca (Thorsons) - Wicca (Thorsons)
Janet and Stewart Farrar, Spells and How They Work (Hale)
Dion Fortune, The Cosmic Doctrine (Aquarian)
Marian Green, Natural Witchcraft (Thorsons)
Ronald Hutton, The Stations of the Sun (Oxford University Press)
Margaret Murray, The Witchcult in Western Europe (Oxford University Press)
Will Parfitt, The Living Qabalah (Element Books)
R.J. Stewart, Advanced Magical Arts (Element Books)
Basil Wilby, A History of White Magic (Mowbrays)