13 - Recapitulation
What Is The Witch 'Power.'?
I find I have written twelve chapters; so, this being a book about witches, I think I must add another to make it up to thirteen, and to give some final explanations.
First I must make it clear - I am a humble member of a coven, I am not its head or leader in any way, and I have to do what I am told.
People often speak as if I owned a coven and could call it up to perform for them in public. I can and have occasionally introduced people to a witch, when the witch was willing and agreeable. More than this I cannot do.
I have been asked to photograph their rites. This they usually do not allow - they do not wish to be recognised. The other difficulty is that the places where they work are usually small. The circle takes up the centre, and I could not get far enough away to get my group in, even if they were willing.
Many people say: 'We have lived in England all our lives and have never seen a witch, so we don't believe they exist.' I can only say: 'I have been to Rome many times, but, though I've never had the pleasure of seeing the Pope, I do not doubt that he exists.'
Many people say: 'Witches use blood and all sorts of nasty things in their rites.' All I can say is: 'I have never seen it done, and my friends say they do not use them.' Their writings forbid them to use blood or anything that can cause pain or fright, while admitting that freshly shed blood can give power, the actual words being: 'Power flashes forth from newly shed blood, but the use of an animal, for instance, is hateful and cruel.'
But a witch friend suggests to me that the use of blood drawn from your own body might be permitted. The late Aleister Crowley used occasionally to perform a ceremony, gashing his breast and using his blood, and it is quite possible some witches do this. All I can say is, I have no knowledge of its being done. The same witch, in answer to a suggestion by a member of the Society for Psychical Research, said:
'I doubt whether performing a series of magical experiments to observe the result for the sake of psychic research would ever work. If people had only a ha'p'orth of practical experience they would never make such a proposition, because in successful magical operations one of the strongest stimuli is the emotional factor. Before you can do any harm to your enemy by means of a wax image you must be in a genuine and spontaneous rage, as you would need to be before you knocked him down physically.
'Before you can work a love charm you must feel genuine and passionate desire for the object of it. These states of mind cannot be switched on and off at will to please the S.P.R. I believe the same thing may apply to astral projection. The records we have of successful projections are nearly always the result of strong and spontaneous desire. The exceptions are the cases of people in feeble health.'
This is simply one witch's opinion, but I think it is very generally held. She speaks as if she knows something of how to make a wax image, but she says this is only general knowledge. Up to now I have not found anyone who knows the exact rite used. I have not the slightest doubt that some still know it, though they won't admit it. I particularly want to get it because I think it is apt to be more or less unchanged from the days when the cave man practised it, and knowledge of this might give one some idea of what a cave man thought.
I have asked witches what is the origin of the story of their turning into animals. To them it is only a joke; but they have memories of confused stories that at times they would play sorts of games, much as children do. If they were going across country, for instance, they would say: 'Let us go as hares,' and try to imitate hares running; or as goats, butting each other, or as deer; and there is a suggestion that in the burning time they were told: 'If you see anyone behaving as an animal, they have become an animal. If questioned, say you saw no man, but only a hare, or a goat, etc., because if you simply lied and said you saw no one they might know you lied, but if you said you saw some goats, and believed it, you had the resemblance of truth, even under torture.'
Of course there is a very widespread belief in men turning into animals, and the witch's explanation may not be the true one, but it is the only one they know of.
In answer to other questions, one told me this, and I think that this belief must have come down from four to five hundred years past at least:
'In the Christian belief you have a good God, or one who is good to you, whom you say is all-powerful and who greatly desires worshippers. Yet you must not ask Him directly for what you want, but pray to some saint, who is a dead man, as we understand it, though one whom we would call the mighty dead, and you must give money before you can hope to receive favour. But why should an all-powerful God, or your Mighty Ones, be eternally in need of money? Our gods are not all-powerful, they need our aid. They desire good to us, fertility for man, beast and crops, but they need our help to bring it about; and by our dances and other means they get that help.
'When we die we go to the gods' domain, where having rested a while in their lovely country we are prepared to be born again on this earth; and if we perform the rites correctly, by the grace of the Great Mother we will be reborn among those we loved, and will remember, know and love them again, while those who do evil will have a stern schooling in the gods' domain before they are fit to be reborn again, and then it will be among strangers.
Being reborn again we ever progress, but to progress we must learn, and to learn ever means suffering. What we endure here in this life fits us for better in the next, and so we are heartened to endure all the trials and troubles here, for we know that they but help us to higher things. Thus the gods teach us to look forward to the time when we be not men any more, when we become one with the Mighty Ones.
'Ours is a religion of love, pleasure and excitement. Frail human nature needs a little warmth and comfort, to relieve us from the hardness and misery of life and from the cold austerity of the Church's preaching - comfort on earth, not in some far-distant paradise beyond the grave.
'We worship the divine spirit of Creation, which is the Life-Spring of the world and without which the world would perish. To us it is the most sacred and holy mystery, proof that God is within us whose command is: "Go forth and multiply." Such rites are done in a holy and reverent way.'
Another said: "We ever pick out those who have a little inherent power and teach them, and they practise one with the other and they develop these powers. We only seek to live quietly and worship our gods in our own way and enjoy ourselves in our own fashion and be content and at peace. The art only comes by developing your own power, and not by the stroke of a magic wand. It is a strange mystical experience. You feel a different person, as if much dross were sloughed off. There is some strange mystery of worship, delicate as a dream. It is as if I were in a trance during the rites; I can scarcely remember what happened; something seems to brush against my soul and I ever think of it with excitement - the old secrets of joy and terror quicken my blood.'
Remember this: you will never advance if your blood is not stirred and quickened, for truly 'the Blood is the Life'. The fact is that the rites do affect many, if not all, of the people in a curious way, and they usually feel very much better after performing them. This is not merely suggestion, as initiates who know nothing about it feel just the same.
In the good old days, when if you went half a mile from the village at night you could be sure no one would spy on you, because everyone not of the Craft was frightened to be out in the dark, it was possible to have the old dances, with plenty of music, to shrill out the calls, to have the chants and to make all the noise you wanted to. But nowadays you have to work in small rooms, where you cannot make a noise without the neighbours complaining.
The result of this is that the old dances are being forgotten. The dance in the circle can be kept up, as long as you dance quietly, but the calls - long shrill cries, which vibrate and produce terror - cannot be used. The spiral or meeting dance is sometimes performed if there is room. This is a sort of 'follow my leader' dance, the priestess usually leading, dancing round in a right-hand spiral to the centre, when she suddenly turns and unwinds the spiral. As she does this, she kisses each man she meets and all the other girls do the same.
They say it is called the meeting dance because in the old days people came from distant parts and did not know each other, and this was designed to get them acquainted. But one man told me he had danced it at a church hall when he was a boy; so it may simply be an old children's game which the witches have taken over, or vice versa. Nowadays the only music they can have is a gramophone, or sometimes a sistrum, a rattle, or a small drum, played softly.
Fifteen years ago I heard many of the old tunes. Unfortunately I know nothing about music and I did not note them down.
They showed me one queer trick with music which I described in my novel High Magic's Aid, in the chapter called 'Music Magic'. They told me they could make me fighting mad; I did not believe it, so they got me to sit, fixed in a chair so that I could not get out. Then one sat in front of me playing a little drum; not a tune, just a steady tom-tom-torn. We were laughing and talking at first ... it seemed a long time, although I could see the clock and knew it was not.
The torn-tom-tom went on and I felt silly; they were watching me and grinning and those grins made me angry. I did realise that the tom-tomming seemed to be a little quicker and my heart seemed to be beating very hard. I felt flushes of heat, I was angry at their silly grins. Suddenly I felt furiously angry and wanted to pull loose out of the chair; I tugged out and would have gone for them, but as soon as I started moving they changed their beat and I was not angry any longer.
I said: 'It is just suggestion,' but they insisted it was something more - that it was an old secret and could be used to make men fighting mad before a charge. I have read that in Napoleon's army they had drummers to play the pas de charge which would make anyone want to fight; and I suppose the Highland war pipes do something of the sort.
Old books speak of a round witch dance in a circle all facing outwards, something like the ladies' position in the first stage of a Paul Jones. No one I have asked has ever seen this. There is indeed a sort of back-to-back dance, couples linking arms at the elbows, and I have danced it; but I think you have to be very young really to enjoy it. I have also seen a sort of Volta, only danced alone, advance three steps and back one, but I have never seen them actually dance it in couples, possibly owing to the smallness of the room and the lack of the proper music.
If there were room and space I think it would be a most appropriate dance, and I think what was said three hundred years ago is actually true, viz.: 'A new witch dance hath come into France out of Italy, and it is all the rage, everyone is dancing it.' Before that time practically all the dances were square dances; I think the Volta was the first in which you really held your partner and that from it the waltz was evolved. At first the waltz was stigmatised as 'that most indecent dance', because you held your partner all the time.
I found these verses in a witch's book. The owner did not remember where they were copied from or if they were ancient or modern, if they were by someone who had seen the dance or simply by someone with a vivid imagination. So, with acknowledgement to the unknown author and congratulations on a good bit of description or imagination, I give them :
Twilight is over, and the noon of night
Draws to its zenith, as beyond the stream
Dance the wild witches, fair as a dream
In a garden, naked in Diana's sight,
Flaming Censers on the sweet altar, light
Gleams on the waters, drifting vapours teem,
Laughter and swaying white shoulders gleam.
Oh joy and wonder at their lovely sight!
The author of this evidently had no faith in the foul old witch story.
In Vol. LXIII of Folk-Lore for December, 1952, printed under Collectanea, is an extremely interesting article by Dr. Margaret Murray, with a reproduction of a picture in the Sheffield City Art Galleries; and the existence of this picture should, I think, be better known. I quote what Dr. Murray says about it:
A Male Witch And His Familiar
'The modern popular idea that a witch was always a hideous spiteful old hag is entirely erroneous. There were almost as many male witches as female; witches sat on the Councils of Kings and took part in the affairs of state; they wielded power, often with great ability, and were sometimes the actual rulers of the realm, the power behind the throne; they were consulted by the highest in the land in matters of difficulty whether public or private.
In the villages they were the advisers for all illnesses of mind or body. When Reginald Scot wrote in 1584 the male witch was so confident of his high position that he often wore a kind of uniform to distinguish him from ordinary folk. Still earlier, the female witch was decked with black lambskin and white catskin, with polished metal and shining stones.
'Authentic contemporary portraits are extremely rare, though a few are known. The accompanying illustration is from a painting of the 17th century, and portrays a male witch with his familiar. The whole aspect of the man shows that he was used to power, and his garments indicate that he was a person of some wealth. The fierce cat in his arms is clearly content to stay, half-hypnotised by the caresses of these strong and capable hands.
'The picture measures 7 1/2 in. x 5 1/2 in., and is now exhibited in the City Art Galleries, Sheffield. The flesh is the normal flesh-colour for portraits of the period; the hood is mid-green with antennae and bells; the coat is russet; the background is black. The cat is the true colour for a witch-cat, i.e. fawn-brindle.'
As Dr. Murray so forcibly stresses, and as I have endeavoured to tell in this book, witches were a very good and useful class of people. Robert Graves in his novel Seven Days in New Crete shows us an ideal world where people daringly experimented in all kinds of government and decided to go back to the type enjoyed by the people of ancient Crete, where they had a king to govern and carry out orders who was however 'removed' occasionally, while the whole running of the country was entrusted to witches, who took their responsibilities seriously, no politics being allowed.
If the people were bored or wanted a war, they were quite free to have one, but were only permitted to fight in certain areas where they could do no damage, and no weapons except quarter-staffs were permitted to be used; these provided the maximum of fighting and fun with the minimum of expense and damage. I think that this was not altogether written as a joke but rather as an ideal.
It is believed by witches that by acting a part you really take on the nature of the thing you imitate. This is really the basis of the cave-man's magic. By making the clay image of the animal you wish to kill, and by knowing its name, you establish a link between them, so that when he stuck spears into it it gave him power to kill it when he hunted it.
That these beliefs may seem rather like children's games to some does not alter the fact that primitive men do behave like this, and so do the witches. By acting the part of the goddess the priestess is thought to be in communion with her; so the priest, acting as the god, becomes at one with him in his aspect of Death, the Consoler, the Comforter, the bringer of a happy after-life and regeneration. The initiate in undergoing the god's experiences becomes a witch.
Witches quite realise that this communion does not occur every time one assumes the goddess position, but they very soon realise that by doing so they begin to receive thrills which are apt to grow more and more intense when the trance comes on. They KNOW! It is no use saying: 'This is only suggestion, or the subconscious mind.' They reply: 'We quite agree; suggestion or the subconscious mind are simply some of the tools which we use to help to open the Door.'
As indicated before, I have little doubt that in the old days if a party were setting out for a long journey across rough country they would say: 'We will go as hares,' or some other animal, and would imitate the animal's movements, thinking that in some mystical way they had taken on that animal's nature. It may have been partly a game; but whatever it was it took their minds off a long and tedious journey, and they doubtless found they could go farther and faster with less conscious effort than if they had walked in the ordinary way. In modern terminology we should say that they had stimulated the unconscious mind.
It is the old case of: 'Unless you experience it yourself you will never believe. When you have experienced it, you don't believe, you KNOW.'
And, when you have once known the goddess, does anything else really matter? To attain this state there are many roads, and dancing is perhaps the easiest; the calls and chants help, the attitude of the other members is of the greatest assistance - but the true secret is within oneself, and also to some extent in one's partner or assistant in the art, and it is not a thing that can be forced.
A quiet knowledge that you will do it, and a steady and regular performance of the rites, are all that is really necessary, although other things help. Short cuts are useful, but you must use them carefully as they are apt to lead you astray and to involve more work in the end. You must first believe it is possible; then, use the method, or preferably a combination of the various methods that may be used together. When you have once attained the ecstasy you know that it exists and may be attained again. You must banish all feelings of can't, fix in your mind: 'I can and will.' (1)
There are a number of spiritual powers which many people do not recognise as such, e.g. the various forms of inspiration, music and poetry, clairvoyance and magical awareness; but the greatest of all these is love. All these aids should be employed under instruction, as there are difficulties and dangers in their undiscriminating use.
The first witches I met denied ever using blood in any way and I think they were speaking the truth according to their lights. I have already quoted them as saying that though freshly shed blood might give some extra power at a critical moment, it would be wrong or sinful to kill an animal for that purpose, and that they would not think of doing it. Indeed at that time I did not myself see how it would fit in with our system of magic.
Lately, however, talking it over with someone, he pointed out to me that it was not at all necessary to kill anything; that one could draw blood from his own body and that the late Aleister Crowley, as mentioned above, occasionally performed a rite when he cut his own breast and made use of the blood. Traditionally this aids materialisation in ceremonies of evocation. Of course it is well known that in the Great Mystery of Magic the magician is always the victim in a certain sense.
Now the people I know have never attempted materialisation; but mention of such practices does occur in the rituals, etc. So that these must have been practised in the past, and there are possibly many covens, of which I know nothing, who may use these methods today: that is, use blood to obtain certain results.
 See Note 4 (page 189).
Of course the old stock charge of killing unbaptised babies is ridiculous; it was only invented to scare people into having their babies baptised and paying the fees. It is impossible for large numbers of unbaptised babies to disappear without the police asked questions.
I asked my friends what was the real meaning of the Sabbath and they don't know. They know that books say that it is from Sabazius, who was identified with Dionysus and Zeus, also said to be the same as the Jewish Oreb, Lord God of Sabaoth.
Plutarch in Synus, Vol. IV, 6, says that the Jews worship Dionysus and that their Sabbath was so named after Sabazius, which was one of his forms. My friends agree that the cult of Dionysus had some connection with their own. This is clear from some of the rituals. They have also read that the first Jews who settled in Rome were expelled under the law which forbade worshippers of Jupiter Sabazius to live in Rome; but they cannot reconcile the Jewish worship with their own. Those who have thought on the matter have a theory that it is simply a word taken from the Christians when Christianity first came to Britain.
There would be no resident priests in the 'outlands', the witch districts, and services of the revival-meeting type would be held by strolling priests, possibly on Sundays, and the phrase 'Sabbath Meetings' would become attached to them. Thus the word Sabbath might be taken by the heathen to mean a religious get-together of a rather loud-singing type. The term 'Witches' Sabbath' might easily be applied to their meetings by the Christians themselves in a form of persiflage, adopted as a joke by the witches, in fact. But my friends do not say that this is necessarily gospel truth, it is only their own theory as to how it might have occurred.
Can Witches Make Love Charms?
Witches have many formulae for making all sorts of charms, though few use them nowadays; when stripped of their superstitious practices they chiefly amount to forcing one's will into an object with the aim of influencing the waverer's mind: 'Be brave, nothing can harm you, the object of your affection will love you' type of thing. Coupled with this, however, are instructions as to its use, and if you can carry them out I have little doubt that the charm would have some effect.
For instance, a charm to make a young couple love each other ends with: 'Try to ensure that the pair are thrown together alone, in exciting and if possible dangerous circumstances (or let them think they are dangerous). Soon they will begin to rely on each other; then let them know that a love charm has been made. If they be of the cult, make them perform the rites together and the charm will soon act.'
If I were only a quarter of my age, I wish that someone would try that charm on me!
Is It Possible For Witches To Do People Harm?
This is a question I am often asked. I can only say that I have not known them try. I know no spells to this end. But anyone can make a new spell for himself, and the witches' way of training couples to work together, then a number of couples to work so as to form a sort of battery of human wills, is I think a most efficient way of doing things. I believe that it is a historical fact that in the thirteenth century Pope Innocent IV by a bull Elsi Animarum, dated November 21, 1284, greatly offended the Dominicans; and it has become a proverb in the Vatican, 'A Litaniis Predicatorum, Libera nos Domine', which is translated: 'From the litanies of the Dominicans, O lord, deliver us.'
This was because the Dominicans had recited a special prayer against the Pope each day after Matins, and he died in less than a month's time. Now one would think that a Pope would not be merely frightened to death by some monk's prayers; it seems to argue some objective validity in the process.
I have heard it said before in similar circumstances: 'Of course, it is only a coincidence but he is very, very dead!' and many years ago I remember seeing in the papers reports of a curious lawsuit in New York where sworn evidence was produced in court to the effect that a certain unorthodox branch of the Christian Science Church was supposed to meet regularly and after prayers say: 'We think of Brother - , we wish him well, we wish he were in the best place for him, six feet underground,' and firmly fix the idea of the Brother as dead or buried in their minds.
They were said to have frightened many people to death that way. I believe that finally an injunction against these practices was granted, but I am not sure. So perhaps a witch can do what monks and Christian Scientists can do.
I have never seen or heard of these among witches. Dr. Murray suggests that there were tattoo marks as a means of recognition. I think it very probable that in the burning times something of the sort was used, but the ones I know have never heard of it except in Dr. Murray's books Witchcraft in Western Europe and The God of the Witches, in which they are very interested. Witches feel they owe a debt of gratitude to Dr. Murray for being the first to tell them that they were not the poisoners, diabolists or impostors that practically all other writers call them.
The only distinct mark that I know of is that ladies of a certain grade are entitled to wear a bracelet with their name and grade sign engraved on it, and as the uninitiated would not recognise these, they are often worn in public.
Another witch would of course recognise them, even at a distance. There is also a higher order, the witch's garter; but this is never worn so that it can be seen in public. I have mentioned a necklace, but this can be of any sort as long as it is fairly conspicuous. They have no story of its origin or meaning; it is merely the custom.
Myself, I think that there must be some story to the effect that the goddess always wore a necklace; I believe that Astarte always wore one and was known as the Goddess of the Necklace, being otherwise 'sky-clad', as they say in India. I have known one or two witches who wear talismans on their necklaces, but these are mainly astrological, being made for the owner only, and they bear no witch signs, so that I am inclined to think that the necklace itself is the important thing. (1)
Necklaces were important things both to Celt and Saxon. Some important priestess must have set the fashion. Thank goodness we are not plagued with people in the cult who are continually changing the fashions.
The Witch's Tools
There are no witch's supply stores, so a poor witch usually has to make or improvise her own tools; a novice is often presented with an Athame, and of course in a witch family there are often old tools to be had. Old tools are always preferred, as they are supposed to have Power.
If you cannot get these, you are told to attempt to make your own, and I have seen some very clever work. Women are usually helped with making their tools if they have no family ones, but some of them are very clever work-women also.
 See Notes (page 189).
The tools may be of the simplest construction, but actually, as they are used for a religious purpose, they try to make them as nice as possible, Of course, the average witch does not have a full battery of tools; not all have the sword, for instance. An Athame (witch's knife), a censer, some cord and one or two other tools are quite enough to work with. For initiations the whole battery of tools has, of course, to be present; but these usually belong to the coven.
It is very amusing to see how clever some witches are in disguising their tools so that they look like something else; indeed, they often are something else, until they are put together in the proper way to be used. For the benefit of anyone interested I have a large number of witch tools which I will be pleased to show anyone at the Museum of Magic and Witchcraft, called locally the Witches' Mill, Castletown, Isle of Man.
Witches use incense in quantities. Nowadays they usually buy this at the nearest church stores, but some compound their own; they are very secretive about this, and I think they put some strong stuff in it; at least I have known people behave rather queerly after it has been burned in a confined space, though it has never had any effect on me - or at least none that I noticed.
During the Second World War they had to do without anointing; but nowadays one or two have managed to get small amounts. They keep their source of supply very secret, as, also, what it is compounded with. It smells fine to me, though some people dislike it. It is a powerful smell, and I think that, like the incense, it can have some effect on you if you are suggestible, which I am not; but part of the intention is to cause a shifting of the centres of consciousness.
Of this 'exstasis', the best English translation is 'taking one out of oneself, taking him into communion with the god. But to attain this state lustration is at least advisable; this is in fact the inward as well as an outward cleansing - the old doctrine of penance, cleansing the soul as well as the body; in this way only is the body properly prepared for the goddess to descend and inspire her worshipper.
In this way may the trance state be induced, though there are other methods, all to the end of escaping temporarily from the yoke of tradition, to make the soul free; in other words, it gives one something new to live for.
Many people attempt this by drugs, or more crudely by alcohol. But these have extremely bad effects on the body, and any results are at the best often illusions; so seldom make the attempt in that way. In the old days many witches went to the flames laughing and singing; they had a joy of life and of beauty, and the Peace of Death with the promise of return, so they braved the fires, for they believed that they were going to a better world, and they died happy.
What Is The Witch Power?
It is estimated that about nine million people died by torture in one way or another during the persecution, and that quite possibly as many more, chiefly children, died by cold, starvation and exposure as the result of this crusade of persecution. Yet in spite of this extermination some remnants have survived, because people were willing to run the awful risk, and they did so because they believed in the Power.
Now what is this Power? If you ask them they say it is Magic; if you ask them what they mean by Magic, they say they don't know but that it is something that works.
What can this Power be? The easy answer is Mind over Matter. If you believe a thing firmly enough, you will imagine things. While I can believe that Mind has much to do with it, this answer does not satisfy me. Superstition is believing without evidence; science is testing a thing and only believing it when you obtain adequate proof. For this reason science is continually and quite rightly changing its views; they may often confuse cause with effect, as when an early Egyptian scientist noticed that at the coming of the Dog Star the Nile rose, and, to the great benefit of agriculture, was able to predict the annual flooding. That later on it was discerned that the Dog Star did not actually cause the floods, but simply rose at the time of the floods, made no difference to this.
I think that thousands of years ago some medicine men found that by directing the Massed Power of Mind they got good results in hunting. Whether this power affected the animal or the hunter did not matter, it produced results, and they called this Power, Magic. They experimented with this Power and found by rather hit-and-miss methods - superstitious and not proved, if you like - that at times they got results.
One of these superstitions was that there was some connection between part of a thing and the thing itself, so if you could get some of the blood, excrement or hair of a person or animal you could establish a link.
Fifty years ago scientists would have united in saying that this was nonsense, that it was superstition, which it truly is, for there was no proof of it. Nowadays, however, many scientific men believe that living tissues emanate their own radiations in conformity with their cellular structure. A disease affecting these tissues superimposes its own radiations on those of the normal cell; every disease has its own characteristic wave formation, and the patient need not be present; a specimen of blood or saliva is enough. It is said that experiments with special cameras are being made which will record these changes in the cells.
Radiesthesia is a faculty which some people possess of receiving waves or rays and passing them on through muscular reflexes to a divining rod or pendulum. It is what used to be called dowsing when used only to find water, and is probably the force behind table-turning. It is nowadays being investigated by a great number of medical men, priests and research workers generally, because they seem to get results.
It usually begins as almost a childish game: you hide something and the seeker finds it with his pendulum. This was put down at first to telepathy, but many archaeologists found they got good results in discovering things that no living man knew of. That is the scientific test: does it work in enough cases to be of great use? And the verdict seems to be that it does. The rod, pendulum, or whatever you use can do nothing without human contact; it is not one of the forces generally known to science, and mind, will, imagination, belief evidently play big parts. As textbooks say, you need enthusiasm and optimism; if you think it is all rot, or only a child's game, you will at best get childish results.
We all know that wireless works, and this seems a sort of natural wireless. This power has been in use for many years for testing eggs. I believe that dowsers are often used by the police to trace the bodies of missing people. I simply think that this is the force that witches use when they speak of raising Power or Magic. And the great art of using this Power would seem to be to believe firmly that you can do it and to have the fierce determination to make it work.
Now the witch rites and ceremonial are of a nature to fix your mind on the object of the work. Personally, I also believe that they have a great effect in loosening inhibitions and putting you into a favourable state of mind. I think, indeed, that there is something even more than this to be obtained from these methods, but of course that all depends on what you wish to achieve.
Witches were taught that magic was contagious, that what you did to a material object which had formed part of a man's body, or had been in close contact with it, and had absorbed its aura, could have some effect on that person, even at a distance; 'forming the link', they called it.
They also believe it is possible to form a mental link without having any material object; but, as Kipling says, that is another story.
Quoting from Elementary Radiesthesia by F. A. Arch-dale, p. 29: 'The basis of Medical Radiesthesia is that the pendulum held over a healthy organ gives one reaction, while over an unhealthy one it gives the opposite reaction, which is, we might say, the diagnosis ... others use samples, such as urine, blood, saliva, etc., taken from the patient, thereby enabling them to carry out their diagnosis at home.' P.35: 'There are Radionic Diagnostic Instruments ... which employ "samples from the patient" such as a blood spot, lock of hair. ... A full and thorough diagnosis, or analysis, takes from three to four hours' close concentration, in which time a selection of physical treatment has been made, by finding out a combination of drugs and herbal remedies suited to the discovered condition of the patient.'
So we see that Radiesthesia has been brought to the scientific instrument stage. I cannot verify all these claims of course, but I have had a blood spot taken and was given remedies which did me a great deal of good. I am still receiving treatment, the original blood spot being used; it was in London when I was in West Africa, and the treatment still does me good. Many other people have the same experience.
It is curious that medical men should believe that there is a connection between the sample of blood taken from me six months ago and that it shows all the changes that have taken place in my body, unless they had considerable previous proof that such things were possible. I am told that Radiesthesia is of great use to veterinary surgeons, as animals cannot tell their symptoms or answer questions.
I am not saying that all that is claimed for Radiesthesia is true; all I know is it seemed to do me good, and I think it very curious that while for thousands of years the witch has believed that there was a connection between a body and its severed part, through which a magical link could be established, modern medical men now seem to incline to the same belief. That witches believe it is also possible to link in other ways if they cannot obtain a severed portion of the body, i.e. form a mental link, when they are working solely on the mind, does not affect the matter.
I was much interested in Mr. Pennethorne Hughes's theory, vide page 23 of his book, that magic was evolved by the Egyptian priests, that one branch of this knowledge came to Europe, becoming witchcraft, the other going to West Africa and thence to America, becoming Voodoo. I know that Frazer and others have mentioned the resemblance between the African cults of the Divine King and Egyptian myths, and I had already noted the resemblance between certain Voodoo practices and European witchcraft; but it seemed to me that the proof of Mr. Hughes's theory must lie in West Africa. If the witches or witch doctors there had the knowledge, they might have passed it on to America.
So I went to the Gold Coast and Nigeria for the winters of 1952 and again in 1953. Now it is extremely difficult to get into real magical circles anywhere. The first year I had no luck; but after I had given a suitably watered-down lecture on witchcraft at Accra, Gold Coast, in January 1954, in (of all places) a Y.M.C.A, building, followed by a small wireless talk, information began to trickle in, and now I have seen magic worked in the Coast fashion. Of course I quite realise they don't tell me all their secrets; from what I have seen they do use two of the processes that witches use to gain power, but these two processes seem to be world-wide.
A European witch is taught 'there are many paths or ways all leading to the centre', and uses many (or all) of them combined in one operation to gain all the power she can. But, nowadays at least, she is at best an amateur, only practising occasionally, while the African is a professional.
Perhaps he finds he can do all he wants by his methods, and so does not need the extra aids the European witch uses. And it is quite possible that they know and use all the witch-methods occasionally. There is a great language difficulty, also there was no reason why they should show me their innermost secrets; but I could find only two resemblances. As the Magic was only done to show me, I cannot say whether it works or not; they assure me, however, that it does. And I asked where the power came from and was told it was from the local gods. They, at least, seemed to have no idea that it came from Egypt.
Now there is abundant evidence of intercourse between Egypt and the Coast; but as far as I can ascertain there is only proof of this via Arab caravans' during the last thousand years; that is, during the time when they were established native states. It is quite possible that there were established native states of which we know nothing, and that they may have had some communications with Egypt by sea through the Carthaginians and others; but there is no proof of this. So the only communications of which we are certain were at a date when the Egyptian priests had been put out of action first by Christians and afterwards by Mohammedans nearly a thousand years before.
If I only knew exactly what was the system of magic practised by the Egyptian priests, it would be easy to say. That which is described in books has no resemblance to the witches' practices; but it is most likely they had some secret system which they did not mention in their inscriptions.
All I can definitely say is that there are some resemblances between European magic and that used today on the West Coast. Obviously this is not conclusive proof.
Europeans have been going to this Coast in large numbers during the last 500 years and introducing all sorts of beliefs and customs. As an instance, in the year 1485 a Portuguese Don Alfonso d'Aleiro was living up-country in Benin City. He is credited with having introduced guns and coconuts (intentionally) and the practice of crucifixion (unintentionally), through the crucifixes that he and his followers wore.
The famous crucifixion tree in Benin City was in constant use until it was destroyed by a British Expedition in 1897. Now, during the period 1400 to 1700 the witch persecutions were raging, so is it not most likely that some poor witch would volunteer for a dangerous and unhealthy exploring expedition to escape the Inquisition? A number of the Kings of Benin were noted magicians and astrologers.
They might easily have protected a fellow-worker and picked his or her brains; so, while I am very much interested in Mr. Hughes's theory and would like to know that it was true, I can only say that as far as I am concerned it is 'NOT PROVEN'.
To recapitulate, Ritualistic Magic, Kabalistic Magic, Art Magic or Black Magic are alike attempting to evoke genii, demons or elemental spirits and forcing or bribing them to cause events to occur, the practitioner believing that such spirits have the power to alter nature, to cause storms, floods or earthquakes for instance. They often use blood, skulls and other nasty things for this purpose.
The witch dislikes these methods and thinks her ways are best. True, in the past there have been many cases of sorcerers employing witches; but this was as mediums when something of a spiritualistic nature was attempted, that is, trying to communicate with the spirits of departed human beings who were willing to communicate, and were neither bribed nor threatened.
The witch generally does not believe it is possible to alter nature - to cause storms, for instance; but she does believe that most important events are controlled by some human mind or minds, and that it is often possible to form a link with, and so influence, the minds of others (human or animal) by a means I can only describe as a sort of long-range hypnotism, the results depending on the amount of power raised, the skill in directing it, the sensitivity or otherwise of the brains at the other end and whether they are opposed to the idea which comes into their minds or not; and that their minds may still be so influenced, even if some strong counter-influence is exerted.
Now it is perfectly possible to influence people's minds in great numbers in order to gain your own ends. John Wesley, Gladstone and Hitler all did it on a large scale. None of them changed the minds of all the people they contacted; but the influence was sufficient to change the history of the world, and it was not done by reasoning with people. They simply put an idea into people's minds and rammed it home. All politicians do or attempt to do it.
Witches use a different technique to do the same thing. They do not succeed in all their operations and it is difficult for me to assess exactly how many of their successes may have been due to chance; but they do seem to have had a remarkable number of successes. People tell me: 'This is easy; either they succeed or they don't, so they have a 50 per cent chance of success', quoting: 'If you 100 pennies in the air, about 50 per cent will come down heads.' But it's not so easy as all that.
As the witch told the psychical research man: 'To do magic you must work yourself into a frenzy; the more intense you feel, the more chance of success.' You simply can't get the required number of people to do it just for fun, or if it's likely to come off naturally; the chances are then usually 80-90 per cent against.
Other people tell me: 'If you are determined enough you can force anything through without having to resort to witchcraft,' quoting: 'Napoleon said "There is no such word as impossible in the French language,"' but as a witch said when they told her this: 'I suppose Napoleon said it in Corsican when we put it into his brain it is impossible to cross the English Channel.'
Now I have seen things I'm forbidden to talk about, and quite admittedly I'm superstitious because of what I have seen of witches' powers. Also it is easy to see where this superstition could lead to and I know I'm going to be laughed at. I can take it.
As I have said before, an anthropologist's job is to investigate what people do and what they believe, not what moralists say they should do and believe. They may draw their own conclusions and give out any theory, provided they state clearly that these are their own theories, and not proven facts.
I have told you before how the witches performed certain rites and believe they succeeded in influencing the minds of people who controlled the invasion barges.
It is purely my own theory, and admittedly founded on superstition, but I think they could perform similar rites to influence the brains of those who may control the Hydrogen Bomb.
Having said all I am permitted to say, I must now finish. I hope that this book will have been of interest to you, the reader, and as the witches say to each other -