bad witch

The Bad Witch’s Guide to Athames

August, 2018

 

The Bad Witch’s Guide to Athames

Athame rhymes with “a plane” not “ath harm eh”.

The black-handled knife, the witch’s blade, the athame: a ritual knife for casting and cutting energy and power. I’ve never been uncomfortable with knives (blame She-ra) from my pen-knife I got around 9 years old to the kitchen knives I used all the time from about 11 years of age, yet there is this anxiety about blades, more now than when I was younger most especially with some women.

Much in the same way I think everyone should know how to use a saw, axe, drill and spade (shovels are from moving stuff, spades are for digging) and knife, I believe all magickal practitioners need to learn how to use a magickal knife.

The athame is different from a boline (or white-handled knife) in that it doesn’t cut physical things. A good knife is worth its weight and mine is an old pairing or pruning knife. As an avid forager it’s a handy tool out and about and in circle.

My athame is not actually black-handled. It is hand turned pear wood, and has a hand forged blade. Where I keep my boline in my handbag or on a shelf my athame is covered and hidden. It doesn’t leave my home unless I’m doing ritual somewhere else.

To some it represents air, thought and focus, while for others it represents fire. Both have merit, a blade is after all usually formed of metal which is forged or at least heated to high temperatures, yet it is cool and sharp like a cold wind when formed. I’m in general not usually a fan of crystal knives. Mainly because they are not knife like enough. Made of soft, porous and delicate crystal I find it as useful and ridiculous as a glass hammer. There are exceptions, a friend has a family athame which is a jaw bone (I forget which animal) and a sharp slate blade. Flit, obsidian and other knapped or worked sharp stones are can be rather cool but require a LOT of skill to make and use.

This anxiety of using a knife, a cutting knife as a tool often steams from the same place as women whom are afraid of other “masculine” tools. Unless it is operated with your genitals it is just a tool. Female surgeons don’t shun scalpels as “too scary”. Cutting things away, letting them go, removing the unhealthy isn’t cruel it is necessary. When you are creating anything you must also be able to destroy or dissolve. A witch blade is also a lightning rod for power.

While a wand can and does bring that kind of power in circle it is more insulated, muted or defused. That is to say what it channels feels distinctively different than that of a metal blade. If the staff is warm and nurturing the blade crackles with potential.

I like to use my blade when casting and calling. It is empowering and when I salute after drawing my evocations it feels respectful and powerful. When used in the symbolic Great Rite it channels that powerful masculine presence into the cup or chalice. (You can’t do that with a selenite “blade”). When I release the circle I can cut away anything that shouldn’t be there. If I need to banish something I take my athame. Apparently there isn’t much scary than an irate ginger with a knife, even for dead and icky things. A witch’s blade is an extension of their power and connection to the Gods. To touch it of defile it is an act of spiritual desecration and great dishonour. This is why having a simple blade when you begin is not only acceptable but necessary. Better a cheap or simple athame that reflects where you are with your power and connection to the Gods than one that is fancy and unconnected. While precious it is a tool and we become better at handling tools with practice. Likewise you might want something small if you are in a smaller space on a regular basis or if that feel more comfortable in the hand. There is a tradition where you don’t haggling the price of an athame. I like this idea. You can buy vintage or exotic blades but some of these can have dark histories and I would never recommend military weapons, like WW2 daggers, however nice they look. These have most likely seen blood and even reproductions can have violent vibration. If you are going to buy second hand cleanse the fuck out of them (a full ritual is best) laying the blade within in a circle of salt and cleansing herbs and even clean with metal safe oils.

Another cool tradition I like about athames is naming them. It should represent itself (the essence of the thing) as well as what you hope it will become. Don’t use unknown languages to you, rather keep it crisp and simple. Fin, (some blades have fish scale patterns) Brink, Storm, Courage. Steel, Wolf’s Tooth, or whatever you and your Gods find appropriate. It is important to maintain your blade and its name secretly. Privately might be a better way of putting it. This is between you and the Divine.

An athame should never be used to draw blood and ones that have are considered “cursed” and most often destroyed rather than reused. (I worked in the largest pagan store in Manchester for a while and you would not believe the crazy shit I saw, including a husband who cut himself deliberately with his wife’s athame as she was leaving him).

My point about athames is this: since before we had fabric, we had blades. We are a tool making species. Drawing a shining blade from heating rocks was as magickal then as it is now. Knives first made from sharp stone, cooper, then bronze, then iron and then steel. Every adult used to own and carry their own knife. While they definitely have a “masculine” energy they are not evil, or inherently violent. They do require some skill and patience to use correctly. Athames are no different in this respect. They, like thoughts can be cutting or healing, kind or cruel. An athame can liberate and empower. It is a double edge one more witch’s should feel comfortable wielding.

Cords and censer, scourge and knife:

Power of the Witch’s blade;

Waken ye unto life,

Come ye as the charm is made!”

 

The Bad Witch’s Guide

June, 2018

 

The Bad Witch’s Guide to Hate

There is this idea amongst some lovely people that you can “fix” a hateful and intolerant person. That if you just love them enough, are kind to them enough, forgive them, talk to them, you can heal them.

Now maybe for some of them that is true. Those whom are genuinely ignorant. After all we don’t know what we don’t know. If we only know and respect people like us we have no clue what it is like to be different.

However those folks that hate, really hate with a blinding burning passion? There is no logic, no amount of love or compassion, no act that can sway them.

The truth is they don’t want to stop being hateful. They don’t feel like they are in need of anything because hate is like a drug. It feels righteous and pure and even beautiful. It is the drug of certainty. Of order in a way. It isn’t healthy of course. It’s hard work to hate. You have to tend it, to give fire to the cold hardness in the chest or belly. Outrage, wild conjecture and plain made-up weirdness as well as other people who feel that way. It feels great to hate.

Hate makes you feel powerful and invulnerable and right. It puts the world in order. It removes the chaos, uncertainty and stupidity with a villain, or group of villains. Its chem-trails, and vaccines and the Government or “the Gay Agenda”. Its Jews and Black people, Mexicans, the French or the Damn Chinese!

Because it couldn’t possibly be complicated, and messy and really, really stupid? Do Governments do shady crappy things? Are some of them deliberate? Probably. In all honest greed, and stupidity, human nature are the things that actually things mess up.

You can’t explain to people who hate logically and calmly that there is no “gay agenda “just people who want to be treated as people. People who love and eat and pray (or not). It is those who demonize and dehumanize those whom are “other “whom cultivate hate because they feel threatened and vulnerable. Hate makes them feel strong.

How could you change this with a hug?

You can’t fix an addict easily either. They often have the same root cause, pain, trauma, and self-loathing. More importantly they have to want to get better. Funnily being “other” doesn’t make you immune to hate either. You can be gay and racist, black and homophobic, and I won’t go into some of the most hateful vegans I know of.

So what does “cure” hate?

Most addicts are miserable, either from trauma or from something in their life that feel like injustice. Happier healthy populations and cultures are less prone to hate and addiction. Rehab and therapy would also do wonders too.

In all honesty I don’t have the answers. I just know that you can’t “pray away” the hate from someone any more than you can the “gay” in someone, I know people have tried and still bi-sexual as hell! That someone filled with hate is just as deadly, and far more common than someone on crack or PCP. We have to look beyond what they are saying and doing and address the problem, the hate its self.

Hate is a psychological temporary field dressing that stops someone in trauma having a mental breakdown at that time. Whatever the wound, the trauma, the trigger will probably become the shape of the hate. It, like addiction is there to fill the void that makes us feel vulnerable and deeply hurt. Break downs can also be a break through and those whom don’t hate or have healed and moved on from it. Hate can tell us where are traumas are, what they are, when they started. They can give us clues to healing ourselves. It is often painful and difficult.

A good therapist can help but acknowledging our hates in ourselves might be the best beginning to healing others too.

The Bad Witch’s Guide

January, 2018

 

The Bad Witch’s Guide to Poppets

 

I am a bad witch. There are a long list of reasons why I am a bad witch. Having been out of the broom closet for some considerable number of years I would on occasion get asked “but you’re a good witch though?” My response to that depending on the person asking but I found I started to say “yes, a very, very good witch” rather darkly as it usually got the point across.


As someone who has only relatively recently learned to sew I had to get crafty with poppets. I am quite cool about substitutes like onions and lemons (as someone who LOVES to cook).


Salt dough

 


I started making my own salt dough for my family early on. I do suggest food colouring (and gloves) at least in the mixing stage otherwise it has a tendency to go a bit gray. Equal parts flour and salt with warm water added a bit at a time until it reaches a dough. You can add an oil to make it a bit more pliable but if you mix it then chill it it should work better without. Salt dough can be used to make decorations, altar pieces for Sabbat, and poppets to heal, or otherwise. To harden it drying it out in a low oven is best, but it does dry to a hard texture, a bit like crumbly clay.

 

Clay

 


Clay is old school! You can buy air clay and you won’t need to dry it in an oven or you could let it dry out slower. Again it quite hard when finished and you might need to “poppet it” (add openings, names and so on) before it’s dry. You can mix herbs and things into the clay but this will effect it’s structural qualities too. If you are going for a bigger poppet you will probably need an armature. An armature is a skeleton within an object to give it a structure. Small ones might need only a single piece of thin wire down the middle. Bigger poppets might need a wire body. Clay holds onto paint well when dried and if you are a person who paints well this can be valuable.

 

Fabric

 


Fabric cut out with wool or other stuffings make a cheap and useful poppet. They take pins and other objects pretty well. You can put hair, or an old piece of clothes inside. You can add cursing herbs or spices and they soak up oils really well. It’s definitely a different experience than the clay or dough. An accomplished person can knock one out in very little time, but the rest of us it might take more than an evening. It’s lightweight and easy to carry with you.

 

Wood

 


There are a couple of ways you can make wooden poppets. You can use the carving method which requires a lot of skill and tools. The peg method (a wooden clothes peg can make a quick and useful poppet in a pinch). Or you can make a bundle doll. A simple cross bundle bound with thread can make and excellent poppet or spirit doll. You can use all kinds of woods, all kinds of thread, from silks to rough jute and soak it in oils or tinctures. You can glue the threads or even wax them (making them easier to burn in a fire) to keep the binding together. You can of course combine materials and use clay and the like to make the thread hold. You can make it as simple or as complicated as you like.


Wool

 


I am a crafty witch, in all senses and I got into needle-felting recently and I love it. It’s sculpting with pointy needles! While you do need wool and felting needles (which can vary in price a lot) a simple set is not that expensive. What you don’t pay in money, prepare to pay in blood! No needle felter doesn’t stab themselves (with varying degrees of pain and blood loss) while making things. Sure you can by leather finger protectors but I never stab myself in the same place twice! That said you can make rather good likenesses, have a whole spectrum of colours and shades of wool to choose from and with an armature you can make them quite big. I have been making a lot of fae dolls this way (they just want to be made) and there is this strange alive quality to them even before they are finished.

 

Roots and Vegetables

 


From pumpkins to turnips we have been carving faces for a very long time of vegetables. My turnip head is still there from Samhain last year (and yes it’s terrifying). You can carve or make poppets from roots like ginger and even odd shaped carrots, or just parts like heads, or phallic symbols in all kinds of vegetables. They do perish (some more quickly than others) which can be great (or not) depending on what you want. Can be burned reasonably safely and put in rushing water without too much issue (polluting is bad people). You can also squish them quite well too, should you feel the need and compost with clear(ish) conscience. Being as they tend to be wet (ooh er) things like photographs, or other connections can be damaged in trying get them into the poppet. That said that might be a bonus and they take pins and such really well.

 

Wax

 


This is one I don’t often use but one of my friends is great at this one! They are not “pretty” but they have such a power to them. Good for a short sharp shock. They burn well (obviously) and if you do it right they burn themselves! So try and make sure if you are using a wicked candle to try and keep it central to the poppet. A candle, a craft knife and a hot spoon to smooth things out are all you need. It’s a cheap and powerful way to make poppets. You can of course buy and melt wax and sculpt it from scratch but it requires a double boiler and a lot of patience. This way means you can add oils, herbs, hair, photographs and so on. They take pins well and if you leave in a cool place can last a long time. No so great for throwing in water but good for jar work and fire work.

 

Grasses, Cornstalks, Such Like

 

 

Corn dollies are a very old poppet material. Good wheat stems can vary on how easy they are to find and there are hundreds of ways to weave these little lovelies. Dependent on the material weaving can be a simple or complicated business. It’s more like stalk origami than true weaving but you get some lovely pieces. They are a lot of work and you might not want to use them as a poppet unless you are really pressed. That said they are a beautiful and ancient form of poppet and it would be remiss of me to leave them out. They can last years, but don’t take pins well. You could use them as a basic armature for something like clay on top.
A good poppet is what you need in the moment. Whether it is for healing, focusing a group spell or cursing the crap out of someone making your own is an empowering and therapeutic thing.

Bad Witch’s Guide

July, 2017

 

 

The Bad Witch’s Guide to Love Spells


I am a bad witch. There are a long list of reasons why I am a bad witch. Having been out of the broom closet for some considerable number of years I would on occasion get asked “but you’re a good witch though?” My response to that depending on the person asking but I found I started to say “yes, a very, very good witch” rather darkly as it usually got the point across.

Good witches will either hand you a love spell without blinking or warn you off them completely. I however, am not a good witch.

The warnings are not without good reason. Love is a power thing. An energy and force that can move mountains. In messing around with this you might miss the BIG one/s. There is a real difference to being “in love” and actual love. In love is chemical attraction, a dizzy connection, an awakening. This always fades, but can also wax again. Real love, real connection is deeper than that and born out of respect and loyalty.

Most love spells are not actually about love, which is probably because most folks wanting a love spell, don’t actually want love either. Most love spells are about lust, loneliness and power games. That doesn’t mean something real cannot develop from a lust spell. Sex is fun and healthy after all. However problems really arise when they are done “in house” with a relationship. I have known wives desperate to stop their husbands cheating resorting to magick. It kept the marriage together for two more agonising years before blowing up.

No amount of magick can make someone really love you.

I have seen folks do magick consciously (and not) to draw the same kind of “wrong” or and over again. Sometimes they ask for “a Viking” or “a sexy Scorpio” and they get caught in this web of magick and cannot seem to easily free themselves. “Isn’t this exactly what you asked for” the Gods seem to say.

This can make people even swear off magick all together (as though it was its fault for your terrible taste!)

OMGdd you’re so judgey!”

Sometimes I am. I have done my share too of pushing on a pull door. In fact it is how I sort of met my husband. I was in a terrible relationship (I had been in it for nearly three and a half years) and I wrote a love spell (with the intention of fixing my relationship), however what I asked for was “my true love”. With six weeks I had moved out and was seeing my now husband of 16 years. I do wonder sometimes if I hadn’t done the spell would everything had happened so fast? I was married and a mum by 22 years old. I wouldn’t “undo” it. Yet it might have been good to have taken things slower!

However, no matter how weird or unlikely there tends to be strange jigsaw pieces that fit together and the world seems to conspire to put them in each other’s path.

So what makes a “good” love spell?

Well firstly sometimes you are the worst person to know what you actually need. Have a little faith, and ask for something good for you, something happy. What someone looks like might seem important but someone to hold your hand during your Dad’s funeral and actually make you feel better is far more important. A good love spell is about letting go of how you think it will be. If you are too hung up of that your truest love could walk straight past you because you were stubbornly clinging to this idea of a “type”. Some good therapy and an honest look to what you are calling to you helps. You really want your love to turn up will you are carrying enough emotional baggage to sink the Titanic? Are you loving (or at least trying) to love yourself, find your own worthiness? If someone loves you, can you accept that love, can you be loved graciously and love in return?

 

 

 

 

My True Loves Call

One red rose

One white rose

Ribbon (either pink, red or white)

Three candles (tea-lights are fine)

A dish or bowl of water

A pinch of powdered cinnamon.

A pink stone (rose quartz would be fine).

 

Place the bowl in the middle of the candles forming and equilateral triangle. Take a good sharp knife and cut the roses vertically in half. Take the “good half’s” and set aside. Light the candles and carefully add the rose petals from the other halves into the bowl saying.

I call to you through time and space, my true love, come and find your place.”

Slowly add the petals a little from each at a time. Sit with the pink stone in your hand or over your heart. Imagine you love someone romantically (don’t visualise a specific person) and imagine opening your heart and filling the stone with the light, a warm pink loving light. Imagine as you breath out you are radiating love and as you breath in accepting it gently. When you have done this for a few minutes add the stone to the bowl of water saying.

I shine with love, kind and true, my true love, I am ready for you.”

Add a pinch of cinnamon to the bowl and to the cut halves of the “good” roses now and say.

With passion, with kindness, with love, as below so above.”

Carefully but firmly bind the rose halves together with the ribbon.

I call through all space and time, my true love, a love Divine.

Your love is kind and true, you are ready for as I am for you.

We shall share, and love and grow; as above, so below.”

Sit with the candles and the bowl some time and extinguish the candle before leaving the bowl overnight. Burn the candles until burned out and keep the crystal in your pocket or with you for the next lunar month. Reserve a small bottle of the water and throw away the rest into running water. Keep the roses in a vase somewhere you can see them until they fade and then untie them and throw them in running water like a river or stream.

Love is a beautiful and mysterious thing but relationships take compromise, compassion and hard work. Be someone worth spending time with, and make sure you find someone worthy of you.