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Goddesses of Sorcery

An Assembly of Sorcerers

“There ye shall assemble, ye who are fain to learn all sorcery, and to these shall I teach things that are as yet unknown.” (1)

If you search on the internet for Witchcraft twenty-five and a half million sites come up! If you had the time to read them all, do you think that you would learn the secrets of the Goddess, also called “Sorcery“? Would those internet addresses reveal spells that would bring you love, wealth, health, immortality, riches, power and more? What is Sorcery?

Here’s the secret (the unknown): Sorcery is power; power to do whatever you want.

A funny thing happened and I would like to tell you about it. I noticed that all the Witches were developing powers. They were able to read peoples thoughts, see auras, touch people and heal their pain, know what would happen in the future, remember their past lives, speak to animals, hear the voices of those who had passed on and many other things, but most of all they were happy. You might not think that being happy is a magickal power, but really it is the goal of all Sorcery! Why would we be “fain to learn” if it didn’t make us happy? When I confronted them saying: “You all have powers!” They said: “No we don’t.”  They didn’t realize that their lives were full of magick and power. They couldn’t see it because to them it was normal and natural, just business as usual.

But they do have powers and they didn’t get them by reading books or the internet! The Goddess taught them all they know in a way so gentle and subtle they didn’t even realize it was happening. Even though they did not start the practice of the Craft to get powers they were drawn to the path of Sorcery by a Mystery as deep as their souls. Synchronicities called them; strange co-incidences led them to the Circle. They were searching for peace, for transformation and for Her, not for psychic powers.  So what happened?

As they began to worship, love and honour Her, they changed. This is the Mystery. Cell by cell and thought by thought they metamorphosed into something different: they became Witches. Witches connect with the Divine in Nature and believe that God is both masculine and feminine, that She/He is present, immanent, in the world. As they practice they awakened to that Divine Spirit. They became their authentic selves. Then the Sorcery manifest, just like seeing, hearing, tasting, and feeling. It was another sense, a natural part of their awakened selves until they became and assembly of Sorcerers.

Petitioning

Witches don’t usually call themselves Sorcerers, they call themselves Pagans or Witches or Wiccans. The term “Sorcerer” is more commonly found in Shamanic groups and Shamanic writing, like the books of Carlos Castaneda. If you want the Sorcery (power) they have; the happiness, inner dialogue with the Goddess, the ability to feel the God in Nature and the psychic powers, how would you go about connecting to it?

One way of speeding up the synchronicities that lead you to the Circle is to petition the Goddesses of Sorcery using stories, songs and poems in front of a “story altar”. Witches and Pagans visualize and connect with the Old Gods in five major Pantheons: Greek, Roman, Egyptian, Norse and Celtic, so the appropriate Goddesses to petition would be Hecate or Cerridwen.  The Goddess Hecate is associated with both the Greek and Roman pantheons as the Goddess of Witches and Sorcery.  Cerridwen is the Goddess of Witchcraft most usually invoked for Sorcery in the Celtic Pantheon.

 

 

Cerridwen

            We learn about the story of Cerridwen from the Mabinogion, (2) which is the cycle of myths found in Welsh legend. Cerridwen wants to brew a potion in her magical cauldron to give to her son Afagddu (Morfran), who is considered to be the ugliest man on earth. This potion will make him the keeper of all knowledge and the greatest bard that ever lived. She puts young Gwion in charge of guarding the cauldron and he has to stir it for a year and a day. A few hours before the potion is ready three drops of the brew fall upon his finger burning him. He puts his finger in his mouth to stop the pain and is suddenly blessed with the knowledge meant for Afagddu. Cerridwen returns, realizes that Gwion has taken the magick and chases him. They both change into many forms as they run but finally in the form of a hen, she swallows Gwion, who is disguised as a grain of wheat. Nine months later, she gives birth to Taliesin, the greatest of all the Welsh bards. He is so beautiful she cannot kill him so she puts him in a small boat and sets him on the water where he is rescued by a Celtic Prince.

 

 

 

Hecate

The first literature mentioning Hecate is the Theogony by Hesiod:

[…] Hecate whom Zeus the son of Cronos honored above all. He gave her splendid gifts, to have a share of the earth and the unfruitful sea. She received honor also in starry heaven, and is honored exceedingly by the deathless gods. For to this day, whenever any one of men on earth offers rich sacrifices and prays for favor according to custom, he calls upon Hecate. Great honor comes full easily to him whose prayers the goddess receives favorably, and she bestows wealth upon him; for the power surely is with her.”(3)

 

There are many ideas and depictions of Hecate but she is considered to be one of the Old Gods, the Titons, who were giants like Cerridwen’s husband Tegid. They were in power before the coming of Zeus and the Olympian Gods. Her mother was Asteria (the Titan goddess of the Shining Light or “Star”) Zeus did not banish Hecate but shared with Hecate the power of giving humanity their heart’s desires.

She is usually honoured as the Greek goddess of the three paths or crossroads where three paths meet (not four), and so her images often have three heads facing in the three directions. She is the guardian of the household particularly the threshold, protector of everything newly born, and the goddess of Witchcraft. She has no consort and is seen to be a virgin Goddess.  Although she is a Moon Goddess her time of the Moon is usually the Dark Moon which connects her with the ability to see in the dark and travel to the Underworld. She is said to have the power to create or withhold storms making her the Goddess who was the protector of shepherds and sailors. Her symbols are dogs, torches and the owl.

Making a Story Altar

After reading about the Goddess you are working with create a short story or poem about Her. Now the fun part! Using images from the story create an altar that depicts parts of the story that inspire you. When I made my Cerridwen altar I used a small cauldron with a little doll popping out of it surrounded by tinsel to represent the birth of Taliesin. Around the base I put wheat and a little image of a chicken pecking up the grains. A story altar to Hecate would contain images of dogs, torches and owls and perhaps the triple crossroads.

The Ceremony

Cerridwen’s ceremony should take place on Full Moon Night, while Hecate’s ceremony should take place on the Dark Moon. Light a candle on your story altar and invite the Goddess you are working with to come. Now read the story in Her honour. Ask her to speed up the synchronicities that will lead you to the Magickal circle and the understanding of Sorcery. Sit in meditation for a while at the altar. Don’t forget to write down everything that happens in your ritual. You can keep the story altar up and repeat this ceremony each month and even leave offerings of food, flowers, bowls of water, or incense. Just make sure, and this is important, that you don’t let the altar get dusty and neglected. Better to take it down that to let it get forgotten as that could be seen as a slight to the Goddess.

Important Last Word

Witches honour the Goddess out of love, to connect with Her and to petition her for help, to help others and the world. The Powers are a side-effect of this honouring. If your intention is to become powerful so that you can manipulate or harm others the Goddess may honour you with other things than Sorcery; she may give you hard lessons that purify your heart. Fair warning dear Seeker!

References:

1. Charge of the Goddess by Doreen Valiente

2. http://www.sacred-texts.com The Mabinogion

3.  Athanassakis, Apostolos N., Theogony ; Works and days ; Shield / Hesiod ; introduction, translation, and notes, Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1983. ISBN 0-8018-2998-4

Hesiod, Theogony: text in English translation (link)