Tuesday, May 29, 2012


Object, inscription, drawing, or symbol believed to be imbued with a supernormal or magical power to protect against disease, evil spirits, the evil eye, bewitchment, infertility, impotence, bad luck, and a host of misfortunes and calamities.

In their simplest form, amulets are natural objects that have an eye-catching color, an unusual shape-such as a holed stone-or are rare, such as a four-leaf clover or double walnut. Ancient civilizations, in their efforts to control spirits and the forces of nature, made amulets from a variety of materials. The practice continues universally in modern times.

The term "amulet" is derived either from the Latin amuletum, or the Old Latin amoletum, for "means of defense." Amulets customarily are worn on the body, especially around the neck, in the form of jewelry or a charm, which is a magical phrase, rhyme, or prayer inscribed on paper, parchment, or an object. Amulets also are commonly worn as rings. Some amulets are designs, symbols, or inscriptions engraved on the doors or posts of homes, buildings, holy places, and tombs.

Virtually anything can become an amulet, depending on beliefs and resources. Among the most common are gems and semiprecious stones fashioned into jewelry, starues of deities, or statues of animals associated with certain powers and properties. Eyes also are common; perhaps the best-known eye amulet is the Eye of Horus of ancient Egypt, which guarded health and protected against evil spirits. The Egyptians also used frog amulets against  infertility, and scarab beetle amulets to guard the soul for resurrection after death and protect it against sorcery. Mummies have been found wearing pectoral necklaces containing scarabs and the Eye of Horus.

Vegetable amulets, including berries, fruits, nuts, plants, wood, and leaves, are very common in many parts of the world. The use of garlic as an amulet against evil, most notably vampires, may be traced to the ancient Romans, who used it against witches. Peach wood and stones are considered strong amulets against evil spirits in China.

Certain metals are believed to have amuletic properties. Iron universally is believed to keep away demons and witches. In India rings made of copper, silver, gold, and iron are worn to protect against sorcery. Elsewhere, iron horseshoes hung over the doorways of stables and homes keep out witches and evil spirits. Bells made of silver or iron will drive away the same. Amethyst pendants set in silver and worn on silver chains are believed to protect wearers from negative energy.

Written amulets also have been common since ancient times. The Romans had formulae for preventing various diseases. The ancient Hebrews believed in the protective powers of the names of angels and of God, and in the written word of scriptures. Written amulets are worn about the neck, hung over doors and beds, or carried in cases, boxes, and bags. The cylindrical mezuzah is one example of this type of amulet. Originally intended to protect against demons, it was later given religious significance with biblical inscriptions about monotheism. The mezuzah continues to be worn as a pendant and hung on the doorjambs of Jewish homes.

Other types of written amulets include spells, words of power, secret symbols and signs, religious phrases and scripture, and legends. In magic, magic circles are inscribed with amuletic symbols and words and names of power, which help protect the magician from harm by the spirits summoned in ritual. 

Francis Barrett. The Magus. 1801. Reprint. Secaucus, NJ: Citadel Press, 1967; E. A. Wallis Budge. Amulets and Superstitions. 1930. New York: Dover Publications, 1978; Richard Cavendish. The Black Arts. New York: Perigee Books, 1967; Emile Grillot de Givry. Witchcraft, Magic and Alchemy. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1931; Maria Leach, ed., and Jerome Fried, assoc. ed. Funk and Wagnalls Standard Dictionary of Folklore, Mythology, and Legend. San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1979.


In Theosophy the master records of everything that has ever occurred since the beginning of the universe. The records are said to exist as impressions in the astral plane, and provide a dossier of sorts for souls who wish to examine their spiritual progress through many lifetimes.

The term "Akashic" comes from the Sanskrit word akasha, defined as either the fundamental etheric substance in the universe or all-pervasive space. According to Theosophy the akasha is an eternal record of the vibrations of every action, thought, emotion, light, and sound.

Some psychics say they consult the Akashic Records either through clairvoyance or our-of-body travel, to receive information about past history or lives. The process is variously described as tuning into an astral television set, or tuning into a radio broadcast, or visiting an enormous library and looking up information in books. Some say they encounter spirit guides, who assist them in locating information.

American medium Edgar Cayce often consulted the Akashic Records to look into past lives to find reasons for health, personal, and marital problems in the current lives of clients. Cayce alternately called the Akashic Records the "Universal Memory of Nature" and the "Book of Life."

In Edgar Cayce on Reincarnation, by Noel Langley, Cayce describes an apparent out-of-body trip to the Akashic Records to get information about a client. Cayce said he felt himself leave his body and travel in a narrow, straight shaft of light. On both sides of the shaft was fog or smoke, and shadowy beings who tried to distract him from his mission. Some pleaded for him to help them, but he kept to the light. As he continued on, the beings took on more distinct form and bothered him less. Eventually, they quit trying to distract him and seemed to help him on, then ignored him altogether. Finally, he arrived at a hill, where he saw a mount and a great temple. Inside was a large room like a library, filled with books of people's lives. All he had to do was pull down the book he wanted. 
Philosopher Rudolf Steiner delved into the Akashic Records, which he called the Akashic Chronicle, to produce his detailed descriptions of the mythical, lost civilizations of Atlantis and Lemuria.
According to Cayce and other psychics, the Akashic Records travel on waves of light, and anyone can gain access to them with proper psychic training and attunement.
Richard Cavendish, ed. The Encyclopedia of the Unexplained. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1974; Individual Reference File of Extracts from the Edgar Cayce Readings. Virginia Beach, VA: Edgar Cayce Foundation, 1976; Noel Langley. Edgar Cayce on Reincarnation. New York: Castle Books, 1967; Robert A. McDermott, ed. and intra. The Essential Steiner. San  Francisco: Harper & Row, 1984; Joan Windsor. The Inner Eye: Your Dreams Can Make You Psychic. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1985.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


The transformation of a human being into an animal. The belief is an ancient one. The term derives from the Greek words lukos, a wolf, and anthropos, a man, but it is employed regarding a transformation into any animal shape. It is chiefly in those countries where wolves are numerous that we find such tales concerning them. But in India and some parts of Asia, the tiger takes the place of the wolf. In Russia and elsewhere it is the bear, and in Africa the leopard.

Such beliefs generally adhere to savage animals, but even harmless ones sometimes figure in them. There is considerable confusion as to whether such transformations were voluntary or involuntary, temporary or permanent. The human being transformed into the animal may be the physical individual or, on the other hand, may be only a double, that is, the human spirit may enter the animal but the human body remain unchanged.

Magicians and witches were credited with the power of transforming themselves into wolves and other animal shapes, and it was asserted that if the animal were wounded, then the marks of the wound would be discovered upon the wizard’s body. The belief was current in many tribal cultures that every individual possessed an animal form, which could be entered at death or at will. This transformation was effected either by magic or natural agency.

As mentioned, the wolf was a common form of animal transformation in Europe. In ancient Greece, the belief was associated with the dog, which took the place of the wolf. Other similar beliefs have been found in India and Java. In the former country we find the werewolf in a kind of vampire form.

The seventeenth-century writer Louis Guyon related the history of an enchanter who used to change himself into different beasts:

‘‘Certain people persuaded Ferdinand, first Emperor of that name, to command the presence of a Polish enchanter and magician in the town of Nuremberg to learn the result of a difference he had with the Turks, concerning the kingdom of Hungary; and not only did the magician make use of divination, but performed various other marvels, so that the king did not wish to see him, but the courtiers introduced him into his chamber. There he did many wonderful things, among others, he transformed himself into a horse, anointing himself with some grease, then he took the shape of an ox, and thirdly that of a lion, all in less than an hour. The emperor was so terrified by these transformations that he commanded that the magician should be immediately dismissed, and declined to hear the future from the lips of such a rascal.

‘‘It need no longer be doubted [that Lucius Apuleius Plato was a sorcerer, and that he] was transformed into an ass, for as much as he was charged with it before the proconsul of Africa, in the time of the Emperor Antonine I, in the year 150 A.D., as Apollonius of Tyana, long before, in the year 60, was charged before Domitian with the same crime. And more than three years after, the rumour persisted to the time of St. Augustine, who was an African, who has written and confirmed it; as also in his time the father of one Prestantius was transformed into a horse, as the said Prestantius declared. Augustine’s father having died, in a short time the son had wasted the greater part of his inheritance in the pursuit of the magic arts, and in order to flee poverty he sought to marry a rich widow named Pudentille, for such a long time that at length she consented. Soon after her only son and heir, the child of her former marriage, died. These things came about in a manner which led people to think that he had by means of magic entrapped Pudentille, who had been wooed in vain by several illustrious people, in order to obtain the wealth of her son. It was also said that the profound knowledge he possessed—for he was able to solve difficult questions which left other men bewildered—was obtained from a demon or familiar spirit he possessed. Further, certain people said they had seen him do many marvellous things, such as making himself invisible, transforming himself into a horse or into a bird, piercing his body with a sword without wounding himself, and similar performances. He was at last accused by one Sicilius OEmilianus, the censor, before Claudius Maximus, proconsul of Africa, who was said to be a Christian; but nothing was found against him.

‘‘Now, that he had been transformed into an ass, St. Augustine regards as indubitable, he having read it in certain true and trustworthy authors, and being besides of the same country; and this transformation happened to him in Thessaly before he was versed in magic, through the spell of a sorceress, who sold him, and who recovered him to his former shape after he had served in the capacity of an ass for some years, having the same powers and habits of eating and braying as other asses, but with a mind still sane and reasonable as he himself attested. And at last to show forth his case, and to lend probability to the rumour, he wrote a book entitled The Golden Ass, a mélange of fables and dialogues, to expose the vices of the men of his time, which he had heard of, or seen, during his transformation, with many of the labours and troubles he had suffered while in the shape of an ass.

‘‘However that may be, St. Augustine in the book of the City of God, book XVIII, chapters XVII and XVIII, relates that in his time there were in the Alps certain sorceresses who gave a particular kind of cheese to the passers by, who, on partaking of it, were immediately changed into asses or other beasts of burden, and were made to carry heavy weights to certain places. When their task was over, they were permitted to regain their human shape.

‘‘The bishop of Tyre, historian, writes that in his time, probably about 1220, some Englishmen were sent by their king to the aid of the Christians who were fighting in the Holy Land, and that on their arrival in a haven of the island of Cyprus a sorceress transformed a young English soldier into an ass. He, wishing to return to his companions in the ship, was chased away with blows from a stick, whereupon he returned to the sorceress who made use of him, until someone noticed that the ass kneeled in a church and did various other things which only a reasoning being could do. The sorceress who followed him was taken on suspicion before the authorities, was obliged to give him his human form three years after his transformation, and was forthwith executed.

‘‘We read that Ammonius, a peripatetic philosopher, about the time of Lucius Septimius Severus, in the year 196 A.D., had present at his lessons an ass whom he taught. I should think that this ass had been at one time a man, and that he quite understood what Ammonius taught, for these transformed persons retain their reason unimpaired, as St. Augustine and other writers have assured us.

‘‘Fulgose writes, book VIII, chapter II, that in the time of Pope Leon, who lived about the year 930, there were in Germany two sorceresses who used thus to change their guests into beasts, and on one occasion she changed a young mountebank into an ass, who, preserving his human understanding, gave a great deal of amusement to the passers-by. A neighbour of the sorceresses bought the ass at a good price, but was warned by them that he must not take the beast to a river, or he would lose it. Now the ass escaped one day and running to a near-by lake plunged into the water, when he returned to his own shape. Apuleius says that he regained his human form by eating roses.

‘‘There are still to be seen in Egypt asses which are led into the market-place to perform various feats of agility and tricks, understanding all the commands they receive, and executing them: such as to point out the most beautiful woman of the company, and many other things that one would hardly believe; and Belon, a physician, relates in his observations that he has seen them, and others also, who have been there, and who have affirmed the same to me.’’

Augustin Calmet, author of The Phantom World (2 vols., 1850), stated:

‘‘One day there was brought to St. Macarius, the Egyptian, an honest woman who had been transformed into a mare by the wicked art of a magician. Her husband and all who beheld her believed that she had really been changed into a mare. This woman remained for three days without taking any food, whether suitable for a horse or for a human being. She was brought to the priests of the place, who could suggest no remedy. So they led her to the cell of St. Macarius, to whom God had revealed that she was about to come. His disciples wished to send her away, thinking her a mare, and they warned the saint of her approach, and the reason for her journey. He said to them: ‘It is you who are the animals, who think you see that which is not; this woman is not changed, but your eyes are bewitched.’ As he spoke he scattered holy water on the head of the woman, and all those present saw her in her true shape. He had something given her to eat and sent her away safe and sound with her husband.’’

Belief in transformation of human beings into predatory animals persisted into relatively modern times in Africa, India, Java, Malaya, and other countries. In Africa there were tiger men and even a leopard society of wizards. It seems very likely, however, that many apparent cases of transformation were effected by wearing the skin of an animal when hunting victims. In some cases there may have been a perverse desire for blooddrinking or cannibalism, as in the celebrated sixteenth-century case of the French lycanthrope Gilles Garnier.

In July 1919 the Journal of the SPR published a summary of Richard Bagot’s article, ‘‘The Hyaenas of Pirra’’ (Cornhill Magazine, October 1918), in which some experiences were reported by a Lieutenant F. personally and an experience of the late Capt. Shott, D.S.O. dealt with the killing of Nigerians when in the form of supposed hyenas. The main facts, which deeply impressed the officers were as follows:

‘‘Raiding hyenas were wounded by gun-traps, and tracked in each case to a point where the hyena traces ceased and were succeeded by human footprints, which made for the native town. At each shooting a man mysteriously dies in the town, all access being refused to the body. In Lieut. F.’s experiences the death wail was raised in the town almost immediately after the shot; but Capt. Shott does not mention this. In Capt. Shott’s experience the beast was an enormous brute, readily trackable, which after being hard hit made off through the guinea-corn. It was promptly tracked, and a spot was come upon where ‘they found the jaw of the beast lying near a large pool of blood.’ Soon after the tracks reached a path leading to the native town. The natives next day came to Capt. Shott—and this is the curious part of the affair—and told him, without any regrets, that he had shot the Nefada—a lesser head-man—who was then lying dead with his jaw shot away. The natives gave their reasons as having seen and spoken to the Nefada, as he was, by his own admission, going into the bush. They heard the gun and saw him return with his head all muffled up and walking like a very sick man. On going next morning to see what was the matter . . . they found him as stated.’’

Mr. Bagot, a member of the SPR, added in response to further questions:

‘‘In the article in question I merely reproduced verbatim the reports and letters sent to the said official . . . by British officers well known to him, and said that the authenticity and good faith of the writers can be vouched for entirely. I have evidence of precisely similar occurrences that have come under the notice of Italian officers in Eritrea and Somaliland; and in all cases it would seem that a gravel patch thrown up by the small black ants is necessary to the process of metamorphosis. I drew the attention of Sir James G. Frazer (author of The Golden Bough) to this coincidence and asked him if he had come across in his researches anything which might explain the connection between gravel thrown up by the ants and the power of projection into animal forms; but he informed me that, so far as he could recollect, he had not done so. Italian officials and big game hunters assure me that it is considered most dangerous (by natives in Somaliland, Abyssinia, etc.) to sleep on ground thrown up by ants; the belief being that anyone who does so is liable to be possessed or obsessed by some wild animal, and that this obsession once having taken place, the victim is never afterwards able entirely to free himself from it and is compelled periodically to assume the form and habits of some beast or reptile.’’

Psychic research does not normally admit such phenomena as lycanthropy within its scope, but there are two possible points of contact. The first is the projection of the double (or astral body), provided it could be proved that the double may assume any desired shape. Eugen Rochas asserted that the double of his hypnotic subject, on being so suggested, assumed the shape of her mother. If it were proved that the shape of animals could be assumed, we would have to consider lycanthropy as a psychic possibility. But the animal, in that case, would not be more than a phantom, and we would have to prove that this phantom can be hurt and transfer, by repercussion, the wound to the projector.

The second possibility brings us nearer to this aspect of the problem. Paul Joire succeeded in transferring the exteriorized sensitivity of his subject to a figure made of putty. If the hand of the putty figure was scratched by a needle, a corresponding red mark appeared on the somnambule’s hand. 

The question arises: would it not be possible to transfer sensitivity to a living being, to an animal? In that case it would be natural to expect a repercussion from the animal to the human body.

Baring-Gould, Sabine. The Book of Were-Wolves. London,
1865. Reprint, New York: Causeway Books, 1973.
Hamel, Frank. Human Animals. London, 1915. University
Books, 1969.
Kaigh, Frederick. Witchcraft and Magic of Africa. London:
Richard Lesley, 1947.
Maclean, Charles. The Wolf Children. Hill & Wang, 1977.
Summers, Montague. The Werewolf. London, 1933. University Books, 1966.
Woodward, Ian. The Werewolf Delusion. London & New York:
Paddington Press, 1979.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

KUKAI (774–835)

KUKAI, the founder of Japanese esoteric Buddhism, was born in Zentsuji on the island of Shikoku to an aristocratic family. His uncle, a tutor to the crown prince, also became his teacher. As a young man, he dropped his studies of Confucius and career at court to study Buddhism, then very much a minority perspective. He was only 23 when he produced his first  book, in which he argued for the superiority of Buddhism over Confucianism and Taoism. Over the next few years he studied widely in the several different schools of Buddhist  thought then available in Japan, all of which were headquartered at Nara, near the imperial capital at Kyoto.

In 804 he traveled to Changan, then the capital of China, and became the last student of Hui-Guo (746–805), the leader of the Shingon or esoteric school of Buddhism. When he  returned to Japan he was an accomplished exponent of the esoteric tradition. He established himself in two centers, one on Mount Koya south of Kyoto and the other in Kyoto at the Toji temple. He would teach at these two places for the rest of his life and establish Dhingon as a major school of Japanese Buddhism.

In contrast to most Buddhists of his day who suggested that enlightenment took many lifetimes, Kukai argued that it was possible to achieve in a single lifetime. He also argued that  the body, which most who sought enlightenment considered an obstacle, was in fact the  vessel for its realization. He argued that the Buddha nature is present in all things, including all human beings. To understand the essential and innate unity of all things, Kukai proposed that students engage in meditative disciplines. Meditative insight would bring clarity to what was  otherwise a seemingly unbelievable idea. Kukai also argued for the dissolving of the secular  and sacred. He argued for a form of natural mysticism in which the Buddha was incarnate in  the world of nature and by extension in the world of art and music. He believed that even words could have the power of revelation.

In his book The Meanings of Sound, Word, and Reality, Kukai argued for the correlation of words and reality. Some words correspond to the reality of the Buddha nature. These True Words are termed mantras, and chanting a mantra articulates the Buddha nature for as long as the sound persists. He also believed that the overcoming of the ordinary consciousness and the Buddha nature was in fact most difficult for most people. People could overcome the separation through the practice of meditation, the chanting of mantras, and the use of mystical hand gestures called mudras.

Kukai died at Mt. Koyo in 835. In later generations he came to be worshipped almost as a  god and many came to believe that he had never died. He is now generally called Kobo Daishi or Great Master of the Extensive Teachings. Shingon Buddhism now exists in a variety of separate schools in Japan who have, over the centuries, developed a wide variety of esoteric methods to achieve communion with the Buddha nature.

Kukai: Major Works. Translated by Yoshito Hakeda.
New York: Columbia University Press, 1972.
Yamasaki, Taiko. Shingon: Japanese Esoteric Buddhism.
Boston: Shambhala, 1988.


STONEHENGE LIES ON Salisbury Plain in the county of Wiltshire, England. The whole area is regarded as mystical, with an abundance of ley lines, and is widely accepted as the centre of the crop circle phenomenon. Stonehenge itself was constructed in three stages. The first began in about 3,000 BC, when a circular ditch was dug around the site and a raised bank two yards high  and 106 yards in diameter was formed. Just inside the bank, 56 shallow holes were dug and then  refilled and the first rock, the ‘Heel Stone’, was introduced. This was positioned to mark the axis of sunrise at the summer solstice. Two smaller entrance stones were put in place, then 40 wooden posts, marking positions of the sun, were erected.

In around 2,000 BC, a two-mile avenue to the River Avon was created. From southwest Wales, the builders imported 82 ‘bluestones’, weighing over four tonnes each. To reach the 70  site they  would have had to travel 240 miles over land and water. These bluestones were used to construct  a double circle inside the site. It is believed the builders never finished this design because they  already had the idea to erect the third, and most impressive, phase.

This started in around 1900 BC, with the selection of 75 loose blocks of sandstone, known as  sarsens, from Avebury, 20 miles away. Using rollers and ropes, these 25- tonne, 17-feet-long  rocks were pulled to the site where they were then shaped and lifted into upright positions. The  architectural detail of this stage is phenomenal, and the lintel stones that cap the pillars are  actually curved to fit in the large circle. The Welsh bluestones were repositioned, and the structure was complete.

In each stage, the stones were placed at specific points demonstrating the position of the sun and  moon at important times. The site was in continual use until about 1,000 BC, but we still do not  know exactly what it was used for. Very little human or cultural debris has been found on the site, so there can be no definitive answers.

Some experts say that this absence of historic litter leads to the suggestion that the structure was a temple or sacred site. Many of the other 900 stone circles in Britain served many uses and were  often meeting places, so they often have remnants of ancient day-to-day life. Similarly, the amount of trouble endured, and the sheer scale of the project, indicates that Stonehenge was something of immense importance. The blue stones brought from Wales were exceedingly valuable to the Ancient Britons, and were ideal for a temple.

The possibility that it was partly used as a burial site has also been considered – during limited excavations it was discovered that the 56 shallow holes dug during the first phase contained cremated bones. There are also barrows, or burial tombs, of later Bronze Age warriors dotted around the outlying area.

Because of Stonehenge’s obvious correlation to important astronomical events, a whole host of other theories have arisen. It may have been used as an observatory, or even a gigantic lunar calendar. In 1965, Gerald S. Hawkins, an astronomer at Boston University, published a book  entitled Stonehenge Uncoded. In it, he claimed a computer had proven that Stonehenge marked many astronomical alignments. He even went so far as to say that Stonehenge was a computer itself, designed by the Ancient Britons to read the stars and calculate upcoming eclipses, but many experts feel he has not discovered the true significance of the structure.

In the seventeenth century historians believed the structure had been built by ancient Celtic priests, and many modern druids feel it is their right to perform rituals and ceremonies at the site.  They are now no longer allowed to, and for good reason. Not only was damage occurring to the  area, but modern druids have no connection to their Celtic namesakes. Anyway, Stonehenge was built over 1000 years before the Celtic druids existed.

Unfortunately, in the last few hundred years many of the stones have been stolen, lost or  collapsed, and poor restoration work has been performed on some of the stones that remain. But  the magic of the site and the design never dissipates. One legend says the most famous of all  Britain’s magicians, Merlin, summoned the stones and set them in place. It is a story in keeping  with the mystical tradition of the area. Maybe the simple fact is that modern minds have just not imagined the true use of the site yet.


Another cure against the fever is to go to a running stream and cast pieces of wood nine times backwards into the running water, repeating the rhymes:

"Shilályi prejiá,
Páñori me tut 'dáv!
Náñi me tut kámáv
Andakode prejiá,
Odoy tut cuciden,
Odoy tut ferinen,
Odoy tut may kámen
Mashurdalo sastyár!"

"Fever go away from me,
I give it, water, unto thee
Unto me thou art not dear,
Therefore go away from here
To where they nursed thee,
Where they shelter thee,
Where they love thee,

This is a very remarkable invocation which takes us into true heathenism. Mâshurdálo, or, correctly speaking, Mâshmurdálo (it would be Mâsmérdo in English gypsy), means meat-killer. He is a sylvan giant--he has his hold by wode and wolde as outlawes wont to do, in faraway forests and lonely rocky places, where he lurks to catch beast and men in order to devour them. It is needless to say to those who are aware that the taste of white people's flesh is like that of very superior chicken, and a negro's something much better than grouse, that Mâshmurdálo prefers, like a simple, unsophisticated savage as he is, men to animals. Like the German peasant who remarked, "It's all meat, anyhow," when he found a mouse in his soup, Mâshmurdálo is not particular. He is the guardian of great treasures; like most men in the "advance business" he knows where the "money" is to be found--unlike them he is remarkably stupid, and can be easily cheated of his valuables. But if anybody does this Morgante a service he is very grateful, and aids his benefactor either with a loan or with his enormous strength. In many respects he bears a remarkable resemblance to two giants in the American Algonkin mythology, especially to At-was-kenni ges--the Spirit of the Forest-- who is equally powerful, good-natured, and stupid, and to the Chenoo, who is a cannibal giant and yet grateful to friends, and also to several Hindu  gods. The gypsies have here evidently fused several Oriental beings into one., This is a process  which occurs in the decline of mythologies as in languages. In the infancy of a speech, as in its old  age, many words expressing different ideas, but which sound somewhat alike, become a single  term.


Monday, May 21, 2012

Santisimo-Abonatac Uph Madac Dalawang Tao sa Litid ng Mundo

ANTING-ANTING, Nenita Pambid


Ganito ang pagpapakilala ng Dios (isang babae) sa mito: Ako ang Tangi’t Una (Animasola), ang pinagmulan ng may hawak ng liwanag at ng dilim na liliwanagan. Ibig sabihin: siya, ang Dios na Liwanag, at ang Walang Hanggang Dios (o Infinito Dios) ay iisa. “Amuman" ang ngalang nakasulat sa kanyang balabal. Siya ang una sa Pitong birhen (sa mito, ang unang nilalang ay pitong birhen na ang isa'y si Animasola o Amuman).

Lumalang si Amuman ng bulaklak na may tatlong persona: sina Magugab, Mariagob, at Magob. Ipinasok ang bulaklak sa loob ng kristal, at ipinasok ang kristal sa isang gintong kaban.  Pinabantayan ito sa pitong arkanghel na kanya ring nilikha.

Lumikha ang ikatlong nuno (isa sa mga birhen) ng tatlong banal na espiritu. Ang ikaapat ay lumikha rin ng tatlo at gayon din ang ginawa ng ikalima.

Nagtangka ring lumikha ang dalawampu't apat na espiritu. Nagsalita ang Dios na anyong mata at nagpakilala: “Ako ay mata, ako ang Dios ninyo, at saka ang espiritung tunay ng kaliwanagan; ako ang alaala, bait, loob." Lumalabas sa kuwentong ito na ang tinig ay mas mataas sa Amuman at Siete Virgenes.

Ang dalawampu't apat na espiritu o matatanda ay pinagkaisahan naman ang Birhen na lumabas sa kristal na ipinasok sa kaban. Ang birhen ay ang bulaklak na walang iba kundi si Maria sa langit, sa lupa, at sa himpapawid. Naniniwala sa tatlong Mariang ito ang mga samahang Ciudad Mistica de Dios, Tatlong Persona Solo Dios at Bathalismo, Inang Mahiwaga. Sa ibang pakahulugan, ang tatlong Birhen: Ina nag-uusap at lumalalang ay siya ring Tatlong Persona o Santisima Trinidad.

Sa kalagitnaan ng mito, magpapakilala ang tinig bilang Dios Fooc, na sa paniniwala ng siete virgenes ay kanilang pinagmulan. Batid rin nila na ang tinig na ito ang naghahawak ng lahat ng kapangyarihan. Ayon sa Dios Fooc, siya ay "Mula sa walang pinagmulan at hanggang sa walang hanggan." Samakatwid, siya rin ang Infinito Dios o Dios na Walang Hanggan. Pinakamakapangyarihan man siya sa lahat at walang kapantay, binigyan pa rin niya ng kalayaan ang nunong babae na lumikha. Nilikha nito, bukod sa mga espiritu, ang SATOR o apat na arkanghel na umaalalay sa apat na sulok ng mundo.

Matapos lumikha ng mabubuting espiritu na paris nila ang tatlong nunong babae (sina Helnag, Amuman at Hemspag), binalak nila, kasama ng Dios Fooc, ang pagbaba ng Santisima Trinidad Helnag upang magkatawang tao. Si Helnag ay ikalawang Persona ng unang nunong babae, si Amuman. Nilikha rin ng tatlo si Luxbel, ang magdudulot ng pasakit na pagtitiisan ng ikalawang persona. Naisip din ng tatlo ang gagawing Ina ng Anak ng Dios na magkakatawang-tao, pati na ang lalaking magpapasann g krus ng karnatayan.I nisip na rin nila ang kanyang pangalan" Ayon sa Dios Fooc, nalikha na niyang lahat ito. Nilikha naman ng tatlong H.A.H. ang hahatol sa Anak ng Dios na si Pilato. Sinabi ng Dios Fooc na siya na rin ang gawing katawan ng Ina na sasakop sa taong makasalanan. Sa gayon, ang Kristong Tagapagligtasa,n g Dios Fooc, at ang  ikalawang Persona na si Helnag ay iisa. Nilikha na rin ang Apat na Pako ng H.A.H. na lingid sa kanila'y nalikha na ng Dios Fooc. Ang Ikalimang Pako ay nilikha naman ng ikalimang Nuno sa  pamamagitan ng oracion. Ipinadala na rin ang mga salita sa Rotulo kay Pilato. Ang mga salita ay INRI - ang kahulugan ay pangalan ng Anak na babae ng Dios. Sa kabilang dako, niiikha naman ng H.A.H. ang krus ni Kristo pati na ang dalawang taong magpapako. Ang dalawang taong ito ay pinapasok muna sa loob ng bato hanggang sa dumating ang takdang panahon at araw na sila'y dapat lumabas upang gampanan ang kanilang papel.

ANTING - ANTING, Nenita Pambid


"By these words I cast out demons"

The five (5) great words of power that Jesus used when healing sick and casting the devils.

In further passage s he went on to explain that ZAMA, ZAMA, was the create and uncreate power of the Divine and that OZZA, RACHMA, OZZAI, were the words of power which vibrated the three great center of energy in the head of man that the Hindus called Rajas, Sattva, and Tamas. Rajas and Tamas are Cain and Abel, the centers of activity and inactivity in Hindu mystery teachings. They are preserved in old Bible as Cain and Abel, and according to the further writings of Jesus, those words had power to restore the dead Abel to life. As the power expelled the imperfection of the body, the healing would take place and if there was a negative or inharmonious spirit around, it would be driven away, as by a mighty wind.

-The Secret Teaching of Jesus

Sunday, May 20, 2012





The word "tulpa" comes from Tibetan Buddhism, and is a type of Thoughtform which, once created, assumes an existence independent of its creator. Tulpas are generally created by the experience of extreme emotions, and once manifest can be extremely difficult (and sometimes "impossible") to destroy. Those that are created intentionally tend to follow the pattern of fulfilling their duties as expected at first, gradually adopting methods outside their intended parameters, and eventually either fulfilling their goals in ways that are compleatly outside their creators wishes or ignoring them compleatly. Tulpas are not always "bad" but they almost invariably become troublesome.

A tulpa may also double as the magician who created it, employed for protective purposes by appearing instead of its creator. A tulpa should be distinguished from a tulku, which is either the reincarnation of a saintly individual or the incarnation of a non-human entity, such as a god, demon, or fairy.

Encyclopedia of Ancient and Forbidden Secrets
Encyclopedia of Occultism & Parapsychology


The term used first of all in the 15th century by enthusiasts in the occult arts signifying those who claimed to possess "light" directly communicated from a higher source, or due to a larger measure of human wisdom. We first find the name in Spain about the end of the 15th century. Its origin is probably a late Gnostic one hailing from Italy, and we find all sorts of people, many of them charlatans, claiming to belong to the brotherhood. In Spain, such persons as laid claim to the title had to face the rigour of the Inquisition, and this is perhaps the reason that we find numbers of them in France in the early seventeenth century, as refugees.

Here and there small bodies of those called Illuminati, sometimes known as Rosicrucians rose into publicity for a short period. But it is with Weishaupt, Professor of Law at Ingolstadt, that the movement first became identified with republicanism. It soon secured a strong hold all through Germany, but its founder's object was merely to convert his followers into blind instruments of his supreme will. He modelled his organisation on that of the Jesuits, adopted their system of espionage, and their maxim that the end justified the means. He induced mysficism into the workings of the brotherhood, so that an air of mystery might prevade all its doings, adopted many of the classes and grades of Freemasonry, and held cut hopes of the communication of deep occult secrets in the higher ranks.

Only a few of the members knew him personally, and thus although the society had many branches in all parts of Germany, to these people alone was he visible, and he began to be regarded by those who had not seen him almost as a god. He took care to enlist in his ranks as many young men of wealth and position as possible, and within four or five years the power of Illuminism became extraordinary in its proportions, its members even bad a hand In the affairs of the state, and not a few of the German princes found it to their interest to having dealings with the fraternity. Weishaupt's idea was to blend philanthropy and mysticism. He was only 28 when he founded the sect in 1776, but he did not make much progress until a certain baron Von Knigge joined him in 1780. A gifted person of strong imagination he had been admitted master of most of the secret societies of his day, among them Freemasonry. He was also an expert occultist and the supernatural had strong attractions for him. These two, rapidly spread the gospel of the Revolution throughout Germany. But they grew fearful that, if the authorities discovered the existence of such a society as theirs they would take steps to suppress it. With this in view they conceived the idea of grafting it on to Freemasonry, which they considered would protect it, and offer it means of spreading more widely and rapidly.

The Freemasons were not long in discovering the true nature of those who had just joined their organisation. A chief council was held with the view of thoroughly examining into the nature of the beliefs held by them and a conference of masons was held in 1782 at which Knigge and Weishaupt attended and endeavoured to capture the whole organisation of Freemasonry, but a misunderstanding grew up between the leaders of illuminism. Knigge withdrew from the society, - and two years later those who bad reached its highest grade and had discovered that mysticism was not its true object, denounced it to the Bavarian Government as a political society of a dangerous character. Weishaupt fled, but the damage had been done, for the fire kindled by Illuminism was soon to burst forth in the French Revolution.

It has been suggested, and must certainly be true that the fathers of the United States had a solid grounding in the same principles as Weishaupt, and that the declarations of 1776 were not entirely coincidental to his founding of the German movement. Certainly it can be reasonably suggested that the American Freemason lodges provided Weishaupt with an example, and there is fair reason to belive that Washington, Jefferson, and other Masonic luminaries of the United States Independence corresponded with the German society of the same aim. 

The title Illuminati was later given to the French Martinists (q.v. )

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


An important acronym in both orthodox religion and in magic. The initials of a Latin phrase once placed by the  Romans at the top of the Cross which stood for Jesus Nazarenus Rex Judecorum (Iesous Nazarenus Rex Ieoderum), or "Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews." Medieval alchemists theorized that it meant Igne Natura Renovatur Integra or "the whole of nature is renewed by fire," or Igne Nitrum Raris Invenitum - "shining is rarely found in fire." Masonic author J.S.M. Ward attributed the initials to the first letters of certain Hebrew words used to describe the four elements (I - Yam - Water; NNour - Fire; R - Ruach - Air; I - Yebeshah - Earth). INRI is known as the "Keyword" and is used in the Golden Dawn's Inner Order to describe the cycle of the seasons; the equinoxes and solstices, as well as the cycles of birth, death, and rebirth (I - Yod - Virgo; NNun - Scorpio; R - Resh - the Sun; I - Yod - Virgo).

Saturday, May 12, 2012


THE BIBLE SAYS that God inscribed the Ten Commandments on two stone tablets that he gave to Moses. To protect the tablets, and to let them be carried, a wooden chest decorated with exquisite gold ornaments was built. It was about three-and-a-half feet long, just over two feet wide, and had two poles attached through gold rings on its sides. There were two carved cherubim on top, and the chest’s lid was called the atonement cover or the ‘mercy seat’. The box accompanied Moses and the Israelites on their quest for the Promised Land, and brought them victory wherever they went. When they finally founded Jerusalem, King Solomon built the ‘Holy of Holies’, or First Temple, and housed the box there. This supremely holy chest is called the Ark of the Covenant. No single item is involved in more legends of treasure, unexplained wealth and international intrigue than this great chest. Some legends say that the Ark was destroyed or captured by invading Egyptian forces around 925 BC, others say that the Babylonians stole it in 586 BC. The Jewish sect who wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls may have buried the Ark in the Jordanian desert before they were overrun. Likewise, it has been suggested that an early Christian group called the Cathars may have hidden it in an ancient church at Rennes-le-Château in France before they were destroyed by the Catholic Church.

King Arthur has also been linked to the Ark’s history, whilst many researchers claim it was taken from the Holy Land by the Knights Templar. It is said that they may have hidden it at the pit on Oak Island, or even at a Scottish chapel in Rosslyn. Conspiracy theorists believe the descendants of the Knights Templar are the Freemasons, who now have the Ark under their control. In fact, many mysterious tales have incorporated aspects of involving the Ark of the Covenant. Here, we will look at two of the most plausible theories.

Leen Ritmeyer is an archaeologist who has conducted tests on Temple Mount in Jerusalem, and believes he has established the true position of the First Temple. He claims he has discovered a section cut out of the underlying rock that exactly matches the dimensions of the Ark. From this, Ritmeyer believes the Ark may be buried deep inside Temple Mount, but it seems impossible that excavations will be carried out in the area,
particularly whilst it continues to be the site of violent political turmoil. Many other experts also believe the Ark remains in the Holy Land, and one, an American called Ron Wyatt, even claimed to have found the sacred chest in the Garden Tomb, in the north of the old city of Jerusalem.

Perhaps the most celebrated theory connecting the Ark with a real object revolves around western Africa. Ethiopia has a legend that claims the Queen of Sheba was impregnated by King Solomon. The child, known as Menelik, meaning ‘the son of the wiseman’, travelled to Jerusalem when he was 20 to study in his father’s court. Within a year, Solomon’s priests had become jealous of the king’s son and said he must return to Sheba. Solomon accepted this but said that all first-born sons of other elders should accompany Menelik. One of these, Azarius, was the son of Zadok, the High Priest. It was Azarius who stole the Ark and took it to Africa. Menelik decided that their success must be divine will, and founded the ‘Second Jerusalem’ at Aksum in Ethiopia. Today, the ancient church of St Mary of Zion is said to house the Ark, which was traditionally brought out every January for the celebration known as Timkat.

In recent years, due to the instability in the country, the Ark has been hidden away and cared for by a devoted guardian, who is the only man allowed to see the true nature of the box. Certainly, there is a lot to recommend this theory – for instance, Ethiopians are one of the few races that practise Christianity in Africa, and the national constitution ruled that the Ethiopian emperor is a direct descendant of Solomon. Ethiopians are confident of their role in the Ark’s heritage, but with so many legends vying to reveal the final resting place of the Ark of the Covenant, it is impossible to decide on one. Perhaps, as many religious groups believe, its presence will become known when the time is right.


 A group of nine French knights founded an order in Jerusalem in 1118 under the title ‘The Poor Fellow Soldiers of Christ’. The warriors all took monastic views and pledged their lives to protecting Christian travellers and the Holy Land. They were housed at the palace of King Baldwin II, the French King of Jerusalem, on the site of Solomon’s Temple which is how they gained their title ‘Knights Templar’. In 1128 they were officially sanctioned by Pope Honorius II, and they were provided with a ‘Rule’ from Saint Bernard of Clairvaux. The knights gained a fearsome reputation for being ferocious in battle, courageous and honourable. They fought in the Crusades alongside Richard the Lionheart and quickly accumulated vast amounts of treasure, wealth and land from grateful European monarchs.

Within 200 years the Templars had left the Holy Land and taken residence in Paris, but such was their influence that they were only required to answer to the Pope. Their riches were so immense that they began the earliest form of organised banking, and became known as moneylenders to European monarchies. But this, combined with a history of holding meetings in secret, led to their downfall. King Philip the Fair of France was known to be hugely indebted with staggering sums owed to the order. On 13th October 1307, he declared that the Templars engaged in heretical activities at their meetings, arrested all members of the order in France, and seized their assets. The Templars accepted his decisions quietly, but many were then tortured into giving false confessions of unholy practices. However, only the Pope could condemn the order, and a newly installed Pope Clement V was happy to bow to Philip’s coercions.
The order was disbanded, and it was suggested that all European monarchies take steps to suppress the movement. On 19th March 1314, the last Grand Master of the Knights Templar, Jacques de Molay, was burned at the stake on an island in the middle of the River Seine in Paris. As the flames rose, it is claimed de Molay cursed King Philip and Pope threatening that they would both follow him within a year. They both did – Clement died a month later and Philip seven months after that. However, the Knights Templar themselves are said to have continued in secret, and before his death, de Molay had passed on his powers to a successor. Some of the Templars are believed to have taken refuge in Scotland during the intervening years, but the movement did not reveal itself again until 1705.

Since then the order has had associations with Freemasonry and other secret societies, but the movement has flourished and they have had many high profile and influential members. In more recent years, following the Second World War, the cohesion of the entire international order has become somewhat fractured. The meetings are still held in secret.

Apart from fiercely guarded rituals and traditions, it would seem that there are few mysteries surrounding the order. But one question remains – why did the Parisian Templars not fight when arrested by Philip’s men? In the days leading to their capture, a heavily-laden cart was supposedly removed from their buildings. Philip never found all the riches in their offices that he wished to acquire, and it seems the knights submitted to his thuggery meekly, in order to let their great treasure escape. So what was this treasure? The obvious theory is that it was gold and jewels taken from holy temples of Jerusalem and the biblical world during the Crusades. However, many have speculated that the reaction of the Templars suggested that it was something beyond material value, and may have been something of enormous spiritual importance, such as the Ark of the Covenant or the Holy Grail. Others have considered that it may be secret Christian knowledge, such as the ‘bloodline of Jesus Christ’.

The treasure, whatever nature it takes, has never been found, and where it is hidden remains a mystery. Many Templar experts have considered it may have been the root of Bérenger Saunière’s mysterious wealth, and believe it was buried at the church of Rennes-le-Château. However, one of the most widely-held theories is that the surviving Templars hid it at Rosslyn Chapel in Scotland. If the order did manage to continue throughout its banished years, there is good reason to believe the secrets of the treasure are known to only a select few. To the rest of us, the Knights Templar are only modern day descendants of an historical mystery.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


A grimoire, or textbook of black magic for evoking demons, supposedly compiled by the ‘‘mad Arab Abdul Alhazred,’’ but in fact an invention of H. P. Lovecraft, early twentieth-century writer of supernatural and fantasy fiction. The name Abdul Alhazred was adopted playfully by Lovecraft around the age of five, after he read an edition of The Arabian Nights. He later used it in his fiction. It may also refer to an old Rhode Island family name, Hazard.

In 1936 Lovecraft wrote a pseudoscholarly essay titled A History of the Necronomicon, which claimed that its original title was Al Azif, derived from the word used by Arabs to designate the nocturnal sound of insects resembling the howling of demons. There followed an account of various editions of the Necronomicon, beginning in 730 C.E. Lovecraft claimed that there was a copy of the work in the equally fictional library of Miskatonic University, in Arkham (a city he invented in his fiction). Lovecraft’s essay was published in leaflet form by Wilson H. Shepherd in 1938 and has since been reprinted. The Necronomicon was cited in various stories by Lovecraft and gradually acquired a spurious life of its own.

For example, someone inserted an index card for the book in the files of the Yale University Library. A New York bookseller could not resist inserting an entry for a Latin edition in one of his sale catalogs. Eventually a group of writers and researchers headed by occult scholar Colin Wilson solemnly presented The Necronomicon: The Book of Dead Names as a newly discovered lost masterpiece of occult literature.

In an introduction to this publication, Wilson suggested that Lovecraft’s invention may have had some substance in fact, perhaps revealed through Lovecraft’s subconscious mind. Wilson told a story as fabulous as that of the origin of the Golden Dawn cipher manuscript. Wilson’s story concerned a Dr. Stanislaus Hinterstoisser, president of the Salzburg Institute for the Study of Magic and Occult Phenomena, who was said to have claimed that Lovecraft’s father was an Egyptian Freemason. Lovecraft Sr. saw a copy of The Necronomicon in Boston (where he worked), which was a section of a book by Alkindi (d. 850 C.E.) known as The Book of the Essence of the Soul—so the story went.

Science fiction writer L. Sprague de Camp (who published a biography of Lovecraft in 1975) is said to have acquired an Arabic manuscript from Baghdad titled Al Azif. The British occultist Robert Turner, after researching in the British Museum Library, claimed that the Alkindi work was known to the magician John Dee (1527–1608), who had a copy in cipher manuscript. This book, known as Liber Logaeth, was recently examined by computer analysis, and so The Necronomicon: The Book of Dead Names has now been researched, edited, and published (Neville Spearman, U.K., 1978).

No doubt other recensions of The Necronomicon will be discovered in the course of time. It might seem inevitable that once The Necronomicon appeared, a group accepting it as a valid magic text would soon follow. In the 1980s there surfaced on campuses across the United States flyers from what was termed ‘‘the Campus Crusade for Cthulhu,’’ drawing upon Lovecraft in a parody of the Evangelical Christian organization, Campus Crusade for Christ. While the organization appears to be based in satire, it nevertheless demonstrates the comprehensive nature of the mythology created by Lovecraft and the seriousness with which some of his readers have taken the idea of the old gods enunciated therein.

De Camp, L. Sprague, ed. Al Azif (The Necronomicon). Philadelphia:
Owlswoch, 1973.

Hay, George, ed. The Necronomicon: The Book of Dead Names.
UK: Neville Spearman, 1978. Reprint, London: Corgi, 1980.

Simon, ed. The Necronomicon. New York: Schlangekraft, Inc.;
Barnes Graphics, 1977. Reprint, New York: Avon Books, 1977.

———. Necronomicon Spellbook. New York: Magickal Childe, 1986.

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Possibly deriving from the Old English night and mara, a specter, indicating a terrifying dream. It is said to be caused by a disorder of the digestive functions during sleep, inducing the temporary belief that some animal or demon is sitting on the chest. Among primitive people it was thought that the affliction proceeded from the attentions of an evil spirit.

Johann Georg Keysler, in his work Antiquitates selectae Septentrionales et Celticae (1720), collected interesting particulars concerning the nightmare. Nactmar, he stated, is from Mair, an old woman, because the specter which appears to press upon the breast and impede the action of the lungs is generally in that form. The English and Dutch words coincide with the German. The French cochemar is Mulier incumbens or incubus. The Swedes use Mara alone, according to the Historia de omnibus Gothorum Sueonumque Regibus of J. Magnus (1554), where he stated that Valender, the son of Suercher, succeeded to the throne of his father, who was suffocated by a demon in his sleep, of that kind which by the scribes is called Mara.

Others ‘‘we suppose Germans,’’ continued Keysler, ‘‘call it Hanon Tramp.’’ The French peasantry called it Dianus which is a corruption either of Diana or of Daezmonium Meridianum for it seems there is a belief which Keysler thought might not improbably be derived from a false interpretation of an expression in the 91st Psalm (‘‘the destruction that wasteth at noonday’’) that persons are most exposed to such attacks at that time and therefore women in child bed are then never left alone.

But though the Daezmonium Meridianum is often used for the Ephialtes, nevertheless it is more correctly any sudden and violent attack which is deprives the patient of his senses.

In some parts of Germany, the name given to this disorder is das Alpdructen, either from the ‘‘mass’’ which appears to press on the sufferer or from Alp or Alf (elf). In Franconia it is die Drud or das Druddructern, from the Druid or Weird Women, and there is a belief that it may not only be chased away, but be made to appear on the morrow in a human shape, and lend something required of it by the following charm: ‘‘Druid tomorrow / So will I borrow.’’

These Druids, it seems were not only in the habit of riding men, but also horses, and in order to keep them out of the stables, the salutary pentalpha (which bears the name of Drudenfuss (Druids foot) should be written on the stable doors, in consecrated chalk on the night of St. Walburgh. It should also be mentioned that the English familiar appellation ‘‘Trot’’ as traced to ‘‘Druid,’’ ‘‘a decrepit old woman such as the Sagas might be,’’ and the same might perhaps be said of a Scottish Saint, Triduana or Tredwin.

In the Glossarium Suiogothicum of Johann Ihre (1769), a somewhat different account of the Mara is given. Here again, we find the ‘‘witch-riding’’ of horses, against which a stone amulet was suggested by the antiquarian John Aubrey, similar to one described below.

Among the incantations by which the nightmare may be chased away, Reginald Scot recorded the following in his Discovery of Witchcraft (1584):

St. George, St. George, or lady’s knight,
He walked by day so did he by night:
Until such times as he her found,
He her beat and he her bound,
Until her troth to him plight,
He would not come to her that night.

‘‘Item,’’ continued this author, ‘‘hand a stone over the afflicted person’s bed, which stone hath naturally such a hole in it, as wherein a string may be put through it, and so be hanged over the diseased or bewitched party, be it man, woman, or horse.’’

Readers of these lines may be reminded of the similar charm which Shakespeare put into the mouth of Edgar as Mad Tom in King Lear:

Saint Withold footed thrice the wold:
He met the night-mare and her ninefold
Bid her alight,
And her troth plight

And aroint thee, witch, aroint thee.

Another charm of earlier date occurs in Chaucer’s Miller’s Tale. When the simple Carpenter discovers the crafty Nicholas in his feigned abstraction, he thinks he may perhaps be hagridden, and address him thus:

And there with the night-spell he seide arightes,
On four halvis of the house about,
And on the dreshfold of the dore without,
‘Jesus Christ, and seint Benedight,
Blesse this house from evrey wikid wight,
Fro the night’s mare, the wite paternoster,
Where wennist thou Seint Peter’s sister.

A later author has pointed to some other formularies, and has noticed the Asmodeus was the fiend of most evil repute on these occasions. In the Otia Imperiala of Gervase of Tilbury, some other protecting charms are said to exist.

To turn the medical history of the incubus, Pliny recommended two remedies for this complaint, one of which was the herbal remedy wild peony seed. Another, which it would not be easy to discover in any modern  pharmacopoeia, was a decoction in wine and oil of the tongue, eyes, liver, and bowels of a dragon, wherewith, after it has been left to cool all night in the open air, the patient should be anointed every morning and evening.

Dr. Bond, a physician, who stated that he himself was much afflicted with the nightmare, published an Essay on the Incubus in 1753. At the time at which he wrote, medical attention appears to have been very little called to the disease, and some of the opinions hazarded were sufficiently wild and inconclusive. Thus, a certain Dr. Willis said it was owing to some incongruous matter which is mixed with the nervous fluid in the  cerebellum (de Anima Brutorum), while Bellini thought it imaginary and to be attributed to the idea of some demon which existed in the mind the day before.

Both of these writers might have known better if they would have turned to Fuchsius (with whom Dr. Bond appeared to be equally acquainted), who in his work de Curandi Ratione, published as early as 1548, had an excellent chapter (I, 31) on the causes, symptoms, and cure of nightmare, in which he attributed it to repletion and indigestion, and recommends the customary discipline.

Much of Gothic literature has been ascribed to dreams and nightmares. Horace Walpole’s famous story The Castle of Otranto (1764) derived from a dream in which Walpole saw upon the uppermost banister of a great staircase a vision of a gigantic hand in armor.

In 1816, Mary Shelley had a gruesome and vivid nightmare which was the basis for her story Frankenstein.

Nearly seventy years later, novelist Robert Louis Stevenson had a nightmare that inspired his famous story The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, which he completed in only three days.

Bram Stoker’s immortal creation of Dracula (1897) was claimed to be the result of a nightmare after a supper of dressed crab, although clearly many of the elements in the story had been germinating in the author’s mind much earlier. Many horror stories have also been inspired nightmares.

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Druidism was the ancient magical religious faith found to be operating in Gaul and later England and Ireland as the Romans pushed northward that has been revived as a twentieth century Neo-Pagan religion. The name derives from an old Welsh term for oak, implying that they are the people who know the wisdom of the trees. Julius Caesar encountered the Druids in Gaul in the first century B.C.E. where, among other duties, they oversaw the human sacrifices that were then part of the Celtic religion. From that time forward, a number of Romans chronicled their life, especially after the conquest of Britain in the next century. Gradually, Christianity was introduced into England and then in the fifth century into Ireland. Over the next few centuries, it replaced the Druid religion.

The ancient Druid tradition, largely passed through the oral tradition, was rendered into written form in the Middle Ages in two primary texts, the Mabinogion and the Book of Taliesin. Various elements of Druidism passed into folklore and survived in local customs and folk songs. Numerous archeological remains have been discovered and through the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, efforts to reconstruct the history and belief of the Druids have proceeded. It is now generally believed that the Druids were firmly in place by the sixth century B.C.E., and evidence has emerged that suggests that Druidism may be traced to the time of the monolithic culture that built Stonehenge and related structures across the British Isles. Druidism may have survived in remote corners of rural Britain, and some have suggested that it could be found on the island of St. Kilda as late as the eighteenth century.

The fragments of literature on ancient Druidism leave considerable room for interpretation of Druid belief and practice (thus providing the base for the broad spectrum of belief and behavior among contemporary Druids). It is known that the community was organized around the three groups of functionaries. The bards were the keepers of the wisdom tradition. They memorized the key material of the tradition, much of which was put into poetic form and made it available to the people. The Ovates were the mediums/shamans of the community. Among their duties was the establishment of contact with ancestors in the spirit realm. They also engaged in divination of various kinds, including the reading of entrails, in attempts to predict the future. The Druid priests were the most powerful leaders in the community. They presided over worship and group ceremonies, and often served as advisors to the secular rulers.

The Druid religion was nature-based and its worship cycle was marked by the movements of the Sun and Moon. The year was marked by the changing positions of the rising sun, the solstices and equinoxes, and the four additional festivals halfway between these four that marked important points in the agricultural seasons. These were known by different names in different locations and at different times. Among the major contemporary British Druids, these are known as:

Samhuinn (October 31–November 2)
Winter Solstice (December 21 or 22)
Imbolc (February 1)
Spring Equinox (March 21)
Beltane (May 1)
Summer Solstice (June 21 or 22)
Lughnasadh (August 1)
Fall Equinox (September 22)

Today, the most notable date in the calendar is the summer solstice, when British Druids gather at Stonehenge for a sunrise service.

The Druids were especially associated with oaks and the mistletoe that grows as a parasite on it. According to Pliny, they gathered the mistletoe in a ritualized manner, used it in their rites, and drank its juice for its medicinal value.

Among the most controversial practices associated with Druids was human sacrifice. In their priestly service  mong the Celtics in Gaul, it was noted by Julius Caesar and Strabo that they oversaw the sacrifice of humans. Caesar mentioned the immense images which they filled with living victims and burned to death, a practice that was vividly pictured in the 1975 movie The Wicker Man.

Modern interest in Druidism can be traced to an amateur antiquarian, John Aubrey (1676–1697), who delved into the classical Druid texts and suggested that the Druids had worshiped at the old stone monuments in Wiltshire. His work began the association of Druidism and Stonehenge. A modern Druidism emerged into public notice in the next century when, in 1717, Deist writer John Toland (1670–1722) was  elected the chief of the first modern Druid order, An Tigh Geatha Gairdeachas. Reportedly Druids from previously existing groups from across England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, and Brittany attended the inaugural meeting in London. Toland spent the last years of his life working on a history of the Druids, excerpts of which were posthumously published. 

Building on Aubrey’s work, the physician William Stukeley (1687–1765) did extensive observations in Wiltshire and brought the monumental structures to public attention. He published a book on Stonehenge in 1740 and on Avebury three years later. He described Druidism as the aboriginal patriarchal religion and reputedly succeeded Toland as the second chief of the modern Druid order. Stukeley was himself reputedly succeeded by the likes of poet William Blake and writer Geoffrey Higgins.

Interest in Druidism as the traditional pre-Christian religion of the British Isles led to the formation of several Druid organizations through the eighteenth century. The most important was the Ancient Order of Druids founded in London in 1781 by Henry Hurle. It is the largest Druid body in England with some 3000 members. Of interest, the order is primarily a male group, with women not permitted entrance to the majority of their lodges. There are some all-female lodges. Also founded at the end of the eighteenth century was a  uniquely Welsh Druid tradition centered in the channeled material of Edward Williams, better known by his Druid name Iolo Morganwg. A controversial figure, Williams offered his channeled material as genuine remnants of ancient Druid wisdom, and they were so accepted by some who did not understand their origin. When their origin was discovered, many dismissed Morganwg as a fraud; however, his group, the  Bardi/Druidic Eistedfoddau, still exists.

In the nineteenth century, the Druid movement spread across Europe and through the British Empire, though the groups that formed remained small and ephemeral. It was only in the context of the emergence of a larger Neo-Pagan movement, spearheaded by the new Witchcraft created by the British witch Gerald B. Gardner, that Druidism has found a friendly environment in which to grow and proliferate. Among the important groups to emerge in England in the post-Gardnerian context are the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids founded in 1864 by Ross Nichols and the Golden Section Order founded in 1975 by Colin Murray. Recently, a Council of British Druid Orders has emerged to provide fellowship among the many independent Druid groups.

In America, a new and separate Druid tradition was initiated in 1963 by students at Carlton College in Northfield, Minnesota, as part of a protest of compulsory chapel at the churchrelated school. In order to gain permission not to attend chapel, the students fashioned a separate religion based upon their reading of books on ancient religion. Once the rules on compulsory chapel were dropped, the Druids discovered that they liked what they had created. Thus was born the Reformed Druids of North America that spread through the Neo-Pagan subculture. In Berkeley, California, the movement found a new leader in the person of Isaac Bonewits, who emerged as the most visible spokesperson of Druidism in North America. In 1983 he left the loosely organized Reformed Druid coalition to found Ar nDraiocht Fein, currently the largest  Druid group in North America. It has in turn given birth to additional groups such as the Henge of Keltria.

Carr-Gomm, Philip. The Elements of the Druid Tradition.
Shaftesbury, Dorset, UK: Element, 1991.

Matthews, John, ed. The Druid Source Book. London: Brandford, 1998. 

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Wednesday, May 2, 2012


 The word ‘‘witchcraft’’ derives from the Saxon wicca, sometimes translated as ‘‘wise person’’ but more accurately derived from an Indo-European root, ‘‘weik,’’ that produced words in various Western languages related to magic, religion, and divination. Currently, the word is used to designate a variety of very different but vaguely related phenomena including, but not limited to, (1) the magical/religious practitioners in a variety of third world pre-industrial societies; (2) the Satanism described in the anti-witchcraft books beginning in the late  fifteenth century in Europe; (3) the Neopagan followers of Wicca, the religion started by Gerald B. Gardner in  the 1940s; and (4) individuals (primarily female) who are reputed to have psychic abilities.

Throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the figure of the European witch was interpreted and reinterpreted in numerous ways, depending on the orientations of the scholars involved. They described her (typically) as variously an antisocial practitioner of malevolent magic; as a pro-social healer, midwife, and magician condemned by churches and universities; as a victim of mental illness or of accidental poisoning by mind-altering plants; or as a deliberate user of mind-altering plants who sought a shamanic ‘‘soul flight.’’ She was either the follower of a Satanic religion developed in opposition to Christianity, or she was the inheritor of pre-Christian Paganism. She was supported by her neighbors, or she was the unfortunate scapegoat for social tensions, a lonely victim with no family to protect her. These different pictures of the typical witch of the Burning Times or the Great Hunt (both terms for the persecutions that peaked in the sixteenth and seventeenth  centuries) in turn reflect the sympathies of the writers, whether pro or anti-Catholic, socially rebellious, socially conservative, feminist, or Neopagan. These different perspectives on historical European witchcraft have also influenced what is today called Neopagan Witchcraft, a new religious movement.
Since the mid-1970s, historians have more closely examined the court records of witch trials in various European countries (and in North American colonies). They have studied the verdicts, punishments, social status of accused witches, lists of goods confiscated from the accused, and other evidence. In one notable case, scholarly re-examination of older work revealed a major forgery, a portion of Etienne Leon de Lamothe- Langon’s Histoire de l’Inquisition en France (History of the French Inquisition), written in 1829. Lamothe-Langon’s description of huge 14th-century witch trials with hundreds of executions in the South of France turned out to be complete inventions by the writer—who had also written a profitable series of ‘‘gothic’’ horror novels with titles like The Monastery of the Black Friars.
Today, informed estimates of the total deaths in central and western Europe range from 40,000 to 50,000, much lower than the millions once claimed. Contrary to the picture created by writers such as Lamothe-Langon, the Inquisition (an arm of the Roman Catholic Church created in 1246 to combat heresy) did not execute many witches; secular courts were more likely to condemn accused witches than were church courts. As many or more accused witches were executed in Protestant lands as in Catholic countries, and the witch trials did not peak until 1550 -1650, a period that historians describe as ‘‘early modern’’ rather than ‘‘medieval.’’

During the early Middle Ages, Church writers were more likely to insist that witchcraft was a delusion and that priests should discourage their congregations from believing that anyone could cast spells or fly through the air in the entourage of a Pagan deity. The famous Canon Episcopi, publicized in the tenth century but possibly of earlier date, stated that it was heretical to believe in witchcraft, not to practice it. This ecclesiastical legal document, like others of its kind, urged bishops and priests to combat the practice of sorcery, but also suggested that people who believed that they were witches were deluded by the Devil. Another set of church ordinances from the late eighth century demanded the death penalty not for the witch, but for the person who murdered an alleged witch—again, because believing in witches was a Pagan superstition.
Black Death in Europe
After the Black Death swept Europe in the 1340's, mysteriously killing thousands of people, Europeans were more likely to accept conspiracy theories involving enemies of Christianity, defined variously as heretics, Muslims, Jews or possibly witches. Officers of the Inquisition now began to expand their scope from Christian dissenters and heretics, such as Cathars and Waldensians, to people who supposedly had chosen to follow a diabolical anti-Christian religion (rather than a lingering Paganism). New manuals for witch-hunters appeared, such as the infamous Malleus Maleficarum, or ‘‘Hammer of Witches,’’ a book that although authored by Dominican monks was used and reprinted equally by Protestant witch-hunters in Germany and England. By the sixteenth century, the witches’ sabbat was regarded by authorities as a parody of the Christian Sabbath, the worshipful aspect of a religion which was a distorted image of true religion, i.e., Christianity. According to the records, the sabbat was generally held in some wild and solitary spot, often in  the midst of forests or on the heights of mountains, at a great distance from the residence of most of the visitors. (The use of the word ‘‘sabbat,’’ clearly derived from the Jewish Sabbath, indicates the way in which medieval and early modern Christians tended to blur distinctions between all perceived enemies of Christianity, whether Jews, Muslims, Pagans, or perceived sorcerers and witches.)
The witches themselves told a story—usually after torture—of taking off their clothes and anointing their bodies with a special unguent or ointment. They then strode across a stick, or any similar article, and, muttering a charm, were carried through the air to the place of meeting in an incredible short space of time. Sometimes the stick was to be anointed as well as the witch. They generally left the house by the window or  by the chimney, which perhaps suggests survival of the custom of an earth-dwelling people. Sometimes the witch went out by the door, and there found a demon in the shape of a goat, or at times of some other animal, who carried her away on his back, and brought her home again after the meeting was dissolved.

In the confessions extorted from them, the witches bore testimony to the truth of all these details, but those who judged them, and who wrote upon the subject, asserted that they had many other independent proofs in corroboration.

In the eyes of the populace, the powers of witches were numerous. The most peculiar of these were: The ability to blight by means of the evil eye, the sale of winds to sailors, power over animals, and the power of witches to transform themselves into animal shapes.
Witches were also believed to possess the power of making themselves invisible, by means of a magic ointment supplied to them by the Devil, and of harming others by thrusting nails into a waxen image representing them.

New research has shown that witch trials were more likely to occur in areas of political instability and religious conflict. Hence both Germany and Switzerland, each a patchwork of small political entities and divided between Catholics and Protestants, witnessed more witch trials than did France or Spain. In late seventeenth-century Spain, after an outbreak of witchcraft accusations in the Basque region (shared with France), a lawyer for the Spanish Inquisition convinced its supreme council not to prosecute. Instead, the council ordered an ‘‘Edict of Silence’’ forbidding further discussion of witchcraft. In that Spanish case and others, local secular authorities went around the Catholic Church and appealed to the king for the right to try witches. The king agreed with their request and accused witches began to be sentenced until the Inquisition stopped the process on the grounds that this was church business only.
By the eighteenth century, however, fewer educated Europeans believed in spell-casting, witches flying through the sky, or other typical accusations of the Great Hunt. Thinkers of the Enlightenment such as Voltaire (1694–1778) had denounced the witch trials as the product of religious bigotry, whether Catholic or Protestant, supported by superstitious monarchs across Europe. They hoped that new, more rational attitudes would produce societies where such events could not occur.

In America, the Salem witch trials of the 1690's were similarly seen as the product of a repressive Puritan church struggling to hold onto power. Nineteenth-century American historian George Bancroft’s History of the United States used the Salem trials to condemn Puritan ‘‘superstition,’’ as did the poet and editor James Russell Lowell. As part of the nineteenth-century struggle for authority between science and religion, the witchcraft trials were entered into evidence as examples of the excesses of religion. This view tended to overlook the fact that secular courts were as likely or more likely to execute accused witches than were religious courts, producing the slightly skewed stereotype of ‘‘medieval’’ witches being hauled before the ‘‘Inquisition.’’

This anti-clerical view of the medieval and early modern witch as the victim of superstitious churchmen was strengthened by a new nineteenth-century view of the witch as a Romantic rebel or outlaw—an idea which partly underlies the new religion of Neopagan Witchcraft. It connects with the romanticization of medieval life (and of rural nineteenth century life) by writers such as Sir Walter Scott and Thomas Hardy, both of whom described fictional ‘‘cunning women’’ or solitary rural witches in their novels. A leading proponent of this new Romantic view of witches was the French writer Jules Michelet, a fervent anti-Catholic and anti-monarchist, who produced numerous books of history, natural history, and social reform. Advocating a turn from Christianity to worship of a Great Mother Goddess such as Isis, Michelet held that women were morally superior to men, and that their persecution as witches in former centuries was an attack by the elites on both the rights of women and the working classes. Michelet took the position of the Malleus Maleficarum that women were innately drawn to witchcraft and made a positive good of it. Medieval witchcraft, he declared in his 1862 book La Sorcière, had been an egalitarian rural religion led by female priestesses—a view which was to resonate with later maverick writers on witchcraft such as Charles Leland and Margaret Murray. Had the witches worshipped Satan, as their accusers claimed? Indeed they had, Michelet wrote, for ‘‘Satan’’ was merely the god of fertility and the patron deity of those persons condemned by kings and bishops and their henchmen. Although he did little actual research for La Sorcière,  Michelet succeed in introducing ideas that would be taken up by later generations of non-academic writers and by unconventional academics. One was the idea that witches were healers and midwives persecuted by a maledominated medical establishment; another was that the persecuted witches represented traces of a secret Pagan religion.

Michelet’s advocacy of a Mother Goddess religion helped reinforce a new current in nineteenth-century scholarship: that there had once been a universal matriarchal period of goddess worship, later buried by a patriarchal Paganism typified by the well-known Greco-Roman pantheon: Jupiter/Zeus, Hera/Juno, and so on. The notion of a universal ancient matriarchy appealed to thinkers as different as Karl Marx and Sigmund
Freud, both of whom incorporated parts of it in their theories of communism and psychoanalysis respectively. It also influenced the first wave of women’s rights advocates, such as the American feminist Matilda Joslyn Gage, who published her own version of the anti-clerical witch trials in 1893, Women, Church, and State. Basing her research largely on Michelet, Gage produced a figure of nine million victims of the Burning Times, a figure which although wildly inflated continues to be repeated by some persons today.

As the nineteenth century closed, two interpretations of the medieval and early modern witchcraft period were gaining adherents. One interpretation, suggested above, held that the persecuted witches were leaders and followers of an underground pre-Christian religion. The second, somewhat related to the first, was that at least some of the accused practiced an underground form of European shamanism, utilizing an ancient tradition of entheogenic plants such as Amanita mushrooms and members of the solanaceous plant genus such as henbane, mandrake, belladonna, and datura.
During the height of the Great Hunt, the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, some lawyers and physicians had made their own tests of the unguents or ‘‘flying ointments’’ seized from accused witches, attempting to learn their compositions and effects. At the time, these men were advancing a counterargument to the witch-hunters’ position that the witches worshiped Satan. No, said such men as Andrés Laguna, physician to Pope Julius III, the witches were merely ‘‘wretched ones,’’ deluded by drugs, who ‘‘firmly believe that they have done in a waking state all of that which they dreamt while sleeping.’’

Theologian Nicholas Remy, writing at the height of the trials, in the late 1500s, made numerous references to witches smearing their bodies with oils and ointments, noting, ‘‘Now if witches, after being aroused from an ‘iron’ sleep, tell of things they have seen in places so far distant as compared with the short period of their sleep, the only conclusion is that has been some unsubstantial journal like that of the soul.’’

In an account published in 1555, Laguna described one of his experiments, using ‘‘a jar half-filled with a certain green unguent’’ confiscated from some accused witches, which he believed was prepared with ‘‘cold’’ herbs such as henbane or mandrake. He took the mixture to another city, where he gave it to the wife of the public hangman. This woman suffered from insomnia, lying awake with worry because she thought her husband was unfaithful to her.

‘‘On being anointed,’’ Laguna wrote, ‘‘she suddenly slept such a profound sleep, with her eyes open like a rabbit, that I could not imagine how to wake her. By every means possible, with strong ligatures and rubbing her extremities, with effusions of oil of costus-root and officinal spurge, with fumes and smoke in her nostrils, and finally with cupping glasses, I so hurried her that at the end of thirty-six hours she regained her senses and memory: although the first words she spoke were: ‘Why do you wake me at such an inopportune time? I was surrounded by all the pleasures and delights of the world.’ And casting her eyes on her husband (who was there all stinking of hanged men), she said to him, smiling: ‘Knavish one, know that I have made you a cuckold, and with a lover younger and better than you,’ and she said many other and very strange things.’’

Such experiments led Laguna and some of his contemporaries, including some clergy, to a conclusion that the theologians and demonologists were wrong: the flights through the air, feasts and orgies, encounters with Satan and other fantastic experiences reported by (or tortured out of) the accused witches were really the results of using psychedelic drugs.

These earlier accounts of experiments with witches’ unguents led to new experiments using old recipes in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Karl Kiesewetter, a German scholar of the occult, reported dreams of flying after reproducing some of the old ointments; his later experiments were fatal. The pharmacologist Gustav Schenk wrote in The Book of Poisons that he experienced the sensations of flying through the clouds after breathing the smoke of burning henbane seeds. As interest in entheogenic or psychedelic drugs  increased in the 1950s and 1960s, anthropologists such as Michael Harner returned to the older writings about ‘‘flying ointments’’ in order to suggest that European witches took part in shamanic ‘‘soul flights,’’ projecting their consciousness into other realms of existence even while their physical bodies appeared to sleep. If parallel with the shamanism reported from other cultures around the world, these soul-journeys might be attempted to gain a cure for a sick person, for knowledge or simply for the experience.

Some of the same herbs, such as datura, have been traditionally used in India both for religious purposes, pleasure, and as poisons. Likewise, the fly agaric mushroom, Amanita muscaria, has been proposed as the source of soma, the drink of the gods in the ancient Hindu scriptures. Unlike the peyote and ayahuasca of the New World, plants such as henbane, datura or fly agaric can be fatally poisonous—they continue to  claim victims today. Therefore, if sixteenth-century witches such as Laguna’s indeed were using them, they likely were heirs to an underground tradition of safe preparation and use, although we do not know what form such a shamanic tradition might have taken.

The identity and motives of the witches and their accusers continue to be re-interpreted. In the period from 1890 to 1930, however, one interpretation of the trials not only blossomed but produced a genuine new religion. That was the theory that the witches followed an underground pre-Christian religion. Even though most modern scholars reject the notion, it contributed to the birth of today’s fast-growing Neopagan Witchcraft.

Charles Godfrey Leland, an American lawyer, political journalist, and folklore scholar who lived a number of years in the Italian city of Florence, produced three books in the 1890s arguing that some Italian peasants, through their innate religious conservatism, maintained not only a pre-Christian but a pre-Roman religion, dating to the days of the ancient Etruscan culture. Camouflaged with Catholic saints’ names and other details, this hidden ‘‘Old Religion’’ maintained its own deities, creation stories, prayers, and rituals, Leland wrote, describing these surviving bits of Paganism as ‘‘something more than a sorcery and something less than a faith.’’ His most influential book, Aradia: or the Gospel of the Witches, published in 1899, synthesized traditional legends with material gathered for him by a woman known as Maddalena or Margherita (her surname may have been Talenti) and translated from local dialects into standard Italian, which Leland spoke and wrote moderately well. Aradia, which Leland claims was originally a Semitic goddess name, is described as the daughter of Diana, goddess of darkness, and Lucifer, god of light. Aradia comes to earth, and in the style of Michelet, teaches her ceremonies to outlaws and outcasts, as well as the secrets of poisoning corrupt feudal lords. What remains problematic about Aradia is the source of Leland’s witchcraft gospel. Is it genuine, or did Maddalena herself concoct it to please her wealthy American patron, or did Leland shape it from a body of genuine invocations, stories, and folk practices?

Twenty years after Leland’s work, the English archaeologist Margaret Murray (1862–1963) developed her own version of the ‘‘Old Religion’’ through her reading of witch-trial records from the British Isles and France. A recognized Egyptologist, Murray turned her attention to the witch-cult problem while World War I prevented her from working in Egypt. Her 1921 book The Witch Cult in Western Europe and its two successors laid out an apparently clear picture of the Old Religion. Even though that picture has largely been refuted by more recent historians such as Russell Hope Robbins, Elliot Rose, L’Estrange Ewen, and Ronald Hutton, its evocative power threatened to overwhelm the former academically accepted idea of the medieval and early modern witches as victims of bigotry, social stresses, and mob psychology. Many followers of modern Witchcraft continue to accept large portions of Murray’s version of earlier witchcraft.

In essence, her version was this. The ‘‘witch cult’’ was a pre-Christian religion centered on a fertility god (somewhat parallel to the Greek Pan), whom Christian theologians deliberately confused with their Devil in order to persecute the witches. This god was often depicted with horns, and a man portrayed and embodied him during group rituals. (Murray had much less to say about goddesses than did Leland.) Covens of witches, ideally consisting of thirteen persons, grouped together at four major holidays—Candlemas, around 1 February; May Day; Lammas, around 1 August; and All Hallows or Hallowe’en. These large-group meetings, with their feasting and fertility rituals, alternated with smaller meetings (‘‘esbats’’) for spell casting and other local witch business.

In medieval England, Murray claimed, the Old Religion had been protected by the Plantagenet dynasty of kings, beginning with William the Conqueror in 1066. These were ‘‘sacred kings’’ who had to die as sacrificial victims or else find a substitute after they had reigned for seven years, or a multiple of seven years. Murray held that the murder in 1170 of the archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas à Becket (later made a saint),
supposedly at the orders of King Henry II, his longtime friend, was actually the substitution of a voluntary victim for the king himself. Murray also maintained that the French mystical warrior maiden Joan of Arc (1412–1431) was in fact a priestess of the Old Religion. This underground religion, in Murray’s view, permeated medieval society, and its followers left traces in the carvings on Christian churches and in folklore.

Murray’s views were almost immediately attacked by historians who pointed out that she manipulated evidence, lifted quotations from witch-trial records out of context, and ignored evidence that did not fit her theory. But her picture of the ‘‘Old Religion’’ was embraced by many folklorists, occultists, and all those who wanted to believe that British rural life retained traces of ancient Paganism, even after 1500 years of Christianity.

Neopagan Witchcraft is the only worldwide religion to have begun in England. Its apparent birth date lies between 1939 and 1951, when the Witchcraft Act of 1735 was repealed by Parliament and reports about people claiming to follow the religion of Witchcraft began appearing in British newspapers. Contemporary Witchcraft appears to have multiple parents, and historians of religion continue to debate who exactly was present at its creation, for no solid evidence exists of a religious continuity with pre-Christian Paganism. This new religion of Witchcraft (usually capitalized it differentiate from definitions 1, 2, and 4 above) has grown rapidly in all English-speaking countries and in Western Europe, aided by its compatibility with the feminist and environmental movements. It is often referred to as Wicca, although some Neopagan Witches limit that term to the ‘‘tradition’’ founded by Gerald Gardner (see below), and as ‘‘The Craft,’’ a term borrowed from Freemasonry along with certain aspects of Masonic ritual.

The most public figure associated with the new religion of Witchcraft was Gerald Gardner (1884–1964). Gardner spent most of his adult life in Britain’s Asian colonies, owning and managing tea plantations and later working for the colonial customs service in Malaya. He and his wife retired to England in 1936. During his time in Asia, his lifelong interest in magic and the supernatural led him both to the Masonic order and to visits with Buddhists priests, tribal shamans, spiritualists, and any other practitioners he chanced across.

In 1949 Gardner published an adventure novel, High Magic’s Aid, set in the Middle Ages and incorporating much ceremonial magic. He claimed that he had met members of a surviving witches’ coven shortly before World War II, operating under the cover of the Rosicrucian Theatre at Christchurch, Hampshire, and headed by a wealthy widow. He had been accepted into the group, which performed a magical ritual during the summer of 1940 to stop the threatened German invasion of England (thus identifying the Witches with the patriotic soul of Great Britain). In 1954 his nonfiction book Witchcraft Today was published, which he wrote in the voice of a sympathetic outsider describing the modern continuation of an ancient fertility religion. Margaret Murray supplied an approving introduction.

Subsequent research suggests that it is more likely that Gardner and a female companion whose Craft name was Dafo, plus possibly other individuals, actually began the coven. They drew inspiration for their practices from ceremonial magic, from Classical Pagan religions, and from British folklore. What Gardner in 1954 described as ‘‘Wica’’ or cult of the ‘‘wise people’’ contained ‘‘no crucifixes, inverted or otherwise, no sermons, mock or otherwise, and no absolution or [eucharistic] hosts save for the cake and wine. . . . There is no praise or homage to the Devil, no liturgy, evil or otherwise, nothing is said backwards, and there are no gestures with the left hand; in fact with the exception that it is a religious service and all religious services resemble one another, the rites are not in any way an imitation of anything I have ever seen.’’

In other words, Gardner denied the reality of ‘‘Burning Times’’ witchcraft with its pacts with the Devil and  parodies of Christian ritual. For this he substituted a Murray-style ‘‘Old Religion,’’ in which the ‘‘Devil’’ was merely the ritual leader with his crown of stag’s horns—and often a nobleman in disguise. Witchcraft, he alleged, had come down from the Stone Age as a fertility religion that honored the ‘‘God of death and what comes after’’ (in other words, rest and reincarnation) and the Great Mother Goddess of nature, love, and pleasure.

These new Witches celebrated a cycle of eight festivals a year—the solstices and equinoxes and the four cross-quarter days between them: Lugnasadh or Lammas (Loaf-Mass) at the beginning of August, a harvest festival; Samhain (Hallowe’en) a festival honoring the ancestors; Brigid or Oimelc, at the beginning of February, a feast of creativity and new beginnings; and Beltane, at the beginning of May, celebrating the new growing season. New Moons and full Moons were times of magic-working as opposed to the celebration and attunement of the seasonal festivals.

They worshipped in the nude, a practice indeed claimed of medieval witches. Gardner and his first associations were ‘‘naturists,’’ people who advocated sunbathing for better health, and he and his first associates purchased land next to a naturist club north of London. While many Neopagan Witches today wear either ritual robes or other clothing, those who continue to meet nude or ‘‘skyclad’’ claim that the practice erases social distinctions, helps them to overcome the fear of aging and death, and makes magic-working easier.

Other common practices include the creation of a temporary sacred space, the circle, usually marked by candles, which may be drawn indoors or out, but which is erased at the conclusion of a ceremony. Most Neopagan Witchcraft rituals involve the use of a sacred knife, the athame, symbolizing the God, and a chalice symbolizing the Goddess.

Coven leadership typically lies with the high priestess (‘‘high’’ because all experienced Witches are  considered to be priests and priestesses themselves) who may or may not have a permanent male partner. This combination of female leadership and a powerful feminine image of deity has drawn many women to the Craft, which they see as a religion that values and sacralizes their bodies, their cycles, their ability to nurture as well as their rage and anger against other male-dominated religions.

Gardner’s coven produced a number of offshoots in Britain in the 1950s and 1960s. In addition, other Witches came forth who claimed (sometimes falsely) to have no connection with his coven but rather to represent independent traditions of Witchcraft. These included Alex Sanders (1926–1988), Robert  Cochrane (d. 1966) and Sybil Leek, who emigrated to the United States in 1965, where she continued to write books on occult topics and to lecture on Witchcraft.

Two more British Witches of Gardner’s lineage, Ray and Rosemary Buckland, moved to Long Island, New York, in the  mid-1960s and many American and Canadian ‘‘Gardnerian’’ Witches trace their initiatory lineage to them.

Meanwhile, modern Pagan religions were being developed independently in the United States and elsewhere during the 1960s, including Feraferia in Los Angeles, The Church of All Worlds in St. Louis, and others. However, as more books about Witchcraft were being published, including an edition of the basic Gardnerian ritual manual, the Book of Shadows, in 1973, followers of these new movements tended to  adopt many of the key characteristics of Gardner’s tradition—or else to define themselves in opposition to it. Those saying that they followed some other form of Witchcraft often cast it in ethnic terms such as Italian or Scottish. Other forms of Witchcraft include women-only groups (often called ‘‘Dianic’’ Witchcraft) and male-only groups, including the Radical Faeries.

By the 1980s, most elders and leaders in Witchcraft began to distance themselves from claims of an unbroken pre-Christian religious tradition, saying instead that their practices were inspired by ancient Paganism but adapted to the present times. Whether known as Wicca or Witchcraft, this new religious movement grew steadily from the 1970s to the present, typically among people in their twenties and thirties. The Cold War expansion of the American military provided one means, as Wiccan personnel shuttled between the United States, Europe, and elsewhere. Neopagan Witchcraft is now found throughout the English-speaking world and parts of Europe, particularly Germany, the Netherlands, and Scandinavia.

The historian Ronald Hutton describes these common characteristics of the ‘‘protean and ecclectic’’ varieties of Neopagan Witchcraft: They ‘‘aim to draw out and enhance divinity within human beings, abolish the traditional Western distinction between religion and magic, [are] a mystery religion or a set of mystery religions [and their essence lies] in the creative performance of ritual.’’

Estimates of total membership in North America range into the low millions, but since covens are fluid and  ever-changing (and since not all Witches belong to covens), an accurate count is impossible. While Witchcraft has no sacred scriptures, modern Witches have produced dozens of books on the practice of their religion. Notable authors, besides those named, include Stewart and Janet Farrar, Starhawk, Scott Cunningham, Vivianne Crowley, Marion Weinstein, Margot Adler, Evan John Jones, and Michael Howard.

In the early 1970s, two organizations, the Church and School of Wicca and the Council of American Witches, began holding conventions for their members and other interested people in American hotels. By 1980, outdoor festivals began at campgrounds across the United States, beginning in the Midwest and spreading to both coasts, the South, and the Rocky Mountains. These provide a venue for the exchange of songs, ritual formats, and the merchandising of clothing, jewelry, and other artifacts of the Pagan lifestyle.

Adler, Margot. Drawing Down the Moon: Witches, Druids, Goddess-
Worshippers, and Other Pagans in America Today. Boston: Beacon, 1979, 1981.

Buckland, Raymond. Buckland’s Complete Book of Witchcraft.
St. Paul: Llewellyn Publications, 1986.

Crowley, Vivianne. Wicca. London: Thorsons, 1996.

Ewen, C. l’Estrange. Witch Hunting and Witch Trials. London:
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