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The Crooked Path: An Introduction to Traditional Witchcraft

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Part the thorny bramble and take a walk along the bewitchingly mysterious Crooked Path. Within these pages discover a wealth of hands-on tips and techniques to begin your journey into the realm of Traditional Witchcraft. Learn to weave a powerful personal practice that is informed by folklore and grounded in your own location and natural landscape. Along the way you will find valuable information regarding the tools, rituals, and spells of this fascinating tradition, together with lessons on connecting with deities, familiar spirits, ancestors, and the spirits of place. With supportive advice and encouragement, Kelden provides everything you need to successfully navigate your own path, helping you master even advanced practices such as hedge-crossing as you transform your day-today experience into a life filled with magic and spirit.
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Dominique P.
This book helps you understand the darker aspects of the craft this was a great read for any one that wants to find balance between light and dark

19 April 2021 (01:30) 

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			About the Author

			Kelden (Minnesota) has been practicing Traditional Witchcraft for more than a decade. In addition to being the co-creator of the Traditional Witch’s Deck, his writing has appeared in The Witch’s Altar, The New Aradia: A Witch’s Handbook to Magical Resistance, and Modern Witch magazine. Furthermore, he authors a blog on the Patheos Pagan channel called By Athame and Stang. In his free time, Kelden enjoys reading, hiking, growing poisonous plants, and playing ukulele.

			 Llewellyn Publications

			Woodbury, Minnesota

		 			Copyright Information

			The Crooked Path: An Introduction to Traditional Witchcraft © 2020 by Kelden.

			All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any matter whatsoever, including Internet usage, without written permission from Llewellyn Publications, except in the form of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.

			As the purchaser of this e-book, you are granted the non-exclusive, non-transferable right to access and read the text of this e-book on screen. The text may not be otherwise reproduced, transmitted, downloaded, or recorded on any other storage device in any form or by any means.

			Any unauthorized usage of the text without express written permission of the publisher is a violation of the author’s copyright and is illegal and punishable by law.

			First e-book edition © 2020

			E-book ISBN: 9780738762081

			Cover design by Shannon McKuhen

			Interior illustrations by Llewellyn Art Department

			Llewellyn Publications is an imprint of Llewellyn Worldwide Ltd.

			Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

			Names: Kelden, author.

			Title: The crooked path : an introduction to traditional witchcraft /


			Description: First edition. | Woodbury, Minnesota : Llewellyn Worldwide.

			 Ltd, 2020. | Includes bibliographical references. | Summary: “A primer

			 for readers new to the practice of Traditional Witchcraft, which is

			 rooted in folklore and history. Shar; es hands-on tips and techniques for

			 establishing a practice that is based on your own location and natural

			 landscape. Explains how to work with the tools, rituals, and spells of0

			 Traditional Witchcraft and explores connecting to ancestors, familiar

			 spirits, and deities”—Provided by publisher.

			Identifiers: LCCN 2019037498 (print) | LCCN 2019037499 (ebook) | ISBN

			 9780738762036 (paperback) | ISBN 9780738762081 (ebook)

			Subjects: LCSH: Witchcraft.

			Classification: LCC BF1566 .K455 2020 (print) | LCC BF1566 (ebook) | DDC


			LC record available at

			LC ebook record available at

			Llewellyn Publications does not participate in, endorse, or have any authority or responsibility concerning private business arrangements between our authors and the public.

			Any Internet references contained in this work are current at publication time, but the publisher cannot guarantee that a specific reference will continue or be maintained. Please refer to the publisher’s website for links to current author websites.

			Llewellyn Publications

			Llewellyn Worldwide Ltd.

			2143 Wooddale Drive

			Woodbury, MN 55125

			Manufactured in the United States of America

			To Veles, my soul-friend and

			constant companion along this Crooked Path.


			The information contained in this book derives from historical and folkloric sources, as well as from personal experience. It is in no way meant to replace qualified medical care, including that provided by mental health professionals. The author and publisher are not liable for any injury or ill effect caused by the application of information provided in this book. Do not ingest poisonous or unfamiliar plants, and take care when handling them. Please use your common sense when utilizing any of the practices discussed and consult the advice of a trained medical practitioner when necessary.


			The book you are about to read simply would not have been possible to write if not for the wonderful people in my life. First and foremost, I’d like to thank my family—Mom, Dad, Breanna, and Colton. Family is everything to me, and the love that we share is the most powerful magic that I have ever experienced. Second, I’d like to thank my friends Diana, Maggie, Dana, Sara, and Marina, who have always had my back and supported my dreams. Additionally, I’d like to thank my fellow writers at Patheos Pagan, who continuously inspire me to be a better Witch and writer. I’d like to thank the team at Llewellyn Publications for believing in me and my vision for this book. I’d also like to thank Gemma Gary for graciously writing the foreword to this book. Finally, as always, I’d like to thank the Witch Father and Witch Mother, the spirits of my ancestors and those of the land, the Fair Folk, and my familiar spirit.


			List of Exercises

			From the Black Book

			Foreword by Gemma Gary


			Part I: What Is Traditional Witchcraft?

			Chapter 1: Defining Traditional Witchcraft

			Chapter 2: The Historical Development of Traditional Witchcraft

			Part II: Working With Magic

			Chapter 3: Magical Basics

			Chapter 4: The Traditional Witch’s Tools

			Chapter 5: The Rituals of Traditional Witchcraft

			Chapter 6: Spellcraft

			Part III: Working With The Otherworld

			Chapter 7: The Witch Father and Witch Mother

			Chapter 8: Ancestors, Familiars, and Fetches

			Chapter 9: Into the Otherworld

			Part IV: Working With The Natural Landscape

			Chapter 10: Engaging with the Land

			Chapter 11: Plants, Stones, and Animals

			Chapter 12: Seasons, Weather, and Planets

			Part V: Reflecting On The Crooked Path

			Chapter 13: Establishing Your Own Traditional Witchcraft Practice


			A Witch’s Farewell





			EXERCISE 1: Personally Defining Traditional Witchcraft

			EXERCISE 2: Comparing Traditional Witchcraft and Wicca


			EXERCISE 3: Ethics Reflection

			Exercise 4: Candle Visualization

			Exercise 5: Manifestation Visualization

			EXERCISE 6: Raising Internal Power

			EXERCISE 7: Channeling External Power from Natural Sources

			EXERCISE 8: Projecting Magical Power

			EXERCISE 9: Creating a Stang

			EXERCISE 10: Creating a Broomstick

			EXERCISE 11: Hallowing Ritual

			EXERCISE 12: Simple Compass-Laying Ritual

			EXERCISE 13: Cochrane-Inspired Compass-Laying Ritual

			EXERCISE 14: Treading the Mill Ritual

			EXERCISE 15: Housel Ritual

			EXERCISE 16: Ritual Reflection

			EXERCISE 17: Adaptation of Folkloric Spells and Charms

			EXERCISE 18: Creating a Charm-Bag for Luck

			EXERCISE 19: Creating a Protective Witch Bottle

			EXERCISE 20: Creating a Witch’s Ladder

			EXERCISE 21: Creating a Poppet for Hexing


			EXERCISE 22: Meeting the Witch Father

			EXERCISE 23: Meeting the Witch Mother

			EXERCISE 24: Ancestors Reflection

			EXERCISE 25: Meeting the Ancestors

			EXERCISE 26: Familiar Spirit Reflection

			EXERCISE 27: Meeting a Familiar Spirit

			EXERCISE 28: Meeting the Fetch Spirit

			EXERCISE 29: Breathing Down

			EXERCISE 30: Axis Mundi Visualization

			Exercise 31: Creating a Charm-Bag for Hedge-Crossing

			Exercise 32: Hedge-Crossing Ritual


			Exercise 33: Creating a Bioregional Profile

			EXERCISE 34: Meeting the Genius Loci and Land Wights

			EXERCISE 35: Creating a Faerie Wand

			EXERCISE 36: Meeting the Fair Folk

			EXERCISE 37: Communing with Plant Spirits

			EXERCISE 38: Creating an Enchanted Stone

			EXERCISE 39: Shapeshifting Ritual

			EXERCISE 40: Creating a Personal Seasonal Ritual

			EXERCISE 41: Casting on the Wind

			EXERCISE 42: Binding with Snow and Ice

			EXERCISE 43: Full Moon Blessing Ritual

			EXERCISE 44: New Moon Banishing Ritual


			EXERCISE 45: Crooked Path Reflection

			EXERCISE 46: Formulating a Witch’s Pact

			EXERCISE 47: A Traditional Witch’s Dedication Ritual

From the Black Book

			FROM THE BLACK BOOK: Hallowing Incense

			FROM THE BLACK BOOK: Sabbath Bread

			FROM THE BLACK BOOK: Additional Charm-Bag Recipes

			FROM THE BLACK BOOK: Witch Father Incense

			FROM THE BLACK BOOK: Witch Mother Incense

			FROM THE BLACK BOOK: Spirit Offering Powder

			FROM THE BLACK BOOK: Non-Toxic Flying Ointment

			FROM THE BLACK BOOK: Hexing Powder

			FROM THE BLACK BOOK: Rain Water Infusions for Healing and Cleansing


			 			The origins and lore of today’s Witchcraft are a tangled thicket, and its traditions and variants a skein of many strands. In following our way back along the elder threads, we find the old Witch beliefs, giving rise to those considered “beyond the pale” and feared for their uncanny powers to curse (and sometimes to cure), powers long attributed to encounters and relationships with the Devil, familiar spirits, or some other envoy of the Otherworld. So too do we pick up the threads that lead us to the old-time “white witches,” conjurors, and Cunning Folk of both rural and urban communities, whose Craft was one of operative magic, of divining and blessing or blasting, according to the needs and wants of a paying clientele.

			Here might be perceived a heritage of sorts, for whilst some Cunning Folk drew their knowledge and power from apparent possession of magical texts, accounts tell of others dealing with familiars and having had encounters with spirits and otherworldly beings from whom they gained their ability to provide cures, perform divinations, and counter the ill influence of the malevolent Witch.

			In Britain, this particular strand of Witchcraft reached its height in the nineteenth century, gradually fading and having all but disappeared by the 1930s. However, beneath this apparent decline, shifts and changes had long been afoot. The rise of clandestine initiatory fraternities, group occultism, and popular spiritualism through the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries may well have provided an environment and a confluence of ideas in which once-solitary practitioners of cunning traditions and Witchcraft evolved working lodge and coven structures in which to consolidate, nurture, and continue their artes and mysteries.

			The first, and thereafter most prominent, such brand of coven Witchcraft to emerge into public consciousness was of course that promulgated by Gerald Brosseau Gardner. Evidently, his was a vision of a Witchcraft for the masses, and so Gardner set about reworking and building upon the possibly fragmentary form of witchcraft into which he had been initiated in the 1930s. Drawing upon his interests in Romantic era Paganism, Freemasonry, and ceremonial occultism, Gardner was able to forge a beautiful and workable system of celebratory Pagan Witchcraft for the new Aquarian Age.

			Other Craft traditions and recensions would however emerge, often at odds with Gardner and his innovations, claiming to represent pre-Gardnerian “Old Craft” approaches to Witchcraft. These typically emphasized operative cunning, less formalized ritual, and a gnostic mysticism drawing upon the virtues and hidden presences of the landscape, the spirit world, and folkloric practices. Thus was the Traditional Witchcraft movement born, seeing those claiming to represent elder traditions and those drawing inspiration from historical Witchcraft presenting alternative paths to Wicca.

			Whilst, of course, Gardner’s vision for the Craft has been phenomenally successful, serving admirably the needs of many called to its approach to the mysteries, there is undoubtedly a current resurgence in those expressions of Craft that are more magically operative in emphasis, rather than celebratory. There appears to be a great desire for a Craft that is rooted deeply in those lonely and numinous places of power within the land, in which potent virtues may be drawn forth, spirit allies enjoined, and the way crossed betwixt the worlds. Here too may the materia magica of plant, stone, and bone be sought in hedge, field, and forest and at the water’s edge. It is with the aid of such spirit forces and nature-given tools that a great number of seekers unto the arte magical are now drawn to work the ways of the Witch’s eye, of blessing and blasting, of exorcism and conjuration, and to craft amulet, charm, and talisman.

			Whilst in the Old Craft the spirit forces and the whispering wisdom of the wild and lonely places are primary teachers, the guidance of one who has trod the round of the wise many times is invaluable. However, few have access to such a guide, and even fewer the opportunity to share the warmth and wisdom at the hearth of assembled company, coven, or clan. And so, it is books, wrought of dedication, insight, and experience and pointing the way to self-navigating the hooks and crooks of the Traditional Witch’s path, that many turn to in search of true guidance.

			The seeker will find such guidance within these very pages, for Kelden parts the thorny overgrowth at the stile and invites the would-be journeyman to traverse and explore the ways that lead to the heart of the Elder Craft. Herein are carefully mediated paths of inner workings to forge and temper; of power and its employment; of crafting and hallowing the tools of the arte where force, symbolism, and form unite; of Witch-rite and ceremony; and of the operative magics of wort cunning, charm crafting, and spell working. Here imparted too are ways unto the mysteries of familiar and fetch and the forging of a working relationship with the Old Ones, the spirit world, and the land.

			As one whose Craft background arises from mixed streams, I welcome this book also for its refreshing absence of derision when discussing other forms of Craft. As Cecil Williamson once wrote, “Those who work witchcraft are on the whole a divided lot each calling stinking fish to the other groups’ methods.” 1 Such a trait has long plagued the post-revival Craft. Yet within Kelden’s writing is recognition of the fact that all branches of the Craft are reaching forth in different directions, all from an old, gnarled, and twisted trunk, itself arising from tangled roots fathoms deep.

			For those drawn to the many-fingered branch of Traditional Witchcraft and the living artes of Witch, wise woman, and cunning man, here unfolds the ever revealing, ever concealing, serpentine way of the Crooked Path.

			—Gemma Gary

			July 2019


* * *

			 				 					1. Kerriann Gowdin, ed., The Museum of Witchcraft: A Magical History (Bodmin, UK: The Occult Art Company and the Friends of the Bodcastle Museum of Witchcraft, 2011), 18.


			From a very young age, I had a natural curiosity about Witchcraft and magic. In fact, I can’t actually remember a time when I wasn’t wholeheartedly interested in Witches, ghosts, and faeries. I spent the majority of my childhood playing in the woods next to my house, collecting herbs, building faerie houses, and reading from books of spells. I felt most at home among the trees, befriended by the birds, the deer, and an assortment of spirits. It was in those woods that I first felt connected to a higher power or deity. But unlike the god I was taught about during my brief time spent in church, whoever this was didn’t feel distant or disconnected from me. Instead, we would sing together under the moonlight and dance around the giant oak tree. When I’d have a bad day, I’d curl up on the ground and they’d hold me while I cried into the dirt. My world was an enchanted one, where every plant and stone had a spirit, the moon herself was a goddess, and magic flowed from my very fingertips.

			When I was eleven years old, I discovered Wicca while searching the internet (still a relatively new innovation) for information on Witchcraft. Discovering that there were other people out there who identified as Witches was an incredibly validating experience for me. It meant that I wasn’t as alone as I sometimes felt and that there was a reality to my beliefs—which were very different from those of everyone else I knew. From that point forward, my practice as a solitary, eclectic Wiccan took off. I was lucky to have supportive parents who bought me my first books on Wicca and Witchcraft, and I read whatever I could get my hands on. However, by the time I entered college, I felt something had changed—that I had reached a plateau in my path. The books I read felt increasingly redundant, and even the rituals I had performed countless times before seemed to become hollow and lifeless. At that point I decided to try reinvigorating my practice by researching the history of Witchcraft in more depth. I turned to the books written by the early pioneers of modern Witchcraft, including Gerald Gardner, Doreen Valiente, Janet and Stewart Farrar, and Alex and Maxine Sanders. Then I worked backward, using their references and bibliographies to find even older sources. During my studying, two things eventually became abundantly clear: one, that there was far more to Wicca than what was often presented in the popular, easily accessible books; and two, that despite my deepened love and respect for Wicca, it was no longer the right path for me.

			It was while researching the history of Wicca that I discovered another path of Witchcraft, one that felt more like home to me. I had almost missed it entirely, a nearly hidden exit off the main road. I pushed through the thorny brambles and found myself on a new trail, one that was built into the living landscape around me. It was muddy, organic, and wild. The Craft of those who walked along this roadway was practiced in the garden and in the kitchen, in this world and the Otherworld. Its core beliefs hearkened back to my early years of fairytale Witches and magic, with familiar spirits, potions made from deadly plants, and spells whispered on the wind. The words and rituals were those from the heart, spoken and performed by the Witch in ecstasy while surrounded by the spirits. It was founded on the ancestral wisdom of the Witches who came before, enchanted by their stories, whether they be fact, fiction, or somewhere in between. It was a path that I found mysterious, fascinating, and inescapable. It was a crooked path called Traditional Witchcraft.

			Now, nearly a decade later, I feel deeply rooted in my practice as a Traditional Witch. Over the years I have grown to be an avid researcher, writer, and presenter on the topic of Traditional Witchcraft, as well as the history and folklore of Witchcraft in general. I have published essays in various books, presented workshops, written a blog, and cocreated an oracle deck. It’s an understatement to say that a lot has changed since I took my first steps onto the Crooked Path. Though, in reflecting upon the early days of my journey, I’ve come to realize that there was one thing lacking during that time—a quality book for the beginning Traditional Witch to help guide the way.

Why It’s Important

			As I started to look more into Traditional Witchcraft, I was quick to find a discrepancy between the amount of available resources dedicated to this path and those focused on Wicca. It hasn’t been until the last decade or so that books on Traditional Witchcraft have started to be published with more frequency. Thus, there haven’t been all that many books to choose from and even fewer that are written with the beginner in mind. In fact, the vast majority of Traditional Witchcraft books are geared toward those who already have some amount of prior knowledge and experience. Unfortunately, this can leave newcomers feeling confused due to a lack of explanation on essential topics. To make matters worse, some of these resources are completely unapproachable due to their use of overly complicated, dramatic language. Together, these factors have made it incredibly difficult for beginners to find a solid place to start their journey and have even turned some away completely.

			A further problem that I’ve noticed in several books on Traditional Witchcraft is the ridiculous amount of material dedicated to trying to differentiate between it and Wicca. Most of this is due to the period of time in which those books were written, when Wicca was still the front and center of all things Witchcraft related. Therefore, differentiating between the two was more important, as people were less familiar with non-Wiccan forms of the Craft. Even today, discussions on how they relate to one another can be helpful. However, when every subject mentioned in the book contains a diatribe about how it’s completely different from Wicca, the focus tends to get lost. Of course, this is also before taking into consideration the annoying habit of Wicca bashing, which is petty and consequently detracts from an author’s credibility.

			In writing The Crooked Path: An Introduction to Traditional Witchcraft, it was my goal to create the book I wish I would have had when first learning the ways of Traditional Witchcraft, a book that cuts through the pretenses and presents the material in a practical, down-to-earth manner. It’s also been my goal to write a book on Traditional Witchcraft that discusses its relationship with Wicca in a fair and balanced way. Having spent considerable time as a researcher and a participating member of both paths, it’s been my long-standing desire to dismantle stereotypes and misinformation while also working toward creating a better understanding of both Wicca and Traditional Witchcraft. My hope for this book is that it will provide you with all this and more, whether you’re already a practicing Traditional Witch, a beginner, or just someone who is curious to know more about this particular branch of Witchcraft.

How to Use This Book

			The Crooked Path: An Introduction to Traditional Witchcraft contains thirteen chapters, divided into five parts. The book is laid out as a metaphorical path, with each chapter taking you a step further on your journey. As you walk the winding road, you’ll learn about the definition and history of Traditional Witchcraft, how to work with magic, how to travel into the Otherworld, and how to forge a deep connection with the natural world around you. In the final part of this book, you will take everything you’ve learned and put all the pieces together in order to establish your very own Traditional Witchcraft practice.

			Along the way, you will find numerous exercises, rituals, and spells to engage your mind and get your hands dirty. If you don’t already have a journal, I encourage you to start one so that you can write down your responses and reactions to these exercises. Additionally, throughout the book, you will discover sections entitled “From the Spirits of Lore” and “From the Black Book.” The former will provide you with folkloric stories that are meant to highlight and add further context to topics being discussed. In the latter sections, you will find helpful recipes for various incenses, powders, ointments, waters, and offerings. Finally, please refer to the back of this book for a glossary of terms and a bibliography containing excellent books for further reading.


Part I

What Is Traditional Witchcraft?

			 			Here you stand before a dirt path that stretches and winds far into the distance. On either side of you sit two low stone walls, both time-worn and covered in green moss. All around them grow abundant sprays of foxglove, datura, and belladonna. You notice a forked staff leaning against one of the walls and a large cast-iron cauldron resting on the ground near the other. As the waxing crescent moon breaks through the clouds, you hear the sudden howling of a coyote from somewhere far away. You take in a deep breath, readying yourself for the long journey you are about to begin. You know that it will be challenging and require hard work, but you can already feel your inner power awakening to the beckoning call of what lies ahead. Intuitively grabbing ahold of the staff, you take one last look around before stepping onto the Crooked Path of Traditional Witchcraft.

		 			 Chapter 1



			What is Traditional Witchcraft? If you’re reading this book, it’s likely that you are searching for the answer to this very question. Traditional Witchcraft is often described as a Crooked Path. The term crooked here refers to a number of things. First, it hints at the moral ambiguity classically associated with Witchcraft. Traditional Witches practice magic that is double-edged, capable of both helping and harming. Second, it describes the slightly off-kilter worldview of Traditional Witches, which allows us to see the hidden realm of spirits. Third, it illustrates the Traditional Witches’ vacillated movements as we snake between the wild natural landscape and the mysterious Otherworld. Finally, it points to the fact that Traditional Witchcraft is an incredibly difficult practice to succinctly define. There are very few straightforward answers to be given on this path, and those who walk it must be prepared to seek out their own truths. That being said, Traditional Witchcraft can generally be defined as an umbrella term that covers an array of non-Wiccan forms of Witchcraft that are influenced and inspired by folklore.

			Over the last several years there has been a steadily growing interest in Traditional Witchcraft, although this is not to say that people have never been interested in it before or that it is somehow a new phenomenon. In fact, the popularity of Traditional Witchcraft has spiked every now and then for the last several decades. It’s a path that has always had a beckoning call to people—including those who are new to the Craft and those who are seasoned practitioners—who are seeking more visceral and intuitive forms of Witchcraft. These are people who are being moved to forge a practice that is rooted in folklore as well as one that is focused on the natural world and working intimately with spirits. Today, though, Traditional Witchcraft has reached new levels, and more books and articles on the topic have been written than ever before. You can search the internet and are bound to come across countless websites dedicated to Traditional Witchcraft. Social media has taken it to even greater heights, with Instagram and Tumblr being flooded with pictures and posts regarding #TraditionalWitchcraft.

			However, despite the wealth of informative resources being produced, it seems that we are still missing a cohesive definition of what Traditional Witchcraft is and what it entails. Without such a definition, outsiders are frequently left confused and insiders find themselves at a loss for how to concisely describe their own path to others. In hopes to remedy this ambiguity, we must create a new, working definition of Traditional Witchcraft. In order to successfully accomplish this, though, we will need to take a close look at the key beliefs and practices commonly found along the Crooked Path. But first, it will prove most helpful to our cause if we examine some of the reasons it has been so difficult to accurately define Traditional Witchcraft in the first place.

What Makes This Witchcraft “Traditional”?

			One of the main challenges we face on our quest to defining Traditional Witchcraft is first being tasked with defining the term traditional. What exactly constitutes a tradition or makes something traditional? From my own observations, it would seem that many people tend to define traditional as something that is extremely old and that has remained completely unchanged over a long course of time. However, in actuality this definition is incredibly limited and unrealistic, particularly when it comes to Witchcraft.

			First and foremost, traditions are not inherently defined by their age. We know that new traditions are being developed all the time. Traditions are simply created when we decide to mindfully and intentionally repeat a certain action, such as going out for coffee with a friend on Sunday mornings or cooking a special dish on a particular holiday. While it’s true that long-standing traditions naturally incur a greater sense of salience due to the longer amount of time they’ve had to impact people’s lives, this doesn’t negate the significance and value of newer traditions. Secondly, traditions are not static but rather fluid in nature. They are living, breathing things that are added to and subtracted from each time they pass hands, continuously shifting and growing. That’s how traditions are kept alive. Change is important because if a tradition becomes stagnant, sooner or later it will become outdated and eventually die off altogether. Moreover, traditions are not created in a vacuum. Instead, they almost always arise from or in response to other already established customs. When it comes to Witchcraft, this means that there is no one “pure” tradition that has developed and remained uninfluenced by other external sources.

			Given the common misconceptions about what qualifies as a tradition, Traditional Witchcraft is often mistakenly thought of as representing (or trying to represent) a singular, unified, and unchanged tradition that stretches far back into the mists of time. But this just isn’t the case. Instead, the term Traditional Witchcraft refers to a collection of different paths that are influenced and inspired by traditions found within folklore. And again, these traditions are subject to change and growth in order for them to have relevance and meaning in the world today. Traditional Witches take stock of the traditions and customs from folklore, particularly that of our ancestors, but we don’t fool ourselves into believing that we live in the past or that these traditions have been untouched by the hands of time. Instead, we find ways to weave strands of the past into the tapestry of our modern lives. It is this process that makes Traditional Witchcraft “traditional.”

The Use of Folklore in Traditional Witchcraft

			While acknowledging the significant role that folklore plays within Traditional Witchcraft, many people still wonder about the validity of its use when establishing a magical practice. Folklore is often associated with fiction and subsequently written off as nothing more than make-believe or fantasy. Consequently, it is natural that questions arise regarding the legitimacy of beliefs and practices that are based on its premise. But consider for a moment that Witchcraft itself is just as often associated with make-believe and fantasy. Like folklore, Witches exist in the liminal space between fact and fiction, and it is part of our unique skill set to take the fantastic and transmute it into reality. Additionally, folklore often contains valuable lessons about a variety of topics—including the practice of Witchcraft—hidden within the folds of its narrative. Therefore, in Traditional Witchcraft, we tap into the stories of folklore as a means of learning more about working magic and connecting with the world of spirits. These lessons are then distilled into an effective, workable practice. And so, while the lore from which our practices are drawn may not represent complete historical truths, it is nonetheless valuable in that it brings meaning and magic to our lives.

			Of all the existing folklore, it is that which comes from the surviving records of the European and American Witch Trials that has a particular influence over Traditional Witchcraft. That being said, it’s important to note and recognize right away that it remains highly unlikely that those persecuted were practicing Witches. While there are a handful of cases in which it would appear that the accused had some knowledge of working with magic and spirits, we will never know for sure if they were really practitioners of Witchcraft. The confessions given by the accused were frequently obtained under torture, almost certainly driven by a desire to escape pain and death. Therefore, their historical veracity is questionable at best. However, it is not the factual merit of the confessions that interests Traditional Witches but rather the rich body of folklore that they encapsulated and have further generated throughout time.

			Regardless of whether or not any of the accused were genuine Witches, it would appear that the elements of Witchcraft contained within their confessions (e.g., use of magical spells, ownership of familiar spirits, meetings of Witches known as Sabbaths, and allyship with the Devil) originated from some pre-existing folklore. These elements can be found throughout countless individual confessions all across Europe and America, hinting at an already well-developed set of beliefs regarding Witchcraft and magic. In this way, it seems more than likely that confession materials pertaining to specific Witchcraft practices were not mere fabrications but rather products of a prior established system of folkloric beliefs and ideas. Again, this folklore may not hold weight in terms of historical accuracy, but it has proven to be useful in its ability to inform and inspire the creation of effective modern Witchcraft practices.

Authenticity and the Traditional Witch

			Closely intertwined with the preconceived notions about what qualifies something as traditional are ideas regarding what it means for something to be authentic. Authenticity is a highly contentious topic within Traditional Witchcraft as well as the wider Pagan, Witchcraft, and Wiccan community. People have been known to go to great lengths in order to establish a sense of authenticity both within themselves and in their path. Some people will make up wild claims to back up their Craft, like inventing fictional family members to demonstrate a supposed hereditary line of Witches. Others will tear down the practices of fellow Witches in order to feel superior or more powerful. Of course, like the classic school bully, this behavior is usually masking deep insecurities about their own level of knowledge and magical ability. Moreover, their behavior is frequently exacerbated by misguided ideas about what determines authenticity.

			Authenticity is often misunderstood as being something that originates from external factors (e.g., money, popularity, personal appearance/aesthetics, etc.). Within the world of Witchcraft and magic, authenticity is most commonly misattributed to age. Similar to the beliefs pertaining to traditions, it is thought that in order for something—in this case a tradition of Witchcraft—to have authenticity, it must be significantly old and have remained unchanged over time. Unfortunately, the sentiment that authenticity comes from age—or any other external factor for that matter—can prove to be quite unhelpful and ultimately lead to disappointment. This is because, in the practice of Traditional Witchcraft, authenticity comes from two places, neither of which are inherently related to age. First, it comes from within, from having a firm belief and confidence in yourself and in your Craft. Second, authenticity comes from effectiveness, or having the ability to successfully work magic and to connect with the spirits. If you feel assured in your magical abilities, if you feel closely knit with the spirits with whom you work, and if your practice brings fulfillment and happiness to your life, then it is an authentic one. In sum, as said by brilliant Witch and author Laura Tempest Zakroff, “The authentic path of Witchcraft is the one that works.” 2

Key Elements of Traditional Witchcraft

			Now that we’ve worked through the initial issues of defining Traditional Witchcraft, it’s time to explore the foundations of its practice. Boiled down to the barest of bones, there are three key elements of Traditional Witchcraft, all of which are infused with the folklore we just discussed. At first glance, these elements may seem overly simple, but I encourage you to look deeper (and we will do just that in upcoming chapters). Each element contains many additional threads which, when spun together, create the highly diverse entity that is Traditional Witchcraft. For our purposes of developing a working definition of Traditional Witchcraft, it’s pertinent that we now follow these threads back to the very heart that lies at its center.

			Working with Magic

			Traditional Witchcraft is a path that involves the use of magic through rituals and spells. Like members of traditions such as ceremonial magic, Wicca, and Hoodoo, we tap into various sources of magical power in order to effect change in the world. The way in which magic is employed varies from one practitioner to the next, but many Traditional Witches make use of what is known as low magic or folk magic—a type of magic that is highly practical and down-to-earth. Just the same, there are also Traditional Witches whose magical practices are more ceremonial in nature, characterized by the use of elaborate rituals featuring a number of special tools and lengthy invocations. While the specifics of how magic is used tend to differ, there are a few key ritual practices that are commonly used, including the compass round (creating a liminal ritual space), treading the mill (creating a trance state and raising magical power), and the housel (giving offerings to spirits). We will discuss these rituals and the art of spellcraft in Part II of this book.

			Working with the Otherworld

			The Traditional Witch is one who visits the Otherworld and works with the various types of spirits who reside there. These spirits include gods and ancestors as well as familiar and fetch spirits. While spirits play a prominent role in Traditional Witchcraft, not all practitioners will work with each type of spirit. For example, there are plenty of Traditional Witches who don’t acknowledge any sort of deity and instead focus exclusively on their ancestors. For the purpose of simplicity and inclusivity, the generic term spirits will be used in this book to encompass all forms, unless otherwise specifically stated. Regardless of the type of spirit, the relationship we have with them is experienced as one of equal partnership and not subjugated worship. We don’t bow to our spirits nor do we beg for their help. We actively engage with them, giving offerings, making pacts, and conversing with one another. Establishing working relationships with the spirits is important in Traditional Witchcraft, as they are invaluable guides and magical assistants. In order to develop relationships with spirits, Traditional Witches frequently visit the Otherworld via the practice of hedge-crossing, which is crossing freely back and forth between our world and that of the spirits. We will discuss the Otherworld and how to get there, as well as the various kinds of spirits and how to work with them, in Part III of this book.

			Working with the Natural World

			Within the Witchcraft, Wiccan, and Pagan community, nature is viewed as being incredibly sacred and magical. This is particularly true for the Traditional Witch, as our practices are rooted firmly within the natural world, including both our own local landscape and skies above. In Traditional Witchcraft we focus on working with the plants, stones, and animals that are present within our own bioregion, along with the shifting seasonal tides, weather patterns, and planetary influences. We view the world through an animistic lens, meaning that we see the spirit in all these things. The land itself is experienced as a living, breathing entity, often referred to as the genius loci, or spirit of place. Additionally, we work with the individual land wights, or nature spirits, who inhabit the landscape and collectively make up that spirit of place. Just like with the Otherworld and its denizens, when we forge a relationship with the natural world and the spirits who live alongside us, we partner with powerful allies and teachers. We will discuss working with the natural world in Part IV of this book.

			All three of these elements are pulled together and infused with folkloric inspiration. This is the Crooked Path of the Traditional Witch, one that wields the forces of magic, ventures into the Otherworldly realm of spirits, and works with the powers of the natural world. The Traditional Witch is one who is informed and inspired by the stories of the past, taken from fact, fiction, and all the places in between. We are spiritual alchemists, collecting and transforming what we find into something that fits our needs and feeds our soul. We will discuss uniting the elements of Traditional Witchcraft in order to build your own personal practice in Part V of this book.

Religion or Spiritual Practice?

			You may have noticed at this point that I have yet to use the term religion or spirituality in describing Traditional Witchcraft. That’s because it is first and foremost a magical practice. Witches work operatively, casting spells and performing rituals in order to effect change in our lives and in the lives of others. It’s into our magical practice that we may incorporate religious or spiritual components. This means that at its core, Traditional Witchcraft is non-denominational. Yet, people tend to get into long debates about whether Traditional Witchcraft is a religion or spirituality (or both or neither!). In actuality, there is no right or wrong side to this debate. Instead, it’s something that is ultimately up to the individual to determine for themselves and will be based largely on how they conceptualize and differentiate between religion and spirituality.

			For many, the word religion calls to mind images of grand churches, stuffy sermons, and strict sets of moral rules. Religion is typically thought of as something that is organized or institutionalized, with members following the same system of beliefs and practices that revolve around the worship of a particular deity. Additionally, religion is usually thought to be experienced externally, with divinity being somewhere far away from humankind. If we are to go by this criteria, Traditional Witchcraft doesn’t fit all that well into the religious category. In fact, many people protest labeling it as a religion because, as stated earlier, we don’t worship our spirits in the sense that a Christian might worship Jesus. Instead, there is a sense of equal footing, with the relationship being a symbiotic partnership in which everyone benefits. Of course, this is beside the fact that not all Traditional Witches work with deities. Furthermore, excluding a few unifying commonalities, there is very little organization within Traditional Witchcraft, with practices varying widely between different cultures, regions, individuals, and specific traditions.

			For these reasons, many people feel that Traditional Witchcraft, if anything, is more of a spirituality than a religion. Spirituality is frequently defined as a path that includes working with spirits but in a more autonomous fashion. The relationships with spirits feel more personal, with the individual being able to explore and engage in a way that aligns more with their specific needs and preferences. Moreover, spirituality isn’t organized or bound by a universal doctrine, instead leaving it up to the individual to discover what is true for them. In this way, spirituality, as opposed to religion, is experienced on a more internal level. Whether you view Traditional Witchcraft as a religion or spirituality, it’s pertinent to keep in mind that what is true for you may not be true for everyone else. Therefore, while you may experience Traditional Witchcraft as a spirituality, someone else may experience it as a religion. We all have diverse beliefs and backgrounds, and respect for these individual differences goes a long way within the world of Witchcraft.

			The idea that Traditional Witchcraft is non-denominational, or that it isn’t inherently attached to any one religion or spirituality, may be controversial in that we almost always associate Witchcraft exclusively with Paganism. However, Traditional Witchcraft makes use of folk magic, which has historically been dual faith. For example, Traditional Witches often turn to the spells and charms of the Cunning Folk (early magical practitioners in the British Isles), which contain pieces of Christian imagery mixed with bits of Pagan folk belief. A fascinating instance of this blending of faiths is preserved in a folk charm for preventing ague in which three horseshoes are nailed to the foot of one’s bed while reciting the following charm:

			Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,

Nail the devil to this post.

Thrice I strike with holy crook,

One for God and one for Wod and one for Lok.3

			In this case, the Witch is actively calling upon both Christian figures and the Norse deities Woden and Loki. Today, you will find Traditional Witches who continue the practice of dual-faith observance. For example, many practitioners will not hesitate to call upon Catholic saints and use psalms in their spellwork. If you wish to flavor your personal path with parts of a specific religion or spirituality, that is your choice to make.

A Working Definition

			Thus far we’ve established what it means to be traditional and authentic, why folklore is a valid and important source of information, what the key elements of Traditional Witchcraft practice are, and that it can be either a religion or spirituality. At this point, it’s time to use what we’ve learned to create our working definition of Traditional Witchcraft:

			Traditional Witchcraft is an umbrella term that covers a vast array of non-Wiccan practices that are inspired by folklore. These practices may be viewed as religious or spiritual depending upon the group or individual practitioner. Traditional Witches focus on the use of magic, connecting with the natural landscape, and working with various spirits in both the physical realm and the Otherworld.


Personally Defining Traditional Witchcraft

			 			Purpose: To consider how, given what you’ve learned thus far, you personally define Traditional Witchcraft.

			Location: A quiet space where you can think and write.

			Time: Anytime.

			Tools: Your journal and a pen.

			In your journal, respond to the following question:

			• Do you agree with the definition of Traditional Witchcraft provided at the end of this chapter? If yes, in what ways does it resonate with your own experiences, feelings, or ideas? If no, how would you personally define Traditional Witchcraft?


* * *

			 				 					2. Laura Tempest Zakroff, Weave the Liminal: Living Modern Traditional Witchcraft (Woodbury, MN: Llewellyn Publications, 2019), 48.

				 					3. Christina Hole, Witchcraft in England (London: B. T. Batsford, 1947), 134.

		 			 Chapter 2




			The world of Witchcraft would be forever changed by two events that took place in England during 1951. First, the Witchcraft Act of 1735 was repealed, effectively decriminalizing Witchcraft. This act had replaced the previous laws, under which Witchcraft was classified as a capital offense, punishable by death. With the Age of Enlightenment, belief in the reality of Witchcraft had faded considerably. Instead, it was thought that those who claimed to have magical powers were merely scam artists looking to con people out of their money and material goods. Thus, under the 1735 law, it was illegal to claim to have magical powers. Anyone caught doing so was susceptible to being punished with heavy fines or imprisonment. But in 1951 this changed when it was replaced with the Fraudulent Mediums Act, which specifically targeted those falsely claiming to be psychic in order to make money (the Fraudulent Mediums Act was in turn repealed in May 2008). With Witchcraft no longer illegal, people could be more open about it—both in practice and in writing—without fear of legal consequences. Although, it would still be many years before Witchcraft gained any semblance of societal acceptance.

Cecil Williamson and Gerald Gardner

			The legalization of Witchcraft opened the way for the second major event, which was the opening of the Folklore Centre of Superstition and Witchcraft in Castletown on the Isle of Man. The Centre, which was housed in an old windmill, was owned and run by a man named Cecil Williamson. Truly an unsung hero in the history of modern Witchcraft, Williamson never wrote any books or sought media attention (at least not to the extreme that many of his contemporaries did). Instead he spent his time collecting the stories and artifacts of those he lovingly referred to as “Aunty Mays” or “Wayside Witches.” It is through his curation of a vast collection of magical documents and artifacts that so many of their stories have been kept alive. Williamson himself was quite vague about his own personal involvement with Witchcraft, typically giving ambiguous responses when questioned. Though, sometime after his death, a manuscript written in his hand, simply titled Witchcraft, was discovered. In it were various spells and rituals that were dictated in such a way that suggested he had made use of them himself. 4

			Shortly after the opening of the Folklore Centre of Superstition and Witchcraft, The Sunday Pictorial ran an article that discussed the Centre’s resident Witch, Gerald Gardner. This was quite significant, as Gardner was one of the first people to publicly come forward as a practitioner of Witchcraft since its decriminalization in Britain. According to his claims, Gardner had been initiated into an pre-existing coven of Witches in the New Forest area of England during 1939.5 Utilizing the fragmentary information he received from the coven, along with elements of folk and ceremonial magic, he effectively formed his own tradition of Witchcraft (what would later become known as Wicca). Williamson and Gardner met briefly in 1947 at the Atlantis bookshop in London and formed a tentative acquaintanceship. Later on, Gardner showed up at the Centre (accounts of his arrival are widely varied) and became business partners with Williamson. Unfortunately, the relationship between the two was tumultuous and short-lived, characterized by frequent fighting regarding finances. In fact, Williamson believed that Gardner was actively attempting to take over the business.6

			Eventually, the two men experienced a complete falling out and Williamson ended up selling the Centre to Gardner before returning to the mainland. Undeterred, Williamson set about trying to open a new museum, creating several incarnations before finally settling in Boscastle, England. There he established the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic where it still stands today. Meanwhile, Gardner continued over the next several years to bring his brand of Witchcraft into the mainstream. During this time, though, there were other Witches who were growing displeased with what he was presenting to the public as Witchcraft. In their opinion, Gardner’s vision of the Craft did not align with their own beliefs and practices. The rising tension continued to boil under the surface until Gardner’s death in February of 1964.

Robert Cochrane and the Clan of Tubal Cain

			In October of that same year, the Witchcraft Research Association (WRA) was launched in England with the goal of uniting the members of various Craft traditions. Ironically though, it ended up being a platform for divisive conflict, particularly through its newsletter, Pentagram. The second issue of the newsletter featured an article titled “Witchcraft Today,” in which the author, Robert Cochrane (whose real name was actually Roy Bowers), falsely claimed to belong to a family of hereditary Witches and vehemently rejected Gardner’s ideas about Witchcraft.7 In fact, it was Cochrane himself who coined the term Gardnerian, which was originally meant as an insult to those who followed Gardner’s tradition. Interestingly enough, despite his obsessional dislike for Gardner, there is evidence to suggest that Cochrane had at some point received a first-degree initiation into Gardnerian Wicca.8

			Cochrane created his own tradition of Witchcraft in the early 1960s, which became known as the Clan of Tubal Cain—named after the biblical blacksmith. Because Cochrane never authored any books, most of what we know about the beliefs and practices of his tradition comes from the few articles he published. Additionally, after Cochrane’s tragic suicide in 1966, a number of letters he had written to other magical practitioners became available to the public, which shed further light upon his tradition. Cochrane believed that Witchcraft was one of the last remaining mystery traditions in the world, with Witches being mystics in search of the ultimate wisdom—the understanding of the gods and one’s own inherent divinity. He was also a firm advocate for the fluidity of Witchcraft practices and the need to contextualize them in a way that fits with modernity.9 Within his tradition, veneration was given to both a god (known by various names, including Tubal Cain) and a goddess (known primarily as Fate or the Pale-Faced Goddess), as well as their cosmic offspring, known as the Horn Child. Cochrane’s coven was led by a Magister and a Maiden (or Magistra). The coven typically met out of doors in some desolate and wild area, and the rituals performed were usually ecstatic and unscripted in nature. It is from Cochrane’s tradition that we receive the three common rituals used in Traditional Witchcraft—the compass round, treading the mill, and the housel.

			Although Cochrane’s character and his claims were dubious at times, many people were greatly affected by his work. As noted by Professor Ronald Hutton, “If he actually did compose all the rituals and their underpinning ideas himself, then the word for him is surely not ‘charlatan,’ but ‘genius.’ ” 10 Whether he was a fraud or not, it is clear that Cochrane’s style of Witchcraft worked well, and it would go on to influence a number of emerging traditions, including the continuation of the Clan of Tubal Cain. These traditions have further propagated the concepts and practices that he popularized. It is truly a mystery what Traditional Witchcraft would look like today without the work of Robert Cochrane.

Doreen Valiente

			In September of 1952, Cecil Williamson was featured in an article entitled “Witchcraft in Britain,” which was published in the magazine Illustrated. Having read the article, a woman named Doreen Valiente wrote to Williamson inquiring about the article’s mention of a coven of Witches operating in Southern Britain. Williamson responded by forwarding the letter along to Gerald Gardner, who subsequently met with Valiente. At Midsummer of 1953, she was initiated into Gardner’s coven.11 During the following years, Valiente rose to become the coven’s High Priestess. However, she became increasingly vexed with Gardner’s attempts to gain publicity, which she viewed as a harmful violation of the coven’s privacy. In attempts to salvage the coven, which was splitting into two factions (those who supported Gardner’s desire for publicity and those who did not), Valiente penned a list of proposed coven rules that were intended to protect the integrity and anonymity of the coven and its members. However, Gardner rejected these rules and produced his own, which, to Valiente’s great displeasure, set out to limit the power of the High Priestess.12 Infuriated, Valiente broke away from Gardner’s coven in 1957.

			After the split, Valiente continued to explore different forms of Witchcraft, and in 1964 she met Robert Cochrane. According to her own account, she was quite impressed with his charisma as well as his preference for outdoor rituals and staying out of the public eye. And so, on Halloween night of 1964, she was initiated into Cochrane’s coven. However, despite her satisfaction with Cochrane’s vision of Witchcraft, she quickly became displeased with his personal character. Valiente was skeptical about his claims to belong to a family lineage of Witches and was growing increasingly annoyed with his unrelenting disdain for Gardner. This came to a head when Cochrane jokingly called for a “Night of the Long Knives” (referring to a series of political executions ordered by Adolf Hitler in 1934) with the Gardnerians. Fed up with his grudge against Gardner and disgusted by the suggestion of violence, Valiente told Cochrane off and left his coven shortly thereafter.13

			Doreen Valiente is an immensely important figure in the history of modern Witchcraft for many reasons, among them being her writing on the subjects of both Wicca and Traditional Witchcraft. Some of Valiente’s most impressive and long-lasting contributions to Gardner’s coven, and the future Wiccan community, were her poetic revisions to the existing ritual liturgy, including those she made to the invocation known as “The Charge of the Goddess.” Moreover, Valiente helped bring information regarding Traditional Witchcraft to the wider public through her book The Rebirth of Witchcraft, which included three chapters devoted to the topic. She went on to co-author a book with Evan John Jones (who had also been a member of Cochrane’s Clan of Tubal Cain) titled Witchcraft: A Tradition Renewed. In this book, Jones provided his unique version of Traditional Witchcraft, which is noticeably influenced by the work of both Cochrane and Gardner. Just as she had done before in Gardner’s coven, Valiente put her poetry skills to use in providing the invocations to go along with Jones’s rituals. Both books contain invaluable information regarding the early development and practice of Traditional Witchcraft as well as further demonstrating the considerable and far-reaching role that Doreen Valiente has played in the world of Witchcraft.

1734, Feri, and American Traditional Witchcraft

			Featured in the final issue of the Pentagram newsletter was a personal advertisement written by an American man named Joseph B. Wilson who was seeking contact with anyone interested in the “Old Religion.” Incidentally, it was Robert Cochrane who replied to Wilson’s advertisement, hoping to establish contact with Traditional Witches who may have emigrated from Britain to the United States.14 Throughout the six letters he penned, Cochrane used cryptic references and riddles to teach Wilson more about his tradition of Witchcraft. In his third letter, Cochrane elaborated, “We teach by poetic inference, by thinking along lines that belong to the world of dreams and images.” 15 One of the first questions he asked of Wilson was whether or not he understood the order of 1734, which he later explained was not a specific date but rather a coded message that held meaning to certain Witches.16 Eventually, it was determined that 1734 was actually the numerical representation of the Black Goddess, or Fate herself. Using the tree alphabet found within Robert Graves’s book The White Goddess (which had a huge influence on Cochrane’s Craft), Wilson discovered that 1734 translated to the name Hio (pronounced I-OH).17 1734 would later become the namesake of Wilson’s own tradition.

			Prior to the advertisement, Wilson had already been exploring Witchcraft and magic, guided by a friend whom he referred to as “Sean.” Under Sean’s mentorship, Wilson was taught a mixture of folk magic, psychic development, and Native American spirituality. Wilson was able to use this knowledge to help augment the information he had been given by Cochrane. Regrettably, due to Cochrane’s untimely death, Wilson was never able to meet him in person. However, in 1969 he was sent overseas as part of the United States Air Force, during which time he met with several people who had known and worked with Cochrane. One of the most influential of these people was Ruth Wynn-Owen, who shared with Wilson information regarding her tradition Y Plant Bran (the Family of Bran). Upon returning to the United States, Wilson bound together the information he had learned from Cochrane, Sean, and Wynn-Owen and created the 1734 tradition.18 Wilson’s work inspired the development of further American permutations of Traditional Witchcraft, including a group known as the Roebuck Tradition, which was established by a couple named Ann and Dave Finnin.

			Another strand of American Traditional Witchcraft is known today as the Feri tradition. Feri was developed during the 1960s by a couple named Victor and Cora Anderson. According to his account, Victor was initiated into Witchcraft when he was nine years old by a woman who claimed to be a faerie. Later, in 1932, Victor was initiated into a group of Witches known as the Harpy coven. Victor described the coven’s focus as a mixture of folk magic and Huna (a set of spiritual practices and beliefs inspired by Hawaiian tradition). Twelve years later, Victor met Cora and the two started their own group, which was notably inspired by Huna, Vodoun, Kabbalah, Native American spirituality, Appalachian folk magic, and the Yazidi people. The Andersons’ coven would grow into what is now the Feri tradition of Witchcraft. Although, it should be noted that Victor never saw himself as the founder of Feri, instead envisioning himself as a grandmaster of a pre-existing tradition.19

			Feri is an initiatory tradition and is often described as ecstatic in nature, with rituals focused on embracing sexuality and expressions of self. Veneration is given to two primary deities (although there are several more who exist within this tradition), known as the Star Goddess and her cosmic child, the Blue God, who is alternately called both Dian Y Glas and Melek Ta’us.20 An important component of the Feri tradition is the belief that we are each composed of three-souls—referred to as the fetch, talker, and holy daemon—with whom balanced communication is necessary in order to work magic and reach our full human and spiritual potential.21 Feri remains a flourishing tradition to this day, with many different lineages existing across the world.

Traditional Witchcraft versus Wicca

			Due to their historical relationship, it’s inevitable that when discussing Traditional Witchcraft, we must tackle the question of how it relates to Wicca. It’s a fair question given that for the longest time, Wicca has predominantly been the front and center of the modern Witchcraft movement. The question of how these two paths differ from each other is one that is highly debated. Presently, and in the past, this debate has been ensconced in contention that typically arises in response to claims that one path is more authentic than the other. On one side you have Traditional Witches condemning Wicca as “watered-down Witchcraft” or “Witchcraft without teeth.” On the other you have Wiccans who denounce Traditional Witchcraft as being made-up or a cheap imitation of Wicca itself. In reality, though, both the criticisms regarding Wicca and Traditional Witchcraft are almost entirely founded on stereotypes and misinformation.

			For example, some people view Wicca as a weak form of Witchcraft because it is commonly purported that Wiccans are prohibited from working acts of baneful or harmful magic such as hexing or cursing. The Wiccan Rede (“An it harm none, do what ye will”) and Threefold Law (whatever energy you put out, good or bad, returns to you threefold) are frequently cited as evidence to back this belief, as they are thought to expressly forbid baneful workings. However, as Gardnerian High Priestess Thorn Mooney points out, “Though the Wiccan Rede and Threefold Law have so long been promoted as universalities—essential beliefs that define all Wiccan practitioners—this has never actually been the case.” 22 Thus, many Wiccans do, in fact, make use of hexing and cursing when the need arises. On the flip side, the view of Traditional Witchcraft as a fabricated path is typically based on misunderstandings about the nature of traditions and the usefulness of folklore as discussed earlier.

			The assertion that Traditional Witchcraft is just another version of Wicca, but perhaps with a spooky veneer, is primarily false. However, there are noticeable overlaps and similarities between the two that are worth discussing. In the historical development of both paths, there are certainly areas in which they have had influence over one another. For instance, Gardner would have been undoubtedly inspired by the Witchcraft and folk magic practices preserved in Williamson’s museum. Moreover, in augmenting his growing tradition, Gardner pulled from folk and ceremonial magic—both sources that bolster the practices of Traditional Witches. Cochrane received a first-degree initiation into Wicca, and Valiente would have naturally brought further Wiccan ideas with her when she joined the Clan of Tubal Cain. The blending of these paths still occurs today, with Wiccans incorporating parts of Traditional Witchcraft into their practices and vice versa. It’s natural that these two paths would influence one another and even blend in certain areas because, when it comes down to it, they are both forms of Witchcraft. Like two tree trunks growing from the same base (Witchcraft), Traditional Witchcraft and Wicca share the same roots (e.g., folk and ceremonial magic). However, despite their shared foundation, the two paths branch out in different directions.

			Given the contention and the fact that both Traditional Witchcraft and Wicca are ultimately two sides of the same coin, many find attempts to differentiate the two useless and divisive. So why bother at all? Well, it so happens that our minds are naturally programmed to sort information into categories, to make note of differences and similarities in order to create meaning and understanding about the world around us. We understand that dogs and cats are both mammals, but they are different species. We understand that Traditional Witchcraft and Wicca are both types of Witchcraft, but they are different paths. Additionally, focusing on differences isn’t intrinsically negative—it just depends on how we choose to respond to those differences. Do we celebrate them or do we use them as weapons against one another? As history shows, the differences between Traditional Witchcraft and Wicca have been used to fuel battles over a false sense of authenticity and power. However, it doesn’t need to be this way moving forward. Differences make us unique but don’t make us inherently better than anyone else. Identifying the differences—and similarities, for that matter—between Traditional Witchcraft and Wiccan needn’t be an antagonistic act, so long as we can check our egos and have mutual respect for one another.

			That being said, some of the main differences between Traditional Witchcraft and Wicca include specific rituals performed, magical tools used, coven structure, and solitary work. Wicca, at least in its traditional initiatory form (Gardnerian and Alexandrian), involves specific rituals (e.g., casting a circle, raising a cone of power, and the sharing of cakes and ale) that are unique to its practice. These rites, although varying slightly from coven to coven, normally follow a set of standard gestures and words that remain mostly consistent over time. As will be demonstrated in Part II of this book, the rituals and spells in Traditional Witchcraft tend to be more ecstatic in nature, with gestures and words coming spontaneously from the heart. There are also rituals that are particular to Traditional Witchcraft, including the compass round, treading the mill, and the housel. The tools used in Traditional Witchcraft rituals also differ, with the stang (a forked ritual staff) being the most popular, as opposed to the athame (a double-edged ritual knife) used in Wicca. Moreover, while there are Traditional Witches who work within coven systems, many prefer to work alone. Meanwhile, Wicca is a coven-based path in which you must be initiated in order to become a member. When Traditional Witches do work in covens, they typically don’t involve a degree system or utilize the same titles and roles, such as High Priest and High Priestess. Instead, covens are customarily led by a Magister or a Maiden (or Magistra).

			In addition to physical ones, there are also differences in some of the core beliefs of Traditional Witchcraft and Wicca. For example, within Wicca there is actually very little emphasis on connecting with the landscape. Nature is experienced symbolically, as a metaphor for the tradition’s specific mythos. The Wheel of Year is followed more as a narrative of the gods than as a way to work with and honor the natural world. As already pointed out, Traditional Witchcraft holds a very animistic worldview that stresses the importance of the genius loci and land wights. Our practice is based on bioregionalism, meaning it’s centered upon the land we live upon versus that of faraway places. Everything from the plants and stones to the animals and weather patterns is considered significant. Furthermore, in Wicca, communing with the divine usually happens on the physical plane, within the magic circle. The High Priest or High Priestess calls upon the gods, channeling them and bringing them into the circle. For Traditional Witches, we also connect to our spirits on the physical plane but we also visit with them in the Otherworld.

			These are only some of the differences between Traditional Witchcraft and Wicca. It’s probable that you could come up with many more if you really wanted to, but keep in mind that both paths are highly expansive and encompass many different people and groups. It’s nearly impossible to make definite statements about what all Traditional Witches or Wiccans do or don’t do. Thus, drawing hard lines between them isn’t as easy as some would like it to be. And, when it comes down to it, much of what makes Traditional Witchcraft different from Wicca is something that needs to be experienced firsthand. To some, this might sound vague or uninspired, but it’s true nonetheless. When I first started studying Traditional Witchcraft, I was skeptical about how it differed from Wicca. However, when I actually began to implement my developing beliefs and practices, I felt the indescribable differences that are there just under the surface.


Comparing Traditional Witchcraft and Wicca

			Purpose: To reflect upon the similarities and differences between Traditional Witchcraft and Wicca.

			Location: A quiet space where you can think and write.

			Time: Anytime.

			Tools: Your journal and a pen.

			In your journal, respond to the following questions:

			• What do you see as the primary differences between Traditional Witchcraft and Wicca?

			• What about the similarities between the two paths?

			• What are some of the stereotypes you may have heard about Traditional Witchcraft and Wicca? Do you think that there is truth in them or do you suspect that they are based on misinformation?


* * *

			 				 					4. Steve Patterson, Cecil Williamson’s Book of Witchcraft (London: Troy Books, 2014).

				 					5. Ronald Hutton, Triumph of the Moon (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999), 205–6.

				 					6. Michael Howard, Modern Wicca (Woodbury, MN: Llewellyn Publications, 2010), 103.

				 					7. Robert Cochrane, “Witchcraft Today,” in The Roebuck in the Thicket: An Anthology of the Robert Cochrane Witchcraft Tradition, ed. Michael Howard (Somerset, UK: Capall Bann Publishing, 2001), 56–59.

				 					8. Michael Howard, Children of Cain (Richmond Vista, CA: Three Hands Press, 2011), 60.

				 					9 . Cochrane, “Witchcraft Today,” in The Roebuck in the Thicket, 56–59.

				 					10. Hutton, Triumph of the Moon, 316.

				 					11. Philip Heselton, Doreen Valiente Witch (Woodbury, MN: Llewellyn Publications, 2016), 67–73.

				 					12. Hutton, Triumph of the Moon, 249.

				 					13. Doreen Valiente, The Rebirth of Witchcraft (London: Robert Hale, 1989), 129.

				 					14. Howard, Children of Cain, 64.

				 					15. Robert Cochrane, “Letter Three,” in The Robert Cochrane Letters: An Insight into Modern Traditional Witchcraft, ed. Michael Howard (Somerset, UK: Capall Bann Publishing, 2002), 26.

				 					16. Robert Cochrane, “Letter Two,” in The Robert Cochrane Letters: An Insight into Modern Traditional Witchcraft, ed. Michael Howard (Somerset, UK: Capall Bann Publishing, 2002), 23.

				 					17. Joseph B. Wilson, “Those Pesky Riddles,” 1734 Witchcraft, accessed April 30, 2019,

				 					18. Howard, Children of Cain, 64–67.

				 					19. Storm Faerywolf, Betwixt & Between (Woodbury, MN: Llewellyn Publications, 2017), 19–23.

				 					20. Howard, Children of Cain, 179.

				 					21. Storm Faerywolf, Betwixt & Between (Woodbury, MN: Llewellyn Publications, 2017), 51–53.

				 					22. Thorn Mooney, Traditional Wicca: A Seeker’s Guide (Woodbury, MN: Llewellyn Publications, 2018), 96.

Part II

Working with Magic

			Farther down the path, you stumble upon an altar set up on a large old tree stump. You survey the items displayed, which include a knife, a cup, and a plate, with a rustic broomstick standing nearby. Silently, you wonder how each of these tools are to be used. Just ahead, you spot thin wisps of gray smoke emanating from the remains of a bonfire. You notice that the ashes rest in the very center of three concentric rings carved into the ground, perhaps the remnants of some ritual. Closing your eyes, you can imagine a lone Witch dancing around the fire, casting spells and chanting to the moon. The magic in the night air is palpable and you decide to stay for a bit, ready to learn more about the tools, spells, and rituals of Traditional Witchcraft.

		 			 Chapter 3


			Whether it’s casting a spell or performing a ritual, working with magic is a fundamental feature of Traditional Witchcraft. Traditional Witches wield the power of magic and use it to achieve our various goals and manifest our deepest desires. Every Witch possesses a cosmic flame within their soul, a burning reservoir of sorcerous power that awaits our call to action. As Witches, by nature, we are also acutely aware of the magical power that exists within the natural world and that can be found in the world beyond. Through a combination of learned skill and innate magical ability, we are able to conjure forth these natural and Otherworldly forces in order to bend and shape the world around us. To learn how to work successful spells and rituals, you must examine the individual components and steps of the magical process—learning to access your own personal power and that of the world around you. But first, in order to use magic with responsibility and respect, it will serve you well to consider magical ethics.

Magical Ethics in Traditional Witchcraft

			Within the practice of Traditional Witchcraft, there is no universal set of ethics that determines the appropriate use of magic. There are no inherent binding laws or mandates that forbid certain types of spells and rituals, nor are there restrictions or regulations that dictate if and when magic is to be used at all. However, Traditional Witchcraft should not be mistaken for some sort of magical free-for-all. While we aren’t governed by a set of unified ethics, Traditional Witches are subject to personal sovereignty, or self-rule. Each practitioner is ultimately responsible for determining, for themselves, what is right or wrong.

			Additionally, the personal ethics of Traditional Witches tend to be flexible and open to situational interpretation. There are very few moral absolutes in Traditional Witchcraft, with certain acts of magic always being right and others always being wrong. Instead, morality is viewed on a spectrum with most situations falling into the vast space between absolute right and wrong. Therefore, what is magically ethical must be figured out on a case-by-case basis. For example, you might view casting a healing spell on someone without their permission or knowledge as a violation of their consent. Yet, you might find violation of consent morally justifiable in a situation where you need to bind a dangerous enemy. In this example, we can see that what is ethical in one situation may actually be more harmful in another.

			Finally, it must be understood that every act of magic has its consequences, both positive and negative. These consequences affect not only the world around us and those within it, but ourselves as well. Regardless of personal beliefs concerning concepts such as karma, it’s a magical fact that we are more likely to attract that which we project. If we are working magic that is positive or beneficent, we are going to experience that same energy to some degree on a physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual level. Similarly, when we work magic that is negative or harmful, we are susceptible to feeling that energy as well. Whether our rituals and spells are geared toward blessing or blasting, it behooves us to thoroughly consider the possible negative consequences of our magical workings. As you will see later in this chapter, sometimes even the most positive of intentions can have detrimental repercussions. As a part of being personally sovereign, the Traditional Witch must be prepared to accept full responsibility for their actions and the resulting consequences of their magic.

			Baneful Magic

			Witches have long been associated with acts of baneful magic, a type of magic that is destructive, restrictive, or otherwise oppositional in nature. Within folklore you will find a plethora of examples of Witches blighting crops, sinking ships, raising storms, inflicting illness, or otherwise magically harming their enemies. This is because, for the longest time (and still today), Witchcraft has been a path largely for the disenfranchised or those who have been marginalized and oppressed. It is a path that offers a way in which individuals can become empowered and take control of our lives. In the case of baneful magic, such acts often provide a way for Witches to take back their power, protect themselves and others, and exact justice or vengeance when necessary.

			Baneful magic comes in many flavors and intensities, but most acts can be placed into one of the four following categories:

			Curse: An act of magic that causes long-term or permanent harm.

			Hex: An act of magic that causes short-term or temporary harm.

			Banishing: Magically expelling or doing away with something or someone.

			Binding: Magically restraining or incapacitating something or someone.

			While it’s rare that anyone would go out of their way to cause harm, there are certain situations in which it’s necessary. There are times in which we must turn to baneful magic in order to protect ourselves and others, as well as to rise above dangerous or oppressive circumstances. While it’s up to the individual practitioner to decide which circumstances constitute the use of baneful magic, remember that magic has consequences. It might not be the case that if you hex someone, you’re going to be hexed in return. But consider that when you work baneful magic, you are tapping into darker forces, and those forces might just tap you back. Magic should be approached with respect and responsibility in general, but this is even more important when it comes to the baneful type. Understandably, every situation is different, and you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do, but baneful magic is typically best reserved for emergencies or as a last resort. Regardless, the general rule should always be to carefully consider your options, their potential consequences (both to your target and to yourself), and whether or not you’re willing to pay the price.


Ethics Reflection

			Purpose: To reflect upon your own personal magical ethics.

			Location: A quiet space where you can think and write.

			Time: Anytime.

			Tools: Your journal and a pen.

			In your journal, respond to the following questions:

			• Do you believe there are situations where malefic magic is justified?

			• Are there any positive aspects to hexing?

			• What do you think are some possible repercussions of hexing?

			• When it comes to hexing, are there certain lines you will not cross?

The Magical Process

			Now that we have discussed the ethics of magical practice, it’s time to explore how to go about working with the forces of magic. There are two essential components to effectively working magic: your intention and the power necessary to back it up. Your intention is your magical goal or, in other words, what you’d like to make happen. Intention, along with the entire process of working magic, is strengthened with the skill of visualization. The component of power is the magic itself, which is either raised from within or channeled from an outside source. Your combined intent and power are then projected forth to their necessary destination. Altogether, there are four steps to working magic:

			1. Determining your magical intention.

			2. Visualizing your magical intention.

			3. Raising or channeling the necessary magical power.

			4. Projecting your combined intent and power.


			Intention is often said to be the cornerstone of any magical working. In order for a spell or ritual to be most successful, there needs to be a clearly defined goal in mind. Having a vague intention will result in a vague outcome, meaning that if your intention is unclear, your magical working will likely be done in vain. In order to avoid magical misfires, you must be specific about what you want, when you want it, and the manner in which you’d like to obtain it. First, you need to elaborate on what it is you desire. Simply saying that you want a “better-paying job” is not enough. A job doing what? A job that pays what amount of money? A job in what geographical location? All these details are necessary; otherwise, you may end up with a better-paying job but one that is in an undesirable career field in an inconvenient location and that only pays slightly more than your current one. Instead you might say, “I want a job within the (specific career) field that pays no less than (specific amount of money) and is no more than (specific distance) away from my home.”

			Second, you need to include a timeframe in which you’d like your magical intention to manifest. If you don’t give a specific time by which you’d like to see results, your intention could come to fruition at any point between tomorrow and the foreseeable future. Instead you might include something like, “My magical intention will come to manifestation by (specific date).”

			Third, it’s imperative that you include an explanation of how you’d like to attain your desired results. Explicitly outlining how your intention will come to manifest helps prevent unwanted magical consequences. For example, if you were to cast a spell to lose ten pounds but left out the “how,” you could end up getting very sick and thus shedding the weight. Instead you might include something along the lines of, “I will lose ten pounds during the next four months by sticking to my healthy diet and exercise plan.”

			All that being said, while your magical intentions need to be specific, they also need to be realistic and flexible. If you are unrealistic, rigid, or even too specific with your intentions, you will inadvertently limit the probability of success. It’s helpful to think of your magical intention like a fishing net. If you cast too wide of a net, you are likely going to catch too many fish or fish that you didn’t really want. On the flip side, if you cast too narrow of a net, you are less likely to catch any fish at all.


			Once you know your magical intention, it’s time to take it a step further with visualization. The process of visualization occurs when a specific thought or idea is turned into a clear mental image. For example, you may think of an apple and then proceed to see the fruit within your mind’s eye. In addition to seeing an image, you may also touch, hear, smell, and taste it. As such, you may also feel the visualized apple as you hold it, hear yourself bite into its surface, smell its aroma, and taste its flavor. Hence, visualization is a way of not only seeing but also having a full tactile experience with something mentally. This is important when casting spells and performing rituals because when you are able to visualize your intention, you are effectively showing the magic where to go and what to do. In essence, by visualizing your intended outcome, you are creating a target to which magical power can then be sent in order to manifest your desires.

			Exercise 4:

Candle Visualization

			Purpose: To practice basic visualization by holding the image of a burning candle within your mind’s eye.

			Location: A quiet, comfortable space.

			Time: Anytime.

			Tools: None.

			To begin, close your eyes and take in a nice deep breath. Exhale, allowing your body and mind to still. When you feel ready, focus your attention on the blank space above and between your two eyes (you can do this by gazing upward with your closed eyes). Call to mind the image of a burning pillar candle and project it onto the blank space. Once the candle is in place, take a closer look at and notice its finer details.

			What does the candle look like? What color is it? Is the candle’s surface smooth or covered in wax drips? How high does the candle’s flame burn? Is the flame flickering or does it stand still? Can you feel the heat of the flame? What does the candle smell like? Does the candle make any noise as it burns?

			Try to hold this image for two to three minutes. The more you immerse yourself in the finer details of the visualization, the more effective and powerful it will be.

			Exercise 5:

Manifestation Visualization

			Purpose: To practice visualizing the manifestation of a specific magical intention.

			Location: A quiet, comfortable space.

			Time: Anytime.

			Tools: None.

			Before you start this exercise, decide on what it is that you’d like to manifest. When you’re ready to begin, close your eyes and take in a nice deep breath. Exhale, allowing your body and mind to still. As in the previous exercise, focus your attention on the blank space above and between your two eyes.

			In your mind’s eye, picture yourself in a future reality in which your magical intention has already materialized. What does this reality look like? What’s happening? For instance, if your goal is to banish an unwanted person, see that person disappearing from your life. Visualize yourself being free from their presence, however it might have been experienced in the past. Next, picture what you’d be doing in this situation. Envision yourself being able to go about your daily life without being troubled by the bothersome individual. Finally, picture how your life (or the lives of others) has been affected by the results of your magic. How do you feel in this situation? Visualize what it would feel like to be free of that person.

			Try to remain in this reality for 2 to 3 minutes, increasing your focus on the specific details as you go along. Again, the more you are able to immerse yourself in these details, the more effective and powerful your visualization will be.


			Having a clearly defined intention is important when working a spell or ritual, but it’s nothing without the magical power necessary to back it up. Power is what fuels our magical workings and turns intentions into results. Where does the power come from? Magic emanates from many places, but broadly speaking, we can access its power from either internal or external sources. Internal power comes from within us. It is the magic that is naturally inherent within each and every Witch. External power, on the other hand, is channeled from sources outside of us. This power can be channeled from natural sources such as plants, stones, planets, weather, and so on. In the case of natural sources, the specific power being accessed is often referred to as virtue. External power can also originate from Otherworldly spirits (e.g., gods, ancestors, familiar spirits, etc.).

			How do we access power when working magic? In the case of accessing personal power, the magical energy is already alive within you. Your personal power is always at work, but during spells and rituals its intensity must be amplified. There are a number of ways to raise personal power, including visualization and body movement. We can also use our abilities of visualization to tap into our inner power and increase its intensity by envisioning what that power looks and feels like as it grows in strength. Movement of the body—whether it’s a simple hand gesture or a frenzied dance—produces energy. When this energy is focused and projected intentionally, it becomes magic. An easy approach to doing this is to rub your hands together vigorously, creating friction, then pulling them apart and feeling the resulting power radiating from your palms. A more complex method of raising personal power through body movement, which will be discussed further in the following chapter, is through the ritual known as treading the mill.

			External power can be accessed through two main methods. First, we can channel power present in the natural world. The process of channeling power from nature starts by tuning in to an external source whose magical virtue corresponds with your specific intention. For example, I might channel the virtues of Jupiter to bring me luck, or I might channel the virtues of lavender to promote a sense of calm in my household. The power from these sources is then merged with your own before being directed toward your desired outcome. Second, we can access external power by petitioning spirits for their magical assistance. Petitioning involves approaching a spirit, such as a god, ancestor, or familiar, and asking them for magical help, usually in return for a specific offering (e.g., bread, wine, milk, honey, etc.). The spirit may then proceed to aid your magical working by adding their power to it or by fulfilling your intentions altogether. For instance, your ancestors may lend their power to a ritual for protection, or they may provide you with the protection itself by watching out for your safety. Working magic with Otherworldly spirits will be covered in Part III of this book.


Raising Internal Power

			Purpose: To practice raising your own personal magic power.

			Location: A quiet, comfortable space.

			Time: Anytime.

			Tools: None.

			To begin, close your eyes and take in a nice deep breath. Exhale, allowing your body and mind to still. Next, visualize that a glowing light swirls within the core of your stomach—this is your inner magical power. The particular color will depend on your personal preference or your specific magical intention (e.g., red for protection, green for luck, blue for healing, etc.).

			Once you can see your magical power, visualize that with every inhale, it begins to glow brighter. Breathe in deeply and then exhale. Imagine that the light starts to swirl and spin faster, forming a cyclone of magical energy. Feel the magic building in intensity, like a pulsing electricity. Next, with each exhale, imagine the light is expanding out from your core. Feel the power moving up your chest, spreading down your arms and into your fingertips. Send the magic down your legs and into your toes. Notice how your body vibrates with energy; hold this sensation for a minute or two.

			Now, continuing to breathe steadily, slowly pull your magic back. Imagine the light receding from your toes and up your legs, up from your fingertips and arms, coming back to your core. With each breath, feel the energy starting to still, spinning more and more slowly until you have returned to your normal state. If need be, you can also ground yourself by sending any excess energy into the earth where it will be recycled within the earth. To do so, place your feet or the palms of your hands flat on the ground. With each exhale, visualize and feel the excess energy draining from your body and into the earth. Keep this process going until you feel calm and balanced.


Channeling External Power from Natural Sources

			Purpose: To practice channeling external power from a natural source.

			Location: A quiet, comfortable space.

			Time: Anytime.

			Tools: A natural object from which to channel power, such as a plant or stone.

			To begin, close your eyes and take in a nice deep breath. Exhale, allowing your body and mind to still. If you are able to hold, touch, or otherwise physically feel the natural object, do so now. If you are unable to do so (such as when channeling power from planets), use your abilities of visualization to connect with your chosen power source. In either case, visualize that there is a swirling light within this object—this is its magical power. As in the previous exercise, the color of this light will vary by power source and their particular virtue.

			Once you are able to see the magical power, visualize that with every inhale, the light from your chosen object gradually expands outward. Imagine the power forming waves, which proceed to wash over you. Feel the magic being absorbed into your body, through your skin, into your bloodstream, and merging with your own inner power. Picture how the color of the external power blends together with the color of your own. Notice how you feel with the added magical energy filling your body; hold this sensation for a minute or two.

			Now, continuing to breathe steadily. Slowly let go of the external power. Imagine that the light of its magic is receding from your body and moving back toward its place of origin. Continue this process until the external power has left completely and you have returned to your normal state. As before, if needed, you can ground yourself by sending any excess energy into the earth to be recycled.


			At this point, you have learned how to obtain the two necessary components for working effective magic—intention and power. Now, in order to complete the magical process, you must learn to fuse these components together and project them toward your desired outcome. When you project your combined intent and power, it can be sent to a visualized outcome or directly to a person, place, or situation. For example, you could send healing power to a sick friend, a hospital, or an influenza outbreak. Intent and power can also be projected into items such as charm-bags and candles. These items are commonly used as conduits for the magical power that can be stored within them and released steadily over time. In any case, you must simultaneously visualize your intention while raising or channeling power and then finally project them forth. Although this may sound difficult, it becomes easier the more you practice.


Projecting Magical Power

			Purpose: To practice projecting your conjoined intention and magical power.

			Location: A quiet, comfortable space.

			Time: Anytime.

			Tools: A natural item, if channeling power from an external source.

			Before you begin, decide on your magical intention. Then, start by visualizing this intention and the desired outcome in your mind’s eye. Once the image is clear within your mind, momentarily shift your focus toward raising or channeling magical power. When the power starts to reach a climax, return focus to your intention. Finally, while holding a firm focus on your intention, visualize the power streaming forth from its source (internal or external) and toward its destination (e.g., a visualized outcome or a specific person, place, or object). At whatever point you feel that the projection of magical power is complete, allow your internal power to slow and release any channeled power—either back to its source or by grounding it into the earth.


		 			 Chapter 4



			When working magic, the most important tool for a Witch to have is their own mind. As seen in the previous chapter, the only essentials for magic are a clearly defined intention and the power necessary to make it manifest. Therefore, outside of any natural objects you may be channeling power from, you don’t necessarily need any physical tools to work successful magic. However, physical tools can be immensely helpful for focusing and directing your magical power. Traditional Witchcraft is no different from any other magical path in that it incorporates a particular set of tools into its practice. Although, unlike those used in practices like ceremonial magic, the tools of Traditional Witchcraft tend to be quite utilitarian, serving both magical and mundane purposes. Be mindful that you don’t inherently need every single tool listed in this chapter, nor do you need to rush out in order to find them. While these tools will be used in later exercises, in the true spirit of Traditional Witchcraft, you can always improvise or make do with what you have on hand.

Buying versus Making Tools

			While collecting your magical tools, you have the option of either buying or making them by hand. When it comes to buying, there are many amazing artisans out there who sell an array of magical tools both in shops and online. Not only can you purchase beautifully created items, but you also have the chance to support the work of fellow Witches and other magical practitioners. Moreover, thrift stores and antique shops can be excellent places to find magical items. Some of my favorite magical tools were found in local antique shops, including a cast iron trivet with a pentagram in the center of its design. Whether you buy new or used, remember to take your time finding the right tools for your practice. Don’t settle on something simply because it’s available or because you’re afraid that without it you won’t be able to practice Traditional Witchcraft. Obtaining magical items in a hurry or out of anxiety often leads to the accumulation of objects that you have very little personal connection with and will likely never use. Having a deep connection with your tools is important because the more you resonate with them, the more attuned to your magic they will be. And, the more attuned to your magic the tools are, the more helpful they will be when you cast spells or perform rituals. While shopping, it may be helpful to ask yourself whether or not an item truly speaks to you and if or how it will benefit your practice. You might also ask yourself if the item is one you will use frequently or if it’s something that will only gather dust before eventually being discarded.

			On the other hand, you can also make your own tools. Doing so will naturally require more time and effort, but the results of your work will prove to be extremely rewarding. Through the actions and labor required to create a tool, you automatically infuse it with your magical power—a process which usually takes a longer amount of time with a tool that has been acquired from a store. There is an unbeatable sense of satisfaction and pride that comes along with the designing and producing of your own magical objects. Of course, there are some things you likely cannot make yourself (such as a cauldron, unless you know how to pour metal), but there are certain tools that are better off being made by your own hand. When making your tools, I encourage you to think creatively about what materials you might already have around the house or can find out in nature. Making tools, or buying for that matter, doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg. There is no right or wrong way for a tool to look so long as it works for you. So be imaginative and don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty. Crafting magical tools should feel like a fun ritualistic activity, not a burden or a chore.

The Stang

			Throughout all of Traditional Witchcraft, the stang is one of the most iconic symbols of the Crooked Path. In its simplest of forms, the stang is a bifurcated ritual staff. The word stang is thought to come from the Old Norse stang, meaning staff or pole. As a Witch’s tool, its creation and implementation can be primarily credited to Robert Cochrane. Though you can spot forked branches being used by the Witches depicted in old artwork—such as those shown in Peter Binsfeld’s Tractatus de confessionibus maleficorum et sagarum (1591)—before Cochrane, there are no mentions of a “stang” in connection with the Craft.

			 				 						 					 						The Stang

			In one of his letters to ceremonial magician William Gray, Cochrane referred to the stang as the supreme implement.23 His statement rings true in that the stang is an incredibly multi-purpose tool, like the Swiss Army knife of Traditional Witchcraft. First and foremost, the stang is a representation of the Witch Father, the archetypal masculine deity with whom many Traditional Witches work, with the two tines of the staff being an homage to his horns. In this role, the stang is commonly placed at the northern point of the ritual space, which is the direction often associated with the Witch Father in folklore, although sometimes it will be planted in the center of the working area to be used as a magical focal point. In its capacity as an image of the Witch Father, the stang becomes an altar as well. As an altar, the stang may be adorned with different symbolic objects, such as a garland and crossed arrows, which signify the dual-aspect of the Witch Father as the light-bearing God of Life and the chthonic Lord of Death. Given the time of year, it may be decorated with seasonal foliage, like boughs of yew in the autumn and hawthorn in the spring. In addition, a lit taper candle can be placed between the tines as a sign of the light betwixt the horns, or the divine insp