2nd June 1988
You have discovered by now that trance leads directly or indirectly to ritual, or to ritualized activity. Sometimes, a full formal rite is inspired by the guidance received — sometimes an informal rite, such as pilgrimage, or the wearing of certain clothes for symbolic reasons. And this, in turn, leads to transformation of a more far-reaching kind, to life changes. Trance and ritual are the two sides of magic, or, shall I say, the two tides: they flow back and forth into each other.
You ask why we need ritual, when so much can be accomplished in trance. I can only answer that a great deal is accomplished in dreams, and yet we must wake, must step out of the astral dream-world and act. Sleep and waking, the two sides of life. I suppose that trance is where the witch refreshes and restores her or himself, turning inwards to sources, to Goddess and God, that realm where her or his own spirit meets spirit in all things, to the inwardness, and to all sources. In ritual, the witch manifests this experience, he or she lives it out.
Trance is the gift of the Goddess, like all intuitive and psychic skills currently dismissed or half feared as ’women’s intuition’. It is the business of witches and of all Goddess-worshippers to reclaim and to re-explain these lost skills, for they are one half of our understanding. They are the Moon’s gift. The solar skills, rational thought-processes, the God’s gift, are just as essential, if superstition is not to prevail. But logic on its own can become cold and machiavellian. (Look around at our logical and concrete world, and I do not think you will find that word too strong a description.) Logic on its own inverts, turning illogical; but the uniting of intuition and logic, true to the principles and aims of witchcraft, is a reconciliation of opposites, leading to life.
I am not trying to equate ritual with logic, for both trance and ritual are quite obviously transrational activities. But I am suggesting that there is passive (trance) and active (ritual) magic — the Goddess- and God-given realms of inner and outer life. If we grant that all magic really belongs to the Inner Realm, then trance is the inner and ritual the outer aspect of that.
I promised a letter about designing your own rites for specific purposes. This is a simple process, once you have grasped that all rites have the same component parts and that they slot into the same (or a similar) order each time.
The rite must be planned and then written out in your own Book of Shadows. This is the first step. Our ancestors would not have done this. Their minds were less cluttered than ours, and so the planned rite would have been memorized.
First, decide on the phase of Moon, or festival, according to your purpose. Which is the time most suited to your planned rite? If you are invoking for a new love, for example, then the Waxing or Full Moon days are the right choice.
Record the date on which you plan to work this rite, and then name it, for example: ’Ritual for the Invocation of Love and Happiness’.
Next, list the steps with which you begin every time. Thus: cast the circle; purify (by a short trance for psychic cleansing and balancing); invoke the Goddess and God. Every rite that you work should begin like this.
The fourth step is the statement of your intention, out loud. This is important, as it attunes your deep self to the coming work; and by it, you will become focused magically. It also tells all the Guardian Spirits, and your familiar, what you are meaning to achieve. You could say, for example:
Now the Moon waxes almost to the full. The time of fulfilment in love draws near. I, witch priestess and child of the Goddess work magic for love. I invoke love and happiness in my mind, spirit and soul and my body. So I call upon my rightful partner, and ask the blessings of the Goddess and God upon this, my rite of love and happiness.
Now you are ready for the fifth step, which is called ’the raising of magical energy’. You will probably do this by dancing (deosil in a love rite) and by chanting. The entry in your Book of Shadows (following your written statement of intention) should run something like this: Dance deosil, to chant—(here you will write down the words of your planned chant).
The sixth step is called ’the directing of power’. It means that you now psychically direct the power that you have just raised into the main material focus of your planned spell.
This may be, for example, a small bowl of rose or rosewood oil, which you will have placed at the centre of your circle, inside your cauldron. Rose oil is sacred to love. (It is also extremely expensive! Nine drops diluted in a pure vegetable oil are sufficient.) Direct the power into the oil with your wand, or simply by cupping your hands over it. Visualize that the oil is now ’charged’, imbued with the power you have raised, like a shining gold light.
The seventh step is called ’the work’. Whether celebratory or for a spell-casting, this is the peak of your rite. Now you will work magic. In the case of a love rite, you might now anoint your whole body with rose oil. You could then consecrate and anoint a small bell. And then speak your invocation. For example:
As he is wise, kind and beautiful,
let him now hear me.
As he is both gentle and sure of his own
purpose, his own direction,
as he is my true partner, strong to fulfil
and to be fulfilled by me,
now let him hear and come.
Let him hear and respond, knowing who calls.
And as his presence means happiness, and as I to him
am cup and wine, earth and flourishing tree, fruit-bearing,
so let him hear and come.
Ring the bell. Hear it reverberate in the astral realms. He who answers your description will now hear it, for you have sent out your psychic call. It is important that conditions be laid down, as in the above spell: As he is wise, kind and beautiful, etc. may he come. This ensures that the spell won’t work unless the prospective partner does have these qualities, and is therefore the right partner. But the words should be your own, and should be as simple or as elaborate as you want them. You may also spend some time in trance, both before and after the ringing of the bell.
You might next anoint a white or red cord with rose oil, saying:
As this knot is tied,
so may the link be made,
and may the link be love.
Of course, you can say words of your own choosing here. Mine are merely an example.) Then tie the two ends of the cord together, forming a circle.
The eighth step is called ’releasing’. Sit quietly in light trance, visualizing the effects of your bell-ringing and your tied knot. You may ’see’ the sound of the bell note, as silver motes dancing and travelling — and the cord as the completed circle, bringing into your life your true partner, making that link. See each spell leaving you and going out into the world to take effect. Let them go now. Let the outcome be in the hands of Goddess and God. So may it be.
The ninth step reaffirms you as child of the Goddess and God in the world, as one of all beings to whom you are one sister, both connected in and fulfilled by nature. This is called ’communion’. It, too, should be written into your Book of Shadows. It refers to the usual consecration of wine and bread, and the eating and drinking of these.
The tenth step is the thanking of the Goddess and God.
The eleventh step is the bidding of ’Hale and farewell’ (with thanks) to all the Guardian Spirits. The circle is now opened. You step outside. The work is done.
To recap, these are the stages of any rite.
1. Cast the circle/define sacred space
2. Purify and centre
3. Invoke the Goddess and God
4. State magical intention
5. Raise the energy
6. Direct the energy
7. The work, magic, the spell-casting
8. Release the spell
10. Thanks to Goddess and God
11. Open circle and step outside
Let us say that you have been guided in trance about spells you must cast and rites you should work. Let us say you have then written out your planned rite, all the eleven steps of your rite. You will next need to buy or collect any herbs, oils, cords, stones, candles or whatever you must have. You will also want to select, gather or buy any flowers or whatever you want in your room, or upon your altar. That done, you are ready. When the chosen night comes, you must assemble all magical tools, have a bath and put on your robe. Be sure that you are free from interruption, then begin.
Afterwards, you should record experiences of this or any other rite. How did you feel? Was there clear guidance about the outcome? Any surprises? Was any material suggested for future trancework? Or is it all done? If you feel utterly at peace, complete, it is all done.
I hope these notes will be of help.
One last word of advice: never work spells that do not ’mix well’ together. For example, a purification spell for the local environment, a banishing of ill-health for someone else, and an eradication of ill-luck for you, could all be done at the same (Waning Moon) rite. But do not mix a purification of the environment, a love spell which someone else has asked you to do, and a self-affirmation as witch and priestess. These would require different phases of the Moon, and they do not have common themes. It is the common themes which you should look for when choosing incense, altar flowers and the appropriate time. The same thing applies when you are planning a chant to raise power for more than one spell. If they are all about purification, in one way or another, sing about that. But if there is no common theme, you must separate them. Do more than one rite. In any case, it will always be easier to concentrate on just one spell, or one magical intention, as in the love rite. Experience is the best guide about blends and mixtures. And there is only one way to gain that.…