Prayers for the Power of a Witch
To a wildwood mystic, hedge witchcraft is about power, but also it is about surrender to the great wisdom of the Fates. It is about our own quest for insight and increased wisdom. There is no doubt that to wield magic and to affect our own and others’ destinies by doing so, is to have power. Many people fear witches because of this. Can witches rewrite fate for themselves and other people? Surely such power, if it works, if it is real, can only lead to abuse? How could any mortal be wise enough to know how to affect fate for the best? How could any of us be sure we would not use our magic selfishly, damaging others’ rights and needs for our own ends? And isn’t power the opposite of spirituality or mysticism, since it does not seem to seek surrender to a higher will, but is about the will of the witch? For witchcraft is end-directed. In other words, witches cast spells when they want to get something. Or to prevent something. They want a result, tangible and material.
Yes, we witches do want a result. We do want to cast spells that affect the material world. In this, we are not so different from others who use symbols and psycho-drama to bring change: the advertising industry, for instance. Yet the methods and orientation of the hedge witch, being based in wildwood mysticism, are not those of a ruthless, corrupt manipulation. We can be sure of this if we observe two rules.
The first one is that our spells should be founded on well-wishing. There is a law among all witches (apart from those who do deal in curses) which states that our magic must cause no harm. In fact, the witches’ commandment is ’harm none’. In order to want to do no harm, we must wish all beings well, even those whom we don’t really like much. We must wish for what will heal and transform all and brings all to harmony. In fact, a hedge witch’s spell is always an enacted meditation upon this theme, for a specific practical purpose, in any instance.
This does not mean that we may not be angry with wrongdoers, nor seek to defend the helpless, but it does mean that we must work for the best outcome without thoughts of vengeance. For example, a perpetrator of violence needs to be healed as much as the victim does, in order to prevent future recurrence of the crime. This is because they are deeply sick in their soul. They may also need to be ’bound’ — that is, to be magically prevented from successfully being violent again. All this is a far cry from dishing out curses to be avenged, which does no good but merely perpetuates the reasons why the criminal feels twisted, angry and violent.
In order that we do not set ourselves up as magical judge, jury and executioner, nor pit our lack of wisdom against the Fates, concerning any spell for prosperity, for instance, we remember that the means by which a magical result shall come to be are not up to us. We state our desire and we perform a small ritual for the result, but our business is only to invoke for the ultimate good of all affected by the spell. By this, the ultimate good, we do not only mean wellbeing, but also harmonious integration with life: learning, growth, an increase in wisdom.
To sum up this rule, any spell cast by a wildwood mystic is based upon aiming for a result that harms none and should improve life for everyone. This is achieved by leaving the manner in which the end is achieved in the hands of the spirits and deities, who are much wiser than we are, and also by entering into the magic in a spirit of general well-wishing. If, of course, such a benign attitude is not possible for the time being, because we are too angry, then the magic must be left until the rage has become less raw. Otherwise, we risk becoming a part of the problem, not the solution, and we risk causing ourselves as well as others great harm, eventually. This is because what you give out, you reap. As our ancestors knew, we are all connected to a huge web of ’light’, the web of fate, that links us all. Therefore, what harms one harms everything.
To repeat, we can cast any spell at all, in a spirit of general well-wishing, but the wise do not stipulate how the spell should work out. In rhyme, it goes like this:
Cast the spell.
Wish all life well.
Let the spell be strong in harmony.
Then let the Fates decide
How it shall come to be.
For the purpose of the hedge witch is to increase harmony, within her or himself, with the Earth and with all creatures.
The second rule to keep is this: the wise witch casts spells on the right tide of nature. That is, at the right Moon or Sun or Earth season, or the correct sea-tide. She or he does not attempt to work magic in the teeth of nature’s rhythms, or not if worthy of the name ’witch’. In mainstream culture, on the other hand, we are taught that we should all aim to dominate nature rather than work with her. Thus, we may embrace the idea of a twenty-four hour shopping day, force our tired bodies on with many stimulants, and simulate the sun with a lamp to get brown. This is wanting to have our wishes met at any price. But, in the Craft of the wise, we attempt to be in step with nature’s tides, seeing these as but the outer expression of subtle forces in psychic dimensions. So we do spells of increase (e.g. for health or wealth) when the Moon waxes or the tide flows or the Sun’s light is increasing, and spells of decrease (e.g. to banish ill-health or poverty) when the Moon wanes, the tide ebbs or the Sun declines.
To go against this rule is usually to cast a spell that fails, for our power comes from nature spirits and deities, from all that’s primal and natural. If it should succeed by sheer force of will, against nature’s rhythms (like so many human activities already described) then the long-term result may not be good. For something has been forced against the grain of the wood, against nature’s wisdom.
From this, it can be seen that the practice of spellcraft brings the wildwood mystic into increasing union with nature’s rhythms, and increases sensitivity to the moment. Magic is our yoga — that is, it inclines us to be more in step with the natural tides of the Earth and of our own bodies. It lets us know that we are all one, that there is unity, and that any spell ripples out, affecting one person, place and creature after another. If you change one thing then you, potentially, change everything. We are all one — plants, people, earthworms, slugs, roe deer, and the deities, past, present, future, all atoms and galaxies — we are all interlinked. To the wildwood mystic, this is not just an idea but what we feel, what we experience, while working magic. And here is a rhyme for it:
The wise do not
try to float spells
against the current.
Nor oppose the Moon or Sun
With a will of iron.
Sense the flow.
Know nature’s direction.
Let the spell work with that and so
be at one with Creation.
The hedge witch aims to practice magic by these rules. Otherwise, our efforts would not be the Craft of the wise, but only a variation on the games of power and domination played by much of humanity. The genuine witch seeks to be attuned, through wildwood mysticism, to ancient wisdom, to heal the world’s soul somewhat, and to cast spells of strength and beauty.
You may already have taken a formal initiation into the practice of solitary witchcraft, as described in Hedge Witch and elsewhere. If not, then you can use the following simple method. Choose a time of the full moon and make sure that you can be undisturbed (phone switched off and music playing). Light the candles upon your altar. Burn incense or a suitable essential oil. Good oils are juniper and pine for cleansing and power, and bay, yarrow or camomile for increased psychism. Good herbs to burn would be dried vervain, ash, willow, nettle or yarrow, juniper, pine or camomile (or put the flowers or leaves on your altar, together with an apple). Say the following, or something like it, which is addressed to the Great Goddess and God of all three realms.
Prayer for Initiation as a Witch
Great Lady and Lord of all changes wrought by a deep magic, you who bring the butterfly out of the chrysalis, visions from the dark night and conscious life from mud and starlight, I call upon you to make of me your priestess/priest. Open for me the paths from wildwood mysteries to service of life. Make of me a wise witch. Change me, that the power to bring beneficial change be mine. Make of me a wise witch. I give myself, give my eternal being, to becoming wisely skilled in weaving fate. So let all the work done at this altar, and elsewhere, bring healing. Make of me a wise witch.
Dip your forefinger in the bowl of water upon your altar, which is sacred to the Goddess. Inscribe an equal-armed cross within a circle on your brow. Say,
Now I am reborn as a witch priestess/priest,
by the power of the Triple Goddess of the Circle
of Rebirth, the Goddess of upperworld, underworld
and of middle Earth. So may it be.
Take the whistle from your altar and say,
In the name of the God of the Wild Hunt, Wildwood and the Underworld, whom I ask to bless and to quicken my new self, I call on guardian spirits of the elements of all life. Hear me, you spirits of air, fire, water, earth and aether, and witness that I am now a witch priestess/priest. May you surround and assist me, from now on, at need. So may it be.
Play a long note on the whistle. Hear it reverberate in inner realms, calling to the spirits.
Stand silently before the altar for a while, and see what you sense happening to your body and soul in subtle ways. You may see a vision or feel a sort of trembling, as your whole being is rebalanced. Or you may seem to enter a darkness, a mystery, or feel your senses are keener, your hearing more acute. If you do not feel anything at first, lie down upon the floor with your eyes closed and wait. Meanwhile, meditate upon what a witch is and does. Do this by describing the ideal witch, within your mind. Eventually, you will know that you have been accepted. You will feel at peace.
Stand and give thanks to the Deities and spirits. Then say the prayer for protection and put out the candles.
While the Moon wanes, every night, say the following (or a variation upon it):
Prayer to the Witch Goddess for Inspiration
Great Mother of Moon, Earth and Water, Wise Goddess, you who are the power to shift shape eternally, through all the myriad forms of life, you who are the journey all undertake to tell the story, uplift my spirit as a gull in flight, as the Moon’s white radiance, as the hills’ exhilarating height. Bless me with the meaning that cannot be explained, but is, and is transcendent. And let me live passion, mystery, purpose.
It may seem strange to pray for an increase in inspiration upon a waning Moon. However, the aim is not so much to manifest something, grow something in the world, but to turn inwards, to the meaning that is concealed in darkness.
Then say this:
Prayer to the Witch God for Integrity
Wild God of all creatures, you who protect all the balance within nature, you who are the guardian of all free-spirited beings, you whom I call upon as the presence in the forest, the mystery, grant to me that I may be aligned with what remains uncorrupted. Grant to me that I may live by the principles of those who took to the forest, to make a stand for real justice, in the old stories. And with all untamed ones, may I serve the cause of life as a witch priestess/priest. Banish all within me that is not of your laws nor of an active peace.
At the New Moon, or within a few days of it, say this prayer or something like it.
Prayer for a Witch’s Strength and Wisdom
Lady of the Moon upon sea and on woodland spring water, increase in me the clear potency of a witch priestess/priest, that power of waking dream that can change destiny. You who can move tides of fate by your great magnetism, who can plait the waters of life in a swift heaving flourish, all silvered with fish-scale light, grant to me your ancient gift. Strengthen my magic, the Moon in me, that I may cast spells of healing and blessing, bringing a new and wild harmony and freedom. And open my eyes to pathways that lead to wisdom. Clear my sight.
Then say this, or a variation upon it:
Prayer to the Witch God for Strength and Wisdom
God of the upperworld, middle Earth and underworld, you who are the lightning flash and thunder, changing the atmosphere, the fertile stag and the faerie world’s mariner, bringing us all to the otherworld’s distant shores, within our souls and our spirits, increase in me the bright power to bring beneficial change. You are the one whose magician wand or staff can open doors in the Earth, leading to faerie realms, begin new life, open our minds and hearts. Let me wield such force for good transformation, but guide me in wisdom, that all my spells be cast in love and harmony.
If you are a woman, you may wish to say only the prayer to the Goddess, upon the new moon. If you are a man, you may prefer to say the one to the God, alone. But it is fine for each sex to say both of them.
Your wildwood initiation, as a witch, is now complete.