The Witch Dances

The Witch Dances

The Witch Dances, by author unknown to me

These dances are many and varied, differing from coven to coven and allowing for considerable invention and renovation.

The two main witch dances are the Spiral Dance, known otherwise as the Maze, Meeting Dance, Wheel, or Round Dance; and the Chain Dance.
The first, or Meeting Dance, is related to the concept of death as symbolized by a north ways movement, widdershins, leading to the still centre, and then returning on its tracks south ways. The magister stands at the centre of the circle, beside the balefire, facing north. His arms are crossed and he represents death.

The coven, beginning at the northern periphery of the circle, makes a widdershins spiral chain to the centre, consisting of three circuits, each member similarly turning widdershins on his individual axis, and on reaching the still figure of the magister at the centre, one by one light the tapers they carry in their hands. They then double back on their tracks and, spiralling clockwise, return the way they came, again on a triple circuit. The Spiral, as well as signifying the interaction of the dark and bright tides, is also said to represent the labyrinth, dolman, or House of Death and Initiation.

Witch symbolism refers it to the Glass Castle of the North, Caer Arrianrhod, and the Corona Borealis.

Accompanying the music of the Meeting Dance, which may be recorded or played on a variety of instruments to be discussed later, wild cries of “EEE-OOO AAH VOH AIEE” are often given by the members of the coven as they whirl ecstatically, usually after the words of a chant such as one adapted from the Invocation of Hertha , or if the coven be a solely goddess-oriented variety, the following traditional one:

Queen of the Moon, Queen of the Sun,
Queen of the Heavens, Queen of the Stars,
Queen of the Waters, Queen of the Earth,
bring to us the Child of Promise!
It is the Great Mother who giveth birth to him;
It is the Lord of Life who is born again.
Darkness and tears are set aside
when the sun shall come up early!
Golden Sun of the mountains,
illumine the land, light up the world.
Illumine the seas and the rivers,
Sorrows be laid, joy to the world!
Blessed by the Great Goddess,
without beginning, without end,
everlasting in eternity!
IO EVOKE, blessed be!

However, the latter chant is used only at Halloween or Yule, as it refers specifically to the coming of winter and the rebirth of the sun at Shamain (Hallaws) or midwinter.
The Meeting Dance often leads directly into the Chain Dance. This is traditionally led by a female member or the high priestess herself, the magister bringing up the rear. Hence the old saying, “May the Devil take the hindmost!” The dance is performed with the rod used as a riding-stick or hobby-horse placed between the legs, and the lighted taper borne aloft. On stormy Sabbats the tapers were and are still sometimes replaced by oil lamps or lanterns.

The Chain Dance itself probably celebrates the transformation of the seasons, and its device is that of the pursuit of an animal by a predator.

The season, represented by either the god or goddess, changes shape repeatedly in an attempt to avoid capture. This magical shape-shifting theme is a very ancient
one, and it turns up in innumerable traditions – Celtic, Norse, Greek, and even creeps into the Arabian Nights. Sometimes the male is the pursuer, other times the female. The coven god or goddess orientation generally indicates whether the magister or the high priestess leads the dance. The traditional style seems to be the high priestess in the lead, with the summoner next followed by the coven and the magister bringing up the rear. The dance itself begins with a south ways circuit of the circle before leaving it through the gateway at the north. In the old days the dance would wind all over the surrounding territory, through churchyard and barnyard, over hill and dale.
The leader must imitate the movements of the animal he or she represents. The rest of the coven must in turn imitate those of the predator that they are identifying with in their verse. All the powers of the witchy imagination must be brought to bear here. You must feel yourself actually becoming the animal!
The animals themselves differ from coven to coven, largely depending on which totems the group possesses. The rhyme also changes accordingly, but the sense always remains the same.

Here is the Chain Dance verse designed for one set of totem animals, each pair representing one of the four seasons

Leader.
I shall go as a wren in spring with sorrow and sighing on silent wing, and I shall go in Our Lady’s name, Aye, till I come home again!
Coven.
We shall follow as falcons grey, and hunt thee cruelly as our prey, but we shall go in Our Master’s name, Aye, to fetch thee home again!
Leader.
Then I shall go as a mouse in May, in fields by night, in cellars by day, and I shall go in Our Lady’s name, Aye, till I come home again!
Coven.
And we shall follow as black tom cats, and chase thee through the corn and vats, but we shall go in Our Master’s name, Aye, to fetch thee home again!
Leader.
Then I shall go as an autumn hare, with sorrow and sighing and mickle care, and I shall go in Our Lady’s name, Aye, till I come home again!
Coven.
But we shall follow as swift grey hounds, and dog thy tracks by leaps and bounds, and we shall go in Our Master’s name, Aye, to fetch thee home again!
Leader.
Then I shall go as a winter trout with sorrow and sighing and mickle doubt, and I shall go in Our Lady’s name, Aye, till I come home again!
Coven.
But we shall follow as otters swift, and snare thee fast ere thou canst shift, and we shall go in Our Master’s name, Aye, to fetch thee home again!
The chant is repeated as long as necessary, and by the end of the final repetition of the last verse, the entire coven should have re-entered the circle at the north and be back at their places, with the magister in the east, the high priestess in the west.

In medieval days, the finale of the Chain Dance usually culminated in the “marriage of heaven and Earth,” as symbolized by the ceremonial coupling of the magister and the high priestess.

The entire female membership of the coven was sometimes also mounted, sometimes being penetrated by means of an artificial phallus wielded by the magister, or simply by the other male participants. However, in most modern covens, the actual marriage rite seems to have been replaced generally by the cakes and wine ceremony which, then leads into the feast. The chalice held by the high priestess is raised high over the balefire, and Sabbat wine poured in. The magister then lowers his ceremonial rod, wand, or Athame into the cup briefly, and then removes it. Both he and the priestess then hand it on to the coven, who drink from it. Similarly, the Sabbat cake is presented on the paten pentacle by the priestess, divided up by the magister with his Athame, and then distributed like wise. On handing the chalice or pentacle to one’s neighbour, the words “Blessed be” are often uttered.

The initial ceremony of the cakes and wine leads on to the actual feast, which is usually contributed to by all the coven members, each bringing some particular delicacy.

The food, far from being the eye of newt and toe of frog variety, is the type you would expect to find at any buffet supper.
The meal itself does not have to be eaten within the circle, the only ritual proviso being that if the company actually sit down at table, the magister be seated at the head. After the meal is concluded, the Sabbat may continue as a regular party with dancing and singing usually of the folk rock variety being performed by more exuberant members within the circle, often jumping hand in hand over the flames of the balefire.

At last, when all is said and done and the party draws to a close, often approaching dawn, traditional farewells of “Merry part” and “Blessed be” are exchanged between departing members, who after exchanging their ritual garments for everyday clothes, hurry off into the chill morning air. The Sabbat is over, the old gods have been reinvoked, and a new season begun.
The basic Sabbat rites should remain the same throughout the year, differing only in small details appropriate to the season. For instance, many covens will divide the year in two and give the magister presidency of the circle during the winter months, the Lady in those of summer.
The Midwinter Festival of Yule, Christmastide, celebrates the sun’s rebirth with all the customary decorations and festivity later borrowed by the Church Fathers, the indoor balefire or yule log, evergreen decorations, holly and ivy tied with scarlet ribbon, and of course the Christmas tree. Father Christmas and Mother Holly are but two Christianized images of the Lord and Lady; the Christ child legend is built upon that of the rebirth of the sun, the light of the world.

Candlemas (February 2) is the Feast of St. Bride or Brigid, a Celtic name for the goddess, and corresponds to the Roman yearly inauguration of the vestal fire. It is a celebration of the waxing light, and the high priestess, or indeed, all the coven, may each don a candle-crown for the ritual dances.
The vernal equinox, or Lady Day, again a reference to the goddess has all the trappings of traditional Easter. (The word “Easter” in fact is but a modernization of Bostra, the name of an Anglo-Saxon dawn goddess cognate with the classical Eos.)
Beltane, Cetshamain, or Roodmas, as it was Christianized has as its theme the May day ceremonies still practised throughout rural England and Europe with stave dancing and flower garlands tied with white ribbons.

Midsummer, or St. John’s Eve, marks the nearest point of the sun’s approach to Earth.

The Catherine Wheel, or blazing cartwheel rolled from the summit of a hill to plunge into the cold waters of a lake or river below, is yet another expression of the wedding of heaven and Earth.

Lugnassad, or Lammas, celebrates the coming of the harvest-tide, the decorations of corn sheaves, berries, and fruits, while the autumnal equinox, or Michaelmas, marks its zenith with the eating of the customary goose. Samhain, or Hallows, ends the tide of reaping and the witches’ year. The winter presided over by the Lord of Misrule begins. The festival is celebrated with the customary sword dances, the sword here being associated with the chthonic spade and ploughshare, symbols of the God of Death.

The Dumb Supper may be performed in honour of the beloved dead, and wine and bread be ceremonially offered to them, the latter in the shape of a cake made in nine segments similar to the square of Earth. Candlelit turnip or pumpkin-heads and the last remnants of harvest-fare often provide decoration.
As always, it is a matter of personal preference as to exactly how a Sabbat is to be celebrated, always bearing in mind you’re few basic fundamentals, namely, the “drawing down” of the sun and moon, the ceremonial dances, the symbolic marriage of heaven and Earth, and the communal feast.
So there you are.


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Samhain divination’s to try

samhain divinations

Samhain divination’s to try and place in your book of shadows maybe

Samhain was a significant time for divination, perhaps even more so than May or Midsummer’s Eve, because this was the chief of the three Spirit Nights.

Samhain divination's to tryDivination customs and games frequently featured apples and nuts from the recent harvest, and candles played an important part in adding atmosphere to the mysteries.

In Scotland, a child born at Samhain was said to be gifted with an dà shealladh, “The Two Sights” commonly known as “second sight,” or clairvoyance.


Apple Magic

At the heart of the Celtic Otherworld grows an apple tree whose fruit has magical properties. Old sagas tell of heroes crossing the western sea to find this wondrous country, known in Ireland as Emhain Abhlach, (Evan Avlach) and in Britain, Avalon. At Samhain, the apple harvest is in, and old hearthside games, such as apple-bobbing, called apple-dookin’ in Scotland, reflect the journey across water to obtain the magic apple.

Dookin’ for Apples

Place a large tub, preferably wooden, on the floor, and half fill it with water. Tumble in plenty of apples, and have one person stir them around vigorously with a long wooden spoon or rod of hazel, ash or any other sacred tree.

Each player takes their turn kneeling on the floor, trying to capture the apples with their teeth as they go bobbing around. Each gets three tries before the next person has a go. Best to wear old clothes for this one, and have a roaring fire nearby so you can dry off while eating your prize!
If you do manage to capture an apple, you might want to keep it for a divination ritual, such as this one:


The Apple and the Mirror

Before the stroke of midnight, sit in front of a mirror in a room lit only by one candle or the moon. Go into the silence, and ask a question. Cut the apple into nine pieces. With your back to the mirror, eat eight of the pieces and then throw the ninth over your left shoulder. Turn your head to look over the same shoulder, and you will see and in image or symbol in the mirror that will tell you your answer.

(When you look in the mirror, let your focus go “soft,” and allow the patterns made by the moon or candlelight and shadows to suggest forms, symbols and other dreamlike images that speak to your intuition.)


Dreaming Stones

Samhain divination's to tryGo to a boundary stream and with closed eyes, take from the water three stones between middle finger and thumb, saying these words as each is gathered: samhain divinations .

I will lift the stone
As Mary lifted it for her Son,
For substance, virtue, and strength;
May this stone be in my hand
Till I reach my journey’s end.

(Scots Gaelic)
Togaidh mise chlach,
Mar a thog Moire DA Mac,
Air bhrìgh, air bhuaidh, ‘s air neart;
Gun robh a chlachsa am dhòrn,
Gus an ruig MI MO cheann uidhe.

Carry them home carefully and place them under your pillow. That night, ask for a dream that will give you guidance or a solution to a problem, and the stones will bring it for you.

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Samhain Ritual For The Solitary

Samhain Ritual

Samhain Ritual For The Solitary So Mote It Be

This is a day of remembrance, our New Year and the last harvest festival. With so much going on with one holiday, this simple ritual expresses it all.

As always, I leave the decorating up to your own good taste, but this is a meal celebration.

Samhain Ritual For The SolitarySo the recipe for your favourite dishes will be the key to your enjoyment.
Pick recipes that include the harvest essentials; pumpkin, apples, and if you are a meat eater include that as well.
My own preference would be a hearty soup or stew, with plenty of fresh vegetables like potatoes, corn, onions, carrots, homemade bread and either fish or meat, depending on what I can find fresh at the market.
Your own choices and life style should be reflected in the dishes you prepare.

Break out the good dishes and if you have friends to join you, so much the better.
This is a ritual to have a good time, to celebrate and remember.
While I understand the concept of the dumb supper, I do not believe that silence celebrates this holiday.
Rather, there should be laughter, there should be discussion of what the year has brought, what we may look forward to in the coming year, planning for the winter, and finally an offering of libations for those who have passed over as well as the remembrance of who they were.
I suggest a real china plate from the dollar store for the spirit plate to leave outside for the night.


Decorate the table for your ritual

Samhain Ritual For The SolitaryYou will be leaving a place at the table for those unseen friends who will join you.
So set your table and cook your meal and welcome your friends when they arrive.
If you are dining on your own, remember you are inviting those who have passed over so make a place setting for them as well.

Once dinner is ready, pour the drinks and open the ritual with a poem or make one up yourself.

Doreen Valiente’s poem “Samhain Chant” can be found here.
There are lots of other seasonal and Samhain poems out on the Internet that can be used as well.
Choose one that fits your style.

Once your ritual is open, invite your Gods and/or Goddess’ to join you for your meal.
At the empty chair, place some of the food on the plate and offer an opening toast to those unseen spirits who have joined your ritual.

Time now for you to enjoy your own meal, and if you have a friend or two, enjoy the company of likeminded people.
You should discuss the past year, plans for next year, good times and good company.
This is a time to enjoy what the God and Goddess has given us, and we do so by celebrating.
Laugh, have a great time, have second helpings of dessert if you so desire.

If you are doing this meal alone, I suggest you take a notebook and write down things that you want to remember in advance.
Make a list of this year’s events and next year’s plans.
As you sit and eat, discuss these with your unseen guests.
Remember to have a good time on your own.
There is nothing wrong with speaking with spirits, and sometimes you may even hear an answer or two, or a bit of laughter.

Do not worry; they are there to enjoy the evening. You will have a good time.

Once the meal is done, it is time to drink a toast to those who have parted this world. l.
Remember them by name, remember them by deed. Remember them with laughter, and remember them with a tear.
With a final toast, thank the Gods for a good year but save some drink in your cup.
At this point take the plate of food, and the cup of drink, as well as a last portion of your own drink, and move outside to offer these to the spirits of those who have joined you, and to honour the Gods.
Pour the drink into the earth, and leave the food for the spirit of whatever comes by.

Once back inside at the table, remember to thank the Gods again for the good year that has passed, and ask their blessings on the year to come.
This is a good way to end the ritual, but it should not end the evening.
Continue to have a wonderful evening with good conversation with your friends, or if you are on your own, it’s time to find those things that interest you and enjoy your evening as well.
Good movie, good book, or go out someplace to find good company and good conversation.
Again, this is your celebration. Enjoy it. 

Samhain wishes to you and yours, and blessings of the Season.


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Celtic Tree Calendar

Celtic Tree Calendar

Celtic Tree Calendar as we know it.Trees physically unite the heavens and the Earth

Our trees unite the Sky God and Earth Mother together as one, creating a powerful magickal force hence the Celtic tree calendar, That is why the Celts used so many of the trees’ properties, like the bark, in fertility herbs. The Celts, like most other cultures of the time, kept their calendar in correspondence to the moon phases, assigning names and attributes to each full moon.

Eventually, a tree was designated to each moon in accordance with its magickal properties.

The gender was given to each tree/moon phase and held as sacred to either the God or Goddess it represented. In modern Celtic Wicca, the tree calendar typically begins at Yule, although originally it began at Samhain to coincide with the beginning of the Celtic New Year. For the purpose of this figure, we will use the first moon phase as Yule, the nearest full moon being the Birch Moon. Align yourself with these moon phases to further assist you in increasing your magickal workings.

Birch Moon… (feminine) Moon of Inception, Moon of Beginning.

Rowan Moon (masculine) Vision Moon, Spirit Moon, Moon of Astral Travel.

Ash Moon (feminine) Moon of Waters.

Alder Moon (masculine) Moon of Efficacy, Moon of Utility, Moon of Self-guidance.

Willow Moon (feminine) The Witches’ Moon, Moon of Balance.

Hawthorn Moon (masculine) Moon of Restraint, Moon of Hindrance, Summer Moon.

Oak Moon (masculine) Moon of Strength, Moon of Security, Bear Moon.

Holly Moon (feminine) Moon of Encirclement, Moon of Polarity.

Hazel Moon (feminine) Moon of the Wise, Crone Moon.

Vine Moon (androgynous) Moon of Celebration.

Ivy Moon (masculine) Moon of Buoyancy, Moon of Resilience.

Reed Moon (feminine) Moon of the Home, Hearth Moon, Winter Moon, Moon Which Manifests Truth.

Elder Moon (masculine) Moon of Completeness.

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Samhain Superstitions and Omens

samhain superstitions

Samhain Superstitions and Omens are well worth a read

Many people in various parts of the world consider it to be extremely unlucky to look at their reflection in a mirror by candlelight on Samhain.

Many people also believe that mirrors are the gateways to the other worlds, and cover mirrors with black cloths on Samhain to keep the gateway closed.

A burning candle placed inside a hollowed out pumpkin or jack-o-lantern on Samhain works to keep evil spirits and demons at bay.

samhain superstitions

For good luck, burn black and orange candles on Samhain.

Black and Orange are the traditional colours of Samhain. On this day their magickal vibrations are at their peak.

If a candle should suddenly go out by itself on Samhain, as though being blown out by wind or by breath, this is said to be a sign that a ghost has come to call.

Always burn new candles at Samhain to ensure the best of luck. Likewise, it is not a good idea to burn Samhain candles at any other time of the year. To do so may cause you to experience bad luck and/or strange happenings over which you will have no control.

Gazing into the flame of a candle on Samhain will enable you to peer into the future. Many witches traditionally scry candle flames on Samhain to receive clairvoyant visions.

It is believed that if a person lights a new orange-coloured candle at midnight on Samhain samhain superstitionsand lets it burn until the sun rises, he or she will be the recipient of good luck. However, according to an old legend from Europe, any person who bakes bread or journeys after sunset on Samhain runs the risk of conjuring forth bad luck in great abundance.

If the moon is new on Samhain, this indicates that the coming year will be fertile ground for new beginnings to take place, such as the start of a new project, a new career, or even a new way of thinking. For those desiring children, a new moon at Samhain is a lucky omen, indicating a new birth within a year’s time.

If the moon is waxing on Samhain, this indicates good luck throughout the coming year. It also indicates growth and an increase of all things that are positive nature.

If the moon is full on Samhain this ensures that the powers of all forms of magick and divination practiced on this night will be at their greatest. A secret wish made at midnight will be realized within the coming year, and do not be surprised if an experience of a psychic nature awaits you in the very near future.

If the moon is waning on Samhain, this can be an omen of either good or bad consequences. It can indicate the elimination of such things as bad habits, unhealthy relationships and obstacles within the coming year. Or it can point to a decrease (such as in one’s health) or a loss of some kind soon to take place.

If the moon is in the dark phase on Samhain, this is believed to be a very negative omen. Exercise extreme caution in all of your endeavours within the next twelve months, and it wouldn’t hurt to protect yourself by wearing or carrying any type of amulet or talisman designed to ward off bad luck and misfortune.


Halloween Moon Omens

samhain superstitions

If the moon is new on Samhain, this indicates that the coming year will be fertile ground for new beginnings to take place, such as the start of a new project, a new career, or even a new way of thinking.
For those desiring children, a new moon at Samhain is a lucky
omen, indicating a new birth within a year’s time.

If the moon is waxing on Samhain, this indicates good luck throughout the coming year. It also indicates growth and an increase of all things that are positive nature.

If the moon is full on Samhain, this ensures that the powers of all forms of magick and divination practiced on this night will be at their greatest. A secret wish made at midnight will be realized within the coming year. Do not be surprised if an experienced of
a psychic nature awaits you in the very near future.

If the moon is waning on Samhain, this can be an omen of either good or bad consequences. It can indicate the elimination of such things as bad habits, unhealthy relationships and obstacles within the coming year. Or it can point to a decrease (such as in one’s health) or a loss of some kind soon to take place.

If the moon is in the dark phase on Samhain, this is believed to be a very negative omen. Exercise extreme caution in all of your endeavours within the next twelve months, and it wouldn’t hurt to protect yourself by wearing or carrying any type of amulet or talisman designed to ward off bad luck and misfortune.


Thank you for visiting our website, may your God or Goddess be with you.