Thursday, May 1, 2014

Magick 101

Luis Ricardo Falero, Witches Going to Their Sabbath (1878). USA Public Domain

What is magick? Aleister Crowley defined magick as “any event in nature which is brought to pass by will." A magical act can be anything from blowing one’s nose, to various forms of glamour, or creating suitable conditions for much needed rain. The size and extent of any magical act is dependent on the amount of energy, focus, and will that is placed into the desired outcome.

Magick and magic are not the same things. Aleister Crowley coined the term "magick", as an alternative to the word 'magic', or slight of hand, in order to distinguish the difference between the two separate terms and definitions. 'Magick’ is spelled with a ‘k’ and pronounced differently – mage-ick – to differentiate it from stage magic and the arts of illusion. The addition of the letter 'k' (the eleventh letter of the Latin alphabet) is believed to enhance the power and meaning of the word itself, as the number eleven, in numerology, symbolizes hidden energies.

Throughout all of history magick has been practiced in many forms, although often under the pretext of other names. For instance, Old German magick was known as gandno (Jones, Prudence. A History of Pagan Europe. New York: Routledge, 1995, pg 114. ISBN 0-415-09136-5); in Scandinavia and Iceland magick was known as seiðr (Ibid., pgs 150-151); and the Pennsylvania Dutch referred to magick as braucherei (Thorsson, Edred. Northern Magic: Rune Mysteries and Shamanism. St. Paul, Minnesota: Llewellyn Publications. 2005, pgs 146-147. ISBN 1-56718-709-9).

One can most easily compare magick to prayer; it is the process by which a desired change is brought about to an object or subject that is capable of such a change. It should be understood that magick is not capable of violating the laws of the physics; however, it is quite capable of bending or using them as a means by which to overcome a physical condition or state. Basically, magick can do whatever energy can do as it is merely the process of channeling information and energy. This is done through the use of what are known as the Laws of Magick.

The difference between magick and physical action is simply the method one uses to direct their intentions; however, all of these methods begin at the same source; that source being conscious or unconscious will. Each individual consciousness directly influences physical reality in both obvious and subtle ways. Magick is the subtle influence which consciousness has on physical reality through the mechanism of association and intent. In other words, magick is the attraction of a specific physical reality through physical associations and their relationship to the intent of our conscious being.

In theory, magick is the learned use of quantum-entangled states through the influence of seemingly individual conscious intention upon the panconsciousness of the universe. That is, the universe or multiverse, or whatever one wishes to call the whole of everything which exists, is utterly and entirely conscious, down to the very smallest and most minute particle – and wholly entangled, as if all were a giant body off atoms and cells, and flesh and bones – enabling anything to act upon anything through mere intention and physical association.

This influence is subtle, so it can take awhile to manifest. The longer the influence takes to appear as physical reality the more one can be assured their conscious will is not in alignment with the panconsciousness or common will – disharmony. Since the more energy flows in a similar direction the less it will be effected by any resistance it meets, it follows that any one individual does not necessarily influence the manifestation of an event in time, but rather multiple persons or forces, or all persons and forces each play a role – this is because everything is entangled.

Physics shows us that the entire universe is quantumly entangled; that is, everything truly is connected and One (and outside of time). This also means that all minds are entangled. Magick is possible because each one of us are in an entangled state with all things; one need only see the universe through a panpsychist lense in order to fully grasp the concept of this reality.

But what evidence is there to support the existence of any sort of phenomenon that could be interpreted throughout history as magick? Certainly, one could agree that magick would be considered by most to be akin to paranormal or psychic phenomena. Is there any scientific evidence to support paranormal or psychic phenomenon?

In turns out that, although still contraversial, quite remarkable scientific evidence for psi phenomena does exist. For example, an experiment published in the journal Science in 1965 reported that when one identical twin was asked to close their eyes – which causes the brain's alpha rhythms to increase – the alpha rhythms of their remote twin were also found to increase, providing evidence for a sort of quantum entanglement. (Dean Radin. Entangled Minds. Paraview: New York, NY. 2006, pg.18. ISBN: 1-4165-1677-8)

In 1957 Czech physician Štěpán Figar measured the fingertip bloodflow of couples who were isolated from one another in order to test for the existence of any unconscious telepathic connections. Neither member of the couple was aware of the other's involvement in the test, nor were they told the purpose of the experiment. Figar found that when one member of the couple was asked to perform mental arithmetic, the blood pressure of the other person changed noticeably. (Ibid., pg 74)

Also, University of Edinburgh pyschologists Paul Stevens, Marios Kittenis, and Peter Caryl reported, in 2004, a correlation between remote pairs of individuals being monitored by an electroencephalograph (EEG), in which the "sender" is exposed to a flash of light and the remote "receiver" appears to be stimulated at the exact time and moment as the "sender". (Ibid., pgs 138-139)

Furthermore, numerous experiments involving the alteration of random number generators (RNGs) through the mental intention of distant human "senders" have proven over and over again to yield quite extraordinary results. Such experiments can easily be found by any mediocre researcher.

So the scientific evidence is out there, but what philosophical grounding exists that could possibly support the interpretation that these experiments yield positive evidence for the existence of magick? It turns out there is one very strong position with an extremely long history: panpsychism.

Both mind and matter are intimately entangled in the panpsychist ontological worldview. Consciousness is within everything, for both mind and matter are necessarily coexistent. A number of very persuasive philosophical arguments have been offered in favor of a panpsychist worldview throughout history. Two of the most famous contemporary proponents of panpsychism were the English mathematician and philosopher Alfred North Whitehead and the pioneer American psychologist WilliamJames.

More recently, the philosopher Christian de Quincey argued in his book Radical Nature that "given Whitehead's naturalistic view of experience, extrasensory phenomena involving action-at-a-distance, such as telepathy and clairvoyance, are no longer problematic." He then goes on to state "physical events 'external' to the body of the experiencing human, may prehend or feel and respond to human experiences in ways consistent with the data of psychokinesis." (Christian de Quincey. Radical Nature. Invisible Cities Press: Montpelier, VT. 2002, pgs 175 and 176. ISBN: 1-931229-15-5)

In the panpsychist worldview, and contrary to the mundane and anachronistic physicalist worldview, it is actually quite within the realms of possibility and probability for conscious thought and intention to be projected on and manifested within physical reality by means of what has been commonly referred to as a "magick" without violating any physical laws or logic. Furthermore, it is postulated that the focus of "intent" through the mechanism of entanglement may very well be the means by which all magical or psychic phenomena occur.

As Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa stated in his Occult Philosophy: "It is therefore imperative that whoever desires to study in this faculty, be skilled in Natural Philosophy, wherein are found the qualities of things, and in which lie the occult properties of every being (substance and accidents), and be skillful in mathematics, and in the aspects, and figures of the stars, upon which depend the sublime virtue, and property of every thing; and also learned in Theology, wherein are manifested those immaterial substances, which dispense, and minister to all things, or he will not be able to understand the rationality of Magic. There is no work that is done by mere Magic, nor any work that is merely Magical, that does not include these three faculties;" therefore, it is imperative that the individual understand the various sciences and philosophy, as well as their self (as Socrates is known so well for suggesting), in order to comprehend the existence, rational, and mechanism of magick.

No magician can hope to understand the principles and mechanism of magick without first having a proper understanding of the trivium and quadrivium. The magician should seek out a classical education, from early youth if possible, before embarking on the path of magick. These seven: grammar, logic, rhetoric, arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy are key to an excellent foundation! With these the individual may then study philosophy and theology (the basis of all religious and ceremonial systems), through which they will be fully capable of understanding the rational of magick.

Of course one may simply jump right into magick, but you are not going to understand it, nor will you find it working very properly, if at all, without the necessary tools described above.



Friday, December 2, 2011

The Ancient Ones: The Vanir

The Vanir (a public domain image)

The Vanir (pronounced "VAH-neer") are a group of very ancient gods and goddesses who originated in Vanaheimr. They are considered the most ancient of the pagan deities in the northern tradition. They are intimately connected with Nature and the elves, and as such are typically considered to be deities of peace, plenty, fertility, wisdom, prophecy and magic.

It is speculated that the word "Vanir" is likely to have derived from a Proto-Indo-European root, wen, which is related to several other words in Indo-European languages meaning "pleasure" or "desire". Numerous other theories have been proposed for the etymology of Vanir, such as that of the scholar Raymond Ian Page who has suggested that while there is no shortage of etymologies for the word, it would be tempting to link the word with the Old Norse vinr, meaning "friend," and the Latin Venus, which is the name for the goddess of love.

Another theory is that the term "Vanir" suggests elemental principles such as force. Under this interpretation, English words such as wan, wane, wander, wand, want, van, vane, vanish, etc., which all share similar sounds, and which all deal with forces and movements, or force carrier principles, may indicate some derivation from the word Vanir; perhaps suggesting that the Vanir were personifications of force carrying principles such as change, movement, fading, bearing, directing, altering, and even longing.

The Vanir (singular Vanr), who are sometimes anglicized as the Wanes (singular Wane), are attested to in the Poetic Edda, Prose Edda and the Heimskringla. All of the aforementioned sources described the deities Freyr, Freyja, and Njörðr (also called Njord) as members of the Vanir, while the Heimskringla lists Njörðr's unnamed sister (speculated to be Njörun or Nerthus), who was also his wife, and the god Kvasir as also being among the Vanir. Also, it has been speculated that Heimdallr may be a member of the Vanir, since he is said to be capable of knowing the future (as is mentioned in the poem Þrymskviða), which is a trait belonging to all of the Vanir, though not necessarily exclusive to them.

The Vanir were said to live in Vanaheimr, the "land of the Vanir", one of the Nine Worlds of Norse cosmology. The precise location of Vanaheimr is unknown, but Hilda Ellis Davidson has suggested that the Vanir are undoubtedly connected with "the land-spirits who dwelt in mounds and hills and water," so it has been suggested that Vanaheimr may have a connection to some sort of underworld. Whatever the case, a definite connection does exist between the Vanir and the land-spirits, as it is known that Freyr was the Lord of the Elves, who ruled over Álfheimr, which was the home of the light-elves, and the elves were most probably a type of nature-spirit.

The exact role and function of the Vanir is unattested, but all the information seems to indicate that they were essentially representatives or personifications of the highest order of powers in Nature, with the elves being more or less their "helpers", who were tasked with much more localized and specific duties.

The Vanir all largely served the same function, and were collectively associated with the sea, the sky and the winds, agriculture, fertility, prosperity, wealth, land, travel, death and birth. They were all capable of shapeshifting and of foreseeing future events, and all of them are associated with seiðr, which was a type of magic or sorcery. Their rites often tended to be sexual in nature, as sexuality was very sacred to the Vanir, and so it should be noted that their code of sexual morality was very different from what most modern societies are familiar with, and such conduct would have likely been considered extremely loose, if not immoral (even among some neopagans), by today's cultural standards.

The chief deities among the Vanir are the brother and sister duo of Freyr and Freyja, whose names mean "Lord" and "Lady", respectively. Freyr is attested to have been the Elf-King in the Prose Edda, and since Freyja is his twin sister and quite probably also his consort (at least prior to the Æsir-Vanir War), it is therefore not unreasonable to assume that his sister Freyja ruled beside him as Elf-Queen. This assumption is supported by Freyja's connection with the Valkyries and the dísir, who were vættir, also known as wights, which like the elves were nature spirits.

A connection between the planet Venus and the Vanir may also exist, especially in light of the relationship between the elves and Venus (see the Elf Cross and also the Ljósálfar), Freyja's corresponding characteristics to that of the Roman goddess Venus, and the twin-sibling relationship between Freyr and Freyja which is characteristic of deities connected with the planet Venus, also known as the Morning Star and the Evening Star (also see Artemis and Apollo).

Some symbols believed to be associated with the Vanir include the: apple tree, ash tree, bees, bells, birds, boars, bodies of water, bread, brooms, burial mounds, cats, cattle, chariots, eggs, fish, fruit, gold, hawthorn tree, honey, horses, leaves, mead or beer, mirrors, the Moon, nuts, oak tree, the pentacle, phallus, pine tree, plows, rabbits, rain, runes (of the Elder Futhark), ships, spiders, spindles, the staff, stag or antlers, the Sun, swords, thread, Venus, wagons, wands, wheat, wheels, and wolves.

The Vanir should be approached with a general regard for respect and gratitude, but at the same time it should be noted that they are not inclined to demand or expect an unnecessary amount of attention or praise, in fact I would recommend that the Vanir be approached much the same way one would approach a friend; that is, assuming that the Vanir do not for some reason decide they would like to initate contact with you first.

Peace and blessings. Alraune.


Davidson, Hilda Roderick Ellis (1988). Myths and Symbols in Pagan Europe: Early Scandinavian and Celtic Religions. Manchester University Press.
Faulkes, Anthony (Trans.) (1995). Edda. Everyman.
Grundy, Stephan (1998). "Freyja and Frigg" in Billington, Sandra, and Green, Miranda (1998). The Concept of the Goddess. Routledge.
Hollander, Lee Milton (Trans.) (2007). Heimskringla: History of the Kings of Norway. University of Texas Press.
Larrington, Carolyne (Trans.) (1999). The Poetic Edda. Oxford World's Classics.
Page, Raymond Ian (1990). Norse Myths. University of Texas Press.
Davidson, Hilda Ellis (1993). The Lost Beliefs of Northern Europe Routledge

The Elf-Faith

Being a hedge wizard I try to keep it as simple and as practical as possible, but since that title also entails a degree of spirituality, and since I am a deeply spiritual person, there is a spiritual dimension to my Craft.

Although I am quite informal in my methods I have developed a spiritual tradition which I refer to as the Elf-Faith, which is similar in substance to the faery tradition, but different in several respects other than just mere name. The primary difference perhaps being that I try to keep more in step with the Germanic tradition, due to my ancestry, than any other tradition, although I am still a rather eclectic soul.

I cannot stress enough, particularly for the traditionalist types, that this is not a formal tradition and I do not claim any accuracy in my assertions although I do try to provide sourced material whenever possible. Please try to remember that whenever reading anything I have posted on this blog concerning my personal spiritual tradition, as it is just that – personal.

Typically I work with the Vanir, as I see them as High Powers of Nature, and as some sort of governing force which presides over the elves, or nature spirits. However, in the spirit of hedge wizardry I limit my work and my attention primarily to the Elf-Queen, who I believe is Freyja, and her brother and consort the Elf-King Freyr.

As you can imagine, my attention is largely focused upon the elven-folk, and this is with good personal reason. First, because they are nature spirits and my faith most certainly contains animistic elements. Secondly, I feel partially compelled to work with the elves as I am drawn to them out of curiosity due to a very real personal experience I had involving them. Third, because contact was initiated with me by Freyja. And fourth, because I have always held an affinity with elemental magic.

Other than that the Elf-Faith looks pretty much like any other eclectic neopagan tradition and follows largely along the lines of hedge witchcraft. I follow the basic eight major festivals of the year, with a few extra observances thrown in to honor my ancesters and simply for the sake of maintaining family tradition, and I hold informal rites, although again, I try to focus them in the spirit of my ancestral tradition.

If you are interested in my particular Elf-Faith tradition, simply curious, or you are looking for information on the elven-folk and Vanir, or anything closely related, you are encouraged to browse through this blog as it will be filled with a wealth of information on the Vanir, elves, Germanic paganism, and of course the informal and practical magic of hedge wizardry.

You are also invited to click on the link on the sidebar of this webpage and become a 'Follower' of this blog so that you may keep up to pace on any new information as I post it. And as always linking to articles on this blog is appreciated. You may also feel free to leave an on topic comment in the comments section at any time along with a link to a topic related blog or website should you so choose.

I am a freelance writer and artist and I am personally responsible for providing material for many different blogs, as such, this blog will be posted to regularly, but likely not every day or even every other day, but should receive a regular post once a week on average.

I hope you enjoy our journey together.

Blessings. Alraune.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

What is a Hedge Wizard or Witch?

What is Hedge Wizard or Witch?

The term “Hedge Wizard” comes from the English words hedge and wizard. In proper usage the word “hedge” is an adjective which means of, related to, or designed for a hedge; born, living or made near hedges. It is also used as a derogatory form of adjective meaning “inferior”. Many attribute the word “hedge” in hedge witchcraft to be the noun form, meaning a barrier or a limit, primarily for protection, but this would not be the proper usage as the “hedge” in hedge witch, hedge wizard, or hedge witchcraft is obviously an adjective used to describe the type of witch, wizard, or witchcraft.

More likely than not, the word “hedge,” as it was and still is commonly used in signifying a hedge wizard or witch, was intended as a connotation of inferiority, meaning the hedge wizard or witch was looked down upon by more ceremonial magicians who viewed the informal practice of magic by hedge witches as vulgar. This would be expectedeven in ancient pagan societiesas society typically applauds formal religious practices while shunning informal or individualistic spiritual pursuits. The reason for this is mainly due to the very structure and intent of society, in which spiritual traditions have always been used primarily as a means for the dissemination of moral instruction to the masses who either were incapable of understanding the philosophical reasoning behind moral laws (thought-out by the elites of a society), or who were unable to access such materials.

Still, it is likely that the term also came into use because of the natural location where most hedge wizards and witches undoubtedly resided – the edge of town. Before the rise of the industrial revolution, and even still today in some corners of the planet, hedge wizards and witches would often be found living near the edge of town where the plants and minerals they required in their craft were readily available. Just as fishermen lived near the water or coal miners lived near mines, the hedge wizard or witch was sure to be living near the resources necessary to his/her trade.

Hedge wizards and witches were essentially what is known as “cunning folk;” that is, they were practitioners of some ceremonial magic, but mostly focused upon what was clearly self-evident to others as practical witchcraft, such as herbal medicine, midwifery, counseling, practical chemistry, weather forecasting, veterinarian skills, and various forms of low magic. They did not practice in covens, but did often have an apprentice or two (often their child or a relative) whom they passed their knowledge onto.

It is likely true that hedge wizards and witches were somewhat skilled at what are deemed to be “shamanic practices,” but spirit journeys were likely only performed during special occasions or when direct intercession between the people and the spirits (typically ancestors) was deemed to be necessary. Otherwise, hedge wizards and witches were very much down-to-earth and well-thought of by local villagers and townspeople, which was likely the reason that many of them escaped serious persecution during the Witch Hunts. Had they spent the majority of their time in the Otherworld one can be certain they would not have been very well respected by the other members of the community who depended upon them for healing and consultation.

Because of the practical nature of hedge wizards and witches, during the Witch Hunts many (but not all) escaped persecution due to the clear distinction made by the people between witches, whom they deemed harmful, and hedge wizards and witches, or cunning folk, whom they deemed useful. The practical nature of hedge wizards and witches can largely be attributed to the fact that their craft was much more of a way to make a living than a spiritual practice. It is true that they were very spiritual, yet their practical skills were often called upon and were the primary source of income for most hedge wizards and witches, since their services were often rewarded with gifts or used as a form of barter.

Typically, as with any definition in the pagan spiritual community, if you asked any hedge wizard or witch what exactly a practitioner of hedge witchcraft is, they would all give you different answers; this is to be expected, as most pagans are subjectivists. To me, a hedge wizard is someone who is deeply spiritual, but who focuses the main portion of their attention upon learning practical magic and practical skills which are useful to the individual and the community. Since many of these skills are not deemed necessary, or even deemed inferior or dangerous, in today's society, I would further state that the main driving force behind a hedge wizard is independence. I would go one step further and even state that the main driving force of a hedge wizard or witch has always been independence from “the system” as a monstrous machine of mass control and manipulation which has no care for the general welfare of the people, particularly the little people, right down to the individual. Specifically, hedge wizards and witches have always rebelled against organized religion, state sanctioned and licensed health care, state sanctioned education, and anything which tried to force them or their fellow humans to conform to some sort of standard. Hedge wizards and witches have not necessarily been against “the system”, but they most certainly have always been raging against it through sheer mental cunning with the strength and potential of the human spirit as they tried to live as free as possible and “just do their thing”.

To me, hedge wizards and witches are free spirits. You really won't run across many spirits as free as that of the hedge wizard or witch. You won't find them in covens (unless they start them) because that is not a free enough spiritual system for them. You might find them as licensed herbalists, but the chances are they'd be practicing botanical medicine even if they had never gone to school. They probably aren't too interested in politics, but if they are, they are likely extremely passionate about them. They are very likely extremely interested in outdoor activities, inquisitive about nature, and focused on self-reliance. I believe that when you are looking at a hedge wizard or witch you are looking at a very self-directed individual.

I have my own personal spiritual and magical system which you can read about, over the course of time, on this blog, but it is by no means representative of all hedge wizards or witches. If you are interested in learning more about hedge wizardry you are encouraged to check out all of the sources out there and see what sits right with you.

In the meantime, if you feel that you are interested in hedge wizardry I would suggest that you start by reading over this blog, if you are new to witchcraft study up on basic witchcraft (Witchcraft 101 – just a few books on Wicca will do you just fine, it need not be specific to any tradition), and then sit down and make a very simple list for yourself. You will want to make two lists: 1) Practical knowledge and skill topics, and 2) Spiritual knowledge and skill topics. Make these topic areas your study goals, and you will be well on your way to becoming a hedge wizard or witch. Below is an example of how you should compile your personal list. Try to remain practical and a sort of a jack-of-all-trades, but stay within your realm of interest as much as possible. Remember, your primary goal should be to learn useful information for your life as a hedge wizard or witch, as well as knowledge which would help free you from dependence on others, keep you out of trouble or reduce the chances of finding yourself in it, and maybe save you some money:

Practical Study Goals
(areas of useful study)

Key Question: “Can I use this in my day-to-day life?”

Wilderness Skills & Wild Crafting
Human Anatomy
Sexology (Human Sexuality & Sexual Psychology)
Behavioral Psychology
Transpersonal Psychology
Civil & Criminal Law
Practical Meteorology & Weather Folklore
Practical Astronomy
Practical Chemistry
First Aid & First Respondent Medicine
Practical Pharmacology
Botanical Medicine
Gardening & Plant Cultivation
Practical Mycology
Local Flora and Fauna
Local Rocks and Minerals
Practical Economics & Finance
Semiotics & Linguistics
Basic Electronics
Routine Auto & Bicycle Maintenance/Mechanics

Spiritual Pursuits and Goals
(areas of spiritual & philosophical study)

Witchcraft and History of
Paranormal Phenomenon
Psychic Phenomenon & Development
Astral Projection

As you can see, you do not want to make an enormous list, as several topics can take a lifetime to learn in themselves. You generally want to know enough practical knowledge about everything to do a little better than just enough to get by, and then focus more intently on other areas such as botanical medicine or whatever your area of specialty is.

Other areas of study that may interest hedge wizards and witches include anthropology, sociology, history, philosophy (general), environmental sciences, biology, midwifery, and generally anything which makes you a little brighter, a little quicker, and a little more self-reliant. But remember, it's not just gnosis which makes the hedge wizard or witch capable, but also skill, experience, and a genuine care and interest in your fellow human beings as well as nature itself.

Peace and blessings. Alraune.