Sound familiar? It’s one of the earliest taught rhymes in childhood. And if you’ve ever said it you could be accused of practicing Witchcraft.
Yes, this innocuous little saying is one of the oldest acquiring spells known to the Craft. I guess familiarity does breed contempt. Or at least greater acceptance. But then maybe our Foremothers had the wisdom to use simple knowledge rhymes as a way to live in society, yet remain faithful to their creed to practice in secret.
Has your Mother ever slapped your hand down for pointing, hissing under her breath it was rude? Another leftover protection against being accused of Witchcraft. Most witches ground themselves to gather power, delivering the ‘intent’ to the selected recipient via direct stare and an extended forefinger. Pointing. Rude indeed in that context. (That stare is where the term ‘evil eye’ originates.)
Witches and their abilities have carried weight down through the centuries, but it has been the simple Herbalists who’ve gotten short shrift of the situation. Our own Rita Bay offered the observation during a program on herbs and healers, that there was often no distinction made between a healer and a witch. It stuck with me. Many a wise woman and herbalist was condemned as a witch for no more than her knowledge of what nature offers man as curative . . . or poison. If a plague or contagious illness appeared in a village, the herbalist was called upon to treat it. If members of higher society died despite her best efforts, their families’ grief often led to an accusation of witchcraft. Condemned, she was usually immediately killed as there were few trials, and those there were, mockeries of the real thing. The saddest part is the rest of the village sickened and died, and the popular consensus was she’d leveled a curse on the town with her death. If anyone was wise enough to realize the only person capable of helping contain the sickness had been foolishly executed, you can be sure they kept that opinion to themselves. To do anything else might end with them accused of being the witch’s cohort!
White Witch, Dark Witch, Green Witch, Solitary Witch, Solitary Hereditary, Gardnerian, and on and on. There are probably as many types of Witch in the Wiccan religion as there are factions in Christianity; and by that I mean Baptist, Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Lutheran, Roman Catholic, and others. If I left anyone out of either group it wasn’t intentional, I just wanted to convey enough for understanding.
But this is the Halloween season, the time of ghosts, black cats and witches; cemeteries, hauntings and skittering bats. Now I’m not saying anyone is afraid or anything . . . but when dealing with the unknown can one ever be too cautious? I’ve talked to a few friends and they’ve offered a few situational spells to share. Some to beckon, some to chase away. Whether you believe or not, I hope you have fun reading them!
In Summoning a Ghost:
(For conversation with the dead, attend to ceremony;
Avoid the grave’s annoyance, by speaking always gently.
And winding sheet,
Let this spirit
Come to me–
Yet send it
Or not at all.
(If it come, it should be offered white wine, not red; and knelt to, from pity.)
To be said when passing a cemetery:
Knit your fingers, hold your breath,
Say to yourself this verse for death:
Keeper of bones
I know thy face,
But I shall yet
Outstrip they pace.
To protect against ghosts, demons, goblins or plain old criminal riffraff, here’s an inscription to be written over a doorway:
Who comes to me I keep,
Who goes from me I free
Yet against all I stand
Who carry not my key.
And after long hours spent trick or treating, of being caught up in the frightening illusions of the night, here’s a soothing spell to ensure little ones sleep free of nightmares!
Against Evil Dreams
The nightmare will toss its cold black mane
And gallop on ebony hoofs from your pillow, away
As far as the moon, if you will say:
Thou evil thing
Of darkness born,
Of tail and wing,
And snout and horn,
Fly from me
From now til morn.
Then think of the fire that burns by day:
Sun in his glistening chariot, Drawn by foam-white Stallions, out of the sea.
Just ten more days til Halloween! See you next week with a post on Samhain practices and rites!